Oafmatch is a match-three puzzle game with RPG elements. It takes the mechanic made famous by games like Bejeweled and tries to add features like classes, weapons, and spells to the mix as you battle enemies. While it’s an interesting idea that could certainly work, Oafmatch itself is marred by a slew of issues that make its interesting concept a less than ideal experience overall.
You start the game as Knuckles the Oaf. As an Oaf, you have high HP, some basic attacks, and a simple mind. Knuckles wants to go on an adventure, gather treasure, and save people. The game has an over map where the player picks their next location. Upon reaching that location you either get into a fight or watch an event or conversation take place. Battles, however, are the main piece of the game and happen most often on your journey. In Oafmatch, battles amount to a versus style match-three game.
On each turn you match three or more gems and then the opponent does the same. If you’ve played a game like Bejeweled before you know how this part of the game goes. To add to that formula, Oafmatch pits the player against AI opponents. Each character on your team and the AI’s team has a health bar and you go at it trying to whittle down the enemy to zero. Matching certain colors give the player that amount of those colored gems that enable the player to cast spells or use weapons. These act as additional ways to damage enemies, heal allies, or defend allies.
Unfortunately for Oafmatch, the AI tends to take a long time to take their turn. While it’s only a second or two longer than an average player, those seconds add up over time. I often felt like I was waiting for the AI to make their moves more than I was playing the game. This took me out of the action completely and when you face more difficult enemies and die over and over, you have to deal with that waste of time frequently. It’s easily the most frustrating part of Oafmatch that removes any fun you might be having from the game.
To be completely honest, I’d be surprised if you were having a lot of fun with Oafmatch to begin with. The game looks like a flash game from the early 2000s and the writing fits right in with that aesthetic. It has a dry humor that is often unfunny and not as witty as it thinks it is. On top of that, the game’s menus and dialogue boxes are poorly designed and look like they were thrown together in a hurry using an old game-making engine. I don’t want to attack every facet of Oafmatch but it’s not a very well made game.
The game’s Steam page boasts a 30-hour campaign but I honestly couldn’t imagine someone sitting through that many hours of the game. I played about ten hours of it and felt that I got the gist of it. You go to the next spot on the map, sit through some dialogue, and hope to win a battle by matching three. Although, it’s worth pointing out that even being good at these types of puzzle games won’t necessarily help you win in Oafmatch. There were multiple times I ran into enemies who were way overpowered and I had no choice but to grind out experience and equipment in earlier levels to move forward. Grinding is not fun in well made action-RPGs, it’s even less so in match-three puzzle games.
Now, I realize the game is priced at $5 on Steam and many people will say you get what you pay for, but that defense shouldn’t stand anymore. With independent games reaching higher and higher pinnacles and keeping their prices relatively low, it’s not okay to defend a game with a cheap price anymore. Yes, Oafmatch is only $5, but you can get a lot more for $5 in today’s game market that will offer a more refined and polished experience than Oafmatch.
There’s an interesting idea in Oafmatch but the execution is poor. While the game tries to live and die by its main attraction, an RPG overlay to a match-three game, it doesn’t do so in a meaningful or fun way. Oafmatch is a game that could only be enjoyed by absolute fanatics of the match-three genre who have exhausted every other outlet.