Golden Path stands out among the best free match 3 games developed by Fireglow in the popular Bubble Shooter style. In this game, your objective is to eliminate all the colored bubbles in each stage, with increasing levels of difficulty as you advance. What sets this match 3 game apart is its user-friendly controls and easy learning curve, making it an ideal choice not only for casual players but also for those with more gaming experience!
In terms of gameplay, it helps to have the tutorial turned on because this game is full of surprises. Even if you are a connoisseur of bubble shooter games, there are a few niches that are good to know. And for more information, you can always access the help menu.
Your goal is simple: clear all bubbles. You do this by shooting a new bubble into two or more bubbles. You can’t rely on pre-existing bubbles to clear themselves; you always have to shoot a new one, even if there is already a cluster of many bubbles of the same color. You can hold up to two colors at the same time, changing between them with the right click of the mouse. Its simplistic but addictive gameplay contributed to it being one of the highest-rated puzzle Windows 8 games during the platform's lifespan.
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Here's where things get really interesting with the level design: the bubbles aren't just tidily organized at the top of the screen. No, they're smack dab in the middle and their base functions like a magnet. This magnet isn't infinite though. Pile on too many bubbles, and bam! It hits its limit. And you know what that means - game over. If you're into strategy games like this, you might also enjoy mahjong games.
Beyond that, these magnets can have many different forms, making direct shots very, very difficult. For this, you can use trick shots, that is shooting the bubble towards a wall on purpose, so it may bounce and reach your desired target. Popular shooting games for pc use similar mechanics, allowing skilled players to curve shots off surfaces to hit targets indirectly. This is doable thanks to the physics engine the game counts on. It might be primitive, but it gets the work done.
To help you on your journey, you will sometimes encounter special gem-like bubbles. Hit them with any type of bubble, and they will create a special effect, shown on the top right corner of the screen. This is what really gives the strategic angle to the game, because you have to consider where the gem bubble is, when you want to activate it and if you want to activate it at all.
There are effects that are always useful, like nucking many bubbles at once. But there is one in particular, the magnet effect, that might not always be beneficial. This effect disables the central magnet, making all bubbles float towards the ceiling. While that might sound like they are easier to shoot, this disrupts the composition that they once were at. Maybe you were about to do an amazing chain combo; the magnet power will certainly disrupt that.
There are also plenty of traps, and in terms of disrupting, nothing is worse than the metal ball. This ball floats randomly around the level, pushing and knocking around all other bubbles on its path. Levels with the metal ball become quite hectic.
Another trap shoots new bubbles whenever you fail to make a combo. Fortunately this trap gets disabled whenever you have around three bubbles left, since otherwise some levels would become unbeatable.
The art style keeps it simple, knowing the strength of this genre. The bubbles are bright and distinctive, allowing you to focus on the different combos you might want to accomplish. The special bubbles look like bright diamonds, keeping with the visual design of keeping everything quite distinctive.
The rest of the visual design has its roots on the Aztec and Mayan iconography, at least from the perspective of a treasure hunter. And that will be all you get in terms of story: You are a treasure hunter, here is the treasure.
While these types of games don’t need much more in terms of story, this is enough to have a unifying theme. Menus are made as if crafted from gold, and the stage selector is made as if you were delving deeper into a gold filled (and certainly boobytrapped) cavern.
Golden Path delivers on the classic Bubble Shooter gameplay, and adds its own twist to the formula. The game is not only fun, it can get quite addictive, making you want to play just one more level every time you beat a new one.
If you enjoy these free games, you will love this list of our 10 Best Match 3 Games!