Christmas Mahjong is a mahjong game that uses a Christmas theme as its main selling point. Whilst this game can be bought on steam and other gaming websites it is actually a port of a ‘free to play’ ipad game but some versions do have extras with them in particular the steam version (which is the version I am basing my review upon) but from what I have gathered it is the same game with no extras or adjustments made for alternate platforms other than the fact on steam you cannot use money to buy stars/skip levels. But one thing that annoys me is that there is in game trophies and the developers could have made them into achievements on the steam version.
The concept of the game itself is simple and very easy to get into playing as if you know what you are doing as it essentially matching 2 of the same picture style in a mahjong format however I feel that the tutorial could be considered as hand holding the player too much as for someone who has previously played a mahjong game it will let you do only what the game tells you to do and you have to make the same moves as the tutorial and if you try to pair another match it will not allow you to do so. I also dislike that you have to do the tutorial and there is no option to skip the tutorial or turn off hints.
But as simple as it is get into the game itself isn’t as straight forward as the concept on paper seems because your objective isn’t to clear the board in its entirety your objective is to match all of the golden tiles on the board in as little moves possible and the further you go in the game the more complex the levels are layed out whether that be the multilayered level layout(usually the levels are like this and they have a few different gold tiles on each layer.) or not having the right tiles on play. Then after you have done so you have to earn 3 stars in each level and you do this by getting the levels done by making a limited number of moves, obtaining all of the golden tiles and by earning enough gold coins in each level as expected it is different for each level. But this game is a luck based game in a sense as you are dependent on the game providing you with moves and if you have a set that provides you with no moves you must use the reshuffle button, which whilst it has it uses in getting you out of tricky scenarios I don’t like that the game makes you use it so much in order to achieve level requirements and this isn’t just limited to when you run out of moves either. I found that on some levels it may possibly take multiple attempts to complete and that is before you bring up achieving 3 stars on every level, but if you plan on doing so it is a challenge.
The game itself I think is quite decent for the content provided at least on a technical level as well as visual/audio content of the game. Graphically I like the art style as it fits the game well and is very reminiscent of a traditional Christmas card as the backgrounds and characters are in a painting style, I also like how the levels are set out as some of the levels are of items that are symbolic of Christmas such as Christmas trees and I think it is quite fitting but at other times I found levels set out like patterns which isn’t very festive. Musically I feel that although the tracks provided in the game are festive, but I feel that because there are only a few different tracks in the game it does get repetitive and after so long you end up turning off the sound. However I don’t like the fact that the game (on steam’s description) offers a ‘traditional Christmas story in the spirit of Dickens’ taking this directly from the steam store description (as seen above.) but there was no mention of a story except for a few images of Santa in a house at the start of the game and the 6 levels which have a different background but there is no story or anything not even a slight reference to any simple story outside of this. So if you are expecting a Christmas story look elsewhere as this is just a selection of mahjong levels nothing more nothing less.
Overall though I will admit that it is a fun game but I would only recommend picking this game when it is on sale if you are in need of a Christmas mahjong game as this is one of the few christmas mahjong games avaliable on steam, in short this game is what it says on the tin.