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Developer(s) Game in a Bottle
Publisher(s) Armor Games (Flash)
NTT Resonant Inc. (iOS)[1]
Platform(s) Mac, Windows, Linux, anything that supports Adobe Flash, iOS
Release date(s) June 26, 2008 (original),
April 16, 2009 (prequel),
17th February 2011 (Labyrinth)[2]
14 April 2011 (iOS)[3]
Genre(s) Tower defense, Real-time strategy
Mode(s) Single-player

GemCraft is a tower defense flash game created by Game In A Bottle, originally released June 26, 2008. A prequel, GemCraft Chapter 0: Gem of Eternity, was released April 16, 2009, and the sequel, GemCraft lost chapter: Labyrinth, was released February 17, 2011, taking place at roughly the same time as the original game[4] The original was released for iOS on April 14, 2011 by NTT Resonant.[1]

In GemCraft, players are given gems and may combine them to put in towers. Different combinations of gems produce different effects, such as splash damage, Damage over time and triple damage. The player's life bar and magic energy are represented by the same statistic - mana. With mana, the player can purchase towers, gems, trenches, traps, and combine gems. A key aspect of strategy in GemCraft is to increase the player's mana gain to high levels, enabling creation of stronger and stronger gems. Combining two gems creates a single gem of higher power, or 'level'. The gems change with level. In GemCraft Chapter Zero, level 1 gems are represented by a triangle, Level 2 are squares, and so on until level 6; all gems after that also become circular cut gems.


The series is set in a fictional fantasy world and depicts the battles of wizards against a powerful demon known as "The Forgotten". Wizards used to regularly summon demons to do their bidding until they brought forth a demon too powerful for them to control and capable of subduing other demons under her command. Described as "a fully black female torso with disfigured arms, a head with long hair and no face", the Forgotten commands her legions in order to conquer the "Spiritforge", the last bastion of the wizards in order to become omnipotent. The Forgotten can't be destroyed, but sealed instead in a powerful artifact known as the "Gem of Eternity" but it can only contain her for a few decades and each time she escapes, a new gem must be crafted in order to capture her again.

Chapter 1: The Forgotten[edit]

GemCraft: The Forgotten[2] original game is a very simple game, with 8 different gems, each with a different ability. The gems' colors and abilities are:

Gem Color Effect - Explanation
Red Splash - Damage Splashes a certain radius from the explosion (other effects do not splash).
Orange Mana Gain - The player gains a certain amount of mana per hit, depending on certain factors.
Yellow Triple Damage - There is a chance that each hit will deal x3 damage
Lime Chain Hit - There is up to a 40% chance that each hit (including chained hits) will hit another monster.
Green Poison - Deals a certain amount of damage over 5 seconds. Poison effects are stackable.
Cyan Shock - The object is paralyzed for up to 1 second. This has up to a 14% chance of occurring.
Blue Slow - The enemy monsters slow down a certain amount depending on the level.
Purple Armor Reduce - there is up to a 70% chance that the monsters armor level will be reduced by 1.

Grade 1 gems are curved triangles, Grade 2 gems are square, Grade 3 gems are diamonds, Grade 4 gems are pentagons, Grade 5 gems are hexagons, and grade 6+ gems are circles.

Along with using them in either given or built towers, players can combine gems to create either pure gems with very strong specials, dual gems with weakened specials but higher damage, range, and speed values, or even more, although the benefits past dual gems are negligible. Another possibility with gems is to use them as gem bombs, which are free to cast, and vary in power depending on the level of the gem. The player can drop them on monsters to damage and kill them instead of using them in towers. This is useful if the player does not have enough mana to banish the monster (send it back to the start from the tower).

Trenches are used like slow gems, except they are placed on the path, usually around the player's towers, and cannot fire at enemies. They slow down all enemies that pass though them, giving the player's towers more time to shoot at them. These are very useful against Epic Bosses, (what is traditionally referred to as simply bosses, but since there are boss monsters throughout the levels, this is the name for the larger variations.) which have masses of HP (some over 50,000), and are hard to take down without much help.

There were also 12 skills a player could invest in. The player earns 4 skill points upon leveling up, and these may be used to obtain unlocked skills. These skills ranged from lowering the amount of mana paid to purchase things, to increasing the potency of gems, giving the player random gems to start levels out with, etc. Some skills cost more points than others, but were more powerful and worth the extra cost.

There were also hidden levels that the player could unlock by getting a glowing rank, which was obtained by earning a set score on each level, on 6 linked levels, including epic boss battles (the last two levels do not count toward hidden levels). There were 8 of these levels, each allowing the player use of only 1 type of gem, as opposed to other levels which allowed use of 2 to 8 gems. These levels unlocked an amulet, GemCraft‍ '​s version of an achievement, and counted toward the total score and gave XP. Other than that, however, these levels were just a challenge.

Chapter 0: Gem of Eternity[edit]

GemCraft Chapter Zero: Gem of Eternity[2] was released on April 16, 2009. The game was redesigned: Trenches were cut, and replaced with traps, in which the player placed a gem of any level and color, and the gem dealt 1/5 of the damage it would have in a tower, but fired twice as quickly and its specials were doubled as well. The skill sets were redesigned for a more customizable experience, with each gem color having a skill, in addition to dual and pure gem mastery. The game also introduced the prismatic gem, which is made up of all 8 colors. It has a mastery. All skills were returned in some shape or form, with trap skills replacing the trench ones. Many skills were expanded into multiple skills. Monster beacons, which block the player or aid the monsters, and spell shrines, which aid the player when a gem is dropped on them, were also added.

The basics returned. The game remained a tower defense game, and the goal was still to protect the player's wizard tower (the game's equivalent of a base) from waves of monsters. The colors and effects remained the same, and the only skill to be completely overhauled was built a trench, which was replaced with build a trap.

All levels except for the arcane boss battles (which replaced epic battles), not to be confused with arcane battles, had 10 ways to play them. Each could be played in each mode to gain XP, and each level had 3 of the 8 eligible modes (the default was ineligible, and the hidden 10th mode was also ineligible) gave triple XP. Amulet XP was tripled on those as well (except for Victory and Journey amulets) These were the 9 modes given:

Game Mode Specifications
Normal Survive the level by killing monsters without complete loss of life.
Sudden Death Kill all the monsters without one reaching the wizard tower.
Endurance Survive for as long as you can.
Heroic 2 extra waves than normal, with 20% more monsters, having 40% more HP. No giant monsters.
Swarm Only swarm monsters with 60% more monsters.
Time Siege Complete in a specified amount of time.
Bleeding Edge 60% more monsters, with 80% more HP. No Giant monster. 4 additional waves.
Carapace Armored monsters only, with twice as many monsters, and each with more armor but decreased speed, plus 6 additional waves.
Arcane 80% more monsters, with twice as much HP, plus an arcane guardian and 8 additional waves. No giants.
Beyond Corruption 6 grade 5 gems (hexagons) given at start. 2x monsters, with 150% HP. 10 additional waves, and 2 more added each time completed. No giant monsters.

GemCraft Labyrinth[edit]

GemCraft lost chapter: Labyrinth,[2] has basic game mechanics that are roughly the same as in the original GemCraft, though many new features have been added. The Labyrinth chapter in the series is the largest yet, with 169 separate maps available for play in a mazelike 13x13 grid with the player starting at one of the edges and moving through the maze to eventually "complete" the game at the center. When a player first completes any one map, up to three adjoining maps will be made available to play. There are many changes to the game's structure, although the basic tower-defense premise remains the same. Some changes are described below.

  • The gem creation interface has been altered to allow the player to first select the color of gem to create, then select the grade to create. Gems up to grade 12 may be created from this interface. Gems higher than grade 12 can still be created by duplicating and combining.
  • A gem may be duplicated for the same cost as it took to create it in the first place, or recycled to obtain 70% of the mana back. There is also the option to "upgrade" a gem, by raising the grade of a gem by one for the same cost of duplicating and combining both.
  • Leveling is now based on experience, which is awarded based on a set value for each map based on its challenge, and increased by various multipliers that the player either selects or earns through their in-game performance on each map. A player's total experience is the sum of the highest scores achieved on each map played.
  • Players earn skill points primarily by leveling up (each level up gives 9 points). Skill points can also be earned by defeating special rare monsters called "apparitions" and completing certain achievements. Skill points are applied to various skills that increase the player's strength, with new skills unlocked as the player's level climbs. Higher skill levels cost more skill points, so players can and should juggle them to best support their approach to defeating each map before the mission starts.
  • Prior to each level, players have the option to select various modifiers to the basic map, including higher monster counts, increased number of waves, whether monsters are armoured only, waves are more varied (swarm, armor, fast), and others. Each setting increases the overall experience multiplier that the player receives on the wave's successful completion, depending on the level of challenge it introduces. Players can change settings to substantially increase the challenge level for the easier initial maps.
  • Players also receive bonus experience multipliers for various milestones that they complete within each map. Bonuses are awarded for exceeding a number of built towers, number of monsters that are summoned through gem-bombing, successfully preventing all monsters from reaching the player's tower (which is now an orb), and a number of other accomplishments.
  • Four fields (the ones located in the corners of the grid) can be unlocked only by making certain achievements in the game. They do not connect with any other fields, and all the other 165 fields can be played without having to clear them.
  • There are five epic fields, where there are unlimited number of waves, and the only way to win is by charging (shooting at) a "crafting pylon" until it is charged up enough. The first four epic fields each have a crafting pylon, with the final having four. Completing the epic fields is mandatory to progress in the game.
  • Shrines have been revised to slowly charge up over time, but they can be used an unlimited number of times. They can also be built by the player where and when desired, albeit for a significant price.
  • Players can pay an additional mana fee to unlock other gem types on specific maps. All maps initially allow two gem types to be created out of the eight types, except for the five epic fields, of which the first four initially allow four gem types, and in the final, all eight are available.
  • Gem towers can now attack monster nests and beacons to destroy them. Note that monsters can come in from the edges of the map and can travel through nests regardless of whether the nest is destroyed or not.
  • The Red gem type (named "Bloodbound") has no splash damage effect, as it did in the earlier versions. Its damage increases based on the total number of kills it has made. A single, consistently upgraded red gem can become extremely powerful with very high damage towards the end of a level.
  • The lime (chain hit) and yellow (multiple damage) gems work differently. A low-grade yellow gem has a chance to deal 2× damage, which increases as the gem is upgraded and amplified using amplifiers, and when the double damage chance reaches 100%, the gem has a chance to deal 3× damage. When the 3× damage chance reaches 100%, the gem has a chance to deal 4× damage, and so on, with the damage multiplier increasing each time the damage chance reaches 100%. The same is the case with the lime gem, which initially has a chance of hitting 2 targets, which increases to 3, 4, 5 ... each time the chain hit chance reaches 100%.
  • Purple (armour tearing) gems also work differently. Each hit does not have a chance of reducing armour, it will always reduce the monster's armour by some amount. However this amount is small especially for low-grade gems, and can even be less than 1 (shown as a decimal), in which case multiple hits are required to reduce the monster's armour level by 1.
  • A new "amplifier" structure adds additional damage and other effects to the towers and traps that it is placed next to. The amplifier provides damage and increased special effects to its neighbouring structures based on the gem type and strength that is placed within it, though it becomes weaker if it is applied to more and more gems.
  • A new "wall" building type substantially changes the strategy for some maps. Players can use the wall structure to force monsters to approach their tower along one selected path. A wall (or tower) can be built anywhere, including on the path that the monsters follow, provided it does not block that path in its entirety. This creates a brand new strategy element to the game where players can lay series of wall structures to force monsters to approach their tower along a path that they design. Some maps have multiple paths that monsters can follow, and others are completely wide-open with the monsters able to initially travel anywhere and the player must constrain their movement by building groups of walls that lengthen their journey.
  • Certain maps come with "mana shards", essentially crystals with a finite store of mana that are embedded in the ground and that can be attacked by neighbouring towers to yield their mana.
  • The new version comes with purchasable Premium content, including more powerful late-game skills, and additional options and gameplay modes to make maps more challenging. Purchasing the premium options is not required to reach the game's highest levels at their basic settings, but will make certain maps easier and is necessary to unlock the more advanced challenge modes.
  • Certain maps come with "tomb" structures that when destroyed release a variety of high-powered monsters for an additional level of challenge, and a multiplier boost.
  • Some maps come with challenges that are very difficult to complete until the player is extremely high level or has purchased premium content.

GemCraft Labyrinth Quests [edit]

  • Game in a Bottle worked together with,[5] to develop a total of 16 Gaming Quests for gamers to achieve, ranging from Easy (5 Quests) to Medium (5 Quests) and Hard (6 Quests). These Quests were launched on February 28, 2013 and can be awarded throughout the entire game by successfully completing certain ingame achievements.

Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows[edit]

On August 1, 2011 Game In A Bottle announced the beginning of the development on the next part of GemCraft[6] which will be named "GemCraft Chapter Two: Chasing Shadows". Details of the game's development are regularly posted on the blog. They include new types of gems and structures. The chapter was released on April 4, 2014.[7]

  • The gem ability system is reformulated once more. Armor Tearing, Poison, Slowing, Critical Hit and Mana Leeching gems retain their properties and respective colors from Labyrinth, but the Bloodbound and Chain Hit gems have their colors changed to black and red respectively. Two new types of gems are introduced, the Poolbound gem, white in color, gets stronger each time the Mana Pool is upgraded and the Suppressing Health gem, cyan in color, weakens the target's health regenerating properties.
  • Gem types cannot be unlocked like in Gemcraft Labyrinth. To use a gem type that is not already given to you, you must unlock the corresponding skill tome.
  • Maps are now grouped in hexagonal fields known as "hextiles". To unlock further hextiles and progress in the game, a special "Wizard Tower" level must be cleared by destroying several locks scattered by the field before the final wave starts to avoid an automatic defeat.
  • Each battle awards a player with a number of "shadow cores". The shadow cores are used to increase a level's difficulty for a single battle or to upgrade talisman fragments.
  • A new feature is the use of spells, which are of limited use and recharge over time. Some spells are used to affect enemies while others are used to give special, temporary enhancements to the gems attack and range.
  • Another new feature is the "talisman", that can be assembled with fragments collected during the battles and can be upgraded by expending shadow cores or destroyed to recover some shadow cores instead. Each fragment increases the player stats.
  • Certain levels contain "Tomes", that are special tiles containing new skills that are unlocked by killing a minimum number of a certain kind of enemies in range of the Tome under a certain condition.
  • There are now vision fields scattered around the map. Vision fields must be beaten like a normal field, but there are no traits, difficulty, or skills; and fixed gems, starting mana, and spells.
  • Special monsters now interfere on the battle by stealing gems, depleting the mana pool or attacking the orb directly, bypassing all obstacles.
  • After beating Vision Field V4, shadows will randomly appear while you are playing fields.
  • After beating Vision Field V2, The Forgotten herself will randomly appear while you are playing fields, enraging waves or locking your gem GUI.
  • There is now an option that allows players to play the game in 9x speed.
  • Gems on amplifiers do not activate instantly anymore, now having a delay like the gems placed in towers.


The Forgotten[edit]

Gamezebo gave the original GemCraft game a rating of 3.5/5.[8] Slide to Play rated the game 2/4, stating that it doesn't have a unique twist to set it apart from other flash games.[9]


As demonstrated by fan reactions to initial delays in the release of GemCraft Labyrinth, it was a much anticipated sequel to the series.[10] As of June 2011, Labyrinth garnered a rating of 4.8/5.0 from 156 votes cast at Casual Gameplay.[11]

Armor Games User Rankings[edit]

These are the user rankings from Armor Games, which hosts the four flash games (The Forgotten, Gem of Eternity, Labyrinth, and Chasing Shadows).[12]

Game Rating
Gemcraft (The Forgotten) 9.4/10
Gemcraft Chapter 0 (Gem of Eternity) 9.4/10
Gemcraft Labyrinth 9.3/10
Gemcraft 2: Chasing Shadows 94/100

On January 14, 2015 Armor Games users awarded Game of the Year award to GemCraft Chasing Shadows.[13]


External links[edit]