Thursday, March 17, 2016

Game Review - Mage and Minions v1.1.29

Game Review: Mage and Minions v1.1.29 
Score: +13/-2
I've been scouring Google Play for a decent game for my smartphone. Most of the ones out there are clones of each other. Various styles of play but generally focussed on addicting your time so that you end up spending money for convenience.
Mage and Minions is one of the very few that feels very different, and for very specific reasons I highly recommend it. MARVEL Avengers Academy is another great casual game.

There are two types of characters you can play. The titular Mage, and a melee Warrior. For more of a challenge, play the Warrior.
++Great as a truly "casual game". It's single player and you really can put it down at any time without worry, even in the middle of combat. You don't even have to turn off your phone because if you get killed, you can at no penalty or resource cost resurrect nearby. There's just no urgency.
+Convenient interface. Tap to move instead of clumsily using a finger "mouse pad". Automatic targeting on new nearby enemies once you have selected a target and it is dead.
+Really cool use of drawing symbols to activate skills.
+Unlimited play. You can play as much as you like without having to wait for "energy" to recharge.
+Low demand on your time. If you don't play for a day, there are only two things you might possibly miss out on: Daily check-in prize (which takes so little time to do anyway) and one daily quest for each character of level 5+. The daily quest is just to kill X number of a type of things, which you can typically do during regular gameplay. And even if you fail to do it, you are only missing out on 20 Gems (which you typically buy with money), so it's not a big deal.
++Convenient daily quests. The Daily Quests are shared by all characters once you start the quest, so if you only have time to play one character today, start all quests for all characters and use your gameplay with the one character to complete them all. Then go back to each character and turn in the reward. If you start one but can't finish it before server reset, you can still finish it, AND pick up the Daily Quest for the new day.
+You don't feel like you are missing out when you don't play. In many other games, you have to wait for "energy" to recharge and there is a limit to how much you accumulate. If you don't play regularly you will "waste" it. Here, there's none of that so you don't have to feel like you're missing out on anything.
++Playable offline. Some things still need a connection, such as checking the progress of your skill upgrades, but otherwise the game is completely playable offline whereas most other good games need you to be connected.
+Single Player. Not only are you not competing with anyone (so you can't "fall behind"), but no one is attacking you so there's no urgency to advance quickly or feel worried you will lose resources.
+Skill Synergy. There are lots of skills and it can take a lot of time to upgrade a skill. But none of it is ever wasted because every level you accumulate goes toward a counter that gives you a stat bonus. Therefore no skill upgrade is ever entirely obsolete.
-Scaling. Low-level maps eventually scale up in enemy level, so you can't really grind for loot or do quick casual runs to clear Daily Quests. I feel the scaling goes up way too aggressively.
-Inferior graphics. Compared to many games out there now, graphics are inferior with a and "blocky" look because of not enough polygons. But overall not too bad because of the small screens you are seeing it on.

TIP: Start multiple characters, but focus only on one. That way you can collect Daily Quests from the other characters and farm Gems once a day from each. The startup cost to do it increases drastically though: 100 Gems to have a third character and 500 for a fourth means you won't break even for 5 and 25 days respectively.

TIP: Use your Gem-farming characters to re-play the easy levels while they are completing Daily Quests. You can play a map up to five times for a total of 10 Gems after all five runs.

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