One of the best things about role playing games is there are so many variations on them. There are JRPGs, Western RPGs, and action RPGs. Two of the most popular are turned based and tactics. Developer Sigil Entertainment combines the two in its newest game Battlecraft. Like most new ideas, it is not perfect, but it is an addicting game.
Full disclosure: the game does include an online component. I played a review copy supplied by Sigil Entertainment. At the time, the online portion of the game was not up. This review is based solely on the single player campaign.
RPGs are judged heavily based on their stories. Battlecraft is not only a different type of RPG in its gameplay; it also differs in its lack of actual story. This is a good idea, since the game is trying to do something entirely different. As it is, the game is going to be judged on its mechanics and how well the two styles are integrated together. Adding a story – even one that is paper thin – may take away from what the developers are trying to accomplish.
Without a story or characters, this also means the focus is going to solely be on Battlecraft’s gameplay and systems. The game relies heavily on strategy. The extent of the characters personalities are their resemblance to chess pieces. Those who are familiar with that game will have a rough idea of the movements here. For those who have never played, the game makes it simple. By clicking on a piece, players will know what movements are available to them. This is the same of attacks and special powers. There is not a traditional tutorial for the game, but it is easy to pick up and learn.
However, the game is anything but simple. There is a learning curve that requires plenty of losing in the beginning. The good thing about Battlecraft is each loss will provide a little bit of experience. Along with the knowledge that is gained from replaying the game, it will not be long until the player is able to enact strategies that lead to victory. It is just a matter of choosing the right army.
This is where Battlecraft does not differentiate itself enough from other games on the iOS market. The developers have done a great job of balancing the characters and making strategy of the utmost importance. Putting together the correct pieces is the key to the game. This will become doubly important when the game goes online and there will be no generic AI patterns to learn.
The downside is the game relies heavily on microtransactions. This is not new to video games today – especially those on mobile phones. Nowadays, it is not a matter of if a game requires out of pocket expenses from players, but how much they are needed. Unfortunately, in the case of Battlecraft, it looks like it will be a lot. When a games’s first tutorial is on how to purchase more gold with real money, it is not a good sign.
Battlecraft is an interesting take on the role playing genre. The game is fun and addictive. Gameplay mechanics are fast and the simultaneous turn based system leads to lightning quick games that never get boring. This also places a premium on strategy and long term thinking. This adds to the learning curve that allows players to take something out of every game no matter the outcome, Unfortunately, microtransactions will probably lead to this game getting lost.