Review: Battleloot Adventure

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Gaming on the iPhone leaves me with mixed feelings.  First off, I have a 4S which means that the device has some of the most advanced computational power in the palm of my hand.  Graphically, the phone can render some truly stunning visuals.  iOS itself lends game developers a wealth of functionality for social ties (even if some of them are half baked–Game Center).  What gives me mixed feelings the most, though, is the fact that while the device is so completely powerful, I view it as a phone first and the fact that it can play games is just the cherry on top.

Since I see the device as a product generally for business over pleasure, the games I enjoy the most are usually quick pick up and play affairs that have no true lasting emotional attachment.  At any moment, if I’m playing a game, should I need to take a phone call or put the phone away to attend to more pressing matters, any game that I’m playing shouldn’t suffer from my lack of attending to it.  Gaming on the PSP and Vita, where gaming is the focus, at least allows my mindset to shift a bit and become focused on the fact that I’m holding a gaming device where I can’t be distracted by other functionality built into the same piece of hardware.

That being said, finding a game that is meant for longer play sessions and also has some engrossing hooks doesn’t mean I won’t get completely sucked into it.  Digital Tales’ Battleloot Adventure, a combination of turned-based combat and fantasy role-playing, is one such game that is designed to be more than just a quick diversion. 

The game starts off with a handful of tutorial levels meant to teach the basics of attacking, defending, using combo attacks and explaining the foundation of a rock-paper-scissors type of character class system that defines the rest of gameplay experience. Blue is a warrior class; green is a sage class (healing with a touch of magic attacks); purple is a Mage class; and red is a rogue class. Within this class hierarchy, blue beats green beats purple beats red beats blue. The challenge to each encounter is having the correct balance of classes.  Unfortunately, that also means replaying a battle several times until character levels are high enough to withstand damage, or deal enough damage, thus keeping battles shorter. Good ol’ RPG grinding at your service. 

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Since the battlefield allows for only three characters at a time, picking which class to take up each spot can be a bit of a strategic hassle.  Let me explain what I mean.  Each battle consists of three rounds with each round introducing higher strength enemies.  During the first few hours with the game, I found that by the time my characters had survived the second round of battle, their energy had diminished to the point that I was unable to dodge enemy attacks or have a second character perform combo attacks.  Often by the third round, the enemies presented would be of a slightly different class build from how I had built my team, and with diminished energy and health, I would quickly find all members knocked out.  So the question that is presented is, do I build my team around the first or second round of battle, or the third round?

Any XP earned in the first or second round is lost if all party members are knocked out before the end of the third round.  If a party member is knocked out during the first or second round, they are revived for the next round but with a much-diminished level of health.  With a low health meter and little to no energy, party members quickly begin to drop off, tipping the balance of the battle toward the enemy. Losing all three party members during a battle ends the skirmish but also prompts for a revival by paying gold.  If a battle is won, gold is awarded to the group and certain items are unlocked based on character level progression.  Any items that are unlocked cost gold to actually equip.  Any new spells that are unlocked from leveling up also require gold to learn and equip.  More gold can be earned at the end of each round by having the characters do six or more hits during a round of battle.

As you might have noticed, gold features prominently in the game.  Since it is so prominent, Digital Tales has also made it available via in-game purchasing.  While I understand in-game purchases are becoming standard fare in most mobile games these days, I find it hard to stomach when a game is constantly trying to get me to buy more in-game currency with my own real-world currency.  Of course, all items in the game can be earned through grinding combat levels, but the temptation to cut corners is made almost too convenient by dropping $2 here and $5 there.

My other complaint about the structure of the combat relates back to my earlier comments about iOS gaming in general.  Any given combat situation has three stages.  Without the right character classes in place, combat can take a long time to actually complete all three stages.  There were several times when I would be playing through a round of combat, have to put my phone down, and by the time I was able to get back to the game, all progress during the battle was lost and I would have to start over again.  Again, this is more my own feelings toward iOS mobile gaming, but if a game requires more than five to ten minutes of my attention, I shouldn’t be punished for having to set the game aside for any length of time and have to start my progression all over again.

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Overall, Battleloot Adventure is a well-crafted game.  The combat is varied enough and there is plenty of content to keep fans of fantasy turn-based strategy busy for quite a while.  Upgraded items purchased throughout the game modify the look of the characters, and spell progression offers some neat visuals during combat.  The story is a bit contrived, but even the characters admit that they are only seeking gold and loot, so any story to help flesh out that basic concept is good enough.  At $0.99 for iOS and free on Android devices, Battleloot Adventure is a game totally worth playing. I have a hard time getting past the idea of easier progression by buying additional gold, but the combat is fun and there is a surprising depth of RPG strategy and customization packed into such a small package.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Fun fantasy turn-based strategy
+ Bright, vivid art style

Cons:
– Longer combat sessions don’t necessarily fit with a mobile “snack” gaming mentality
– Easier progression can be earned by spending more real world money in-game

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: Digital Tales
Developer: Digital Tales
Release Date: 3/19/2012
Genre: Turn-based Strategy RPG
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.