Spellcrafter is a tactical RPG for iOS. It features role-playing elements with turn-based battles that include real-time components. Unfortunately, when they mashed it all together, what came out the other side fell far short of my expectations.
I love turn-based, tactical RPGs. I love exploring, treasure hunting, and customizing my characters as they level. What I love most about them, however, are the (usually) turn-based battles where I can take my time to plan each action, then watch them all unfold in front of me. I also enjoy real-time games. That feeling of moving freely throughout the land, finding hidden treasure protected by powerful bosses, then letting my instincts and reflexes take over as I execute my deadly dance over my enemies corpses. Unfortunately, while Spellcrafter borrows elements from each of these genres, it features almost none of what I love about either game type. The setup is fairly standard. You have a promising young mage who may one day grow into a powerful wizard who can save the world, three different heroes and their various armies to protect her while she executes her spellcraft, and a lot of baddies to fight along the way. As you make your way through each very linear level, you will have to choose your battles wisely because if you squander your resources or troops, your only recourse is to restart the level and try again. Further, each level is completely self-contained; meaning that whatever armies and gold you acquire on one level will be stripped away when you start the next. Battles are grid-based, and while I generally enjoy this type of combat, this one left me more than a bit frustrated. First, while the combat is turn-based, the longer you take to execute a move, the less effective that action will be. So, instead of pondering your moves like chess, or wading in like a Shaolin Monk, you get to do neither. See what I mean about the worst of both worlds? Also, there is no undo after you take your move, which often feels like the game is poking you in the eye after you rush your move and tap the wrong square. Lastly, your mage's spells are gesture based, and are also timed. This might be ok if the gesture recognition algorithm was a bit better, but in its current state, it just adds to the frustration.
Spellcrafter is a graphically rich game, and is a pleasure to look at. Older devices may have difficulty running it, though, so if you are trying to play this on anything older than an iPhone 5 or an iPad 3, do your homework first.
Both the sound effects and music are top-notch, although I recommend turning the music down a bit compared to the effects.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Refreshingly, Spellcrafter offers no IAPs of any kind. Buy it once, and play it forever.
I wanted to like Spellcrafter, and I think it could be rescued from itself by adding content to the levels, removing the timer during combat, and including an undo button. It's a beautiful game with lots of polish. Unfortunately, whoever was in charge of picking and choosing the game elements from its respective genres, chose poorly.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 - A beautiful game. Sound: - 5 - Surprisingly good music and sound. Controls: - 2 - Needs an undo button, and the gesture recognition for spell casting left me frustrated. Gameplay: - 2 - It's a turn-based tactical RPG with a needless timer, and completely linear levels.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't waste gold and troops fighting needless battles. The gold in each level is finite, and you will need all your resources to defeat each boss. When leveling your mage, specialize rather than diversify.