Sunday, February 3, 2013

Android App Review: "Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering"

Hi Guys,

Today I'll be reviewing "Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering", an "action"-rpg available on Android phones and tablets. You can find it here.

I was initially enraptured by Juggernaut, but its flaws grew in proportion as the adventure crawled on and I have today given up on ever completing this, well, juggernaut.

The game takes out exploring and consists primarily of a series of turn-based battles that the user can escape from at any point to "explore" previously conquered territories (exploring consists of collecting gold the populace leaves for you, fighting off "random" monsters, and searching for treasure chests if you have the requisite items that allow you to search), level up, change your equipment or shop.

Aside: Finding treasure: Each conquered area has ~3 treasure chests to "find", which just consists of dragging a scarab across the territory until it starts flapping its wings. You then unearth the treasure chest and play a Concentration style game to unlock it. This is a nice addition, except in the course of playing through 50% of the game I had only come across 5 or so scarabs. Occasionally they're offered as a reward to complete areas and even more occasionally you can get them as part of the random loot given, but you have to be lucky enough to pick the right loot at the end of battle then! Of course, you can also buy them for an absurd amount.
...oh, and some of the treasure chests are guarded. A dark elf ended up eating all of my territory's populace to the point that she leveled up to be about twice my level before I was finally able to defeat her and get the treasure chest.

Juggernaut is a free-to-play game, and I normally do not fault developers for this model, but this one takes out any of the fun that is offered in the game to make it next-to-impossible to be a "free-to-finish" game.

The Good: The game has PS2 era graphics, which are nice, and the backgrounds of your captured territories are high-res static images that are quite fetching. Combat starts out relatively simple, but quickly becomes engaging in that you have to manage your fury and magic levels, keep an eye out for falling stars, and do your best to attack the enemy from a direction it's not looking while dodging the enemy's magic attacks by rapidly clicking black magic orbs or playing a game of Simon.

The artwork accompanying the game and making up load-screens and the NPCs is gorgeous, although the proportions of the female characters in the load-screens are a bit exaggerated--to the point that some may be offended. Although they also have fully armored female characters for a change as well which is welcome.

Now we come to the bad. The grind, if you can even call it that. I understand the idea of free-to-play games where they make it more difficult to make it through the game the "free" way and offer incentives to the player to buy things through the game to make their experience better. This game takes this beyond acceptable levels however.

The storyline battles are long and difficult, to the point where in order to progress you basically need to have full magic and fury going into the battle, be lucky, and utilize some of the "ammunition" that can give you a critical attack, a couple tens of HP, or poison the enemy for 20 HP/rd for 5 rounds. As a mobile game, I give the developers credit for not penalizing you for leaving a battle in the middle of it. If you leave the battle all of the items you used come back along with your pre-battle fury and magic status.

This causes you to fight the lower-leveled "random" monsters in order to have higher magic and fury and hopefully level up once or twice more than you would through the storyline battles alone. Unfortunately, these monsters are few and far between. You actually find yourself turning on the game and waiting, yes WAITING for a monster to attack. Usually while you're waiting a conquered area might come up with some gold tribute that may be enough for you to...oh wait, it's not enough for you to do anything with it. If you have 3-4 areas with gold tribute, you probably can earn enough to buy a crit attack ammo.

After you clear the mines, there is a mining game (which is just Collapse!) that you can play to pass the time, but if you want anything more than gold, you have to invest lockpicks to play the harder levels.

Oh but wait, all of this COULD be considered acceptable (and I managed to maintain my frustration and continue to have fun with the game through about 50% of the game), but then you come across enemies that are immune to your magic school! And the only way to get a different magic skill is to invest—wait for it—FIFTY skulls! Maybe that doesn't seem like a lot. Let me put it in perspective. You are lucky to get about 1 skull in every 5 battles. So that means that you would have to either be very lucky or beat 250 monsters in order to have 50 skulls. 

And there are dark elf monsters that are immune to ALL magic, in which case you really just have to use all of your ammunition and pray that you have some critical hits and they use more magic that you can easily dodge.

It got to the point where I finally gave into the pressure and clicked the "free crystals" link at the top where I have to complete some mindless objective (download another app, get health insurance quotes or car insurance quotes or sign up for "free" credit score reports) in order to get enough crystals that I could purchase the skulls to get a second magic school.

And here is where the game broke.

After completing the objective and annoying their customer service (because they didn't award me the crystals) and waiting several days, I finally was awarded enough crystals to buy enough skulls to get a second magic school!

...and then there were no more random monsters.

What?! At this point I had completed most of the side "chapters" and had around 6 conquered territories. I usually didn't have to play the mining game more than once for gold and monsters to show up, and sometimes I would fight two or three random monsters in a row.

I've played the mining game ten times now since the last random monster showed up. Gold still shows up, and I suppose I could use the gold to eventually buy enough ammo to beat the next storyline battle, then continue to subject myself to mining and getting gold. But no random monsters have shown up!

At all!

I can only conclude either I am ridiculously unlucky or that by completing a "free crystals" objective I've shown the developers that I'm stupid enough that I might invest more of my life into this game and they've cut off the flow of random monsters.

Even if it is because I am unlucky, the game is not fun anymore. It was already on the borderline of having to do too much crap to advance at all without paying, and now it is just an absurd waste of time.

I reviewed it on Google Play at 2/5 stars. It is a miserable game with a lot of potential. I wish I could play the game this could have been. I would have even paid for it, but I won't be nickle-and-dime'd for it.

Zero Review: F 3.5/10