Gotta tap ‘em all
When it comes to role-playing games where the player captures and collects monsters, Nintendo and Game Freak have totally cornered the market. While investors continue to harass the big N to bring their brands to mobile platforms, Outplay Entertainment hope to swoop in and establish themselves in the monster-battling niche whether or not Nintendo enters the fray at all.
I like mobiles games and I like trying a lot of different titles, but I immediately saw parallels between Monster Legacy and another iOS game I thrashed and then grew to love. There’s a very specific type of mobile gaming that grips you and then there’s the kind that festers into a beautiful glowing sore you can’t help but poke and itch whenever you have the time. Where The Simpsons: Tapped Out launched in a rocky place and found its footing through iteration, Monster Legacy has learned from EA’s mistakes and just needs more content to capture an audience.
Your first steps into the world of Arborea aren’t steps at all. They’re taps. In the world map, you tap your way from point to point interacting with characters, picking up energy for your monsters, and currency for capturing and building up your farm. The best iPhone games waste no time hooking you with satisfying tactile gameplay (what with the constant touching), but given the complex gaming mechanics in Monster Legacy, you’ll need about 20 minutes to get into it. Don’t expect to put in two minutes as the tutorial said it was over after the first battles and captures, but then you’re introduced to your farm and more.
The ultimate goal is Evil Lord Ardur’s defeat, but along the way you’ll have to juggle two different types of currency, crafting capture devices, and of course battling plenty of monsters. For all the tapping, there’s a relatively straightforward gameplay curve that doesn’t make you feel like you’re setting out on a grand adventure as was the case in 1998 on Game Boy. I don’t like to directly compare games in reviews, especially titles on platforms that compete directly with each other, but Outplay’s objective here is clear. They need to establish the rhythm of catching, training, and battling for younger gamers who never touched Pokémon in the first place.
Monster Legacy does that for the most part, but it’ll need consistent updates to encourage players through to its varied treasures, creatures, and environments. The graphics are sharp and the music is cheery; if Pokémon looked like this when I played it, I’d have gouged my eyes out with happiness.
Still, iPhone games benefit from constant contact between developers and players. Monster Legacy will grow as the player base does. What there is to buy in the game doesn’t shove itself in your face, unless you absolutely have to skip through to the end of every quest line. That in and of itself would defeat the entertainment you get from Monster Legacy, but for older gamers, it certainly won’t hold your attention. It's exceedingly easy. There’s a spark missing that Pokémon absolutely nailed in leaving you to wonder where your dad ran off to (even if you ignored it to get waist deep in grass as soon as you could).
But Monster Legacy does give younger gamers the opportunity to choose between a male and a female avatar and it once again presents the notion that the animals around you could be your strongest allies. Between 20 different locations, 70 challenges that’ll certainly expand with time, and the extremely low cost of entry (it’s free-to-play), Monster Legacy might take off and dominate the iOS charts by Summer.
Code provided by publisher. Exclusive to iOS. Free-to-play.