Platform: iPhone - iPad - Android
Spell Sword's Non-Stop Monster Bashing is Perfect for Quick Gaming
Some of you may be wondering why Spell Sword's developers are getting a lot of flak from players -it is about the switch from paid to freemium. But putting that issue aside, the game is still fun to play, and if you did not get to start with the paid version, you will not be missing out. Spell Sword is an excellent 2D hack and slash game that features plenty of enemy mobs, tight controls, and a focus on fast paced gameplay. If you enjoy bashing all sorts of monsters with magic and your sword, then this is the game for you.
Getting Into the Controversy
The thing about Spell Sword that new players should remember is that it has been out for a long time, and originally, the game was not free to play. Spell Sword was originally a purchasable game with no in-app purchases -this means that the original gameplay presented players will the low grind curve to climb. If you started out with the paid version -do not update if you want to keep the original feel of the game. Most of the pay users are complaining with the newer freemium style, which is not all that bad, but it certainly cancels out a lot of progress that the paid users made in their original games.
The biggest change done was to weaken the items and attacks of the lead character, this gave more focus on leveling skills and getting dragon coins for rare equipment. This means that if you have some rather strong equipment on your paid account, updating to the new version will make your character much weaker. While the developers have chosen to compensate paid users by providing them with free credits, it will not be able to provide them with the same level of in-game strength that they originally enjoyed.
So yes, the switch is generally a bad thing -the only good thing is that paid users are not forced to update if they do not want to. And for those who did not buy the original game, this is not a matter all since there is no prior experience to make anyone feel left out.
So, How Does it Play?
For those of you who are completely new to Spell Sword, here is a quick breakdown of how it plays. The controls are simple: you move your warrior around with directional controls on the left, while the buttons for jump and attack are on the right. Spells are activated automatically when you come across cards. These spell cards are powerful, so try to prioritize getting them whenever you play.
When an enemy dies, they drop rupees, which come in the form of colored crystals, pick these up as they will be your main funds for upgrading your magic skills. Large brown crates will also appear in game -they have to be attacked several times before they reveal their contents -which are mostly rupees, but more importantly, each box also has one dragon coin. Dragon coins are considered to be the premium currency of the game, so try to get as many of these as you can. The good thing is that boxes appear often enough in game -the hard part is grinding a lot to get enough coins to buy something good.
Your main goal in every stage is to stay alive -you will naturally have secondary goal for each stage, but seriously, you need to keep moving and attacking. While the first few waves of enemies will be easy to dispose of, you will need to pull out at all stops in order to keep surviving. Even when you get stronger spells or better equipment, progressing through the simplest of stages can be hard if you are not careful. This is mostly due to the player's limited health bar. And while you can wear equipment that increases the maximum number of hearts, waves 20 and above are going to be full of really aggressive and high defense creatures.
The challenge level of this game is what draws us to it the most. The learning curve is pretty easy -especially is you choose to practice with endless mode before jumping into the missions (but people would normally choose missions first). Endless is a great way for farm rupees and boxes for Dragon Coins, and if course, it helps you get oriented with the stage and the various enemies that appear on it. You will get the basic hang of the game within the first few waves -and after that, the controls will come naturally.
Hardcore gamers, however, do not need to worry about having a slow start. Despite having a slow start in the game, the challenge quickly picks up to match a player's skill level -how far you get depends on your skill, and you will eventually meet a wave will prove to be a challenge. The good part is that despite the challenge that the game provides, it never feels frustrating. You have the option of changing your strategy and playing other stages or endless mode to farm (and get upgrades). Each attempt at finishing a stage feels fresh and new, which is important in keeping the game fun to play.
Pixels Are Beautiful
The 16-bit style graphics are easy on the eyes -every enemy is uniquely detailed, the lead character is easily visible even in the most chaotic of stages, and there is a certain sense of nostalgia for older gamers when they boot up this game. Of course, all that impressive pixel-by-pixel effort is pointless if the game is not well animated, and fortunately, Spell Sword has some rather wicked sprite animations. From the various magic spells, to the character's basic movements, to the different enemies and their attacks, everything has been done with careful attention to details. Oh, and did we mention that the stages look exquisitely beautiful as well? The different shades and tones were all done in the same graphic style as the rest of the game (which is really impressive to see).
The art is not the only thing good about this game, the music is also pretty fun to listen to as well. The sounds are very 80's-circa arcade variety with the electric beats. If you ever feel that that's getting old, there is always an option to mute the music. The sound effects are pretty good too. They make each spell sound like it really is causing damage -particularly the wind spell effect which really sounds as if you are slashing massive energy waves in the air.
The best thing about the game's delivery is that it is written with plenty of light humor, and if you are a gaming fan you will get most of the jokes. The humor is mostly based from science fiction movies, famous games, fantasy literature, and other things that gamers tend to appreciate. It is a nice touch and the fact that the developers put the story aside and just focus on the gameplay is a very wise choice.
Most people are down-rating this game due to the whole free-to-play system switch, and that is pretty understandable, since those who paid before should be allowed to just stick to the version of the game that they have come to love. That being said, the freemium version of Spell Sword is not bad at all. It has promises players plenty of replay value (though finishing all the missions is already a lot of game hours), and the challenge level will keep even the more hardcore gamers content. Spell Sword has taken its 16-bit graphics and arcade inspired sounds to the mobile platform and has adapted. While there are those who prefer its original paid incarnation, this second variant that is now the new standard is not so bad. Sure, the game is hard to appreciate if you started with the old version, but new players will still find something to love about the new one.