In the action-RPG genre, 1996’s Diablo is the one that brought mass-popularity, and therefore subsequent action-RPGs were called ‘Diablo clones’ for years regardless of what else they brought to the table. On smartphones and tablets, the Dungeon Hunter games have defined the standard for action-RPG gameplay but have angered gamers with agressively pushing in-app purchases. Now we have Dark Avenger, a new entry to the genre. How does it compare? Let’s take a look!
Type of app: Action Role-Playing (aRPG or Action RPG) game
Platform/where to buy: iPhone/iPad; available in the Mac App Store
Dark Avenger has loads of content, including:
> FREE TO PLAY
> Dark Action RPG
> Smooth, Intuitive Controls
> Real-time Global PvP
> 3 Heroic Classes: Templar, Archer, or Mage
> Legendary Sets and Equipment
> Infinite Dungeon
The basic story of Dark Avenger is … well, I really didn’t have any clue without looking at the iTunes description – and I have played for several hours! Evil has risen … blah, blah, blah. Basically bad things are happening, there are undead, and you have to kill them. Got it? Good.
The controls are simple and clear – you move with a virtual left-hand stick, and attack with a button on the right. There are special moves assigned to other buttons, and everything fits well on screen and is responsive. Combo attacks are done by button-mashing and getting multiple hits. I was impressed at my ability to move around without mistakenly triggering something else or having my character stop moving. Given how problematic these can be, I found that very impressive.
Graphics are excellent – perhaps not up to the highest level for the platform, but since you can have dozens of enemies on-screen at once attacking you with particle effects from fire, ice and more … I thought they were well done. Also, the developers allow you to ramp down the graphic effects to save battery.
The game requires an online connection, and integrates offline and online components. Offline includes basically the main part of the game, whereas online mode gives you real-time PvP (player vs. player) and the ability to spend real money on in-game gems and gold.
Ease of use/Overall performance:
There are a few things you will notice as you first start to play. First off there is a pop-up about a ‘launch bonus’ for the first week or so – if you beat the level 5 boss you get a reward. This is a solid incentive to make some progress. If you are on an iPad you will notice that the game doesn’t properly rotate, so on an iPad Mini with Smart Cover your hands end up in the wrong spots to be comfortable.
Finally you will see that the features mention ‘Templar, Archer, or Mage’ as classes, yet on the player selection screen you will only see Templar or Archer. If you choose Archer you will get a ‘coming soon’ notice. In other words … you’re playing as a Templar. I assume the others will be patched in later.
Gameplay is ‘stage based’, in other words you clear a specific level of all enemies and get a reward. Along the way you can also find items in barrels and chests and some enemies drop gold. Generally you run into an area that closes behind you, and enemies start appearing. You wade into them and try to get large combination attacks going as soon as possible, since they can do massive damage. As you progress the levels get more challenging, but the formula remains the same.
Once you complete a stage you get a rewards screen, and can spend your cash and gems on skills. There are passive skills such as strength and endurance, and also active skills you can select. Once you are at a high enough level you can gain the skills, and then advance them iteratively to maximize the ability.
Given how Dungeon Hunter 4 took the bold step of actually making you choose to wait or pay for many repeated things, I was concerned how Dark Avenger would work with freemium purchases. While there is always a sense of how much better things would be if you spent some money and the skills tree always sends alerts even when you have no points available, I never felt overly harassed. Since we know what freemium entails, this is about as good as we can expect.
Would use again/recommend?: Definitely! I love some quick hack-n-slash sessions, and the performance and mechanics work really well. Dungeon Hunter lost my attention when they focused on all the wrong things, so I actually enjoy this better.
But there is one significant issue – I wanted to play on my plane ride home, and was out of luck. The game completely requires an online connection to even startup. For what is largely a single-player game this is really annoying!
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: There is no reason the game shouldn’t work offline; Get all of the promised characters into the game!
Source: Free download
Price: Free with In-App Purchases
Here is the trailer: