Mind Candy isn’t a one trick pony. Despite the ongoing popularity of its Moshi Monsters franchise, the Shoreditch-based developer hasn’t resigned itself to just one landmark success. In many ways its latest game, World of Warriors, is a departure from what the studio has worked on in the past. Action-heavy and aimed at a slightly older audience, it’s easily one of the year’s best free-to-play games available on the App Store, and one without the usual pitfalls.
As the name implies, World of Warriors features a robust cast of characters plucked from the pages of history. From archetypes such as Sakuma the Samurai and Toki the Viking to icons including Boudica and Joan of Arc, players are invited to collect over one hundred of the game’s cartoon combatants.
Within the first half hour or so, you will start to muster a small band of warriors while learning the ropes. Progress is charted via the game’s world map which is dotted with dozens of checkpoints. Tapping on these will instigate the battle screen with fights ranging between one-on-one duels to full-on, six-man melees.
You wouldn’t guess from looking yet World of Warriors employs an intuitive turn-based system. Usually, in games such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, we’re used to seeing branching menus with an endless list of commands. Here, however, things are much simple thanks to a few handy icons.
Each of your warriors will have a regular attack as well as special moves which consume mana. Whatever action you take during combat will prompt one of several mini-games. All based around rhythm and timing, each one allows players to amplify (or potentially weaken) their attacks. There are plenty of other interactive elements as well. Being struck by an opponent, for instance, will cause heart and mana icons to litter the screen; if you can tap them in time then these will be added to your remaining stock. Similarly, defeating an opponent will cause them to fall, leaving a trail of gold coins for players to swipe at.
As you hop from battle to battle, you’ll eventually need to upgrade your warriors or swap them out for new ones. This is all done using in-game currency. Gold can be used to train fighters whereas premium currencies can be siphoned into purchasing new warriors and equipable talismans. For those who really don’t want to fork out for gems, you can always sit through trailers or perform other tasks courtesy of the game’s Tapjoy interaction.
After a week or so of play, I’m still enjoying World of Warriors. That’s more than I can say of just about any other free-to-play title to launch this year. Though I’m starting to run into a bit of grind, the minute-to-minute gameplay is entertaining enough to reel me back in. What’s more, the further I delve, the more modes and options I am starting to discover with sessions now stretching beyond the regular five minutes here and there.
Then there are the visuals. Playing the game on an iPad with retina display has been a real treat thanks to Mind Candy’s vibrant blocky characters and environments. Even the menus look great and help to put across many of the game’s historic themes.