As much as my wife claims, I do not love my Playstation more than her and I can switch it off whenever I want. I could go days, nay weeks without playing it if I really wanted to, because sooner or later I’ll be on arguably more addictive things than crack, alcohol or online multiplayer, mobile games. I would label myself as a closet mobile gamer, and though admittedly I don’t play many handheld games, if I stumble upon a good one you simply won’t hear a peep from me. So imagine my wife’s delight upon hearing I was giving up the Playstation for a little bit, you can almost hear her hopes smashing to the ground when I said I’d be on my phone instead.
Tactical Monsters Rumble Arena is the latest addictive thumb twiddler, which finally makes its way onto iOS after a brief exclusivity across Steam and Android. From Camax Games, the minds behind the once Number 1 Turn-Based Strategy RPG Heroes Tactics, comes the latest triumphant and highly seducing … well, turn-based strategy RPG. Competing in a perilous hex map, players must collect powerful monsters, recruit them for your team and send them into battle against either competitive in game AI or online against global foes. As the genre suggests, it’s more than just choosing the strongest, most bad ass monsters you can win (or buy), strategically aligning your team with monsters with various abilities, ranges and perks is the key to finding glory. Tactical Monsters features an extensive single player campaign with plenty of challenging scenarios to wriggle out of, and once you’ve smashed that or given up on it there are endless battles ahead against over 1 million currently active generals online. I can definitely smell the addictive mobile game pheromones radiating from this release, but like every “Free-to-Play” game the fun has got to stop sometime, so how far can I get before my credit card joins the roster?
A surprising element of the game’s single player campaign is its genuine challenge and encouragement for its players to use strategy. Most tactical games can be beaten by luck or by shelling out for superior allies, and though these do come into effect here, Tactical Monsters plays more like a calculated game of chess, complete with an opponent who knows what they’re doing. In the game’s tutorial it makes you aware of how essential the art of blocking and waiting can be in your arsenal, so it’s one thing spending money or time obtaining the strongest team you can, but you’re nothing without patience and calculated foreshadowing. You may be controlling adorable monsters against a vibrant cartoon backdrop, but there is a definite level of difficulty here that can be conquered by planning your moves and building your team accordingly, things I’ve never actually considered whilst playing a free to play mobile game.
During the course of the single player campaign you are awarded with great level entry characters, monsters that will be swapped out for much stronger ones the further you progress to give you a fair shot at beating the game. In every free to play mobile RPG I’ve played to date there eventually comes a brutal realisation that you cannot continue without spending some coins, however in Tactical Monsters I was frequently awarded with genuinely powerful and helpful allies that made me confident that I wasn’t starting every fight at a massive disadvantage. Every monster in the game has been wonderfully designed and comes equipped with a delightful homage to those that inspired it, so it was always fun to see what I would win or fight next. I understand that there’s only so much you can do within the confines of a mobile game, but it is a shame that this vibrant, high level creativity has only been applied to each character’s look, as they more or less move and attack in exactly the same way.
The main appeal of Tactical Monsters is being able to battle over 1 million active players across Android, iOS and Steam, meaning there’s never any shortage of servers and competition. With easy to access servers pitting you against a player of your choosing, this ‘unlimited’ amount of content is as riveting and challenging as you’d expect, however this is where the money is, literally. Cash buys diamonds and diamonds buys monsters, it’s the circle of life nowadays, and if you really want to enjoy Tactical Monsters for what it’s really for, then you my friend must adhere to the “pay-to-win” mantra. The hugely popular online multiplayer should be the reason you download this game, so be prepared to either grind religiously or part with your pennies if you really want to thrive and enjoy it. That aside, the competitors that step into the multiplayer arenas are just as tactical and masterful as the most difficult AI, so not only will you be competing in a highly addictive, difficult and well thought out game, you’ll be doing that against players who, like you, know what they’re doing, making it a highly addictive and dastardly competitive game wherever and whenever you play.
Tactical Monsters can be a difficult game to master but it’s an easy one to enjoy if you know what to expect. It may host a huge online presence that will feed you as much content as you can handle, but to really succeed you’re going to need that debit card if it’s fair and challenging single player just isn’t enough for you.