Rush through dangerous dungeons and avoid the deadly traps. Destroy the horde of orcs and goblins, smash the undead army and purge hundreds of demons.
I’ve been getting sent a lot of games for review lately, and regardless of art style, game mechanic, or uniqueness, they will generally fall into one of two key categories, paid or free.
There are some fantastic free games which offer fair and enjoyable play experiences without trying too hard to separate you from your money. Then there is the dark side, which is often called freemium, comprised of titles which are designed and balanced with a focus of sliding grubby fingers into your pocket.
Unfortunately there are more of the latter floating around, and as a result I am planning to review less and less shady freemium games. Which is hard, as they are getting very good at presenting themselves as fair play games, only grabbing you by the balls once you have invested a lot of time.
So where does Tap n Slash [Free] fit in all of this? Well it is free, it has ads and offers IAP. It is however done pretty sensibly, and as a result I haven’t been able to put this game down for about a week, and I am yet to spend a cent. How about that.
The game presents itself as an action slasher with RPG elements played out across an isometric grid based dungeon. You have to swiftly navigate through the maze dungeon by tapping the left and right sides of the screen, slicing through hordes of ghoulish critters – including zombies, demons, hell hounds, and eventually being greeted by a dungeon boss.
As you progress through the dungeon, your player is constantly being chased by a collapsing abyss that gets faster as you progress through the game. This element creates an air of duress, forcing you to think quick about your next move before you fall into the fiery inferno. All this plays out to a wicked circus rock music track that puts you into the perfect mindset for slading through the undead.
Throughout the levels you will find scattered treasures and sword collectibles. Treasure is accumulated and used to purchase new characters, which come in the flavour’s of barbarian, wizard, amazonian (chick with whip), knight and samurai. All appear to be cosmetic and don’t seem to effect your ability, they do however have cool names like Randalf the Grey and Sir Cancelot.
The sword collectibles… now they are pretty significant and are a core part of how the clever game system works. When you start the game, you have a little counter beside your player. Each time you move into a grid square occupied by an enemy, you will kill the enemy and lose one ‘sword’ (represented by the numbers beside your player). When you run out of swords and meet an enemy on the grid, the enemy will kill you. So it’s your important task to strategically avoid certain enemies and collect swords on your way.
Distance is be name of the game, the further you get the more experience you earn and the more godly you feel.
After each level is cleared, you will enter a treasure room which allows you to collect some gems without enemies on your back. This point in the gave gives you a moment to catch you breath before heading into the next dungeon. This is important, as this game will work your thumbs like a mofo. One screen tap equals one move, so after a 15 level dungeon run yours thumbs will literally go numb. This inter-level relaxation room shows the developers put significant thought into the game flow.
It’s the first time I have seen a game with this left right isometric running mechanic, so it feels pretty fresh.
There are some issues through. User progression is one of the problems. The game starts with one unlockable character, the barbarian. To unlock the next character it will take you a pretty long time, which is kind of annoying. When you do eventually unlock the next character, it will start at level one. Considering it takes only one hit to kill an enemy or an enemy to kill your, there is really no point in upgrading to the next character.
After you have devoted a few days to playing this casually, you will feel like there is litle more to accomplish. There is no real achievement system apart from player unlocks, so it ends up feeling like a bit of a grind.
Overall I enjoyed my week with it, well worth if for the low price of free.