Dark Legends Receives Overhaul, Deserves A Second Look
A while back I lambasted Spacetime Studios’ Dark Legends for being too much like a Facebook game and not nearly enough like an MMORPG. Specifically, I criticized its energy menchanics and heavy IAP content, and I generally questioned its self-professed MMORPG label.
After writing that article I deleted the app from my phone and had pretty much lost track of the game. But it turns out that I wasn’t the only one complaining about some of the lamer, more Zynga-fied elements of the game. And in response to decidedly negative feedback from a even their more dedicated playerbase (I’m sure they’ll never admit it, but I was reading the STS forums) Spacetime Studios recently put out an update to the game that significantly changed some core elements of the game.
The big change is that they removed the most Zynga-fied element — the energy system that required you to sometimes wait several hours or even a day before progressing in the game. As the game was designed in part around having non-playable quests to provide additional money, experience points, and rewards, they chose to instead reincorporate the energy system and non-playable quests into Allies, a sidebar system whereby you trigger an ally, wait for a period of time, and then get additional rewards. These Allies work in 30 second, 2 hour, or 1 day intervals, and the rewards get larger the longer you wait. But these Allies are completely sidelined to the quest chained and completely optional to your progression in the game.
This is a good thing. The move towards IAPs, social gimmicks, and other lame Facebook game elements is something that far too many iOS games are falling for, and frankly, I’m glad that this particular choice came back to bite Spacetime Studios in the butt. I understand that they were testing out a model, that they are trying to be profitable; but in choosing to base the game around a Mafia Wars style energy and quest system they sold out the integrity of the game as a true MMORPG.
I thought that this week I’d return to the question of how much of an MMORPG Dark Legends is. Does the recent update bring Dark Legends more in line with what players expect when they see the MMORPG label on a game?
Absolutely it does. By removing the energy mechanic from quest and level progression, they have restored some of the playability to the game. While the structure of the game is still not quite as good as their much better Star Legends, at least it’s moving in that design direction. I hope further changes come in the future. It’s still not a game I’ll be playing much, but it’s once again a game I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Unfortunately, the IAP element of Dark Legends hasn’t gotten any better. I’m still assaulted by multiple advertisements before I’m even able to start a level, and I’m always feeling a little pressure to buy Platinum or take advantage of a vanity item sale. It’s annoying, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Bottom line: If you tried Dark Legends before and thought it would have been so much better without the energy system, then now may be the time to give the game a second go. I still find it a little too linear and grindy to fit my tastes in MMORPGs, but at least now I can play it freely, without managing energy.
For more on pocket-sized MMORPGs, check out the Massively Portable podcast.