Nimble Quest Review: RPG-Based Snake Game Impresses
As I’ve done in the past with Massively Portable, sometimes I step back from MMORPGs themselves and look at the broader range of MMOs, RPGs, and games that would appeal to fans of those genres. This is one of those weeks, because I happened to try Nimble Quest, the new freemium game from creator NimbleBits, and I have quickly gotten addicted to it.
Nimble Quest is a riff on the Snake game, as well as of Call of Snakes by Magic Cube. Call of Snakes took the Snake concept and paired it with the 3PS shooter genre, making each part of the Snake a man with a gun and putting powerful Commanders in charge. Nimble Quest mixes Snake instead with an 8-bit retro RPG — think early Final Fantasy the Zenonia series. I think the RPG elements help add a little more to the game than the 3PS shooter did for Call of Snakes; and NimbleBits has also put a great amount of polish on the whole concept.
Each game begins with you in charge of a Hero — the head of the Snake — marching through a location. Like a Snake, the Hero does not stop, and running into anything kills the Hero and ends the game. Enemies spawn in the board, and you must navigate your Hero to them to attack them. Defeat them and you may get gems, tokens, items, or another Hero, which lines up behind you and marches along. Before long you’ve got an entire adventuring party — fighters, wizards, archers, and more — doing battle with the bad guys. The challenge is to get your party through as many increasingly difficult levels as you can before the lead Hero dies.
Controls are simply directional swipes. Heroes attack automatically when they’re in proximity of an enemy, but it turns out that there are definite strategies to how you maneuver your party and which heroes are facing or flanking an enemy at any given time.
For example, protecting the lead hero is always vital, so sometimes it’s better to dodge and lose a party member from the back of the line. But some of those party members have great special abilities, so it’s also valuable to get the right ones close to the targets you want to kill quickly. And the whole time, you need to be steering your party forward. It’s quickly engrossing and sometimes chaotic.
As you play, the gems you earn can be used to level up your characters to One, Two or Three star status. Pretty quickly, you’ll have your heroes leveled up to One Star (necessary to keep advancing in the harder levels). At this point, you’ll have to decide who your favorite lead character is and concentrate on collecting the 10,000 gems needed to make them Two Stars. Three Stars is a ridiculous 90,000 or so gems, almost begging for an IAP purchase.
Speaking of IAP: the IAP in this game is actually not bad. It’s a freemium game, so IAP is expected. Here, you can purchase more gems, more tokens, or even individual heroes that you have not yet unlocked. The great thing is that you can always play the game for free to achieve all of these things, but it will take time.
The one place where IAP annoyed me was in the game’s Arena mode. Arena is an endless level that’s super-fun to play and also is a way to match ranks with other players. But playing Arena mode costs one IAP token per play. So basically, endless mode is a finite option competing for tokens with the campaign mode (which also demands more of them as you go). These tokens are the insidious part of Nimble Quest’s IAP scheme, and I’m sad they locked Endless Mode behind the IAP paywall.
So, how similar is it to Call of Snakes? Check this video out for a side-by-side comparison. The concept of Nimble Quest is clearly drawn from of Call of Snakes, but IMO the execution is actually better. Gameplay generally feels faster; there’s more variety in terms of both attacks and enemies; the party of Heroes has unique abilities that can dictate how you navigate a level; and Nimble Quest has powerups and collectibles that affect play. There’s no denying that Nimble Quest is derivative, but that’s not unusual for the App Store (e.g. Temple Run).
You should really try Nimble Quest out. It’s exactly the kind of game that I like to have on my iPhone, and I suspect it will remain there for some time to come. And since it’s free, there’s no excuse not to give it a go.
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5