You go on living your life thinking it can't happen to you, and then one day it does. Mobile game addiction. For the last week I've been playing this stupid game called Saber's Edge, which was an Amazon Fire exclusive but is now on iOS. I love it, but I hate that I love it. It's got all the stupid trappings of a stupid mobile game: an energy bar, microtransactions, multiple currencies, everything costing ridiculous amounts of said currencies, a paper-thin story, repetitive music... All stupid things that I hate. So why can't I stop playing? It's the hook. The damn gameplay hook! The stupid damn gameplay hook that's so enjoyable nothing else matters. Man, I hate mobile gaming.
Saber's edge is one of those puzzle RPG games that I'm a sucker for, which is all thanks to 2007's Puzzle Quest. I keep searching for more games like it because I love that series so much, but of course none of these free-to-play phone games have any of the thought or complexity of a game like Puzzle Quest (which, by the way, is also on mobile and you should play it instead of this game). Everything in Saber's Edge, except for the core gameplay, is overly complicated in an effort to make you spend mountains of in-game currency so you'll buy stuff with real money instead. Strangely, I've found this to be one of the most generous f2p games I've ever played in that regard, as it gives out ample gold (currency 1), crystals (currency 2), and anchors (energy) for doing just about anything. The main quests will give you tons of these resources, and the daily and special event quests will give out even more. Yes, it does take stupidly large amounts of resources to unlock anything but it ain't impossible! Anyone who's willing to spend $30 on a character unlock is nuts in my opinion.
But I mean, while I'm kind of joking around, I guess some people really do get seriously addicted to this stuff. They've made it almost unfairly difficult to power up your party since leveling them through battle does next to nothing. There's equipment, promotions, upgrading of individual skills, and rarity upgrades (whatever the hell that does). Unless you spend money to make the difficulty fair, you either have to pay for things with gold or unlock them via cards earned though battle or by opening chests with gold, crystals, or keys you earn by playing. If you want to unlock more characters, you'll have to either buy them with real money (no thanks), collect a certain amount of character cards to unlock them which can be anywhere from 10 to 75+ cards, or get lucky and automatically unlock one by opening a crystal chest. I've been able to do this, but then your new fighter starts at level one and you either need to grind harder than a stripper or spend plenty of experience cards and gold to get them up to speed. The further along the rest of your party is, the more resources you need. So if you've got the equivalent of gambling addiction I can see how you'd probably end up spending money.
Sounds dumb, right? So why do I even like this game? Because battling is fun and satisfying. Battles in Saber's Edge have you matching icons of the same type in order to attack. You can match as many as there are on the board, so long as you can connect them together with your finger in one continuous line. The more icons you connect, the stronger your attack. I've been able to clear out every icon of the same color in one swoop before, and let me tell you it's satisfying as hell. The most interesting aspect, though, is that each of your four party characters have their puzzle grid on one side of a box. If another character on an adjacent side has a chain of three or more of the same color icon in the same square, they'll attack together in one move. You can even get a peek at your other character's grids on the right and left sides by tilting your phone which allows you to plan ahead by trying to get icons to drop in a place where the colors will connect around a corner for a bonus damage chain. If you're lucky, you can even get the chain to wrap all the way around the box and have your whole party attack one after another in only one move. I find this system to be fantastic, and very clever. It's actually much more interesting than the simple match-three style of Puzzle Quest, but unfortunately the game's f2p model holds everything else back. It'd be great in a fully-fledged game with actual RPG mechanics that costs $10 or $15.
Yeah, the difficulty is completely uneven. Yeah, powering up my party is frustrating. Yeah, it's designed to make you spend real money. But you know what? The battles are fun and compelling and I don't even mind the grind because every stage is pretty much the same but with different enemy attacks. It's getting those sweet, sweet chains to line up that makes me keep coming back. I played every day for a week and was rewarded with a new character. I had to spend all of my XP cards and gold getting her on par with the rest of my team, but she kicks ass now and we've made some glorious combos together.
Why do I like this so much? It's so stupid. Somebody help me.
- A witty saying of some sort.
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