May 29, 2014
Tales of the Adventure Company, as previewed recently, is a dungeon crawler that uses tile-flipping and patterns like Disco Zoo to send players through a dungeon, trying to kill the boss at the end, collecting keys and managing one’s party along the way. It’s a game that uses randomness, but in a great way.
Randomness in games can be a crutch or it can be a compelling element. It can be frustrating to know that one’s fate is not exactly in their own hands. But the way that Tales of the Adventure Company uses randomness is special. See, players might never know what exactly they’re getting when they uncover a tile, but they know what they might potentially get, be it enemies or heroes to uncover. And they’ll have an idea of where the next hero or enemy will be because the patterns are available. The game knows what it needs to keep hidden from players and what it needs them to know in order to have a fair shot a succeeding.
It helps a lot that the game rewards players for playing again and again: there’s benefits like added health and damage for that chapter, or getting characters in other levels, that helps justify coming back to difficult levels. Players replay for their own benefit, not so that they can hopefully get a favorable draw of the cards to succeed. There’s actual strategy to be applied here. The best analogy for the game is a collectible card game rather than poker: the former is about adapting strategy to randomness, and that’s what ToaAC is.
The pixel art is well-done, and vibrantly colorful. I like seeing a dungeon crawler that uses a wide range of the color spectrum. The controls are simple, just tapping on the screen, with a handy shortcut to switch who the leader is by tapping and holding on a character. It’s a natural mechanism, and a great one for experts to discover.
Tales of the Adventure Company is the kind of game I love to play. It takes a tile-flipping mechanic that other games have used and abused for free-to-play monetization, and makes it into, well, an actual game, one that is actually meant for players to have a shot and to enjoy it. This is a must-play, and I am endlessly pleased by this game.