Aurora Feint II: Arena Daemons in Review – For the puzzle fan looking for just a little bit more

af_arena-daemons1Sometime last year I was first introduced to PuzzleQuest on my Nintendo DS, and I instantly fell in love with the RPG/Puzzle hybrid. I had heard many comparisons to it in reviews of the game Aurora Feint: The Beginning, so when I got my iPod Touch for Christmas that was the first game I downloaded from the App Store. I’ll get into why those comparisons are not exactly correct further in the review, but suffice it to say, I liked the free version of Aurora Feint so much I quickly decided to upgrade to Aurora Feint II: The Arena. Recently, Aurora Feint has had a big update, version 3.2, and the subtitle has now changed to Arena Daemons.

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The touch screen map allows you to access the different areas of the game, from checking on your character’s stats, to playing the various games. In the single player campaign, you ‘mine’ for materials by matching 3 or more of the same elemental blocks, touching blocks to slide them horizontally across the screen. There are always more blocks pushing up from the bottom of the screen, row by row, so it’s your task to keep the blocks from reaching the top of the screen and bringing your mining to an end. In an innovative twist, you can change the orientation of the screen to any side to affect how blocks will ‘fall’ due to gravity, setting yourself up for larger chains. The more chains of blocks you match, the higher the multiplier of the element you then collect (so 2x the second match, 3x the third, etc.).

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As you mine you earn points towards opening up masteries of skills and spells. Spells you unlock by playing a different game, in the Tower section, where you solve puzzles by matching until you eliminate all the blocks on the screen. Skills are accessed by using some of the material you’ve mined, and then improved upon by honing that particular skill by mining specific amounts of material in the mine within a certain time limit. I found each of these game types to be both addictive while providing just enough of a challenge.

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The Arena is an attempt to move Aurora Feint beyond the single player game and into the realm of MMO. While a live chat is available in both versions of the game, it is only in the Arena that you can try your luck against other players. Unfortunately, this game mode is not done ‘live’ – but instead through the use of ‘ghosts’. Before you can play against another person’s ghost, you must create your own – essentially a timed mine game where you attempt to gather a certain amount of material, which fills up your meter, in as quick of a time as you can. Once you’ve created your own ghost for other players to battle, you can then play against theirs, essentially battling to fill you meter faster than their ghost does.

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The big expansion in Arena Daemons is the addition of the Daemons themselves. As you play against other ghosts, you earn experience, and when you reach a certain amount, you can level up your Daemons. These creatures give you additional powers in the Arena battles, such as increasing your multipliers or giving you better combos the more you change the orientation of the screen while you battle. There are branches that lead to different Daemons, giving you some additional choices to specialize in one over another.

af_arena-daemons7But probably the biggest disappointment for anyone coming into this game thinking it’s a lot like PuzzleQuest is that in many ways, it really isn’t. At this point, there is no real story to be found. There are some hints at a larger story, and plans to include lore scrolls that you can earn in a future release, but those things are not in the game as it is today. Also, after you’ve played the mine and the tower, there isn’t really any further variety to the puzzles – the Arena is essentially the mine puzzle played against other players and adding in the Daemon powers. But, none of that takes away from the fact that it’s a fun game to play, beautiful to look at, with excellent animations and a haunting score. The touch screen interface works brilliantly, and this game is well worth the price for anyone looking for a puzzle game with just a little bit more.

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App Summary
Title:Aurora Feint II: Arena Daemons (v3.2)Developer:Danielle Cassley and Jason Citron
Price:$4.99App Size:34.5 MB
  • Easy to pick up and play in short bursts or long sessions
  • Character building provides incentive to keep playing
  • Great graphics and sound
  • Excellent use of touchscreen controls and tilt functionality
  • Lack of storyline
  • Needs more variety in gameplay modes

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