I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them. The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of Magic. Like everything else in their portfolio it’s different from anything else they’ve done, and it’s also not quite like any other dungeon crawler I’ve played. In addition to the combat you actually have to grow your own ingredients to cook your own spells, and you can even get a pet to care for that will help protect you in exchange. This may be a dungeon crawler “lite” in some regards, but it offers enough to keep me coming back for more on a daily basis.
I don’t know that there is any real plot to the game other than you are an apprentice at a school of magic ala Hogworts, and you need to train to become a full fledged wizard. You’ll do this by exploring level after level of a dungeon where you’ll battle monsters, collect loot and maybe even scrounge up a pet or two. Every successful combat earns you experience, money and fame. The experience lets you level up so that you get more health, your spells are stronger, and you gain access to new spells and magical items. Money helps you buy these items, though some require gems instead. Besides buying gems via IAP I’m not sure where you get them from, but since the number I have is one less than my current level I’d say you get one for each level. I’m also not really sure what fame does.
As you might have surmised from the name, the only method of combat in Spellcraft is spells. During combat you’ll select a spell that you want to use, and when it’s your turn to attack a magic pulse will start travelling up and down your wand. You tap on the pulse to stop it, and then hold to let it power up. The closer to the tip of the wand the pulse is, the better the cast will be. You also have to gauge the powering up appropriately, because if you don’t wait long enough or let it go too long the spell will be weaker. When you’re ready, let go of the wand and the magic will be released. If you wait too long the spell will launch automatically and be really weak. The timing to catch the pulse in the first place is the hardest, and sometimes it gets frustrating as you miss 5 or ten times before actually getting it.
You can buy spells in the store using money and gems you’ve earned, but it’s much more cost effective to buy the ingredients and make them yourself. You’ll have to plant the ingredients in the greenhouse and then harvest them by tapping on them when they are ready. If you allow the game to use notifications it will tell you when plants are ready, even if you aren’t playing. Do keep in mind that plants “grow” even while you’re not playing, and they can die if you leave the game for an extended amount of time without at least checking in on the garden. Once you have the necessary ingredients you can go to the spell library and add them to the cauldron. You then have to stir the ingredients by swirling your finger in a particular direction over the cauldron for a certain number of seconds. How well you do this determines how many of the spell you’re making you actually get.
The visuals are stunning. The characters look like they were ripped from a high quality cartoon, and there are nice special effects all over the place. Even though it’s really nothing more than a gimmick, I love how the spells and monsters appear on cards as well. The sound effects are equally impressive. The nice thing about the creature noises is that not only do different creatures sound different, but the noises they make aren’t always the bland fantasy creature noises you might expect. The music is decent, but it’s either very subtle or non-existent through most of the combat, making that portion of the game a bit too quiet.
Folks looking for an intense dungeon crawler or a full fledged RPG won’t care much for Spellcraft. If you’re like me, however, and love the concept behind RPGs but just don’t have the time for one in your life right now, Spellcraft would be a great choice for you. There’s enough combat and leveling up to feel like a dungeon crawler, but the lack of plot and ease of shifting between parts of the game mean you don’t have to spend lots of time with it each day to enjoy it. The best part is that it’s free, though you can buy gems or the ability to block ads via IAP. Overall, this is one school that’s actually fun to be a part of.
|Title:||SpellCraft School of Magic||Developer:||Appy Entertainment, Inc.|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||4.3|