REVIEW: Fantasy Conflict [iOS]
Title: Fantasy Conflict
Platform: iOS (reviewed on iPhone)
TL;DR: Fun, addictive mobile strategy game with a sense of humor.
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Fantasy Conflict is a surprisingly meaty tactical strategy game for your iOS device. In it, you’ll steer your human Royal Guard troops around each level’s map, capturing new buildings, expanding the number of troops at your disposal, fortifying your fortresses, firing off an array of (upgradeable) magic spells, collecting coins and attempting to overtake every last one of the enemy Dwarves’ buildings. There are achievements to unlock (in-game & OpenFeint), helpful amulets to buy, and star ratings for each level across 3 levels of difficulty. Most regions even contain randomly-generated “endless” Survival levels, where you can play until you lose to gain cash and hone your strategic brilliance.
So, as you can tell, plenty to do. There are 7 regions in the game, each containing 5 levels (not including those endless random levels). One level at a time, you advance the Royal Guard boldly through Dwarf territory, smashing the beardy villains as you hunt for King Flabbian’s stolen Energizer Crystal.
The storyline is humorous, the writing is in the style of blatant, satirical pro-our-side war propaganda, and the fantasy world art is done in a pleasing, cartoon-y way that helps you ignore all the death and screaming that happens as you and your foes attempt to outmaneuver each other around each map. You can spend in-game currency to increase the potency of spells and amulets, both of which will definitely make your difficult tasks a bit less painful.
At first, you’ll notice that Fantasy Conflict is a lot better at playing Fantasy Conflict than you are. But, in time, it’ll click. I know I struggled a few times, early on. But once I got up and going (and came into a bit of cash to spend on power-ups), my Royal Guard became a nearly-unstoppable force of remarkable resolve and resiliency. I developed strategies based on what I’d learned in earlier levels. I could even pull out the occasional come-from-behind victory.
Luckily, the levels only take a minute or few to complete; so, you can simply restart and try again if you should happen to fall to the dastardly Dwarf warriors. It will happen. It will be frustrating. I know I reached a point, very early in the game, when I scanned the entire overworld map and pretty much assumed I’d never have a chance of finishing Fantasy Conflict. Not just in time to have this review ready for launch, but EVER.
This wasn’t always the case, but…it turns out that, these days, I suck at strategy games. This is because I lack one key, essential asset: strategy. See, I just kind of charged around, flinging spells whenever they recharged and assuming everything would simply work out. I didn’t put a lot of thought into my approach. This completely changed once I struggled my way through the second region. As I said, I wasn’t always a total strategic lightweight.
[Cue black & white montage and mandolin music!]
My strategy game experience was brief, but passionate: A friend and I became fans of Utopia on SNES for a while, after one of us rented it on a whim. I later played Final Fantasy Tactics and Suikoden. They’re hybrids, but both carries at least some strategic component. Then, that same buddy and I discovered Command & Conquer. We played a few of those, back during the PS1 and PS2 eras. I loved those games; we played constantly. I was straight-up Brotherhood of NOD, he was all GDI. Kane FTW!
Anyway…I pretty much dropped out of the genre after that 90’s heyday. So, Fantasy Conflict was familiar enough that I could speak the language, but I was terribly rusty. I doubted that I still possessed the skills necessary to whip around the maps with the speed and grasp on priorities I used to have. I’ve spent 5 years playing Wii games, for crying out loud; was I still wired for this kind of experience?
Hell yeah! Just ask the Dwarf King how he got Grand Duked.
Don’t worry, people. Even if you’re a complete novice, this is the kind of game you can and will improve at and find success in after you plug away at it for a little while. The commands are basic, and they work well within the confines of my iPhone. Occasionally, poking on of the tiny “fortress improvement” icons would be an issue. Sometimes, a dialogue message (King Flabbian and Dwarf King Horny Helmet banter as you play) will obscure the bottom of the map just enough that it’s tough to move a set of troops to a key locale…but I’ve finished the game, so it didn’t hamper me that much.
Gameplay is simple, using taps and finger-drags. (I eventually played with using only taps. See what works for you!) You tap a structure, and half of your troops within become highlighted. Tap again, and you can control the entire force within that structure. Then, you just tap the building you want them to charge. To use a spell, you simply tap the icon once the spell charges/recharges, then tap the target if the spell you’re using warrants such a thing. Easy enough to grasp.
You play, you improve, you upgrade, you gobble up Dwarf turf.
I love the character artwork in the game. Before you begin an assault on a new region, you’ll see an all-still cinematic, complete with sound effects to underscore the story and dialogue you’re reading. Cute. I came to enjoy the dialogue and pre-level propaganda exposition bits, though they were occasionally a tad repetitive as the game when on and I did see the occasional typo. Not huge defects, but they keep the game from achieving perfection in those areas and bear mentioning.
For me, this kind of game carries you through on two things: 1) Intuitive, addictive controls that make you feel like a powerful general and don’t get in the way of your progress, and 2) An interesting narrative full of interesting characters.
Fantasy Conflict is a success on both counts. While not flawless, the flaws are negligible. You’ll have fun and probably get pretty well sucked-in as you storm Dwarf castles and hurl lighting spells in a fast-paced battle for the glory of the great King Flabbian and the Baldoria Royal Guard.
As a Grand Duke, myself, I feel it is my duty privilege to be able to speak of His Majesty and our powerful military’s awesomeness. I really got into it. Fantasy Conflict is a great mobile strategy game with a quirky, winking style (King Flabbian and his men are basically a bunch of slobs, and you’re pretty much taking over the world and slaughtering dwarves in the name of a glorified watch battery) and plenty to keep you busy.
If that’s not enough, the game ends with a teaser that another adventure may still lay ahead. So, further expansions to the map could yet appear…human and dwarf may even have a common foe.
I think Fantasy Conflict is more than worth a look. If this kind of game floats your boat, by all means jump in! And, even if you’re new to strategy games, Fantasy Conflict may be the perfect, pick-up-and-put-down adventure to cut your teeth on.
Careful, though…it’ll bite you back!
ALMIGHTY ROYAL GUARD!
- Comical story and characters
- Responsive, mobile strategy gameplay
- Just challenging enough, multiple difficulty levels if it gets too easy
- Plenty of battles to fight, spells/amulets to unlock and upgrade
- “Endless” Survival levels offer even MORE replay value
COWARDLY, CRAVEN DWARVES…
- Some weird typos in the dialogue
- The kings’ dialogue during battles occasionally obscures bottom of playing field
Look for Fantasy Conflict soon on the App Store! The HD version will cost $2.99, while the SD will run you $1.99. There will also be demo versions that offer the first chapter for free, with the rest of the game unlockable via in-app purchase!
I’d wait till they’re a bit older. Tweens and up should be fine. No bloodshed, but definitely implied bloodshed and lots of complex stuff going on.