Some genres lend themselves better to mobile platforms than others. Clearly, anything intensive can get problematic. Touchscreen only devices will certainly not force complex control schemes on their players. Apart from a generally changed life situation, this is one of the major factors in the rise of so-called casual games. Andor's Trail is a curious one on such an ecosystem.
Basically, it is a console style roleplaying game with Roguelike elements, such as randomized dungeons. As such, its scope is quite large; although it cannot even be finished yet, it can be played for weeks without having seen everything. Its core mechanic actually demands dedicated play sessions, but we'll come back to that later.
The game world consists of a fairly large overworld map with several cities and some other places of interest in between. Apart from providing flavour, non-player characters may fulfil two roles: merchant or quest-giver.
The former are important as character progress is primarily equipment driven. This is the game's main strength: there is no obviously best equipment to have. There are always tradeoffs to make. Also, the game avoids forcing too many long-term decisions on the player with regards to equipment.
When it comes to quests, they differ wildly in scope, difficulty and reward. They can be literally endless, like the initial one of locating your disappeared brother. Some are rather good, as they require some more skills than simply combat or patience. Too many boil down to such tests of patience, though, when you are tasked to locate a certain amount of rare items, for example, or have to walk long ways across the map.
Apart from plot advancement, the main motivation to perform quests is experience. Unfortunately, what has been done well for equipment does not quite work out the same way for character skills and abilities. Having no character classes, progress is measured in the core attributes strength, health and skill, plus talents which can be acquired every couple of levels. The latter let the player choose from a long list of aspects, many of which sound good, but whose practical use can really only be understood at a point in the game when level advances have already become infrequent. There we are again, the old RPG issue of forcing uninformed long-term decisions.
Still forgivable. What's harder to swallow yet is that at its core, Andor's Trail is a grinding game. Quests don't nearly give enough experience for the player to progress organically. Money, in the early game, is hard to come by as well. So the player is forced to spend hours and hours grinding away in the same dungeons repeatedly, killing the same monsters over and over again. It's not just an option to ensure a safer journey later on, it is a necessity.
So if you happen to come by an interesting item in a shop, you may need to grind an hour or so to afford it. The game even includes unique artifact items, which are always interesting; though again, the developer couldn't think of anything better than making them extremely rare drops of random monsters – i.e. acquiring them costs you some hours of boredom.
The game does some things to account for its platform's restrictions. Death, for example, is not permanent, but rather an injury which just costs experience. Exact movement is hardly ever necessary. And different from Roguelike genre conventions, monsters do not home in on the player when spotted. Rather, they just follow a random movement pattern within a predefined area where a random movement into the player's location implies an attack. Which may sound like a good thing, because if you have to set your phone down for a moment, you'd probably prefer not to be massacred when you pick it back up. On the other hand, it turns the complete mid-game into a stupendous waiting exercise as you keep looking for safe spots between the enemies to sit quietly while your energy refills. Not exactly exciting.
Andor's Trail being unfinished shouldn't deter you. It's quite slick in many ways and much longer than many “finished” competitors. If only its core game mechanic weren't so unimaginative! Nevertheless, it's not a bad pick on a platform where, contrary to popular opinion, not so many good games which come with no (spyware) strings attached exist outside the puzzle genre. If you've got many hours to kill on the road, go for it.
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