Ever since I got my first smartphone I’ve been on the hunt for good games. I’m not a casual gamer, so games like 2048 or Flappy Bird won’t do it for me. Even online titles like Clash of Clans can’t seem to deliver what I’m looking for. I knew I hit something when I came across a game called Slingshot Braves with its interesting clash of RPG and action mechanics.
The game is fairly welcoming with its tutorial, but leaves some unanswered questions to first time players. The premise of Slingshot Braves’ gameplay is simple. You have two heroes on the field amidst a multitude of enemies. The player must touch their characters, drag the finger in the direction opposite they want their heroes to go, and lift. If done correctly, the hero will shoot forward. If they hit a wall, they will ricochet. If they hit an enemy, they will deal damage to that enemy before ricocheting again. The more enemies hit, the larger the combo damage will be. Heroes can also ricochet off of each other to trade off the combo. Overall, the gameplay is actually really fun.
Each hero has three different equipment slots for Armor, Helmet and Weapon. Weapons adjust your damage, helmets for your health, and armor for your defense. These equipment come in 5 different types as well. When all a hero’s equipment is the same type, they receive a 20% boost on all piece’s effects. Completing missions awards the players with different materials, each of which match the aforementioned weapons. There’s also a chance to receive new equipment as well. Players can enhance their current equipment with these materials, and even level up their grades to take on the form of new weapons. There’s also a new elemental system which confuses me so much I don’t even want to get into it.
In addition to different categories of equipment, there are also five different weapons for the player, each of which reacts differently when in contact with enemies. When a sword user hits an enemy, they strike an arc in front of themselves. This damages anyone that may be within its path. After the initial hit, the player will ricochet until they hit another enemy and repeat the process or they run out of speed. Fists are similar, but rather than an arc they deal damage to just the single enemy. Their ricochet speed is far faster however. Hammers and Staves also behave similarly. When they come in contact with an enemy, they unleash an AOE effect. Hammers create a circle while Staves create a type of cone. Lastly there are Spears which are unique in the sense that they actually go through enemies, only stopping when they run out of speed. Weapons also have a burst they can unleash which does an assortment of different effects depending on the weapon. This burst is attained by dealing and receiving damage over time. It’s best to save these against a tough enemy!
What I found rather enjoyable is that this game actually has an online component that’s fairly decent. Slingshot Braves cycles through a series of co-op multiplayer events. Joining one of these will have each player pick two of their three heroes with the ability to swap between the two at any time. In battle, you and your team mate take turns shooting your own hero around the stage. Other than that, it’s just like normal missions. You can take this a step further and even request friendships with people. By doing so, the game may reward you with a visit with a copied version of your friend’s main hero bearing gifts once in a while. You can also request and share unused stamina with them. All of this creates a bit of an online community, though maybe not as massively as one would hope.
Slingshot Braves utilizes many common techniques I despise in video games, the first being Stamina based systems. Each mission in Slingshot Braves requires the player to spend a certain amount of stamina to partake in. Players recover 1 stamina every 10 minutes, and have an increasing cap every few levels. If you’ve ever played Puzzles and Dragons, you’ll see there’s no difference. Each mission takes on average about 7 stamina, but the amount tends to increase as you progress through the game. This becomes a rather annoying detail, since although your cap increases, the rate at which you earn stamina does not. You will actually find yourself playing LESS, which means fewer level ups and stamina recoveries. It’s rather obvious why it’s constructed this way. They make it easy and straightforward at the start to have people interested, then they start pushing payments on them.
This game also comes complete with its own gachapon system. Players receive a free gem every other day, with a gachapon ticket costing 5 gems and resetting its pool of items every week. From what I have gained, it seems the chances are entirely random. They offer 20 items, with each item bearing a 1/20 chance of being obtained. Most are bad, but there’s always one S grade weapon in the pile. “But it’s not that bad. You can improve your weapons to S grade also, so it’s basically paying for time, right?” Yes and no. For some reason, equipment that starts off as a lower grade is always weaker than equipment that starts off at a higher grade. An S grade sword that started as an S grade sword will be superior to an S grade sword that started as a C grade sword. I do not understand why they do it this way, but it basically feels that the game is telling me that I am bad and all my items will always be bad.
Other than the crushing gem scheme, the gameplay itself does have a few issues. Getting stuck was all too common when I played. Despite having the best free-to-play equipment, I had to spend 30 minutes kiting one boss because if I played fair I would lose in a heartbeat. Something about the massive time spent failing and repeating this process seems to tell me this not right. I still had major trouble later on even when I got lucky and won an S Grade weapon. I’m pretty good at games, so I’m pretty sure I’m not the issue here! In most games you would just level up or buy better weapons, but that’s not that easy to do in this game. You can’t buy equipment despite there being a currency, enhancing takes too long to do, and stamina restricts you greatly. Limiting me from playing is one thing, but limiting me from grinding so that I can play is just absurd.
The turn-based system is rather puzzling as well. It seems as though enemies are divided into groups. Rather than each unit having a turn, each group has a turn. Some enemy’s behaviors are reasonable, such as that of the slime. When it’s their turn, the one closest to a hero will move and attack that hero. Other enemies are far more confusing. There is a large bull type enemy who moves in very odd ways. First off, bulls are never grouped together, but there always seems to be more than one in each stage. Because of this, it’s impossible to know which bull is which. When it’s a bull’s turn to attack, it will charge in the path its facing, plowing down everything similarly to the spear. It will then ends its turn by facing a player. It will only attack every other turn, but sometimes it seemed to break that rule. Another annoying detail is that it will change its facing when a hero attacks it. This means if you use the hammer or the staff, that hero’s turn will end with the two of them face to face. Basically, you just cannot use those weapons on stages with bulls unless you want to see them meet quick deaths. Without the ability to know beforehand what enemies you will face, it feels like you are just throwing time away.
I want to recommend this game, but I don’t. I am pleased a company like COLOLPL has the guts to make an addicting smartphone game that is actually a game, but I feel like they were possessed by the ghost of Puzzles and Dragons. The graphics look great, the gameplay is fun, and the online aspect is a blast. The issue isn’t “that’s all it is.” If that WAS all of it, it would be a fantastic game. There are too many of these “It would be a great game if it weren’t for EVERYTHING.” titles. I might be able to look over all the payment things were it not for the sense that spending gems is essentially required just to get past the first zone. The free bi-daily gems help a lot, but wasting them all on a low-grade gachapon item just… Well, it just plain sucks. I can’t really give this game a higher rating than: