Facebook/Mobile MMORPG Castle Age Review

My iPhone has been quite barren in regards to apps (especially MMO games), and upon reaching a plateau of boredom, enhanced by my predisposition of always needing to occupy my hands, it seemed paramount that I hit the app store and use as much bandwidth as possible to get my fix.

To save wading through the stupid amount of games on the app store, I hit up the top 25 lists and proceeded to download as much as my lazy little fingers could swipe. 

I started testing these games, finding many of them to be quite samey, and quite honestly, quite boring. I felt like I had played them all before. This familiarity stuck around, even when I felt I had hit the proverbial jackpot with the game I’ll be talking about today: Castle Age. 

You may feel like you have played Castle Age before; like Castle Age is just a new coat of paint on the Zynga style of casual game. However; stick to it like I did, and you’ll find a surprising amount of depth and originality in the seemingly already stale genre. 

Castle Age, available on facebook or iPhone (for the sake of this review I have focused on the iPhone version), is an RPG where you level up, spending skill points as you go to increase your energy to quest, stamina to attack, and/or various other attributes depending on your playstyle. 

Energy and Heroes
Energy is your main tool of levelling, allowing you to quest, in-turn giving you experience points to level up. Quests are undertaken simply by selecting the quest which automatically fulfills the quest once and rewards you with gold and experience points. Each quest has an influence bar, that when filled, awards you with a free skill point to spend as you please. Completing a bar will also unlock two sub-quests related to the initial quest, which, give-or-take a point, cost and reward about the same. Fulfilling these also rewards a skill point to spend. 

In order to do most quests, you’ll need a specific Hero. Upon starting the game, you will select a starting hero who will level up as you complete quests, defeat monsters, and battle other people. As you level up, and more quests become available, so will more heroes, each of which can be bought for a small sum of gold. 

Each hero possesses a unique skill; each one offering specific bonuses. For example, having one hero equipped may increase your max energy by 3, whereas another may benefit you with 3% extra gold income per hour. When not restricted by quests, this variation in each hero adds a good level of customisation options, and makes nearly every hero worthy in some regard, unlike a lot of similar games where earlier heroes are rendered obsolete later in the game.

Energy and stamina each regenerate over time at a set rate.

Stamina and Monsters
Stamina, due to its variety of uses and potential for rewards, costs 2 skill points to level instead of 1. Stamina is used for dualling and invading other players, as well as battling in guild battles and, most importantly, attacking monsters. 

Monsters are a large part of Castle Age, and subsequently, investing in high stamina can reap you a lot of rewards. 

Monster battles play out as follows: You spend either 1 point (attack) or 5 points (power attack) to attack a monster, dealing a set amount of damage, based primarily on your attack, as well as your equipped hero’s. Monsters have a large amount of health, which is why it is important to have both high attack and high stamina. Attacking will yield gold and experience based on damage done to the monster. 

Monsters do not have to be taken on solo, and, in fact, most monsters require groups of people to take down. You can summon monsters yourself, should you have the required items, or join in on public monster fights, or ones specifically started by your guild. 

Defeating these monsters will reward you with loot, with the chance of drops being influenced by the amount of damage you contributed towards the monster. Each player’s input in combat is shown within a ranking system just below the monster.

A lot of the best items in the game are acquired from defeating monsters, including new property to increase your hourly gold income, and units and items to help you in fights. 

Your Guild and Gold
Upon purchasing or acquiring property through monster battles, you will gain an hourly income, providing you with a set amount of gold per hour. This gold can be used to purchase heroes, items, spells, and units, all of which benefit you in different combat situations. 
Like in life, you’ve got to spend money to make money. You will notice that most of the time you’re either flat broke, or extremely rich. It’s quite a rewarding system, allowing you to leave the game for a few hours and come back to a nice, fat pile of gold waiting to be spent.

Guilds are a great part of Castle Age and, without the feature, Castle Age could very well get trapped in the ever-popular realm of monotony most similar games fall into. Being in a guild allows you to join your guildies in cooperative monster fights, chat with members and coordinate attacks, and, most importantly, participate in guild battles.

Guild battles pit your guild against another in a large scale battle, complete with traditional RPG roles, each complemented by different play styles (ie. the way in which you’ve chosen to spend your skill points).

Players with high attack may choose to fulfil the role of rogue, concentrating on killing other players, whereas players who have a lot of defense may choose to fortify and heal other guild members. Guild roles may be changed each time you battle, so you’re not forced to commit to any style of play specifically.

Why Castle Age?!
If, at this point, Castle Age still sounds unappealing; if you’ve played things such as Mafia Wars, for example, and feel you’ve got as much as you can from what seems like a genre with limited potential, I’d recommend at least giving Castle Age a chance.

There is a distinct feeling of consistent progress, in which you’re constantly rewarded, even if you’re away from your iPhone, allowing for extremely addictive, short bursts of gameplay. 
This system, coupled with the ability to cater your play-style to however you like, essentially provides a definite level of fun, regardless of what type of gamer you are.

If you’re as addicted to games as I am, you’ll have a lot of fun whenever you’re in down-time, away from your typical game-fix, destroying monsters and questing in the palm of your hands. 

Whether you want a simple boredom killer, or a game you can invest a lot of time and mind power in, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Castle Age.
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