Fantasy Conflict Review (iOS)
Fantasy Conflict is a craftily designed, speedily paced, and sometimes problematic iPhone/iPad RTS from Gaijin Entertainment. I haven’t played anything else from Gaijin — they’re well known for the Modern Conflict series (the spiritual forebear of Fantasy Conflict) and Braveheart — so this review is a judgement of Fantasy Conflict on its own merits. Part of me wants to urge readers to pull out their devices and purchase it immediately because at its best it’s one of the most successful strategy games available on the go, but some annoyances keep it from greatness.
Check out the full Fantasy Conflict review (iOS) after the break.
The dwarves have been messing with the flow of time and, unforgivably, this has caused The King to sleep in. Better wipe those ugly dwarves off the planet. The story is told through comic book-like illustrations with a healthy dose of humor. The art style — both in game and cutscenes — is cute and funny. My only gripe with the visuals is that sometimes messages at the bottom of the screen — the dwarfs enjoying hurling insults at you — sometimes get in the way of the action. Other than that it’s fun, funny, well-polished, and light.
Both you and your opponent begin a match with one castle. There are numerous neutral castles scattered across the map, and the two of you vie for control of them all. Your castle starts with a number of troops and produces more as the match goes on. To attack you tap a populated castle and send half your troops to an adjacent one. If you send enough men to overwhelm it, it’s yours.
Sounds simple? Throw in magic, castle upgrades, and an average match length of two-to-five minutes, and it gets complicated fast. The tutorial gives you the basics as though you were a five-year-old, but when you’re tossed into a proper fight it doesn’t take long to see that the bloody dwarfs are damn tough. I was shocked at just how challenging Fantasy Conflict is. Getting three stars on a level and completing the various challenges takes legitimate skill. Don’t let its cute looks fool you; Fantasy Conflict has something to offer real gamers.
It all coalesced eventually, and I got the hang of it, but I wonder if this sharp, early difficulty spike was a wise design choice on Gaijin’s part? I can imagine a lot of casual gamers being turned off by it. This isn’t a critique, mind you. I like games that push me around a bit. I just wonder if your Angry Bird’s obsessed Granny Fran and Tiny Tim with his first iPhone will feel the same way.
I do have one major gripe with Fantasy Conflict, and let me put it this way: if you can, absolutely play it on the iPad. It was clearly designed for the tablet. The action is too fast paced and buttons too small to get the full experience on an iPhone. In a game this quick you get a flow going, and it can be frustrating to have to hit a button 6-7 times before it registers. (The magic buttons in the top corner of the screen are particularly infuriating.) I muscled my way through these issues, but it’s a problem. So I say again: play it on the iPad.
+ Light, funny, and good looking
+ Addictive, surprisingly complex gameplay
+ Challenging, but a lot of fun
– Not well-suited to the iPhone
– Schizophrenic difficulty
Nevertheless, Fantasy Conflict is a success. When my experience wasn’t marred by the tiny screen or the inconsistent difficulty, I had a blast with it. (Definitely caught myself ‘whooping’ a bit on the subway.) Sure, it’s $2.99 — a bit high for a game of its type — but there’s a lot of content here. 35 levels in the campaign in 7 chapters; six theoretically endless survival levels; and a whackload of achievements (and you will have to be good at Fantasy Conflict to get them all). I hesitantly recommend it to iPhone users, and if you own an iPad it should be a definite purchase.