Summoners War: Sky Arena
Is it worth the summoning time it requires?
It is amazing how far turn-based strategy games have come, and how they endure the test of time, seemingly intertwining their allure into new titles. That alone is the reason why Summoners War earns my respect, because they cleverly took this addictive and intelligent genre, and mixed it with the Far Eastern pop culture.
Com2uS seems to have really hit the spot with this title, because Summoners War is by far the most famous title they have, out of 25 or more fairly unknown games. The company knows their stuff, and they have created something which appeals to audiences and gamers in the USA as well as the Far East, which is where their main offices are located, incidentally.
But, enough about them! If you want my short answer – Summoners War is an addictive mobile game which manages to satisfy both casual and hardcore gamers. The game comes with its own set of drawbacks, however.
I love games with a diverse gameplay, or at the very least those which make up for a one-sided gameplay style with immersive storyline or unique mechanics. Summoners War, in my opinion, lacks all those aspects, but there is something about this turn based strategy genre I value highly and thus the game managed to keep me interested beyond the initial glance.
Summoners War isn’t story driven nor is it visually pleasant, but these traits were not in their focus
The main storyline is nothing original. In this fantasy world, the main hype revolves around precious Mana Crystals, so the inhabitants constantly battle over them. To make things more orderly, Arenas were created as a means to contain the situation.
You come into play as a Summoner who gets his own magical island, where he needs to build up his army of monsters and fight the good fight.
The game is filled with cool but perhaps one-dimensional characters, which could be more interesting if they had a voice for instance. Instead, they communicate with you in subbed messages, which gets boring pretty fast and you are compelled to skip over them.
The initial plot, though not impressive, gets even less important as you go deeper into the game. You clear some instances and dungeons, but they are basically the same. The level design is also unimportant and quite forgettable.
But, if I’m not mistaken, Com2uS played their cards right, and they bet everything on the turn-based strategy allure. That and the Pokemon, Digimon, and other Mon’s appeal that Eastern pop culture has integrated into every young generation around the globe. Mon being Monsters for short, representing those cutesy little creatures which are every child’s friend, growing and fighting against evil together.
Well played, Com2uS, well played indeed. Not only did they manage to hit a vital weak spot and create a game that will have major appeal to everyone born in the 80s, raised in the 90s, and younger, but they also ended up with a game that is, by definition, low maintenance.
You quickly pass the transition from the beginning stages to the routine. The game, in its essence, only consists of you taking your team of selected monsters, two or more, and doing battles in arenas or dungeons (which consist of multiple arenas basically).
But, the fun part is tweaking and growing your monsters. The monsters gain levels and ranks, and can even evolve, gaining new abilities. You can also augment them with runes, which can also be improved. When you add the Elemental Advantage System to this, you get a pretty complex and immersive combat preparation and execution system.
The elemental advantage system works on the rock, paper, scissors principle, with an additional separate set of two elements, light and darkness, which are mutually advantageous against one another. The main three elements are wind, fire, and water, and are organized like this: Water > Fire > Wind > Water.
When you add different sets of correlative abilities and leader buffs, you get a pretty complex and immersive turn-based combat system. This is at the center of this game and seems to be the main appeal for all people who play it.
So, at its basic levels, Summoners War strikes me as a game which rewards combat orientation and players who like to farm, improve, and plan their combat. It immediately reminded me of Disciples 2, a PC game I gladly play from time to time, but without the map moving and hero aspect.
On the other hand, it is clearly not a game for people who seek some storyline satisfaction, and who like to connect with the main characters. I must say I do not fully understand why they missed out on this opportunity, for good storytelling wouldn’t change their gameplay optimization in any way, while it would definitely broaden the appeal.
If you play this game on your tablet or smartphone, or any portable device, you are in luck because it will look awesome and run quite well. If you play it on your PC via the emulator, like I do, you are in for a world of hurt. The character models and visuals will look good on a portable device, but they will lose all their aesthetic value when you stretch it on your screen. Not to mention the emulator will make any decent CPU run like junk, and completely mess with all your other tasks.
If you have a choice, do not play this on PC!
The game provides plenty of helpful guides and instructions, allowing you to get a firm grasp on the important stuff quickly.
It will also take forever to patch it up to date, when you install it first, so better leave it overnight, while you are asleep.
Does it demand too much money?
It is my impression that this game doesn’t require money at all, at least at the stages I played it. Maybe those who are in the late game stage and compete for prestige are inclined to invest cash, but since you don’t really lose your armies or anything like that when you lose a battle, it doesn’t make a difference if you pay or not.
Also, you can experience most, if not all, aspects of the game without investing a dime, so I’d say I also approve of that.
I am compelled to judge a game harshly if it doesn’t offer me anything in terms of an engaging storyline, but I also know the importance of a good combat system.
Summoners War is decently optimized, which is probably the reason why it lacks some more advanced visuals I like, but the character design is nice and the combat even has cutscenes for critical strikes and other important and dramatic moments, which only add to the pot.
It is a small download, but takes forever to update. The turn-based strategy combat system implemented here is a complete success, and they even managed to bring something new to it, with all the monster optimization and the skill synergy.
But, a serious strategist will be turned away by the inability to calculate precisely the amounts of damage inflicted. You can’t predict the combat turn order, though monsters do have the initiative (speed) stat, and there are plenty more details lacking, making this game’s strongest point (combat system) far from perfect.
All in all, this is a game which will make even the most casual gamers lose many hours over, and have lots of fun and enjoyment along the way. Hardcore fans will also have something to dive into deep and get rewarded in the same proportion, but those most demanding gamers will, I think, probably have a few things left to be desired.
The bottom line is if you are looking for something new to play, I recommend you try this game for yourself and enjoy it. Blue Moon Game recommends it!
Engaging Turn Based Strategy Combat
Playable in light-hearted and hardcore gaming manners
Low requirements for device configuration
A high number of different monster abilities and ability synergy
A wide range of monster tweaking and growth
No character voice over
Storyline and quests are forgettable and don’t inspire the player to have a stake in them
Forgettable and repeating level designs
Repeatable routine gameplay