Review: Evilibrium08 Nov 2013 0
I've been trying to unravel the pun in Evilibrium's title. Now I'm not sure I like puns anymore.
The eponymous "evil" is surely the demons and other assorted nasties you fight and collect in this game of collectible cards and... RPG-adventure? (One assumes? But not really. It's mostly cards.) The "(equil)ibrium," in turn, fairly describes the game's intricate mesh of currencies, power-ups, timers and what have you--a series of mechanics piped together and feeding into each other, all carefully balanced to give the player... something. Damn, stumped.
You see, Evilibrium is a game with a secret, and a big one at that. It's absolutely terrible at keeping it, all shit-eating grin and smug self-satisfaction, but, for at least a few minutes, it's able to hold its ruse together. Like, two minutes.
So here's a pair of positive comments right out of the gate, before we really get into this. You're past the intro, so we can dispense with the formalities--this one's bad. But it's resoundingly, holistically bad, and as such worth talking about.
One: Evilibrium's story dialogue is so poorly written and/or translated to English it's nearly poetic. Imagine if someone forced William S. Burroughs--at gunpoint--to compose a rote fantasy-adventure tale, with the only caveat being that he can put his text back-and-forth through the English-to-Russian Babelfish as often as he wants. (Sample dialogue: "I realised that it is my duty to find the demon who deprived me of my family and do justice upon him.").
Two: the card backgrounds do this neat shaking effect when you jiggle your chosen playing device. It's super cute and not really a gameplay feature at all, actually.
The heart of Evilibrium is its adventure mode. You play as a vaguely steampunk gentleman or lady demon-wrangler (the former looking sort of similar to Dean McCoppin from The Iron Giant), on some sort of quest to translate your father's mysterious notebook. Along the way, you'll need to explore various joints which, as it happens, are brimming with monsters for you to fight and, potentially, capture for your own use.
Here's how it works: you enter a level, and are presented with a sort of high-fantasy fresco of tiles. Tap one, and you reveal the map underneath (and, also, lose a point of energy--more on that in a bit). Tiles will either be passable, blocked with some sort of fitting obstruction, or have a badly badderson on them. Tap on a foe and you enter a fully separate combat screen, where whatever creatures you have in your current squad face-off with the villainous knave(s) blocking your path. This is the part where Evilibrium kindly takes over and starts playing itself for you.
Yes, this is yet another free-to-play CCG where you don't really get to play with your cards. Everything is automatic or chance based. Your pet monsters attack, automatically, without any guidance. Special abilities activate when chance dictates they activate (though that chance can be modified through the copious application of certain upgrades). Not much else to say, really. This sort of design is far too common, offers little to the player, and would be questionable even in a title which had other, better aspects of play to bolster it. But, oh hey, Evilibrium doesn't have those other, better aspects of play.
What it does have is an arbitrary timer. As mentioned, it costs power to reveal tiles in Evilibrium--though to be fair, power replenishing tokens (along with health-ups and coins) can be found as in-level loot. Tap at a faster rate than one tile every two minutes, and you'll eventually run out of juice. Run out of juice, and you can't tap, sucka. This power can be replenished, of course, but you either need to wait for it to shoot back up or shell out some coins, one of two in-game currencies.
Coins are also tied-up in the game's capture system, as your random shot at possibly capturing a foe you've beat-up on needs to be paid for. That is, you either pay in coins for a chance to capture, or in the far rarer gems for a guaranteed new monster in your menagerie. Coins come fairly easily through adventuring, gems not so much, though both can be purchased (for up to ridiculous, $100+ amounts) with real moolah.
Other than monsters; coins; and piddling, token gem disbursements; adventuring in Evilibrium will also net you so-called "artifacts," which you can feed your cards to either increase their, sigh, chance to execute special attacks or, given an exact combination--eye of newt, leg of toad, heart of gross thing--evolve them, upping their visual cool factor and presumably upgrading a whole bunch of stats which you--sorry, which the game gets to leverage against your (its) enemies. So itself, then.
One could go on, if one wanted to. There's multiplayer, but only in the sense that players seem to be able to randomly pop into each others' single-player adventures to slug it out. The game's pretty enough, I suppose, and the tile revealing thing could have been neat executed almost any other way, instead of as a grind which only serves to hide the fact that levels have but one path, for the most part.
Evilibrium's a title with the superficial appearance of depth, an appearance that's quickly dispelled by the un-play of the actual game and the dodgy balancing of too-many extraneous, exploitative systems. Secret is, Evilibrium doesn't really need you, or even want you, to play it. So do some justice upon yourself, and don't.