Whenever we hear ‘iPhone’ and ‘MMO’ in the same sentence, our hopes instantly skyrocket and we imagine being sucked into a World of Warcraft-style game on our phones. Unfortunately, IMO: The World of Magic isn’t that game. While it’s more of an MMO than some other iPhone offerings because of its open world, other important elements aren’t quite there to make it worth much of your time.
Arguably, to call your game an MMO it needs to have an open world. IMO has this, and it’s quite large. You can roam from mushroom-filled forests to sandy beaches with only a short loading screen in between, and there are no restrictions on where you can go. Each zone is quite large, which is much appreciated with the number of people we saw playing the game. Unfortunately, there’s no way to fast-travel.
Told you the Yeti was real.
One of IMO’s biggest drawbacks is its clunky UI. When in-game, the scrollable action bar is too finicky, and attacking monsters or interacting with other players is a multi-tapping pain. The menus feel unresponsive and the entire game lacks a ‘back’ button, so in many instances you are forced to quit something, like a multi-threaded chat with an NPC, and start over.
Probably because IMO is a mobile port, the game feels sluggish. Walking is animated with just two sprites, and the framerate overall is low. While the graphics are pixilated, the colors help alleviate much of the eyesore. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t feel like enough effort was put behind optimizing the game engine for the iPhone.
Grinding is something that is to be expected in MMOs, but many find ways to keep things interesting. IMO feels tedious almost instantly. Every quest boils down to ‘kill this enemy and bring me X amount of this’, also known as fetch quests. To make matters worse, quests aren’t ‘assigned’ but rather completed when you randomly have enough of an item to give to an NPC. The lack of a quest log can also make things confusing. When you complete quests, there’s no substantial reward aside from the experience you earned from killing the enemies, and thus little feeling of accomplishment.
If only customizable looks were applicable in real life.
One of IMO’s strengths is the guild and party system. You can join a band of fellow gamers or group up to compete in Player vs. Player or in dungeons. PvP in particular is quite fun, and although dungeons are better in Pocket Legends, they are still worth checking out in IMO. Because of the decent chat system, they can be a great way to enjoy some time with other gaming friends.
Leveling up, on the other hand, has its share of problems. While there is a skill tree, you need to buy extremely expensive books before you can use points from leveling up on new talents.
And even with the huge worlds, player clutter around NPCs is a big issue. With the tap-to-target system, it is often challenging to pinpoint an NPC in a heap of names and sprites.
On the plus side, IMO adopts the ever-popular freemium model. You can play as much as you’d like for free, but if you want access to special consumable items or the auction houses, you must pay. The best deal is the Starters pack, which gives you large samples of all the purchasable consumables, access to the auction house, extra bag space, and a random costume item. This runs you $2.99, which seems to be a fair price if you are going to spend much time with this game.
For free, it may be worth trying out. However, don’t expect much more than a shallow experience in need of further tweaking.