Kids vs Goblins tells the tale of three kids struggling to rescue their baby brother from an army of goblins. It’s a pretty complex action/adventure/RPG title, but the gameplay is simmered down to bite-sized levels. Unfortunately, the final product has some rough edges that we wish they’d worked out before releasing it.
The game is divided into six different locations scattered across a goblin-infested island. Each location has a variety of missions within it, but you only have to complete a few to move on to the next location. Each of the 30 or so missions has a specific and usually simple task.
Inevitably, many of the missions boil down to killing a certain number of enemies, but the game mixes things up a bit with specific rules. In some missions, you just have to survive for a set time period, while others require you to protect skeletons fighting for your side by healing them regularly. Some missions require specific spells to be used, while others focus on a specific type of enemy, or randomly change up the available spells every 30 seconds. These minor variations add some spice to the overall combat, but the core gameplay never changes.
A beautiful day for a brawl.
The overall interface is kept very simple. You drag a character to make them move or fight enemies. If you double tap, the whole group performs the action. Spells are cast by tapping on the spell’s icon, or dragging the spell to a specific target. Once a spell is used, there’s a recharge time before another can be used.
The three kids don magical clothing that gives them each a specific role in combat. One is a close combat, bear-skin garbed melee fighter with a big hammer. Another provides combat support with his bow and arrow, and the sister covers healing and support magic. You can change things up slightly by giving other characters healing spells, for instance, but in general there are specific spells for each kid.
The two stances the kids can be in add another layer of depth to the gameplay. Each kid can have two spells per stance, and they switch stances as a group. It would have been more workable if the game allowed the characters to individually switch between their ability groups, but the overall control scheme is serviceable.
Hamster balls for everyone!
New abilities are purchased with crystals earned in battle, and there’s an impressive number of spells available. The game sports about 80 spells that include exploding arrows, group healing, bear traps, invisibility, shields, exploding ice balls, powerful charge attacks, and many more. Learning fun combinations to inflict the most damage is an important tactic.
Unfortunately, where Kids vs Goblins really trips up is in the camera controls– essentially there aren’t any, so you can’t zoom or rotate your view at all. This makes it harder than it should be to keep up with the action at times. Enemies can get lost off screen, and being able to see ahead of your team is virtually impossible.
The game is also glitchy. To play it you need at least an iPhone 4 or iPad 2, but it opens with a warning to close any other apps for best performance. It locked up on us at random times as well. If the graphics were particularly cutting edge or noteworthy, we might give it some minor leeway in this department, but they aren’t. The game looks decent, but character models and landscapes are blocky and rough.
Between the technical issues, lack of camera controls, and fairly repetitive nature of the gameplay, it’s hard to get too excited about Kids vs Goblins. It’s relatively entertaining with an impressive variety of spells to play with, but doesn’t feel refined enough. This isn’t a bad game, but it could be much better.