To call Crescent Moon Games’ latest, Pocket RPG, an actual role-playing game would require a very loose definition for the genre. While there are some minor RPG-like elements, the game is really just a fast-paced, twin-stick arcade game. The focus is almost solely on taking down hordes of monsters in a quest for gold and glory. Calling it ‘Pocket’ is also a bit misleading, as the game is currently an iPad-only title, so we can only assume the developers wear pants with really huge pockets.
There’s nothing wrong with mindless hacking and slashing, of course. In fact, Pocket RPG actually does a great job of creating a compelling and entertaining action adventure that requires quick thumb work with minimal brain power. While there’s nothing revolutionary here, the game sports a few twists that give it distinction from the average dungeon crawl.
Surrounded on all sides.
Like most Diablo and Gauntlet before it, Pocket RPG offers a selection of different characters. There are three available– the Dark Ranger, the Blade Master, and the Battle Mage. The ranger uses a bow to take out enemies with precision from a longer range, while the Blade Master rushes headlong into combat with a weapon in each hand. The mage throws out spells that affect enemies in a wider radius.
As you progress, your hero earns both experience points and gold, and these are used to buy training for new weapon types and character perks. New weapon types such as elemental swords and axes, poison and reflecting arrows, and spells of mass destruction become available as you progress. Perks include earning XP faster, more hit points, regeneration, and other abilities vital for survival.
The odd thing about this system is that you start each quest back at level zero with no supplies. All your perks, weapons training, loot, and XP carry over, but each quest starts you anew. It’s a strange, very arcade-style move, especially for a game with ‘RPG’ in the title. Thankfully, you move up in level so quickly that it doesn’t feel like a big deal.
Slice of life.
One huge oversight, however, is the single save slot. For a game so centered on providing a casual dungeon crawl experience, the inability to either switch to another character between quests, or have multiple quests running at once is a bizarre miscalculation. Another caveat is the single-player-only nature of the game. Given how different each character is, being able to take on these dungeons in a group would be a great feature.
Those issues aside, Pocket RPG works well for what it is. The controls are excellent, and the 3-D visuals are top notch. The graphic design is rather cartoonish, but each level has its own visual theme and the game manages to dump an impressive number of enemies on the screen at once.
Pocket RPG isn’t particularly creative and certainly has a few odd design choices, but the core gameplay is solid and entertaining. The game is an excellent twin-stick action game with light RPG elements. We’d like to see some patches for the save slot issue and many users are encountering regular game crashes, but overall this is a fun, if very casual dungeon crawl.