Last year, Appy Entertainment stepped into the world of freemium iOS apps with SpellCraft, a Harry Potter-esque game about mixing potions and clearing your school of monsters. Their latest freemium game features armored animals in the style of Disney’s 1973 movie Robin Hood, or another furry freemium game, Pocket Legends. Animal Legends can be frustrating due to its slow rate of progression, but the charming graphics kept us involved.
At the start of the game, an evil vampire frog named Skulk has covered the land with thorny vines and zombified creatures. You control a team of legendary animal warriors– a rhino, a raccoon, and an owl– who can fight back against the evil creatures and reclaim their homeland. Each new character is unlocked slowly after a steady accumulation of coins and experience points.
I’m the mother flippin’ rhymenocerous.
Combat couldn’t be simpler. You pick a hero to send into battle, and select a mission from the available regions. Then, you just tap on an attack, and tap on a target. Your creatures have a limited amount of energy available for the fight, so if you run out, you’ll have to wait a while, or recharge by spending the game’s premium currency, red gems.
Every attack is accompanied by a delightful animation, so running out of energy becomes a constant frustration. We wished at times that Animal Legends was a paid game with more balanced combat, so that we didn’t have to spend in-game currency or put the game down if we wanted to continue. The penalties for waiting are very light, though– your characters can’t die, but if you run out of energy during a battle, they may have to heal up in the hospital afterwards.
In this animal farm, all animals are equal.
To go with the enticing combat sequences are a Farmville-style city-building sim, and light RPG elements that include arming your character with new gear. You’ll earn bonuses for completing a set of armor, but the prizes you find in battle are randomized, so you’ll have to replay some areas multiple time. When you’ve saved up energy or a supply of red gems, Animal Legends moves at a nice pace, but otherwise you’ll have to play in starts and fits.
As your territory expands, your army grows, and your coffers bulge with coins, gems, and stars, Animal Legends starts to feel like a more well-rounded experience. But those early adventures are frustratingly short due to the limits of freemium, and the game will take several weeks of regular visits to reach its full potential.
Even though it’s a truncated experience, we should praise Animal Legends for what it does right. The graphics and animation are superb, and there’s potential for depth in the loot system and city-building aspects. There’s also a well-designed social component, where you can invite friends’ creatures to fight with you, earn money from them, and send them gems as a thank-you. Animal Legends is an addictive, colorful, and kid-friendly game, but only if you have the patience to play it sporadically over long stretches of time.