For over two years now a team consisting of of former EA, Gameloft, HappyLatte and App Annie staff members have been hard at work on The Ember Conflict a tactical strategy game which uses gesture controls to fight opponents.
You start the game as a cadet making your way up the ranks as you gain experience and a bigger army. The gameplay mechanics are simple — drag your soldiers to the place on the map you want them to attack and defend. Your opponents will do the same making the game all about knowing your tactic, with the decision of who you drag where being a key factor. You have many different types of soldiers starting out with a archer known as “the Ranger” and a heavy soldier called “the Shield Guard”, and overtime you unlock more soldiers such as a horseman and a flame throwing “Siege Beast”. These are just a few of the many soldiers you can add to your army by completing the games many missions and levels.
The environments are just stunning ranging from forest lands to cities, no matter where your battle takes place you will be awed by the level of design that has gone into each level. The sound effects are amazing, which swoosh sword effects and music that gets your heart beating urging you into another battle. The online gameplay is great fun, pitting you up against difficult, but similar level opponents with varied tactics, forcing you to switch up your attack every time you start a new game. A feature that I do like is the replay button which allows you to share the vision from your battles on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
The controls are very simple to use and easy to pick up. I did however have problems with the menu system which felt over complicated and at times annoying with pop-ups which forced you to do activities like a special mission, even if all you wanted to do was view your soldiers. I also found that some of the soldiers feel useless and very underpowered, whilst others are extremely overpowered including a pack of dogs which single handily took out my whole army and have done so on more than one occasion.
The game, as we have come to expect with most army and war based games does come with in app purchases, but you can quite easily go through the levels enjoyably without the need to buy them. Substantial games believe “Core gamers don’t like pay-to-win simulation games”. I agree, and I don’t feel like the game uses the in app purchases as a pay to win. They allow you to purchase ember which can be used as an alternative to the in game currency to buy characters and gear, but it is always possible to do this with the in game currency. Saying that, I do feel like the IAPs are a bit overpriced. For example, 40 Ember is enough to buy you a new Ranger or Horseman is the equivalent of 5,000 in game coins. Its easy to earn the equivalent to that by completing a few games and special missions in the space of half an hour.
The Ember Conflict is very well made game, and you can see that by its final appearance. It is very enjoyable and something I would quite happily pick up and play over the day. There is a huge amount of depth to this game, and I am sure that the development team are already hard at work making more environments and characters for us to play with.