I’m trying to figure out why I should want to keep playing Ark of the Ages. I can’t come up with an answer. It’s an okay game, but never more than passable. It’s an RPG for people who don’t care about the RP, and only a little about the G. And for everything it gets right, it gets two things wrong. I’m hoping we see more iOS releases from XSEED, but I hope they’re better than Ark of the Ages.
What is it?
Developed by Meteorise, Ark of the Ages barely manages to be an RPG. You’ve got a character exploring a vast tower, and he’s fighting all sort of monsters along the way. There’s treasure to be found, weapons and armor to be equipped, and levels to be upped, but there’s little incentive behind any of it. You’re a knight of the Royal Order, and you have to explore an ancient Tower of Magic.
If you prefer for your RPG adventures to offer a little more story than that, you’d better find another tower to explore.
How does it work?
Ark of the Ages is 100% about its battle system, because there’s little else to do. When exploring the tower, you move forward/backward and strafe left/right in the third-person with the left virtual d-pad. You turn with the right side. You’ll do this throughout multiple levels of the tower, seeking treasure, a map, and the exit. There are some traps to avoid, but they’re mostly pretty slow, clumsy and obvious.
When you enter into battle mode, the view shifts to first person in a giant room no matter where you actually were on the map.
You attack the enemy by quickly swiping it, with the effectiveness/speed determined by your equipped weapon. You can occasionally stun it for maximum advantage, but it’s otherwise a slow mix of swiping with one finger and tapping the screen with two to block the enemy attacks. Once you learn the enemy’s attack animation, it’s quite easy to learn when to block.
Is it contagious?
No. It feels unfinished, as if the developers came up with a battle system and then got distracted by something outside. There’s no story. The “town” where you can rest, sell/buy items and accept quests is nothing more than a few blurry, badly compressed JPEGs.
The battle music is the type of meaningless guitar rock usually reserved for sending That Metal Show to commercial. There are some social gaming aspects, but they’re GREE only.
There are in app purchases.
Some of my favorite console and handheld RPGs of the past couple years have been released by XSEED. Ark of the Ages is not amongst them. Don’t waste your time in the Tower of Magic. Rather, get out your Wii and pick up Pandora’s Tower next week, in which you’re more likely to discover what it is we love about XSEED games.