These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.
My experience with mobile-exclusive RPGs has been mixed. Some games emphasize the collectability—giving you hundreds of dragons/powers/characters that need to be powered up through hours of grinding. The drawback with this style is that the gameplay usually lacks any semblance of skill— you’re running down the same hall, doing the same thing, and if you have the right level, your character will succeed. On the other end of the spectrum, we have games that emphasize the action aspects—every moment of the game is a sword-fight or a quick-time event—but lacks any depth. You’ve played one mission, you’ve played them all.
With Spirit Lords, developer Kabam largely succeeds in balancing action, skill, and depth: You can power-up your character, collect and evolve spirits, explore dungeons, and even engage in some tactically nuanced combat. If that’s not enough to sink your teeth into, here are three more reasons why Spirit Lords should make your list.
It’s not just a click-to-win game: Spirit Lords currently offers only classes (barbarian, sorcerer) and each is equipped with a variety of abilities and weapons to utilize against dungeons full of baddies. You have your standard armor and weapon upgrades that you can loot, but you’ll also collect magical spirits that can be leveled up to greatly augment your arsenal. (We’ll come back to those later.) No matter what class or set-up you utilize, you’ll confront a variety of short and long-ranged enemies, including gnolls, lizardmen, and demons. These must be countered in a variety of ways: Through the rock-paper-scissors formula of the different spell types (nature, water, fire, etc), but also by how and when you use your attacks. Knowing when to deploy your board-clear and when to utilize your long-range ice missiles is as important as leveling up. A shrewd adventurer can go further than a simply well-leveled one.
Dungeons? We got dungeons: As you advance in the game, you’ll find your skills being tested in a variety of environments, from crypts to primitive gnoll villages to, well, more crypts. The dungeons only take a few minutes to complete, and if you die, you can either pay using in-game currency to be resurrected or restart (and lose all of your loot and experience). Like any good RPG, the dungeons in Spirit Lords have gold, weapons, armor, and new abilities to find. The worlds are well-rendered 3D worlds, but there isn’t much to do in them other than fight and find the occasional chest. This isn’t Diablo, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: Spirit Lords is targeting a more approachable, casual audience.
Lose yourself to the spirits: But just because the art is approachable (my sorceress is adorable!) and the interface is welcoming, that doesn’t mean that Spirit Lords lacks the depth of a true RPG. By finding relics, players can unlock common to rare spirits that they can utilize in combat. These spirits can be leveled up, combined, and evolved. You can grind and find the best and rarest spirits (which resemble Yu-Gi-Oh cards or Pokémon monsters) or you can pay real money. Leveling up a single spirit can take hours, and even then, will likely just need to be evolved or combined into a better one. The system is complex and a bit opaque at first. But you’ll need to figure it out quickly, because success in a dungeon is often not only dependent on having strong spirits, but using them in a tactical and intelligent way. Fighting water enemies with water spirits isn’t nearly as effective as using nature spirits, for example.
While Spirit Lords suffers from a great deal of level-grinding, the daily updates, seasonal dungeons, and special events will lure collectivist adventurers in. Spirit Lords encourages guild building and dungeon parties, so even if you do find one boss particularly frustrating, you can always call your friends to help you out.