Once again, I download and play a game by freemium experts, Com2uS. And, once again, I rage at it.
There’s no denying that the games they create are fun and addicting, but if you’re the type that MUST unlock every item, skill, character, etc. as soon as possible, it’s in your best interest to stay the hell away from Com2uS games. The reason for this is simple: all their games are designed exploit impatience and to eat your wallet.
Let’s take a look at the Witch Wars: Puzzle. (iOS version here and Android version here.) It’s a match-3 puzzle game that plays like Dungeon Raid (Android version here). It also reminds me a little of the battles in Puzzle Quest albeit in a really simplified form. The gameplay consists of matching 3 to 6 icons of the same type. Depending on the icon (see screenshot below), you will experience different effects. I can go deeper into the gameplay mechanics but I won’t because that’s not the point of this blog post … although I should note that the gold circle with the star in the middle is the icon for coins. Match 3 or more of these to get in-game money that can be spent on upgrades and unlocking more characters. The amount you get is dependent on the gameplay mode. Why did I highlight the coin? Because it ties into the pay-to-win or grind-like-crazy model of Witch Wars: Puzzle.
When you first enter the game, you will be greeted by a screen like this:
It’s a trend among free-to-play games where they lure players into logging into game every single day by giving players “daily bonuses”*. In the case of Witch Wars, you will either get an unlocked character or coins.
* In my mind, it’s obvious that this is a tactic to get hook people onto the game. After all, they offer in-game currency, among other things, that could be used to upgrade your units, cards — anything you need to progress. Once you become addicted, you’ll want to advance further into the game. Eventually, you’ll realize that things get prohibitively expensive and will require a) lots of hours of simply grinding, b) installing a crap ton of apps or signing up for shit you don’t want to just to get FREE virtual money via monetization services like Tapjoy, or c) real money to buy virtual money.
As seen in the screenshot above, there are 7 playable characters. Athena, the left-most character, is sole character that is available right from the get-go. All other characters require hefty payment starting from 3000 coins. You may think that Com2uS is generous enough to hand over these characters over the course of 7 days. Unfortunately, that is NOT the case; a witch made usable through a daily bonus gift can only be brought into either friendly matches (re: versus mode) or online matches where you can play against opponents randomly chosen by the game server. She’s also only available for 24 hours. If you WANT to keep the character, you have to pay.
On top of this, every single character has 3 passive, 3 aggressive skills, and Health Points that can be upgraded. Unsurprisingly, the cost of each skill and Health Point will increase per level. Now, you may think that the prices aren’t all that bad and that’s where Com2uS gets you. The main problem lies in the fact that it’s unnecessarily difficult to rack up coins. In Normal difficulty Single Match mode, a line of 3 coins will get you 1 measly coin while Hard and Hell difficulties give you double or triple the coins.
Getting extra money sure is a great thing so you’ll probably just want to grind on Hard and Hell. However, you have to contend with staying alive and praying that the game will actually give you freakin’ coins to match. Heck, I can’t even bank 80 – 100 coins by the time I reach Stage 9 or 10 on Hard. Hell is out of the question for me since I can’t even get past the second character. XD
If you’re like me, you will never want to spend hours upon hours on Single Matches for the sake of making money. Thankfully, Witch Wars: Puzzle does provide the player with other gameplay modes such as Flash Mode, Infinity Mode, Versus Mode, and Online Matches. In my opinion, NONE of these modes are worth it for coins EXCEPT Infinity Mode. I’ll explain the reason for this later on.
Yes, I suppose gifted players won’t have too much trouble getting a lot of coins on any mode — my definition of a lot is “over 300 coins per run on Infinity Mode”. Of course, you can always opt into the Tapjoy offers to sign up for magazines, various digital subscription services, buy crap you don’t need, or download and run apps you’ll probably just uninstall after you get the coins. Naturally, the quickest way to get the necessary amount of virtual money is through in-app purchase. The lowest denomination is 2,000 coins which can be purchased for $1.99 and the maximum amount you can get through a single transaction is 75,000 coins which will require you to throw $49.99 at Com2uS. I’m not sure 75,000 coins will cover all unlocks and upgrades though. (I’m kind of leaning toward no.)
Now, let’s run through this again: every single character has a total of 6 skills as well as health points that can be upgraded. If you don’t mind sticking to Athena and maybe 1 or 2 other characters then you may not mind all the work (or money you spend) needed to obtain and raise them. But if you’re the ambitious, obsesssive-compulsive type that HAS to have every single character unlocked and all skills maxed out, then be prepared to spend eons playing the game or making Witch Wars: Puzzle the most expensive game you’ve ever owned.
Here’s a tip though: The best way to get coins without succumbing to the Free Coins offers or adding expenses to your monthly budget is Infinity Mode. A single playthrough usually nets me 100 – 300 coins as the frequency of coin icons appearing is seemingly higher. I would believe many players could even get greater amounts but as you may have gleaned from this post so far, I’m not the greatest at puzzle games.
Anyway, for me — since I play with next to no strategy so setting up combos and 3+ icon matches isn’t my thing — I find that I can play Infinity Mode at a casual pace up to level 8. Once I’m past that, I have to start moving faster. 😛 The trick, therefore, is to play slowly and never let the timer get to the right side. Once it does that, you’ll end up at the next level and the higher the level, the faster the timer will drop. If you go at a snail’s pace, you can nab as many coins as you can before you get to a level where you have to race against time. It’s possible that you’ll be forced onto a higher level though since you’ll probably get a chain of combos by accident.
I’m probably going to get some flack like I did with my first post about Tiny Farm since people will disagree with the way I present the game and Com2uS, but it’s really how I feel about this type of money-grubbing game design. Anyway, my next entry will probably be my critiques on devs seeking reviews as well as user review etiquette on the App Store and Play Store. :3 I’ve been meaning to write that one up for a while.