"a unique combination of Puzzle Fighter combat mechanics and Diablo-esque loot-farming."
It can be difficult to stand out in the crowded marketplace of mobile gaming, but DeNA and Outsmart's newest title Blood Gate: Age of Alchemy is attempting to set itself apart with a unique combination of Puzzle Fighter combat mechanics and Diablo-esque loot-farming. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the game with the game at DeNA's office in sunny San Francisco and found an engaging and diverting freemium title.
Blood Gate: Age of Alchemy is set in a fantasy kingdom infested by demons, where the player must build a party of three heroes to battle back the tides of darkness. The story is hardly revolutionary, and to be honest, it's mostly forgettable. Similar to in the Diablo franchise from which it draws inspiration, the story exists mostly to point you in the direction of the next demon to kill.
Gameplay is really the reason to download Blood Gate, and it provides a solid mobile experience for swipe-based matching puzzles. The bottom half of the screen is populated by hexagonal panels of 5 different elements, and matching three consecutive elements of the same type together will cause your character to attack at the top of the screen. Longer strings of panels do greater damage, and completing a circuit will fill a defensive gauge that blocks damage. There are also various special panels such as bombs to keep things interesting. Players must have fast fingers though, because battles play out in real time and sitting on your hands is a good way to become demon food. Each character also has skills that charge by swiping the corresponding element. Outsmart has done well to create a variety of creative skills. Most have an elemental affiliation as well, which you can exploit with the right skills. Finally, you can take two characters into battle and switch them out on the fly. Switching characters is important, because they heal when not in combat.
You will have access to three character classes that hew pretty closely to the traditional archetypes of mage, rogue, and warrior and utilize and build all three concurrently. Outsmart has placed a great emphasis on customization, with numerous skills for each class and over 400 unique items. Of course, the plethora of items builds into the slot-machine mechanic for obtaining loot; players spend keys dropped from monsters to unlock randomized chests, but they can always purchase more with in-game currency. Character models change with your equipment, and the game looks pretty good without taking too many resources, thanks to the iOS Metal technology.
Of course, this being a mobile title, there is a great emphasis on social media and social gaming. Players get stamina bonuses by connecting with friends and can even share their character builds, so you can borrow your friend's souped-up warrior to take down a troublesome boss if need be. Outsmart and DeNA have also promised synchronous co-op play, where two people can fight the same monster at once, and PvP. Both features should be coming with a future update.
Overall, Blood Gate: Age of Alchemy is an enjoyable distraction on your mobile device for when you want to kill some time by killing some demons. The puzzle swiping keeps you engaged in a mindless sort of way that isn't too stressful. Yes, it presents with all the usual trappings of a freemium game, but nothing will force you to spend money if you really do not want to. As such, there is no harm in trying it out for your daily bus commute and seeing for yourself. It is out now on iOS and Android, and if you are still not convinced, you can check out the trailer below.