Banish the darkness in Wizardlings, a cute but flawed RPG now on iOS

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While Square Enix is known for offering some of the most expensive games on iPhone or iPad, that doesn't mean the company shies entirely away from the free-to-play world. In fact, the developer/publisher has released a new free-to-play iOS RPG just this week called Wizardlings. Unfortunately, this one contains a major problem that's shared by so many other freemium games, as players are all too quickly placed in a position of spending real money to make real progress.

In the once colorful world of Skywind, an evil being has stripped color and light from the land, leaving the world in darkness. In Wizardlings, players are asked to assume the role of hero, as they're given a magic wand and are assigned the massive task of returning color to Skywind one square at a time. This is a mechanic we've seen before on both iOS and Facebook, in games like ngmoco's Skyfall and Zynga's Treasure Isle, so the premise is really nothing new. The game is separated into different sizes and shapes of maps, and gameplay is mostly comprised of simply tapping on black squares to bring them back to "life," as it were, until that particular map is clear.

There are a few twists and roadblocks presented as you play, as you may face a portal that requires a magical wand to open, or run into an enemy that must be destroyed to earn items like keys to unlock treasure chests. There's a light quest system to complete along the way, but there's no need to spend time focusing on these quests, as you'll inevitably complete all of their tasks by simply playing the game. In terms of battles, you'll face enemies with increasingly large amounts of health points, with each having an environmental weakness that can be exploited so long as you have the ingredients necessary to do so.

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In this is where Wizardlings runs into its "paywall," if you will. As you bring color back to squares, you'll randomly find ingredients that can be used to create potions and attacks in a variety of categories (Fire, Water, Charge, Air and Holy). Depending on the strength of the potion, more (or perhaps less common) ingredients are required, and only the most basic of potions can actually be created without heading into the store to purchase items manually with the game's premium currency.

Since progress in Wizardlings is linear, you'll be forced to defeat these monsters as you find them, as you simply won't be able to complete a map without doing so since these battles are blocking squares that need to be brightened. It's unfortunate that this is the case, as it makes the inability to go back and repeat maps to earn more free ingredients even more annoying. Finally, the camera controls (or lack thereof) in Wizardlings are poor, as there's no way to tap and drag your viewpoint around a map, so you'll simply need to tap on a square away from your avatar, wait for them to walk to that point, and continue on. It's not a deal-breaker, but when mixed in with the game's other problems, it's definitely noteworthy.

With such a simple premise, it's surprising to see the game come with so many technical issues, and that's even more shocking considering the big name behind the title. Still, we often found ourselves running into freezing screens or app crashes, a main character that would change gender automatically upon relaunch, unresponsive menus and dark squares that were simply far too difficult to hit because a part of the environment or even your character was resting on top of them. Overall, Wizardlings has a cute graphical style and the potential for relaxing gameplay, but its many technical issues make this one to avoid until the game is inevitably patched and improved.

Click here to download Wizardlings on iTunes >

Have you tried Wizardlings? What do you think of this casual RPG on iPhone or iPad? Sound off in the comments!
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