Alchemy Knights on iOS: Being a hero is one crowded, messy job
This 3D adventure takes place in the world of Fendalia, as a familiar darkness has started to spread over the land, ending a period of 300 years of peace. The elemental knights need your help in defeating this darkness once more, so you'll choose from a variety of classes (fighters, clerics, wizards, etc.) and take to battle across multiple locations throughout Fendalia, facing tougher opponents each step of the way.
Alchemy Knights may offer a single-player storyline experience, but the world is full of other real world players that are taking on their own adventures. In the earliest stages of the game, where all of the game's newest players are bunched up in the tutorial, this makes for an incredibly crowded world, where players inadvertently compete with one another to complete quests as they'll all be required to defeat the same kinds of monsters that spawn randomly on the current landscape. These beginning quests are overwhelming at best, as it can be hard to tell an NPC from another real-world player, as all of the avatars look similar.
Thankfully, the longer you play, the less of these real world characters you'll encounter, as many gamers simply stopped playing or have taken a break from the more lengthy quests you'll eventually undertake. Still, there are problems that remain in the game regardless, like text that wraps around corners, resulting in broken, scrambled words that are hard to read, and a screen setup that's simply hard to use when playing on iPhone.
While the game displays a mini-map, your skill levels, HP, mana and experience point levels on the screen at all times, these are practically microscopic on the screen of an iPhone 4S, and the virtual joystick for character movement is just as tiny. While the game offers an "auto run" feature that will, in theory, allow you to make your way between quests with ease, this too is broken due to the fact that your avatar will simply run in the general direction of their objective, not taking into account any walls, mountains or stairs (as examples) that may be in the way. When they hit an obstacle, they'll keep running in place until you notice what has happened and resume manual control.
Thankfully, the game's battle system works much better, as you can simply tap once to engage in combat with an enemy, or run past them entirely if you're not interested in wasting time on a fight. Your character will attack automatically for the duration of the battle, but you can tap on the screen at specific moments to spend mana points on spells that increase your damage or defense, or simply do a lot of damage with a single swing of the sword. This, combined with the 3D graphics and interesting landscapes creates an experience that can still be fun for a few minutes at a time, but that's only if you have an iPad that will allow you to see everything in more detail at once.
If you're strictly an iPhone gamer, Alchemy Knights has too many problems to be instantly recommendable, even if it is free-to-play. The text windows need a complete overhaul, and the mini-map is so tiny that it's basically worthless. Putting it simply, this job of saving the world is one that only iPad gamers should attempt, if at all.
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