What I’m Playing, part 18

Guardians: Royal Journey

What does this game do right? What does it do wrong? Let’s examine…

You keep pestering me to write a review.  Well, to quote Bianca del Rio, here’s your fucking moment!

Towers and Enemies

At first glance, Guardians Royal Journey is deceptively cute with cartoony enemies and cartoony towers.

The three towers in the first row (Cannon, Trident and Shuriken) along with the big blue crystal in the middle of the second row (Electric Gem) are the only ones that can be upgraded with Vermarine.  More on that later.

None of these can be upgraded with Vermarine except the Boomerang (third tower on the second row) and the Battery (middle tower on the third row, just above the spider)

At the beginning of the game, you are slowly introduced to the different tower types and what they do and how they can be used.  You are also introduced to the enemies that you’ll be defending Mogo against.

Fuck these guys.  All the regular enemies in the game are basically miniature versions of these minus the crowns.

And fuck these bitches with something hard and sandpapery.  They sit on the track and spit out the little one eyed rocks continuously until killed.

And then there’s this asshole.  In certain levels not only do you have to defend Mogo, but you have to kill this fucker in order to complete the level because the waves of enemies just keep coming (and get progressively harder) until he is dead.

The World

The over world map is divided into 15 level segments with an overall theme for that segment. There are exceptions to this, however. The first and second world are only 9 levels, the third and fourth is 11 and worlds 5 and 6 are 13. After that every world has 15 levels.

Oddly enough, this is the only section of the world with this theme.  Perhaps because this was the tutorial zone?  Who knows.

The first 12 worlds also have a “secret” 3 level map (as depicted by the gold mushroom in the screen shot above) that you can reach once you get to the end of the world. However, even after unlocking the “secret” map, you must possess the required fruit to play the level (apples, bananas or coconuts) and to get pieces of fruit, you have to win levels.

99 fucking stems and NO seeds, because that’s fair.

After the first 12 worlds, this feature no longer appears and I don’t know why.  I’m guessing the developers realized that requiring you to earn so many stars before being able to unlock the next world was not a good idea and can be off putting for some players. This was a wall that I struggled to get around in the first few months of play but I have not encountered this problem since the last big update. I hope to not have to deal with this bullshit ever again.

Either that or the developers couldn’t come up with anymore fucking bullshit maps that are insanely hard to win let alone get 3 gold stars.  Or it could be that I suck so bad at this game that they’ve locked the “secret” maps away.  Honestly I don’t care either way, but this game seriously lacks any kind of consistency and the missing “secret” level maps are just the tip of the ice berg.

Also, after passing the first 8 worlds, the developer’s solution was to endlessly recycle the same backgrounds for the rest of the game. That world 8/9/10 stretch of looking at nothing but Sky was very tiresome.

The border between worlds 8 and 9…

…and the border between worlds 9 and 10.  Boooooriiiiiing.

Gameplay

Each level consists of a varying number of waves (anywhere from 4 to 25 is the highest I’ve encountered) and you can usually tell how hard a time you’re going to have based on how many waves are displayed in the box at the bottom of the screen.  Fewer numbers of waves usually mean that you’re going to have to build up your defenses in a hurry because the waves are going to be long.

Like this fucking horse shit for example.  I may have quite a few level 3 towers on the field but I had to build them in a damn hurry.

You start the first wave with some gold (how much depends on the level) and usually zero magic and you can either immediately pause the game to formulate your strategy or just wing it and hope for the best.  Protip: winging it is usually not a good idea.  You build up a stash of magic over time (you gain 2 points every few seconds) but gold is usually going to be what you use to build your defenses.

In early stages of the game, you are given plenty of space to build your towers where ever you’d like, but as the game progresses you must clear away obstacles in order to build where you want.

Like this crap for example.  Your only options are to build to the right of the tree stump or to the left of the boss monster.  Oh and Mogo’s little heart with the amount of health he has left?  That always takes up prime real estate next to his stupid face making trying to defend him that much harder.

Beyond this, it’s your standard tower defense affair with each successive wave having harder and harder (read: enemies with more health) enemies to deal with, after which you get an arbitrary grade based on your performance.  If you happen to lose a level – which for me is often because the difficulty spikes as I said before are all over the place – you are met with a 10 second countdown and a choice: restart the level from the beginning OR pay 9 gems to continue from the point where you fail.  If you decide to pay the gems however, that’s the only continue that you get even if you have enough gems to pay the cost a second time.  I think that’s a load of bull because this is one of the ways in which the game tries to gouge you for real world money – paying real world money for in game money.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves with mobile gaming (and gaming as a whole as of late, but that’s a rant for another post) because I know there are people out there that will simply pay to win if they are able to.

Also, every single time you lose a level you’re met with an advertisement. What the fuck? Sometimes it’s ones you can just X out of but sometimes it’s bandwidth eating videos that are unskippable. At first I just let it go but lately I’ve just closed the app and restarted it to get around such bullshit.  I don’t know what kind of advertising deal these bastards have going on, but if you’re going to force me to watch an ad in your poorly designed game then I think you should help pay my damn phone bill.

As the game has progressed (at the time of this writing I’m up to level 386) I’ve noticed that the developers have begun to reuse maps that I’ve previously played on before.  I guess they’re so desperate to keep the game going that they’ve done nothing but rehash several previous levels and change which towers you can build, and most of the time it’s towers that you can’t upgrade through the enhance menu.

It also seems the developers fell into the trap of making a “theme” out of each 15 level segment. For example, there was a 15 level segment that had indestructible obstacles on every single map.  That’s not good game design and it’s not fun.  It really makes me want to just delete the app and never be bothered with it again.

This is a level type that I’m pretty neutral about.  You are given a small amount of currency at the beginning to uncover “cards” on the map that may or may not have a tower underneath for you to use, or more currency or in most cases nothing at all.  I managed to get through all the waves without Mogo losing a single hit point…

Only to be given 3 silver stars.  What the fuck?  (I also got 1 piece to make another fruit.  One.  How generous.)

Back to this level that I posted before.  As you can see, I have several towers all over the map – ranging from level 1 to level 3 which is the highest level you can go – and Mogo didn’t lose a single hit point again.  This was my result:

I don’t get the grading scale in this game at all.  I use as few towers as possible and I get silver.  I use enough towers to nearly fill the map and I get gold.  It doesn’t make any sense.  This game has no consistency what so ever.

The Social Network

One of the biggest issues I have with this game is it’s social aspect. If you want to have stronger towers, you have to upgrade them with a resource known as Vermarine. Vermarine can only be gained either by completing tasks from your daily task list or by requesting it from people on your friends list. The weird thing is, giving it to people doesn’t deplete the amount you have AND you can only get so much of it from people in a 24 hour period. What I don’t understand is, why the limit? I have issues with getting Vermarine from other players because it seems the majority of my friends list has abandoned the game. As of late, only the same 6 people are responding to my requests. I don’t really blame the others for quitting because the difficulty spikes in this game are all over the place.

My other issue with the social aspect is being pestered every 24 hours to share my invitation code (QR code) on all my social media accounts. The options listed are Facebook and Twitter and 2 others that are only applicable in Asian countries: WeChat and QQ, so there again your ability to get resources is halved if you don’t live in those areas. In an effort to not have have a Facebook feed filled with this irritation, after getting my daily resources from sharing the code, I immediately delete the post thereby circumventing their bullshit.

That’ll teach you to give me a code that spells “to be late” bitches

Achievement Unlocked

At the time of this writing, I’ve finished all the in game achievements except 1.  There haven’t been any new achievements added in several updates.  At this point it feels like they’ve run out of fucks to give about their own game, which is sad.  Achievements are how you are able to get the majority of the pieces that make up your fruit along with how you get pieces that make up the modifiers that you can enable before beginning a level.  So without these achievements, getting these pieces takes a ridiculously long time because you’re totally at the mercy of RNGeezus when you finish a level.  Oh, and forget replaying a level you’ve already completed in an effort to try to get these items, the only thing you’ll get is energy to play another level, if that.

Final Verdict

It started out as a fun game but at this point I’m not playing it for enjoyment on any conceivable level, I’m coming back every day out of stubbornness to try to reach the end so I can call it quits and move on to the next thing.  What started out as a fun, quirky and seemingly different type of tower defense game quickly gives way to endless frustration, nagging, unfair punishment and very little in the way of a sense of accomplishment.