There is no doubt that Angry Birds is to Rovio what Mario is to Nintendo and Sonic is to SEGA. The company has tried to dabble with other IPs in the past but hasn’t had the same level of success so it keeps going back to the Angry Birds well.
Angry Birds Epic is a surprise. It’s cartoony, casual, and unmistakably free-to-play, but unlike most games that fit that profile, Rovio’s RPG has depth, challenge, and lots of unique content.
Proving to be quite a departure from the usual Angry Birds motif, Angry Birds Epic feels more like an introduction to the RPG genre than anything more substantial. There’s potential there, but all too often it isn’t fully exploited, which seems a shame.
While technically there’s a storyline in there somewhere, progress is solely dictated by a map screen in which one follows the game along from fight to fight, rather than anything more interesting or exciting. Occasionally there will be other paths to take but it’s still mostly linear. Combat is fortunately more interesting, offering a surprising amount of depth for such a simple idea.
A turn based affair, players drag a bird onto an enemy pig in order to attack, while tapping on a bird causes it to perform a defensive move. Casting buff or boost spells on another bird is simply a matter of dragging a bird onto another one. There’s a special move too, in the form of a red hot chilli pepper that gains power the more attacks that are committed by the player. It’s the kind of combat system that anyone could learn. As a gateway into the potential complexities of an RPG, it does a great job, while still being quite interesting for old hands.
Other basic RPG elements are also available through the crafting system, allowing one to create new weapons and shields, as well as brew health potions. Changing the class for one’s birds is a matter of switching headwear – again reasonably easy to acquire. Angry Birds Epic might scrimp on the storytelling, but at least it offers some interesting takes on familiar RPG mechanics.
What’s not so pleasant is the wealth of in-app purchases and adverts that tempt players along the way. It’s possible to do reasonably well without succumbing, but Angry Birds Epic is a much harder game without at least giving into watching an advert purely to gain a minor statistical boost for one fight. It’s possible to pay for mostly everything else and in order to avoid a significant grind, players are sure to be tempted. Plus it makes the Angry Birds Epic interface a bit messy at times and unwelcoming.
There might be some fun to be had, but soon enough Angry Birds Epic feels like a game desperate for your money, and that’s bound to grate.