If you like the RPG genre, you’ve likely spent lots of time exploring old worlds populated with critters out to get you, unexplored bits of terrain mysteriously populated with treasure chests no one else has gotten to yet, and serious quests (Save the princess! Save the world! Save your mom!). And yet, there’s something endlessly appealing about the formula -- it’s kept us playing for decades, after all. Nothing wrong with the serious formula, of course, but that’s not what you’ll get when you go for Quest Runner [$1.99], an cute little action RPG from Trident 3D that goes with cartoon-inspired 2D graphics and humorous writing to tell the story of your adventure to protect the town of Torma and keep its citizens safe and sound.
Quest Runner starts out allowing you to pick your own character and customise it a bit, which feels a little limited when it comes to options. You can only play as a male (boo! Where’s the ladies at?), but at least you can choose some cool costumes, and in homage to retro games, you can even wear costumes that you may remember some of your old favorite characters donning back in the day. In fact, the game is peppered with tongue in cheek references to lots of wonderful classic games such as Zelda, Sonic, Prince of Persia and more. The developers wanted you to know that they’re loved videogames for a long time, and it shows -- it’s a little dash of fun that put a smile on my face.
Gameplay is easy enough to navigate. The action is sidescrolling, and there’s no directional pad to clutter up your screen, which seems like a good idea but left me feeling as if my fingers were blocking the action more than I’d like. You just tap the direction you want your hero to move in and off he goes. The bottom of the screen offers easy access buttons for your potion supply, basic attack and special attack, all accessible with a single tap, and tiny icons on the top right keep track of your quests and your current status. They did a good job with managing the tiny bit of screen space offered on the iPhone, and there’s no excess clutter, making the action easy to enjoy -- as long as you don’t mind peering around your fingertips a bit.
It won’t be long before you make your way into town and realize how many options are at your disposal. Sure, there’s the usual merchants and vendors, but what makes Quest Runner really cool is the ability to hire mercenaries to assist you in your quest. These are colorful personalities, and you’ll find yourself wanting to try them all out. As the difficulty ramps up, you’ll find these guys to be truly helpful to your cause too. You can also get pets to help you, but you’ll need to remember to feed them or they won’t stick around. Don’t be a neglectful hero -- feed your four legged friend!
You’ll get basic quests from NPCs in town that will guide you along in your adventure, allowing you to explore the terrain as you go and gain levels in the process. Your interactions with these characters remain consistently funny, and you’ll find yourself giggling as you complain about the lazy commander who can’t be bothered to give you a hand. What a jerk.
Quest Runner is Game Center enabled as well, so you’ll be able to get achievements for your gameplay time, which makes it a bit more challenging and gives you some goals to meet. A total of 35 are available, and many focus on killing a quantity of monsters, so you may want to spend some extra time in the field instead of hurrying to your next quest if you want to get them all.
Quest Runner has that great casual feel, so it can be played in bits and pieces whenever you have free time for it, and it’s easy to come back to the adventure at anytime. There’s a bit of grinding involved, but if you’re the type that hates having to spend hours in the field just to be at the right level to buy that one sword, you won’t have to cope with that type of thing in Quest Runner.
Overall, it’s a fun experience, and players in our forums seem to be enjoying it as well. While it doesn’t break any startling new ground in the genre, it executes the humorous action RPG formula very well. If you want to laugh while you play an RPG instead of furrowing your brow and trying to shoulder the weight of the world, this one’s for you.
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