There's nothing I love more than a well-executed iOS RPG but there always seems to be an issue of balance in regards to presentation. On one hand, an emphasis on exploration and side quests (as well as the grind) act as throwbacks to the roots of the genre. Meanwhile, streamlined gameplay  and simplified battle system are seen as an evolution towards the current mobile scene. BoxCat's Nameless: The Hackers [$4.99 / Free] is squarely in the latter camp. Eschewing a lot of the standard tenets for an RPG, Nameless focuses primarily on grinding and cutscenes, leading to a somewhat monotonous overall experience despite its decent battle system.

Nameless follows a group of ragtag hackers as a few innocent jobs turn into the unraveling of an increasingly complex tale of worldwide control by the corporate machine. Unfortunately, the actual weaving of the tale in Nameless isn't as interesting as my synopsis makes it out to be. The story is told through anime-inspired cutscenes with a lot of the actual advancement of narrative taking place between a load of fetch quests. While the story itself should be compelling, I found the actual writing to be a bit bland.

One area that Nameless did get done well is its overall turn-based battle system. Generally, battles are streamlined, easy to control and relatively fast. Each character has a variety of special moves that expend a certain amount of 'Energy' to use, with powerful moves requiring more energy. Completing battles earn two types of currency: ByteCredits (BC) and ResearchPoints (RP). While ByteCredits serve as the standard currency, ResearchPoints are rarer and used to upgrade weapon skills.

While Nameless doesn't use an experience/leveling system, I found its InfoCards system to be a lot more interesting and a better alternative. Players can earn a variety of InfoCards via battle loot, store purchases, and hitting story objectives. InfoCards all have base stat increases, which can be upgraded by increasing the card's rarity. Rarity can be increased by spending BC or RP, and "rolling," which randomly changes the InfoCard's rarity. While BC rolling is automatic and you're stuck with whatever you roll, RP rolling allows you to choose between the new and old rarity and typically gives a you a higher chance of getting a more rare card.

You'll be spending a lot of time rolling for rarity as InfoCards are the primary method of getting more powerful. Some cards generally increase attack power while others allow you to upgrade your total health and energy or (most importantly) give you the opportunity to upgrade your weapon skills. I thought the InfoCard system was a nice twist on standard RPG progression as the random element of upgrading your cards have the potential to give some interesting results.

The battle system described above makes for a good foundation for an RPG. Unfortunately there's really nothing else to do in Nameless besides the battles. There's very little in terms of exploration, and 'side quests' are basically battles with foes that are a little stronger than the random battles encountered. Since there isn't much else to do, I found Nameless to be a bit tedious, especially towards the latter part of the game whiere grinding becomes less of an option and more of a prerequisite.

Make no mistake, as an RPG Nameless is about as streamlined as it gets. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite hit that exploration/battle balance that's important for preserving interest.  Since there's very little in terms of exploration or discovery, all that's left is the battle system. While the InfoCard system and upgrade scheme are compelling, the actual battles tend to become too repetitive and too plentiful. If you're into grindfests and don't care much for story, I'm sure Nameless will certainly suit your fancy. For everyone else, the lack of depth past the battle system may be off-putting.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • themostunclean

    Bland story from something anime based? Why I've never heard such a thing!

    What's next? Are you going to tell me the illustration style was homogenized, crude, and uninspired? Cuz, y'know, anime is the absolute pinnacle of human art and entertainment.

    I think I just pulled my sarcasm muscle.

    • nini

      True but anime-themed doesn't mean anime-based.

      • themostunclean

        Ah, true. Thank you for the correction, I mistyped.

      • NatasisSatan

        Haha. Sorry but you made yourself look like an arse. XD How about you make a game? When you do maybe you can take that steamy hot brown sarcasm back on yourself. Dont say it not possible lol since this was an indie game.

        Bland story?

        No, kept playing cause I wanted to see what would happen next. It was refreshing from the other bs hack and slash rpgs like god forbid Zeniona and Dungeon Hunter. Yeah they are cool but they are greedy and rather clinch.

        I personally want to see the unique rpg elements in this game, be use in console games. That would be pure amazing fun time goodness lol.

        Uninspired?

        Awe sad little boy, you saw that character breast and had to be a troll saying "Oh look at the art. It like every other anime. Eww."

        Once again for all your other comments, please show me your drawings and artwork.

        There is alot of work that need to be done.
        -Better relationships to add more depth
        -Explain what perks like swagger, zombie do.
        -Make increasing your skills more battle changing.
        -Hmm give people more choices so to edge back the mind dulling combat that feels really repetitive
        -Make the nurse scene even more sexier lololo xDD

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    This is a really cool concept. Turn-based-RPG with hacking? You sir, have peaked my interest.

  • kevinb1229

    The lite version apparently "requires a front-facing camera".
    *looks at my first-gen iPad running iOS 5.x in disbelief*
    ...what.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JohnnyTran777 Johnny Tran

      They are fixing that with a patch... according to the TA Forum post by the devs...

    • link6616

      THey are supposedly adding in universal support later, but the next patch will support allow 3GS and iPad 1 players to play.

    • dougmctx

      "requires a front-facing camera" is often used by developers as a way of specifying that their app only works on newer devices -- apparently the app store doesn't give them the (more clear) option of saying "iPod touch 4g or iPhone 4 or later" instead.

      It's a pretty commonly used convention -- a lot of games that say they require a front facing camera don't use the camera at all.

      And yes, I do realize that it's a flawed workaround.

  • oldgamer dude

    I really enjoyed this one , thought it was 7 shades of cool :)

Nameless: the Hackers RPG Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5