RAVENMARK: Mercenaries Review
- Essentially Fire Emblem for iOS.
- Impressive array of tactical options.
- Codex info dumps are are drag.
- Free-to-play architecture is a little intrusive.
A solid strategy experience which is hamstrung by its free-to-play trappings and ancillary reading.
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About a year and a half ago Witching Hour Studios released Ravenmark: Scourge of Estellion, a turn-based strategy game striving to bring the spirit of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars to the App Store. It featured some rewarding gameplay for strategy buffs, provided you were willing to meet it on its own terms.
Ravenmark: Mercenaries does a lot better at easing a new player into its mechanics through a narrative-laced tutorial. That said, while the core game is relatively easy to pick up, the nuances of the rock / paper / scissors battle system and the sheer number of options that open up carry their own unique brand of impenetrability.
Clicking on the banner will reveal the turn order of all the units on the battlefield. You see, like Frozen Synapse, both armies make their moves at the same time. There is a hierarchy which determines who takes their turn first, though. This is key to choosing whether to act offensively or defensively with any particular unit. Combat is largely automated, provided an enemy is in attacking range of your units. The main goal of the player is to link the right units together, make sure no flanks are exposed, and use the special abilities at the right times. Even when simply moving around the map, you'll want to make sure that no unit is left without backup.
As a core strategy experience, Ravenmark: Mercenaries is quite impressive. Setting up the perfect attack pattern or trap for your enemy can be very rewarding. In addition to the multiplayer mode, there are single player contracts that feature border skirmishes in which you select a couple of squads of units to obliterate the AI.
However, the majority of the single player missions involve selecting a squad, getting a notification if they succeeded or failed in their mission, and then having them sit behind a countdown timer before the squad can be used again. And, despite what the developer says about not having a 'pay to win' model, the virtual store is primiarily stocked with new squads and customisation options. The money you win in game is enough to keep your forces bolstered, but to suggest the game isn't set up to coerce the player into splashing cash is a tad disingenuous.
If you're a turn based strategy fan who enjoys testing your tactics against other players, you might want to check out Ravenmark Mercenaries. Its free-to-play archietecture is less bothersome than some games, but it is still present. As always, the choice to spend money is a tactical decision. Which, we suppose is fairly appropriate.
DescriptionBuild your mercenary army and raise your banner to epic heights in a broken, ravaged world. Wage head-to-head battles against other players in the finest turn-based strategy wargame, RAVENMARK: Mercenaries!
**** Selected as the App Store's Best of 2013 for Indie Games in Singapore! ****
== PLEASE NOTE ==
RAVENMARK: Mercenaries is FREE TO WIN! The game was designed such that you do not need to spend real money to defeat other players, only your wits. However, certain options to customise your army, which are not required for enjoyment of the game, may be purchased with real money. Additionally, the game is ad-supported. If you prefer a seamless play experience without ads, please consider supporting us by purchasing the Collector’s Edition IAP to remove ads.
Mercenaries delivers an evolution of the turn-based strategy mechanics that won critics over in the original 2011 wargame, RAVENMARK: Scourge of Estellion. Mull over strategic troop placement in the Command Phase, before committing your orders into the “we-go” Battle Phase where friend and foe move and attack in the same phase. Conquer your foes with grit and tactical superiority!
Challenge other human players to asynchronous battles, or embark on mercenary contracts to sharpen your skills on your own and gain favour with each of the warring nations. As your mercenary company grows rich in silver and renown, be prepared to face off against tougher challengers in multiplayer matches.
Acquire the services of diverse Brigades of mercenaries, each with their own history and combat styles. Mix and match these Brigades together to form your own style of combat! As you gain experience in battle, experiment with Commander Traits to embellish your style of command, and hire Advisors to reap greater bounties from your battles.
Stalwart combat features like Standing Orders and Formations return to offer expanded tactical options for players, while new features such as Zone of Control and the Standard Bearer throw game-changing twists into battle! Observe the satisfying progression of your mercenary company as your Brigades harden with battle experience.
A WORLD SCARRED
In the events of Mercenaries, set six years after the events of the original RAVENMARK, the world of Eclisse has been scarred irrevocably by the vendetta of Estellion’s vengeful new ruler, the Scarlet Empress. Players may delve into the world’s rich lore and discover the evolved power struggle between the three warring nations: once-glorious Estellion, the fledgling Varishah, and silent but stern Esotre.
RAVENMARK: Mercenaries requires a network connection to play. Also, please note that the game is a constant work in progress. Certain aspects of the game involving multiplayer combat may be rebalanced from time to time to improve the player experience.
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