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RAVENMARK: Mercenaries Review

By Dave Flodine, on July 18, 2013
Last modified 9 months, 1 week ago


RAVENMARK: Mercenaries
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Essentially Fire Emblem for iOS.
  • Impressive array of tactical options.

 

CONS

  • Codex info dumps are are drag.
  • Free-to-play architecture is a little intrusive.

VERDICT

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.

Screenshots

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Comments

Avatar
Steve4505 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I should have said the contracts I am talking about take maybe 15-20 minutes to complete. So basically an hour a day of play time max. if you want to be non-PvP.

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Steve4505 8 months, 4 weeks ago

After playing this for 3 days I realized this game is 99% a PvP game. If you want not to PvP you are limited to about 20-25 contracts you can complete during every 7 days in real life (about 3/day) or the odds become nearly impossible. With each win the enemies hit points are boosted by 3%. Do the math. The non-PvP part of the game will quickly be unbeatable, no matter what you do. Its just about impossible for your troops to survive with quite similar stats when the pretty solid and aggressive AI has 60-75% more hit points than you do. Especially since the units are pretty evenly matched stat wise (at least at 1st few levels.) The pay to play model is focused on either getting the very annoying ads which occur every 2 rounds in a battle removed (yes you just have to click them off - but its every 2 rounds!) and the units/brigades which come with the game are expanded when you pay more for them.

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Chesco 9 months, 1 week ago

Devs we need a price tracker on this one.

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Djrella659 9 months, 1 week ago

It's FREE right now... Why would we need the tracker if it doesn't cost anything?