Dark Fury proves that joining the forces of evil is doomed to be a losing proposition

When it comes to thankless jobs, it doesn’t get much worse than that of a minion in the Soulless Legions of Evil. Your coworkers are idiots, people are always trying to kill you, and the pay sucks. That said, it may sound tempting to sign up with the monsters and fight with the forces of good anyway, but new iOS game Dark Fury proves that this idea is even worse than it sounds.

The scenario here is that you get to fill in the shoes of an RPG’s bad guys. You put together squads of minions that you send up against groups of heroes who are out to make a name for themselves. The “great story line” (developer Noumena’s words, not mine) is almost non-existent, not to mention nearly impossible to learn about. I stumbled across the plot by accident when I opened up a message within the game. This plot is told with text-heavy screens, and it’s honestly pretty underwhelming, both in quality and delivery.

Dark Fury

The game’s single-player campaign features over a hundred quests, which are essentially quick battles stocked with heroes who are just begging to be swallowed up whole by the darkness. These battles take place on maps that are broken up into grids. Each minion on your squad can move a certain number of squares and has a specific range for their attacks. Each turn, your characters can make one move and one attack/special ability.

From the moment Dark Fury loads, it’s obvious that this title was not designed to be user-friendly. Navigating the game’s menus is an ungainly affair, requiring you to horizontally swipe them back and forth. Never has accessing an in-game store, squad load-outs, and online leader boards been such a hassle.

Once a squad is selected and the fight begins, you can manually command your characters or set the whole battle to work itself out automatically, with absolutely no input from you. Automatic battles are a bit of a crapshoot, since your team’s AI is pretty insipid and will start losing more often than not during higher-level fights. This is especially frustrating, since engaging in battles uses up your characters’ finite energy supplies. Losing a battle, though, causes even more energy consumption, meaning you’ll have to recharge your squad members’ energy even sooner.

Now, it should be noted that this is a freemium game, allowing you to have an easier time playing through its campaign by purchasing “evil gems” with real money. The gems can be exchanged for gold coins (used to purchase new minions and/or increase their level), as well as recharging your squad members’ energy levels. Additionally, there’s always new gear to buy and equip, too, which will help your squads overcome their opponents on the battlefield.

Dark Fury

In terms of production values, Dark Fury doesn’t exactly stand out. The music is tinny and repetitive, and it’s telling that this is one of the better elements of the title. On the iPhone, the game’s “incredibly detailed animation and art” looks all right; the retro-style graphics are well-suited to the smaller screen, even on the Retina display. On the iPad, though, the visuals are severely underwhelming, complete with flickering icons and ragged edges.

One thing that looks dreadful on both versions of the game are the banner ads that are permanently nailed to the top of the screen. Unfortunately, there’s apparently no way to get rid of them (even if you’re spending money in the game), and you’ll quickly grow tired of seeing ads for things like cheap gasoline and pet simulators as you play your game.

There are a lot of reasons not to like Dark Fury, from its shoddy production values to its crummy advertising to its underwhelming automatic gameplay. But the worst thing about the game is how it takes such a promising premise —of seeing an RPG from the villainous army’s perspective— and utterly wastes it. This setting deserves to be a part of something a lot better, and it’s heartbreaking to see it included in something so mediocre.