When hardcore met social
If you think about it, most games are made with the intention to solve a problem. Whether it’s an attempt to move a genre forward or plug in some longstanding gaps, the lion’s share of developers are actively trying to – however little – shift (or sometimes completely change) the paradigm. In the case of Tynon, a browser game with hardcore hooks and a meaty story, it’s clear studio uCool set out to do both of these things.
The game begins by informing you that the king, along with others in the land, have been placed under a curse. As a knight, it’s your job to protect your village from evil, as well as remove the curse that’s afflicted your ruler. It’s a little cliche, admittedly, but it’s also woven into the gameplay in a fairly meaningful way. It isn’t just mentioned once and dropped for hours and hours at a time, but rather crops up on a fairly frequent basis.
Speaking of crops, you’ll be planting them! Matter of fact, you’ll be in charge of assembling and running an entire village. It’s not typically something you see on a knight’s resume, but it works in tandem with the game’s RPG and combat elements to ensure that you frequently have something to do.
The game takes a very “if it ain’t broke” approach when it comes to village maintenance. You’ll be purchasing buildings and waiting for them to get built, planting seeds and waiting on fruit and vegetables, and collecting rent on a fairly regular basis. It may leave the people burned out on village/farm sims with a sense of unwanted deja vu, but I didn’t necessarily mind the similarities.
“There is one unique addition, though: As you gain levels from battling with various enemies, your town hall will level up as well. And the more your town hall levels up, the more you’ll be able to develop and build your village. It struck me as an interesting way to merge the different gameplay elements in a tangible, meaningful way.
Like the sim aspects, the game’s combat portion doesn’t make much of an attempt to do anything different. Battles are turn-based, and victory is based on how specced out your characters and their weapons and equipment are. You can improve your gear by purchasing upgrades, and the game does a good job with giving you more than enough coins to do so. In fact, at no point during my time with the game did I feel compelled to open my wallet.The opportunity was there, and the benefits of doing so were obvious, but it was far from required to have fun.
Being a social game of sorts, there are also plenty of hooks and opportunities to bring your friends into the mix, be it visiting their villages or gifting them items. Much like paying money, though, it doesn’t hinder the experience if you choose not to. The single player portion of the game is perfectly fleshed out, to the point where antisocials won’t feel as though there’s something they’re missing out on.
Tynon took on a pretty tall order by attempting to bake hardcore elements into a social/casual game. But, despite a few problems, it managed to pull it off. The combat and sim portions may not breath new air into their respective genres, but there’s clearly merit to the idea of combining them. There are the requisite cooldowns of social/casual games, of course, but the game is still incredibly generous in what it offers players free of charge. It’s a model that I could see inspiring people to give the money out of goodwill, and less out of necessity.