This RPG could use some Google Translate
Social games are more or less dominated by the hidden object, sim, and match-three genres, so it’s nice when something other than those comes along. Brave Tales, the new fantasy RPG by Avallon Alliance and Renatus Media offers an unusual kind of gameplay (for casual games anyway) and great-looking graphics. Unfortunately, its potential is limited by its over-dependence on in-game purchases and an overall feeling of incompleteness.
What’s likely to draw you to Brave Tales in the first place is its artwork. The game’s characters are extremely well-designed (its red-headed female archer calls to mind Merida from Pixar’s Brave) and its backgrounds are worthy of an animated series. Its orchestral music adds to these exceptional visuals, and the three together create an impressively well-made sensory package. Within this beautiful atmosphere, you’re asked to take control of a party of heroes whose goal—as heroes’ goals usually are—is to traverse the land banishing evil and protecting the weak.
Brave Tales is a role-playing game as well as a social game, and considering it’s meant for a casual audience, has a surprisingly deep amount of role-playing gameplay. You start with three heroes: Arthur the warrior, Diana the archer, and Peter the healer, all three of whom have different skills (these are determined by which skill runes you equip) and use different weapons and armor. Down the line you encounter other characters with even more skills and gear, and the look of everyone can be changed if you’re willing to spend gold on new skins.
During battle, all of your heroes can be controlled individually, so you can move them and direct them to attack specific targets. Each of them has special attacks on cool-down timers that can be executed provided you have enough Mana, and each will auto-attack by default. One of the cool things about combat is that downed heroes can be resurrected as long as you have the gold to pay for it, so if you’re this close to winning, one dead party member doesn’t cause a frustrating loss.
Winning battles rewards you with Gold and items, the latter of which can either be equipped, dismantled into pieces, or used for crafting. Crafting is fun to do and allows you to take two low-grade items and turn them into a single, better quality version of that item. Of course, in order to craft, you need to have sufficient Supplies. Brave Tales has two kinds of currency: Supplies and Gold. If you run out of Supplies you can buy more with Gold, but if you run out of Gold you’re forced to buy more from the in-game store. Gold costs anywhere from $.99 for 250 to $19.99 for 6,500, and for perspective, one Mana potion costs twelve Gold. Skill runes are a better deal at the rate of sixty for $1.99.
Like most social games, Brave Tales gives you a pretty generous taste of things at first, and then quickly becomes transaction-happy. Oddly enough, however, that’s not the game’s worst problem. The worst problem is its “under construction” feel which keeps hitting you in the face. You’ll see it in the interface which has confusing things like duplicates and missing items, coming-soon-type elements, and if you’re using Firefox, missing banner images at the top of the page. Most of all though, you’ll notice it in the many poorly-translated lines. Brave Tales has what could be some fun character dialog and each mission has a little bit of story context to it, but awkward sentences and weird vocabulary diminish their impact. Really, the game never should have been released with such messy text, but alas, it’s seemingly acceptable among social publishers to release unfinished games.
Brave Tales is a good game that, with some spit and polish, could be a great one. At the moment, though, its sloppy verbiage, missing interface, and stingy attitude toward free-to-play are holding it back. Still, if those things are tweaked, its charming graphics and sound, coupled with its classic hero types and fun role-playing/combat/crafting mechanics could make it a rewarding way to spend your daily gaming time.