Best described as cheery, quirky, turn-based strategy with a indie roguelike-ish flair, Freehold Games'Sproggiwood, now also available for iOS and Android, is all about what happens when you, a humble but happy Cloghead farmer, are kidnapped by the evil dark lord Sproggi to do his totally evil bidding. ... or are you? Turns out the land ain't what it used to be, and the gentle, orderly influence of your kind might just be what it needs to make everyone happy again... which naturally involves a lot of dungeon-delving with crazy goat women, sentient mushrooms, slimes, cyclops, and more. Inspired by Finnish mythology, Sproggiwood offers a fun and casual but still decidedly challenging and tongue-in-cheek experience that's perfect for picking up whenever you have a spare moment or sixty.
Like most roguelikes, Sproggiwood is turn-based, which means that unless otherwise incapacitated, all enemies move when you do, though you can "wait" to stay where you are and let enemies come to you, which is handy if you want to lure them in to get in an attack first... kind of useful, since if you die, you'll have to start over from the beginning of the randomly generated dungeon. Each enemy has their own sets of rules and abilities, like different coloured slimes that either explode in columns of flames or leave toxic squares of goo when slain, or giants that charge at you in an instant if you enter your line of sight. With very limited hit points and ways to recover them, thinking carefully about your moves and learning those of your opponents' is crucial to staying alive. Though you're initially stuck as the farmer, eventually you'll unlock other classes like the archer or the thief, and they all have their own unique weapons, armor, and abilities. Special abilities, gained by leveling up, require blue stamina stars to execute, and since you only gain those from slaying enemies, you don't want to be wasting your abilities willy-nilly. You'll also find magical scrolls and potions, though you can only carry a single unit of one or the other, and shrines sprinkled about randomly can be used to get your health refilled or other boons... if you're lucky. While you're reset to level one and lose all your loot when you complete a dungeon, any item you've found can be bought to be used permanently back at your town.
Oh, didn't I mention? You totally get a town, which in turn becomes populated with the monsters you encounter, and where you can also buy upgrades to help with your adventuring. Admittedly, the whole townbuilding aspect is a little tacked on... it's cute to see the critters trundling around, but they all spout just a few lines, and all you can really do is spend money there. No, Sproggiwood is most definitely an RPG-flavoured strategy game, not a sim, and a very tasty strategy game at that. A lot of its strength comes from its charm... Sproggiwood's character design and whimsical spirit makes it feel like the sort of game lazy afternoons were made for, and is definitely tricky enough to keep you thinking. I wouldn't call the dungeon design captivating, exactly, since it has a tendency to consist of empty corridors and rooms enlivened by the occasional pot or pile of leaves, but while most of the equipment they can wield do the same things regardless of whether they're bows or swords, the different class abilities make for markedly different play experiences. It's still not the most diverse roguelike around if you like being bombarded with fiery codpieces of plus two intellect and different monsters every single screen, but it is very intelligent and well thought out in a way that favours planning. Plus? Super cute. Sproggiwood's pleasing personality and Easy To Pick Up But Hard To Master (tm) gameplay makes it an effortlessly enjoyable little game for just about any roguelike fan that's well worth checking out.
Sproggiwood (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
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NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad Air. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.