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Free-to-play games are currently in a stalemate of having to make money on a risky business proposition, or just turn into games that you pay for once, and can enjoy no matter what happens. There is a reason why so many games of this type don’t really survive. If they end up trying to be too much like money vacuums, they will lose the player base very quickly. If they go the route of “you pay a base value and that’s it”, then you end up just with that one moment in time with financial gain. It’s a tightrope to walk carefully on, but I would rather a free-to-pay game play like an actual game, and not just whatever the heck that recent Harry Potter mobile disaster was. Even Nintendo is trying to find a way to balance it out with their recent downloadable Pokémon game, Pokémon Quest.
Really, there is no real plot to this game. You end up on this cube-like island, and send out teams of Pokémon to fight and explore the island full of different environments. You choose a team of three Pokémon, with varying stats and attacks, depending on what environment you decide to venture into, and watch as the Pokémon walk around the level until they run into a group of enemies. It turns into an action-RPG game, like Xenoblade Chronicles, where you watch them do auto-attacks, but can perform special offensive or defensive moves that have a cooldown timer attached to them. You will have them fight a certain number of enemy hordes until you encounter that level’s boss. As you fight and win these battles, you will be gathering materials for cooking stews to attract wild Pokémon, and badges that will increase health, attack power, and add special quirks to your Pokémon’s attacks. You only have a limit of how many levels you can go into, and must wait after a certain period of time to go through five or so battles again. Now, this is where the free-to-play elements come into the equation. You have a limited amount of space for badges and Pokémon, and you need special tickets to purchase stuff. You can also use the tickets to speed up the cooking process. You can, of course, buy a lot of this through real world cash. While I think there are definitely more fleshed-out games of this style, I think there is enough here to keep people invested with the actual game. The real roadblock doesn’t hit until you have gone through half of the game, and even then, due to how challenging some of the bosses can be, you can grind and make your Pokémon stronger. They will even evolve at certain points once you have leveled up. It’s pretty much a filler game that you play in-between your other releases like Battle Chasers: Nightwar and Mulaka. It also never felt like a money vacuum, because I wasn’t forced to wait or be seduced into spending money to speed up the process.
For me, I like the graphics for Pokémon Quest. Sure, it’s simple blocky characters with limited animations, but I’m so tired of most major games looking alike, that I find it refreshing. I also enjoyed the bright colors, and never got tired of looking around or to see what the next Pokémon will look like in this art style. The music is simple, but it never got old. It was punchy and upbeat, and I was never annoyed.
I think the downsides to this game are mostly the same you see in a lot of free-to-play games. The energy system is meant to sort of try and leech money out of you to speed up the process, the game gets repetitive due to the minimum complexity that is in the overall design, the brick wall will happen, leveling up stronger Pokémon takes a bit, and that’s really it. It’s not as bad as other mobile games, but it’s going to have those lingering issues.
Pokémon Quest is an adequate game, but a filler game nonetheless. I enjoy playing it, but I don’t play it constantly. Certainly here and there each day, but it’s not a main course game. It’s more like a snack. It’s free to download, so you don’t have to spend cash, unless you want to. It’s overall a harmless experience, but one you don’t have to rush out to play. It’s probably one of the better free-to-play games right now, but don’t treat it like it’s going to be a major game.
This game gets a 6/10.