Version Reviewed: 1.3.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Epic Arena is a turn-based strategy game in the fantasy style of Warcraft or Warhammer. Players face off as the faction of good or evil in the hopes of defeating an opposing player. While there is a single-player component, the core of the game is in its competent, deep, and satisfying multi-player mode.
In every match of Epic Arena, players are met with a hexagonal map. It is this map - complete with special hexes for deploying troops, gaining power-ups, or teleporting around the field - that serves as the entire play field. Players also enter each match with a pre-made deck of cards, which contain power-ups and units that must be used strategically to ensure victory. To win, players need to destroy their opponent's structures, which are pre-placed on the map at the beginning of each match.
As with most strategy games I tend to stick with on iOS, Epic Arena's greatest strength is its overall sense of balance. The game is very easy to grasp mechanically, as players simply deploy cards they happen to have in their hand without having to worry about some resource system, and the goal is always to destroy a particular object. However, unit positioning, item usage, etc are difficult things to master and may change depending on the opposition. In addition to this, the game's free-to-play structure seems unobtrusive and the game's cards and factions both seem completely unique and equally viable.
Epic Arena only really runs into trouble with its single-player content and some of its multi-player decisions. While it does boast single-player campaigns for both of the factions, each mission is essentially a puzzle scenario that is solvable in one turn. Beyond this, players don't seem to have the option to square-off against the AI for practice. In addition, the multiplayer has a somewhat strange structure to it. Players can choose between "Duel" and "Blitz" modes, with the former being unranked, untimed matches and the latter being ranked, timed matches. The problem here is that playing unranked doesn't give players a sense of their skill level but does give the freedom to make moves at their leisure, while Blitz can help players match up evenly against opponents but requires them to play an entire game within 10 minutes in order to do so. While its nice that these two modes exist, both seem to leave a little to be desired for casual players that want quality matchmaking.
Overall, Epic Arena feels very well-balanced and is definitely fun to play. Although multi-player is its core focus and its modes are not as customizable as they could be, Epic Arena delivers an experience that abides by the age-old design philosophy of "easy to learn and hard to master," all while being free-to-play.