App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Those of us that love role-playing games (RPGs) typically don't spare a thought for the origin of weapons and armor. We simply take it for granted that any shop we walk into will have an endless stock of +5 swords of newt-bending. But where did the wood for that sword come from? What about the metal? How about the magical ingredients? As long as the weapon is cheap, we don't care.
Master of Craft, a building/simulation game from IdeaBox Games, is designed to make us care. Players control operations in a town dedicated to building and selling magical weapons, armor, and items. Everything from raw materials to magic items (sought out and retrieved by adventurers) is touched on in this unorthodox but addictive town-building game.
In Master of Craft, players take up the hammer of a young apprentice blacksmith who's just starting to learn how the weapon building-and-selling trade. Things start out simply with a basic weapon workshop and a sawmill. Twigs are produced at the mill, which can be assembled into basic swords and sold for a small profit.
From there, players can open up a steel mill to produce ore. The metal can be combined with wood in order to make better, sturdier swords that sell for a higher profit. And so on until the little blacksmith is putting together some impressive monster-slicers. But metal and wood isn't always enough for making weapons that stand a chance against magical enemies. That's why the smith needs to visit the adventurer's guild from time to time and send some heroes out to rustle up advanced materials from monsters.
Players don't fight monsters directly. Instead, the battles are automatic and players can intervene by applying skills from time to time. In order for the adventurers to stand a chance on the more severe quests, players must uncover rare items by questing repeatedly and use them to build top-tier weapons for the guild members.
Going into battle over and over for these rare ingredients can get a bit repetitive - not a surprising revelation in a free-to-play game that offers up said ingredients for a price. But as a whole, Master of Craft is quite fair about in-app purchases and allows the player a real sense of progress without expecting them to pay up for it.
That's a good thing, because Master of Craft is a good game. There's tons to do, and players can quest as often as they like - provided their stores are producing enough energy to fund the expeditions. Master of Craft is fun to start up again and again, particularly for players that like their games to involve a bit of micromanagement.
This might be an obscure reference, but fans of Level-5's Weapon Shop De Omasse for the Nintendo 3DS will definitely get something out of Master of Craft. The rest of us will be content just learning where elaborate RPG swords come from.