Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Storm Casters sports a core mechanic that puts a new twist on the idea of “speed runs.” Each time players take their spell-blasting adventurer into the randomly-assembled depths of the game’s dungeons, they have only a limited amount of time to clear each set of floors. It’s an interesting idea, but one that doesn’t ever quite fully kick into gear.
The action-RPG-roguelike mash-up of Storm Casters is ostensibly put together well enough: the visuals are clean and cartoony, the controls are responsive (provided you stick with auto-targeting and not the dual stick option), and the action gets appropriately frantic at times. However, some of the systems in the game are seemingly at odds with the central, time-based mechanic.
For instance, before each fight players are dealt three random cards from an assembled collection that builds from drops in-game or special booster packs. Each card has a specific effect of some sort: an increased chance of a certain special power-up weapon dropping, an additional boost to experience points gained, or the like. For a small fee of gold (earned for defeating enemies) you can reshuffle and be dealt three new cards if you don’t like your initial draw. But in practice, there’s very little incentive to bother doing so. You’re generally so hard pressed to finish each group of levels in the allotted time that you barely have a chance to notice that a specific weapon dropped more frequently, much less try to strategize in any appreciable manner.
Most of your acquired gold will go toward leveling up the character’s attack damage and the time you’re given to finish each dungeon (increasing in three second increments with each purchase). These have hard caps on them, but reaching periodic level milestones will allow you to evolve the character, raising the caps and changing up their appearance a bit.
An additional note to consumers: Storm Casters does not run well on older hardware. It’s worth noting that on the iTunes store page they make mention that it shouldn't be played on iPhone 4, but I would like to amend that by stating it has problematic (but not game breaking) issues on iPad 2 as well. The game itself runs fine, but it encounters RIDICULOUS amounts of freezing and chugging during moments of heavy action, which is not good at all when one is surrounded by hordes of enemies. Nothing like watching the screen freeze, only to unfreeze with you rubberbanding into the middle of a stack of skeletons.
Since the gameplay is broken up into bite-sized chunks under the watchful eye of the ever-present clock, it makes Storm Casters a decent enough offering for quick, 'fast food' game sessions. But much like fast food, it doesn’t really offer anything substantial or filling in the long run, as the experience grows stale rather quickly. While the initial shine can be addictive in the early stages, before long I found myself resenting the limited time mechanic as I hurtled through each floor of the dungeon, ignoring almost everything around me save for what was absolutely necessary in order to clear my pathway to the next door. I really wish the developers at Get Set Games had ditched it in favor of taking the decent framework they already had in place and crafting a more robust action-RPG around it.