Developer: E2 Applets
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

IMG_0394[1]Great games give players a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s with a stats-boosting level increase or a new weapon that opens up more places to explore, games should let players know that they are in fact making progress. Tribe Survival tries to do this, but in focusing so much on progression, it leaves behind too much of the actual gameplay.

Tribe Survival’s core is so slight that, ironically, it’s actually a little difficult to fully describe. Imagine an old-school tabletop RPG, complete with character customization and stats-driven one-on-one combat, but without any of the quests or exploration. Instead, battling bosses and other players online is the focus and the only way to improve different attributes is through dice roll-powered “training.” On one hand, this system cuts through the tedium of grinding and makes the character strengthening feel more immediate and satisfying. What the game calls “quests” are usually just straightforward stats goals like “improve speed by 300 points” or “train defense on low intensity.” However, since it’s all been boiled down to pure numbers, there’s a strong sense of disconnection that makes one wonder why they are even playing the game in the first place.

To be fair, there are others systems that help combat this feeling of ennui. The highly-randomized battles can be swung in the player’s favor through strategic spell layouts, properly executed quick time events, and the totem which can be customized in various ways to guide luck in the player’s direction. That last one also makes the most sense thematically given the game’s admittedly delightful cartoon Mayan visuals and music.

Tribe Survival wants to get players into an addictive loop of battling and character improvement. Given that it’s free, it’s a nice surprise actually that it only asks for time, not money, to achieve those goals at a reasonable pace. However, for the trap to work there needs to be at least one strong gameplay hook to initially lure players in. That hook, unfortunately, is the biggest thing Tribe Survival lacks.


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