Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Adventure Xpress is a quirky game in which players must trek across the land while fighting monsters in match-three battles in order to deliver the mail. The cartoony aesthetic and bizarre narrative conceit are part of what sets it apart from the glut of puzzle games like it, and its relatively inoffensive free-to-play structure makes it feel like a game worth investing some time in.
Like many match-three games, Adventure Xpress consists of enemy encounters where players are presented with a game board of colored tiles that they need to shift around one space at a time to match and destroy in order to unleash attacks on their foes. Along the way, players may encounter enemy types that have a resistance to tile attacks of a certain color, or they'll unlock gear that slightly alters their ability to deal damage vs. scoring critical hits, but for the most part it's a very familiar formula.
Despite being a bit of an old hat gameplay-wise, Adventure Xpress manages to feel surprising and new primarily due to its fun art style and satisfying animations. It just feels so good sliding tiles and watching the player character bob over to the other side of the screen to whack a troll over the head with an axe made of inflatable balloons. Of course, scenes like this would feel less satisfying and enjoyable if Adventure Xpress tried to ding players for money at every turn, but luckily it does no such thing.
In fact, probably more than any other aspect, Adventure Xpress has a really good balance of challenge. As players progress they'll advance to stages that involve fighting multiple powerful enemies, which eventually require better and better pieces of loot. This loot becomes available as players earn experience and gain levels, or they can opt to spend premium currency to unlock them in advance. That being said, premium currency can be earned without spending money through completing challenge stages, which in turn keep that currency feeling purely like a translation of cash.
Although this system for currency keeps Adventure Xpress's free to play model feeling inoffensive from a gameplay standpoint, it still has a pretty annoying amount of ads that pop-up in the game almost every time the game is booted, even if it's being resumed after locking the screen. These ads don't seem to infiltrate into actual game screens, but the welcome banners are still not particularly welcome.
Adventure Xpress isn't some revelation of mobile gaming, but it is rather good at what it does - particularly at its price. It has a fun progression system and a great sense of style, which is more than can be said for many, many match-three freemium games.