App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Most legends tell of heroes who have beaten the odds and saved individuals, entire lands, and even the whole world. These elite warriors often lay down their lives to save their people without question, but while they’re typically regarded as saviors once the deed is done very little consideration is given to the mild-mannered tavern keeper who feeds and shelters them along the way. Tavern Quest bucks the trend and focuses entirely on this humble unsung hero - who in this instance is also a dragon - but while it’s a great concept with some very cool ideas, it’s constantly bogged down by horrific performance issues.
A young dragon decides he doesn’t want to pillage and so on, but he enjoys cooking so he starts running his own tavern. Then all the bigger, meaner dragons make fun of him. So he enlists the help of the heroes he attracts with promises of delicious food and sends them out after the awful bullies. As expected, this means Tavern Quest’s gameplay is broken up into two sections: restaurant management and questing. Managing the tavern is fairly typical of the genre in that doing just about anything (buying furniture, feeding customers, etc) earns experience that unlocks new items. One key difference is that dishes take time to prepare, but once they’re ready they sit on the counter for distribution until all the servings are gone. It works a lot like stocking floors in Tiny Tower, actually. Questing, on the other hand, is more of an action mini-game with some minor strategic elements. Three heroes of three different classes (front-line, ranged, support) trot out to best the chosen beast while players attempt to protect them from certain attacks and activate a hero’s special ability. Victory earns coins and special tavern items, Then the whole cycle can begin anew.
Aside from looking flippin’ fantastic (the screens really don’t do the whimsical storybook art style justice), the balance between management and adventure is almost perfect. Quests occupy the time (and are fun) between dish preparations, and finished meals will sell automatically whether the player is laying the smackdown on a troll or simply making a phone call. Attracting new heroes with special banners and catering to their specific tastes also keeps things on the management side from getting stale. If it weren’t for the fact that all this awesomeness is constantly interrupted by overly-long load times, terrible framerate dips, and the occasional crash Tavern Quest would be darn near perfect.
I want to be clear that I absolutely adore this game. When it runs well. Problem is it doesn’t run that well that often. Sure I’m using an older phone but it’s listed as a supported device. I’m still holding out hope that these performance issues will be cleared up in the future, though.