The good old Snake game was a staple on all phones back in the day, but in 2013 it doesn’t enjoy as much popularity. Yet Nimblebit, the authors of Tiny Tower, have taken the concept of Snake and reinvented it, using classic role-playing game tropes in Nimble Quest, available on Google Play.
The Party Sets Out
Instead of a body of ever-expanding reptilian segments, your Nimble Quest “snake” is a growing party of heroes. As each new hero is collected, he starts following your selected leader, who is what amounts to the snake’s head. Knights, mages, archers, lancers, and more make up the party, which can grow to 15 strong. Of course, the party isn’t after snake food, but monsters: wandering spiders, bats, stationary archers, and undead enemies are among the foes it hunts. When each hero comes within range of the enemy, they automatically fire their specific attack: a wide-arcing sword slash, fireball, arrow, bomb, or something else.
Once a specific number of creatures is vanquished, the party goes to the next stage, which varies from forests and castles to sewers and graveyards with few changes to their outer shapes and decor. Power ups frequently drop, granting abilities such as freezing all enemies or increasing your attack rate. Every hero can be individually upgraded three times, becoming much more powerful on the third level-up. The game always starts from the first level, and death means starting from the beginning—unless you spend one of the game’s rare tokens.
Snake or an RPG?
Strangely, it’s easy to forget that this is a Snake game and that you can die by walking into something. While Nimble Quest definitely stays true to the long-established rules, its engaging experience makes it seem like the game is just about encountering monsters rather than snaking around. I occasionally ran into my own tail, forgetting that would cause a hero to burst into a cloud of smoke. If the leader walks into anything, the whole party dies. This goes to show how seamlessly the two styles of gameplay collide.
The main challenge comes from carefully maneuvering the party, steering just close enough to foes so that heroes can fire while not touching them. It can be a test of confidence—can you steamroll past this group with your party, or will you crash? The game is the most fun when you have a long “tail,” resulting in all-out warfare with attacks coming from individual heroes and enemies simultaneously.
Short swipes with your finger turn the snake right or left, relative to the position of the leader. It’s a simple control scheme that takes a while to get used to, as I initially frantically tapped the screen to make my train of mages and knights turn. Hitting a button would feel like a more concrete way to execute a single action, such as a turn, than swiping does—especially since there’s a lot of room on the screen. Still, swiping is effective at enabling turning in desired direction. There’s a toggle for left and right-handed controls in the options, but it doesn’t do anything—the whole screen is active for swiping no matter what.
There’s a second mode called the Arena, which is poorly explained and easy to overlook. It’s a global competition system that lets players team up in the same guilds and compete for high scores. It requires tokens to participate. If you run out, you have to start forking over cash or look for it in the regular game.
It Always Comes Down to…
Unlocking heroes and leveling up is the most addicting part of the game, with a three-star hero offering potential to be quite destructive. However, to even get to two stars costs 11,000 gems, and, although that is decreased with every enemy defeated while leading with that particular hero, it’s tedious to level up the party. Leveling up everyone without using tokens, the second game currency, would take weeks of intense gameplay.
Gem collection can be sped up, but invariably the game will wear you down, making the use of tokens and real money seem attractive. I spent all my initial tokens on restarting the later stages, not wanting to start from the beginning; that didn’t last long, even though I did occasionally find more tokens. I felt discouraged when I had to start each game from the very beginning, while enemies easily swarm the whole screen in later levels, slowing down progress a lot unless you help yourself out with buffs. Without spending money on tokens, you eventually hit a wall, and proceeding to the next stage takes significantly longer. This can severely deter you from playing more, depending on how much you’re willing to grind for slight upgrades and how much you enjoy Snake.
These issues don’t significantly bring down the gameplay experience, which is accessible, simplistic, and wrapped in nostalgic 8 bit graphics and sounds. Snake enthusiasts will enjoy the novel twist on the game, while RPG fans will gladly dive into maxing each hero and clearing each level. If you don’t mind spending some cash, even though the game is free, you’ll have a great experience with Nimble Quest.
|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc