It’s been a while since I wrote a post that necessitated use of the “mobile games” tag. So… here goes?
I was idly watching YouTube last week, as I do, and felt like something was off. Like something needed to keep my hands occupied while my mind was “occupied”. Mobile games are shallow and simple enough to fill that need, but I only have Pokémon Go and SINoALICE on my phone, and neither felt right for that particular moment.
To sum up the next 20 minutes: I spent some time Googling what the best iOS clicker games were, and then poking around on the App Store for the results, to try to see if their descriptions and presentations matched the hype. Did you know that they don’t make apps without the “in-app purchases” tag anymore?
Eventually I settled on Tap Wizard RPG. It is, of course, a simple game where you play as a wizard on a quest to abolish some kind of threat to the world. And despite it having “tap” in the title and being sold as a clicker… you never have to do any clicking. The wizard runs forward and smites foes all on their own, and you’re there more as moral support more than anything.
It does work like all other incremental games, though. Wizard accumulates capital-p Power by defeating foes, but doesn’t actually gain the stat boost until you reset the run. So then you go back to the beginning, but all that Power is now active, and the wizard’s spells are stronger, allowing them to take down stronger foes and progress farther. And then you idly repeat this cycle until you’re done watching YouTube or TV or whatever.
If you’d like to take a (slightly) more active role in the wizard’s journey, runes are a thing that happens. Occasionally, circular objects will spawn on the screen, and tapping them will either give the wizard a buff or immediately cast a spell. Sometimes square ones will show up too, and these get placed in a backpack to be used whenever you wish. So if you’re stuck on a tough boss, maybe it’s time to use that stack of healing runes that you’ve been holding onto for the last three cycles?
The wizard’s spell loadout is made up of five spells chosen at random (I think?) when you begin the game. There are three elemental schools (fire, ice, and lightning), and you’ll eventually unlock more spells as you play. Each spell in your loadout will gain XP over time, and when a spell levels up, it bestows both an active and passive perk. Active perks only activate when the spell is in your loadout, and passive perks are always on. Spells also gain less XP depending on where they’re placed on your loadout; the first spell gains 100% of XP earned, while slot 5 only gets 5%. So there’s a bit of strategy in that you get to decided if you want to level all spells evenly to get more perks, or if you want to focus on getting a few of them to higher levels for the better perks. I think spells also rank up at some point? But I haven’t played long enough to see it happen, and I don’t know what it would even accomplish.
The research feature lets you put all the gold you’re collecting from slaughtered foes to good use by investing it in buffs for the wizard. Of course, since it’s called “research”, each of these buffs needs some time in the oven before they’re unlocked. Or you can use gold to complete them right away. Most research buffs are great, like giving the wizard more HP or increasing the value of collected power, or improving the chance of finding higher-quality runes. But one, “Tempered Magic”, increases the wizard’s damage output while increasing the cooldown time for each spell. It’s a fair trade-off, but I don’t like it! I want my wizard to be flinging those spells out as fast as possible, dammit! So I have opted to not put much money into that particular branch of research.
Lastly, when you find that your Power just isn’t seeing the kind of gains you’re looking for, and if you’ve reached a certain threshold, you can trade in all of your Power to give the wizard some permanent buffs. These include higher damage output, lower research cost, and faster research time. Of course, you’ll start back at the very first zone at base power, but the damage multiplier will help you to carve through the early stages much faster than before. Through cycles upon cycles, you’ll slowly watch your little wizard grow more and more powerful, and unlock more and more game features as you get to higher and higher levels.
Speaking of unlocking game features, I still have a lot of blocked-off content, but I’ve only had the app on my phone for like three days. I have no idea what’s still to come or how long it is, but one of the things that drew me to Tap Wizard RPG was the suggestion that it actually has an ending. As much as I like frittering my life away on incremental games, it’s always so disheartening to fin that they just go on forever, the numbers just getting bigger and bigger. Watching numbers go up is all well and good, but I very much appreciate when a game sits you down and tells you “Son, these numbers are up enough. It’s time for you to do something else now.”
Honestly, though, I think that the thing I like most about Tap Wizard RPG is that it never ever pressures you into playing every day. There are no login bonuses or daily quests or any of that kind of garbage that seems to be so prevalent in modern mobile games. When you open Tap Wizard RPG, you do it 100% because you want to, never because you feel obligated to.
And so, my quest through Tap Wizard RPG shall continue for some time to come. Its cute graphics and bangin’ background song (yes, song) make for a nice coat of paint over the fairly by-the-numbers incremental “gameplay” that I’ve fallen for so many times. I don’t know that I’ll stick with it long enough to see the fabled ending, but it’s definitely a possibility. You don’t want to know, and I don’t want to tell you, how many hours I spent clicking away at Hero Clicker. Or Cookie Clicker. Or Tap My Katamari. Or Hot Gym. Or AdVenture Capitalist. Or Candy Box.
…I know I have a problem, okay!? I’ll deal with it when I’m good and ready.