This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Where: App Store or Google Play
Type of Game: Merge/Battle
Level: 4 (Basic Player)
Pay to Win: No
A Great Game During Quarantine
With the quarantine in full effect now, we are all sitting at home looking for things to do. Because of this, we are extending our game reviews beyond the physical board games to electronic games as well. In this process, we are going to keep the 50 point scale we use for board games, but changing the topics a little. We are looking at Art (Graphics), Mechanics (including AI), Strategy, Support, and Novelty.
For now, we will be only reviewing free online games for the quarantine. Because of this, some of the reviews may be lower than the 25 threshold we use for the live board games. Our first offering is Auto Chess by Dragonest games. You can pick this game up on the App Store or the Apple Store for free. There are in app purchases. A good note is this game is not pay to win, so it can be fun if you don’t want to invest in the game. There is a tournament with big money, so achieving a high level to be competitive in tournament will require a lot of time or some money.
The graphics for this game are very good for a free game. Each character is well designed and drawn out. The voices for the pieces get a little annoying after you hear them for the 10,000th time, but you can always turn that off. The game does allow players to buy or win new chess boards, which expands the graphics substantially. There are also skins for the pieces that change how they look but do not change how they play. This earns Auto Chess a 7 out of 10 for their Graphics.
The mechanics of Auto Chess are in a constant state of flux. The design team seems to take great pleasure in buffing and nerfing multiple characters with each upgrade, and upgrades come quite regularly. This creates a broken feel to the game and you often see players playing the same three builds throughout the week. This limits creativity as the “winning builds” are listed in the encyclopedia. The designers state there is a build to counter every build. However, when you are building if you are getting beat by a build your build is not designed to beat then it doesn’t matter. If that last sentence seems complicated, the whole process is. Add to this an AI that functions poorly in the battle and Auto Chess earns a 3 out of 10 for Mechanics.
The strategy is something this game had wrapped up when it first came out. This game had amazing depth and there were hundreds of combinations of characters you could use to build a winning team. However, with each upgrade, the eSports people push the designers to streamline builds, build in exploits, and otherwise cripple a good game. Auto Chess would have had an excellent 8 in strategy 6 months ago, but with the recent upgrades (many players are calling them downgrades), we have to only give the game a 4 for strategy.
As a reviewer, I tend to interact with game companies quite regularly. I let them know the good and bad of their products. I can say even though Dragonest specifically asks for comments and suggestions, all you receive when you submit them is abusive support from a third-party provider. Unfortunately for all their players, this is even true when reporting broken parts of the game. Because of this, the support score for this game is 0 out of 10.
Finally, we have the novelty score. Auto Chess was one of the first merge games in this genre. This means it was a leader in the field. The original game was very good, but as noted above, they are killing the game with upgrades. This earns the game a score of 7.5 for novelty.
Despite Tons of Early Potential, Auto Chess is Not Recommended
Dragonest could learn a lesson from games like Simpsons’ Tapped Out, which give the players what they like rather than just feeding the egos of eSports gamers who play tournaments. Auto Chess earns a total score of 21.5 out of 50. This low score is mainly because of bad support and constant upgrades (downgrades).
This is a fun time killer until you reach mid level. After that point in the game’s progress, it’s just a grind. Add to this a lot of cheating, which the support does nothing about, and you have a game with all the earmarks of greatness, but did not realize them.