Flare - Android Gameplay
I'll try to keep this post professional. I don't think that playing "Flare" on smartphone was a waste of time - when it'll be completed, I'm sure it'll be one of the best Diablo-style hack'n slash on Android (don't get me started on Dungeon Hunter 3,4 or 5). But there are some issues, which can be really frustrating and difficult to deal with for a Android gamer (mainly for smartphones, but tablets won't be in much better situation).
1) Graphics and performance
Well, graphics are practically the same as the ones on desktop version and they look very good for mobile device (in my opinion, at least), so as a isometric 2D hack'n slash Flare has nothing to feel ashamed of.
The biggest issue with visuals is that the interface is really small. And while I don't have any problem with it in inventory or abilities menus (I like that one tap on choosen icon displays info about item/ability, and with second tap you can drag it), it is a bit problematic in character menu, when you level up and you want to spend your points - buttons are very small and hard to hit - but more on that later.
Every font is clear and very easy to read - no matter how large or small the screen is, so I'm really happy with that (see, "Ieasabel"? It's possible)
I'm playing on Sony Xperia M2 with quad-core 1,2GHz processor and 1GB RAM, so the whole experience is pretty smooth (over 30FPS for all time up to 60FPS in small and closed areas such as caves or hyperspace). There is only a huge lag when a switch or other script (for example, waking up Ardwen) has been turned on. When lag ends, you usually find yourself being already attacked, like they were moving all this time (it usually takes about 1 second, so it's nothing crucial).
Not much to say, everything sounds just like you could expect after playing on desktop.
Controls are simple - tap to walk or attack. If you hold your finger on the ground, you walk in given direction. If you hold on the enemy, you'll attack in given direction until you take your finger away. If you'll tap on item's name or item itself, you'll take/activate it.
But what is the worst is aiming. I've choosen mage to see how spells and firing projectiles looks on mobile device. Many times I was trying to tap on enemy (moving or standing) and I just couldn't do it. There is no margin of error for touch device, so there are two sollutions:
a) try to stand still and tap on enemy - if you'll start attacking, don't take away your finger and keep attacking, until everyone dies (except for you, of course).
b) if you have some experience already, try run-and-gun approach - keep running from an enemy and shoot him with a ice bolt (it's best to have spells such as fire ball or ice bolt as a primary attack, especially if you've got at least level 7), when he's far away. If he gets to you, run again and so on.
As I wrote above, it's best to keep a powerful spell in primary slot - that's because using spells in other way is unreliable. For example - I have fire ball in slot number 3 (it appeared there automatically, when I've learned it). When I want to use it, I have to tap on that slot. Sometimes I'll miss, which makes me run south or drink mana potion. Of course I can place it in another slot, which is a good solution, until you have learned few spells already and you can sometimes use something else. You can keep that spell in the slot prepared for secondary spell, but the problem is similar - you will use it or walk south. And even if you use that spell, you use it in the direction, you are currently facing - and for spells being used like that, there are only 8 directions. If you want to use them like that, you have to stand in such position, to hit your enemy in straight line. But using these spells sometimes makes you face south and shoot south.
There are of course simple for use abilities, such as "Shield" or "War Cry", and there is even "Burn", which after activation makes you choose an area, where you want to make an explosion. But the simplest and often useful spells (especially against enemies, which get more damage from some elements) aren't fun to use.
My fight with Seagate looked like that - shoot with Ice everything, run to recover and to get distance, (try) to hit enemy with Ice, look out for ice bolts, spikes and Seagate, don't run towards Zombies near the entrance, run and recover and so on. It took me about 5 lives and 4 minutes during the last try.
Remember - store your gold in the stash and when you encounter some merchant like Abasi or Bakat - buy all you need - potions, better weapon, armor, as they have definitely better stuff than merchants in encampment.
Other gameplay related cons for me are:
- lack of on-screen keyboard, when I want to change name of my character or set an ammount of gold I want to store
- I can't read Abasi's journal, I think there's no way to do that on touch device...
- battle text had no colors - until I've gone to the options, unchecked and checked again option about showing text (weird...)
- no tooltips for statistics - there is no way to see what "Offense" does affect, when critical chance is getting higher etc.
So yeah - progressing is satisfying, I really like that kind of hack'n slash on mobile device, but it is very annoying at the same time because of controls. That's my conclusion for this section.
4) Other problems
- after being attacked (mainly after being stunned), when I want to move after recovering, my character attacks, even if I clearly tapped on the ground (I think the same problem is with mouse control on desktop)
- tapping on the enemy makes my character attack, but not always in the direction, where the enemy stands (it's probably about that I tapped on the enemy and when I lied my finger on the screen, to keep attacking me, the game "thinks" that I hold it a bit lower/higher than when it landed at first)
- fighting with Mez - I tell you, this could make me stop playing Flare on Android as an adept. I had really nice equipment, level 7, mental damage 80-85, absorbtion 38-46, lightning resistance 12%, 680HP, Shield active, 66% chance to dodge and 580 HP Regeneration. And I died about 10 times. Before every try I was grinding on viverns, that are flying around him, but I had really enough. But I killed him - with a bug. I don't know if it's possible with a mouse on desktop version, but when I was firing my ice bolts towards Mez, he had about 50% HP and I had plenty of Mana points and still holding my finger on the screen, in one moment I've fired a massive amount of ice bolts (which drained me every Mana point I had), so it looked like I've fired a white ray, which was 4 times longer than my character, the game freezed (hah, funny) and when it was fully working again, Mez was dead, I had 0 mana points and I was shocked.
- I swear, sometimes after level up when I open abilities menu, I have no point to spend and it seems that the point I got on this level has been used to the first skill in opened tab, which I've learned (in my case, "Stone Wall" in warrior's abilities or "Fire Ball" in wizard's abilities)
5) Some suggestions
I think that separate interface has to be done for touch device, maybe with a space on the right prepared for some virtual D-pad, which could be used to precisely use abilities such as firing projectiles. Besides that, rest of the interface can be as it is, but with larger icons. I don't know how to solve the problem with lacking tooltips on character screen, though. Maybe create a new tab which shows what attributes are being affected after spending points on offense, mental, what else gives you leveling up etc.
I really wanted to make everything I've encountered clear for you and I'm sorry, if it sounds negatively. Maybe game is easy and really fun for brutes, but I didn't test it yet, so I can't tell. But I'm sure it's difficult for other characters, that's why I wanted to pinpoint problems with Android port.
I'm very thankful for making playing "Flare" on mobile possible and I hope you'll still be upgrading it and someday you'll release it on Google Play.