The application (available on iOS and Android) is a combination of a tactical training tool, a replay system and a match 3 adventure game. That’s right, there’s an Evolve themed Bejewled, and that’s not a bad thing. The gameplay itself introduces you to the world of the game allowing you to take the role of all twelve of the different hunters. The hunters in the game are making their way towards the big kaiju monsters but to get there they must cut their way through local fauna. Each hunter has a weapon and each weapon does a different amount of damage. How you get your hunter to attack is you match the different jewels to get them to move in to action.
Gameplay itself is fairly simple, divided in to three stages (for each of the monster’s evolutionary stages) across three levels (for each of the three monsters at release) the game has you performing “match a jewel” activities. The goal for a basic hit is to match 3 as per the standard formula but if you match more jewels you get a bonus. For example four jewels you get a 2x jewel that can match to anything, 5 or more jewels you get a jewel specific power up and as you chain jewels you can get some pretty epic damage.
This becomes especially important as your quest gets further along, after matching three Monster Tiles (which you sometimes have to do to get at your matches) you unleash an attack from the big monster you are hunting. These can be devastating in nature reorganizing tiles, wiping out rows and dealing massive amounts of damage.
In addition to the standard hunt game modes like in the console big brother of this game you get “egg” mode and “rescue” mode. These consist of you matching gems to damage eggs or rescue survivors. These modes are on time limits and have variable objectives (like destroy one purple and one blue egg or save three red and one green survivor). In these cases your hunters do not become damaged by Monster Tiles but they can kill your survivors or rearrange tiles to set you back. These modes can be especially frustrating as the ability to succeed is at times determined by the random nature of the tiles and where they drop meaning often you may have to repeat these missions multiple times even if you play the best possible combination of moves.
As you successfully complete missions your hunters level up giving them greater damage capability and levelling up their abilities, this will become necessary as you level because the monsters you face become more and more difficult. You also pick up bones of prey that you can assemble and analyse to give you “mastery” points and unlocks in the full Evolve game by completing your bestiary. Here’s where things get a bit ugly, as a free to play game this of course contains micro-transactions, these allow you to buy more time, add extra shields and attack power, revive your characters or continue from where you left off after losing a round. These micro-transactions are completed using real money, in addition as you complete levels and earn Mastery you can then spend it to buff your hunters in the full Evolve title.
This is where balance concerns come in to play, this isn’t a self-contained title but a tool that if someone dumps a lot of money in to they can unbalance their hunters to give them a distinct advantage over the monsters in the game. At early levels it starts as small things like a 2% bonus on your machine gun damage or a bonus to attacks with Daisy on the field but these little things can add up. Add to this the game starts to get punishingly difficult around the middle of the second stage getting to the point where continuing almost requires a financial layout or alternately grinding the first stage and a half to get yourself up to a power level where you can take the monsters on, but this is a study in diminishing returns as the more times you repeat these levels the less benefit they are as you will need even more experience to level up. Adding insult to injury every time you start a level as well as every time you loose you are given a prompt to buy in game currency to continue or buff becoming more than something of a nuisance.
So, taken in and of itself it’s a fun little game, there are additions of being able to review tactics and get gameplay hints for the full game Evolve as well as watch replays of your previous games which lets you study what worked and what didn’t work when you played before. This is useful, and the Bestiary adds more flavour to a game where some have complained the lore is a bit light but it quickly becomes VERY grindy and its impact on the larger game is of some concern.
- Addictive gameplay
- Simple mechanics that can lead to complex combinations
- Varied game modes
- Useful tools for improving your ability to play Evolve
- Questionable impact on full Evolve game creating possible balance issues
- Steep difficulty curve to encourage "booster" purchase
- Obnoxiously frequent prompts to purchase in game currency
- Many boosts locked behind real cash wall impossible to buy with earned in game currency
- Becomes very "Grind" heavy very quickly