14
Sep
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Hexage has been creating some of the best games on Android since early in the platform's run. It has a distinct style that has evolved through the years as Android acquired more graphical prowess. That leads us to the newest Hexage title, Reaper. This is a 2D hack-and-slash RPG with a casual style of gameplay and a ton of pizazz. Unlike some previous Hexage games, this one is not free-to-play. You can try it out, but you've got to make a decision about buying the full version. Is a casual RPG worth owning forever?


Bite-Sized Gameplay

Reaper does away with the more tedious, time-consuming aspects of role-playing games. Your inventory management is limited, quests only take a few minutes, and combat is pretty stripped down. At first it seems like Reaper is going to be too simple, but there's something truly compelling about a well-made casual RPG like this one.

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The premise is that you are the legendary Pale Swordsman, awoken from a long slumber in the mysterious and magical Wilderness. There are multiple forces battling for dominion over the Wilderness. There are the Imperials, who come to battle with bronze armor and steam-powered war machines. Then there are the tribes of noble (and sometimes crazy) warriors native to the Wilderness. Finally there are the beasts, always threatening to overtake the land for themselves once more.

You zip from place to place on the map, taking on quests and making decisions. At first it seems that you end up in a battle no matter what you do, but there is a little more nuance to it. You actually develop relationships with the various factions and NPCs. Some of the allies and enemies you make come back throughout the game, and the decisions you made will affect what happens.

I like that you don't have to hunt around endlessly for quests. Yeah, you don't get the same "exploration" vibe from Reaper, but that's best left to full-scale games. Pressing the button in the lower right corner of the map view will also ways send you to the next thing, be it a new quest or the next location in your current one. You can also select locations manually if you need to hit the shop or want to do a different quest.

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Your swordsman earns experience over time and gains levels. You get to pick a perk at each level that might increase your stats, or make a particular attack more powerful. The network of shops can also be used to buy better equipment to augment your character.

Cunning Controls

When you take up your sword, the game plays like butter. This is 2D, so you only have to worry about left and right direction buttons, which are in the lower left. The entire right half of the screen is a gesture area, but regular attacks are triggered automatically when you get within range of an enemy. I was wary of this, but it actually works extremely well. Hammering away on the baddies with standard attacks builds up rage, which is where the gestures come in.

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The rage skulls are at the top of the screen. Each skull equates to one gesture power attack. You can swipe up for an up-swing, down for a slam attack, left and right for a dash, and double-tap in the air for a spin attack. You can always jump and double-jump by tapping in the gesture area, and you'll do a lot of that to reach flying enemies and avoid projectiles. You can still pull off the gesture attacks when you're out of rage, but you don't do as much damage or get the increased stun/critical chance.

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If you have a controller or an Nvidia Shield, the game is fully supported for better control. You will probably dominate with real buttons, but Reaper is very, very good with touch controls – among the best games I've ever played in that respect.

Graphics

Just glancing at Reaper, you would know it is a Hexage title. It has the characteristic glowing and eerie lighting effects, but also the smooth lines and simple shapes from more recent games like Robotek. The textures are simple, but it fits with the clean style. There is just enough detail to work with the shading and lighting effects.

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This game really avoids looking drab with varied, colorful environments. The backgrounds are almost pastel and actually quite beautiful. There are forests, volcanic planes, ice caves, imperial outposts, and more.

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All the lines and edges in Reaper are flawless vectors. There isn't a hint of aliasing or clipping anywhere. It's an incredibly polished game.

This Is How An In-Game Economy Should Work

This game is free to play for 10 character levels, then you have a decision to make. There are three versions of the game, each with a different feature set. For $2.99 you get the basic Wilderness game. The $3.99 Destiny Edition you get a token arena, more in-game items, and a few other goodies. The Dark Legend version ($4.99) has all the other stuff, but adds a longer side quest, more items, and a new all-fighting game mode called Dark Harvest.

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This is basically the PC game model of deluxe editions, and it's exactly how Android games should be using in-app purchases. If you just want the main game, you can save some money. Really like what you see? Get the deluxe edition. There are no microtransactions in Reaper. All the gold used to buy items is earned from battles, and you get a ton of it. That said, the game is balanced very well. I don't feel like it's too easy, but neither is it frustrating.

Why Are You Still Reading This?

This is one of the most enjoyable mobile games I've played. Hexage understands how to do mobile games. A long, in-depth RPG sounds like a good idea, but how often are you going to have an hour to sit down with your phone and make progress in a game like that? You can play Reaper for a few minutes at a time and enjoy every second of it. There's no waiting around for items to be crafted, no hunting in the bushes for herbs, and no walking for extended periods of time just to chat with an NPC.

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You should absolutely download and try Reaper. It is definitely worth your money even before you hit that level cap.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • rageinducing

    Personally, I really hate when people call a game a "RPG" when it is not a RPG. There is nothing in this game that would have me calling it a RPG.

    • TY

      Well, this fits the very literally meaning of "RPG" - You Play the Role of a swordsman in this Game.
      However, RPG nowadays have a stricter meaning. This game is more like in the action genre, perhaps with some RPG elements.

      • Yeah…

        Sure but by that definition almost any game where you control a character can be considered a RPG simply because you're playing the role of the character.

        • mememe

          "simply because you're playing the role of the character."

          RPG = Role-playing game

          • Yeah…

            That settles it. Halo and Street Fighter are RPGs as well.

            I don't obviously believe these extreme examples, but seriously, a game isn't a RPG just because you literally play as a character in the game.

          • Good guy

            yeahh... you are misunderstanding. Let me try to explain you dear yeahh hell yeahh

            role-playing and using a character is different.

            you don't take any decisions that will affect the game story when you use ken or that mister chef

          • Chip Estrada

            It is as much a role playing game as Mario Bros. This is what you call an Arcade Game, not an RPG.

          • jonathan3579

            Umm, well there's a Mario RPG on SNES.

          • sweenish

            And it's a legitimate RPG. It's obvious you've never played it if that's your counter.

          • jonathan3579

            You don't have to be a dick. I'm not the one who's arguing anything about this. I'm merely making a mention of there being a Mario RPG -nothing more and nothing less.

          • BladeDancer123

            An rpg doesn't necessarily have to have in game events that change the endings outcome. Just look at the Zenonia series. Only the first one's ending can be changed based on your actions, but because they have an in-depth plot, you play the key role, they have skill, stat and quest systems, and serveral other non rpg-essential things like a leveling system and gear, they're all RPG's. Heck. You can have an rpg without dialogue even. It won't be very successful, but you can still have one.

          • Borttorn

            Role playing games were originally played by rolling dice. You rolled to see if you would hit, be blocked, how much damage you would do. It was all based on rolls of the dice. Computer games do the rolls for us these days.

          • george m

            no

      • philnolan3d

        Don't you play a role in almost every game? That doesn't make them all RPGs.

        • TY

          I'm just saying it fits the literal meaning of RPG... However the literal meaning is NOT practical. I would classify this as an Action game, with RPG as a subcategory (Levels, Equipments...)

      • george m

        its a hack and slash game
        and by your definition a LOT of games would be RPGs TY

      • Ram

        LOL
        and in pac-man I play the role of a candy eating monster while escaping ghosts...

    • Eric Jones

      I consider it an RPG. I can level my character. I make choices about which abilities I want to improve. I save money to buy armor and weapons. I choose how I interact with NPC's. It's not nearly as big as something like World of Warcraft, but I'm playing it on my phone. It's a RPG light, same great taste, less calories. What exactly is it missing, that makes you not want to call it an RPG?

      I played the game for a few levels, and decided it was worth paying for. I bought the $5 option, and don't regret it. I haven't spent a ton of time playing, just here and there when I have some down time.

      • rageinducing

        Those are RPG Elements. You can't confuse the two.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          So please enlighten us. What exactly makes an RPG an RPG?

          • Mikkel Georgsen

            Dialouge/choices that affect the outcome of the game. ROLE PLAYING GAME.

            Not Hack'n'Slash with RPG elements.

          • Konstantinos

            @mikkelgeorgsen:disqus, +1 mate! I hate those idiots that keep calling such games RPG.

            Go kill yourself and save humanity. :(

          • Devon

            Please don't say things like that. It's hurtful.

          • http://androidnow.pl/ Damian Russak

            Have you played the game at all? There are dialouges that affect the outcome of the game. It's even mentioned in the review but you probably missed that too.

          • Andrew Wilson

            I don't know if they're "affecting the outcome of the game", but I've been making dialogue choices in Reaper.

            Also, that definition excludes most of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, so I think it might be too narrow.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            So it can be an FPS where I make one decision that changes the outcome and is therefore an RPG?

          • RitishOemraw

            Starfox on the nintendo 64 has 2 endings (ancient spoilers incoming)
            You choose which path you take to venom and either face the real Andross or a robot form.

            Clearly it affects the outcome of the story and as such Star Fox is now an RPG!

          • RitishOemraw

            So Final Fantasy 13 (a game from one of the most (if not the most) recognizable RPG series is not an RPG, because of it's linearity and lack of affecting the stories outcome?

        • Eric Jones

          Obviously I can confuse the two. What is missing that makes this NOT an RPG?

    • Krzysztof Jozwik

      I think the whole "level up, buy loot, make money, kill stuff, do quests" is what makes it an RPG.

      • Paco

        No it doesn't.

        An RPG game is a game where you can take decisions that alters the story and the outcome of the game. Leveling stuff doesn't make a game a RPG, an RPG can be a game without that elements but a game with it doesn't is an RPG without much more things.

        • george m

          no Paco since then most RPGS that we all know...example..Final Fantasy vii would NOT be an RPG since there is only one story line and you cant change how it ends but yet its called an RPG. You CANT alter it at all.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          By that definition most "RPGs" are not RPGs as you just follow the story, your decisions have no effect on the end of the game.

    • DerpnHerp the third.

      Personally I hate when some nerd gets all whiny about calling a game this or that. Only a nerd cares and therefore its boring to read. Call me crass. There is no dice, or dungeon master this ain't no DND RPG SC AD MH ADV HOW dare they!

  • mlj11

    Nice review. Not sure if I'll get the game though; I was hoping it would have more, er... traditional RPG elements.

    On a side note, I really like Hexage. This purchasing model they're pioneering (I think they're the first to use something like this?) is great, and I hope more devs implement it. I seem to recall they once caused quite a kerfuffle with their earlier title EVAC, when they granted users the full game but then backtracked on it by implementing a paywall or something to that effect. It's great they're being totally upfront with purchasing options this time round.

  • Ray

    So let's say I buy the IAP on one device, does this carry to another device of mine?

    • RyanWhitwam

      Yes. IAPs of this type are connected to your account, unlike buying buckets of currency in other games.

      • Owen Finn

        Not necessarily true - Hexage games often don't carry over premium features if you switch devices, or even wipe a device.

        • Kevin Aaronson

          This does.

        • Eric Jones

          Just for you guys, I tested it out. There is a button under options to "restore purchases". I was playing on my One, but I installed it on my Nexus 10 and pressed the restore button. It gave me access to the full game.

          I also tested cloud save. At first I couldn't find it, but from the start screen, there is the Play Games icon, the controller in the bottom left side of the screen. Click that to sign in, then you can do Google Play achievements, leaderboards, and cloud saving. At first it didn't work, but I think that's because I practically turned them both on at the same time, without giving it a chance to sync. Played a round of Dark Harvest, then I switched devices. It told me that my cloud save was further than I currently was on this device, and asked me if I wanted to load that save. It worked just fine.

          • Eric Jones

            There is one thing that doesn't sync though. When in the scores section, that isn't associated with Google Play services, you get to pick a profile name. It doesn't sync from my other device, and I can't use the same name as it's "taken", by myself on the other device. Not that it really matters, as I'm so low on the scoreboard that I don't even show up. It's the top 50 players. The numbering is messed up to. It goes 1-49, then 100 instead of 50.

          • regorthegreat

            Cloud save to share save file between multiple devices doesn't seem to work because of the username already taken from my other device. What's the deal with this? I want this feature to play between phone and tablet! Should this be possible? Or does this game not support it this way?

          • Eric Jones

            That's not where cloud save is. Cloud save is found in the Google Play services game controller logo on the bottom left of the first screen.

        • RyanWhitwam

          All the Hexage games I've played have a 'restore purchases' button.

  • philnolan3d

    You say there are three versions that are all paid but I only see one free one. What's the deal?

    • Eric Jones

      There is only one app, the free one in the Play store. The three different versions are purchasable from within the free app.

  • Jadephyre

    Fun game, bought it even before I hit the free level cap.
    Purchased it on my GNex, carried over nicely to my N7 and cloud-saves work nicely.
    I could continue with my game on my N7 after I played a bit on my phone.

  • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

    It isn't often that a game can keep my attention for more than a couple of days, but I keep coming back to Reaper. Excellent game.

  • Martin Nilsson

    It's a great game indeed but you might want to add a short note about the latest update. It now runs Play Games with cloud save so you can jump between devices =)

  • Sinistar83

    How do you set your username under Profile in the game? Mine had a generic "Player102921" name, so when I try to change it I keep getting a "This username is not available". I even tried to use my Google profile public nickname but that didn't work either.
    I recall having similar issue on other Hexage titles like Radiant and Robotek but I was never able to create a name there either.

  • Arun K

    The In-App Purchase that blocks you from levelling up is really annoying. You should make the user buy IAPs not force them

    • Cheeseball

      It blocks you from leveling up because the "free" portion of the game is just a demo. If you want to continue leveling up, then buy one of the expansion IAPs.

      • John Smith

        Yeah, I like that. It's a much better approach than say play for 15mins and uninstall to cancel the purchase.

  • TheRunner024

    I love the soundtrack in this game.

  • Liang Li

    Just as a note, I just spent a lot of time playing this to the end. Good game -- hightly addicting, not to take anything away from these guys. But Hexage seemed to have mastered the formula of a great core gameplay, excellent design, and little else. It's at once a great game and a very bad game, their games are polished, heavy on design, but low on gameplay variation. The effect is that you wish they had spent a few more months on it, or written a richer in-house scripting engine, etc. because the core gameplay is excellent.

    Another way I've thought about this is that Hexage, one gets the impression, does not employ many passionate game designers but does employ some very brilliant and cunning managerial staff.

    A few gameplay variations I would've liked:
    (1) Escort missions, take out the boss, survive for a set number of time -- anything other then kill all enemies.
    (2) Terrain
    (3) Actual choices, branching storylines, multiple endings, etc.
    (4) Platformer elements
    (5) Being able to control how high one jumps
    (6) Gameplay upgrades (rather than cosmetic / numeric upgrades)

    So the game definitely feels unfinished, but the core gameplay is top notch. It's definitely far easier to design art rather than gameplay, which is why I say Hexage has kind of mastered some cost / profit formula. Adding art is easy, but adding gameplay brings brings up lots of problems, introduces bugs, synergy effects, and so on, which requires a labor of love, somone to dote over it and maintain it. But I do hope they succeed, and I do recomment this game, not only because it's well worth the money but also because they seem to promise such great things in the years ahead, assuming that they have a chance to start loving their own creations.

  • Andrew Wilson

    I'm really enjoying the game, and Hexage has a good handle on pricing ($5 for the top level is very reasonable), but there is one thing that is really bugging me: the bouncing money! Watching a small fortune in coins drift into a lava pit or wander off screen because I couldn't get there in time is making me a little nuts.

    Does this bother anyone else?

    • Eric Goh

      Same here. Especially those golden beans!

      • RitishOemraw

        Beans? Here I thought as the Grim Reaper you were collecting Gold kidneys :P

        j/k ofc

  • John Smith

    I wanted to like the game... but for the following reasons the game was uninstalled from my phone:
    1) gold bounces away from the character like police entering a gym full of underage drinkers.
    2) character control is disappointing; early battles are quite forgiving, but later on you need 100% accurate control over your character and so when he continues to punch even though I am tapping so that he jumps, I get pissed off ! It reminded me of fighting games when an animation (i.e. punch) couldn't be interrupted by a defensive move (i.e. crouch).
    3) traveling is mostly interrupted by battles... gets old.

  • Loser

    Why are you not available on android 3.2???..:(..Haiz..left out again..

  • Zaid Al-Taher

    Is there any quests after slaying the demon god and surviving the torken arena?

  • Fuu-tan

    Enjoyed the game, finished the short storyline at level 41 but I still can't finish the Torken Arena, damn magic users. Nice gameplay, took a while to get used to the controls and the dialogues became amusing as you shift between playing good and being bad (more gold). Cute graphics, and I'm now trying the Dark Harvest. As far as I've played, it's a bit boring compared to wilderness.

  • nevermind

    it is not even worth called RPG -_-

    its obviously action game with a very few of RPG elements

    it feels like playing a newest version of cyborg kuro chan on PS 1

  • ninjapug

    The best game i have ever played on Android other than Pen and paper. Its almost so hard to find games like this. Every damn games are so boring. Other action rpg like Dungeon hunter 4 is crap and bore me to death.

  • Adrian

    This is my best Android game of all time. Haven't found another one not boring other than pen and paper, Star command - it gets boring after awhile.

  • Nick Alexander

    So... What do you all think of the game? All I see it's people arguing whether it's an RPG or not...