Arel Wars Review

Posted by davidludwig
Apr 30 2012

And now I’m finally going to review Gamevil‘s “Arel Wars“, the original reason I thought reviewing the applications on my iPhone would be a good thing to do for this site. I really want to like Arel Wars. I want to love it.

A tower defense fantasy strategy game, there is a lot to love about Arel Wars. Three totally distinct factions, each with their own play-styles, strengths and weaknesses that I think balance out beautifully. Juno and her elves excel in the late game thanks to powerful units and a focus on resource building and ranged combat, Vincent and his humans play the mid-game by building quick and having respectable units, and finally Helba and his Busters play the early game by rushing out of the gate and try to win before their opponent has even gotten started.

There are even three developed story-lines through the three campaigns in the game, with 40 stages to each campaign. These stories intersect at various points, and playing all three gives you a much more complete picture. So why don’t I actually love this game? Because for a free game it displays a level of avarice, incongruous with its status as a free game, that is absolutely nauseating.

Here’s a little lesson on the world of Drusilla, where Arel Wars is set. There are two major currencies. Gold is the first, and is obtained in the usual way for such games–by accomplishing goals and defeating enemies. Cash is the other currency, and while available as a rare prize in-game (and a free bonus for your first file) is primarily obtained by paying real money to Gamevil.

Everything Gold can do Cash can do better, Cash can do things Gold can’t do, and to top it all off Gold has a tendency to fail at its most critical function (upgrading your units). Throw on top of that challenges that by mid game expect either flawless strategy or else heavy expenditure of currency to even advance. I wouldn’t object to Cash adding value to the game, but it feels like the developers were so hung up on how to leech more money from their customers that the fact that they actually made a good game is mostly a happy coincidence. Instead of making a game people wanted to pay money to see more of or show support for, the approach was instead to make a game that claimed to be free and then demanded unsubtly named “Cash” to continue enjoying the game.

This critical decision–in my opinion error–on Gamevil’s part has ensured that the game won’t see a penny from me so long as it remains a money-drain first and a game second. That said, many frustrated hours have resulted in my discovery of ways to play and enjoy the free game without paying for it. So anyone interested in enjoying a solid fantasy-strategy game without being cheated out of your money should be happy to know that I will be posting my own strategy guide for Arel Wars on this site, which should get you through both Normal and Hard Modes without having to pay any money.

We of course miss out on the awesome Hero Units and Permanent Items among other things that I think would be good places to spend real money if it weren’t for the amount of real money being asked… But no matter how powerful the unit is, I don’t think a single digital unit is worth $5 of real money–especially when there are 6 such units and I’m a completionist and could never be happy with a partial set.

Fights like Helba, Handles Mana like Juno

Specialized in production of soldiers. Has high Attack Strength and a fast Movement Speed. A Powerful Melee Unit.

So this should be a Great Game, and because it’s free that should mean a five star rating… Unfortunately they shot themselves in the foot. Repeatedly. With a shotgun.

My final rating for Arel Wars is 3 of 5 Stars. It’s an okay game, and because it’s free there’s no real risk in trying it out and coming to your own conclusion. I’ll just be forever irked that it’s little things keeping it from living up to its amazing potential.

I find the variety of typos and grammatical difficulties in the game endearing. They could be fixed, but wouldn’t change my opinion of the game. The following items could actually change my star rating though;

Guaranteed Gold Upgrades: If Unit Upgrades paid for with Gold, the legitimately “in-game” currency, did not have the failure chance they currently have that would be worth a whole extra star all by itself. I wouldn’t mind level caps based on your Hero’s level, or what stage you’re on (which seem to be factors anyway), or if Cash could bypass those limitations. I just don’t want to spend over 3,000 Gold Pieces (average Gold reward for a mission ranges from 30 to 400 depending on what stage it is) and get nothing but a message saying “the upgrade failed”.

Reduced Cash Costs: I think Cash is involved in way too much, and should maybe get out of Unit Upgrades altogether, but either way I think a 50% reduction in Cash Costs would go a long way toward generating appropriate return for investment. With a 50% reduction I could get all 6 Hero units for $15 instead of $30, still a bit steep but I’m pretty sure I’d pay it (partially because Arel Wars is a good game and I’d like to give it money). Alone not worth a star though.

Cash Sharing: Right now you can have 3 save files on a single phone, which matches nicely with the 3 factions/heroes/stories. But each file has its own separate finances, both Gold and Cash. Also alone not worth a star, but implemented with the reduced costs and the Guaranteed Gold Upgrades could get Arel Wars back to the five stars it should have had.


Feel free to check the game out and form your own opinions though. I’ve beat it with all three heroes, so if you need help feel free to contact me or check out my Arel Wars Strategy Guide.

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One Response

  1. davidludwig says:

    Since I’m terrible at getting screenshots, I’ll probably feature some hand-drawn art for the Strategy Guide, when I have time to draw it.

    Of course my drawing for this one some of you likely recognize as the Dark Hunter, Anastasia Heavenrent, who has appeared in various of my flash-fictions featured on this site. I think Anastasia would be interesting to see in the world of Drusilla, she’s very much a loner but the scale of epic struggle is something she’d be very good at.

    I imagine she’d fight like Helba and control Mana like Juno, at the cost of having little to no command abilities. This I imagine would be offset by using the superior Elven units, and while she couldn’t buff her units she could actually be the front-line they snipe from behind.

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