Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nameless: The Hackers [BoxCat] - $3.99

It’s pretty surprising that in a store filled with freemium/paidmium IAP pushing games, there’s still a few developers out there that are willing to release games without any in-app-purchases at all. Unfortunately, a lot of these games go pretty much un-noticed, and it really is a shame, especially with so many gamers clamoring for IAP free titles. Well, the most recent ZERO IAP title to hit our devices here at The App Shack? Nameless: The Hackers, developed by BoxCat. Not only is it completely devoid of IAPs, it’s also an incredibly well made game. I was a little skeptical at first, judging by the screenshots, it didn’t look as though the game had what it needed to grab my attention, but after about 5 minutes with the game, it was clear that this was something special, and definitely deserving of every bit of attention and support it could get. 

Nameless: The Hackers is an RPG that focuses on a group of 2 hackers who have been contracted to help find a missing programmer. As you progress through the game, 2 more members will join your squad, and you’ll start to unravel a conspiracy of mass proportions and wind up on a list you definitely don’t want to be on. While you’re following along the main story, you’ll be able to help out people around the globe by carrying out side-quests as well as take down some pretty formidable opponents. While you’re taking out other hacking groups and completing side-quests, you’ll be earning the game’s dual currencies; ByteCredits and Research Points. ByteCredits are used to purchase just about everything in the game from new skills to HP upgrades, Boosters (Defense, Attack, HP, Energy; up by 10% for 15 minutes) and Items (HP refills, energy refills, virus cleaners, ect), while Research Points are used primarily for upgrading (researching) skills. 

Starting off, you’ll just have a couple of basic hacking skills. But fairly quickly, you’ll be given access to the Mt. Fox store where more skills will become available once you hit certain points in the story. Not only will you be able to purchase skills, but you’ll also be able to upgrade them. Upgrades unlock as you collect cards. Cards are collected by taking out various groups of hackers across the world, and by completing certain tasks. A very cool aspect of the cards is that they’re randomly generated. While the type of cards that you get may be pre-destined, the stats that accompany these cards are all left up to luck. 

Each card has 4 segments attached, get a card with 1 segment unlocked, and the card will be a 25% card, 2 segments, 50%, ect. With each percentage increase, the stats that are locked to the card will increase. For instance, a 25% card might tack on 2 to your attack strength, while a 50% card could increase your attack by  or 5. Not only are there random card generations, but there’s also different rarities of cards. A rare 25% card could very well be more powerful than a 50% or even 75% card. 
On top of all this, you’re also able to re-roll cards. In the menu, you can view the cards that you’ve unlocked so far. From this menu, you can select to re-roll cards for a cost. Even cooler? You can pay for a re-roll with either of the two currencies, though re-rolling with Research Points instead of ByteCredits will give you a slightly better chance of rolling a better card. 

As far as the user interface goes; everything can be done while using one hand/finger. Taps to execute moves and navigate the game while swiping to move about the world and select targets has been set up perfectly. The menus are very well designed and uncluttered, while everything else is simple to navigate and very responsive. To access your inventory, you simply tap on your health/energy numbers that are next to the character icons. To access your characters skills, you tap on the character. Underneath the character icons is the menu where you can quickly access the Mt. Fox shop, your inventory, view your collected cards or enter the options menu where you can save your game and adjust the music and sound effects (separately). 

If you ever get stuck, or need a refresher, there is a help/tutorial section in the Mt. Fox shop area. However, with everything being shown to you in a very simple and straightforward manor at the beginning of the game, chances are you won’t need to use this help section. But it is there, and easy to access, if you ever need it. Unfortunately, right now the game is only designed for the iPhone/iPod, and you’ll have to play in 2X mode on the iPad. Luckily, it doesn’t look too pixilated on the bigger screen, and fans of the RPG genre (as much as it sucks) should be use to playing games in 2X mode, considering most RPGs in the AppStore are designed for the iPhone and not made Universal. Nameless: The Hackers is, however, supported by the iPhone/iPod 5’s widescreen, and it looks fantastic on the smaller screen. 

The only negative thing I can say about Nameless is that the choices that you make don’t really effect the outcome of the game. There are some multiple choice decisions thrown into the mix, but the only thing they really effect is whether or not you get a couple of items or a few bonus ByteCredits. It would have been amazing if the developers threw in multiple story arcs depending on choices that you made. But with basically no RPGs featuring mechanics like this, it’s hard to hold this against BoxCat, especially with the amount of polish and how well Nameless plays, and even how great the story is minus decision based effects. 

With an incredibly supportive development team, great artwork and animations, a well thought out and engaging story and surprisingly deep customization systems, Nameless: The Hackers is a steal at it’s current price of $1.99. It is on sale for launch, and the price will rise to $3.99 soon, which does feel like a very appropriate price for a game of this caliber. BoxCat has done an outstanding job creating a fresh and original RPG for the iOS, and better yet, even with the dual-currencies, there are NO IAPs! It’s hard not to get excited about that these days. I’m hoping that Nameless sells well and that we can see more games from BoxCat. As their first outing, they’ve definitely hit the ball out of the park and are a dev team that I will be keeping a very close eye on in the future. 


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