A Clone, but a Welcomed Clone
Arena games are all the rage these days. Disney decided to throw another hat into the ring with Disney Sorcerer’s Arena, developed by Glu Games Inc. The reason I say “another,” is this isn’t Disney’s first attempt. For those of you familiar with Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, you might zone in on some striking similarities. It’s certainly a clone, but the colorful cast of beloved characters and cell-shaded graphics makes it a welcomed clone, for sure.
A Roster of Characters You’ll Love
One of the most damning aspects of Arena games is the constant release of characters for the sake of selling. Look at Raid: Shadow Legends with over 400 characters and yet the majority of them are flat and have very little backstory. Sorcerer’s Arena doesn’t have that problem. Instead, the game relies solely on Disney’s already established characters that everyone knows and loves. And I mean all of Disney, not just traditional Disney titles. With so many different titles to choose from, you’ll see characters like Jack Sparrow, Maui, even Quorra. The game’s roster currently sits at 66 and counting.
Combat has a Surprising Flavor
Each character has their own set of unique abilities. These range between healing, buffs, passives, and dealing damage. Due to its turn-based nature, you have to be conscious about which ability to use and when. What really helps is that it uses a queue system in the bottom-left to show you the sequence of turns, giving you an opportunity to plan out your attack. Characters fit into three RPG archetypes: dps, tank, and healer. For example, Sully with his taunt ability and large health pool makes a great tank. Ariel, on the other hand, serves as healer and support, but has a wicked trident to snipe enemies with devastating electricity. Hades’ abilities center around fire and his passive, Unbridled Rage, can empower his abilities when his health is below 50 percent making him an excellent damage dealer.
Combat is further expanded upon with the introduction of spells. You can use two for every fight and they charge up slowly every turn. Spells can be game-changers when used at the right time. Wreck it, Ralph’s Golden Hammer revives defeated allies while Magical Meteor hits a group of enemies. I love that everyone has a set of abilities tailored to their persona. Abilities and spells is a reference to something the character said or did in their respective movie. Hades, for example, would constantly combust in anger in the movie Hercules. Naturally, he has an ability called Combust, and it damages every nearby enemy. It’s a nice touch, making casting spells and skills a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Save Me From Gacha Tactics
Disney Sorcerer’s Arena throws everything at the player to buy something—anything! There are campaign chests, loyalty chests, 24-hour free chests, 4-hour free chests, and an ad chest you can open 10 times a day. Each free loot box gives you just enough to entice you into buying the game’s premium chests. Even the rate at which you collect character tokens is frustratingly slow. You might try to bypass that by grinding. It’s entirely possible to unlock every character without spending money, but the game’s energy system stops you from having long gaming sessions. In order to partake in battles, you spend energy. In other words, pay up or wait around for your energy to fill up—a common gacha tactic. If this game is primarily marketed towards kids, which it very much is, where are the in-game parental controls to hide those features?
Normally, games of this genre have one energy system, but Sorcerer’s Arena has two: grand energy and campaign energy. They are identical in their purpose; the former for the Grand Campaign and the latter for the Heroes and Villains Campaigns. Each campaign serves as a road map for battles and the main source of fun. If you want to unlock more characters, you run through the campaign to win character tokens. But because there’s an energy system, you can only play for so long before you need more. You can wait for more, watch an ad, or buy more.
Clearly Disney markets towards kids, and that shows considering the explanation behind each ability is simplified (as opposed to a walk of text like you’d see in Raid: Shadow Legends). Not to mention the constant hand-holding. With that said, Sorcerer’s Arena appeals to older generations as well with its nostalgic characters. The fact that I can roll with Hades and Zeus from Hercules, one of my favorite Disney movies, is such a joy. As for kids, it’s Disney and being kid-friendly is to be expected. In that sense, Disney Sorcerer’s Arena bridges generations.
There’s a saying, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” Perhaps you can follow that motto with a dishwasher, but not a video game. Sorcerer’s Arena doesn’t aim for anything new, which makes it feel outdated already. Aside from its roster of Disney characters, it’s a carbon copy of Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
Is it Hardcore?
Sorcerer’s Arena doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does offer charm and beloved characters from Disney’s universe. Abilities are very flavorful and offer great role-playing potential. Sadly, predatory microtransactions create a rigid progression system that can kill your urge to play.