Idle in Disguise
C4Games’ Runelords Arena looked promising from the get-go. The truth is that this turn-based idler failed to deliver a breathtaking game. Even so, it’s not a total loss if you’re okay with pouring in cash to win. Runelords Arena isn’t the first RPG idle launched by C4Games. There are two titles out already. Although they don’t share the chibi art style found in Runelords Arena, Starlight Academia and Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine share one similarity. All three of the games produced by C4Games have a majority of their content hidden behind paywalls.
At first glance, Runelords Arena seems to be your standard turn-based RPG. It’s easy to miss the fact that it is an idler with the rapid combat that occurs within the campaign stages. Even the section for collecting the idle rewards is off to the bottom of the screen and honestly quite forgettable. Still, Runelords Arena is definitely a game that integrated turn-based combat into the formula of idlers successfully.
Adding the use of a grid map and turn-based battles into the campaign section of an idler is a brilliant move. This makes for fast-paced combat the player can take part in and use strategy in order to win. Winning in a turn-based battle all comes down to the placement of your hero team and how the different heroes complement each other. There’s also the option of leaving your team to fight on autoplay. This leads to a risk of failure when battling stronger enemies.
Lost in Translation
Idlers and RPG stories tend to abide by a basic formula: save the world from evil. In Runelords Arena, it’s a clan of draconic beings that are seeking world domination. Nothing in the text sequences or cutscenes give us a hint as to why these monsters must conquer the world, so they leave us guessing their motive.
What can’t be ignored is the sense that the developers of Runelords Arena rushed to put the game on the market. The text sequences are badly written and therefore make little to no sense. Moreover, there is no sense of a true plotline. Only a hint of a story gleaned from the unskippable tutorial and subsequent scenes. Even this fails to be memorable.
It looks like C4Games tried to follow the pattern that has worked for many other game developers. However, it ultimately failed. Runelords Arena instead became a crude impersonation of its successful brothers and sisters. What’s delivered to players is a game that feels half-finished disappointing. There is no satisfying story full of characters that hook you from the beginning. While the use of a grid map adds for some interest, it’s not enough to make the game stand out. The most important part of an RPG is the story and it turns out that is the weakest link for Runelords Arena.
It’s common in mobile games to have an option to pay for exclusive content to support the developer. The rule of thumb is that purchased in-game content compliments the player’s experience but is ultimately not needed. This is not the case with Runelords Arena. Exclusive content is usually limited to seasonal skins for heroes or limited edition equipment, not basic equipment and materials for leveling up heroes.
Additionally, part of what makes idlers attractive to players is the ability to walk away from the game and still have it grinding for loot. In Runelords Arena, grinding brings in minimal amounts of loot, and battle loot isn’t any better. The only way for players to progress through the game is to spend money.
Runelords Arena is by no means done with shaking down players for money. While reaching a paywall isn’t uncommon in mobile games, especially RPGs or idlers, what isn’t common is for players to reach that paywall within the first few chapters of the campaign with no workaround available. Usually players reach a paywall further in a game, after they’ve been able to amass a decent amount of resources. Again, this isn’t what happens in Runelords Arena. The paywall is hit within the first few days and players face the decision of dropping the game or paying to win.
This isn’t to say that C4Games doesn’t release new content periodically. Three new heroes were just brought into the game. The issue is that they weren’t adding to the list of heroes that can be summoned in-game after grinding sufficient loot. These heroes were added as exclusive content for paying players. This can frustrate both new and experienced players. There’s a difference between adding special edition heroes to the game’s store and adding new heroes to the summoning line up.
Runelords Arena isn’t a game that will stay on your phone for long unless the developers put major work into it. They can improve many things, but the game’s story is high on the list. As mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of an RPG is the story. Story ties the entire game together, pulling the player deep into the world to create an emotional connection. When you play an RPG, you want more than just loot. You want to learn more about the world you’re dedicating so much of your time to.
While some RPGs can carry themselves with little to no story, it’s only because the game is so well designed that the player can create their own story. Truly, an open-world scenario. Runelords Arena is not that. There is no story and even the text sequences are barely understandable. Everything else that could save Runelords Arena is hidden behind a paywall. It’s hard to dedicate time and money to such a game.
Is It Hardcore?
If you’re looking to check out new idle titles, Runelords Arena serves that purpose. After that, it’s not a game for long-term time investment or even cash investment. There are other idle games on the market that deliver better quality and entertainment.