The Toughest Rock of All
Stone Adventure – Idle RPG, Manababa Inc.’s first foray into the Idle RPG genre, tasks players with helping a little stone with big dreams battle waves of fearsome enemies and grow stronger. I was charmed by the game’s cartoony visual style and unique character concept, so I was curious to see if it would provide a gameplay experience that would keep me engaged even after the charm wore off. Unfortunately, after a promising start, the game didn’t give me much reason to continue.
The main gameplay consists of spending gold and other currencies on leveling up your stone to help it fight hordes of enemies and progress through as many stages as possible. After defeating a certain number of enemies, a boss will appear. Defeating the boss within 30 seconds allows progression to the next stage. This loop was satisfying at first, but it gets repetitive after a while, with no significant changes to the enemies to keep things interesting.
As expected of an idle RPG, you can unlock different skills and equipment to assist in your fight. Unlocking a new skill and trying it out for the first time feels great, and the skills are all fun and unique. However, I can’t say the same for the equipment. There are three types of equipment that each boost a specific stat, and you can have one of each equipped at a time. The problem is that each piece of equipment is objectively better or worse than the other pieces of equipment. There’s no variance between them, so there’s no reason to experiment or try different builds. You just equip the one with the highest number and forget about it.
In addition to the main combat screen, there is a map screen where you can fight in special boss battles. While this should be the part of the game I like the most, it might be a contender for the exact opposite. The boss attacks are often too overwhelming to effectively dodge. Realizing that I would have no choice but to spend time slowly increasing my HP until I could tank the damage was disheartening.
On top of that, the reward for defeating bosses was not appealing. Defeating each boss allows you to regularly collect currency to re-roll your additional passive ability slots. If you want more, you’ll have to defeat the next level of the boss, which is identical to the previous level with higher stats. It was not fun to have just barely come out victorious after scraping through a tough battle, only to be immediately presented with the task of doing it all over again but even harder.
More Than a Bit of a Grind
This experience with these bosses sums up most of my feelings on this game – the progression is fun and rewarding at first, but you eventually hit a wall. You can overcome the wall by choosing to watch ads to get more items and currency (or you can pay to get all of it for free with no ads), but really, all that does is move the wall forward – you will still eventually hit a wall. Even giving in and forking over real money to progress feels like it doesn’t push the wall forward as much as it should.
A slower progression burn isn’t necessarily a problem on its own, especially since the game incentivizes playing a little bit every day by giving substantial login rewards. The issue is that the game also seems to beg the player to spend as much time playing as possible. Assuming each stage takes about 30 seconds to clear, reaching the final available rank would require leaving the game open and continuously running for over 3 years. And no, the game does not run in the background while closed. Combined with the slow progression, I felt like I was spending long periods in the game doing a whole lot of nothing. Take all of that, add the repetitive gameplay to it, and you’re left with a game that feels like it’s shown all its tricks right at the start and gets boring fast.
Is It Hardcore?
A mildly amusing distraction at first, Stone Adventure quickly gets old. You can get something out of it but be prepared to watch a lot of ads or pay up to get the most value.