Rants, Raves & Views

This Game Takes Freemium To A Whole New Level

By Alex Morrison | @morrydraco

I've never really had a problem with the freemium model. Sure, a little game company is making me cough up some hard earned cash in exchange for digital currency, but I don't mind that. They decided to make an addictive game and I bought into it, literally. 

The issue I have is when a company forces me to pay. And yes, I'm using the word 'force' here because some people, like me, get easily sucked into a game. And when I get sucked into a game I do stupid things. Stupid things like throwing boatloads of cash at it. 

Ok, so that may be my own issue. But at the very least, they're tricking me into playing a free game that turns out to be, er, not so free. And, I'm sorry, but that's complete bull***t. 

The game I am talking so fondly of is Spellfall, a relatively new game that has picked up traction as of late. It's a puzzle-RPG that combines Bejeweled-type puzzling with wizard-style spell casting. You can upgrade your armor, weapons and runes, which are small amulets you use to boost your skills, and the gameplay is extremely addictive. 

Your inventory system to upgrade armor, weapons and runes.

Your inventory system to upgrade armor, weapons and runes.

For the first hour or two I was able to get by without paying. Enemies were relatively easy to defeat and my wizard skills seemed to be on point. But as I progressed past the first stage things really started to pick up. If Ron Burgundy could comment on this he would most likely say, "boy, that escalated quickly." Indeed, Ron. Indeed.

The second stage proved to be much harder but, being the wizard master that I am, I was just about able to avoid forking over some dosh. I barely made it through this stage and was left with a foul taste in my mouth. I could feel the green jaws of money starting to nip away at my heels, and I didn't like it.  

In the third stage I quickly felled the first foe to cross my path and was overcome with a sense of pride. It was like I was beating the system and saying a big "f**k you" to the game. But I had spoken too soon. 

The next monster I was to face seemed a lot stronger. Oh, that's right, there were two of them. Up until this point I had only had the courtesy of fighting one monster at a time. But now I had to face two? Really, where are their manners?

As you can probably tell I didn't stand a chance. And that's how it's been ever since. I debated whether or not to throw money at the game and, alas, I did, thinking that I could ride this new wave of opulence. But that, too, didn't work. 

The gameplay is extremely good and addicting.

The gameplay is extremely good and addicting.

So here's my issue. In a word, this game is just evil.

First, there is absolutely no way to defeat the more powerful monsters without having to pay for upgrades. That, in itself, is devious. And sure, they'll claim that you can earn enough gold to pay for better weapons, but you'll be six feet under before that ever happens.

Second, with every weapon and armor you have, there are slots you can equip runes to. You can unlock more slots with gold, and that's fine. But every time you upgrade your weapon or armor, which is basically all the time, these slots disappear, forcing you to purchase new slots. It's just another ploy to suck away all your gold reserves. 

Last but not least, just to piss me off, they constantly wave vastly more powerful weapons in your face, as if you're even remotely capable of purchasing them. For god's sake, they have an item that is priced in the triple digits. And I'm taking about real money. That's absurd.

Now that my rant is over, I guess the point I want you to take away is that, first, don't play this game unless you want to fork up your life's saving. And second, if you're going to make a decent game, which this game most certainly is, then for the sake of the fans just let us pay for a complete game. In fact, if you are going with the freemium model, at least make it reasonable. 

Spellfall is now just another game that left all of its glory behind. If the developers care about their fans, they'll take note of all the negative comments they're receiving and make life a little easier for the player. Who knows, maybe they are. But something tells me that they're off celebrating somewhere, Ocean's Eleven style, wondering how they just pulled off the biggest heist of the year. Because that's what it is, straight up robbery. 

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