We get a first look and play of Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering – Mail.Ru’s iOS spinoff of their browser based action RPG…
Originally posted March 11, 2012: Mail.Ru are one of Russia’s largest webmail services, instant messengers and social networks, and they also have a games division that create games for social networks. These are mostly flash based, but recently they realised that they are missing out on the much larger mobile games market. Better late than never I guess! The few titles they do have on the AppStore are simple arcade-like games, which they have used as a testing ground to train up their programmers. Juggernaut – as the name suggests – is a much more ambitious project. One of the big challenges for them was to create a game that will appeal not only to their home market, but also appeal to the more western tastes of the US and Europe. Juggernaut aims to do just that.
Called Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering, it is both a sequel and spinoff of the browser-based MMO action RPG of the same name. The iOS game is a purely single player offering and sees you liberating an island location, bit by bit, from the evil Sovering. You play as one of four mercenaries called Scorpions, and you must rid the lands of all the evil monsters on your way to a final showdown with Sovering. Along your journey you can pick up parts of armour which, once fully assembled, creates the Juggernaut of the title – think Metroid and how you power yourself up as your progress. On starting a new game you can choose from either two females or two males, each with their own characteristics – such as magic abilities – which will change how the game plays out.
An overworld map gives you the lay of the land, and how far you must venture on your quest, as well as pointing out branching areas offering up extended challenges and missions. Each location along the route contains a specific number of enemies you must fight (from five each time in early locations, and up to ten later on in the game). These play out as turn-based battles, much like Final Fantasy or Pokemon. The difference though, is that controls are a mix of action buttons and Infinity Blade-style gestures.
During a fight, a circular hit meter appears in 3D space at the foot of the enemy. A red triangle moves from side to side along it, indicating where not to hit. The trick here is to ensure that you do not hit in the direction the red triangle faces, as the creature will either dodge or defend your attack. So, it becomes very much about timing your attacks, and tapping or swiping a gesture attack in the right direction towards the green sector of the meter. Take too long to make your decision and you will miss a turn. Combo attacks are available to you, that will cause more damage to enemies, by successfully pulling off the required sequence of attacks shown on a combo meter.
As you successfully damage enemies, they emit blue mana which you can collect to power up your magic system. Once your magic meter is full you can unleash magic attacks through the use of gestures. For example, draw a circle on screen for fire, or a triangle for ice. As you’d expect, certain enemies are immune to some types of magic, so you’ll need to learn new types of magic along your journey. There is also red mana for collection too, this can be used to power your shield system or saved up to power up a critical hit.
On defeating an enemy, you’ll be able to loot them of money, weapons and armour. Money can be used in the store to buy more add-ons for your character, such as weapons and magic abilities, or simply to replenish your characters life force. The game is freemium, so if you want to you can equip your character faster with real money, but it is possible to complete the game without doing so, though it will take you a good 30 hours (note: the game has no time constraints, you are free to play the game whenever you like).
The game is presented in full 3D with impressive character models. There over one hundred monsters of all shapes, types and sizes in all, with each monster exhibiting their own attack, defense and death animations. A particular highlight were three imp-like creatures which fight you as one. They act like a Mexican tag team, with two of them throwing the other in the air and then catching him and using his body on you like a battering ram. The attacks look great too and are nice and gory. The resurrection combo is particularly impressive which – as the names suggests – allows you to resurrect a fallen enemy and then dish out further bloody punishment on their corpse… Nice!
Interestingly, the game was almost ready to go last year, but when Alex Patsay joined Mail.Ru as Head of Mobile Games, he delayed the project citing that it was not quite right for western audiences, and was perhaps too hardcore and complex to be a success. Often it’s the control systems and infinite pop menus in these types of games that can be off putting to gamers. But, it’s clear from our hands-on time with the game that, apart from it’s hardcore look and feel, the control system is intuitive. So much so that I’m sure my own mother could play it.
The version we played seemed pretty much final, apart from some of the tutorial sections missing. So, look out for Juggernaut to hit the AppStore sometime this month (March).