Guardian Stone Review: Mobile RPG
Guardian Stone is a mobile RPG from developer Delusion Studios and published by TOAST. The game was available internationally free-to-play for iOS and Android devices but is no longer available to download.
With turn-based gameplay and a wide variety of guardian companions to collect and level up Guardian Stone is a fun and addictive mobile game. Unfortunately the game’s fun is cut short when players hit the paywall just a few hours into playing the game. And although the game is enjoyable and well made, it isn’t particularly unique.
Story and Gameplay
The story in is somewhat interesting and told through a combination of dialogue bubbles and cinematic cut scenes. In the world of Guardian Stone you play as one of the descendants of a perished generation of heroes. It’s then up to you to discover the mystery of the Guardian Stones, stop the encroaching generic evil, and to ultimately square off against the mighty chaos dragon.
When it comes to gameplay it uses a pretty standard turn-based combat system in which the hero and their allies fight waves of enemies to clear a stage. Players and enemies have a shield and health bar. Once a hero’s health goes down to zero the player has lost the stage and will either have to restart or pay in-game currency to start from the last wave of enemies they were fighting.
The turn-based combat is executed well. The game also has a simple “Rock,Paper,Scissors” mechanic in which the three elemental powers in the game have weakness’ and strengths over one another. This detail adds some strategy to the gameplay and shakes things up a bit.
Strategy involves matching the element types of your party to the enemies you’ll be facing, as well as planning the order of attacks and managing ability cool-downs. Players can bring three guardian characters along in their party and each has their own set of skills and element type. Choosing one to be your party leader will give your party the benefit of a special passive ability and change the hero’s element type to match the leader, so it’s important how you arrange your party members.
To get top score in a stage players will need to defeat all enemies in the least number of turns possible. All-in-all, Guardian Stone is a pretty standard mobile RPG with an expanding roster of companions and stages of quests to complete. There are skill trees to assign points in and equipment to upgrade as you progress.
One interesting addition to Guardian Stone is the ability to send your guardians off on quests in an expedition area on their own to gain XP. It’s similar to the training mechanics seen in other mobile RPG’s (ie pay some gold to level up your party members). The difference here is that your guardians will be unavailable for long amounts of time while they're off on expeditions and you won’t be able to use them on quests. They do bring back rewards along with their XP when their done though, which is nice. Eventually players will have such a big roster of guardians to choose from that those away on missions may not be missed.
RPG Elements and In-App Purchases
It may not be the most unique game but Guardian Stone is a well executed RPG and an enjoyable game if you take out the paywall mechanics and aggressive in-app purchasing incentives. The sound design is excellent and the graphics are good. There’s also a nicely integrated chat feature that lets players communicate with one another no matter what they’re doing in the game that feels similar to an MMO.
Although it is a good mobile RPG that fans of the genre could easily lose hours playing, the paywall mechanics may put a stop to that. Personally, I played for nearly 2 hrs. before I ran out of in-game currency that would allow me to play any more. The consumption of resources is pretty low when you start out, unless you horribly miss-manage your guardians or die a lot. However, that’s just to get you hooked before costs and resource re-gen times start ramping up along with your level and progress into the game.
There’s a lot of RPG elements (such as leveling up companions, upgrading equipment etc.) so there are a lot of things to spend your money on in the game. A couple of hours of gameplay is fine for a demo but when your play is constantly interrupted by the waiting mechanics it can truly ruin a player’s gaming experience. Not only will players be stopped from playing the game due to currency re-gen times but eventually those that don’t pay for currency will get to a point where they feel under-powered.
Once a player becomes strapped for time and resources they’ll have little recourse to improve their characters and progress in the game. It seems like there comes a point where there’s no way to improve your character's damage except by paying a lot of in-game currency to upgrade your guardians and equipment. The XP gain slows to a trickle, keeping players stagnant in the game, unable to move past their place in quests and dungeons. Whether this is a balance issue or a disingenuous prod to pay real money for some in-game currency, it’s a big problem with the game.
Guardian Stone isn’t a bad game, it’s just that the in-app purchases seem a bit much.Be prepared for some traditional RPG fun, a fair bit of grinding, and a lot of IAP shenanigans. Unfortunately, Guardian Stone closed it's servers earlier this year and is no longer available to play. Now the game is available only through downloading an APK. Please note that downloading files from third party sources can be dangerous and is not supported by any mobile device provider.
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