While wondering what the hell to put on my new iPhone 7, the good folks at Nexon dropped me a line for their new iOS game called Evil Factory. They toted it as an arcade shooter. I grew up on arcades and I like shooters.
Evil Factory is a simple arcade shooter that doesn’t depend on much, including large amounts of time, that runs purely on patience, strategy and microtransactions. Oh, yes, and sadly small hands. Let’s dig right into this, shall we?
Evil Factory is dumb fun, plain and simple. The game contains a story, or a series of dialogue, in which I skipped (rarely would a reviewer admit to such a thing, but this wasn’t built for endearing story opportunities), and takes you right into a situation where it’s you against some evil monsters (or a series of soldiers — depends on the level). The gameplay is designed to be simple and quick, as is the experience, which works perfect for a mobile platform. While holding the phone vertically, you control your player using a virtual analog stick on the left side of the screen, while laying down some havoc with two optional weapons on the right side (one weapon stacked above the other for easy selecting). You move everywhere around the screen to avoid enemy fire or other enemy means of disposing you. If you’re hit once, you’re dead. The key to success in Evil Factory is trying to figure out easy patterns from enemies, so that you can respond with your own firepower.
Again, it’s simple, but dumb fun.
Each level you go through has its own design with specific enemies matching that design. For example, the upper-level factories feature things like a giant mechanical bull and a bevy of soldiers, which represent the difficult level of the game at that particular time (easy, slow, etc.), as well as a nice preview of what you’re going to get into in terms of creativity (bull) and your true enemy (soldiers). The lower levels of the game, especially in the sewer levels, feature more terrifying creatures, such as the well-armed alligator, that are difficult to take down with just one guy. The lower you go in the game, the harder the game gets.
Speaking of enemies, the essential pattern of each fight is that the enemies are above, come down to attack in some way (depending on the enemy it could be one huge enemy or a group of methodically moving ones) and you simply have to strategize how to avoid their attacks and lay down some attacks to counter them. It’s a simple, repetitive concept that works perfect for an arcade feel. You know what to expect, but it happens so quickly that it becomes fun over and over again. There’s nothing particularly majestic about the attacking, but the unique enemies, as well as their styles, make for a fun time. It’s all very arcade-like.
Now, going back to controls, the only big issue I had with this game is how you have to hold your phone. I don’t have an iPhone 7+. I have a regular sized iPhone 7 and holding it for long periods of time vertically can get cramp-y at best. I do understand and appreciate that arcade games generally had vertically laid out screens, which is the atmosphere Neople wanted to establish in this game, but that illusion of awesomeness doesn’t make it more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. I was thankful/grateful that the game sessions only lasted a few minutes at a time, but my will to continue in the game versus my hands holding it painfully were competing beyond single matches, which posed a problem when trying to continue the adventure. I have big hands, folks, so it might be me, but it seems like the best experience for this title would be on a bigger phone, as horizontal gameplay might have ruined the arcade feel.
Anyway, beyond controls, tiny phone and big hands, the game is addictively fun. You will find a nice leveling system intact to encourage you to continually press forward. With every level you complete, and certain goals you are given for each level (time/destruction/etc.), you will garnish XP along the way. You will also find motivation in the collection of items that enemies spit out while you’re battling them and crafting of weapons and such from those items. One of the cooler parts of those items are small arcade cartridges that unlock mini-games for you. Playing a mini-game within a mini-arcade game is charming. Stupid fun? Absolutely.
Outside of upgrades and collecting items, there is also customization to be had with the character. You’ll find things to customize your hero with along the way, which reflects onscreen. There’s a lot going on here for short stints of gameplay, so all of the above just make those short stints seem more engaging, which is what you want from a mobile game. Make it bigger than it really is in terms of scope and accomplishment.
Having said all this, you will run into microtransactions. I know, fearful name. It didn’t get too much in the way, as you have to use blue coins to revive yourself and those blue coins can cost real money, though there are ways around it. Regardless, it’s a free-to-play game, so the Neople needed to recoup that investment some how, which I’m not opposed to when it comes to fun games from indie gaming companies. That said, I wish that players had a better energy gauge outside of getting hit once and dying. Having multiple hits, even just three, would have made the adventure a bit more solid. As it stands, one hit death is a bit of downer and it feeds into that microtransaction option, but if you are good enough to figure out patterns and move around a bit, you can work through it. In short, if you have the skills, then you won’t have to pay the bills.