If you’re looking for a casual free-to-play RPG game that will run in a browser and you’re used to the Flash-based type of game that will virtually play itself, NGames just released their newest 2D browser-based title: Call of Alliance. As a game it provides a nice casual atmosphere that represents what many games of this type distill: a click-to-move, turn-based battle interface, with lots of minigames and elements to grind through, alongside a great deal of sprite-based combat and aesthetics.
CoA is extremely similar to another NGames published game called League of Angels—both are available on the Games321.com distribution website and are both extremely similar. Any player who is familiar with LoA will know pretty much what they’re getting into with CoA.
The game also hilariously rips off Lord of the RIngs just a smidge.
That is not to say this story was inspired by LoR but there are some elements that appear to be taken directly. For example, the wizard Rudolfo looks surprisingly like Gandalf the White; the enemy Gulu, who stole the Mighty King’s Ring happens to look shockingly similar to Gollum; and…last, but not least, the Mighty King’s Ring is the an exact copy of the One Ring right down to the Elvish script on the band!
Sound and graphics: All the hallmarks of a web-based Flash game with sprite combat and minigames
The sound and graphics for Call of Alliance is typical for the type of web-based Flash game that it is: there’s a lot of nicely painted and drawn fantasy-styled ambient backgrounds with a great deal of detailed figures standing around with a limited number of sprite-based animations. For conversations there’s also a set of fairly detailed fantasy-artwork portraits that sweep onto the screen.
It’s almost a case of played-one seen-them-all with this. That said the artwork is nice and does not really scrimp, although the limited animations od make characters look a little bit low FPS and repetitive.
Battle sounds work out alright like any game with animations fitting the sounds. Attacks make a swoosh, swoop, swish sound and the goddess triggering her ability generates a tinny-gong sound. Other than that, there’s very little sound coming from battles to give an audible description of what’s going on.
Much of the game seems to have been spent on artwork to go behind the short sprite-based animations and provide fairly nice backdrops and ambiance for the regions.
The music is split between two types: town and battle music. The town music is a short sweep of lilting flute with some underlying woodwinds that form the melody in a sort of saccharine fantasy ensemble. The loop is short enough that spending too much time in town would cause it to start to grate—fortunately the game makes it easy to turn music off. The battle music is a grim, dark trumpet-based music with a lot of drums and thick tempo—although it’s also on a short loop it’s punctuated with the sounds of battle.
Town music does change throughout the game. The second area players are sent to uses a swelling, bombastic music that is accompanied by epic sweeps of rumbling triumphant trumpets, synthesized choir, and thundering bass crescendos. Unfortunately, it’s still on a short loop—even if the music is pretty fun to listen to initially.
Gameplay: 2D battle-based casual Flash game with some frills
As a web-based game Call of Alliance is very similar to another game published by NGames called League of Angels. The mechanics and display of the game are extremely similar and readers will find us speaking in fairly much the same terms.
From the outset, CoA is a story and grind-driven game that casts players in the role of three different character classes. The classes themselves do not appear to change play style very much, but they follow the common fantasy-tropes: warrior, archer, wizard. Each class also allows players to choose male or female as gender. This changes the portrait displayed when the player is speaking and the avatar in combat.
The main-stretch of the game is played out through a sort of wait-and-watch sprite-animation-based combat where the player initiates a fight and then the player’s character and her companions duke it out. As the game progresses, the player can add more companions (at level 35 it reaches 4 companions and on up) and new ones can be hired at the tavern for various types of in-game currency. Players also receive a “goddess” (who acts similarly to the angels from League of Angels) who periodically throws a vanquishing AoE across the battlefield.
Everything in this game can be upgraded: pieces of armor/gear, weapons, the goddess, the player’s mount, magic ring, even the player’s wings. Every upgrade increases the players combat score, which seems to be the most likely determinant of outcome for any of these battles.
Point in fact, players can skip a battle after 10 seconds and have it auto-resolve (VIP players do not need to wait that 10 seconds.)
The main storyline is led by a series of these battles that linearly winds through a series of maps and quests.
As the player progresses, however, more and more things to do appear. While levelling is relatively swift even level 30 added something, a minigame called Elf Attack, which felt a lot like a weird sort of Space Invaders… That said, this game just keeps adding new minigames, more battles, and more things to do as the levels progress. Up to 30, we saw the addition of the ring battles, the Tower of Despair, a shipping game, the tavern (to get companions), the smithy (to upgrade equipment), and even an arena to fight against other players.
This game is very casual for what it is. To the extent that the game will play itself for you! There’s an auto mode where the game will go and do fights and/or patrol to earn experience and silver. A good way to leave it running overnight to level.
Freemium: Item shop, VIP, everything that takes time can be bought out
When it comes to the free-to-play freemium aspects of web-based MMORPGs, Call of Alliance pulls no punches on offering numerous assets for money.
The premium currency in Call of Alliance is called Gold. Which runs at around 100 for $1 (starting at 500 for $5).
Everything in this game can be eased via premium currency from getting VIP status, to getting more items to enhance equipment, to buying more runs at the arena or other parts. In fact, VIP status conveys a huge number of quality-of-life benefits that open up a much easier path to having the biggest, brightest, prettiest wings in the entire game.
Aside from VIP status, premium currency also permits players to buy lots of different things from the online marketplace. Most of what is available in the marketplace is available through playing the game, the item shop just provides a shortcut to getting it. Looking at the items, many of them also appear to be geared towards helping players get more powerful early on to ease levelling such as armor, enhancements, bigger-badder goddesses and such.
Since it’s hard to tell how competitive the community is, it’s also hard to say how close this edges towards the dreaded pay-to-win paradigm; but it’s certain that the item shop and VIP status are geared towards players willing to pay for easier progression and prettier stuff.
Conclusion: A free-to-play web-based 2D casual title directed at collectors
Like other games of its time Call of Alliance really sums up nicely as a lunchtime game or something to do when there’s nothing else going on or…better yet, when it’s not possible to play something else. As a web-based game CoA runs on virtually anything and as a selling point that’s not too bad.
The fact that the game will virtually play itself through the early levels also means that players can cast aside some of the grinding just by letting the game run on its own and come back to reap the rewards.
Most of those rewards, however, appear to be primarily aesthetic and much like every other MMO regard themselves towards unlocking higher levels of the game.
The story is a little bit trite, but readable, and the quests certainly kept us engaged while playing the game. Although part of that engagement did happen to be laughing at the apparent rip-off of very Tokein-esque elements (the ring, Gandalf, Gollum, wring wraiths…)
There is most certainly a community and the social areas are filled with people. Especially the Fire Fortress, which seemed overrun with wolf-riding winged people during our review of the game. There’s a few clans already formed and the leaderboards are filling up.