ELVENAR / Innogames / Browser

Elvenar is a free-to-play browser and app game, which is the sort of thing I would normally pass right over. Heroes of Might and Magic (HoMM) is one of my all-time favorite game series, however, and the similar combat here caught my eye.

It's far from being a HoMM clone, though. It's more of a simple distillation of city-building games in the lineage of Lords of the Realm and Age of Empires, just with almost no multi-player component at all and little in the way of diplomacy or random events to contend with. The focus is simply on building out your own city by collecting resources, then venturing into neighboring territories at your own pace and fighting HoMM-esque turn-based battles with the local computer-controlled natives for their resources and land.

Elvenar is a bit unique in this respect, as most of these city-building freemium games appear to focus on PVP combat. There is no PVP here and you never have to worry about your territory being attacked, it basically has a magic Wakanda bubble over it. The only interaction with other players consists of trading, helping and optional combat tournaments for prizes.

You're plopped directly into the action with no more preamble than "elves vs humans! Raah!" Picking a side doesn't seem to matter much other than appearance. You are then immediately launched into building a city with a basic tutorial that actually doesn't help much, it just kinda points to stuff with arrows for a couple minutes then is like "Ahh you'll figure it out kid."

Fortunately, it's a simple game. The only thing that's confusing at first is the usual pile of different resources typical of the freemium game, but it's actually simplified here. You build new buildings, which gradually produce either Gold or generalized Goods. These are then used to either build new stuff or barter with the enemies you encounter in other provinces to opt out of combat. In addition to the generalized Goods pile there are also specific materials like marble, steel and etc. that may be needed for either of these purposes.

One major design flaw is that you're forced to click on each individual building to collect the Shiz it's been hoarding up as time passes. I understand why it's done this way, it's a freemium online game and they want you to keep logging in to physically do stuff. It just gets more tedious as you collect more buildings, however, and at least on the mouse-based browser version it's kind of slippery to click on each building and sometimes takes multiple clicks. It was already getting annoying with just a couple dozen buildings, I can't imagine how it is for these power players that have like thousands of buildings.

Combat does indeed resemble HoMM strongly, but a less sophisticated version of it. There is a cap on the amount of troops that can be brought into any given battle (which can be upgraded over time), so there isn't the element of wandering around looking for neutral units to join you and building up some mountain of monster flesh to steamroll everything. There also doesn't appear to be in-battle magic, just general buffs you can apply prior to battles. And each unit has only one attack type.

I give the game a 3/5 because all of this is competent, with a solid interface that doesn't really have issues beyond having to individually click to collect resources. But everything is about as dry, plain and forgettable as it gets. The graphics, music, gameplay, everything. Without player competition it's fundamentally a "wait for enough shit to accrue" game, with the premium "diamond" currency there to skip the grind. Innogames is behind the heavily-advertised Forge of Empires as well as about half a dozen other games that look like variants of this basic city-building formula, it appears that hitting addiction circuits with the most basic level of acceptable polish seems to be their whole business plan.

It's a painless enough process to get some Gamekit points if you want to be compensated for trying it out, though, but I didn't feel any interest in going much beyond that with it.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video