October 6, 2010

864 words 5 mins read

App Review: GodFinger (iPad)

I’ve said some nasty things about the iPad in the past and I’ve also said some nicer things more recently.  As with the iPhone, the “make or break” boils down to what apps are available.   Of course, I didn’t have much in the way of iPad specific apps, basically just blown up iPhone apps (which are okay… but don’t really take advantage of the screen).  So I went on an iPad app spree!  Most of what I downloaded was free applications.  In that was a number of games, some free and some I actually paid for.  The first that I’ve spent time playing is GodFinger.

The basic premise of GodFinger is that you are… wait for it… a god.  You’ve got a little planet of “followers” whom you use to do your bidding.  You build things, make gold, gain XP for levels and get “Awe” (a form of currency).  The game is open ended in the fact that there is no “winning”.  There are a number of god games, and this one doesn’t really stick out in my mind as any different than the rest — except that it is “free”.  I’ll go more into the “free”-ness of the game in a bit.

Before I get into the cost, I wanted to cover the game play a bit.  Being a real time game, you can’t play it a lot.  It is really meant to be something that you pick up, play for 5-10 minutes, and put back down.  As the iPad/iPhone are “casual gaming” platforms, these short bursts are expected.  The only problem I have with GodFinger is that it forces you to limit your play.  Maybe you’re on BART and wanted to play for 20-30 minutes… well you really can’t.  The game revolves around 3 “currencies”.

The first “currency” is Mana, with which you make your godly magic.  This magic can be used to make it rain (so farms grow), adjust the planet size or cast lightning bolts down upon your unsuspecting followers.  Up until level 10 you are limited to 10 mana.  You need one mana for every basic action.  Every time your basic farm finishes a cycle (and you get gold), you need to recharge it with rain or sun — costing that one mana.  When your workers get tired you need to plop them down at a restful activity — which also needs something to charge it.  You get the idea — everything effectively takes mana to start up.

The second “currency” is Gold.  This is fairly self explanatory.  Like all games, if you want to buy something new, you need gold.  You get the gold by letting your followers work the farms (or similar).  If you want more rest areas, or more farms or more decorations — you need more gold.  Of course getting a sufficient amount of gold for the cool toys — takes a good bit of time.

The third “currency” is ‘Awe’.  This is the oddest piece of the puzzle.  Basically you get a few bits of ‘awe’ every so often… I think.  I’m not entirely sure and I can’t find any information online (based on a very quick google) about it.  It might also be possible that you get ‘Awe’ only during leveling up.  Anyways, with ‘awe’ you can “fix” anything.  You can refresh your mana to full, you can recharge an exhausted follower or finish building a new building in seconds rather than hours.  ‘Awe’ lets you extend your play time outside of that 5 minute window, and that leads me back to the “free” price of GodFinger

As it turns out, there is one other way to get ‘Awe’, that they make very easy for you.  In Game Purchase.  You can pay $1.99 of real money to get 10 ‘Awe’ in game.  So the game doesn’t cost you anything to download, but if you want to play it for more than that quick 5 minutes at a time, you’re going to be forking out plenty of real money.  Of course, they make it easy for you to turn your ‘Awe’ into Mana or Gold.  So if you want to play more than 10 mana worth — you pay $1.99 for 10 ‘Awe’ — and it costs 8 ‘Awe’ for a full mana fill.  You could spent a LOT of real money on this “free” game to play it for just an hour at a time.

In the end… The game is amusing for a day or two.  After that it becomes a chore to remember to go in and maintain your world.  Because, of course, if you don’t stop by every so often, the world starts to break down.  You can play the game casually, but you have to be on a schedule with your casualness.  If you have the urge to play for more than those few minutes, it’ll cost you.  I’m not against paying real money for in game currency (MMO’rs call it “Real money transfer”), but I think the price is too high.  Plus the game just isn’t all that amusing.  You pick up your peons, you move them around, you water the plants… it really does become a chore.