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Master of Alchemy: Vengeance Front is a new physics-based puzzle offering for iOS and Android from developer Forge Reply, which showed a lot of promise at first glance.  Moving liquids with blocks, heat, and other motion changing objects to guide them toward their goal seemed appealing, and the gameplay that combined critical thinking skills with matter manipulation was a real joy for the first few levels.  Aesthetically pleasing and fairly challenging, I was fully prepared to endorse this game.

Unfortunately, MOA: VF ran into technical issues time and time again, including complete shut down numerous times within the first 15 minutes of play time on an almost brand new iPad.  Though I was able to keep my cool and play through the game, I was disheartened when I lost level completions on multiple occasions because of errors with the app.  Combined with a soundtrack which begins to grind on one’s nerves during any extended gameplay, I was left with a game that I don’t quite know how I feel about.  Continue on to the review below to see my full thoughts on Master of Alchemy: Vengeance Front.

 

Master of Alchemy: Vengeance Front

EB 5 out of 10 Buddhas

(iPad version tested)

The Awesome

  • Engaging gameplay for the mind, non-rigid solution structure
  • Feel of satisfaction upon completing a tough puzzle
  • Solid visuals

The Not so Awesome

  • Crashing errors which severely hampered game experience
  • Music that gets old after a few minutes, choppy sound at certain junctures
  • Odd loading issues
  • Scoring system not clear

 

Gameplay

The strength of Vengeance Front lies in the gameplay.  Spanning across 50 levels, your goal in each is to transfer elements from their origin to new glass homes.  At your disposal are a diverse set of objects, which all serve different purposes in helping you guide the elements along the path you see fit.  For instance, the heating device helps change ice to water and water to gas.  When changed to gas, the element then floats upward, which allows you to reach new areas and find new paths to your goal.  But by the time you reach your final destination, the element must be in the form indicated on the goal, which presents an added challenge for the player.  Couple that with coordinating the proper color elements, penetrating wooden planks, and dropping elements through laser fields, and you have yourself a game that will strain your cranium in trying to beat all 50 levels.

iPad-screenshot-01

While this sounds complicated and messy, it’s a game that’s extraordinarily easy to pick up and play.  The pieces slide intuitively and the physics engine that Forge Reply put together for this game is top-notch.  If you find yourself cursing at the screen, it’s most likely not because you were done wrong by the game, but because your brain is overloaded trying to solve Vengeance Front’s complex puzzles.

Unfortunately, as I was progressing through the levels the game locked up and shut down on me.  Not to be discouraged, I made sure all my other apps were shut off and gave it another whirl, ready to excuse it as a minor hiccup.  But when it happened a second and third time within 15 minutes, and a few other times over the next couple hours of playing, I realized that this was not just a slight technical error.

There are many errors contained in games that can be easily ignored, but having a game shut down while you’re playing time and time again can ruin even the best of games.  To add insult to injury, many of these shutdowns were paired with a loss of level progress, erasing my work through no fault of my own.  This series of events took a toll on my overall impression of the game.

Graphics

The one aspect of Vengeance Front that was solid all the way around was the visual design.  Though it won’t be winning any awards or appearing on any “Best Of” lists, the visuals play an important part of the game.  Between the color changing elements, the rusty metal pipes that confine where you can guide your balls of goo, and ominous shadows that create an uneasy atmosphere, the game’s look lives up to the “Vengeance” moniker.

Unfortunately, we aren’t given any indication of what we are seeking vengeance for, or how we’re going to achieve that by guiding balls into glass cups.  In fact, the game doesn’t indicate a whole lot; despite having a scoring system which awards Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals upon level completion, there was no indication of the criteria for each medal.

Sound

As with the gameplay, I had a love hate relationship with Vengeance Front’s sound.  While the menu’s music  was melodic upon first listen, using middle eastern sounding strings that duplicate the original Master of Alchemy’s chords, it began to chip away at my sanity when it returned with a (ahem) vengeance every time a level was completed.  The same held true for the gameplay music, which was enjoyable until I was deep into a level and hearing the same loop for entirely too long.

Though unchanging music works in games like Temple Run, which utilizes a simple beat in the background, MOA’s strings constantly echoing through your ears is not appealing when paired with intermittent shut downs and brain cramps.

Final Thoughts

I was ultimately let down with my experience playing Master of Alchemy: Vengeance Front, as a product of a bad shutdown issue and some odd design choices.  When I was able to participate in playing the game, Vengeance Front didn’t present me with a goal to chase, leaving me with what seemed like arbitrary awards for level scores, which reminded me of the signature opening of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Whose Line – “Points Don’t Matter” compilation

 

The real shame of it is, this is a game that could be thoroughly enjoyable if not for these few errors.  The gameplay itself was fun and rewarding, and made me feel accomplished after using my noggin to solve the puzzles in unique ways.  In the game’s current condition, I have to give Master of Alchemy: Vengeance Front an EB 5 out of 10 BuddhasKeep in mind that this is a game that could be improved with stabilizing updates and a few minor tweaks, so keep an eye out for this $1.99 game in the future if Forge Reply manages to truly master alchemy.

 

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Kyle Neubeck

The author Kyle Neubeck

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