According to the Casual Games Market Report 2007, games from this class can be defined as a category of entertainment that is targeted for the mass consumer, even those who would not normally regard themselves as a “gamer”. Demographics have also revealed that casual game players are more than 70 percent female and over 35. Plus, these players play casual games usually for the following reasons: stress relief and to take a break.
But, what if somebody decided to release a casual game that is not only stressful but very challenging for casual players?
That game would be Age of Adventure: Playing the Hero – a casual style time management game that attempts to break the mold by employing a time-tested favorite – clicking to speed up orders. But the execution ultimately winds up messing things up along the way as you will see from our review of the game.
What you get
The game’s story starts off as a weird comedy of errors. If you stick around long enough to make sense of the muddled plot from the starting scene, you will be able to deduce that you play the role of Leonardo (an actor from Chicago). This young chap has (of all things) the misfortune of being whisked away to a fantasy world to assassinate the wise King Maximus. The plot continues on as you play, with more cutscenes and the frequent appearance of NPCs appearing now and then to interrupt play… which all turns out to be a rather pesky affair.
Game play starts off with a tutorial in the first few levels, with just enough information to get you started. You will learn how to build structures, issue tasks, and gather resources (wood, gold, and energy)… all is well and good thus far. You will realize you need quite a bit of experimentation to familiarize yourself with the structures available in the game as well as the costs required to build them.
As you progress in the game, you will find you can interact with Houses, Taverns for sorcerers and caponesses [Ed. – What in the world is that?], Temple of Dynamo, Temple of Energy, Mines, Energy Wells, broken bridges, and even individual trees and flowers. There are 45 levels in the game, enough to keep you gunning for the end (and heave that much needed sigh of relief).
Your quest is to retrieve 3 Crystals of Time so that you can use them to return home. Things are however not as simple as they seem… on top of building all the structures and collecting resources, there are a number of levels where you must defeat monsters who will attack your dwelling or some specific NPC. Attacking these monsters is straightforward, you must hold down your mouse button to build up the strength of your attack – indicated by a growing concentric ring painted on the ground.
Everything is well and good until you meet the seemingly innocent sentence that reads: “You can speed up the process of this and other tasks by left-clicking on the spot at which the task is being completed.” And then you start to grasp reality… is this going to be a button mashing click-fest of a game? Unfortunately, yes… no wonder you cannot attain the gold award from level 4 onwards; not without a lot of planning and careful clicking.
If you ask us, the greatest penalty you will have with playing Age of Adventure: Playing the Hero is that there is just too much clicking involved. Every little thing that your residents do can be clicked on to speed up the process. So you will wind up deciding whether you want to bash on your mouse button while a resident chops down a tree, or attack with gusto on a Flower of Destiny… whatever, just click away!
Even with our best efforts, we only managed to get a small handful of silver awards and a whole cache of bronze awards on our first playthrough. And, you can imagine how tired we got playing the game – our wrist was practically aching from all the pointless button mashing. At least the music and sound effects were good enough to keep us smiling through the physically tiring experience.
There is so much clicking that we want to label this as possibly the best click-fest ever, but all for the wrong reasons! And when it comes to getting the perfect score, you will realize it is not fun deciding whether it would be more productive to speed up task A or task B while being stressed from all angles (encroaching monsters and the ticking countdown timer). To add salt to the wound, clicking wrongly on a building or person will usually wind up destroying all your hard work in attaining that elusive gold award. Where is the fun in that?
We don’t strongly recommend Age of Adventure: Playing the Hero to casual players, even though the graphics may be the game’s strongest point and that there some cool looking buildings you can build. Let alone the kooky story with the occasional funny moments that seem to fall flat on its face.
The designers must have thought it a good idea to make use of what casual gamers may term a “simple” idea, but it will wind up sapping all your strength at the end of a long gameplay session (and if you are not careful – possibly destroy your mouse at the same time). Not forgetting that you might get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if you click away overzealously while trying to win that near unattainable achievement in the game.