Match-three is a genre that has more games on the mobile platform than you can count, but it’s not every day that you see this particular mixture in a single game.
Gunspell 2 has match-three gameplay but it’s filled with role-playing elements that complicate it enough that you need to read an in-game guide to understand what’s going on.
Unlike their first mobile game which had more of a single-player experience, the developers built Gunspell 2 with multiplayer as the primary mode instead due to high demand.
So, does the game manage to provide a great experience or did lightning fail to strike twice for this series? Let’s find out.
Before we get into the depth of the gameplay, let’s start with the basics.
The game has simple touch controls as you swipe to match gems and there are numerous spells that you can use by tapping on the bottom left of the screen.
Additionally, there’s a button to skip your turn (which depletes a bit of health as a penalty), a button to chat using pre-written options, and one button that allows you to quit matches.
While that sounds simple, the game relies on a complicated system to give it a touch of role-playing mechanics.
There are different types of gems and each of them has a unique property.
For example, if you match the blue gems, your mana recharges. If you match skull gems, you deal direct damage to your opponent. The list goes on and you usually gain a small amount of mana and deal slight damage to your opponent no matter the gems you match – so you won’t be entirely stuck behind a single option at a time.
Furthermore, there are different types of spells and items that you can assign to each of the characters that you play, which are not very different from the power-ups that you usually see in puzzle games.
Gunspell 2 is basically split into two types of quests, which are single-player and multiplayer.
The single-player has an ‘Adventure’ mode and a ‘Story’ mode, and they essentially play the same way except one of them has more text. The multiplayer mode plays no different to the single-player aside from the fact that you’re playing against real people.
The single-player is very subpar in terms of gameplay since there’s no challenge or personality to the enemies and the story itself is non-existent because they just give you a few basic lines of text about what you need to do in each level. In the end, it’s just an excuse to play the game for longer if you’re not in the mood to play online and want to unlock more stuff.
The multiplayer is meant to be the main attraction of Gunspell 2, which is something the developers emphasize often. The concept is fun - a role-playing match-three game where you can defeat other players with a bit of strategy, some luck, and lots of grinding. For the first few matches, it feels that way too.
But once you level up a few times, the problems in the game’s system become apparent.
First of all, it seems that not many people play the game because it does not matter at what time I open it, it’s always the same names that I end up encountering. Either these players are bots or really like the game, but the fact I only get paired with the same people leads us to the next problem – the matchups.
Many players complain that they get matched up with people far too powerful than they are and it makes it very difficult to progress unless you grind too much or spend real-world money.
But I ran into the opposite, which might have been a result of the feedback – I somehow got a rare hero that was far too powerful than any player that came against me and one of her attacks is almost an instant kill due to how powerful it is.
So, even when the opponents seemed to have the same stats as me, I always had an advantage because I got a great hero through sheer luck and it showed me how much the game relies on pay-to-win because clearly, you can’t rely solely upon the odd chance you might get lucky.
I thought things might change as I leveled up further, but I kept running into people far weaker than me even if their level was similar.
Of course, if I played long enough the game would pair me up with people who are probably going to be far stronger, but the time I’ve spent on the game has made it blatant that it’s unapologetically pay-to-win unless you’re willing to put in a lot of grind.
There are times when I don’t consider grinding a bad thing in free-to-play video games but it requires the game to be extremely entertaining. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Gunspell 2 because its gameplay is not that interesting and becomes too monotonous very quickly.
Every mode that you play is the same thing and the multiplayer just feels like a glorified version of the single-player experience.
It’s certainly fun in the beginning and I can see a few people I know getting addicted to the game for a bit because you expect it to remain fresh, but it ultimately starts to feel pointlessly repetitive due to a lack of content, and at that point, everyone would just move onto a different game.
The art style of Gunspell 2 is decent and has the usual 2D gothic RPG aesthetic that you’d expect to see in such a game.
Everything has a good amount of detail and the heroes are visually appealing, although clichéd in design.
The animations can use a lot of work as they feel too basic and similar to old browser games that were made with constraints of the Flash format in mind.
If the gameplay was entertaining, the graphics wouldn’t be an obstacle for the game. But since it’s stale in that department, the lack of decent animation does become more prominent.
The UI of the game is alright, everything is easy to find and is separated from each other well enough.
However, the polish of Gunspell 2 leaves much to be desired. There are several issues with the game’s grammar and a lot of the time certain pieces of text or pop-ups get stuck on the screen and you have to reset the game.
There are even cases of random graphic pop-ups in certain places which aren’t game-breaking but it’s still distracting to run into such issues. Performance-wise, the game runs well enough.
The sound design of the game is very basic. The background music is fortunately not repetitive, but very generic and feels just like anything else you’d hear in a free-to-play RPG. The sound effects are all present for the actions that you do in the game, so that at least makes things feel alive to an extent.
Gunspell 2 has a good concept and tries its best to execute it into an entertaining experience – but a pay-to-win model and a severe lack of variety make it a chore to get through.
Just as quickly, you’ll just start trying out other mobile games and probably find a better one too.