Nimble Quest is the new title from the team behind some now pretty classic iOS games such as Tiny Tower, and Pocket Planes, and just like the developers other titles this one is free to play. Nimble Quest continues the teams love for the retro game look, however it differs significantly from their previous two games. Both Tiny Tower as well as Pocket Planes stayed true to the teams tap and wait formula, while Nimble Quest takes a more action oriented approach to the gameplay. It goes nearly in the complete opposite direction offering up an addictive trial and error experience that will have you coming back time and time again.
The gameplay is best described as a cross between the classic mobile game Snake (yes the one that came preloaded on all Nokia phones back in the day) and the retro arcade Atari game Gauntlet. In fact at the very beginning of the game we are asked if we remember that old game Snake? This time however instead of taking control of a snake that grows, we choose between different heroes and grow our sixteen bit fantasy conga line to battle wave after wave of enemies. Swiping the the screen in a particular direction causes your character to start moving in that direction, though like Snake it is impossible to simply reverse your direction leaving you only to move in horizontal and vertical directions. As you do this enemies spawn from out of thin air and it is your basic goal to destroy every wave of them while collecting as many gems as possible. The more gems you gather the higher your score which is really the premise thanks to the leaderboard functionality. Also as you progress you will unlock new heroes that you can later use as your “leader” if you so choose.
The further you survive each stage the more heroes you have on your team at once, however to counterbalance that – the more characters you have in your line the more likely you are to instantly die. Spiders will shoot webs at you causing you to temporarily slow down, skeletons toss bones your way, and knights attempt to stab you but the real danger is running into objects – as doing so causes instant death. Whether it be a wall, an enemy or even your own teammates you are always surrounded by death. Your linemates can and will die as many times as possible, but as soon as the leader dies it is game over and back to the beginning. There are no checkpoints or save games and in this way the game sometimes reminded me of The Binding of Isaac on PC.
The “catch” of the game comes in the form of currency known as tokens. Tokens can either be acquired from in app purchases, watching video advertisements, or occasionally from being really good at the game. These tokens can be used to continue after death preventing you from having to begin all the way back at the start. Oddly enough this purchasing system works and although I am usually against it whether the game is free or not – it almost doesn’t become a problem when the gameplay is as good as it is in Nimble Quest. Other purchases can be made as well for things such as gems which do things such as allow you to boost your health and strength before each battle – but what’s great is that they aren’t necessary.
It offers social features in the form of previously mention online leaderboards which show off who’s the top player at collecting gems. The game also offers the ability to join a “Guild” where you and your guild members can access survival arenas and compete against other guilds for co-operative leaderboard supremacy. Nimble Quest also allows you the ability to share your replays over Facebook, Twitter, email, or through text message so that you can not only talk about how good you are but actually show it off. It’s a pretty cool social feature that adds an even more competitive layer onto the overall experience.
Nimble Quest is easily developer NimbleBit’s greatest title thus far, leaving behind the familiar tap and wait gameplay that so many other iOS titles are copying these days. It’s a good throwback to not only the sixteen bit Super Nintendo era, but to classic mobile gaming as well. Most importantly it’s everything a mobile game should be – simple enough so that anyone can play, yet extremely difficult to master so that even the hardcore gamers will be tested. Best of all it’s free making it a must download for any iOS gamer.