Shooters are not exactly common amongst social games, regardless of their form. However, we recently came across a Facebook title by the name of Twilight Wars, and no, it doesn’t involve any sparkly vampires. Developed by Gamelet, this top-down shooter currently garners over 246,000 monthly active users, but while this metric continues to grow, its daily active user count falls short at around 16,000.
A team based shooter, Twilight Wars marks a distinct minority on the Facebook platform with only a handful of other shooters, such as Cmune’s UberStrike (formerly Paradise Paintball), which hosts around 500,000 MAU and 49,000 DAU. Regardless, Gamelet is hoping to incorporate some minor social mechanics in line with synchronous multiplayer in both a battle-style and cooperative mode.
Players can catch on to Twilight Wars pretty quickly. The game places the user down into a top-down map with the simple rule of survive. The general idea is to battle it out with one’s allies and defeat all opponents. The basis of this concept is seated in the game’s multiplayer facet, supporting up to eight players at a time.
Each player navigates in a simple W, A, S, D fashion, using the mouse to shoot and aim, functioning similarly to old, top-down, Rambo shooters on the original Nintendo. Scattered about the map are a variety of weapons of both the projectile and melee variety; with players able to carry two at any given time. Each comes with its own unique benefits (e.g. more damage, longer range, etc.) with the more powerful items slowing the user down. That said, other than elements like damage, there is nothing terribly distinctive, which is where the melee items, theoretically, come into play.
The addition of melee in Twilight Wars shows some potential on two fronts. Not only do melee weapons do tremendous damage and allow the player to move significantly faster than when wielding a gun, but the also allow players to activate special melee abilities.
As players compete and earn total kills, they will earn Prestige within the faction of their choosing (Royal Knights, Skydow Warriors, or The Third Force) and be able to start using special melee abilities. The big problem with this is that the kills are tracked, in total, across all games played, which basically means that new users aren’t going to see anything significantly unique about this game until they have played for some time. Additionally, when introduced to this mechanic, it’s not clearly stated that this is an overall measurement of play, and new players will likely spend a good amount of time trying to figure out where their Prestige is measured before just starting to ignore it all together.
If team battle royals aren’t one’s preference, users can enter into some cooperative play as well. In a separate Mission mode, players can take on ever increasingly difficult missions against AI opponents. From here, users can play together (with a set number of players allowed based on the mission) to overcome the various challenges, and quite frankly, synchronous play is almost required due to the difficulty. Of course, should one be a loner through and through, a basic single player mode against AI is also available.
With each game played, players will also earn in-game currency. Like most free-to-play shooters, this is then used to purchase various items and arsenals in the Twilight Store (virtual currency, Facebook Credits here, can be used as an alternative). As one would expect, purchased items will boost things like damage, ammunition reserves, armor, health and so on. The most interesting one, however, is an item dubbed “Emergency Help.”
In a more uncommon use of asynchronous play mechanics, using this item will randomly summon a friend (who plays) to the battlefield to help out. The downside, is that they will always have only half of their health. Beyond this, the only other social game mechanics implemented are all fairly basic and standard. This includes unlockable badges, leaderboards, and lobby chat rooms.
As for any other aspects worth noting, the multiplayer, in general seems a bit clunky. Whenever placed into battles with other users, latency often seemed an issue with players teleporting about the battle field. Moreover, there didn’t appear to be a matchmaking system based on player experience. As an example, in one of our first matches, we were pitted up with a player that could use the special melee abilities, while we were brand new, giving that user a distinct advantage.
Overall, Twilight Wars is an okay game, but has past shooters have shown us, such a genre rarely, if ever, does significantly well on Facebook, regardless of whether or not they are fun. The social gaming population, or at least the format available to them, just isn’t looking for fast-paced and twitchy shooters. It doesn’t help either that the most unique aspect of the game, melee abilities, is something that new players aren’t going to see until they’ve played for a while. In the end, this Gamelet app seems like a decent title, but is a genre whose growth tends to plateau early.