Elphis is a new Android game from the South Korean developer Com2uS. The company describes it as a “casual role-playing game” that takes in elements of time travel and fairy tales to produce a substantial free-to-play adventure. It’s available now via Google Play.
Note: This game was tested on a Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3.2. No compatibility issues were encountered, though the visuals and controls were simply scaled up for the tablet’s larger display rather than optimized.
Elphis casts players in the role of Little Red Riding Hood and takes the form of a side-scrolling platform/role-playing game combination. Using on-screen controls, players navigate Little Red Riding Hood through a variety of different environments and time periods, battle enemies, find items, complete quests and work their way through the story.
The game uses a heavily-exaggerated super-deformed “chibi” art style and bouncy, cute music, making it a game suitable for all ages despite combat featuring heavily in gameplay. Enemies take the form of various silly-looking cute creatures and animals, and Red Riding Hood attacks them using a comically giant mallet. As she levels up from completing quests, the player unlocks the ability to make use of various special abilities, some of which provide ongoing “passive” bonuses to Red’s capabilities, while others must be mapped to on-screen “hotkeys” in order to unleash. The game does not support separate USB or Bluetooth control devices — players must use the on-screen controls in order to play the game. These are mostly responsive, though it’s sometimes easy to get locked into an attack animation while facing the wrong direction.
The game may be played and enjoyed from start to finish without paying any money whatsoever. As the player proceeds through the game, they will earn in-game currency with which Red may purchase new equipment, which changes her on-screen appearance. This equipment is enough to see Red through her entire adventure, though players also have the opportunity to make use of a premium item store to further enhance her abilities. These items include consumables; bonuses to Red’s statistic and skill points; and items for enhancing equipment. All may only be purchased using premium currency.
The premium currency in the game is known as “stars” and players get their first ten for free by signing up for a proprietary Com2uS network account. Beyond this, free stars may be earned via a Tapjoy offer wall or in-app purchase. The offer wall seems to mostly contain cross-promotional efforts between Com2uS’ titles and a variety of other Android games and apps, though various other local offers are also available. There is the potential for players to earn a considerable number of stars through taking advantage of the various free offers, though those who simply wish to quickly acquire them may do so easily.
Elphis is a good-quality game with endearing pixel-art graphics and catchy music. It is fun and relatively straightforward to play, though Com2uS’ claims that it is a “casual” role-playing game are somewhat questionable — a number of systems in the game are relatively complex and are not immediately explained through tutorials. There is a comprehensive in-game help facility, however, which allows players to refer to detailed information at any time — though this does tend to assume a degree of prior role-playing game experience on the part of the player, and the translation from Korean could be better in a few places.
These issues aside, however, Elphis is a high-quality, deep role-playing game that provides an extremely generous amount of content for free and has the potential to monetize very well simply by providing a good experience for players. It’s an excellent addition to Android’s growing game library and a great example of how retro console-style gameplay can work well on mobile devices.