Foxli Rush is a new Facebook game from NGames. It’s available now in open beta on Facebook, and is currently advertising heavily in the social network’s sidebar module.
Foxli Rush is a simple combination of citybuilder and role-playing game, in which players take on the role of either the male FoxLi or his female counterpart Peach, who is pretty much the same sprite but pink instead of red. Players must help train FoxLi or Peach by sending them on expeditions, equipping them with items, building an army for them and constructing buildings in their home town that help to power them up and provide them with income.
The flow of the game in its early stages is very heavily directed by quests, most of which hold the player’s hand a little too enthusiastically, initially pointing out every single button they need to click on and even where to place new buildings. As the player progresses, the game does start to relax a little, but the quest system is still a little stifling, railroading the player down a single path for far too long rather than allowing them to discover things for themselves — or even to present them with a choice of things to do at any one time.
The citybuilder component is fairly conventional. Players construct various buildings, many of which unlock new interface elements or provide the player with monetary or experience income over time — players may also perform farming tasks to gain soft currency. Certain buildings provide permanent boosts to the player’s statistics, and most buildings can be upgraded to make them more effective. As per usual for the citybuilder genre, upgrading things takes time, but this delay may be bypassed by purchasing “speed up” items from the in-game store. These actually cost hard currency to purchase, but an error in the game’s interface means that they incorrectly list their prices in “gold,” which is the game’s soft currency. Attempting to purchase them doesn’t clarify the matter — it simply tells the player that they need to top up their gold, even if they already have half a million or so on hand, which is fairly likely early in the game. This needs fixing as a matter of urgency, as the incorrect term is used all over the game’s entire interface, which is both confusing and misleading.
In the citybuilder component, the player is able to recruit new units into their army, train them and also purchase and upgrade their character’s equipment. Various materials are required for the different “synthesis” tasks, many of which can be purchased but some of which must be gathered in the “Expedition” section.
Expeditions are where the game’s role-playing elements come into play. Each “dungeon” in an expedition is made up of several stages, each of which is a single battle against a group of monsters. Battles unfold completely automatically with no input from the player, and in fact the player doesn’t even have to watch them unfold — an “Auto-Battle” option simple calculates the results of the battle in the background while the player does something else. This doesn’t get the battle done any faster; it just doesn’t display the graphics, though there is a “Skip” function that can be used to quickly bypass the whole thing in exchange for in-game currency. A small degree of control over the outcome can be achieved by determining the lineup of the player’s forces before battling — stronger, more heavily armored combatants go in the front; damage dealers go in the back — but during battle there is nothing the player can do to influence the outcome, making the whole thing a rather tedious experience.
FoxLi Rush has its sound turned off by default upon starting, though it’s not immediately apparent that there’s an option to turn it back on again, and if there wasn’t it certainly wouldn’t be the first social game released with no sound whatsoever. However, turning the sound on immediately reveals why it is probably turned off by default — the music is awful, consisting of a short, annoying loop in the citybuilder phase and some dramatic-sounding music in combat. Unfortunately, any impact the latter music has is unfortunately spoiled by the incredibly low sample rate at which it was recording, leaving the rather tinny finished result sounding like it was recorded on a mobile phone rather than with professional recording and music-making equipment.
On the whole, Foxli Rush has some nice ideas that it just doesn’t develop enough. The building and synthesis components in the citybuilding section have the potential to be quite interesting, but given that the game railroads the player down a “suggested” course of action so rigidly and that there’s absolutely no control to be had over combat whatsoever, the whole experience is left feeling like it has a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not sure if it wants to be an accessible casual game, or a stat-heavy role-playing game designed to appeal to hardcore “min-maxers.” The two parts clash with one another somewhat, leaving the game as a somewhat shallow, tedious and unsatisfying experience.
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Some good ideas, but a game that clearly doesn’t really know what it wants to be to who.