Mystic Guardians from DJArts Games is a title that wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Those who have played Nintendo’s popular Pokemon titles for Game Boy and DS will immediately recognize the formula — players are given one of three monsters (here called “Guardians”) to train before embarking on a lengthy journey to collect badges from local superstars of the training circuit. DJArts’ take on the well-established format is a mostly polished, entertaining and well-structured experience rather than a cheap clone.
Gameplay proceeds much as a traditional Pokemon adventure would. Players control their custom-designed avatar from a top-down perspective and guide them through their adventure, clicking on people to interact with them and on searchable objects to reveal either items or Guardians to battle. During the course of their travels, players will receive quests from certain characters, challenging them to complete a variety of tasks ranging from training Guardians up to a specific level to finding hidden items. The game’s story is largely told through these quests, but players are free to roam the world to battle and capture wild Guardians at any time they please.
During battle, players send their Guardians into one-on-one combat against a rival trainer’s team or a wild Guardian. Guardians then take it in turns to use one of their moves, which are generally either a direct attack, a “debuff” reducing the enemy’s capabilities, or a “buff” increasing their own abilities. Wild Guardians can be captured using “Capture Disc” items and added to the player’s team, while rival trainers are there for players to test their skills and earn experience points for their Guardians. Like Pokemon, all Guardians who participated in a battle receive experience points, allowing for players to level weak Guardians simply by letting them start in battle and then immediately switching to a stronger alternative.
Both field actions such as searching objects and battles cost Energy to perform. When this runs out, players can continue to walk around, talk to characters and shop but must either purchase additional Energy or wait for it to regenerate before they are able to battle or search any further items. Each time the player character levels up — a separate statistic from their Guardians’ levels — the maximum Energy limit is increased, allowing for dedicated, experienced players to enjoy longer play sessions.
Social features incorporated in the game are largely optional. Players can proceed through the adventure without assistance from friends, though there are a number of treasure chests scattered throughout the world which require either friends’ cooperation or the spending of the game’s hard currency to open. This hard currency may also be spent on certain items in the game’s stores, rare Guardians which cannot be captured through normal means and providing bonuses to Guardians’ statistics on level up. Sales of hard currency and premium items aren’t pushed hard throughout the course of the game, which may prove to be a mixed blessing to the developers — lack of “nag” screens will mean the game will appeal more to the “core” market, but it may hurt profitability in the long run.
The game is well-presented, with attractive, clear and distinctive visuals and a varied musical soundtrack — a far cry from the 30-second loops many Facebook games fall back on. It does suffer from occasionally long loading breaks upon the first visit to a new area, but subsequent visits are much quicker. The frame rate also takes an occasional hit when scrolling around, even on a powerful computer, but the nature of the gameplay means that this does not adversely affect the experience too much.
For the most part, Mystic Guardians is a well put together game that will entertain fans of Pokemon-like games for a considerable period of time. The game currently has 12 areas to explore and 40 Guardians to capture, with more on the way — DJArts is currently working on the second major content update since launch.
Mystic Guardians currently has 100,000 monthly active users and 10,000 daily active users. So long as the game continues to have regular infusions of new content and its user acquisition efforts focus on leveraging (and monetizing) the enormous Pokemon fanbase around the world, DJArts has the potential for a successful game on its hands. To follow its progress, check out AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A game unashamed to wear its inspiration proudly on its sleeve, Mystic Guardians is one of the better Pokemon-likes on Facebook — though its potential profitability remains to be seen.