Tynon is a new free-to-play browser-based game from uCool, a new studio partially made up of team members who previously worked on the controversial game Evony. The new title is a standalone web-based game with Facebook connectivity, and blends stat-based role-playing game combat with traditional social citybuilding gameplay, a light player vs player component and a strong story.
Tynon’s gameplay is split into two main components. The first of these to be introduced is the “battle map,” on which the player works their way through a linear series of battles in order to reach the next narrative beat. Battles cost energy to engage in and unfold in a hands-off, turn-based manner, with the results being determined through a combination of the experience level and statistics of the participants, the equipment they have brought into battle and a degree of random chance. Both player and enemy characters attack each other in turn, seemingly picking targets at random, and occasionally unleash skills when a special bar is filled. These skills could have stronger attack power, damage several enemies at once or be defensive in nature — over time, the player will collect a variety of heroes which they can take into battle, meaning they can customize the combination of abilities they have on hand.
Following combat, the player is rewarded with experience points and “virtue,” a special currency which is used for a variety of purposes throughout the game — primarily researching passive skills that provide bonuses to heroes’ performance, and training heroes to higher experience levels. The player is also given a ranking of up to three “stars” after each combat, allowing them to go back and replay fights in order to get the best rewards whenever they please. A helpful “auto-grind” feature also allows players to set aside a proportion of their energy bar and then leave the game running in the background to automatically resolve a set number of combats without any required interaction. This is a particularly good feature for players who like to dip into the game throughout the course of the day while they are doing other things rather than dedicating time to nothing but Tynon.
The main issue with the combat system is the total lack of interaction. The player can influence the outcome of battles by ensuring their heroes are well-trained and equipped with the best items, but during combat it can be immensely frustrating to witness a hero unleash a devastating skill on an opponent that would have keeled over with a weak regular attack. To at least have the option to choose between automatic and manual combat would have been a pleasing addition. As it stands, there’s nothing really wrong with the implementation here, but it does make the game’s “battle” scenes feel less exciting and interactive than they could be.
The other main component of the game is a citybuilder in which players must build up a small community in order to fund their war efforts. This aspect of the game is very traditional, with residential and business structures generating income over time, farming plots generating goods with which to upgrade buildings, and the player’s overall experience level determining what items they have access to. There is a degree of light strategy in that various buildings provide income bonuses if placed in close proximity to one another, but this is somewhat undermined by the usual facility to pick up and move buildings at will rather than having to deal with the consequences of poor placement. In a very player-friendly move, performing actions in the citybuilding component doesn’t cost any energy — though upgrading buildings beyond a certain point does require either pestering friends for raw materials or expending hard currency.
As the player progresses through both components of the game, they upgrade their “title,” which in turn offers access to additional gameplay elements — most notably a player vs player arena, which provides a competitive multiplayer element to the otherwise fairly solitary experience of the rest of the game. Players may also visit each other’s cities in order to help and receive rewards as well as exchange gifts with one another.
Tynon is clearly courting the potentially lucrative mid-core market, as its gameplay is significantly deeper than many other similar Facebook titles, but not complex enough to put off those who still seek a degree of instant gratification. The mid-core market is traditionally quite male-dominated, too, and this is certainly borne out by the fact the game typically refers to the player as “My Lord” — that, and the fact that the hilariously impractical “sexy” armor that the game’s protagonist Rosaline shows more skin than it covers.
The game’s monetization is handled entirely through its hard currency of “gems,” which may be used to bypass resource requirements for upgrading buildings, restore energy or unlock certain buildings and items before meeting their prerequisites. Unusually, it doesn’t appear to be possible to exchange gems for soft currency, meaning that players can’t necessarily pay their way to immediate victory — a clear sign that Tynon’s designers would very much like players to actually play through their content normally rather than paying to bypass it.
And it’s with good reason that uCool displays pride in Tynon like this — it’s a very well put together game, with gorgeous artwork, excellent animation and well-produced, unobtrusive background music. It would be nice to hear a few more sound effects in the game. Battles, for example, are noticeably quiet aside from music. On the whole, however, the audio-visual presentation is significantly stronger than many other similar games. The in-game text lets things down a little somewhat, however, with a number of spelling and grammatical errors throughout that could have been eliminated with a more thorough proofreading and quality assurance process. Textual issues extend to the fact that if the player has connected their game account with Facebook, dialog boxes sometimes refer to their real name rather than the one they chose upon beginning to play for the first time.
Aside from these minor issues and the disappointingly hands-off nature of the combat scenes, Tynon is an impressive game. By running on a standalone website rather than relying entirely on Facebook, the game potentially opens itself up to a much wider audience of gamers who either don’t have a Facebook account or don’t wish to attach games to it. At the same time, offering Facebook connectivity provides opportunities for viral promotion via Timeline posts as well as an easy means by which friends can find each other in the game.
In short, Tynon is a world well worth exploring, and a sign that uCool seems to know what it is doing. Hopefully the team will continue to keep the game freshly-updated with new content on a regular basis in order to retain its users — and won’t resort to Evony’s notorious quasi-pornographic advertising tactics in order to attract new players.
As a standalone web game where Facebook connectivity is optional, it’s difficult to get a truly accurate picture of Tynon’s user figures, but you’ll shortly be able to follow the number of players who have chosen to link their accounts to the social network using AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
Come play, my Lord.