Tap Quest: Gate Keeper review: This tap-frantic action RPG is yet another against-the-odds iPhone free-to-play game that's designed to encourage in-app purchases, which hampers an otherwise addictive app.
My first ten minutes playing Tap Quest were mostly spent thinking: 'This is pointless. I've got no chance of beating everything on the screen without massively upgrading my hero/weapons/skills, and to do that I basically need to watch a bunch of ads or spunk up some real money.' And yet I kept on playing, for a little while at least, as Tap Quest isn't without its charms and is still strangely addictive.
The idea is simple. Your tower is sat in the middle of the screen and every so often a bunch of monsters drops from the sky and tries to destroy it. You have to keep them away by tapping franctically, which smacks them over the head with your mighty sword. Every so often you'll get a power-up which helps you to cut through great swathes of them at once and eventually clear the screen entirely, giving you a brief moment of respite - but there's generally around ten waves to battle through before a final confrontation with an uber-powered boss.
As you defeat enemies, they drop coins for you to pick up which can later be used to upgrade your mini warrior, improve power ups and unlock mystery chests filled with sexy gear. As you improve you'll also get a fairy assistant and can even augment the tower itself so it can smite attackers.
Of course, there's never enough coins to do everything, which is where the ads and in-app-purchases come in. I found myself 'watching' a video ad every ten minutes or so to boost my coins quickly and easily, which helped me to eventually get through the first couple of levels. If you don't have the patience to wait for new ads to unlock, your only choice is to keep on playing, and dying, over and over - or else stump up actual cash for the virtual stuff.
Which is a shame, as Tap Quest is indeed strangely addictive, until you get fed up with the repetitive tapping-and-dying shenanigans. Its 8-bit graphics are charming and I found myself playing for extended periods despite the very simple gameplay. It's just a shame that the difficulty level is steeped so you have to rely on those ads, which gives you a reduced sense of achievement when you do finally smash a tricky end-of-level boss.
If Tap Quest was two or three quid, with no in-app purchases and a proper difficulty curve, I'd have little trouble recommending it. Sadly, the corporate dragon has huffed its methaney breath all over it, and many gamers are likely to wrinkle their nose at the result.