Title: Invokers Tournament
Developer: Storm Basic Games
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 348 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No
Has anyone who follows this site ever played a MOBA before? This stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, and is a genre that I’ve never seen on the PS Vita until today. If you’re not sure of the genre, have you ever played League of Legends, because that is a MOBA. It’s somewhat-top down Action RPG where you, and normally other players go at it together in co-operative and competitive matches, which normally involves moving around and having some sort of strategy as you fight with one another.
This genre is mostly present on PC, but it is starting to move towards the console world. If you know the Xbox world, you probably heard about Smite being ported to the Xbox One. But today we have a MOBA that isn’t on PC that we’re here to talk about. Storm Basic Games decided to develop a MOBA for the PlayStation family of consoles. Being cross-buy and cross-play with the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita, here is my official review of Invokers Tournament!
There isn’t a deep story to this game. The basic plot is that you are an Invoker, a warrior capable of calling upon and transforming into mystical beings, and been journeying to take place in a special fighting tournament. Once you arrive at the meeting place, you are all set to joining the tournament and using the nearby locations and services to help you prepare.
That’s all there is to it. You don’t see huge amounts of story outside of little tiny mini-stories in missions which are basically like “Go hunt this monster. Defend the town from these monsters”. For all intents and purposes, this game has virtually no story or plot to it at all. While the game doesn’t have a lot of background myth, MOBA games typically are more gameplay-oriented and don’t have deep storylines to them, even less so than the Hunting genre does.
Invokers Tournament is a third person Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game. In specifics, it’s like an Action RPG, or an action game with RPG elements thrown into the mix. You’ll be thrown into combat situations as well as team games in the mix when you head into the Multiplayer features of the game. All in all, I’d call it an action game with RPG elements thrown into the mix.
When you start the game, it sends you through a little tutorial, detailing the combat system and letting you set up a customized character. Then you get to your “World Map” of sorts, detailing the different services and locations you can go to. The main two areas are the Online Tournament where the multiplayer games take place and The Temple, where you can play Single Player missions to test your skills with the game, or if you just wanna play the game when you don’t have access to an internet connection.
For customization, you have The Blacksmith and Magic Shops. The Blacksmith sells you weapons and armor, each of which has level requirements to be able to use. The Magic Shop sells you items to use in combat as well as Magic Rings to equip a different Invocation for you to use to transform into, which will be detailed later. Finally, there’s inventory where you can set up your Equipment and Configuration where you can modify game settings and Avatar, that details battle skills.
Playing the game is done in Temple and Online Tournament. Temple is single player oriented, pitting you in tough missions against enemies with various mission types. Some have you raiding to take down a boss while others have you defending the town from incoming monsters. It is worth noting that starting with The Temple makes the game considerably harder than jumping into the team-oriented multiplayer game modes. This should be tackled at higher than the base level. You can do it, but it’s very hard.
Multiplayer Games are set in two main types. In The Jungle of Orth, you are sent across a map to destroy towers and a Core. Kind of like a raiding mission. In Sanctuary, it’s more like Capture the Flag. In that, you gain points for defeating enemies on the opposing team and capturing small bases. This is very similar to how capturing Command Posts works in the Star Wars Battlefront series. These generally last much longer than the Temple missions and give far better rewards when completed.
After completing a mission, you are rewarded with Gold, a piece of equipment of your choice, and experience points to level up. Leveling up is a little different from RPGs, since levels don’t increase your stats. They just allow you to get to the level requirements for stronger equipment. This is one of the reasons I would label this as an action game with RPG elements rather than an Action RPG.
The way combat works is that you have physical attacks and skills you can use. When you use skills, they have to recharge, so you can’t use them all over and over again. If you’re played Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, you know the general idea between recharging skills. You also have two main gauges in the game: Health and Rage. Health is your HP and Rage is what allows you to use your Invoking skill to transform into an Invocation form.
This is like powering up, only that many of these forms are actually enemies you fight during the game. You gain all of their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, so choosing which you wish to equip is important. Using these forms drains the Rage gauge so you can only use them for a limited time. It’s also worth noting that their skills take much longer to recharge due to their increased power.
There are only two things I have problems with regarding combat. The first is a lack of skills. While there are quite a few different Invocations you can buy and equip, your skills are quite limited. In your normal form, you have a Fireball skill and an Icicle skill. Unlike Invocations, you can’t buy or unlock new skills. These are the skills you’re stuck with for the entire game. It feels a little bit out of place to have a lack of customization for these skills especially with there being more elements in the game than just Fire and Ice.
The other thing is the pacing. While I have seem other MOBA games do this in a similar fashion, the pacing of the game feels a little clunky, especially in Single Player. Everything moves pretty slow. While this does work, it takes a while to really get into the game. When I play an action game, I’m expecting it to be pretty fast-paced. But, in this game’s case, it really felt slow and sluggish to me. It took me a good hour or so to really get into the system.
The Online features of the game work pretty well, for the most part. First of all, the game is cross-play, so you can play with players between all three versions of the game. It doesn’t take long to connect online for a multiplayer match and I never had my connection crash on me during multiplayer matches. One thing worth noting is that you cannot go into the shops at all without being online. So, if you want to play the game at work without Wi-Fi, you can’t upgrade your equipment after playing in The Temple. It’s nice that a game that is normally online-only has a single player option, but it’s worth noting about that shop not being there without being online.
One of the final gameplay aspects to mention is the Free-to-Play business model. As you may have guessed, there are lots of Micro-Transactions available to the game. At first, you’re thinking this is really bad. After looking into it, it’s not really as bad as you may think. There are two types of these transactions: Subscriptions and Invocation Costumes. While these aren’t cheap, costumes are just for looks for your Invocations. The subscription is also just a little bit of an enhancement, with increasing the inventory maximum limitation and giving you a little bit of a head start in multiplayer lobbies and cheaper shop prices. Not saying they aren’t nice, but they’re definitely not necessary.
All in all, the game is kind of lengthy, but kind of not. Since the game doesn’t really have a story campaign, it’s up to you how long you play. It is worth noting that there are daily rewards and regular “Seasons” in the online areas. Tying that with the multiple difficulties for The Temple, the game has enough content to last you quite a while. For a game that’s free, that’s not a bad deal.
Controlling the game isn’t hard, but it isn’t great, either. First order of business. There are touch controls, but they are not touch-only. I have also spoken to the developers about PlayStation TV support, and they’ve shown interest in developing a patch to include this. So, down the road, I’ll likely update this review when that compatibility releases.
Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick. Since the camera is fixed there’s no need for the right analog. The D-Pad handles some of the touch functions, such as using potions and activating the Invocations. The face buttons all have specified skills assigned to them. The L button opened up chests and talks to NPCs, and the triggers also function for lock-ons for enemies.
Is it easy to use? Yes. The problem is that they don’t tell you how to use it outside of a quick loading screen that shows a schematic of a Vita that doesn’t give you enough time to read half the controls without taking a screenshot and looking afterwards. Most of it can be figured out on your own, but there should have been an extended tutorials for some of the more passive controls, like the D-Pad controls.
The visual presentation looks quite nice in the game. Even on the customization screen, I have yet to see any noticeable jagged edges on the models and all the effects and environments look nice and colorful. Visually, it was done pretty nicely.
Performance is good, but does have a hiccup or two. Frame-rate stays steady for pretty much the entire game. There were some times when they would drop in a multiplayer match, though. This didn’t happen often and the drops weren’t severe, but they were noticeable in the chaotic fights that I was participating in. Outside of this, no complaints. Load times maxed out around 10-12 seconds, mostly less, and it never took long to find and load a multiplayer match.
Invokers Tournament is the first MOBA to grace the PlayStation Vita and a free one at that. On the downside, some of the controls aren’t explained to you at all, there is a little lag in multiplayer, and there are a couple small hiccups in the gameplay, most notably the sluggish pacing. The game’s not a terrible MOBA, but you’ve got to be able to get comfortable with the pacing beforehand.