Release Date: January 16, 2020
Reviewed On: iOS
Genre: Tower Defense
Over time, I’ve learned to like gacha games as long as they meet particular requirements for me. By “particular,” I mean, there needs to be a compelling story, unique gameplay, fair gacha pulls, a generous stamina system, and, most importantly, an abundance of waifus and husbandos. That may have been too specific. Anyway, Yostar’s newest mobile gacha game, Arknights, seems to deliver on each of these and might even be the sleeper gacha hit of this year.
Arknights places you in the shoes of “The Doctor,” a mysterious figure rescued by the Rhodes Island organization. You wake up with amnesia after being rescued by a woman named Amiya and her squad. This dystopian world is plagued by natural Disasters, which leave behind a valuable, but damned, resource called Originium. The issue here is that Originium infects those who come into contact with it with a disease. However, it allows for various tech to be created and magical abilities to those who can harness its power.
Semi-animalistic humans called Ancients are most susceptible to the Originium disease, leaving normal humans to be fearful of them despite the good intentions of most Ancients. Another group is known as The Reunion, a terrorist group filled with disenfranchised Ancients who use any means necessary to change the discriminatory behavior towards their people, even if it leads to death. Players are tasked with leading the fight against The Reunion and bringing order to a world on the brink of collapse.
Arknights plays like a tower defense game, where you can place a variety of units on a field to halt enemies from getting too close to your resources. While simple in scope, there’s an insane amount of planning and preparation to go through before and during each level. Occasionally, you’ll get a tutorial mission before the primary mission that shows players any new tactics or special fields they’ll have to understand to get the upper hand in the ensuing battle.
You’ll need to use a variety of units with different abilities to hold back hordes of monsters and Reunion troops from reaching your base. Some levels will require you to use casters that have an area of effect (AOE) spell to quickly take out clumped up enemies while others will need you to use vanguard characters to block a few enemies. To become more adept at the battle system, you can run a practice round beforehand and get a feel of what you need to accomplish, which is always a good idea since it only uses one point of your stamina.
Surprisingly, the game has some decent systems that allow you to not rely on five and six-star characters. While they do have increased stats, they may not necessarily be able to deal with the situation at hand. For example, you can have multiple five and six-star frontline tanky characters, but that won’t mean anything against drone attacks or a horde of units from a particular class. A three-star sniper or mage can be just as effective in a situation like that.
Knowing which unit to use, where to place them, and when to use any active abilities will make the difference between a win or loss. Aside from the strategical depth of Arknights, you’ll also have some base building to do to keep a constant flow of supplies and resources that helps upgrade your characters. You can even decorate a dorm room for your units to hang out in, which was a nice touch.
Cutscenes between battles look amazing. While it’s just static images, each character’s artwork shows tremendous detail. Even minor characters were given this same attention to detail when it comes to how they fit into the world and the faction they belong to. Things take a cuter approach with sprites having a chibi look to them during a battle, similar to the fights in Yostar’s other gacha game, Azur Lane. But most importantly, Kemonomimi (animal-like humanoids) waifus and husbandos.
Arknights features a substantial amount of content through its story mode, but that’s about all that it offers. Strangely, there’s no PvP provided in the game, which I felt would have rounded out the experience for me. Alternatively, I would have enjoyed event stories between the characters to get to understand their relationship together more.
There’s a lot to love about Arknights. Within the game’s story, base-building mechanics, and resource collecting side missions, there’s a ton to experience, but I was hoping for a little more. A PvP mode or event story modes would have worked well here as well as have it more in line with other mobile games available.
Still, Yostar knew how to bring in players with strategic tower defense gameplay, by creating an intriguing dark story and using kemonomimi characters. I can already see my wallet-draining before my eyes. That said, you can get a ton done with this game without having to pay a cent.
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