Dark Summoner, by Ateam inc, is a very odd game. I’ve played similar games before and have even enjoyed them, but this particular one seems so eager to convince you that hitting a few buttons for a few minutes at a time is somehow fun, immersive or challenging. OK, I should say that pushing only a few buttons occasionally can be fun thanks to social, casual and turn-based gaming, but Dark Summoner is so packed with flashy images and confusing UI elements that I felt like I was stuck in Vegas on a repeating loop.
Name: Dark Summoner | Publisher: Ateam Inc | Category: TCG | Players: 1+ | Version: 1.02.07 | Size: 14 MB | Price: Free (with IAPs)
Essentially gameplay is broken into a few options: you collect and raise monsters. Once in a while you can meld them together and make other monsters, sacrificing one in the process. The coolest part in the game is when you do something like sacrifice a monster or a few other activities because you get to see a short, animated cut-scene. Once it’s over, though, you’re right back to the bland game as before. You press a button, perform “quests” by clicking a button and spending energy, do it again and again and then wait until energy recharges.
Oh, you can fight monsters as well by essentially doing the same thing. Over and over. You can also duel players as well, but can just hit a button to skip right to the results. I did this over and over again until I thought my eyes would fall out of my head. There are also the problems with performance, something that just blows my mind. I played it on my Nexus 7 tablet but it was not made for larger resolutions.
I switched to my Samsung Note phone and it looked better but lagged so poorly most of the time I would hit a button and trigger something different on accident. On top of all of that, the game offers activities like “bingo” but looks so much like the screen of a gambling machine that I didn’t trust anything enough to try. I just kept pushing buttons to attack and explore until I ran out of energy. The music could not be disabled (unless I missed how) so I had to play with the sound off. After a while I was convinced that the game existed only to “rehabilitate” criminals by making them play with their eyes forced open. I know that it made me queazy all the same.
I’m still trying to figure out why, whenever I find reviews or comments about this game after a Google search, there seemed to be an overwhelmingly positive reaction to this game. People wrote requests for friendship and gave out their numbers to identify themselves in the game. The online element is limited, so I’m sure the only benefit to adding someone was to buff each other or to fight together in instanced battles. Who knows, though? I didn’t get that far.
I understand the monster-tamer sort of genre that Dark Summoner comes from, but I don’t understand how a game could be so unfriendly to players from the beginning. It slams you with a quick tutorial that forbids you from getting to the options settings (even though it wouldn’t help you to turn off the annoying music) and overall seems a bit sketchy. You sign in and nominate a number to act like a pin or sign-in, but I’m deleting the game as soon as I am done writing this... I just don’t trust it.
I have played many odd games in my life and have played many different games that used odd systems or mechanics, but none so far have really used such mechanics to simply bore the player. There is no excitement in collecting new monsters of in fighting boss monsters or other players. It’s a basic button-pusher, and seems to be built solely to attract players who want to do nothing but push buttons.