Awaken Demons is another game capitalizing off of the current fixation of the ‘merge’ mechanic, combining two units to make a better unit. Is this game a successful idle RPG with fun merge mechanics, or does it stoop to become another mixture of popular mechanics that engages the audience for all but 20 minutes?
Despite Awaken Demons advertising as an idle game, it, sure enough, got me working. The battling your demons are doing at the top of the screen becomes white noise as you scurry around the other menus. Aside from collecting the constant bombardment of quest rewards and bonuses, I found myself upgrading my demons and buying research. The fight with your demons becomes secondary as you are siphoning currencies (of which there are five) in and out of your account, collecting bounties of currency only to throw them all at upgrading and researching.
This isn’t necessarily a con, just a little tiresome. Before I knew it, I had event rewards, quest rewards, daily/weekly mission rewards, achievements, and other streams of rewards I couldn’t quite pin what they were. After I had channelled my inner tax collector, I was inclined to upgrade and research, which was quite fun. Being able to upgrade my demons and see their stats rocket is satisfying, especially with the research, which helped me out in decent enough increments.
Does this distract you unnecessarily? Or does it give more substance to the idle element that is your demons fighting through stages? I myself think that the bombardment of rewards is a convention in mobile games that gives hollow substance, an empty feature that coerces you to stay and spend the money, further increasing your playtime artificially. However, I can see the perspective of someone who would find this entertaining, especially as the alternative is simply watching your demons fight enemies over and over again. Ultimately, though, I think this highlights the lack of substance of the core game if it needs you to rapidly claim rewards and spend them to keep your interaction, which was 90% of my playthrough. Not all idle games need to be so substanceless, other idle games such as Cells to Singularity and War Tortoise 2 manage to make the idle genre fun and engaging.
Scarcely an RPG?
The RPG genre has quite a loose definition that has broadened over time. The usual expectation of an RPG is the player having autonomy to decide how they progress in the game, even if there is a main narrative or goal. Is Awaken Demons being too liberal with that term?
To be fair to the game, there are a pleasant number of ways to play the game. From the different levels in the world map, to the demon trials, to the world challenges, there is always a way to be kept busy. The different ways to enhance your demons is also interesting, as numerous avenues mean numerous benefits and bonuses from each avenue you pursue. You can awaken your demons, level up your demon’s abilities and upgrade them, each one requiring different currencies and offering different outcomes.
Can having numerous upgrade features actually be evidence of the developers cheaply forcing you to play the game longer and potentially buying more currencies with real money? Perhaps, but it would be unfair to discredit the game itself, as numerous upgrading avenues are an accepted feature of RPGs, so that critique would be a critique of the genre, not just this game. I, for one, found it to be quite enjoyable, and a limiter to stop me from dominating the game really early on.
Merging. A part of the fun?
It is abundantly clear that the whole ‘merging’ mechanic was added to capitalize off the market’s explosion of merging games. The mechanic in this game is nothing more than a limiter, to slow your progress as you wait through 312 little demon spawns, to eventually merge your way to a demon that is one merge away from ascending to an actual, good demon. That’s 624 merges, taking almost 2 and a half hours of waiting to get an actual demon authentically. Doing this calculation made me realize all of my success is from the game spewing me with rewards to achieve the proper demons I have collected.
On paper, this seems bad, but in reality is just a poor and uninspired way of implementing merging mechanics into the game. It does fine how it is; it is somewhat engaging and researchable to make it more efficient. It is surely a lot more fun that watching a countdown tick away.
Despite merging being a forefront of the game’s advertised values, they have hardly developed it to be fun, and is just a simple, boring way to visualize progression.
So, a fleeting high, or a substantial experience?
This is ultimately down to the player. My experience was never dull, but hardly exciting. Most of it was going around collecting and spending the numerous currencies for bonuses I hardly saw the tangible benefit of. Going around to the numerous levels and trials was the highlight of the experience, but even they were a bit repetitive and unrewarding on a fulfilment scale. If I failed, it was because I had to wait for the game to undoubtedly shower me with rewards again to level up my demons. If I won, it was just another unsatisfying victory, a million before it, a million more waiting.
The game looks good, and it feels as though you are getting more than you actually are out of it. It is, in my experience, just another game that you will be infatuated with for a bit, then ultimately leave it, most likely when the game stops flooding you with gifts, and you can only wait for your demons to fight – without your input – to progress.
If my cynicism doesn’t detract from you wanting to experience the game, you can find it on Google Play. I would recommend you play the game, especially if you have enjoyed similar titles. But if my criticisms seem relatable, you can afford a skip on this one.
Interested in idle games? You can check out my beginner’s guide to Overcrowded Tycoon.