The Mayans may think the world is going to end in 2012, but a fairly new Facebook role-playing game from Dark Roast Media may have something different to say about that. The app is Exorcists vs. Demons, and if the latter has their way, the Earth may be doomed sooner than expected through the fire and brimstone that is the Rockapocalypse.
Yes, Rockapocalypse. Evidentially, the demonic legions of the underworld are planning an invasion of epic proportions using rock and heavy metal as their primary vice. Set in a rock and roll style most similar to that seen in Guitar Hero III, this mafia-style RPG give players the choice to pick whether to fight for a rather buxom young exorcist named Alice to prevent the end of the world, or join the legions of hellspawn in creating a guitar riff so powerful that it will change the course of humanity.
Unfortunately, the side you choose to play doesn’t really affect the game play at all. The only significant difference is that the storyline is different and you can only view the story of the faction you allied with. That said, however, the plot is certainly presented in an interesting manner, using a beautiful comic book method with new pages unlocking as you play and level up. Frankly, for those users that do enjoy an interesting story, it feels like a much better reward for leveling than mere, superfluous level numbers and some images representing loot.
As far as the leveling goes, most of it is pretty typical of your standard Facebook RPG. Players consume energy to complete quests, earning them experience, gold, and random items, and as they repeat the quest and “master” it, they earn extra bonus items or stats to improve their character. Also standard, as players unlock more advanced quests, various items become required, such as non-player minions that make up your army and items that grant you bonuses to attack, defense, or luck.
What is rather interesting about the army members (which can also include NPCs bought with only the virtual currency Awesome Points and invited Facebook friends), is that players can set up automatic equipping of all of them. For each soldier in your exorcist or demon army, two items, such as scripture citing or even shotguns, can be equipped, and considering the army can grow to about 1,000, this mechanic becomes… rather useful. Since there are only three stats (the same as the player’s), this automation can be set to balanced between attack and defense, aggressive, or defensive. Of course, for more experienced users, manual control is still possible.
Most of the items you acquire can be bought in Exorcists vs. Demons, but there is still a good number of quality equipment that can be earned through leveling and questing. While boss battles (which will probably be similar to those in Castle Age) have not been added yet, some other items that provide passive bonuses appear to be earnable by completing entire sections of the story. For example, for completing part one, users can earn “weighted dice” which decreases the time in which income is earned when one purchases land; a feature found in virtually every Facebook RPG.
Beyond epic loot, players are also given various collections of random items that could be discovered when completing a quest. Upon completing one collection, users will gain one of three random, powerful rewards. Unfortunately, what they do is not revealed until they are earned. Another interesting addition to items, is that more common ones, such as Holy Water, can be transmuted into even more powerful versions. Of course, there is a cost of in-game gold, more than one base item to work with, and some virtual currency.
As was noted prior, Awesome Points (AP) is Exorcists’ virtual currency, and they actually make some creative use for it. Beyond simple things like slightly better or limited edition items, the developer seeps subtle, inexpensive uses – like the transmutation – into other parts of the game. One example includes your NPC army: As the units available to you become more powerful, they begin to cost a bit of gold to upkeep. However, if you purchase it with AP, then there is no upkeep cost. Other uses include viewing the other faction’s comics, changing your profile name, or even switching sides.
Frankly, however, it feels pointless to switch sides if you can buy the other comic, because other than that story, the game is even stated by the creators to be the same basic game. Granted, the quests will be different, but in a text-based RPG, most users are just clicking the “Perform” button over and over anyway. Furthermore, the only other difference between sides is that when you battle other players, you can only fight the other faction. Nonetheless, it really feels like nothing more than slapping the tag “demon” onto a name and saying “that’s your enemy, you‘re supposed to hate them.” It would be nice to have some greater form of interaction or cause and effect between the two sides.
Overall, Exorcists vs. Demons tries to do a few new things with its mechanics and virtual currency usage, and succeeds to some degree. Unfortunately, the whole “versus” concept really falls short of what it could be, and other than the comic book (even if it is a great reward mechanism), there just is no point to pick one side over the other beyond, maybe, aesthetics. Regardless, the game does have a wonderful visual style and is, at the very least, a well above average RPG. Moreover, as more features – such as boss fights – become released, it will only get better.
Currently, Exorcists vs. Demons is earning around 19,000 monthly active users.