Angry Birds started life as a puzzle game where the player used the titular birds to attack their enemies, the pigs, across a variety of flimsy fortifications. Since then the game and its cast have shot to fame and expanded into other themes with Seasons, Space and Star Wars, and other genres with Bad Piggies and Go. Epic is Rovio Entertainment’s latest foray into a different genre. This time the birds star in their own role-playing game for Android, iOS and Windows. This review is based on the iOS version.
As with most iterations of the franchise, the game begins with the piggies stealing eggs from the birds. Red begins his adventure solo, recruiting the rest of the cast as his adventure takes him across a rather large and detailed world map. Each level on the map represents a combat encounter for the player to deal with, and each level can be replayed multiple times for higher scores and additional loot. Before beginning combat, the player is shown the approximate difficulty of the battle, as well as the crafting materials that can be won from the fight. Once the player has recruited a sufficient number of allies, this is also where they will select which of the birds are taken into combat.
Combat is a standard turn-based fare. The player goes first, using each of their birds before the piggies take their own turn. Each bird has three types of attack; offensive, defensive, and rage. Offensive attacks deal direct damage to one or more opponents and sometimes have additional effects, such as Red’s taunt. Defensive abilities are usually a way of mitigating or dealing damage through passive effects. Rage attacks are all-out moves that are extremely powerful, but require a full chilli rage bar to use. The chilli rage bar is built whenever the player deals or is dealt damage, and is consumed to use a single attack.
Play continues in turns until the player wins or is defeated. Players are scored based on the value of the enemies killed and the amount of life each of their team has left. Up to three stars are awarded based on the players score for the level, and each star represents an additional piece of loot that can be collected by the player. A wheel showing all the potential prizes the player can collect is then spun, and any section that falls on a star the player has been awarded is then given to the player. After finishing a level, a flag is raised showing the most stars the player has earned there. Each enemy killed also earn the player experience. Experience is gained for the account, and gaining levels increases the attack and health of all the players birds.
After a few levels, the player gains access to crafting. All loot gained from fights are actually crafting materials used to produce new weapons, armour, or items. Made using alchemy, single use items can be consumed in battle for a variety of effects. Weapons and armour are produced in the forge to increase attack and health respectively. Recipes must be bought or found before new items can be made, and the outcome of crafting is slightly random. After something is crafted, a dice will roll from zero to three stars for it. Each star increases the amount of an item produced, or increases the effectiveness of a piece of a equipment. New gear will sometimes change a birds skill set.
There are reasons to come back to Epic daily. Once per day the player can fight the golden piggy for coins, loot, and in-game currency. There also seven dungeons, one for each day of the week, that give the player the opportunity to earn more coins. For these they must use one of their friends birds in addition to two of their own. Alternatively, Piggy McCool can be used as a default friend, or one of the Mighty Eagle’s elite birds can be bought for use.
This would not be an Angry Birds without there being some kind of micro transactions or Facebook involved. Epic can be played completely free and without being connected to a Facebook account, but with both it is made substantially easier. Having friends tied to the game allows the player to collect friendship essence from them daily. This resources allows the player to spin the loot wheel again for a chance at better loot, or to re-roll the dice on crafting for better results. Some levels reduce the number of birds a player can bring, requiring them to ask friends for an extra party member. There are also friendship gates that the player needs to ask their friends to help open. Premium currency can also be used to open friendship gates, as well purchase coins, essence and upgrades to make the players life easier.
Angry Birds Epic is a solid game that introduces RPG mechanics to the franchise. Levels can be replayed for extra loot and higher scores, and become far easier with better characters and equipment. However, the whole game is let down by adverts and the ability to make the game far easier than it needs to be. This is a franchise aimed at children, and while they are unlikely to spend any real money without the parents consent, the danger of the child irritating the parents with constant requests for in-game currency is high enough that the game will be deleted very quickly anyway.