Today marks the first day of JK Geekly’s Free Video Game Summer. Okay. It’s not summer yet, and no, we’re not handing out free video games. Our game guy Kyle is short on cash, so he’s playing free to play or free video games this summer and sharing his thoughts on the games he’s playing.
Some of these games might not be very good—we are talking free here, and you often get what you pay for—but you’d be surprised how many good video games are out there that don’t cost a penny.
AdVenture Capitalist was the first game that came up when I searched Steam for “free games,” so I’m covering it first. It’s a time waster. I know that the term “time waster” turns some people off to a game but there is a time and place for time wasters, and AdVenture Capitalist has an interesting change up to the typical formula of sowing something and waiting for it to mature before reaping the benefits—but you can pay real life money to speed up the process. Yeah, all of that’s in AdVenture Capitalist, but you can hire managers to run your startup businesses for you while you’re offline.
The inclusion of a manager gaming element makes for a game that you sink two or three hours into early on, setting up your businesses, and that time shifts to two or three, five to ten minute, daily check-ins. I downloaded AdVenture Capitalist earlier in the week, played the special event a little bit (I didn’t understand the benefits of the event to care about finishing it or maxing out my profits), and it’s still become the first game I open when I fire up Steam.
It’s good for a lark. Several of the aforementioned managers are a pun on a Breaking Bad character. And there’s something mesmerizing about numbers rising at a steady pace. You can be a quadrillionaire. The only negative for AdVenture Capitalist—besides the obligatory shake downs for money—would be the utter lack of a story. But do you really need a story in a time waster game? Most stories in time waster games don’t make sense or are cliched.
AdVenture Capitalist keeps it simple. It knows what it is; it’s the game you play between games. I wouldn’t spend any money on AdVenture Capitalist, but if you’re looking for a time waster on Steam, you could do a lot worse.
Chronicle: RuneScape Legends
When I saw Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, I thought it’d be a Hearthstone clone. Hey, Hearthstone would be another great free video game to cover. I’ll add it to the list. Getting back to Chronicle, it may be a collectible card game (CCG), but it’s more than a Hearthstone clone.
Chronicle borrows the art style of World of Warcraft, the basis for Hearthstone, and uses a lot of the same user interface found in the Hearthstone app, but instead of players fighting each other directly, they create obstacle courses for themselves and fight their opponents indirectly. This is fascinating.
Few CCGs have players fight each other indirectly, and I don’t know of any other CCG that has players building an obstacle course for themselves. Players play cards in front of themselves. Most cards are enemy cards. You defeat enemy cards and as a reward, you gain money (to pay for cards that boost your stats, which is another card type), heal your hero, earn more attack or defense power, or you deal damage to your opponent who traverses their obstacle course at the same time as you. If both characters are standing at the end of five rounds, they fight each other. This obstacle course game mechanism makes it possible for you to kill yourself. Your opponent strikes you from afar just as you face a big, bad enemy that you played to get a large bonus delivers the fatal blow.
I like this game mechanism a lot, but Chronicle does have all the trappings of an online CCG. It has a leaderboard, also pulled directly from Hearthstone, and some folks get upset when they lose status. You don’t have to spend any money to make a deck, but it urges you to spend money to obtain more rare cards. And for the second time in this write up, there isn’t a story to be found, but that might be a good thing. Magic has tried to make players care about their characters and story, and the novels fall flat. Case and point, one Magic novel was published without its final two or three chapters, and no one noticed.
If you like CCGs, Chronicle: RuneScape Legends is a nice addition. The obstacle course mechanism adds a fun twist on the familiar formula.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
As promised, I’m covering Hearthstone. It’s a great free to play video game, so great that Chronicle aped its look and feel. But Hearthstone borrowed a lot from another great game: Magic.
Hearthstone is based off of the popular World of Warcraft CCG. The major difference between Magic and the WoW CCG is that players take control of a general. The generals would be a key figure in the Warcraft canon—or at least someone fans would recognize—and instead of players dealing damage to a faceless mage (like they do in Magic), they would battle these generals, and the general they played would grant them unique abilities.
Hearthstone is a wonderful adaptation of the WoW CCG. I may enjoy it more than the Magic video game, and I like the Magic video game a lot. Hearthstone is also one of the few video games I’ll play of this nature that I don’t turn down the volume. Most of the voice acting is straight from WoW or the original Warcraft series, and the sound effects and music get your blood pumping.
Sadly, this is another game without a story. Looks like we’ll have to wait another week for a game with a great story—or any story—but also like the other games on this list, Hearthstone doesn’t really need one. Let Warcraft and World of Warcraft shoulder the storyline. Hearthstone does a great job of transferring the WoW CCG to mobile devices, and it’s exhibit A for why tabletop gamers don’t see too many new, physical CCGs. Why waste the time and resources printing cards, when an app can look good and function as well as Hearthstone?
That’s all I have for the first week of JK Geekly’s Free Video Game Summer. I’ve got more gaming to do in the next week, but until we meet again, thanks for reading.