Not so long ago I wrote an article on my “addiction” with Little Alchemist. It was a simple game with the usual “come play again” F2P style hooks plus some artwork that I just loved.
However I’m starting to get rather frustrated with it. The main reason why is that I’ve hit a wall. Beating new enemies is often one hell of a challenge, despite having an ever improving deck. The reason for this is that their balancing system takes two to three steps up every time it raises the bar. There’s four ways that they balance the cards:
- Quality of enemy cards (i.e. powerful cards)
- Level of the enemy cards (i.e. more powerful)
- Number of enemy cards
- Enemy health
Each of these are fine. My problem is that right now I find myself facing enemies that are tougher in terms of their deck with the quality and level of their cards, meaning I need to improve my deck to beat them. Fair enough. However the enemies also have much more health. The problem here is that in order to beat the AI, I need not only to have better cards but MUCH better cards. If I deal 40 damage to their 30, that will still lose.
In order to improve my deck two fold, I need to play the bosses that I’ve already beaten again. However as you replay them, they get harder. Again, fair enough but it will actually increase all four of the balancing options making them bloody hard! If you’re just grinding in order to advance through the islands, this means you aren’t going to want to risk losing and wasting energy. Subsequently the best tactic is beating the easy bosses over and over.
Actually what helped me improve the quickest were the portal events. Unfortunately I was a bit slow on the uptake with them as they were really good in terms of improving your deck and you also managed to gain some XP, coins and gems along the way.
The game has got to the point where either I win comfortably or likely lose. This doesn’t seem right.
Perhaps the intention here is to get me spending money and to be honest, I’d be happy to spend a few quid to really improve my deck but the IAP, well aren’t all that cheap. In fact they are terrible value. For ~£10 I can get three new cards. These will be random and may not even improve my deck. That is just nuts!
I see real potential in this game but it is is very poorly balanced, even for a game that has been out this long. The killer in the balance is how expensive and potentially pointless the IAP are. Whilst I’m happy to spend money on it, paying such a high fee for potentially little of use just ain’t going to happen. When IAP aren’t worthwhile, having an unbalanced grind just doesn’t bode well.
To improve the game I’d suggest:
- Putting the events on a loop – they were fun whilst they lasted and helped me level up. Buying the tokens could be a good IAP money maker too!
- Reduce the cost of bundles OR guarantee that you get a combo card and one diamond card with the third completely random. i.e. give the player confidence that their purchase is worthwhile.
- Improve the rewards from the Arena. Getting 4 bronze cards, the stuff you “grind” for every day, after say a hundred wins, is bloody awful!
Whilst a simple game, providing a more promising progression path would potentially include the number of “whales”, earning Chinzilla a few extra pennies.