In Indie Game HQ’s latest review, Brandon takes a look at Solara by Esper Labs. Solara has you control a mighty kingdom in the making. You must recruit heroes to help you slay beasts and fight other players to prove yourself. Solara is available for free through iTunes and works for iPhone and iPad. All the needed links are listed at the end of this review.
GAME NAME: Solara
DEVELOPER(S): Esper Labs
PUBLISHER(S): Esper Labs
RELEASE DATE(S): May 21, 2013
Solara works on any iPhone and iPad
Lead your heroes to victory! Solara is an epic fantasy strategy game where you build a mighty castle, recruit brave heroes, slay ferocious monsters and dragons, and battle other players around the world! There are over 80 structures to build throughout the game, over 300 quest and 50 possible castle levels to build and attempt.
The gameplay of Solara is a mix between strategy and simulation games similar to Sim City, but instead of running a city, you run your own medieval tower. The main objective of the game is to complete quests. However, in order to complete quests you need food which takes the role of energy. To gain food, you need to wait for the bar to refill, but you can expand the bar by building food stalls. Money plays a big factor as you need it to build shops and stalls and expand your tower.
As you add to your tower it will level up, and the more you build, the more visitors you will attract making your tower even more busy. The quests you are given range from simply building a stall in your tower to fighting a mushroom or dragon. The battle sequences is where the strategy elements come into play along with some RPG influences. First off, you have Heroes who are your fighters and are unlocked by doing quests. The heroes are the stereotypical classes like Footman, Archer, Healer, Mage, Knight, Bard etc. You must strategically decide which units will fight in battle during each quest.
This means you have to make an educated guess and send who you think will be the best for the job. Each class of character also has their own perks that make them more valuable in some key areas than others. Archers, for example, are very proficient against aerial units whereas Bards increase your entire party’s attack. Each individual character has to be upgraded with food for training which will increase their attack, defense and perks. The actual battle sequences are kind of bland as you have no control of the fight. They remedy this by allowing the user to skip the battle after your fighters have been deployed.
One thing to keep you playing is the Arena mode that’s unlocked once your castle reaches level 13. In Arena mode you can battle others around the world with your heroes and try to find the best combination of characters. The leaderboards keep track of your world standing, and designate who your next opponent should be to raise your rank. If you defeat said opponent, you are rewarded with gold.
In the game you also have the opportunity at any given time to spend real world money for in-game items which is common nowadays with Facebook and mobile games. Spending real money provides the option to buy either gold to buy common items or Esper which can be used to finish buildings instantly or completely refill your food bar. The game also features the ability to take a photo of your tower to share to your friends. This and the use of real world money made the game feel very much like a Facebook game.
The music in Solara is nothing to write home about as it is a mellow mythical medieval tune that compliments the game but does get annoying after extended play. For a game like this you will being playing in short bursts so it shouldn’t get too annoying. The sound effects however are neat, occasionally some crickets, a wind chime will go off or some birds will chirp. Battle sequences also have a more appropriate track which provides a nice change of pace for the gameplay. Thankfully, they provided an option to completely mute the game which is always an appreciated feature for any game regardless of audio quality.
The graphics are what makes Solara really stand out from other simulation strategy games for iOS. They look as though they were taken right out of a story book. The cartoon-esque style gives your heroes a bit of character as they have greatly diversified appearances. Everything looks as it should, a mushroom looks like exactly that, a mushroom. Even slime monsters look like slime monsters unlike some games that make it hard to tell if you’re battling a slime monster or a scribble. The animations, such as arrow movement, sword swings, magic spells, and general movements are all beautiful and smooth.
Down to the Nitty Gritty
For starters, Solara is one of those games that caught my eye on the crowded market. I liked the individuality it possessed in a genre full of very similar games. The overall art style was very flashy and appealing to the eye. Initially the game is immensely easy which helps the user become accustomed with the game mechanics, but the difficulty slowly ramps up as you progress.
There was nothing spectacular about the audio in Solara but don’t let that hold you back from trying this game. Solara features a wide array of characters to choose from. Personally, I preferred to use Hoju the Knight and Kiku the Guild Huntress. The game is pretty addicting once you get into it a bit, which is always a requirement for short burst games. I found myself repeatedly checking the game to see my food bar or how various things have progressed.
I would definitely recommend this game to any person looking for a simulation game cut from a different cloth or someone looking for a very simple game with RPG elements. Best of all, the game is free, so you have nothing to lose but your time.
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