Video Game Review: Arknights

Details: I’ve been playing this game for the past few months. More information can be found at https://www.arknights.global/

Score: 7/10

Arknights is a tower defense game for mobile devices. Or should I say, it is the mobile tower defense game. It came out a while ago and was incredibly popular at the time. That popularity has waned, but the core of the game is still pretty fun.

For those unaware, tower defense is a genre of video games that came out decades ago. I think the genre originated from the game Starcraft. In the first Starcraft game, they had a game mode where players could make their own maps with their own rules. One map involved a stream of enemies traveling from one point of the map to another. Players could build structures or recruit units all in the hopes of obstructing and defeating the enemies before they reached their destination.

Arknights continues that basic concept, except that instead of defensive buildings, your defensive structures and units are anime waifu’s. That means cute Japanese style cartoon girls. There are some male characters, but the vast majority are female.

At its core, tower defense games are simply puzzles games. A fixed number of enemies will travel from point A of a map to point B. Your job as the player is to defeat them before they reach point B. You do this by placing your units onto the map. Each unit provides a different function. Some units can block enemies, some focus on dealing damage, others heal damaged enemies. Similarly, there are a variety of enemies that provide their own variety of problem to the player.

Here’s some gameplay from a tutorial stage.

Like in most role playing games, defeating enemies and beating levels grants resources which can be used to upgrade your units. And you will need to upgrade your units if you want to progress through the game and beat subsequent levels.

As said above, tower defense games are mostly puzzle games. Using a specific combination of units in the correct order and timing will grant victory. Sometimes, you can brute force a map by over-upgrading your units, but generally, that is not going to be possible. This is a gacha game after all.

Obtaining characters requires going through the same slot machine like mechanics as all other gacha games. You have to pay a certain amount of in-game currency to roll and randomly get a combination of units. Hopefully, you will get some powerful ones. The game gives some in game currency, but if you want to collect all the characters, your going to need to get your credit card and spend real money.

I will say that the gacha mechanics on this game are slightly different than what I’m used to and they are interesting. Basically, a new banner comes along about every two weeks or so and you are guaranteed a five-character in your first ten rolls. The value of characters are rated based on stars with six stars being the most valuable, so five star units are pretty good.

Most other gacha games incentivize players to spend real money by offering a pity system, which means that if you roll on the banner a certain number of times, they will just outright give you a six star or similarly valuable character. Usually this number is somewhere between one hundred and twenty to three hundred times.

Arknights does the same thing by increasing the likelihood of obtaining a six star character by 2% every roll after your fiftieth, guaranteeing a six star character on your ninety-ninth roll. Additionally, Arknight also guarantees at least a five star character within your first ten rolls on a new banner. This is nice because, as a free to play player who refuses to spend any money on gacha games, this ensures I can get at least one new, valuable character on each banner. That character may not be a six star or highest tier character, but five stars are pretty good and it’s nice to get something new.

Visually, Arknights is nice. It has its own, style of anthropomorphic characters. The tone of the game is dark and post apocalyptic. It all works for the game and helped keep me interested. What I didn’t like is that this game employs the “chibi” style. That means that while the hand drawn art is very detailed and adult, the in-game models used look like they were drawn by the artist of Hello Kitty. I understand that they do this because this is a mobile game and making a game look to complex or realistic makes running the game on mobile devices difficult. Even still, I hate the chibi look and wish they used a different style to portray their characters.

The story is mostly ignorable. I’ve reached a point in my gaming life where if a story does not have voice acting, it better be clever and funny. Arknights’ story is not voice acted nor is the story clever or funny. I skipped most of the dialogue.

The music is very good. It’s kind of electro, dance, dub step-y. It’s what you’d expect to hear from a story that takes place in a dark, futuristic setting. Again, not real voice acting other than characters yelling their catch phrases during battle.

Overall, Arknights is a fun tower defense, gacha game. There are no other noteworthy tower defense gacha games as far as I’m concerned. If you like puzzle games, then you’d probably like tower defense games. And if you like tower defense games, then you’ll probably like Arknights.