Tales of the Adventure Company might stir some nostalgic yearnings on first glance, but be forewarned, heroic gamer, that beneath its veneer of 8-bit adventures beats the blackest heart imaginable: the heart of mediocrity.
Tales of the Adventure Company may have the outward appearance of a dungeon-crawling RPG, but in truth it's a puzzle game. Players are tasked with completing multi-stage missions comprised of tap-and-reveal puzzles. You have a limited number of turns per mission, meaning you'll have to count your moves carefully in your hunt to defeat whatever uber-baddy the mission objective tells you to defeat. On your way to taking down the big bad you'll slay scores of monsters, get new party members, and kick back at the occasional campfire. Each of your party members brings a unique ability to the mix, such as the priest healing your most injured character whenever a new tile is revealed, or the archer dealing damage to any monsters she discovers. While the concept lends some strategy to the affairs in theory, in execution you'll spend far too much time switching between characters in order to use the best person for any given turn.
Combat is incredibly straightforward- your only options are to attack or to stop fighting- and, even though each different type of monster comes with its own unique ability, there's just not much fun or variety to be had battling them. You find a monster, bash it until it's dead, or bash it until your character is about to die, and then switch to someone healthier so they can finish bashing. It's tedious and unrewarding.
In fact, the lack of rewards is probably the biggest shortcoming of Tales of the Adventure Company. You may be crawling through dungeons, but while most dungeon crawlers reward you with shiny new armor, weapons and abilities, here what little rewards you get don't open up any gameplay options. In fact, they generallyy amount to the game letting you continue doing what you've already been doing. Plus, in all likelihood you're going to spend a fair amount of time repeating parts of missions you've already done, as it's all too easy to run out of turns. This limited-turn mechanic seems as if it's supposed to add tension to the gameplay, but mostly it's just frustrating. Failing on stage eight out of nine because you took a little too long to complete stage three just flat out isn't fun.
All of this might be more forgivable if the aesthetics were a bit more appealing, but Tales of the Adventure Company's minimalist graphics and score do little to stir the imagination. On the plus side, however, the controls are excellent, and do exactly what you need them to do when you need them to do it. Tales of the Adventure Company functions well, but its marriage of RPG and puzzle gameplay have been done many times before, and many times more strongly, in the past, leaving this as one party you may be better off leaving at the inn.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded copy of Tales of the Adventure Company for iOS.