Hailing itself as the first iPhone MMO, Aurora Feint isn’t too revolutionary other than the eventual multiplayer aspect. It’s gone through a few versions, each one fixing bugs as well as improving the game play. This game has also had it’s share of controversy, which I’ll go over later in this article.
The game itself is currently only a few minigames, two of which are in the “match three” style and one which is a logic problem though still a type of “match 3”.
Upon loading, which does take a bit of time due to the extremely large size of the game, new users see a small intro video which gives you a glimpse of what the story will eventually shape into. Be sure to watch the full video, as currently once you see it you’re unable to watch it again. With hope they will make a link somewhere so you can view it again later.
After the intro movie, you then make your character that you will be playing the game with.
Your first view of the game world is a map that contains four locations you can visit: The Mine, The Store, The Smith, and The Tower. Simply tapping on any of these locations will take you into their various screens. The only other feature of note is the arrow in the upper left which takes you to the Party screen.
The first and most important place is The Mine. This is the heart and soul of Aurora Feint as this contains the main puzzle game. You’ll first come to a intro screen where you can set the difficulty level using a slider bar. At first you really can’t make use of it as it only opens up the further you level up your character. Once you’re ready to play, just click the Start Mining button to play the game. It’s like a typical “match 3” game where you slide the blocks horizontally to create 3 or more of the same type while new blocks grow from the bottom, but with a few twists. First off, the recent patch has made things a bit more difficult to get combo chains going unless you use an actual stragety. One of the players in the community has posted a very good thread on a basic strategy to use. The concept is that each type of block represents a type of element: Fire (red), Water (blue), Earth (green), Air (white/gold), and Shadow (purple). You’ll see the icon for each listed across the top of the page with a number under it. By clearing away matching blocks you are mining that material and adding it to your inventory. With each element you mine, you gain a number of crystals depending on strong the chain is and any multipliers that might apply. Crystals, seen at the top next to the purple crystal icon, are your currency in this game. You can also click the large arrow in the upper left of the screen to exit the mine at any time. It saves your game in it’s current state allowing you to come back at a later time. The bar going across the screen just under the element counters is your experience bar. Once it completely fills up, your character has gained a level allowing you to obtain new skills. More on that later.
The mining game makes use of the accelerometer by rotating the blocks as well as adjusting the gravity as you rotate your phone. This allows you to do vertical matches. The change in gravity is a great way to shake up the blocks to help make better chains, as well as changing the location where the blocks are added from. You can even twist it 180 degrees to flip the puzzle upside down. You have to be careful doing this as it forces a new line of blocks to fall down from the new top. What also is very nice is the ability to drag the entire puzzle upwards to quickly add new blocks and make the game go a bit faster. As your character gains new skills, you will start to have some special blocks appear, each with it’s own unique effect: alchemist bottles clear out every block of that type on the screen, fire blocks burn down the column they are in, though always towards the home button, skull blocks act as bombs clearing out a good chunk of the surrounding blocks, stopwatch blocks slow down the rate at which the blocks grow onto the screen, the hammer blocks create bonuses for chains. They also act as wild cards in chains, so strategic placing of them can make some fairly complex chains.
When you level up, you obtain a skill point to place in any skill you wish. While the skill itself does give some bonuses, all of them unlock an item to be purchased from the store in order to make full use of the skill or spell. Each skill has it’s own description, so I’m not going to go into great detail here.
After leveling up, it is a smart idea to exit the mine and head to The Store. Here you can spend your crystals to buy blueprints and magic books that your skills have unlocked. Blueprints allow you to go to The Smith and create tools which in turn unlock the special blocks. Spellbooks allow you to go to The Tower and increase your mining efficiency of the chosen element. There is also a section to buy storybooks, but those haven’t been added to the game yet.
Once you have purchased a blueprint, you come to The Smith to actually craft the tool. Each blueprint have specific element requirements. If you don’t have enough of a required element, you need to go back to the mine until you have enough. You will also see three empty squares at the top of the main smithing screen. Crafted tools unlock the special blocks mentioned above and as you use them in mining, you add them to your inventory. You can then chose three tools to use while smithing. They don’t have to be different types either. Tap the blueprint you want to attempt, choose your tools (if you have any) and then start building.
To build the tool you have to play a minigame much like Mining but with a few distinct differences. The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a timed game. In order to use the three tools selected at the beginning of the game, quickly double tap a block to get a menu to select which tool you want to use. The chosen tool then replaces the selected block. In order to complete the game you have to match up a certain amount of specific elements. Failure to do so only means you’ve lost the materials required by the blueprint. You can retry the puzzle as many times as you need to as long as you have the required materials.
Honestly, I think The Tower is my favorite part o Aurora Feint. Once you have purchased a spellbook, you come to The Tower to learn it. Once a spellbook is learned, the amount of elements you mine/smith is increased per chain. Like the blueprints in The Smith, each spellbook has an element requirement in order to attempt. You don’t get to use tools here, but you don’t need them either. Tap which spellbook you want to attempt and then try to learn it.
This minigame is a bit different from both smithing and mining. While it is a type of match 3, this is more of a logic problem. You will see an arrangement of colored crystals and the object of the game is to clear all the crystals in a specified number of moves or less. Like the two other games, you can only move horizontally, though you can rotate the phone to change gravity. Be careful doing this as it counts as a move. Most are pretty straight forward, but there are a few of the higher leveled ones that I had to attempt several times to complete. One feature I would love to see is the ability to go back and replay these games.
On the map, you can click the large arrow in the upper left to go to the party screen. Here you can see your character stats and later on you will be able to see the stats of your friends. Tapping on your character at the top of the page will take you into a more details stats screen. It also shows a nifty full sized picture of your character which changes as you level up.
At the bottom of the screen, you can access your Inventory as well as the Community page. Your inventory is where you can see all the tools you have crafted as well as the spellbooks you have learned. I think later you will also be able to read any storybooks you purchased.
The community feature is currently down until the developers can come up with a way for users to access it securely. There was a bit of a controversy about the community feature as it was first implemented. With a rather nifty idea, the developers made the game able to pull up the address book on your iPhone and scan for all the email addresses it contained. Those addresses were then sent to their server to see if anyone had signed up with AF. The idea was that this would make it easier and you wouldn’t have to go around telling people “Hey I play, do you?” While they didn’t keep a copy of these email addresses, the problem came in the fact that they didn’t quite realize how unsafe this was, especially since they were transmitted unencrypted for anyone with enough know-how to sniff out. Once this was pointed out, the developers realized their error and apologized profusely. For now, the feature is disabled, and they have stated that when it does eventually come back it will probably be more like Nintendo’s friend code system.
That is another good thing about this game. The developers keep an open communication line on their website forums. They’ve taken many suggestions from the community and implemented them, as well as keep on top of the bugs as they are reported.
Overall, I really love this game. Once I start playing it I find I’m on it for quite awhile before I feel like quitting. This game come highly recommended by not only myself, but all my other iPhone toting friends.