Overall Rating: B-
Pros: Combat is available via gameplay, charming hand-drawn art style
Cons: Rather simplistic and one-dimensional gameplay, lots of grind only negated by spending actual money
Elvenar is a classic example of the evergreen 2D city-building strategy game. One of the most popular genres around at the minute, across browser and F2P mobile games, Elvenar shares a lot of similarities with many of them. The instinctive clicking to collect resources is present and accounted for, as well as gradual build up of cities and grind for resources that this usually entails. Inno Games has made a number of successful entries into this genre before, with well loved games like Grepolis, and Forge of Empires, and a lot of the identity of Elvenar as a unique game comes from the colourful humans-vs-elves fantasy element of the world.
This visual and thematic identity really works in the game’s favour. By playing in this particular sand-box the art direction has really been allowed to embrace the fantastical elements of the setting, and the graphics and aesthetics of the both the game itself and the world inside it are a real joy to experience. The visuals have a hand-drawn element to them that is really charming and a nice distinction from some of the more gritty fantasy games that have clearly been taking their inspiration from Game of Thrones and the like. It makes unlocking new buildings and units more enjoyable as you can delve more into what the creative team put together, and thus negates the grindy nature of these kind of games somewhat. This is the case regardless of which race you choose and continues on to all elements of the game, and is definitely an area in which the developers are to be praised.
An additional bonus is the ability to actually get involved in the combat elements of the game. Typically these are auto-simulated by the system in many city-builders but Elvenar offers the player a direct hand in how these play out. These battles aren’t particular complex or difficult, with a simple turn-based battle system propping up a small variety of troops. Their actual presence though is refreshing and offers a nice bit of variety to the main elements of the game.
This variety is sorely needed however, as the game itself is very slow paced, and it takes a long time to make any significant progress. The initial tutorial speeds you through the set-up with a decent but fairly perfunctory overview of the inherent systems, but getting particularly far beyond this will require either a lot of time, a lot of patience, or a lot of money. Maybe even a combination of them all. This is the main problem with Elvenar: there’s just not enough to do. Those who want to avoid the paywall are able to, but getting the resources to do so will take a lot of time, very little of which can actively be spent in the game. Elvenar feels like it was developed with the mobile generation in mind, and dropping in and out of this game improves the experience a lot.
Those who are happy to pay will obviously progress much faster, but the financial outlay is quite high, and the actual interaction with the game doesn’t change massively. There is an extremely large and deep technology tree, and whilst visually many of the developments are engaging and interesting, in terms of gameplay the impact is minimal. This is to be expected to a large extent in this kind of game, but the diversity feels much more negligible here than it does in many others. The lack of PvP will also be a big downer to many people, although this is very much down to personal taste. All in all if you’re prepared to really commit to the grind, and take a lot of joy in the style and aesthetic that Elvenar offers, then you will definitely be able to progress and enjoy what the game has to offer. If not, then the paywall is more obstructive than some others and the pace will likely be far too slow for you to enjoy.