Thor: The Dark World hits theaters this Friday, and in the mean time you can play the official iOS game courtesy of Marvel & Gameloft. The game is based loosely on the movie storyline to present a 3D action adventure game that is similar to the iOS game based on the first movie release a couple years ago. There are two main differences in the App Store since the first Thor movie in 2011, and that’s high quality graphics, and freemium systems. Thor: The Dark World has both to mark the major differences from the first game, which was a $6.99 paid app that looks rudimentary in comparison.
There are 90 missions total spread across four iconic locations from the Thor universe as you battle dark elves. Once you dive into the game, the most noticeable aspect is that everything is designed to be as accessible as possible. The genre is relatively off putting to some, but the movie branding will get a lot of eyeballs. The result is simple touch controls to power Thor as you tap where you want Thor to move, and then tap on enemies to attack. You can toss Thor’s hammer with a double tap, and activate special powers with the accompanying action buttons. That’s really all there is on Thor’s end, but there’s a unique twist in activating allies and warriors to fight with you. There’s a little bit of strategy as you call upon different types of Asgardian warriors, and you can have an allotment of six at any time. The allies are tied to legendary Asgardians, and they each supply a special power.
The game is also designed for mobile with each level constituting a fast paced mission that is usually just a couple of minutes. It’s the type of game you can just play during a bit of spare time you have all while using the simple touch controls. The main problem is that the game is too simple for its own good leaving a very passive experience that is just a bunch of tapping. There’s not much to do beyond repetitively tapping the screen, and there isn’t much connection between tapping, and the moves Thor performs. Another problem is seen in the in-app purchase system, and it comes down to health packs. There are the usual upgrades to skills, allies, and warriors for extra in-game currency, but the health packs are the big obstacle. You lose health very quickly, and the only way to replenish it is to buy health packs, which are only available through the premium currency. The set-up is similar to Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter 4, but even more restrictive. Also, while the game is simple to control, it’s not easy, and the enemy difficulty requires a lot of upgrades and health boosts to continue to advance through the levels. It’s extra problematic that no skill is involved, so you’re just mindlessly tapping while hoping the enemies die before you do.
Thor: The Dark World (Free, Universal) epitomizes the problems with movie tie-ins, and freemium style to deliver a rudimentary experience that isn’t worth your time.