By Jenni . April 19, 2014 . 12:31pm
I’m not really sure how to start talking about Destiny of Spirits. Usually, when I play a game, I develop some kind of strong feelings about it. Even games I hate, like Aliens: Colonial Marines, are able to amuse me in some way. It’s odd to encounter a title that leaves me feeling absolutely blank, and yet, here we are. For the first time, I have absolutely no feelings, good or bad, about Destiny of Spirits. I suppose the best I can say is that Destiny of Spirits reminds me of Puzzle & Dragons, which I enjoy from time to time, but doesn’t hook players in the same way.
There’s the slimmest of stories in Destiny of Spirits. Chaos Spirits are running rampant around the world. The only way to reclaim areas and is to summon peaceful elemental spirits and wipe out the evil ones one battle at a time. Once an area is cleared, you can travel to surrounding areas and start securing it.
Said battles are turn based. You’ll click on an area of Destiny of Spirits and go into there. Indicators will show available battles. Tapping one will let you select it for battle. You get a certain number of points, which gradually increase, and determine how many spirits you can take with you. So, as an example, you could summon three weak spirits or one strong one and another weak. Spirit points can be used to rent a random stranger’s spirit for battle as well. Once a roster is picked out, battle begins.
This is where Destiny of Spirits players get to take a little break. I’ve found as long as it isn’t an event raid, as long as you’ve picked the right spirits, you don’t need to pay attention. All spirits have an element assigned to them, and an icon showing which ones are strong and weak against one another is always displayed on-screen. Send them out and they’ll attack automaticaly. Yes, each spirit does have a special skill that can be used, but unless it’s a Raid boss, there’s no point.
If the Baptism of Light first raid event is any indication, those will be the only challenge. It’s running until April 16, 2014 and features a fight against a rather strong boss and two minions. Since they’re dark and light element, standard elemental spirits won’t be able to deal bonus damage to them. In fact, it may take more than one try to beat the event boss. Fortunately, any damage you do to a Raid boss carries over to future battles, so you can take as much time within the period as you’d like.
But by now, you’re probably wondering why I made the Puzzle & Dragons connections. Well, to start, you’re summoning creatures to use in battles. In both cases, there are free and paid summons, but it’s always random. So you won’t know what creatures you’ll be getting for your Spirit Points (free) or Destiny Orbs (paid). Also, you’re limited in what spirits you can take into battle by an arbitrary number that gradually goes up as you conquer more territory and gain experience. You’re also limited by how often you can play in each game, though Puzzle & Dragons goes by player stamina and in Destiny of Spirits you have to wait for spirits’ health to restore itself. You can only have so many monsters/spirits at a time without paying for a box upgrade. Not to mention, your creatures don’t get experience from battles, and instead do from fusions.
Fortunately, it is absolutely possible to play Destiny of Spirits for free. While you won’t get special spirits, like the Knack characters, you can use in-game Summoning Stones to get basic spirits. Each area can have different ones available, as can every region, and it’s possible to trade with other players to get new ones. Also, each time you log in, you get one free spirit that is shared with another player. Merging spirits is free as well, and only requires Spirit Points earned from battles.
It doesn’t feel very revolutionary. While Sony was touting the social elements, it’s no different from other free-to-play games when it comes to borrowing a stranger or friend’s spirits for a battle or trading with someone else. It’s all just very bland, and though the character art can be pretty, it’s stationary and relatively uninspired. We’ve seen this all before and I honestly feel like I’ve played better and more comprehensive free-to-play games on my Nexus 7 and iPhone. (Like Bread Kittens. Man, I loved Bread Kittens.)
I don’t really love or hate Destiny of Spirits. Really, I’m just disappointed. I thought Japan Studio could have done something special and made a free-to-play game worth playing. Instead, it feels like an RPG version of Puzzle & Dragons, only with less interaction. It’s like it’s a game you play while playing other games. Which is quite a shame. I’ll keep it installed on my Vita to help friends who want to play, but doubt I’ll spend much more time on it myself.