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Hell Quest: Tears of God

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

First, second, and third impressions

Product: Hell Quest: Tears of God | Developer: Smuttlewerk Interactive | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card/ board game, Casino, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Hell Quest: Tears of God iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the link to jump straight to day three or day seven.

How flipping epic is that game title, eh? Hell Quest: Tears of God sounds like the grizzled love child of Todd McFarlane and Shinji Mikami, born after an unbridled night of angry sex.

However, it is in reality a freemium game about rolling dice.

That doesn't sound so thrilling, does it? But I'm going to give it the benefit of doubt and play it for the next seven days, reporting back to you periodically with my progress.

First impressions

I'm not sure that the person in charge of the written elements of Hell Quest: Tears of God has English as a first language, as the explanations for each element are a little muddled, and the attempt at a courtly tone feels forced.

Put simply: you're travelling to Hell, and you need to confront lost souls there for some reason. These adversaries have so far included a gibbering man and a swarm of harmless-looking insects. Not exactly terrifying stuff, but it's early days yet.

As you continue playing you steadily get the hang of the gameplay at work. You must roll dice, and ideally you'll have three or more dice faces that match one another. You then tap all these and this builds your score.

There are also blue faces, and you can tap any number of these for points. If you don't match any faces you lose all your points for that round. If you match all faces, you get a whole new set of dice and can continue the round, further adding to the risk for reward element.

Your score and your opponent's is then tallied up, and if you beat your opponent you chip away at his health meter. Naturally, the loss of all your health means death.

So far, the aesthetics jar with the gameplay, and though the art is undeniably proficient it feels melodramatic in a dice-rolling game.

IAPs explained
The IAPs are all built around Souls, which cost £1.49 / $1.99 for 100, or can be built up gradually through play. Souls speed up processes and you can also Transmute them into Faith, with one Soul giving ten Faith back in return.

You can also choose to go Premium for a day at a cost of 75 Souls. This increases how many Spiritual Teachings and how much Faith you'll be awarded at the end of a match.
Day 3: The sin of gambling

A few days in and I'm starting to appreciate what Hell Quest has to offer.

It contains the risk-management elements of a card game like poker, distilled down to a simple dice game with easy-to-understand gameplay.

The enjoyment is in staring down your fear of losing, and the outcome is always determined by Lady Luck. You roll the dice, you make your choices, you see how many times you can roll before deciding to stick with the points total you've accumulated, and you hope your opponent can't beat it.

But it's more than just a dumb game of chance: as with the best parlour games there's strategy here. There are tactics you can employ to lessen risk at the expense of your reward, or to end a game faster by employing riskier moves.

By way of illustration, there's a Mana bar that fills as you play, allowing you to employ special skills during the game. One of these is Enfeeblement, which reduces the current total score of your opponent for the round by 10 percent.

This is an expensive skill to use, but if you employ it at just the right moment - such as close to when they're about to end your opponent's high-scoring turn - it can be devastatingly effective.

Your skills can be improved by one point each level you increase, and this includes health and how many spare dice are available to you after you throw the first set of eight.

Again, this is where tactics can come into play, as you spec your character in the direction that suits your playing style best.

Day 7: Chancing it

I know it's Hell and all, but, ow, the soundtrack is really starting to irritate me. The music has become its own circle in the aforementioned. Aside from the aural assault, though, Hell Quest: Tears of God is pretty compelling.

I'm getting more into the tactical gameplay, trying to better understand how I can more effectively use my Skills and perfect the timings of my plays so that I never commit to my own play before I have the maximum possible knowledge of my opponent's.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block, then, is the game's focus on IAPs. You can unlock more characters to use in the game other than just the Man of Faith, but they're expensive and will put a serious dent in the quantity of Faith you have.

But you need more characters to keep playing - it's either that or spend precious Souls healing your lone pilgrim so you can continue.

Given that each of the quests you're sent on is made up of multiple missions, and you're only awarded the special dice dangled in front of you when you beat the high level Wardens within them, it's disappointing to be prevented from carrying on.

But wanting to keep playing is a good thing, isn't it? Like a veteran gambler, I want to keep chasing my bets, which indicates that Hell Quest is doing a sterling job. The aesthetics don't work, and the paywall is poorly implemented, but otherwise this is a top game of chance.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Hell Quest: Tears of God
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 11 April 2013
It sounds epic, but it isn't. Don't let that put you off, though: Hell Quest: Tears of God is a fiendishly compulsive game of gambling, even if it does look and sound like a cerberus
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