The Alchemist Code Review

The Alchemist Code

Ever since I first played Gemfire by Koei on the Nintendo SNES, I have been hooked on turn based strategy role playing games. This is a category that I feel mobile platforms are severely lacking in as well. The Alchemist Code is in the upper echelon of this genre. By far. Gumi Inc have certainly crafted an interesting take on the strategy RPG genre, if only it was not hampered by a confusing menu system.

Setup like classic role-playing games of the past, The Alchemist Code features a story of an immense “world changing” power being locked up by the Seven Kingdoms of Babel. This power was known as the Art of Alchemy. The seal holding Alchemy back from the world is showing signs of weakness and it is fully expected to let go at any moment. One country wants that seal broken and the Art of Alchemy unleashed.

Welcome to a world where the seal has relinquished, and all hell has broken loose.

Before I get too far into this review, I want to mention that I fully intended to review another game in this genre – Phantom of the Kill. I downloaded both and after a day or two I forgot about them and was bored one evening so I looked at games I had available. I came to one listed as simply, “Alchemist” in my phone. I didn’t remember downloading it, so I opened it to see what type of game it was. I was surprised to find out it was a turn based strategy role-playing game.

The basics of a good turn based strategy RPG are here. Movement and attack squares are properly highlighted and feature good contrast to the environment. Characters can work together to heal others (if they have that ability), you can plan attack combos thanks to the move order displayed in the upper left corner, and if you need additional time to think – take it, this is a turn based strategy game.

Units you will have available, eventually, and those that you face include swordsmen, pike men, magicians, archers, healers, etc. Pretty much the classes you have come to expect in a role-playing game are present at some point in The Alchemist Code.

The Alchemist Code

Battles are a mix of quick and those that require a lot of strategy to forge a win against seemingly insurmountable odds. This is what makes The Alchemist Code so interesting – you never know what is coming up, so you must be prepared for just about anything.

There is a camera button that allows you to rotate the camera to one of three positions so that you always have a decent view of the action. We are not talking Vandal Hearts level of camera movement here though. Sometimes there will be objects (trees, chunks of the level, etc.) in the way and no matter where you put the camera, your view is going to be obstructed. This is a small complaint in the bigger picture of The Alchemist Code.

Almost as if the developers planned for this, rather than implementing a better camera system, they included floating on screen movement controls. You can place your finger on the screen and move it like you were using a controller thumb pad. This allows you to move your hero where ever is needed, if they can move there (as shown by the highlighted area).

The Alchemist Code

Every time you open The Alchemist Code, you must verify you are over the age of 13 to play. I am not sure why there is that age check every time, but it is there. It is annoying but not bad enough to say forget this game.

Also, very often, like almost between every level, and most menu selections, there is a loading screen of some sort (or an extremely long pause as you look at a mostly blank screen). I understand the need to enable anti-piracy protection but sometimes companies go overboard.

The Alchemist Code

Also, the preview video for The Alchemist Code on Google Play is a little misleading – when attacking, or being attacked, the camera does not zoom in or anything. It does move to feature the combatants involved though. I just wanted to point that out before fans start asking how to enable the zooming and such. It is not there, they are using camera tricks to make their game look more appealing. Such a shame though, as the game is quite fun and interesting without the preview video tricks.

As mentioned already, loading can be an issue. I guess they are having the game check with an Internet server regularly so that pirates cannot run over fans that are legitimately playing the game. The problem is, this slows down the actual players and cuts into time available to enjoy the game. My day job affords me two 15-minute breaks for instance – not much time to play when most of it is spent staring at a loading screen of some sort.

The menu system could be a little better. Right now, to check on units to upgrade, level up, etc. you must click on “Menu” in the upper right corner, then units. Not exactly intuitive to say the least. There are a lot of trivial things like that which will annoy you but eventually after playing the game enough you get used to it and figure things out, almost second nature.

The Alchemist Code

The Alchemist Code is not perfect, but it certainly is a lot of fun. I have yet to spend a penny on it and have been enjoying it quite a bit. There are not a lot of these style games available on mobile platforms. Thankfully, The Alchemist Code is one of the better of the genre, not just on mobile.

Fans of turn based strategy role-playing games will be right at home with The Alchemist Code. It is a great title to play, the In-App Purchases are not intrusive at all, and once you get used to the menu system there are few detractions to be made.

The Alchemist Code by Gumi Inc
Platform: Android (Ascend XT used for review) and iTunes
Genre: Turn Based Strategy Role-Playing Game
In App Purchases: Yes, not intrusive as the loading is
Rated: T for Teen 12+ on iTunes
Available now on Google Play and the iTunes App Store.

Carl is a portable gamer (mainly PSP and Android) currently getting his butt handed to him in MIniclip’s Beast Quest on Android. Got a cool tip or inquiry about Gaming on Batteries? Contact Carl and he will be in touch ASAP.

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