There's a bit of a rumpus over Gameloft's decision to turn the newest instalment of its Dungeon Hunter fantasy series into a freemium wave-based battler.
Narrative drive has been abandoned, and dungeon-crawling replaced with a micro-Horde mode that sees you fighting ever tougher waves of creatures. This, in the eyes of many, is a travesty, and has resulted in a spate of bad reviews.
It's an interesting argument, and one we're likely to see more often as the move to freemium continues unabated in the mobile world. But has the shift into a different business model actually harmed the core Dungeon Hunter experience?
No. Not really.
The hunter becomes the horder
The game casts you as a musclebound hero, out to rid the world of nefarious creatures. There's a bit of story, and then you're walked through the game mechanics.
In brief, those mechanics are: kill everything as quickly as you possibly can. You choose from one of four classes of brawler, all of which are drawn from the big bank of fantasy archetypes.
You can be a huge, brutish thug who hits things; a ranged specialist who fires out volleys of arrows; a mage who throws out spells and gets clobbered when anything gets too close; or a rogue who deals crazy amounts of damage, but is prone to getting severely beaten.
Combat is as screen-mashing as it ever was, and lacks any real finesse. This absence of depth is especially obvious in the boss battles that always make up the last wave of a level. They involve spamming your special attacks, swigging potions, and trying to kill the giant bad guy before you drop dead yourself.
The creatures you'll fight are just as clichéd as the avatar in whose shoes you stomp around. There are goblins, dragons, wolf people, armoured archers, and annoyingly bloodthirsty crows. All of them are dispatched with a few swings of whichever weapon you're carrying.
Killing and surviving get you XP and cash. XP unlocks different pieces of armour and hardware in the shop, and you can spend cash to buy it.
You have to have a key to get your reward at the end of each level. These regenerate every 20 minutes if you have fewer than five, or you can buy them with real cash money from your life.
Game of moans
There's a simple joy in smashing the heads of a group of creatures until they fall over and spew out gold, and Dungeon Hunter 3 captures that just as well as its forebears did.
The move to freemium was always going to upset people, and it exposes some of the frailties of the underlying game in a way a premium release wouldn't. The repetitive nature of the combat grates a little more when you're not collecting loot from every slain foe, and the arenas you fight in are often reused.
But it's not the colossal misstep that some seem to think. Dungeon Hunter 3 is a fun, sword-and-sorcery slasher that you needn't spend a single penny extra to enjoy.