More games on the app store should carry honest names. People might be wary of downloading the latest free-to-play title if it carried the name "Money-Sucking Clone No. 623".
Skilltree Saga is not a free to play game. And it rejoices in an entirely honest, if not very catchy, name.
You will fight monsters. You will loot their twitching corpses. You will earn experience and use it to buy a tree full of skills.
It's not quite so honest about its description. The game claims the fashionable roguelike title with little justification. There's no procedural generation and the only penalty for death is getting sent back to the village without your latest haul of items.
Originality is not its strong point. There are a lot of games like this around. Games that rely on the primal draw of killing stuff to get stuff to get better stuff in an eternal flywheel of monster murder.
It's a powerful motivator. I've sat and played games like this for hundreds of hours in my life. Skilltree Saga was fun enough to up the tally by a few more.
That's partly because it does have one small trick to make itself stand out from the crowd. Fighting in the game is a static affair where you and the monster trade blows over six rounds. You can assign one of your skills each round, or leave it blank.
A monster's attack pattern is predictable. Spiders, for example, always dodge on round 4. What you need to do is learn these attack patterns and assign your skills to compensate.
So the forest Mosquitoes open with a move that stops you using your skill. Either leave it blank, or assign blitz, a skill that ensures you always go first.
You can use this to chain skills together, too. Granite Fist lowers the target's defence on the following turn. So it's good to follow it up with something that delivers a single hard hit for maximum carnage. Frozen Shackles freezes the enemy for a few turns, so there's no need for you to use defensive skills right after.
It's enough to maintain interest in the game, but only just. There's almost nothing to it apart from an endless succession of these fights.
They're illustrated with decent graphics and backed with an evocative soundtrack and aural effects, but they do get repetitive after a while.
You get to choose which locations to explore, buy and sell gear for a bit of stat optimisation, and that's about it. There's no twitch elements and the boilerplate fantasy narrative is laughable.
Speaking of locations, we encountered a bug with the game that caused it to crash while trying to run the toughest dungeon. Hopefully that'll have a fix by the time you come to read this. Be sure to check there's an update if you're considering a purchase.
Assuming that gets done, Skilltree Saga earns itself a place in the solid but uninspiring hall of RPG fame. It's not outstanding, but fans of the genre looking for a casual game for cubicle play could do far worse.