Eldrador Creatures (Switch) Review: The Worst Strategy Game Ever?
At first glance, Eldrador Creatureslooks like a dime-a-dozen mobile game… Unfortunately it plays that way too. To say that I was disappointed with this game would be an understatement, and quite frankly it barely deserves to be called a strategy game, as it requires next to nothing in the realm of tactical thinking. Still, there’s plenty to be said about Eldrador Creatures, and the mind-numbing experience of playing it, so let’s delve into it!
Table of Contents
So, the basic premise of Eldrador Creatures is that there are 4 different regions all competing to try and take possession of the ‘super weapon’. There’s actually a pretty decent cut-scene at the start that showcases the leaders of the 4 regions, and explains a bit about the history of their battles. One thing I did really like was that the cut-scenes have a voiceover which I always feel makes scenes so much more enjoyable and immersive than when it’s just captions on the screen that the player has to read. Unfortunately, that opening cut-scene was the only time in the whole playing experience where I felt that this might actually be an enjoyable game, and it went gravely downhill after that.
You’re asked to choose which side you want to join, out of the options of lava, ice, stone, and jungle. Naturally, I chose lava, because fire is cool, and I liked the flaming lion design of the region leader. I’m incredibly confident that regardless of which side you choose, the gameplay would be equally dull. You then select a level (I say ‘select’, it’s strictly linear and you can only ever go to one new level), and spawn in. Eldrador Creatures has a strong focus on the creatures, believe it or not, and so once they give you a new one, that character is locked in for the foreseeable future. You cannot have more than one of the same creature on the board, and when you unlock a new one, they give you an extra creature slot so that you have to play with it. This is tiresome because when you start with a creature, you do not have the active skill or passive skill, so you have just two choices – attack and move.
The combat is turn based, and so Eldrador Creatures has your creatures and the enemy’s creatures make their moves in turn until one side is completely wiped out. The game is ridiculously easy and so the side that gets wiped out will always be the enemy side, but more on that later.
The combat stays the same throughout, and every single level has the exact same premise. Every. Single. Level.
So for a game where combat is literally the only purpose of each level, you’d expect it to be detailed and varied, right? Wrong. Attacks deal two damage each time. Doesn’t matter which character you use, doesn’t matter whether you’re on level one or level twenty, attacks will deal two damage. Creatures typically have three health, and so will die after two hits, how exciting… But wait! If you play for long enough, you unlock new creatures that have four health! Of course, seeing as attacks deal a flat two damage, the extra health makes no difference at all. I guess the developers didn’t really think that one through.
You can attack an enemy when you’re stood one square away from them (the maps are split into squares), so in your turn you have to try and move close enough to an enemy to hit them. You can attack across a diagonal, but you can’t move diagonally, so, if there was an obstacle in your way then you’d have to break that first before you could move to the diagonal square. From the loading screens, I believe you unlock ranged attacks at some point later in the game, but I never got that far. After playing the first two excruciatingly boring regions, and realising with horror that the third region was just as bad, I had to quit for my own sanity. The combat in this is just way too basic to be any fun at all.
As well as attacks, Eldrador Creatures also uses mechanics called ‘skills’. When you use a creature enough, it unlocks a skill, which would be more interesting if you could unlock multiple skills per creature, but you can’t. Each creature has exactly one skill, which can be used instead of an attack during your turn. These skills aren’t totally terrible, and can be useful in conjunction with other plays, but my main issue, again, is that they’re too simplistic. For the lava side, some examples of skills were: preparing an attack for if an enemy got close to you, creating a doppelganger to fool the enemy, and shielding against damage you take that turn.
The problem with the skills is that they have limited usefulness, and don’t add enough variety to make up for the ridiculously basic combat. They have a cooldown once used, although the cooldown only activates if you end up using the skill, so with the lava golem you could prepare an attack every round, and it’d only get used if an enemy actually came within range. Skills are good as an alternative to direct attacks, but as you only have one per character, it’s not enough. There is still only a grand total of 3 things you can do in your turn. It’s supposed to be a strategy game, and yet you can only move a finite number of spaces, and then either attack if you’re next to an enemy, or prepare a skill if you’re not. There’s no real strategy involved.
Mini creatures are another feature in Eldrador Creatures, and they work as a buff for your team. They are also the only part of the game that requires any critical thought, and even then it’s limited. Mini creatures are earned through packs that you get rewarded with when you complete a level. At first, I got excited when I saw the virtual pack being ripped open as I love collectibles in games. However, that excitement quickly withered when I realised there were only 6 possible mini creatures available.
Each offers either a boost to your creatures, or a de-buff to an enemy creature. So they can do things like deal damage, shield against an attack, weaken an enemy, allow you to move additional spaces, or strengthen a creature. However, as I’m sure you’ve realised, some of the boosts do essentially the same thing. So you could raise your creature’s strength or deal damage to an opponent, and the effect would be the same. Much as I’m grateful that there’s at least some variety here, there’s still not enough to make Eldrador Creatures interesting.
Mini creatures can only be used at the end of a turn (the full cycle of all ally and enemy creatures). They can also only be used once, so theoretically you’d have to use them wisely. However, most battles are so easy to win that you don’t ever need any buffs, and so by the time there’s any increase in difficulty, you’ve already accumulated a wealth of mini creatures, and can be cavalier with your usage. When it’s time to use the mini creature, you can cycle through the different types you’ve collected, and select which one you want to use. You do have to plan ahead to figure out what will be the most useful throughout the next turn, so that’s the one part of this game that requires any real strategy, and even then, it’s not that hard to decide.
Aside from the basic terrain, there are a few different mechanics that can appear within the maps. I’m not sure if you encounter even more features in the third region and onwards, because after two excruciating hours, I was beyond caring. The ones I did discover are as follows:
These are blockades that appear on squares within the map, and need to be broken before you can progress. To do so, your creature needs to stand next to the obstacle and attack it. Each obstacle will be destroyed with just one hit, so it’s more of a chore to destroy them than anything else, especially as you sometimes come across several in a row. Their only real purpose is to slow down gameplay, although occasionally it can mean our creatures take damage if an enemy is waiting on the other side.
I’m not sure if they have an official name, but this is what I call them. They’re green and purple swirls that sit on certain squares within the map, and your creatures take damage if they touch them. At the end of each turn, they move to one of their adjacent squares, in a direction that seems to be random. Pretty easy to avoid, but they’re equally deadly to enemies, so can deal some extra damage if you’re lucky.
These are activated by buttons that your creatures can stand on. Essentially, the button will either lower a barrier that was blocking your creature, or you can put up a barrier to inhibit an enemy. You can see which gateway the button is linked to by following the purple line that comes from the button. Sometimes the button will create a pathway instead of lowering a barrier, but the purpose is always the same.
These are rickety formations that cross chasms between two different sides of the map. They can only be used once or twice, and may break once your creature crosses it. However, they always break at the exact point necessary for progression, and so they never cause an issue. The bridges and chasms could just not exist, and the gameplay would be identical.
Again, these are activated by buttons. Spikes appear on either one square, or across a patch of squares, and are harmless at first, but cause damage if the button is pressed while a creature is still stood on it. They only cause one damage, but it can be mildly useful if the button is in a convenient place. There’s no point in going out of your way to activate them, though. Enemies never stand on buttons, so there’s no risk of letting your creature stand on spikes.
Visuals And Audio
Perhaps the only part of this game that I don’t hate is the audio-visual aspect. The music sounds exciting and somewhat medieval, exactly what you’d expect for a game of this genre. Picture any strategy based mobile game you’ve ever played, and that’s the music in this game. However, clichéd as it is, the music does still fit well, and so whilst it’s not winning any awards, I don’t have any negativity towards it either.
The graphics in Eldrador Creatures are pretty decent. They’re incredibly basic, every level using the same few assets just rearranged, but they’re pleasant nonetheless. Each region has a new theme, and the graphics reflect this. So in the Lava World, everything was red and fiery, in the Jungle World the ground was overgrown, and in the Stone World… Well, it looked like it was made of stone. They didn’t push themselves to create a visual masterpiece, but I don’t have any complaints.
The loading screens are minimalist yet effective, depicting a background of mini silhouettes of the creatures, with a tip for the game written in the centre. I’d actually go as far as to say that I love the font they use, it’s elegant and sleek, and I just wish the rest of the game was worthy of the font. Another fun thing about the loading screen, and I’m not sure if it’s deliberate, but it creates a Magic Eye effect if you zone out whilst looking at it. I know this because I was so bored that I completely lost my focus for a while when playing it. They are sometimes silent though, which I don’t like, as I think music during a loading screen is a must to hold a player’s attention.
When looking into the game, I realised that Eldrador Creatures was already a franchise that existed before the video game. It was a series of toys made by esteemed manufacturer Schleich. When I discovered this, the game made so much more sense to me. I had been very confused why a videogame company would go to the effort of planning a storyline, creating decent visual assets, and hiring voiceover artists only to end up with such an awful example of a strategy game. It was especially weird that it had been released for console and PC, given that everything about Eldrador Creatures screams mobile game. And yet when I saw that they were a toy range, everything clicked into place. Of course this game is bad, it doesn’t need to be good. It just needs to sell toys, or to be bought by people who already are fans of the toys. It’s not designed to be enjoyed on its own merit, and in my opinion, it was probably never intended to be. I expect that the developers know full well that the game is bad, but they just don’t care because it doesn’t need to be good. It just needs to exist and have the Eldrador Creatures name slapped on it.
In conclusion, to say this game is bad would be an understatement. The very worst thing for me is how unnecessarily slow it is. When you move a creature, your creature will walk very slowly to the new square. When you attack/ use a skill, you have to watch the entire animation without skipping it, which takes several seconds every time. And the animation is identical every time, so you’re just wasting time consuming the exact same content. I spent around two hours in total playing this game, and I feel like I only actually got about half an hour of actual gameplay. The rest was sitting around watching boring animations.
Is Eldrador Creatures the worst strategy game ever? I don’t know. Is it the worst strategy game that I have ever played? Yes. Without a doubt. It would possibly be less boring to a young child, but even then, they deserve better, and it’s certainly not worth the price tag that it has the audacity to slap on itself. Considering that I played just over half the game in two hours, I can’t imagine the full game taking anyone longer than five hours. Just download whichever free mobile game is trending at the moment, and call it a day. I would not recommend this game to anyone.
Summary:Go into combat together with your favourite Eldrador® Creatures in the Battle of the 4 Worlds and defeat the other factions so that you can call the powerful Superweapon your own and rule over Eldrador!
Platforms: Nintendo Switch(Review Version), PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows