The rise of the ‘Tapper’ and its popularity remains something of a mystery to us here at MBU as long-time gamers, but its a genre of game that’s growing in popularity on mobile due to the casual nature of its requirements, endless run time and extreme simplicity that makes multitasking a breeze. Battleborn Tap attempts to fuse the essence of that with an RPG and the results are mixed.
As Tappers go, there’s a massive amount of production value in Battleborn Tap that makes this the equivalent of a AAA tapper. Lush graphics, sound design and a variety of mini systems are all in place to keep you interested but be warned, this type of game isn’t for everybody and past the initial hour it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve seen everything the genre has to offer. Those who are looking for deep narrative, complex game structure and lifespan are barking up entirely the wrong tree.
Graphically, the game uses a 2D animated style similar to that of a Cartoon Network show such as ‘Samurai Jack’, however this is used to reflect a slightly more adult world and tries to keep proportions and elements of the setting at a ‘less over the top’ level. A grim future scenario is depicted with elements of Anime inspired mech and enemy design in place, and this serves to make the game visually pop. Characters are small on-screen, leaving plenty of space at first but as you build a party the areas will quickly fill to use the space available, and backgrounds are lovingly drawn. Animation is the key component here because all of these tiny units are fluid in movement and have character and lives of their own that combines with the sound design on this title to elevate the experience past its shallow tapper origins.
On the subject of Sound Design, the music in this title is largely background pulses and synth tones to give a sense of atmosphere. Where it excels is in the mixture of clear, crisp sound effects for every action you make and the use of individual vocal performances for each and every character you employ onto your team. These will bark commands, make comments and mutter to themselves as the game goes on, keeping things feeling tense and the press of a never-ending battle feels more alive because of it.
Sadly there’s no narrative on offer here, with the game essentially starting and then going on indefinitely. It’s a shame, but within the confines of the way this game is built it would be extremely difficult to do more than drop an introduction video at the outset. In an ideal world there would be some kind of data-log that was updated as you hit certain way-points in the game (related to time played perhaps) that drip-fed details on the setting and your mission, but that kind of narrative structure would be at odds with the insta-play nature of tappers in general.
Gameplay is relatively simple and easy to understand. Monsters appear on the right hand side of the screen in waves of 10, each punctuated by a boss-like monster of some kind that acts as a living sponge for attacks. You tap the screen, dealing damage as you do so. The more you tap the more damage is dealt. Multiple enemies makes for multiple targets and it helps to prioritize the highest risk ones first. These waves never end, but every 10 waves of so a mega boss appears and once defeated will open up a new background to show that you’re travelling forward. Destroying monsters gets you shards that can be spent in various ways. The most obvious one of these is to upgrade you basic tap attack to deal more damage, and this is always a good idea, but you can also hire a Battleborn to help you. These automated characters each work according to their own rules and bring something different to the table, and can be leveled with shards to become more powerful or have a greater rate of fire. Battleborn also add an icon to the bottom of the screen that when tapped will trigger a special attack, which cools down over 10 minutes of real-time. Monsters occasionally drop special coins (which act as premium currency) with which packs of random gear can be purchased to equip to Battleborn and raise their stats, as well as items which deliver temporary boosts to damage, shard drop rate and greatly speeding up special move recovery time over short periods before vanishing. Obviously you can spend real money getting these coins, but the game throws them at you on/off through play when a hovering enemy scoots past at speed, encouraging you to nail it quickly, and watching videos allows for easy advertising and more free cash. Whilst the game is Freemium, I’ve not encountered any pay walls or incentives to purchase more coins than the game was dishing out. There’s also rewards for meeting targets the game sets which can pay out handsomely in this regard. Once you’ve got the game set up right you can log in and out at will and your Battleborn will have continued the fight in your absence, nabbing tons of shards to add to your pool and to spend on upgrades. This is a handy feature for those struggling in the early game but also an incentive to do other things. Additional battleborn are unlockable past the first 8 the game provides and a teasingly locked tap at the bottom of the screen promises some expansion room later.
Overall, Battleborn Tap is a game that’s high on production values and potential but low on depth. Billing itself as an RPG is fair given the way the title plays and the levelling/equipment systems on offer but it lacks a story framework and sometimes feels like an exercise in repetitive strain injury from all than scree-tapping. As a free title we recommend you check it out for yourself, but warn you that for all its simplicity this is a dangerously easy game to sink whole hours into if you’re bored.