Moji Quest is something of an odd duck, the first real RPG to take advantage of the new iOS in-message app feature, it’s visual style and sense of party-based fun will either be embraced or shunned by players in equal measures.
Before you read the review below stop and thing on this simple fact. Do you own an iPhone? Do your friends ALSO own an iPhone? Because if the answer is no in this Android/Windows/Apple phone environment we live in today then you may struggle to enjoy this game because you won’t be able to form a full party and get a decent game going. Perhaps this game would have benefited by the technology that runs it (in-message apps) being invented three or four years ago then almost everyone was rocking an iPhone?
Graphically the game uses a style reminiscent of older flash-style games but with a higher level of visual polish. Centred around the theme of emojis, the player takes on the role of a simple smiley face which is differentiated from his peers by a plethora of hats and other items and can be joined by a group of similar faces controlled by and representing your friends. Monsters are other more random emoticons and representations of animals in a vivid, colourful style that makes everything appear like a sticker album in effect. Whilst largely made up of static 2D characters on 2D backgrounds, animations overlaid for attacking help to bring the game to life. Menus are large, chunky and easy to use one-handed whilst multitasking and the interface is pleasing to the eye whilst simple to understand.
In terms of sound and music Moji Quest is something of an odd duck because of the way in which its been implemented as an iMessages game. This means that for the most-part people will play the game with sound muted, or won’t be wanting to hear noise from their phone at all. Perhaps because of this there’s no music at all and only sound effects when the player takes a direct action, such as when opening a chest from the main app or collecting a coin.
Sadly there’s no hint of a story here, it’s more of a social/party game in presentation and flavour than a fully realised world to explore and that means there’s no optional lore to dig into nor plot to enjoy. This makes sense in context, especially given the games silly trappings, but does damage it when judging the overall package.
Gameplay is where this is an interesting title, basically taking the traditional turn-based combat of early RPGs and cramming it into a communal chat thread. Played on two fronts, the app itself is essentially an inventory that allows you to open a daily chest for a stack of small items, each of which can be upgraded with the games coin currency when totals are reached and the opportunity to watch a video to get premium currency free to buy extra chests with. You can of course pay real money for both but honestly the game is generous with its freemium elements. It’s essentially a management app for the main game, which is played by opening a text message with a friend and selecting the app from the new in-message option on iOS. From here you activate the game and select one of several different difficulties of quest, which take the form of a series of battles against multiple enemies. Traditional turn based to its core, you select an action that’s linked to one of your list of items and perform the action for the turn, the game is then texted to a friend who acts and responds, joining the team. In this manner a large party can blow through early quests and build towards taking on bigger challenges. Players have cool-down times to prevent them spamming turns and this goes a long way to making the game fair for groups. It’s basic in format, but surprisingly fun when a few people play together.
The game falls down a little in its implementation on iOS exclusively, but hopefully a cross-gaming option with Android or Windows phones will open up in a future update that will greatly expand the list of friends who can play. It’s a silly, shallow experience but it’s also free and good for an evening’s worth of fun before moving on to a more meaty gaming experience. Ultimately however there’s just not much here.