No, this will not become an AP or Video Game review site, so don’t worry. I am reviewing the Pathfinder Adventures AP for the iPad because I write so much about Pathfinder Adventure Card Games. As regular readers know, I and my family LOVE Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I however am trying to even like Pathfinder Adventures by Obsidian Entertainment.
There is a lot to like, in theory. Pathfinder Adventures takes the card game and computerizes it. Sounds good, because there are times where I want to play Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, but I am not at home. Removing the buggy nature of the game, good example, both Barb and I had the game crash repeatedly during the tutorial necessitating repeating the entire tutorial until finally complete or that the game will crash during games (however, it does save often enough that progress is not lost like the tutorial) or that one game mode, Quest has only worked for me one time and then crashed before I started my first turn, there are other issues that bother me more.
When you purchase Rise of the Runelords base set you get seven characters, one mini-adventure (Lost Coast), and the first Adventure Deck Burnt Offerings for anywhere between 30 and 60 dollars, depending on where you purchase. For free, Pathfinder Adventures gives you two characters Kyra (Cleric) and Merisel (Thief) (funny story, AP just crashed as I tried to open it). To get additional characters you have to play where you earn gold for completing adventures and doing stuff in game. Unfortunately, the only adventures you can play are the three scenarios of Perils of the Lost Coast (three different difficulty levels) and Quest mode (remember, only opened once for me and then crashed). Gold is accumulated at a glacial pace, I have 500 now after several playthrus of the first three scenarios. New characters start out a 4-digits, yes 1,000+. If you would like new characters you can pay real money, $24.99 for the rest of the characters to unlock, and a season pass for all of the Adventure Decks for Rise of the Runelords.
That sounds like a good price and it may well be, but the gameplay and interface is where I am having issues. Everything is animated, which sounds and looks good, until you begin to wonder if all of the animations are part of the crashing problem and even necessary, as games take longer than I thought they would watching repeated animations and dice rolling. Not in hours, but just feels long. Swiping motions are a must, but the screen is clogged with touch symbols and more than once while swiping I have opened up another menu, almost banished a card, and other not-what-I-wanted effects of swiping.
Game play is similar to the card game, but different. Let me remove all of the “new” digital only cards which are variants on existing cards and while I read an article that said they were necessary for the AP, feel unnecessary and have me wondering how much longer until I see them in a Character Deck. “New” cards removed, Pathfinder Adventures did not play like the tabletop version, or at least didn’t feel the same. I wasn’t able to custom build a deck for my starting characters, meaning I had a lot of cards that I would not have used (crowbar anyone?) in both, which made the game way more difficult than any tabletop play through. Difficult enough that I stopped playing for a day because I was so frustrated. Die rolling is automatic, and maybe this is a me thing, but at times felt like it was on purpose, such as “electronically rolling” several ones in a row when the only way to fail was to roll a one.
On the plus side, there are some details that I would like to see incorporated into the tabletop game, the best being adjacent travel only. On a higher difficulty (where you can earn slightly more gold and things are way harder than they need to be with the resources your character has), moving from one location to another is limited to an adjacent location; unlike Pathfinder Adventure Card Game where characters can move to any location they want. There are some other minor things.
At the moment I don’t recommend Pathfinder Adventures, there are features such as pass-n-play and multiplayer that are not available yet. I do not enjoy the subscription model either. AP games are notoriously wonky (read about various crashes above) and support varies enough that I don’t want to pay just to find the game has been abandoned a few months from now. Further, because many features are behind the paywall (I guess I could grind the same scenarios and hope Quest mode works to earn gold to unlock in game instead of paying) and I am not overly impressed with what I have seen, I’m not sure I want to pay for more that might be as unimpressive. I will keep an eye on the game and hope that stability patches increase the amount of play time from half-to-one full scenario to hours of play and that the subscription model changes a bit or they open up Burnt Offerings as incentive for all players to see how a full Adventure Deck plays out. You know use Burnt Offerings as a loss leader (economics), to encourage people to pay for what you want them to pay for, just a suggestion.
On the other hand, find some friends and family members, purchase a tabletop copy of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and start having some social fun.