Pantheon the Legends
The first session with RedAtoms’ Pantheon the Legends left me bewildered. Subsequently, the second time had the same effect. It was when pondering upon what had just occurred that my own question was answered: yes, this is the whole game. Pantheon combines two dangerous addictions – gambling and the ‘social’ website Facebook – together into an apparent game with in-app purchases.
To better describe the bewilderment it left me with let’s start at the beginning. You’re first given the choice of several cards to choose from, each one a different hero that’ll form the base of your army deck. Phobos was chosen and a tutorial began to explain some of the basics. Selecting Quest takes you into the campaign, and that word is used loosely, where the gambling element comes in.
Whilst nothing can be lost, progression is made by tapping the ‘Go!’ button. This then brings up a wheel that’ll randomly stop on treasure, XP, coins, or snoozing. The wheel stops, you get your prize, and that’s it. After about twenty spins of the wheel a boss is encountered. A basic versus screen flashes up, depicting your hero against the enemy, and then it cuts to a victory screen stating what prizes you’ve won.
“In-app purchases”And onto the next the next chapter; where you once again have the exciting opportunity to spin the wheel some more. The twist being that each spin of the wheel reduces your stamina. Your stamina replenishes over real time, or alternatively, you can make an IAP preference is to abbreviate of gold to buy potions which replenish it. Logging in every day lets you pick from nine jumbled cards, which gifts more coins, XP or a similar bonus.
There are also special deals involving goalposts, which if achieved by certain times will give you offers – purchasable with gold – on new cards. God forbid should a younger audience become addicted to this. Imagine Pokémon where you have to pay to continue playing or wait several hours every few battles.
The battles here are much less exciting though. You pick the piece of treasure you want, collecting them all builds an item, and then select a player to battle for that item. Picking a player below your level guarantees victory. Combat flashes up the vs screen and then cuts directly to the outcome. No tactics. No animation. No change to the musical score. Here, attacking reduces your spirit meter. Once depleted you can pay for this to refill or wait for time to pass.
“Rather dubious”And that’s it. Without spending real money, time will be spent burning stamina in Quest by spinning a prize wheel, and then burning spirit, both virtually and mentally, attempting to obtain pieces of treasure in battle. Pantheon fronts that there’s more to this then instant gratification and a rather dubious use of psychological addiction. It does so through allowing you to build an army.
This army is constructed of the best cards in your deck. Items that have been constructed can then be added to your heroes to boost them, though in practice this makes no tactical difference. The one interesting idea is that cards can be sacrificed to enhance others. Levelling up Phobos required the sacrifice of weaker cards, though the reality is that the majority of cards gained are of no use outside of being sacrificed.
Upon booting up the app for the second time it wouldn’t allow progress without registering my email address. Doing so, which wouldn’t have happened if not for review purposes, gave me an in-game bonus. Linking a Facebook account would have then done the same. An inbox contained new messages for me showing that random people had sent me friend requests. The purpose of which was lost on me. Pantheon is not a game: it’s an experiment on the addiction of instant gratification combined with in-app purchases that grant rewards.