Tynon Is Casual Complexity And Coolness
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Where did my evening go? That's probably a question many people will be asking themselves if they dare dip a toe into the new free-to-play world of Tynon.
Tynon seems to try and add in elements from a lot of casual online games, more so than I have ever seen before actually. Some online games that I have previously played like Warflow concentrate on the combat, while others like Stronghold Kingdoms were all about building up and tearing down castles. Tynon has elements of town building, map clearing strategy warfare, player versus player arenas, role-playing to level up your various characters, quest completion, a social element and even a bit of farming. What is most surprising to me is that everything works so well.
There is even a fairly detailed storyline. You play Rosealine, an archer knight who realizes that the king has come under the spell of his evil wizard advisor. However, before you can do anything about it, the wizard and the king make their escape and you have to go after them, fighting the armies the evil wizard puts in your way. You also have to build up a town to provide a base of operations for your armies and recruit and train heroes to fight at your side. It sounds like a lot, but there is an excellent tutorial that walks you slowly through everything so you won't ever get lost.
The entire game plays inside a browser. I used Explorer and had no trouble. It loaded quickly and then moving between the various screens and game elements was instantaneous.
The first thing you will probably notice is that Tynon is beautiful. All of the maps are obviously hand drawn, like those elaborate storybooks you probably remember from when you were a kid. You will lead Rosealine thought those maps, fighting groups of monsters that block your path.
I should mention the soundtrack too. Tynon is almost unique in this space in that it has one, something a lot of browser games skip over. The music is actually pretty nice and never got repetitive as I played, and of course all the rewards you earn pop with those happy sound effects you hear in Vegas, which I think are scientifically designed to stimulate the pleasure centers deep in your brain. Loot chimes, yea!
Combat is done by simply clicking on an enemy, whereupon the game takes over and does all the rolling behind the scenes. You are treated to a visual display of the battle, which is important later on when formations come into play. But players who are worried that they will have to learn combos and spells have nothing to fear. Combat is pretty straight forward.
That is not to say that there is no strategy involved. You have to level up your characters, which is done by putting them into your training hall. And you have to level up your equipment, which you earn along the way. Armor and swords can be made better once you have a forge in your town, which is probably the first time you will realize that all the elements of Tynon are linked.
Back to just the combat part of the game. Eventually you will be able to recruit multiple heroes into your group, and set them up along a three by three square grid. This is the one element where you have direct control over a combat. For example, I lost a fight to a boss because my heroes were lined up down the middle of the board from front to back. But the opponent had a guy who could put up a shield wall as his special ability in the middle, with the boss behind them and an archer off to one side. Special abilities work because you build up fury when you are attacked or when you attack. Once the yellow bar fills up, your character's special ability is activated. It works the same way for opponents. The bad guy in this case would get beat on by my crew, throw up his shield wall to block almost all damage, and sit there while the boss and the annoying archer plugged me.
What I did was simply shift my formation to the left so they were facing the archer instead. That way my crew could kill off the archer and prevent the guy with the shield from building up fury. With the archer gone, my frontline fighter got fury from attacking and being attacked three times, more than enough to activate his special stunning ability. Then he attacked and stunned the guy with the shield, and we killed him before he could activate. Then it was just a battle between my crew and the boss, but I still had three fighters so it was a much easier fight. So there is an example of an impossible battle made easy by a formation change, something I was happy to find really mattered in the game.
Back at the town, you will find that it is also quite beautiful. Your town is a very happy place, with people dancing, running around using the various buildings, and generally having everything bright and sunny. Town management is a lot of fun, and everything you do there supports your army. For example, one thing that you need to do is plant crops. Different crops take different times to mature, from five minutes to a whole day, and give different rewards. They all produce goods however, which are needed to heal up your armies after each battle. Other structures like the forge and training hall also support your troops, while some buildings like houses net you gold coins in rent which can be spent on anything. Having a healthy town can really help in battle, and I found myself spending more time in there than anywhere else. You can build out your town and decorate it however you like (decorations can generate more income for nearby buildings) so no two towns are the same.
For the social aspects of the game, you can visit other people's towns and do little tasks for them like collect their rent, which they can only do when they are online. Doing so generates good will, and they may just return the favor for you. Tynon encourages you to have a lot of friends, and tracks them in the main town window. You can also ask your friends for things you need, and be asked for help in return. Generally, the community seemed friendly, and everyone is encouraged to be that way with the generous rewards system.
Speaking of community, the developers of Tynon, uCool, are really supporting their players. Besides a generous rewards system, they have lots of events planned for players to compete in various aspects of the game, like who can be the best farmer or the greatest warrior. Again, the group you are competing against will all be at or close to your level, so everything is fair. There is a calendar you can click on to see all the events scheduled for the current month, which is a nice touch.
There is also player versus player combat in the arena, with you able to match steel with others who began the game at the same time as you, which means they are going to be close to your level. You can challenge players if they are online or not. Battles in the arena don't seem to affect anything but your reputation points, so if you are not into fighting other players, the PvP aspects are hardly a game-killer, though you might try it because once you get a taste for blood, well, you get the idea.
Of course Tynon is free to play, and of course we all know that doesn't really mean free anymore. Free to play games strongly encourage you to spend real money to do things like reduce cool-down timers, get more of the uber-currency or special one-of-a-kind doodads, or become a VIP with exclusive perks and advantages, and Tynon is no exception. However, I played the game for a fairly long time, almost twelve hours all together, and never was tempted to reach for my wallet. There were times when I was out of stamina so I couldn't fight anymore without spending gems, a currency type valued above mere gold pieces that you can of course buy for real cash. But I just fooled around in my town during those times, maxing out my tax revenue and planting miles of pristine farmland. I even bought a goat and some pretty trees to spruce the place up.
Now, if you want to spend some money on Tynon, it's not a bad investment. It won't make you a god in the game, but it might help you to move things along a bit faster than normal. And make no mistake, Tynon is a quality title. You would probably be willing to spend real money to buy the game if that were an option, so take some of that money you saved getting it for free and become a VIP, or fill your bank vault up with enough gems to support your army for months at a time. Doing so is actually pretty cheap, only a few dollars, and you will definitely be getting your money's worth.
Tynon packs lots of great casual game elements into one world from combat to RPGing to graphics and sound, empire building, community building and even has an actual story to follow. It could very well become king of the casual online games, and it earns an impressive 4.5 GiN Gems for its treasury from us.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.