Vita’s first MOBA is a basic affair with a fun – if simple – gameplay loop, that is let down by a severe lack of content.
World-building & Story
Set in a high fantasy world full of orc warriors; elven wizards and fantastical beasts, Invokers Tournament casts you as an invoker – a warrior-mage capable of transforming into avatars of powerful creatures through the use of magical rings. These are used to take part in battles in the City of Anundabar with the aim of obtaining fame and glory through victory. It’s very familiar territory if you’ve seen games with this kind of setting before.
That said, the game features barely any story aside from establishing the world – aside from a handful of quests everything in is merely online battles. While this is understandable given the title’s genre as a free-to-play online MOBA, it’s a little disappointing the developers didn’t do more with the world. There was the potential to do some interesting things with the weird and uniquely designed characters here, but sadly all we get is a minor description in their avatar profile leaving the rest to your imagination.
Presentation & Sound
Featuring some fantastic fantasy design in the artwork, the in-game graphics of Invokers Tournament don’t live up to that promise, but that’s not to say it isn’t a decent looking game – just very formulaic.
The art and character design is frankly great, with each character looking unique and intetesting, even if they often fall back on genre tropes. For example, Spinna with her menacing glowing eyes and the power to summon spiders is a stark contrast to the likes of Krurk, a lumbering golem with the ability to breathe fire. The variety is great, and it’s fun getting to recognise each one and learn what they can do.
Unfortunately once you’re playing the models are less impressive. The game is presented from an isometric perspective like a Diablo-esque dungeon crawler which works very well, but everything is very basic 3D with blocky shapes and simple design. Characters are rather stiff while moving, while enemies seem to jerk around somewhat. Still, the special effects are all decent, meaning spells and explosions look fairly impressive when they’re happening.
Environments are sadly quite dull, with only a small selection of ground types and objects which are repeated over and over. All the foundations are there, but areas feel quite sparse and sterile when you’re exploring them and crucially there just isn’t enough variety in what’s available here, meaning repetition can set in quickly.
Sound, however, is decent – although music lets things down with a complete lack of background themes available. Thankfully everything else ranging from the announcer’s voice (clear and very easy to understand) to the grunts of the avatars and distinct noises of their spells is very fitting and well-handled.
Gameplay & Content
As one of the only multiplayer-online-battle-arena (i.e. MOBA) games available on Vita, Invokers Tournament fills a niche that’s otherwise untapped. The game itself is a stripped-down version of the genre but all the basics are there for an enjoyable time – yet content severely lets it down.
You’ll spend your time as the aforementioned invoker, taking part in a combat tournament against other players. The character is easy to control, able to move freely and attack; as well as cast spells and dodge attacks which are tied to a meter which must fill over time. By attacking other players; NPC’s or enemy structures, as well as drinking potions or finding collectable items, you’ll fill a second meter that will let you instantly transform into one of your much more powerful avatars, which is the focus of the game.
These avatars are capable of stronger attacks and have access to three special moves, which range from healing circles to ground slams to summoning allies. You’re free to switch in and out of your avatar form once you have enough meter, but continual use of one will slowly drain the gauge meaning you’ll have to think tactically about when to use it – leading to interesting strategies like quickly popping into Dehra’s form to cast a healing circle on an ally before going elsewhere as your invoker.
You’ll have access to four missions from the start of the game to teach you the basics, but that’s it for single player content – the rest of your time will be spent in multiplayer battles. There are two types available – ‘Sanctuary’ is your basic control points mode, where two teams of three battle to capture nodes and hold them in order to gain points; but the far more interesting mode is ‘The Jungle of Orth’ which is based on more traditional MOBA mechanics.
In this, two teams of three compete again, but this time it’s to destroy the opposing team’s base. Each base is defended by a number of towers which must first be destroyed, meaning it’s often a battle of attrition to slowly wear down your opposition. The middle of the map has a number of statues which can be destroyed to summon minions; and there’s also a tome which occasionally spawns to grant a significant damage boost. This means matches are often mad dash to the middle to gain the tome and destroy the statues, but it’s the chaotic battle that ensues which is the source of most of the game’s fun.
Unfortunately combat is rather floaty, for lack of a better word. Spells don’t lock on, just firing in a straight line in front of your character; hit boxes are often smaller than they appear and there’s just a general lack of certainty about some of your moves. With that said, once you have an arena full of avatars and you learn which ones are better against others, the combat worries get left behind as you think up strategies to win the match. I certainly felt a great sense of accomplishment as I healed a minion through a tower’s attack and destroyed it so we could progress towards the base. The fighting isn’t perfect, but it works.
What doesn’t work is content. Those two modes I mentioned before is literally all Invokers Tournament has to offer – and they each only have one map available. Although I did have a lot of fun running Jungle of Orth during my time playing, I’d grown a little sick of it by the end and yearned for more variety – the game seemed perfect for free updates to keep the multiplayer community alive, but sadly this wasn’t to be.
There are still regular tournaments to take part in that track your experience gained over a set period and compare this to other players, but it’s not enough to keep the game feeling fresh. Even mixing things up with the different invokers and having levelling and equipment systems doesn’t help when the arenas they’re fighting in are always the same; meaning ultimately the game has a solid enough gameplay core that gets tedious far too quickly.
As a free-to-play title, it was expected that Invokers Tournament would have a lot of DLC. Thankfully, there’s not anything particularly critical here as avatars and gear are bought with in-game currency – which unfortunately is difficult to stockpile, meaning you migjt be tempted by one of the gold packs which start at £4 for 7,000 gold. This will buy you a couple of rings, but is expensive for what you get and not really worth considering.
You can also buy gear for around £5 or cosmetic items for around £2, but again this pretty pricey. The only DLC I’d really consider is a month’s subscription if you’re serious about playing – for £2.50 you get double XP for the duration of the month as well as a permanent increase to your inventory size which came in very, very handy once you start stockpiling consumable items.
Stormbasic have crafted a confident MOBA that offers nothing new or exciting, but does what it aims to do well enough and can be fun. At times things do feel a little too simple, but what really lets the game down is a complete lack of content – something that hasn’t been improved at all since release. As such, you’ll get some initial enjoyment out of Invokers Tournament but don’t expect any lasting fun, which kind of defeats the point of a multiplayer-centric title such as this.