Taking a clearly mobile game and bringing it to the PC can be a dangerous journey. Mobile games, most anyway, are meant to be played in short bursts and cater to a casual audience. PC games vary in audience and purpose but I’d venture to say that there are more in-depth titles for the PC than on iOS or Android devices. That’s why seeing Nimble Quest on Steam for $4.99 intrigued me. I knew the game from when I downloaded it on my iPod and was curious as to why it was on PC. Imagine the classic game of Snake, yes the one you played on your Nokia phone, re-envisioned to be a mix of that classic formula with added fantasy RPG elements. That, in a nutshell, is Nimble Quest. It works well on the mobile platform but can it stand the rigors of a PC environment?
In Nimble Quest you select a hero, the head of your heroic conga line, and set off on a murderous adventure. For all intents and purposes the main gameplay of Nimble Quest is Snake-like. You'll use the arrow keys to direct the head of your line as you try to navigate the sea of enemies while not bumping into your own line. Doing so eliminates whomever you bumped into and if you bump into an enemy as the head of the line, it’s game over. As levels progress you gain new people for your line of heroes. These extra people are the heroes you didn’t choose at the start of the game. What changes the formula of Nimble Quest, and saves it from not being just another Snake clone, is that each hero has their own way of attacking enemies.
Most heroes fall into the ranged or melee categories. From there it branches off into how each hero attacks an enemy, via an arch or straight forward attack, along with other differentiators like area of effect and so on. This makes having a long line of heroes particularly fun as each hero attacks in their own way within the chain. Soon enough I became a conga line of death.
The depth and diversity in the hero selection is surprisingly deep and allows each playthrough to feel different than the last, should you choose to switch characters often. Of course, switching characters can be a detriment as you gain gems during each level, gems you use to level up your characters. I got to the point where I had one high level character and not choosing him made the game feel much harder and less fun to play. I inadvertently backed myself into a corner with one good character and trying to grind out another would have taken far too long.
Timing and pacing are my biggest complaints about Nimble Quest. Each level in the game feels fast and frantic as you dash around the square-shaped level dodging enemies, battling baddies, and collecting gems. At first I felt great picking up the game’s controls, unlocking new heroes, and upgrading my existing favorites. Then I hit a roadblock, the gems weren’t being collected fast enough to level up characters and I just couldn’t get past one particular level. Every time I selected a character I’d see the others I could unlock, though knowing I’d never get to them if I couldn’t beat this one miserable level. I eventually found my way past it but the jump in gems required to level up your characters from level two to level three, their highest level, is just silly. At times I felt as though, since it’s a mobile port, a screen would pop up and ask me for $5 in order to level up my character or buy extra gems. Thankfully that never happened.
If the leveling has you down you can always look to Nimble Quest’s graphics and soundtrack to pick you up. While enemies aren’t varied much throughout the game they are fun to look at, as are the areas in which you do battle. From forests to castles to the depths of hell, everything in Nimble Quest feels bright and cheerful, even the skeletons vying for your soul. The soundtrack had me hooked from the very first forest level and it only got more fun as I moved into more intense areas. Leveling up characters also benefits you with a character appearance change which was something I probably got too giddy about.
Nimble Quest feels like it’s meant to be consumed in bite-sized pieces. No doubt this comes from the game’s mobile pedigree but having that feeling be the same on the PC with the problems of pacing and timing means that the game has a unique issue. At times I felt like I wanted to stop playing or walk away because, if it were a mobile game, that’d be a normal response. I don’t typically play mobile games for hours on end in one sitting but while playing Nimble Quest on my PC I felt like I should keep playing and yet the game was giving me nothing as an incentive to push on. That type of push and pull is an odd feeling to have when playing any game.
Nimble Quest’s gameplay is simple, the look and sound of the game is upbeat and fun, and for a short time it feels refreshing and nostalgic all at once. The Snake formula Nimble Quest builds on is one that just about any gamer can get into and the game wisely adapts the formula to make it feel revitalized and not rehashed. What dragged me down was the wall I hit about 4 or 5 hours into playing through the game. I think that wall would be better hidden on a mobile platform but on the PC it just feels odd and poorly designed. If you’re looking for a fun few hours of casual gameplay I can honestly recommend Nimble Quest without hesitation, just don’t expect to beat the game as fast as you think you will. Hitting that wall can be a major bummer.