Sunday, August 4, 2013

REVIEW - Nun Attack.

Nun Attack is a strategy-action RPG lite from Frima Studio - yet another Canadian indie to keep an eye on.  It launched on smartphones last year and came to the Vita in March of 2013.

The name was enough to pique my interest, but I didn't pick it up until a week or two ago, when I wanted to spend the last bit of what remained in my PSN wallet.  It's only three bucks - worth taking a shot on, right?

Disclosure : I have not beaten Nun Attack.

...but I probably will.  I'll probably keep noshing on it here and there throughout the Fall Rush because Nun Attack is freakin' cool.

It's a tale as old as time - five Nuns are doin' God's work until one of them falls from grace and turns to evil.  The other four... didn't - and so, take up arms to defeat their sister's minions, and ultimately the Fallen Nun herself.

Its heritage as a smartphone game is easily apparent - is has absolutely no button controls to speak of, but as it was designed for touchscreens from the get-go, this never feels inelegant, and the Vita's touch functions are perfectly capable of handling what the game requires - taps, drags and swipes.

Clockwise from left - Rosy the glass cannon, Olga the tank, Mandy the healer and Eva the damage dealer.

As an RPG (lite), it gently feeds our lust for characters that grow more powerful and capable through repeat use.  Each Nun fills a standard RPG role, and you can discover new weapons for each that offer a slew of tactical options (guns that slow or push enemies back, area-of-effect damage, et cetera), and each gun can be upgraded with the liberal application of gold, earned by simply playing the game, clearing areas and defeating foes.

At the onset, you can only field two of the four nuns at a time.  I favored Mandy and Eva at first, as Eva can deploy a spectral decoy-Nun to draw enemy fire and still lay down mad DPS while Mandy's cheerful prayer heals them both up.  As you move on and clear entire zones, more slots and options become available.

Soon you can field all four Nuns at once, which deepens the strategy and multiplies the nice variety of customization options available through the variety of firearms found, and the miracles you can purchase to completely turn the tide of battles (resurrection, enemy debuffs, et cetera).

Things get a little crazy as enemies drop in from all angles.  Demonic little debuffers only take one good shot, so having Mandy dash back and forth, hauling her big hand cannon behind her to pop each in turn with a series of heavy, decisive trigger-pulls is a great solution while Olga or Eva do light tanking on werewolves or chainsaw-wielding skeletal centurions.

It's a nice, light, cute strategy nosh.

If you keep all your Nuns in a tight group so Mandy can top them up with her area-of-effect healing cheer, you'll soon find you have trouble tapping the nun you want to give commands to next (tap and drag to the enemy you want them to shoot, tap and drag to tell them to move, and just tap and tap the lower-right corner of the screen to activate their special), and the best strategy is to keep them a bit spread out for easier selection.  That, and the general repetition of the challenges placed before you, are the only criticisms I could make of the game - but while it is repetitive (fight dudes, repeat), its presentation is so well-realized that it's a charming, entertaining repetition.

There are (at least) three zones, each consisting of around eight levels.  A level (above is a small one) has a few demonic banners to take down, perhaps a chest to unseal and is often populated with a few portals that must be eliminated with zippy screen-taps to deflect their projectiles back at them or otherwise destroy if you want to get the top score.

At each banner and the boss portal, you must eliminate all unholy threats with your adorable battle nuns.

Characters designs for your furious foursome and the enemies they lay righteous judgment upon are all sharp, clean and full of character, and animations are nice and expressive.  Backgrounds are equally crisp, and the music is an energetic, brass-heavy tribute to exploitation flicks of the 70s.

Nun Attack is a small, clever, consistently-fun exercise that offers strategy-action of a type and tone that's all its own.  I've put a half-dozen hours into it and probably touched less than a third of its content - and for three dollars, it's a divine deal.

Check it out.

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