You can’t judge an iOS game by its cover, and that’s no more apparent than with the new game Faif. It looks extremely promising at first glance with a polished art style accenting a puzzle RPG mash-up. The game offers a relatively unique mechanic as you battle your way through as many opponents as you can by making matches. Rather than a simple match three, you actually select five adjoining tiles that can either be swords, skulls, hearts, or gems. After you select five connected tiles, there’s a random spinner that selects just one of those five tiles. You only have a control of what the spinner chooses from, but you never know the outcome.
There are subtle strategy elements as you try to put the odds in your favor as you battle each enemy. Matching five swords does you no good, and instead you need to include a risk factor to build up the damage potential. Each skull counts as one potential attack point to go with your words, but if the random spinner lands on a skull, then you take the damage. The goal is to balance your strategy to maximize attack, while reducing risk, all the while focusing on maintaining your health, while depleting the opponent’s. The matching mechanics are never a challenge, as the board is pretty plentiful with potential combinations, and then it’s just a matter of deciding which match is the best for the current situation.
The main problem with Faif is the pure randomness that it is governed by. Almost all the skill of the game is thrown out the window, since even the best laid plans can go up in smoke with the wrong spinner result. You can set-up great attack potential, but it seems that the game works against you more often than not. All the enjoyment is zapped out of the game when you make a change of three swords, and two skulls twice in a row to try to do double damage to an opponent, only to end up committing suicide with a double skull result. If that wasn’t problem enough the game includes all kinds of battles, but you end up starting out at the very beginning each time, and then battling thorough the same series of opponents. Each opponent has their own strategy, and stats, but they’re identically laid out, each time you play. The randomness, combined with the repetitive endless structure, just doesn’t make for enjoyment.
Faif ($1.99, Universal) looks great on the surface, but comes extremely short on execution making it one to skip.