Whoever next wears the king’s crown will henceforth be known as the new Combo King, unfortunately a fiendish dragon recently absconded with the Combo King’s important crown. Thus goes the premise to Tapinator’s recent Combo Quest (out now, free), a game of high-octane twitch-based precision-action that is positively guaranteed to see more than a few of your throwing your iDevices in rage. You’re basically tasked with playing an endless rogue-like version of the sliding-bar power-meter mini-game mechanic found in most golfing simulators, except this one has been pumped up to the eleventh degree.

Since the Combo King is one whom only ever concerns himself with endless combat, and looking really good along the way, the only controls you’ll need to learn here involve endless monster slaying. Tapping the screen whenever your sliding bar is over a yellow square will cause you to hit your enemy, with extra damage being done if you tap the screen while over an extra-tiny special green block. You best be careful as you do this — however — for tapping when you’re not over any square will instead cause your opponent to immediately strike you, in the process resetting your valuable combo gauge.

screen480x480Your combo gauge will go up with each successive hit you complete in a row, and will become useful whenever your current combo-chain is sitting at five or more consecutive strikes. Beyond making your sword temporarily burn with energy, you can put this power to even greater use by tapping this meter in order to unleash a devastating meteor assault upon your foe. The amount of damage caused by this attack will both be based on how large your combo-chain was before being unloaded, as well as upon the current level of your combo-attack stat.

You’ll be given a chance to raise your stats after each battle has ended, wherein you’ll choose from one of the following (of which three will be available): Minimum Damage, Maximum Damage, Maximum Health, Restore Health, and Combo-Attack Damage. You’ll have to wisely choose which one of your stats to increase — or if you opt for a full-health restore instead — since each enemy you encounter will be stronger than the one prior, with ludicrously powerful boss monsters appearing during every tenth encounter. One feature I really liked with the upgrade system — by the way — was how each Mix/Max-Damage upgrade made your weapon look more impressive, while each Max-Health upgrade made your armor look more impressive.

Now you might be wondering why you’d be needing to worry about not over-using health restores when I’ve thus far only mentioned that you can take damage by flubbing an attack, but — you see — the enemies will also be actively attacking back all on their own. Special red squares will sometimes appear on the sliding gauge’s right-hand side, and then begin marching forward — unless you successfully tap them into oblivion — for the bar’s left-hand side. Your knight will naturally be injured — in the process resetting your combo gauge — should you ever let any of these red squares through, and yet successfully stopping them all is sometimes far easier said than done.

screen480x480 (1)Further complicating the matter of stopping enemy attacks will be various special red squares, such as slow-moving shield squares that you must tap multiple times before they’re destroyed. Worse yet will be purple squares that only appear during the boss levels, which can’t even be destroyed via tapping — only pushed back a bit — and generally result in instant failure should you ever let one slip through. With all the crazy stuff that can happen all at once, it’s a very good thing that using a full combo-attack gauge — or even a health potion — can temporarily clear the field of all dangerous attack squares.

While not necessarily as helpful as a proper full-health restore (yet simultaneously not wasting a chance to empower yourself either), these potions will — when drank — restore an amount of health equal to all of the currently available yellow and green squares. While it won’t necessarily outright destroy the enemy’s purple and red attack squares, it will cause them all to be violently pushed backed towards the right (and they will be destroyed if this slams them off the edge in the process). Although you’re given one of these potions for getting past bosses, you could additionally purchase them in bulk via Combo Quest’s IAP menu (after all, there’s usually a catch when a game is freely given).

While Combo Quest is definitely a blast to play, the game’s biggest problem is that it quickly becomes crazy-hard trying to keep up with the massive spam of attack squares sent forth by later enemies. While some players will actually enjoy the game even more once everything gets taken up to eleven, many more will invariably just feel as though they’re being coerced into buying health potions. Although various videos on YouTube certainly prove that this adventure can be completed sans IAPs, and there’s even a handy checkpoint after every boss, this is one action game that’s truly only for the hardcore.

Verdict

Combo Quest is an endless fast-paced game of hardcore precision-based tapping, that is admittedly — despite the soul-crushingly high difficulty curve — actually quite addictive. For those whom are willing to stomach the fact that Combo Quest goes from zero to nearly-impossible in mere seconds, you’ll have just discovered your newest most-favorite free game ever. However — for everyone else — you’ll probably just give up in rage once things truly begin heating up, and that won’t exactly take very long considering Combo Quest’s ludicrously steep difficulty curve.

Non-stop addictive fast-paced precision-based tapping-action
Becomes oppressively difficult as the game goes forward, and does so very quickly
4.0