Commuting Cognition: Darts of Fury

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how much i have to say and how full the bus is that day, but i may still post bite-sized thoughts on twitter.

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Darts of Fury

Darts of Fury is a darts game with a rather unique winning condition.

You throw the darts by flicking the screen, as you’d expect. This flicking isn’t 1:1, however: the controls seem somewhat normalised for forward flicking, so diagonal flicks will have a far lower angle than you’d expect. The origin of your dart dictates the origin of your throw, so you’re supposed to “reposition” yourself and throw forward. This felt odd to me at first, but it was a quick adjustment.

Gameplay flows as you’d expect: flick a dart at the board, score however many points the board’s wedge is worth. Do this thrice and pass to your opponent, who does the same. Unusually, the winning condition is not a best-out-of-X, or time-based; instead, your goal is to hit a target score, but you must hit it *exactly*. So if you’re 5 points away from your target score, and you hit a wedge that’s worth 6 points, the play is invalidated and your turn is immediately forfeit.

Having to hit a specific score is odd for beginner rules, but it also makes sense in a few ways. Because a beginner will have a harder time hitting the last wedge for their required score the session length will increase, which serves as a catch-up mechanic for the opposing player. Done repeatedly, however, i can see this being very frustrating for the player who just can’t seem to hit that final wedge, especially because their turn is immediately forfeit and their next two throws are gone; having to wait until the opponent plays makes it harder to remember how your last throw went, and consequently makes it harder to calibrate your throws.

The matches are pre-recorded, as seems to be somewhat of a trend lately. You match with a player, and have a timer on your turn, but are not actually playing with them at the same time, which works quite well for keeping up the illusion of multiplayer while avoiding sync issues.

Outside of a match, you can purchase new darts which come with new stats and designs. The designs are fully customisable: you can select the dart body’s colour and pattern, and can purchase skins for the feather things. The stats are particularly interesting as they affect the gameplay in more indirect ways: one of the stats determines how slanted the dart will be when it hits and another determines how physically slim the dart is, both which can affect consecutive throws by blocking your own darts. These are advanced stats that won’t affect a beginner, and thus reward skill instead of a large wallet.

There’s also an energy system, which perplexed me a bit. You’re allotted three energy and spend one each time you play, regenerating once every 15 minutes. As the matches are quick and are natural exit points, it seems odd to me why they felt limiting the number of plays was important.

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