Mobile games span a wide set of genres to appeal to all tastes, and they feature a fairly broad range of graphics quality including highly stylized visuals and even retro gems that are inspired by some of the classics of the early days of video games. The latter is how I would describe The Layered Forest, a top down adventure-role playing game with 2D visuals and turn-based combat. While carrying some elements all its own, The Layered Forest reminds me of classics from the NES era like StarTropics and the Legend of Zelda, save for the combat as it wasn't turn-based in those two games. Combat differences aside, The Layered Forest definitely has some retro feel and seems to have a lot going for it. So let's take a closer look at the game and see what it has to offer.
Before you can dive into the world of The Layered Forest, you'll need to head to the Play Store and download The Layered Forest and install it on your device.
Right from the start you'll have a few options with the game that you can interact with to tweak your experience. The first of these things is what kind of game mode you want. There are two different modes which include the normal run and the endless run. These are pretty self explanatory in what they offer. The game will also have tutorial messages if you want them and the start screen is where you'll find the box to enable these helpful hints. It's off by default but is easily accessible.
Above you can see what the tutorial messages look like, and if you're in complete understanding of what these are trying to tell you simply tap the "got it!" button and they goes away. You can also tap the remind me later button to have the message pop up again later. The image also illustrates a significant factor of the game which is that there are multiple layers to go through. Layers can be thought of like floors of a dungeon, and each layer is a 3 x 3 grid of rooms, totaling nine altogether before you reach the next layer.
In each room there is a chance you may encounter enemies, though each time you play the rooms won't necessarily be the same as the rooms and layers are randomly generated. If you do encounter enemies, since the combat and actions are turn-based, and this includes movement to new squares in each room, you may end up having to fight some of them, or they might end up attacking you while you simply try to escape. If you choose to engage, you'll need to tap on yourself to bring up your list of actions, which includes combat, inventory, rest, and end turn. You'll have a couple of attacks to start with, and once you choose the attack you want you then tap on the enemy you want to use the attack on.
If you're not careful during combat you'll end up losing and have to restart, and once this happens you'll lose one of your lives, which are denoted by the three hearts up in the top left corner of the game screen. It's easy to mistake this for health as this is a common visual for HP in other games, but your health is actually listed in the top right corner. You can replenish your health during the game with various items, and you'll also need to watch your hunger levels. Hunger levels can be replenished by eating items such as Apples, so you'll want to pick these up if you come across them as your hunger level and energy level decreases as you move as well as complete attacks during battles.
In addition to replenishing your hunger levels you may need to replenish your health from time to time, so you'll also want to watch out for items like the potions you can see in the image above. These too will be stored in your inventory until you need them, and should you need to top up on some HP during combat you simply tap on the inventory button from the action menu instead of combat.
When you use an item like the Apple you'll be able to see it in the white box below the main section of the game screen. This box also acts as a log of stuff that happens in the game. So when you attack, when the enemy attacks, or when other things happen they end up listed here. Below the white box is the D-Pad and the mini map. The D-Pad is how you'll move your player around, and the mini map shows you how many rooms of each layer you've uncovered.
From the options menu there are a few things you can tweak, like the game's music volume, or the speed of the text that comes up throughout the game. You can also adjust the speed of the new lines for text, though you only have three options for new line speed and text speed, including slow, medium, and fast, so you shouldn't expect a huge level of control over this particular factor. That said the three speeds work just fine and keep things varied enough.
If you're a fan of retro-style games The Layered Forest will definitely strike a chord with you. It takes some getting used to as I couldn't immediately find out how to access combat and how to use items, but after a few minutes or so of tapping on things I quickly realized that tapping my character was how to bring up the menu of different actions that could be completed. From here the game was still a nice challenge but I understood how to play and it became more fun.
- Speed (4/5) – Didn't take much time to install and the game followed along at a decent pace.
- Features (4/5) – Randomly generated rooms and layers are a nice touch as it keeps things fresh.
- Theme (5/5) – The retro-inspired visuals are great especially if you grew up enjoying games from the NES era.
- Overall (4.5/5) – Nice little adventure/rpg game that will capture the attention of retro game fans.
- Retro graphics
- RPG elements
- Turn-based combat
- Randomly generated levels
- It took a few minutes to figure out how to access the actions menu that included combat and inventory, though this may have been included in the tutorial messages which I skipped through. The developer also plans to adjust the menu interface for combat and item use in the future so players should be able to see an improvement.
If you're in the mood for an adventure style game that looks and feels like an old-school action RPG like The Legend of Zelda or StarTropics in a few ways, definitely check this out. It's free, so there is an immediate bonus, and the randomly generated levels keep things interesting as you never know what will be in that same room you just died in once you respawn and try again. The Layered Forest is well worth a look.