Mobile games, in my opinion, always seem to work best in bite-sized containable experiences that can be part of a larger overall developing experience. Miyamoto on iOS focuses the bite-sized experience of a tactics tabletop game with a larger rogue-like deck-building aspect. This means your runs through the game will never quite be the same, and with some more unlockable characters mixed in this offers quite a bit for a low price-tag of $2.99
What is it?
Miyamoto is a rogue-like deck-building board game. You play as one of a handful of hero pieces traveling along a path to reach the end-boss, Miyamoto. Every step along this path is played out as a tactics game mixing cards and miniatures on a digital board. You and your opponent take turns back and forth playing cards from your hand to either place new pawns on the board, or play spells that directly affect your, or your enemies, units. You can summon lightening strikes on opponents, or give bonus attack damage to your own warriors.
On your turn you can also move any of your units that have been placed on the board. This means you can move with them, and attack with them. Attacking with a unit puts it to sleep for the round so this means placement and movement before an attack can be very important. Most units, unless they have the Wake Up ability, will require a round of play before they can be used, although Wake Up cards can also help mitigate the effect.
The ultimate goal of each match is to destroy the enemy hero pawn while keeping yours from being destroyed. This becomes even more difficult when you realize that you can only add new units to the board as long as it is adjacent to an already existing unit of yours on the board. This has huge strategic benefits as well since walling your opponent into a corner is a very effective strategy to help you cut off their reinforcements.
Every match won rewards some gold to help unlock new hero pawns, and you progress one step closer along the path to Miyamoto. You also get to add a new card to your deck out of a randomly chosen three. These new cards can really help bolster a certain play style or even be used to play into your hero’s strengths or weaknesses. I personally really like to use the archer hero who can bombard a line on the board with arrows. The hero has low attack and health values though so I try to keep adding new melee defensive units when I can to put defensive lines between my fragile archer and other units.
Miyamoto is a beautifully presented game with a heavy feudal Japan vibe. The art is both simplistic and textureless, but also very striking in its style. Characters look like small carved pieces with simplistic animations that fit the theme of the game incredibly well. Starting the game has you swiping up to open the digital game box on screen. Even starting every match along your journey will have you swiping up on the screen to draw your blade to engage the battle. It’s small, yet satisfying, little touches like that this make the game stand out.
The style of the game already pops with the simplistic look of it, but even the unit types are varied and keep the matches themselves from becoming overly complex, or incredibly simple. With all the possible units to play, the units unique abilities, and other buff cards, there is a lot to think about in the game. With the level of complexity that could be here in a more collectible-card-game style of game it feels very thought out what units were put into the game. Every unit feels like it has a purpose and a good way to play it into different situations. Knowing when to drop a wall pawn onto the board to help shield all nearby units is just as important as having it in your deck. I found myself quickly learning the units and abilities I would run into in the game, and spent more time learning the ways around them than having to memorize all these different aspects and abilities.
The music and sounds also seem to fit the theme well. The sound of your blade being drawn seems to really lean into the samurai battle aspect of the theme. The soundtrack mixes more traditional music with some more low-key beats. It’s effective, although sadly there are only maybe two songs, and one is far better. All the sound effects fit the action very well as swords swing, arrows are loosed, and shields clash with blades. The app feels very cohesive and thought out as a whole.
The game is very much presented as a rogue-like style game, which I like. It keeps every run feeling unique. However, one of the more recent trappings of the rogue-like genre that I really like is the ability to take permanent currency earned, and bring it back to unlock new things to use in future runs. This can mean new things that will show up in each run, or new characters or abilities to have at the start. While Miyamoto has several unlockable hero pawns, the price curve to get these quickly becomes ridiculous. You unlock your first one quickly. The archer for 1000 coins. The next one will cost 7000. Then 10,000. There are also a number of them set to 30,000. With a good run gaining me 1000-2000 coins it will take me quite a while to unlock a good portion of these playable characters.
The unlock pace wouldn’t be such an issue if the gap to your first few characters didn’t ramp up so hard. With a more free-to-play style game this would usually mean the developer simply made a steep path to push more predatory in-app-purchases. I can at least say that this developer is not trying to push a hard money making scheme on you. There is no way to buy yourself to unlocking these other characters at all. You must play the game and grind out the money for them. You also can purchase them in whatever order and it clearly states what abilities the new characters possess. It may be the most honest approach I have seen to heroes in a rogue-like game on mobile.
While these caveats do bug me, they don’t really hinder my enjoyment of the base game, and the unlocks do have me coming back for more, but I will have to wait and see if I have the fortitude to grind out the currency for the most expensive of these new heroes.
Miyamoto presents maybe one of the better argument on how to do a mobile game right without having to resort to predatory free-to-play tactics to make money. It’s a one-time purchase that has plenty to work towards and a lot of fun to be had whether you have a few hours or a few minutes to play it. There is a lot of depth in the gameplay and it is all wrapped up nicely in a lovingly presented package. If you like turn-based tactics or rogue-like deck-building games, I recommend this highly.
Beautiful artwork and style
Easy to learn
Lots of Depth
No ads or in-app-purchases
Long grind for a few unlockables