Created by Kixeye Incorporated, Tome: Immortal Arena is a fantastic MOBA with all of the same depth of the competition crunched into 15 minute matches, making it the perfect game for the parent or student alike.
For those in love with their respective MOBA titles, you’re likely to believe that they are the most beautiful title on the market. Tome: Immortal Arena can contend for the title against League of Legends, DOTA 2 or any other game out there with top-down perspective. Hosting all the familiar elements, such as exploding turrets, great particle effects in their spells and a good number of polygons in their character models, we aren’t missing out on anything in Tome graphically. Using simplistic map design, encouraging fast game play, Tome: Immortal Arena uses fewer system resources to convey the same grandeur on its smaller scale.
As a “traditional” MOBA player, Tome has changed the way I think about what is fun in the MOBA space. From my first play through at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle through my latest adventures at home, Tome’s fast-paced game play has taken the rage out of losing without taking the fun out of winning. As it compares to the conventional MOBA title, Tome’s biggest change isn’t in team fighting mechanics, “meta” character selection or lane phase, but in the elimination of a tedious jungle grind. At the heart of Tome’s [currently] only map, you will find just one creature – Morthul. This creature doesn’t reside at a weighted area as some of the creatures in competing titles, but has the effective buffing potential of something between League of Legends’ Dragon and Baron buffs, providing the team who defeats it a chunk of gold and a life steal buff to make their next fight quite easier. Morthul represents the easiest opportunity to make a comeback in your 15 minute matches, but also poses the greatest risks, as his centrally located spawn area is easy to spot when in lane. Those not attending to his back side could find the buff that would have brought your team back into the game just turned the game on its head against you.
If you have about three seconds of time where you aren’t being attacked, and you have 500 gold, you can pick up a new item without interrupting the action in Tome.
With traditional options at hand, Tome also steps outside of what you would expect from the MOBA space by making comebacks a touch harder. This is conducive to the 15 minute time model, making the laning phase more important than in other MOBA titles. If your team captures an enemy tower the difficulty of your team’s minions will rise just a touch, eliminating the need for “inhibitor” buildings found in competing titles and once again encouraging faster play. Purchasing items in Tome also deviates from the standard, in that players can “auto-buy” or select their items to purchase and pick them up by channeling, rather than teleporting back to base and returning to lane. If you have about three seconds of time where you aren’t being attacked, and you have 500 gold, you can pick up a new item without interrupting the action in Tome. That 500 gold price point for any item or item upgrade is extremely useful, dropping the need for having to calculate if you can afford the Sword of Infinity for six and a half thousand gold, versus the Axe of Justice for three thousand. Again, this is a major focus of Tome – have fun, don’t take too long, and you won’t have a reason to be angry if you lose.
While Tome isn’t deep in the lore category, the title isn’t any less deep than some of the major MOBAs that exist today. Each character features a story line for depth in the selection screen, with rivals apparent at a glance, much like we expected. Where Tome reaches deep is in their factions system, known as “Domains”. As an integral part of the experience system in Tome, Domains take on a life of their own by awarding you with Artifacts. These Artifacts, available for use as one “relic” and two “blessings”, are in-game buffs to your characters benefiting those who have played the game with an advantage. Ideally, Artifacts aren’t game-breaking, as I’ve won plenty of matches against those who are buffed and lost plenty as well to all-new players. Gaining favor with each of the six domains will earn you these buffs, while each character’s domain is easily determined by their element of choice. Represented by fire [Vala], death [Marith], earth [Gol], water [Haroon], creation [Amara, and air [Stridis], leveling characters in each division awards varied combat buffs giving the title depth and a good reason to not build on a singular character throughout your every play session.
With varied graphical levels, Tome won’t work your PC too hard, but does require more temporary memory than what you might expect out of the game. Consuming between 1 GB and 1.5 GB of RAM, Tome requires this moderate about of memory because of its biggest selling point. You will never download the game client for Tome. Tome: Immortal Arena loads and plays in a browser. Through normal play you will download every piece of the game’s assets, in all of its beautiful glory without ever waiting on a patch or download to get into the game. This also enables Kixeye to allow you to login with Facebook, just like their uber-popular casual title Backyard Monsters allows for.
I know what you’re thinking – the game must look or feel so much worse because it’s a browser-based game. That’s simply not true. Running on the Unity engine, Tome: Immortal Arena is the single best looking browser-based game I’ve ever seen, and it plays to match. Being honest, when I played Tome for the first time at the Penny Arcade Expo, during my interview with Tome developer Kixeye I was told that the game was browser based and I had “the same reaction they always get” as I was floored by the announcement. They weren’t selling the game as a browser title, because it doesn’t play like one – it’s that simple. The first time that you play Tome you might feel some of the elements lagging if you choose to skip the “new user” tutorial, because the title is going to download all assets as you play it for the first time. If you play the tutorial and get familiarized with the game, you won’t have any trouble feeling the highest quality, and you’ll learn a thing or two about the world of Tome.
Given the title’s depth of Domains and character leveling system, as well as your own leveling system from Kixeye, Tome can win you over emotionally and beg for you to come back. Again, this is the deepest browser-based game I’ve played since Runescape hooked me back in 2001. If you’re not giving Tome a chance, you’ll be missing out, and that’s why I gave it my Editor’s Choice award for Game of Show at PAX this year – a vote I’ll stand behind after my in-house experience.