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AFK Arena

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
AFK Arena App Poster Image
Fun bite-size fantasy adventure almost plays itself.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Players earn experience and items without even playing, which helps to keep progress ongoing. But when you're playing, there's a lot of character, party, and inventory maintenance to be responsible for. While it’s not particularly difficult, there's not a lot of effective tutorials to explain the process.

Violence

There's constant fighting in the game. Even when not in an actual battle, your party can be seen battling at the bottom of the screen. Characters use a variety of weapons and magical abilities against monsters, fantasy creatures, and human (or humanlike) armies. There are lots of effects and flashes onscreen, but no blood.

Sex

Some female characters are portrayed in somewhat exaggerated ways, occasionally in outfits that emphasize certain areas of the body (chest, legs, etc.) in a somewhat sexualized manner.

Language

Although there's no profanity or offensive language in the game’s dialogue, the online chat feature could open players up to such language from others in the real world.

Consumerism

Players can make a fair amount of progress without having to spend money, but the game does encourage players to purchase extra in-game currency, items, and even monthly subscriptions.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There is a tavern in the game that players regularly visit which shows a barmaid serving drinks.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that AFK Arena is a free-to-play fantasy role-playing/strategy game available for download on iOS and Android mobile devices. Players recruit and equip heroes that team up to battle against enemy forces, using a variety of weapons and magical abilities. Players also earn experience and items while away from the game, building up stashes of loot in-between play sessions. Violence is constant, though there’s no blood or gore featured onscreen. The game features a cartoonish art style, with a handful of the female characters presented in a somewhat sexualized manner. Although there’s no profanity present in the game’s dialogue, there's still the risk of being exposed to some offensive language from other players via the in-game chat. While AFK Arena is free-to-play and substantial progress can be made without additional purchases, it does encourage players to spend money on special package deals with in-game money, heroes, and items, as well as two tiers of a monthly subscription.

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What's it about?

AFK ARENA is a fantasy game where the battle against the forces of darkness is, quite literally, a never-ending affair. Millenia ago, there was an epic war between Dura, the Goddess of Life, and Annih, the God of Death. While the mortal forces of Dura eventually drove back Annih’s demonic forces, the cost was great. Though Dura fell in battle, she left behind six powerful artifacts, a gift to the mortals in case a time came where the darkness rose once again. That time is now. Demons are invading Esperia once more, and the different factions of the realm must unite to recover Dura’s relics and defeat Annih once and for all. Players recruit heroes and build a party of powerful warriors to fight against enemy creatures, honing their fighting skills and magical abilities in the forge of battle. Reap the rewards, collecting treasure and equipment your team will need to survive, and take back your home from the encroaching darkness.

Is it any good?

This role-playing/strategy game hybrid gives players a fun and addictive fantasy experience, but never asks for more than a few minutes at a time. Don’t misunderstand, once you start playing AFK Arena, setting up your team of heroes and pushing back the forces of darkness, it can be difficult to put down. But one of the great things about it is that players continue to get rewards with experience, treasure, items, and more, even while the game is idle (hence the “AFK” part of the title). This means you can log in just once a day, grab your accumulated loot, distribute your goodies to your team as needed, and complete a couple of quick quests before going right back about your merry way.

When you do take an active part in AFK Arena, the gameplay is light and simple, at least on the surface. The game just about plays itself in battles, with your only input being to choose your party before the battle starts and tapping on heroes when their abilities are charged. There's a lot more depth and complexity, though, once you start getting into building up your heroes, equipping and leveling their gear, and “ascending” them to become more powerful. Other factors include things like faction bonuses and hero positioning, which can make a substantial difference on the battlefield. Unfortunately, while the tutorials cover the basic elements of gameplay, learning the more advanced stuff feels like you’re left on your own to learn through trial and error. Other parts of the game even feel a bit incomplete. Searching to add friends is an almost impossible task, and the shop sometimes requires you to leave and log back in before your purchases are credited. It’s more of a minor inconvenience than anything, but it still takes a little of the fun away from an otherwise entertaining and bite-size fantasy adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about limits in playtime. How much time is too much time to be committed to actually playing a game in one session? How can games like AFK Arena, which rewards players even when they’re not active, help to pull gamers away from their devices?

  • What are some of the benefits of the free-to-play model? How much money would you be willing to spend in a free-to-play game’s shop, and what items would be important?

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