Haunted Empires – Ghosts of the Three Kingdoms

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Haunted Empires – Ghosts of the Three Kingdoms App Poster Image
Plays-itself RPG designed to make users spend money.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Basically plays itself, so it couldn't be easier. Combat is hands-off auto-combat, and the game guides players through every single decision.

Violence

Violence consists of cartoony explosions and sparkly visual effects. When characters "die," they basically "poof" without blood and come back to life in the next battle. 

Sex

Female characters are buxom and show cleavage, but mostly shown from behind during gameplay. Game about lovers stuck between heaven and hell.

Language
Consumerism

While loading and playing the game, players encouraged to purchase premium currency. Players can only achieve VIP status by making real-world purchases. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Haunted Empires - Ghosts of the Three Kingdoms is a combat-focused role-playing game. Violence is seen from a distant, overhead view and consists of characters performing fancy attacks with lots of visual effects. Players don't actually control the characters; all gameplay is heavily guided or automatic. Injury and death is cartoony and is represented by hit sound effects and characters vanishing. An in-game chat lets players interact between fights, and players are encouraged to purchase items from the premium item store. 

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What's it about?

It's hard to say what HAUNTED EMPIRES - GHOSTS OF THE THREE KINGDOMS is really about. The intro seems to indicate it's about a legion of ghosts coming to take over a kingdom of living humans, but why and what they hope to accomplish isn't clear. The heroes are a group of superhuman warriors who dress in decorative historical Chinese costumes and specialize in various sorts of ranged and melee martial arts. The "campaign," such as it is, consists mainly of tapping buttons to upgrade weapons or choose heroes. Then you watch without participating as the characters fight. 

Is it any good?

Haunted Empires - Ghosts of the Three Kingdoms can hardly be called a game. Designed to do everything for you, it robs you of the opportunity to make meaningful choices and instead asks you to mindlessly tap buttons -- Pavlov's dog-style -- to receive rewards.This excessive hand-holding might be acceptable if it was temporary and used to teach gameplay. Sadly, that's not the case. Missions consist of directions such as "explore this dungeon" (translation: Tap "Fight" and let the game win for you) or "upgrade a hero to level 10" (tap "Upgrade" and watch the numbers tick up). As a result, the first few hours of "gameplay" are a tedious exercise in doing what you're told. Three hours in, you're finally allowed to make a few choices as different areas of the main map unlock. You're given the chance to do things such as assign skills and play a bun-eating mini-game. It's something, but it's not enough. Beyond the bizarre lack of meaningful interactivity, it's full of dialogue that tells no discernible story. Among the many adventure and role-playing apps currently available, Haunted Empires - Ghosts of the Three Kingdoms is a particularly weak offering. It's sloppy, disjointed, and only marginally interactive, and in spite of some nice graphics, it's clearly a product meant to siphon cash out of its players.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's fun about this game. Since the battles are automatic, which parts do you like? 

  • Discuss in-app purchases with your kid and set expectations before downloading.

  • Talk about the story line of the game. What is the game about? If you made a game, what would the story be?

App details

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For kids who love role-playing

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