Massive for nothing

Dungeon Runners

Dungeon Runners gets a lot of mileage out of its sense of humor. From the graphics to the voice-overs, it presents itself as a bizarre, self-effacing parody of World of Warcraft. It’s not the same, by any means - for example, dungeons are randomly generated and instanced, Guild Wars–style, while only the towns are truly massive - but the comparison begs to be drawn, and it turns out that little Dungeon Runners, with its toxic cardboard axes of the tigon and its race of sentient snowmen, can actually hold its own. This should be the tip-off that the game’s fun factor far exceeds its theoretically nonexistent price.

We say “theoretically” because the biggest problem with Dungeon Runners is that it never lets you forget what a cheapskate you are. Non-paying players must live with a sizable portion of their screen covered with an ad banner, and the world is littered with unusable items labeled “Members Only.” But when the only payment option is a very reasonable $4.99/month to remove all limitations, and when the game is this much fun, becoming a member is a hard transaction to refuse.

Sword of the New World: Granado Espada

Briefly offered as a game you had to pay a monthly subscription for, Sword of the New World is now as free as air - there’s no premium subscription service at all anymore, only an item marketplace. That’s a good thing, because the game is incredibly weird. Sword of the New World’s anime-inspired American colonization theme, with its frilly cleavage-baring costumes and endless array of foppish hats, ensures the game doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before. Instead of controlling a single character, you control up to three members of a family at a time - not an overwhelming task, given the simplicity of the combat, but it does add a level of complexity that doesn’t have a parallel in any other MMO out there.

In the year since it’s been released in the United States, Sword of the New World has been accused of being very grind-heavy. It is, but it’s also loaded with unusual content, has stylized, beautiful graphics, and goes out of its way to try new things its competition still doesn’t dare touch. Now that the game costs nothing, it’s much, much easier to take its bad with its significant amount of good.