SpyMaster is an okay iOS game, it's a few things away from being a great iOS game, but it falls into the same traps and issues that I have with most games on that platform. SM is a board game where you move agents in Europe to establish spy rings, collect intel, raid factory and evade Gestapo Inspektors. Each action takes a number of turns and your agents get tired after a while and need to rest, it's a nice balance of risks and rewards. Sadly, there is a premium currency used for most practical things and timers in most places too.

I don't like games with two currency systems, but when they do, I love it when you get the premium currency at a reasonable rate just by playing the game, which SM does. You get gold for each mission you complete and you get gold for completing achievements. That being said, there are gold drains everywhere, instead of waiting for your characters to level up - on a timer - you can pay gold, instead of waiting for your characters to recuperate from injuries, you can pay gold, to get double experience, you pay gold, to unlock character slots and then unlock new characters, you pay gold. The timers are what bother me the most, I suppose, they're just arbitrary gates to either bore or spend your way through them.

The game plays quite well in spite of this, you move your pieces on the board and most of the mechanics are pretty transparent, from your odds of success at operations - which can be increased by establishing spy rings and spending intel - to the time required to do everything. You can also give new abilities to your characters but like in X-Com you have to make a choice between two at most levels. It's quite clear when your characters become stressed - a bar fills up under their portraits as you do actions and empties as you rest - but I haven't been able to tell when they're going to randomly get injured because of stress, and of course injuries are a synonym of having to either spend gold or wait a bunch of turn then not being able to send that particular agent on missions for a couple of minutes.

While I feel that core core gameplay is quite solid and that the strategy, mixed with the whole risk/reward concept this game brings - for instance, you raise awareness in cities you're in, forcing you to move from time to time - any game that actively makes me want to stop playing it for a few minutes while I wait for a clock to tick can't be wholeheartedly recommended.

AuthorJérémie Tessier
Categories4/5, iOS