Welcome back to Mobile Games Revue! Last week, we played gossip with Miitomo. This week, we’re going to do something a little different. Rather than review a single game, I’ve got three different apps that I’d like to offer a comparison of.
“Apps?” I can hear you saying. “This isn’t Mobile Apps Revue – get out of here with your apps!” Firstly, that’s really rude, calm down. Secondly, these are what are referred to as “gamifying” apps – apps that help you turn your real life into a game.
Adulting is hard, and especially when you have fun stuff like video games to distract you from important things, like going to the bank and doing laundry. There have been plenty of times where I and my friends bemoaned the fact that you don’t get achievements or exp in real life; there’s no level up system, the loot is garbage and requires a ton of grinding, and even though the graphics are on point, character customization basically sucks. Well, these apps don’t fix all of those – but they can help with the first couple!
There are three main apps I’d like to focus on: Habitica, EpicWin, and LifeRPG. But before we get into those, I’d like to just make a quick un-recommendation. There are a series of apps by Mindbloom: Juice, Momentum: The Journey, and Proof! – all of which are interesting ideas, but incredibly poorly implemented. The ones I tried were buggy messes that barely functioned. If you’re looking to try apps like the ones I’m about to discuss, don’t bother trying those ones. But enough about that, on to the actual reviews:
Habitica’s main function is, surprisingly enough, to help you form positive habits. It has several sections, each of which represent a different set of tasks.
Habits are just what they say – things you want to try to get into the habit of doing. Not necessarily things you do every day, but things that you would like to do as often as possible.
Dailies are things you want to do every day: floss, use moisturizer, work on a creative project, tidy up your living spaces.
To-Dos are one-time goals, like finishing a woodworking project, sending a thank-you note to your grandmother, or go skydiving.
Each item can be rated from trivial (like cuddling kitties) to hard (like going to bed before midnight), which determines how much EXP the task will give you. For every night that your dailies go unfinished, you lose health (which can be regained by leveling up), and character death will result in a loss of exp. Completing tasks will not only help you level up, but also offers drops of cosmetic items with which to decorate your character (like the pet cactus in my screenshot). There is also a social aspect: you can party with friends, or join a guild based on your interests. Finally, my favourite feature is that it is also browser-accessible, and syncs between mobile and desktop.
Pros: Character customization (albeit limited), social involvement, web version. Tasks relatively easy to add, with medium customization.
Cons: Microtransactions (mostly cosmetic), some aspects overly complicated (particularly the UI and the whole “pet” system).
LifeRPG focuses less on training new habits, and more on training new skills/finishing your to-do list. Where this app really shines is the in the depth of customization it offers. Tasks are a little more complex to enter than with Habitica, but for the trade-off of more personalization.
For each task, you can assign Difficulty (how hard it is), Urgency (how important it is), and Fear (how much you’re dreading it). This is an especially nice touch for people with anxiety or autism, for whom simple tasks may be unduly intimidating.
You can also add Skills to each task. For example, writing a weekly column might level up your Writing skill and/or your Deadline-Keeping skill. Doing your laundry might level up your Physical Endurance skill, your Willpower skill, and your Hygiene skill. You can add parent missions: for example, you may have Pass Archaeology > Write Research Paper > Read Sources, Take Notes, and Begin Outline. Each task also has a customizable icon, chosen from a set.
Tasks can set to be repeatable, can have due dates, etc. This deep level of customization also extends to the rest of the app. You can employ an energy bar based on your general rest/awake times, which will suggest tasks based on your remaining energy (so, if you’ve already cleaned the bathroom, it won’t suggest that you also clean the kitchen). You can also set custom sounds for leveling/skilling up, completing tasks etc. If you don’t set the level up noise to the Final Fantasy victory fanfare, though, get out of my face.
There is no online sync or browser version, but you can backup your data and transfer it to a new device, if you need to. And there is a (mostly quiet) subreddit dedicated to the app.
Pros: Incredibly customizable, friendly to people with mental or physical illnesses.
Cons: Visually underwhelming, tasks complicated to add.
EpicWin, the name of which is sure to delight everyone who is magically still stuck in the internet circa 2013, is the most game-like of the three. You choose a character prototype (beefy dude, dwarfy dude, token buxom female [ugh], spoopy skeleton, and…tree?), and name them (default is Epic Warrior). This is purely cosmetic and can be changed at any time.
Quests can be added with or without due dates, and can range in “epicness” from 100 to 300 – which, as you might have guessed, determines how much exp you get for completing them. Each quest can have an associated stat: Strength, Intellect, Stamina, Social, and Spirit (with your powers combined, I am Functioning Adult!) – however, you can only choose one, so choose wisely. As with the other two apps, quests can also be repeatable.
Every time you level up, you get “loot” – which is to say, you get a little icon with some flavour text. The first one is a “pet flea,” which as far as I can tell appears nowhere on your profile image (maybe it’s just too small?), and affects nothing at all.
Of the three, this one is definitely the most visually pleasing. Completing a task involves pressing and holding on the epicness seal – the game plays a cute little animation of your character kicking the task to the ground, and overall it’s a lot more satisfying to actually “play” than the other two.
Pros: Good graphics, tasks easy to add, feels more like a game.
Cons: Not very customizable, reward system is relatively shallow.
All of these apps have their pros and cons. If you want in-depth customization, go with LifeRPG. If you care about aesthetics the most, EpicWin is likely to be best for you. But taken as a whole, Habitica is really the most robust of the three: the cross-device compatibility and social aspects give this one a clear hand over the others.
One thing that would have made any of these an automatic winner would have been an import-from-google-tasks/calendar function. Sadly, to my knowledge, an app like that doesn’t exist.
Still, these are pretty good options if you feel like being an adult could stand to be a little more like being a kid.