Platforms: iPhone, Android, PlayStation Vita (reviewed)
Where do I even begin with Nun Attack? I guess first and foremost I should mention the story. The game is set in a world where prayers are no longer answered and evil is running rampant. Apparently the only solution to this problem is for a group of nuns to start packing heat and busting caps in a battle of light versus dark. This is kind of a fun premise for a game and I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of it.
Nun Attack has quite a few strong qualities, one of which is its cast of characters. During the course of the game you’ll take control of four different nuns, each with their own abilities, weapons and distinct personalities. As you battle, each nun will also level up and increase their stats. There are dozens of weapons to find and each of those can be upgraded as well. There’s even a set of special abilities called “miracles” which you can unlock throughout the game that let you do things such as reviving dead party members or restoring your party’s health.
The game is comprised of four different “worlds”, each of which contain 10 levels and multiple battles within each level, so there is a good bit of content. As you work your way through each of these battles you’ll collect money that can spent on replenishing your miracles and upgrading your weapons, adding even more to the game’s appeal. All of this sounds pretty fun, right? Well you might want to keep reading before you rush out and purchase the game.
For as many good things that Nun Attack has going for it, there is one crucial flaw with the game. It is the most repetitive and tedious game I’ve played in a long time. Nun Attack on Vita is essentially a port of an iPhone/iPad game, so it is controlled entirely with the touchscreen. This can be fun during the early stages of the game when you’re controlling one nun, but as soon as you start having to maneuver multiple characters the game devolves into a series of unsatisfying tapping. There is also the issue of moving the wrong nun or a nun not moving where you want her to in battle because things can get so cluttered at times. So while the controls do technically work, they become more and more clunky when multiple nuns are in the mix.
Another problem I had came from the arsenal at your disposal. While you may have a ton of options as far as weapons go and each nun focuses on a different kind of gun, none of them ever felt all that different in combat. Getting a new gun or leveling up an existing one may kill enemies faster, but it’s still just a bunch of boring tapping to get the job done with very little diversity during battles. Getting guns to their full potential will also call for a lot of grinding, which leads me to my biggest issue with the game.
Nun Attack is a grind, and the biggest issue here is that this grind isn’t really optional (unless you’re some sort of savant). As with most games, Nun Attack gets progressively more difficult. This difficulty (some coming by design, other from control issues) is almost certainly going to see you in need of a large stockpile of miracles and upgraded weapons (for the bonus damage). This, in turn, means going back to previous levels and farming for gold. In some games this would be part of the fun, but in Nun Attack this can lead to some serious anguish. Needing to play through the same bland levels over and over just to be able to go and play through an equally bland (but more difficult) level further along in the game is a real drag.
Adding to the torturous nature of Nun Attack’s grind is one of the things I initially liked about it, the level design. As I mentioned before, there are four areas that each contain 10 levels. Once you enter one of these levels you’ll have to traverse a map to reach each battle, all while avoiding various portals that are constantly shooting projectiles at you. This was a neat concept in the beginning, but when you are forced to go back multiple times in order to collect more money, having to maneuver through these maps each and every time becomes a monotonous chore. This means that getting back into battle to earn the money you’ll desperately need is never a quick process. Nun Attack is like a grind within a grind and it’s not a fun time.
Nun Attack feels like one giant squandered idea that could (and should) have been a much better game. You get a fun premise, a great cast of characters, numerous weapons, special abilities and even a nice structure when it comes to level design (in the beginning) that offers you a ton of content. Even with all of the good ideas and options Nun Attack offers up, the game’s main focus, its combat, comes across as repetitive, tedious and prosaic. If you’re fine with a game that features mind-numbingly dull combat that never changes and forces you to grind and grind and grind if you want to be successful, you might have a great time with Nun Attack. If you’re like me and prefer more satisfying and varied gameplay, I’d say it’s safe to avoid this one.