It is 2017 and Baahubali is a pan-Indian phenomenon; the success of Rajamouli’s epic saga permeates our everyday lives in myriad ways and constantly reminds us of its commercial and innovative success.
From Airtel sim cards to popular chocolates, faces of the lead characters from the fictional world of Mahishmati have become virtually omni-present. While the films made their mark with state-of-the-art graphics and a larger-than-life narrative, this game is a severe disappointment with nothing creative or original to offer.
The developers, Moonfrog, claim to be India’s premier game studio but all they have to offer are copies and variations of popular games. Their other games include Alia Bhatt: Star Life, a game that is “inspired” (as Bollywood calls it!) from Kim Kardashian’s game and this game is a blatant rip-off of Supercell’s popular Clash of Clans. The similarities are endless and the adaptation minimal; for instance, the town hall is replaced by a palace and, similarly, other structures renamed. However, the game lacks the variety and the polish of Clash of Clans; as it lacks on several fundamental levels.
The gameplay is crude and the handling non-intuitive, the instructions are mere text messages from Baahubali as he generously uses the words senapati and generally trying to fill you with a purpose to play the game. The start screen looks like Age of Empires from 2003 and the combat happens in arid lands. The design, sound and controls are all reminiscent of a pre-2000 game and make you wonder why are you even playing the game in the first place. Once in a while, the game does emit a scary notification sound that often leaves people staring at you and wondering.
Game dynamics wise, it is a strategy-based game where one needs to construct structures and carefully balance resources to build both a thriving military base and a large army. The number of builders is restricted as the game uses a very aggressive micro-transaction strategy.
The Indian gaming industry has made few strides in the global context as all our developers generally do is test for established western studios. There is a paucity of original content and the games developed are merely “me-toos” of popular titles. Moonfrog seems to do the Indian gaming industry no favours by resorting to this strategy and by making poor watered down copies of popular global games.
Nothing about this game seems right, from the genre to the development and the execution. I am sure there exists a huge market of Indian players who would be willing to play an Action RPG with both the Baahubalis as they unpack smaller story narratives that the movie makers must have had to sacrifice during the time of production. This way, at least the fantastical world of Mahishmati would remain alive in the minds of the players long after the movies play out in theatres. I strongly think we need a newer “official game” in close collaboration with the developers of the movie franchise if they are serious about transcending their saga to the gaming realm.