Care for a hearty bowl of Hobgoblin Chili? How about a tasty Grilled Griffon Cheese? These are but two dishes you'll make in Glu Mobile's newest iOS and Android release, Tavern Quest. The latest in a series of hybrid games, this mash-up lets you build and then customize your own tavern in the hopes of attracting more than 50 different heroes. Convince these warriors to stay, and you can send these brave adventurers on quests to defeat monsters and earn valuable loot along the way. You'll eventually hit a wall, with in-app purchases a viable solution, but the game's relaxing pace, cheery visuals and welcoming music help make it a guilty pleasure.
As the story goes, Tavern Quest revolves around a purple dragon with an affinity for cooking. This draws the ire of rival dragons that take sadistic pleasure bullying the innocent chef. Thus, he opens his own tavern with the goal of teaching those brutes a thing or two. Cute plot, but it doesn't factor much in the grand scheme of things. If anything, Glu merely uses it to set things up, and from there, lets you take control, though the dragon wanders around the tavern at all times.
To that end, it's in your best interest to attract heroes with specific posts that help bring in knights, clerics, wizards, barbarians and other types. From there, you match the hero with his or her favorite food. Then it's a simple matter of waiting for them to eat and then recruiting the hero to move upstairs, whereupon which he or she gets added to your stable.
Combat, meanwhile, is mostly automated, as you send the troops into battle and watch them kick butt or get decimated, though you're free to activate special attacks and use potions to heal them when necessary. As expected, they level up along the way, and this added strength will come in handy for defeating all those trolls, slimes, giants and mummies running amok.
It's a cool setup, and this being a freemium game, you'll need to accept the reality that after a short while, Tavern Quest will become quite difficult unless you spend money. Not only does it take an hour or more to cook certain recipes, but heroes spend a lot of time eating. You can speed up the process with red gems (gold credits in the Android version), but these are hard come by naturally, though Glu presents the option to snag some for free by liking Facebook pages and signing up for different services, including Netflix. In other words, and despite looking somewhat different, Tavern Quest is still the same old free game we've been playing for months, just with unique aesthetics.
That presentation, though, definitely sets the title apart from others in the category. Lively music plays in the background, while the visually appealing storyboards and happy-go-lucky customers heading in and out of the tavern give this game a relaxing vibe.
As with most freemium offerings, it comes down to how much you're willing to spend. If it's zero, Tavern Quest still provides 20-30 minutes of fun per day. Part with some green, and you may spend an hour or more pouring over the tavern, buying loot and killing creatures. Regardless of which avenue you take, this tavern warrants a visit.
What's Hot: Expanding and then decorating one's tavern, recruiting new heroes, discovering different recipes, battling monsters, free-to-play.
What's Not: Some recipes take more than an hour to complete, heroes take their sweet time eating.