Dungeon Hunter 4 review:

Epic gameplay if you have the patience

The freemium model rears its ugly head
Even with all the ingredients for a great hack-and-slash RPG, Dungeon Hunter 4 has one big issue: the freemium model constantly bugs you to spend real money. The currency you can buy in the game are diamonds and come in several tiered packages, depending on how much real money you want to spend. Upgrades have timers, but if you spend a few diamonds you can upgrade immediately. Want to remove a gem from an item? It will take five minutes, but you can always spend diamonds to speed up the process. As I played the game in testing, it really started to feel like everything in the game was for sale.

Dungeon Hunter 4
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Great-looking spell effects fill the screen in the heat of battle. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

It's not just upgrades. You also can buy powerful equipment and unlock skill slots to make your character unstoppable. I've never liked when developers let users buy their way to the top of any game, but Dungeon Hunters 4 is particularly shameless in getting you to part with your money for a little more power. Even during loading screens the game will advertise items you might want, but like everything else, it will cost you real cash.

The single most egregious in-app purchase element, however, has to do with healing potions. You start the game with three healing potions, but if you use one, it doesn't regenerate for eight hours. Eight hours! Healing potions are a big part of staying alive in a hack-and-slash game, so you will definitely need them. But once your three healing potions have been exhausted, you'll need to spend 20 (you guessed it) diamonds to get more if you're unwilling to wait through the recharge time.

Dungeon Hunter 4 has all the right elements for a great action RPG, but suffers from aggressive advertising of in-app purchases. I was able to play the game fairly well without spending a cent, but there were definitely rough patches where I felt underpowered, and the only way to improve my character was to spend some real coin. Eventually I got past the rough patch (with a lucky drop of a powerful weapon), but be aware this game will tempt you at every corner to pay for shortcuts.

Frankly, I would rather the developers charge me $9.99 up front to do away with all the in-app purchase shenanigans. In other words, this game would be worth an inflated price (compared to most apps) if it weren't so underhanded in the ways it tries to take your money.

Still, if you're a hack-and-slash RPG fan and love leveling up, upgrading items and skills, and battling your way through an epic fantasy storyline, Dungeon Hunter 4 has it all. But along with the class skills you obtain in the game you're going to need to learn another important skill: patience.

What you'll pay

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