Chapter One: Introduction
Ella 2048 is a free-to-play mobile game once available on Nuntaku’s Android store. Unfortunately, this game no longer available for download as of October 30th.
In an announcement relayed via push notification, the developers wrote;
😔(ㅠ﹏ㅠ) Goodbye Ella2048😔
Sorry Ella Masters.
Our wonderful journey is getting close to an end and Ella2048 will be discontinued on Nutaku. Thank you everyone for the love and support and we hope we could offer you a wonderful experience. The game will shut down on October 30th.
Thank you everyone who has been with us for so long enjoy some rubies for a bit of fun 💎
I’ll talk about Rubies later in this article, but the exact number was 15,555 — equivalent to at least one-hundred dollars in microtransactions! In light of Ella 2048‘s upcoming closure, I have decided to double down on this article and send this game away with a proper review.
Chapter Two: Gameplay (3/5★)
Section One: Overview
As the name implied, Ella 2048 was a variant of the “2048” game (with a blend of “freemium” nonsense, of course). 2048 is a simple, turn-based puzzle game; the goal is to combine like-numbered pieces to reach a value of “2048” (hence the name of the game). Ella 2048 transformed 2048 into an RPG, leveraging the puzzle gameplay as form of combat.
Section Two: Combat
Each game piece was actually a character in the game known as an “Ella”. Battles were fought by merging Ellas to deal damage and recover from attacks. As the game progressed, merging Ellas into stronger variants was imperative to overcome tankier, heavier hitting baddies.
That’s where a big part of the game’s advertised “strategical puzzle-based” gameplay came from.
The playing board had limited space. If that space was filled in a way which prevented Ellas from being merged, it was “game over”. Every turn, an Ella of the lowest value (4) was spawned on a random, free tile. As the board was filled with increasingly high value Ellas, it was necessary to plan moves in advance to prevent locking down the board with an unmergeable mixture of Ellas.
Or you could entrust “Auto” to let the game play itself. While not as competent as a player, Auto was a tool for grinding early stages to prepare for battles that may require player intervention.
Ellas were either classified as “Attackers”, “Defenders” or “Healers”; Attackers traded survivability for damage output; Defenders provided damage resistance; and Healers restored lost hit points. Healers and Defenders were essential for pursuing the story, but in gameplay modes where no damage was dealt to Ellas (such as “Time Attack”) it was possible to go all attackers. In fact, in competitive modes it was usually better to double down on Attackers to climb the leaderboards.
Additionally, all Ellas and monsters were assigned an element. Part of team building was selecting Ellas with elemental advantage against adversaries. Players could save up to five different teams to quickly switch between compositions. This mechanic was great for pursuing Stars, an objective-based system which awarded level completion using specific team compositions.
Section Three: Progression
Ellas were bolstered outside of battle via Boosting, Upgrading and Limit Breaking; Boosting leveled-up Ellas by exchanging Material Cards or unwanted Ellas for experience points; Upgrading exchanged equal rarity Ellas to increase the maximum level; and Limit Breaking combined two of the same Ellas for a small, percentile-based increase in overall effectiveness.
Completing stages would net a mix of Material Cards and common Ellas. Earning Ellas through battle was a great way to bolster starting teams, but only Ellas summoned with premium “Summoning Stones” had what is takes to make a meaningful impact on your team(s).
Summoning Stones were a premium currency earned from login rewards and daily challenges. The more stones that were spent at once, the better your chances were for a worthwhile addition to your team; the disparity between free and “premium” Ellas in Ella 2048 was night and day.
Section Four: Balance
Most players would have met their first roadblock upon reaching the end of “Area 1”. Bosses battles were a huge difficulty spike, requiring substantially stronger Ellas than those it takes to reach them. After a few weeks of gameplay, the grind was ridiculous. I could hardly play the game — I only logged in to grind (futilely) every other hour using the “Auto” button.
After a month of gameplay, it took me days to make any progress whatsoever. I needed to spend money to push through through Area 3 in a reasonable timeframe. But I stuck to my guns as a “free-to-play” player. . . only to get stuck again half-way through Area 4.
I stopped playing the game until I was sent 15,555 Rubies (as a parting gift before the game shut down). After spending over thirteen-thousand of those Rubies (which was equal to about one-hundred USD), I made some progress with a few more days of grinding and some new Ellas. It was still an uphill battle — but eventually, I was able to reach my next roadblock.
BlackHolly, the final boss of Area 4 was the last enemy I saw before the game shut down.
Section Four: Paying to Play
It shouldn’t come as a surprise Ella 2048 was a slow grind with timers and paywalls. After all, the developers had to sell “rubies” somehow.
Rubies were Ella 2048’s “premium” currency. They cost between one and .87 Nutaku Gold, depending on how many were purchased at a time. Nutaku Gold may be purchased from Nutaku themselves for a penny each. Alternatively, if you opt for a subscription plan, Nutaku Gold can cost as little as 0.74 cents a piece.
So, were rubies worth it?
Ninety rubies could be exchanged for a random Ella of the lowest tier. If you pulled a duplicate, you might as well had burned your money — pass. 1,200 rubies (or about twelve dollars) could be exchanged for a random Ella of any non-common rarity. Whether or not you got your money’s worth is a coin toss, but risking rubies on the possibility of commons was a risky game.
I found that Rubies were worth spending on Ella Summoning. I would argue there was no better way to spend them; Ellas are directly tied to progression and sexual content, determining the strength and flexibility of your team and what animations are available via “Affection”.
Rubies could also be used to purchase “Energy”, an essential resource for playing the game. It cost between 1.7 and 1.3 Nutaku Gold per Energy, depending on how many were purchased at a time.
By the time I reached Area 4, the cost of playing a mission was between five and six Energy. Assuming one were to spend 2000 Nutaku Gold for 1,560 Energy, and assuming it took roughly thirty seconds per battle (although mine were as little as two), that’d be about two hours and thirty-six minutes of consecutive gameplay! In other words, playing Ella 2048 cost roughly $5.69 per hour, provided Rubies and Energy were purchased in denominations of twenty dollars.
Of course, if one were to play the game by hand (as opposed to relying on “Auto”), they’d get more time out of their Energy — but they wouldn’t get anywhere in the game. A big part of powering up Ellas was grinding out thousands of battles to make upcoming missions even possible.
Unfortunately, spending Rubies on Energy was pretty much unavoidable.
Chapter Three: Sexual Content (2/5★)
Section One: Content
Ellas collectively share 191 unlockable scenes, a mix of animated and comic book-style sexual content. After about a month of religious gameplay, I unlocked less than ten entries — and only three of them were animated sexual content.
A few comic book panels showed Merthings groping captured women, but there wasn’t any actual rape. For the most part, the gallery is comprised of Ellas having consenting intercourse with the player character, Master. There are a few illustrations which show non-playable characters, but they’re somewhat uncommon.
Section Two: Implementation
Each Ella had one or more sexual animations that were unlocked by leveling up her “Affection”. Affection was increased by spending “Hearts”. One Heart was restored every thirty minutes until reaching maximum capacity, ten. The idea was to log-on at least once every five hours to insure you weren’t wasting any hearts. It took days to garner enough affection to unlock so much as a nude portrait — and weeks to unlock a sexual animation.
And that was only if your Ellas were in a good mood.
The effectiveness of Hearts was determined by “Mood”, which was selected at random on a day to day basis. But the Affection process could be accelerated via “Ruby Affection”. Ruby Affection not only provided more progress than Hearts, it improved selected Ellas’ moods (go figure). However, Ruby Affection rapidly loses effectiveness as Ellas’ Affection levels up — and starting at roughly fifty cents per use, Ruby Affection is a quick way to fuck up your credit card.
As an experiment, I counted the number of Hearts I needed to spend on a low rarity Ella to unlock all of her respective adult content (to note, high rarity Ellas require significantly more Affection to unlock content). One Ruby Affection and 282 Hearts later, I unlocked her first animation
One Ruby Affection and 369 Hearts later, I unlocked her nude “costume”.
Now remember — a single Heart took thirty minutes to restock, and you’re only allowed to have ten at a time. Assuming you slept for no more than five hours at a time, that’s at least twenty-eight logins spread out across six consecutive days for a single animation. As for in-game nudity, that’s about thirty-seven logins (or about eight consecutive days).
To be fair to the developers, Hearts and Rubies were regularly awarded by simply playing the game and completing objectives — but even with ten Hearts here, Fifty Rubies there, unlocking anything worthwhile with a healthy sleep schedule took weeks.
Section Three: Interactivity
The animations took advantage of your phone’s gyroscope, moving the background as your phone was tilted. . . but that’s about it. There wasn’t even a “climax” to skip to because the animations are just quick loops.
Section Four: Quality
The characters were hit or miss. I wasn’t fond of the male characters, and the women look like a mix of stock “toon” characters from Daz Studio. When I make 3D content using Daz Studio, I produce all of my characters by modifying a single “base”. This insures my creations are not only stylistically consistent, they look less like premade assets from the store.
As for the animations, it was like watching jelly shake. Although the models appear to be 3D rendered, the animation was more comparable to Live2D offerings. Ellas were sort of carefully stretched to simulate movement. It likely got the job done at a fraction of the price of 3D animation, but boy does it look bad.
Well, not all of the animations were bad, but most of them were.
Most unlockable content is confined to comic book panels or static images (with gyroscope-controlled backdrops). It sucked grinding for a week just for a picture. I could make my own animations in the time it took to unlock them!
Chapter Four: Story (3/5★)
Section One: Plot
The year is 2048 AD. The ongoing battle for dwindling planetary resources has reached its boiling point — so called “Superpower nations utilized the latest advanced weapons”, “destroying most of the Earth and countless lives”.
These mutant creatures “were ceaseless, killing machines without restraint, ravaging everything in their path.” They came to be known as “Merthings”.
What a dumb name — they should have just called them “bio mutants” or something.
In response, “Siena, a bastion of civilization, developed cutting-edge DNA technology to create genetically engineered humans called Ellas. Born ready for combat and empowered by sex, they are humanity’s last hope.”
I have a feeling being “empowered by sex” wasn’t actually necessary for battle, but hey — when you’re playing god, why not add sex machines without restraint while you’re at it?
Section Two: Characters
The player character ruined everything (but maybe you wouldn’t mind him). “Master” was likely intended as a sort of self insert, donned in baggy robes with a paper-thin personality. He’s the least interesting character in the story — I would have rather watched Sam, the plucky Ella technician get it on with his crushes.
Yes, I understand he was intended as an “ugly fat nerd” stereotype. But let’s be honest, that’s probably ninety-percent of people that would be playing this game anyways. But not me of course, I’m not fat — that’s just my “winter coat”!
To be honest though, I didn’t pay much attention to the cast. Since the game is now shut down, I only have a limited pool of screenshots to purearse to learn about the cast. But something I enjoyed about the game was all of back-and-forth dialogue before each battle. It was nice to be reminded Ellas are humans, not just a mix of eye candy.
Well, they were just eye candy, but I appreciated every bit of writing.
Chapter Five: Sound (1/5★)
Section One: Soundtrack
I was not impressed by the musical offerings of Ella 2048. For the most part, they felt out of place. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was playing a reskinned mobile game. . .
Section Two: Sound Effects
Combat is appropriately fantastical and navigation sounds as it ought to for a mobile game. However, battles are crazy annoying because the same sounds are played in rapid succession.
Section Three: Voice Acting
I don’t understand Japanese, so I can’t vouch for the quality of acting. There is little acting to speak of, but I enjoyed the one-liners that are played as story content unfolds. I love Master’s out of place “Okay!” which never fails to ruin the mood.
However, the voice acting played during battle gets old really fast. Each Ella only has a single combat line which played constantly. Considering the grind, it’s unacceptable to playback the same audio so many times within seconds of each other.
Chapter Six: Visuals (4/5★)
Section One: User-interface
The user-interface was surprisingly uncluttered given the business model of the game. Typically, when I play “freemium” games I expect to be bombarded with limited time or FOMO (fear of missing out) offers left and right. They were in the game, but you had to go out of your way to check ’em out. I appreciated having more screen space dedicated to my Ellas!
Ella 2048 provided clear-cut, easy to understand tutorials on the operation of application and gameplay mechanics. The “Help Guides” were clear and concise with great visuals, no doubt useful material for new and returning players alike. The last “freemium” game I played was Action Taimanin and it had only the bare minimum support for learning the game.
Seriously, if you want to learn the ins and out to Action Taimanin you have no choice but to poke around for user made guides. You’d think a company that can sell skins for over forty dollars each would be able to hire an extra writer you know?
Section Two: Graphics
Between Master, Merthings and Ella, the game felt totally canned. The Merthings didn’t look like “biochemical weapons” — I could see them in any vaguely sci-fi or fantasy-themed game! Despite Ella 2048 taking place in the post apocalyptic future, Ellas sported a strange variety of outfits.
For example, Lily wore a skimpy police outfit modeled after modern uniforms — wouldn’t it have made more sense for Ellas to wear say, high tech bodysuits? Or maybe skimpy bodysuits?
On another topic, I didn’t like how the loading screen featured nudity. Considering Ella 2048 was a mobile game, it’s likely players opened the application in public spaces. After all, to take full advantage of regenerating Energy and Hearts it’s necessary to log in every few hours. It’s a little awkward explaining why there’s a naked lady on your screen, yes?
Chapter Seven: Verdict (2.5/5★)
The gallery is so difficult to unlock and the content so underwhelming, it wasn’t worth playing the game for adult gratification. So, how did the game hold up without boobs?
Well, Ella 2048 was not free-to-play or pay to win friendly. If you didn’t pay, you wouldn’t progress. If you did pay, you’d find it costs an hourly premium to play with purchased Ellas. Normally, I’m okay paying for “review purposes”, but I didn’t want to spend any money on a game I wasn’t enjoying.
In retrospect, I’m really glad I didn’t spend anything since the game was shut down shortly after I played.
It wasn’t the core gameplay which drove me away — it was the gross difficulty curve, lack of accessible adult content and the overtly restrictive “energy” system. But as long as you’re okay with spending weeks grinding for pictures, Ella 2048 is an alright time waster if you only need to fill ten to fifteen minutes of your day with on-the-go “strategical puzzle-based” gameplay.
If you haven’t already signed up for Nutaku, be sure to use my referral link for free Nutaku Gold. Help yourself gain access to the goodies — and help me show you where they’re hiding!