Focus Quest: A Mostly Great App to Use Your Phone Less

I think this app is probably meant for children, but I like it. Its ridiculous complexity of currencies and redemptions grew on me, and I found myself more invested in the game than I expected, which might not be great for an app that’s meant to discourage you from using your mobile device.

The Focus Quest app logo, which says its name and (when cropped like this one is) shows two adventure characters charging out from beside it. But here, both the knight and the wizard have been altered to resemble Dollissa through use of red spectacles and dark curly hair.
My dreams come true.

Although I can obviously just stop any app and do what I want or just not use my phone through sheer force of will, it’s a nice reminder when I’m a little distracted that I was just working on something. Like this post! When I pick up my phone and see that marching little adventurer, it’s a cartoony and quick redirect back to my chores, writing, etc.

Focus Quest is an app meant to encourage you to get off your phone and do stuff off mobile. It’s probably theoretically meant to keep you “IRL” but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start the timer then use my computer sometimes.

The app has too many game mechanisms though. It has too many for a game, let alone a productivity app, and especially for an app that’s supposed to keep you off your phone. It could be simple enough, where you set the focus timer and earn points, then come back to progress through an adventure. That would be very cute.

Side by side screen captures of the app. On the left, the Dollissa adventurer (wielding a hammer and looking like an empty-eyed pink-haired Viking) is running towards some cute blue circular monster. There is a challenge where she should be focusing on things for 30 minutes -- she has focused for 22 so far. Along the bottom there is a big box that says Focus! and four smaller boxes that say: History, Stash, Shop, and Handbook.

On the right side, the screen grab shows that dollissa's avatar is attacking the monster. The bottom panel now shows five rectangle boxes which say: altar, dressing room, mystic cabin, time rift, and "coming soon."

On both screens, the bottom has an ever-present menu bar that lists: training, gear, events or focus (it changes), talents, and task.

And that is how it works! There are a few other nice things too. You can categorize the times you’ve focused, and then see little line or pie charts. Another good mechanism is the whitelist. Of course it’s totally reasonable that you may want to use one of the apps on your phone while focusing, so it lets you set a few you can use. But it costs in-game currency (earned from focusing).

But there’s Even More. You can earn and equip gear. You can also forge new gear with recipes. There are battles and boss fights. There are quests, but also daily and weekly quests. You can use a different currency to train and level up at things like HP, Attack, and Skill Attack. Then there are skills which are different from training somehow. And then also a “glyph” to add specific points for the training things again (HP etc.). You can also choose a class. There are events. There’s a cabin where you get some random prize. This is where it’s too much and I find myself wondering why the app to not use my phone is encouraging me to spend more time in it.

It recently introduced some more timer features which are both more forgiving and less. Now instead of setting the timer and coming back when it’s complete, you can just start a stopwatch-type timer and end it any time, while still earning points. With the standard timer option, you’d lose everything if you ended it even one second before the timer finishes. Now I can safely earn points in my sleep, which is surely what the app is meant for. Wait.

Another side by side screen capture of two screens, this one shows the dollissa running along a bridge or top of a castle wall. There is a timer bar underneath, one side shows 17 minutes and 58 seconds and the other shows thirty-five minutes and five seconds. On the left the dollissa is saying in a speech bubble: "Pay attention to your real life, not your phone." On the right side, the dollissa is saying: "Put down the phone and focus."
I forgot to mention that in this game where you are supposed to not use your phone, you can still watch ads for points.

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