A Review of the Habitica App

Emily Fox
Emily Fox
Jul 29 · 6 min read

I’ve been using Habitica since 2016. At the time I joined, I was struggling to reincorporate structure into my daily routine. I wanted to be more productive and spend less time on distraction behaviors like gaming, television and social media.

I tried lots of different time management methods and apps, but once I found Habitica, there was no looking back. Habitica is unique because it has a built-in system to help keep you motivated. As an avid gamer, this RPG-styled productivity app was a natural draw for me. After three years of almost daily use, Habitica is essentially my desktop landing page; I can’t imagine life without it!

About Habitica

Habitica (formerly known as HabitRPG) is a free task management app that launched in 2013. It works a bit like a turn-by-turn RPG. As you complete tasks and goals, your character advances; when you fail to follow through on those same goals, your character takes damage.

Although it’s more about productivity than playing a game, Habitica is fun to play and does a good job of turning your to-do’s and objectives into real-life quests to advance your in-game hero.

Habitica has many of the same recurring themes as other RPGs: you choose a class, complete quests, defeat bosses and mini-bosses, gather loot and gold, upgrade equipment, and collect pets and mounts.

An example of the thief, healer, mage and warrior classes.
An example of the thief, healer, mage and warrior classes.
Illustration by James Danger

The classes available are the standard Warrior, Thief, Mage and Healer. Each class has different skills and cast different buffs that affect your party in a variety of ways.

Socialization is integrated into the app through parties and guilds. (You can also play alone if you want.) You join parties to complete quests and defeat bosses and mini-bosses. Completing quests gives rewards such as gold, loot, gear, pets and mounts.

Guilds are a way to group up with like-minded Habiticans who share your interest or goals. Guilds don’t work on quests, but you can start or participate in a challenge, ask questions, get to know each other or keep each other accountable.

How It Works

What I love the most about Habitica is the way it organizes your tasks. If you’re looking for a “To Do” list, you can do that. If you’re trying to change habits (exercise more, turn off your phone at night, etc.) you can do that. If you’re at all like me and are in need of serious and extensive intervention to get your shit together, then you can use everything at once.

A hero looks up at thought bubbles showing three different types of task lists.
A hero looks up at thought bubbles showing three different types of task lists.
Illustration by Vampitch

Habitica has a column called Habits which are things you want to do more (or less) of. There’s a column called To Dos which is a straight-up task list. You can also set deadlines for your To Dos and create sub-checklists under them. The final column is called Dailies, which are things that you want to get done every single day. If you fail to do a daily, your character takes damage. If you take too much damage, your character dies and you lose a level, all of your gold and one random piece of equipment. You can customize your game and your lists to be as punishing or as easy mode as you’d like.

Parties

Being in a party is optional, but it’s probably the best way to take full advantage of everything available. Completing quests is the only way to collect pets, mounts and certain pieces of equipment, and you can only complete quests in a party. (Although you can be in a party of one if you really don’t want to socialize.)

An image of a large, green, firey dragon above a bar indicating he has lost approximately one third of his 2000 hit points.
An image of a large, green, firey dragon above a bar indicating he has lost approximately one third of his 2000 hit points.
Example of a Boss Quest. Pending damage shown is based on your completed tasks for the day, plus any buffs applied to your character.

When you’re in a party working on a quest, everyone in the party is trying to kill the boss, mini-boss or complete the quest. How many Habits, To Dos and Dailies you complete directly translates to how much damage you do to the boss or how far along you advance the party in the quest. If you fail to do Dailies, your entire party will take damage. This is one of the more motivating aspects of the app, because your effort (or lack thereof) directly affects everyone in the party. No one wants to let their team down!

It’s a really unique combination of gameplay and productivity: to develop the character of your online hero, you must develop your own character in real life.

Downsides

One downside to Habitica is paradoxically one of the best things about it: the party system. When you’re in a party, you’re vulnerable to damage from other party members not completing dailies, and hitting you with damage. There are ways around this: the person can rest in the Inn, and/or you can buy healing potions. Still, it’s possible you can lose levels and progress because of your party members.

Another downside is how easily you can cheat. It’s easy to cheat in levels for your hero, and subsequently get loot (every time you complete a task, you get gold, mana, experience and the chance for loot.) But if you do this, the only person you’re really cheating is you. You wouldn’t want to do that to yourself, now would you?

Finally, there are times when the app is down, but those times are pretty rare. Usually the development team resolves the issue right away. There was an issue a couple of weeks ago where the app was down for several hours, but that’s been the only incident of note in the past 3 years. That’s a pretty good track record in my book.

How is Habitica Free?

Habitica has a small development team and a group of contributors that volunteer their time coding, translating, writing and contributing art among many other areas where help is needed.

Habitica is funded by gem and subscription purchases. Gems are in-game currency used to buy backgrounds, pet quests and aesthetic character customizations. Users can purchase a subscription by paying $5 a month, or $48 a year. There are no game advantages gained by purchasing a subscription, but you do get gems, a unique pet and exclusive access to costumes, pets and mounts.

A hero sits on a pile of gold, surrounded by gold pets with a gold light shining on her from above.
A hero sits on a pile of gold, surrounded by gold pets with a gold light shining on her from above.
Illustration by Eyenne

If you love gaming and need a task management app, I highly recommend Habitica. They’re constantly adding new quests, pets, equipment and more. Every season they have special seasonal items in the shop. And if you get bored of your class, after you hit level 100 you can change to another class. There’s more to it then what I’ve included in this review, but if anything mentioned here intrigues you, you should definitely check it out.

The Habitica app is free, and can be played on your Mac or PC by visiting Habitica.com. You can also download the app on your Android or iOS through the App Store.

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