Author Archives: Andrew Koziara


'Tormentum – Dark Sorrow' Review – Enthralled by Darkness

The App Store gods have been kind to my weird self this year, first with the gloriously twisted adventure tale of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, and now with another point and click adventure that is just wrapped in brutal art within a bleak world and some moral quandaries that leave you thinking.Tormentum – Dark Sorrow [$4.99] is an absolutely gorgeous powerhouse of an adventure game, and it is objectively incredible in many ways, even if it doesn’t appeal to your subjective tastes as hard as it does to mine...

As we all know, love it or hate it, freemium is a concept that is never going away. That said, there is a very specific subset of freemium that I like to call freemium fan service games. When a popular franchise or intellectual property wants to cash in on their loyal fan-base, slapping together a freemium game set within that world seems to be the way to go. But you know what? I love it sometimes. I’m pretty susceptible to some good fan service myself, and sometimes; not often, but sometimes, it makes the whole game worthwhile. Games like Star Trek Timelines [Free], while largely disliked by our community, still appealed to me as a huge trekkie, and the fan service within that game was fantastic. Well, if you’re partial to the ‘Tales of’ franchise of JRPG’s, then Tales of Link [Free] is the freemium fan service game for you, and has nothing to do with The Legend of Zelda if that’s also where your mind immediately jumped...




'I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream' Review – A Master Class in Psychological Horror

Some of you may remember from previous reviews of mine that I love horror and dark fantasy. Everything from Lovecraftian anti-existentialism to tastefully done psychological horror to torture porn to “2Edgy4U” bull-crap. I find something to enjoy in all of it. I also love simple stories of heroes and hope and overcoming hardships, don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy the darkest depths and the brightest heights of the human imagination. Well… if any one living author, and any particular story, represents those darkest depths, it’s Harlan Ellison and his story and point and click adventure game, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream [$3.99]...

There is no shortage of aerial dogfighting games in this world, both 2D and 3D. Tons of games try, fairly successfully, to capture that aerial combat dynamic, but very few are aces. That’s the kind of case we have on our hands today. Pilots of the Dawn [Free], from Sapeli Studio Oy, is brimming with talent and potential, and while it lacks variety in both gametypes and assets, what is there definitely shines...

You would definitely be forgiven for looking at the screenshots in this review and assuming this game was some kind of clone or expansion DLC for Monument Valley [$3.99]. But aside from the Escher-esque optical illusions in the levels, the design, mechanics, and even the other aspects of the aesthetics offer something completely different. And while Dream Machine: The Game [$1.99] isn’t quite the masterwork that Monument Valley is, it’s a beautiful, memorable 3D puzzle game, and a premium one with no IAP to boot...

Of the vast multitude of game types that just work really well on iOS, first person sniper games are definitely high on that list. Coming from AAA franchise names and high budgets along with one person indie developed stick man games, in freemium, premium, and everything in between. This is the story of one of those tiny developers. In fact, you may have played his last game at some point, Tactical Assassin [Free]. Well the ante has been upped, and what he’s put out next is, in my estimation, one of the first must have mobile game of the new year. I give you Lonewolf [Free]...

The App Store is pretty much overflowing with games that are trying to capitalize on your nostalgia. It seems like many developers hope that aping familiar art styles and systems will elevate their otherwise amateurish endeavors. There is nothing wrong with making a love letter to a series you enjoyed growing up, don’t get me wrong, but it’s becoming a tired gimmick. Then, a few cool cats from Russia follow the same principle of nostalgia, except like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, it’s veins are coursing with steroids instead of blood, and you get a game so jam packed with references and tropes that you can’t help but smile. Until the grind kicks in that is. This is Punch Club [$4.99]...

So here’s the deal. For one reason or another, I never seem to get around to playing titles from the Daedalic Entertainment. I own several of them because of Steam sales and Humble Bundles, but I just keep putting them off. Games like Edna & Harvey [$2.99 (HD)] or Deponia [$4.99 (HD)], also available on iOS, which seem great. When I saw the 2009 classic The Whispered World [$4.99 (HD)] come out exclusively for iPads, I downloaded it with the intention of finally playing one of this studio’s fascinating looking titles. This was nearly two months ago, around Thanksgiving of last year, and sure enough, I did it again! Caught up in the holiday hubbabaloo, I completely neglected this story of a sad clown who’s set to bring about the apocalypse. So dang it if this review was going to come way past the game’s release, I wanted to analyze and discuss this experience with you all...

There isn’t very much to say about virtual pets. We’ve all played with one at some point, whether it was a Tamogachi or a Clumsy Ninja [Free], and they all offer pretty much the same experience. They’re usually cute and also usually a bit shallow. So how do you direct someone’s attention to your virtual pet experience? By putting them in charge of one of the most destructive and incomprehensible monsters since before time was time, of course! And by making that elder god as cute as can possibly be, even as he eats his own servants because you forgot to feed him! Here’s the simple but amusing Cthulhu Virtual Pet [Free] from Silvia Sanchez and NeuroCreativa...

I mentioned recently in my review of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] that I love impossible games. One of those games comes from developer/publisher Invictus. Now, Invictus puts out a lot of games, very few of which actually interest me, though they seem to have found their footing in the last couple years. There are a handful of gems in their library that really truly shine. I'm talking the supremely elegant Greed Corp [$0.99], the heavy metal monster mash Tap 'n Slash [Free], and the game that I name dropped in said review, Give It Up! [$0.99]. While the original game grew with a handful of updates, a sequel was being made, and that sequel is pretty magnificent. I give you Give It Up! 2 [Free]. (I'd have gone with something like Give It Up Again! but I digress)..

They say that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Which is exactly why whenever I write reviews, I wear my furry Chewbacca bath robe. You don't get quite as disparate, or quite as wide of a gap, as a lowly beggar literally wearing the face of god and getting godlike power in the process. That's quite the promotion! And it's also the premise of the lovely puzzle platformer and debut App Store game from Bad Seed, The Beggar's Ride [$3.99]...

Sometimes, in life, the earth starts bursting at the seams with magma and fire while meteors and little chibi zombie para-troopers rain down endlessly from the sky and giant slime monsters slug their way across the earth. Sometimes, a baseball playing Robot gets caught up in all of that mess, and decides that if he’s going to go down, he’s literally going down swinging. And also hitting. And sometimes striking out. Such is the premise of Baseball Apocalypse [$0.99] from Thomas Janson...

I don’t know about all of you, but I was a pretty big Heroes fan when it was on TV. Yes, even beyond the first season, when the plot was crippled by writer’s strikes and a lack of focus and direction. I always found the characters endearing and I liked this less fantastical take on an X-Men kind of world. Great characters like ‘Horn Rimmed Glasses’ Noah Bennet, his lovely daughter the regenerating cheerleader Claire, the ever dramatic Petrelli family, and especially the boundlessly cheerful and entertaining Hiro Nakamura (My love of Sylar is variable to the season I’m watching). So imagine my (guarded) optimism and hope when a new series was announced in Heroes Reborn!..

'SPL-T' Review - Simogo's Super Simple Secret Stuffed Puzzler

No developer out there is so quick to buck trends and make risky, imaginative, original titles like Simogo. Heck, they don't even have an internally consistent style or handful of genre's they stay with. They've covered puzzle, rhythm, adventure, endless, all with different atmospheres. They're basically allergic to sequels and sameness. The single thread connecting their games is their talent for great, memorable game design. So when you look at SPL-T [$2.99], and I tell you it's the latest amazing game from Simogo, I fully expect you to look confused or laugh in my face...

What do you get when you cross the idea of sentient objects from Toy Story with eastern philosophies of reincarnation, but instead of toys, the objects are tools of all kinds, from phones to frying pans to bullets to weapons of mass destruction? You get one of the stranger games available on the App Store. Throw in a great minimalist silhouette art style and puzzles of death and blood shed, and you’ve got Redden [$2.99], a nifty title from earlier this summer that I nearly overlooked entirely...

When it comes to people like me, there's no such thing as "too much" Lovecraftian horror. I love to rep H.P. and the Big C whenever I can. There is just something so wonderfully visceral and imaginative about eldritch horror. Clearly, I'm not the only one who has been sucked into this particular abyss. We've already had a few solid mobile outings for Cthulhu and his gang of incomprehensible amorphous ungodly powerful monstrosities, such as Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land [$4.99], and a port of the phenomenally insane board game Elder Sign: Omens [$3.99 / $5.99 (HD)]. Technically we've had this game since December of 2013, but it's recently been re-launched in its final form with a happening new icon and complete feature list. I give you The Moaning Words [Free]...

If there is one thing an iPad is definitely great for, it’s digital board and card games. Such games can get a little crowded with the user interface. Especially tactics heavy turn based strategy games in the vein of Space Hulk [$4.99 (HD)] and the Hunters [$1.99] series. Hey! Speaking of those titles, I played a lovely little strategy game recently that is basically their illegitimate love child! It’s called Legions of Steel [$9.99 (HD)], and it offers an extremely diverse array of strategic gameplay exclusive on the iPad...

Deck Builders have really been on the rise in recent years. From the humble beginnings of games like Dominion, now we’ve even got Marvel and Alien deck builders. I’m really partial to this genre myself. Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer [Free] is a game I still log into from time to time and it has never left my phone or iPad. I think the appeal of deck builders comes from having every card you’ll need right in the box. You don’t collect or trade cards and meticulously build your own deck before even playing. You and your friends can play right out of the box with a much smaller financial investment. They’re massively approachable. Anyway, the point is, Deck Builders are my jam, and Splendor [$5.99] is a super tasty mixed berry jam that’s won several awards for being so darn tasty...

It’s hard to turn any corner in the app store without bumping into a match three game clad in plate mail, wielding a sword, slinging some spells and grinding experience these days. Block Legend [$1.99], 1000000 [$2.99], Hero Emblems [$3.99], Dungeon Raid [$0.99], and even Puzzle Quest 2 [$2.99] back in the day. It’s hard to stand out in this genre, but shockingly, each of the games I listed is very different from the next, and there is a crazy amount of flexibility and variety in what you’d call a match three RPG. Guardian Sword [Free] from Picsoft doesn’t look like much at a glance, but under the surface lies a deep and strategic experience worth checking out...

As a critic, you almost always inevitably face a response to your criticisms somewhere in the neighborhood of ‘Well let’s see you do better!’ As if one must first master an art rather than be a knowledgeable and experienced consumer of it to have valid criticism. You especially see these comments thrown at highly negative critics, probably along with a Molotov cocktail and a screaming honey badger. It’s pretty rare for those critics to reply simply with ‘OK, why not!?’ as Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw has done with his first ever mobile game, Hatfall [$1.99]...