Category Archives: Interactive Fiction

TGS 2017: Hands-On with 'Stay', an Atmospheric Adventure Game

With mobile phones and tablets practically becoming everyday tools for many, they present a unique narrative opportunity for certain types of games. We use our mobile devices for all kinds of things: making calls, sending texts, checking the web, watching videos, listening to music, and more. They're a window into the larger world, and with that being their established role in our lives, there's no reason they can't also be a plausible window into a fictional world. We've seen some games play with this concept already, from games like Republique to Lifeline. The upcoming release Stay, from Appnormals, looks to build on this idea with an even greater level of immersion. I was able to give it a spin at the Tokyo Game Show and record it for you...

It's been a frankly ridiculous week for huge iOS games releases, and after the long awaited launch of Morphite [$7.99], as well as the surprise appearance of stunning puzzle epic The Witness [$9.99], you'd be forgiven for thinking it couldn't get any better than this. Not wanting to feel left out of all the iOS 11 excitement, Capcom have thrown their hat into the ring, and out of nowhere have released the latest game in their popular courtroom Ace Attorney series. Going by its full title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice [$0.99], this latest entry in the franchise debuted on the 3DS in June 2016, and the game's iOS launch means all six mainline Ace Attorney titles are now available on the App Store. With the same monetisation model as Apollo Justice [$0.99] - the base game is available for $0.99 with various episode in-app purchases optional - Spirit of Justice is essential for any fans of the series, and finally playable on iPhone and iPad...




'The Thief of Wishes' Is an Adorable Interactive Fairy Tale With Multiple Endings, Launching This Autumn

After spending the weekend watching classic Pixar films and reminiscing over my slowly fading youth, as well as going to see the brilliant 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's horror classic It, a cute, cartoony fairy tale story combined with creepy overtones is exactly what I need right now. Thankfully, All Blue Studio's upcoming interactive fairy tale game The Thief of Wishes manages to scratch this extremely specific itch, with protagonist Catharine travelling between reality and a nefarious nightmare realm to save her town. The sneak glimpse of the artwork that the developer has provided in the game's launch trailer conveys the duality at the heart of The Thief of Wishes excellently, and hopefully the story can stand up to this strong aesthetic design shine the title releases later in Autumn...

Sunless Sea [$9.99 (HD)], Failbetter Games' story-driven (or, perhaps, nightmare-driven) game, has dropped to $6.99, its lowest price ever, and it's definitely worth picking up if you like strong writing and a weird (in a good way) universe. As I talked about in my review of the game, Sunless Sea is a literary RPG that that you exploring a gloomy, uncharted sea called the Unterzee, and while the basic gameplay loop is stocking up your ship and sailing across the darkness, the game's brilliance comes from the wonderful writing and the great characters you'll encounter. Sunless Sea is all about your sanity (or lack thereof), so the further out you venture, the greater the rewards but also the greater the risk of your crew going insane and eating each other (yes, that can happen). I had a lot of fun going from port to port, discovering some really outlandish characters, having to trade and negotiate, all the while trying to ensure I could make it back safe and sane...

As a premise for a ChoiceScript game, the one Demon Mark [$5.99] uses is a promising one. Set in a world of Slavic mythology, the story sees your young sibling kidnapped by a dangerous demon. Named the Uhin, she brands your characters with a curse called the Demon Mark and challenges you to come and rescue your family member. With a sword at your side and provisions in your bag, you set out on a road trip-style adventure through a veritable who's who of Slavic folk tales. Although we've started to see more games taking advantage of this rich source of lore, it remains a relatively untapped setting that offers high potential. Demon Mark is at its best when it drops you in the thick of these fables, and the author's passion and knowledge certainly shines through. Unfortunately, it ends up dropping the ball on some of the more fundamental elements of a choice-based game...

Something about the writing style in Avatar of the Wolf [$3.99] almost immediately put me off. Most of the well-written gamebooks from Choice of Games have an almost velvety tone to their prose, gently massaging your brain and doing their best to make it comfortable. Avatar of the Wolf, by comparison, is thorny. The words feel shorter, less comfortable to read, and above all, aggressive. It's even disorienting at times. The way this story is written does as much to set the tone as the meaning of the words the writer chooses. It was jarring to try to slide into the main character. Yet it turns out to be precisely the atmosphere this story needs. Avatar of the Wolf isn't a fluffy tale of adventure that will appeal broadly, but give it time to spin its yarn and you might find yourself unable to put it down...

Fighting Fantasy Legends [$1.99] brings three classic gamebooks—City of Thieves, Citadel of Chaos, and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain—to mobile, letting you enjoy Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's legacy. This is the 35th anniversary of Fighting Fantasy, so it's amazing that after all this time, these books are still so popular. The game has you exploring Allansia, taking down monsters and rogues, and figuring out various mysteries as you try to complete your quest. The game deviates from the books, so it shouldn't be boring for those who've read the books in the past, and also adds cards that should help the game feel and play differently...

Hello everyone, and welcome to Musgravian Musings, a little space of my own where I can do some non-review reflections on whatever games strike my fancy. Usually, I use this feature to talk about recent game releases that I didn't review for whatever reason, but I'm doing something a little different this time. I tend to review the bulk of the many gamebooks, visual novels, interactive fiction, and other similar narrative-based games here at TouchArcade. Many readers have asked me about where they should start with the genre, or what my favorites are, so I thought that I might as well oblige. I don't want to bury you with choices, so I'm just going to keep this list to five (plus two) games...

The Sorcery! [$4.99] series came to an emphatic conclusion last year, and Inkle's groundbreaking gamebook titles have made a profound impact on mobile gaming as a medium. With some truly phenomenal storytelling throughout all four titles, and consistent support through successive updates over the years since the games initially launched, the Sorcery! series has been a reference point and pivotal example of both how serious and immersive experiences can be found on the App Store, but also how they can be catered to the platform's many unique strengths. For the first time in the title's four year existence, the original Sorcery! has today been made completely free to download - if you did somehow miss the game, its sequels and the universal critical acclaim every entry received over the past few years, this is a fantastic opportunity to finally immerse yourself in Sorcery's universe...

Historically, it's hardly been a rare occurrence for the Japanese games market to look almost completely different from those of the rest of the world. While easy internet access and converging technologies have brought previously distinct regions together, Japan is still often marching to the beat of its own drum. The mobile market is another fine example of that. To look at the Japanese App Store charts is to see almost an entirely different group of games than you might see elsewhere. Many of these games never get an English release, and when they do, they rarely catch on. The latest to try is Fate/Grand Order [Free], a social RPG/visual novel hybrid that has been tearing up the charts in Japan since its release nearly two years ago...

Classic Reload - 'Lost Treasures of Infocom'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the Classic Reload, the regular feature where our minds are forever voyaging. In each installment, we take a look at a game from the App Store's past to see how it's holding up in the here and now. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, reflect on their place in the overall library, or simply to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow. As the one most likely to be eaten by a grue, I try to choose a balanced selection of games to feature. If you feel like something cool is missing, please let me know. You can leave suggestions in the comments below. I can't promise we'll get to any suggested games soon, but they will be added to the master list for future consideration...

'To The Moon' Review - When the Moon Hits Your Eye

To The Moon [$4.99] is an experience that depends almost entirely on the way its story unravels, and the exceptional music backing it. Spoiling the story, any bit of it, beyond the premise would be doing any potential player a tremendous disservice. And while I can offer up all kinds of praise for the audio, it's not as though that's easy to convey through text. So what should I write here? Let's start with this: To The Moon is an amazing journey through the memories of a man who has reached the end of his life, and as long as you don't mind the fact that the gameplay doesn't involve much more than walking around and clicking on things, you really ought to play this...

'Sunless Sea' Review - A Brilliant Journey in a Dark, Fascinating World

When I reviewed Falibetter Games' Fallen London some time ago, I talked about how much I enjoyed the dark, twisted, yet also funny world the writers have created; it's not every day you journey through a London realized in an intriguing Victorian Steampunk aesthetic. While that literary RPG was great in terms of content and ideas, the app itself had huge issues that, unfortunately, kept players away. I'm glad to say that Sunless Sea [$9.99 (HD)], Failbetter's sequel of sorts to Fallen London, works pretty much like a charm on an iPad, and that made playing it much more enjoyable than Fallen London simply in terms of it actually working as it should...

AT Games hates you and wants to launch you into a black hole. That's what my time with Full of Stars [Free] revealed to me. They created an amazingly clever idea, something that takes a simple kind of space chase game as you dodge asteroids and other perils that fly past you. But this is just the core of a larger experience, involving an interactive fiction story that plays into the events of the game, including when you die on a level and try to continue. And then there's a curious long-term metagame as you try to rescue human survivors, and explore more of the war-torn star system you're in. The difficulty, excessive repetition, and ever-present monetization drags the experience down, but not to the point of killing the charm of Full of Stars' genius core idea...

To tell the truth, I've put off playing Versus: The Elite Trials [$3.99] for a while. I didn't particularly enjoy The Hero Project: Redemption Season [$4.99], the last gamebook from author Zachary Sergi, and I was worried that I had completely forgotten where the story left off at the end of Versus: The Lost Ones [$3.99]. That gamebook, which you should definitely play before getting into this one, was something of an information dump. There were too many characters to keep track of, lots of world-building, and a plot that threatened to branch off in some truly confusing directions. With more than a year passing since playing the first chapter of Versus and now, I wasn't confident that I remembered anything from it anymore and wasn't looking forward to having to refresh myself. I kept shuffling The Elite Trials to the back of my to-do list, and now that I've finished it, I feel pretty silly about doing that...

For all of the interesting themes that can be found in the published works of Choice of Games, one of the more common ones is that of war. I suppose that's no different from a lot of forms of entertainment, but it does start to feel like I'm re-living Disney's Mulan over and over again. Somehow a plucky (and usually lowly) hero manages to upset the certainly-evil invading bad guys almost entirely on their own, and usually gets a smooch or two along the way before being declared the best person that ever was. Yes, I'm over-simplifying, but it's only because this premise is starting to get a little weary. I had hoped Runt of the Litter [$3.99] would put a new spin on the theme, with its central conceit being that you need to raise and train a war gryphon. Indeed, it does play out differently than I would have guessed, but it's hard to say if that's for the better or the worse...

'Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze' Ep. 1 Review - A Fun Experience With Great Fan Service

Let me first start by stating the obvious; if you've watched even a few Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' episodes (currently on Netflix), you will enjoy Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze [Free] Episode 1 much more than if you know nothing about the Australian lady detective. Before getting into the review, let's talk a bit about the TV show because its spirit is carried intact into the visual novel adventure. The show takes place in 1920s Australia and is a procedural of sorts with an overarching narrative loosely tying it all together. Miss Phryne Fisher is a private lady detective who doesn't take no for an answer and manages to solve all kinds of crimes using her wits, persistence, and feminine wiles. The show is quite funny and definitely entertaining...

A couple of years ago, publisher 5pb released an English version of the cult Japanese indie horror game Corpse Party [$17.99] on the App Store. While it was plagued with some nasty bugs at launch, it was eventually updated to fix those major problems. The original version of the game, released on the Japanese PC-9801 platform in 1996, used RPG Maker to make a decidedly low-fi survival horror game. When the game's remake, BloodCovered, hit Windows and PSP more than 10 years later, the series finally went international. Its solid success overseas fueled a string of sequels for a variety of platforms, with the latest release being the PlayStation Vita game Corpse Party: Blood Drive [$31.99]. In an odd move, 5pb has opted to skip over all of the games following Corpse Party: BloodCovered to release an English version of Blood Drive on mobile...

One of the things I like about games and books is their unlimited possibilities; the stories we can create in both of those mediums are limited only by our imagination, especially when video games trade fancy visuals for text-based gameplay. Failbetter Games' Fallen London is one of my favorite games precisely for its imaginative and expansive world whose variety I find highly entertaining. Voyageur [$3.99], a piece of "interactive science fiction literature" as its developers call it, is inspired in many ways by Fallen London [Free], and that should come as no surprise since the game was produced in partnership with Failbetter Games. While in Fallen London you explore the streets and stories of an alternate Victorian-era London, in Voyageur you begin a one-way trip towards the center of the galaxy. Since this is a one-way trip, the game adds a roguelike layer to your typical interactive fiction experience, which attempts - thought not that successfully - to promote repeated playthroughs. Is the journey worth it, then? Read on and find out...

We first talked about Voyageur [$3.99] in June of last year, as its description as a "literary space exploration game" and "procedurally-generated science fiction novel" really caught our attention. We also found it interesting that Voyageur was part of the Fundbetter initiative put together by Fallen London [Free] developer Failbetter Games. If the masters of narrative and literary games at Failbetter were also backing an indie literary space adventure, well, it seemed like nothing but good could come from that. And as of just a few moments ago, we can finally find out for ourselves as Voyageur has officially released in the App Store...

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