Category Archives: Interactive Fiction

I'm probably not saying anything controversial by mentioning that like any other human, I have genre preferences. I obviously enjoy my superhero stories and flights of fantasy, and humor goes a very long way with me. I'm not that big on horror stories, however. Stories about ghosts and the paranormal have to work a little bit harder to get my attention. With that in mind, I wasn't sure how well I was going to take to Heart of the House [$5.99], a recent release from prolific gamebook/interactive fiction publisher Choice of Games. It's a Victorian-era story of the supernatural with a healthy dollop of mystery mixed in. While this isn't my usual cup of tea, the character development and overall high quality of the writing ended up winning me over...

We typically cover lots of interactive fiction and gamebooks, partly because the medium fits so well on the mobile platform but mostly because our own Shaun Musgrave is pretty obsessed with them. He is the GO TO gamebook expert in these parts. However, the latest release from prominent interactive fiction developer Choice of Games has an added wrinkle that's brought it to our attention: It's written by former TouchArcade freelancer Nissa Campbell. Longtime TouchArcadians will likely remember Nissa for writing circles around the rest of us, with her comprehensive and entertaining reviews and news stories. It's no surprise to me that she's gone on to create even bigger and better things in the years since being at TouchArcade, and the latest example of that is the whopping 350,000 word novel Heart of the House [$5.99] which just released earlier today. Here's the official description: ..




If you're in the mood for a drive down the Italian coast of the 1970s, you should check out the just-released Wheels of Aurelia [$3.99], the interactive Italian road trip game that we talked about earlier this week. In Wheels of Aurelia you play as Lella and set off on a road trip that will let you enjoy the sights and sounds of what was a challenging time in Italy's history while at the same time uncovering Lella's own secrets. This interactive visual novel lets you explore the branching story by driving down picturesque streets instead of choosing a different option from a menu, and I think that's a smart way of turning what would normally be a bland UI into part of the story. The game offers 16 different endings for you to explore, which should make for plenty of replayability...

'Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice' Review - A Strange World Where Lawyers are Hated

I wasn't the biggest fan of the previous Ace Attorney game, Dual Destinies [$0.99]. While it wasn't the worst game in the series by any stretch, it felt too much like an apologetic reaction to the backlash from Apollo Justice [$0.99]. It's clear from the end of that game that there were major plans for Apollo's story, plans that had to be changed or scuttled to accommodate the fans' demand for the return of Phoenix Wright as the chief protagonist of the games. Phoenix Wright himself had to have significant character development rolled back, as well. On their own, these aren't necessarily bad things, but Dual Destinies never really justifies that sacrifice. It doesn't want you to forget Apollo, of course. He's a major part of the game's plot, after all. But it does want you to forget any and all of the plot threads that they had been building around him, hoping you'll treat him like a second banana Scrappy Doo so that Phoenix can strut his stuff as the main underdog once more...

Another Lost Phone: Laura's Story [$2.99], the sequel to the very successful A Normal Lost Phone, is a tricky game to review primarily because its "value" doesn't come from great gameplay, a surprising plot, or terrific visuals. Instead, the game is primarily a vehicle whose primary purpose is to bring important social issues to the forefront and ask the player to acknowledge them in the real world. Another Lost Phone isn't subtle in how it wants players to consider it; after all, its iTunes description asks directly that if you close the app but are still thinking about the game, have you truly stopped playing? Since the game asks to be seen as a bridge between reality and fiction, it's only natural to evaluate it partly on that goal, and I have to say that the bridge is on the rickety side because the game is quite short and values puzzles over narrative too much...

'Simulacra', a Phone-Based Mystery Thriller Game From the Makers of 'Sara Is Missing', Is Looking for Beta Testers

The 'lost phone' format for text adventures is currently in vogue on the App Store, and I'm not entirely sure whether I like it or not. Don't get me wrong, the genre utilises the features of a smartphone to feel truly alive, and games like A Normal Lost Phone [$2.99] and its recent sequel Laura's Story [$2.99] have made fantastic efforts to include an immersive and important degree of social awareness in their narrative. That being said, such titles normally feel a bit voyeuristic and uncomfortable for me personally, but maybe that's why they're so engrossing. Simulacra is another game in a similar mould, and will mark developer Kaigan Games' next App Store release after their well-received title Sara is Missing [Free]. Featuring some realistic acting and typically believable takes on various smartphone apps, Simulacra will be another enthralling mystery thriller when it soft launches on the App Store on October 23rd...

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 [$3.99] 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 partly because 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...

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