Category Archives: Interactive Fiction

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...

All the way back in 2012, the cult Japanese horror game Corpse Party was released on the Japanese App Store. It took more than two years for the English iOS release of Corpse Party [$17.99] to come out, and when it did, it suffered from some early issues with bugs that were eventually resolved. The sequel, Book of Shadows, has been available in Japanese for quite some time, but as of yet, no English version has come. That makes it interesting that the follow-up to Book of Shadows, Corpse Party: Blood Drive [$31.99], released today in both Japanese and English versions simultaneously. Hopefully this is a good sign for future English releases from publisher 5pb...

Cannonfire Concerto [$3.99] is another gamebook release from Choice of Games that offers an unusual premise and excellent world-building. You play as a touring musical virtuoso in a setting that has something of an 18th century European feel. It's a time of momentary peace for the region, but things are starting to fire up again. It's up to you to decide whether or not you want to get involved and which side you'll pull for, but whatever you choose, the show must go on. Written by Caleb Wilson, Cannonfire Concerto is a lighter and faster-paced read than some of the last few ChoiceScript games released, but that doesn't stop it from creating an interesting setting and having a good bit of fun with it...

In my first year or so here at TouchArcade, it felt like Tin Man Games had something new coming out pretty regularly. In the last couple of years, however, the well-known gamebook developer has opted to spend more time with each release, with the results being quite impressive. From the experimental subscription-based gamebook app Choices to their stunning conversion of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, it seems like a new era for the Australia-based developer. Falling somewhere in the middle of those two is Tin Man's first crack at the popular visual novel genre, Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze. The first chapter is due out on February 8th, just a few weeks from now, and it's looking great...

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

'Empyrean' Review - Empyrean Rex

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Empyrean [$5.99], one of the recent releases of prolific gamebook publisher Choice of Games, doesn't start off on a good foot. Major events are happening to your character before you can even get your bearings, and it feels like the story is telling you a lot more than it's asking you. It doesn't help matters that the game's primary setting, the dieselpunk-styled city of Actorius, has a lot of lore to explain. The whole thing comes on a bit too strong initially, and I had to force myself to push through it in the early going. Give it some time to unfurl a little, however, and Empyrean proves to be great fun. It's a pulpy thing, to be sure, but it's high-quality pulp. I ended up enjoying it so much that even though this is one of the longer ChoiceScript games I've played, the time seemed to fly by...

Nomads going on massive treks across the land with their tribes in tow. A lot of quality entertainment has been mined from that concept, most notably in recent gaming history with The Banner Saga [$9.99]. This time, Choice of Games is taking a crack at it with Saga of the North Wind [$5.99], a relatively lengthy adventure gamebook from writer Tom Knights. It's a good idea for a game like this, and the quality of the prose here is strong, but a few elements keep it from being all that it could have been. If you've got an interest in the topic matter, though, you'll probably find something to like here...

A few years back, I got into the show Pretty Little Liars, and I'm still not sure exactly why I did so. It is a pretty entertaining show, and even though I'm not the target demographic - I know many, many teenagers who love that show - I still enjoyed the, well, interesting plot lines and the entertaining mystery. The show is launching its final season in 2017, but you can continue to enjoy the glorious adventures of Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily, in the form of an interactive fiction game. Specifically, Pretty Little Liars is launching today on Episode [Free], the interactive stories platform that has hosted stories like Mean Girls in the past...

RPG Reload File 099 - 'Joe Dever's Lone Wolf'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we do it all for Sommerlund and the Kai! Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to see how it's doing 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 one of the last remaining Kai Lords, I try to choose a balanced selection of games from week to week. If you feel I'm missing something important, however, you can let me know by posting in the comments below, stopping by the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. The schedule is planned well in advance, so I can't promise you'll see your suggestion soon, but I will add it to the master list...

If you were an iOS-only gamer following Capcom's Ace Attorney series, things probably got a little confusing with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies [$0.99]. Why did it seem like Phoenix Wright was coming back to his job from a long time off? Who is this Apollo guy that takes up a third of the game? Wait, Phoenix has a daughter? What's up with that? I'm not sure why Capcom decided to give mobile players the fifth game in a series before the fourth one, but they've finally decided to fill that gap. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney [$0.99] is a beautiful remaster of the original game which, up until now, was exclusively found on the Nintendo DS. While the graphics aren't polygonal like Dual Destinies, they were originally rendered at a much higher resolution than the Game Boy Advance sprites that were redrawn for the Phoenix Wright Trilogy. It's also, for various reasons, generally not as well-liked as most of the other installments in the series. Nevertheless, it's safe to say that if you enjoyed your time in the courtroom in previous Ace Attorney games, you'll want to show up to the stand here, too...

'Apollo Justice Ace Attorney' Hits the App Store

We're just mere moments away from our usual "Out Now" post, but I figured the arrival of Apollo Justice Ace Attorney [$0.99] was worth it's own little heads up. For those keeping score at home, Apollo Justice is the fourth game in the beloved Ace Attorney main series, though it doesn't actually star everyone's favorite ace attorney Phoenix Wright. No matter though, as our own Shaun Musgrave notes in the original announcement of this iOS port, "Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is both important to the overall story of the series and still a pretty awesome game in its own right." Just over a week ago the release date for Apollo Justice was announced, with iOS hitting right now and the Android version coming just one week later...

Our culture's fiction has a fascination with werewolves. We've explored what it would be like to be an American werewolf tourist in Europe, what it would be like to have a werewolf Michael J. Fox, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend, what it would be like to have a werewolf boyfriend who competes with our vampire boyfriend but then ends up being the boyfriend of our daughter instead, and so on. But I feel we could be doing a better job of digging into the fascinating subject of what it would be like to have a werewolf member of congress, a niche I was hoping Congresswolf [Free], a recent gamebook release from Choice of Games, would fill...

South Korean indie developer Somi has already made an impression on mobile gamers when his twisted puzzle platformer RETSNOM [$2.99] made its way from desktop to mobile just last month. Now he's brought another one of his desktop hits to mobile in the form of Replica: A Little Temporary Safety [$1.99] which arrived earlier today. Replica is a point-and-click adventure at heart, and plays out via a fake smartphone interface which you must poke around and inspect in order to unlock the secrets of the phone and its original owner. You're doing all of this at the Government's insistence, which leads me to think that there will be more to this story than meets the eye...

Back in early August, we caught our first glimpse of an upcoming courtroom drama game from developer Atreyu Games called Twelve Absent Men, and just over a month later we saw it in action with a humorous trailer. Apparently, the game quietly snuck out last week and as of today you can download Twelve Absent Men [$4.99] on the iOS App Store as well as on Google Play. Twelve Absent Men pokes fun at the tropes in your typical courtroom dramas on television and in movies, which always have a way of doing magical things like instantly going to trial after arresting a suspect and of course angering a judge into holding someone in contempt of court. ..

Capcom's Ace Attorney series has seen many twists and turns since its debut on Game Boy Advance in 2001. Initially only available in Japan, the series was brought to the world via Nintendo DS remakes. For the most part, those remakes were pretty close to the original games, but the remake of the first game included a new case designed to set up the then-upcoming fourth Ace Attorney game. Much to everyone's surprise, however, when Ace Attorney 4 was announced, it didn't star the previous protagonist of the series. Instead, the baton was passed to Apollo Justice, albeit with an awfully familiar mentor...

Back when I reviewed developer AJTilley's first visual novel release on iOS, Sword of Asumi [$1.99], I found myself underwhelmed by the weak follow-through on what I felt was a fairly good premise, but had some hope for future releases from the team. Well, we now have a another game from AJTilley, and I have to say that I'm a lot less optimistic about their future work. Divine Slice of Life [$3.99], like the developer's previous effort, has a good enough premise. You play as the reincarnation of Zeus who had been living a normal student life until two demigoddesses came crashing in, demanding you marry one of them and ascend to the Pantheon. Silly? Sure, but romantic comedies often are. Unfortunately, just as in Sword of Asumi, a decent premise ends up being entirely squandered. Somehow, it's even worse this time around...

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