Category Archives: Role-Playing

With our present knowledge of how well puzzles mix together with dragons, it's almost tragic that it took gaming so long to bring the two together. Fortunately, if there's one thing the video game business is good at, it's making up for lost time. The brilliant mash-up of puzzle and RPG in Puzzle Quest was pounded into a more specific shape by Puzzle & Dragons [Free], and with that game's success, the floodgates opened. Generally, games following that blueprint tend to come in with either a variation or replacement of the puzzle element, or an interesting new theme. Occasionally, you get a game that does both. Fable Age [Free], from Blue Tea Games, brings a bunch of new twists to the sub-genre, but the most prominent one is cosmetic. Instead of the "mythology plus Batman, Angry Birds, and whatever other cross-overs we can swing" approach of P&D or going with wholly original characters like Brave Frontier [Free], this game uses characters from fables such as Goldilocks or King Midas...

Even if you've never heard of the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks written by Joe Dever (with their sporadic publishing history I wouldn't blame you), Joe Dever's Lone Wolf [Free], a new adventure made specifically for mobile platforms, has got a lot of initial punch. While everything seems to start like any other gamebook you've played on iOS, as soon as you reach the first battle of the game, it's clear that this game has got some strong ideas about where to take gamebooks in the future. The 'Wow' factor of turning the page to an illustration that comes to life in full 3D can't be underestimated, but in its quest to escape the shackles of its old format, Lone Wolf trips over some very familiar problems inherent to its new one. In the style of our reviews of The Walking Dead [Free] and The Wolf Among Us [$4.99], this review will be appended to as each new act releases...

I think it's kind of interesting how if we look at the most successful genres in the free-to-play category, they really go about trying to make money quite differently. For people who aren't big on spending a lot of money on them, these choices color the gameplay experience dramatically. Building games generally hit you with long timers and premium buildings or units, making playing them more a matter of checking in a few times a day to sort things out. Racing games usually opt for relatively easy-to-consume energy meters but replenish fairly quickly, along with premium cars and expensive upgrades, resulting in a game you have to give a few minutes to several times a day to progress meaningfully. Basic puzzle games use lives and power-ups, so you end up progressing smoothly until you hit a wall, then bang your head against it until you get past. How generous you see each of these models, I think, depends on your lifestyle and what you're looking for out of a game...

'Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller' Review - Choose Your Own Kirk-Venture

Do you like Star Trek? Specifically, do you like the original series, with reckless Captain Kirk going on tons of away missions with Spock, Bones, and Redshirt, breaking the Prime Directive whenever he feels like it all in pursuit of adventure and alien love? If so, you're going to want to check out Tin Man Games's latest mobile conversion, Fighting Fantasy: Starship Traveller [$5.99]. It's an utterly shameless love letter to Star Trek, and it happens to be one of my very favorite books in the Fighting Fantasy series. I've played plenty of Star Trek games over the years, more than the franchise has deserved given the somewhat sorry state of quality they usually offer, but in my opinion, nothing has captured the feeling of the original Trek quite as well as this little gamebook written by Steve Jackson...

Ossian Studios' The Shadow Sun [$7.99] was in development for years before finally landing in the App Store last December, but it turned out to be worth the wait. We really enjoyed the game in our review, and it really is one of the more enjoyable Western-style RPGs on iOS. This week, The Shadow Sun received its second update since release. The first update, released in February, was mostly bug fixes, and this latest update contains some fixes as well. But it also includes a new dog companion which you can recruit to fight by your side and generally just keep you company. Yay a dog!..

In my younger years, I would often look through the ads in the back of games magazines, goggle-eyed at all the niche import games and weird pieces of hardware that, living in a very small town, I would never, ever have a chance to find in a local store. Ads were a liittle different back then, which was likely a result of the primitive nature of game graphics, and they had a tendency to, shall we say, oversell the concept in slightly misleading ways. If you had an active imagination, it was all too easy to read one of these ads and conjure up something in your mind that was far more entertaining than the reality. I'm sure we can all rifle off a variety of examples, but for me, one of the worst was the Barcode Battler...

Fans of PC Tower Defense titles may have heard of Prime World: Defenders [$4.99]. Originally released back in mid-2013, this 3D TD title made a splash offering a complete TD experience supplemented with aspects from a few other genres. Nearly a year later, Defenders finally makes its debut on iOS, a platform that should (in theory) fit it perfectly. While iOS TD aficionados will easily see that Defenders was obviously designed for the PC, it’s still a great title for fans of the genre...

Man, 2014 has already been an absolutely crazy year for roguelikes, and we're not even halfway into it. With the intensely strategic Hoplite, the everything-and-a-bag-of-chips Cardinal Quest 2, the unique sci-fi hybrid Out There, and the iPad port of the grand FTL, you might find yourself wondering how many more high-quality roguelikes you need on your mobile device. That's a valid question, and it's one that hits Quest of Dungeons [$1.99] right in the gut. This is a great, high-quality example of a roguelike, hitting all the expected buttons in the right ways. If you find yourself yearning for another good roguelike, particularly a fairly orthodox one, do yourself a favor, open up the App Store, and throw down your two bucks right now. If, however, you're still right in the middle of Cardinal Quest 2, only taking breaks to play Hoplite, it's sadly a bit hard to come up with reasons why you should add Quest of Dungeons to your cycle...

In the world of "throw RPG mechanics onto a tried-and-true game genre to create awesomeness," one of the most promising examples was Crossword Dungeon [$2.99] from developer Nolithius. Released in the fall of 2012, Crossword Dungeon was a game that blended crossword puzzle-solving with dungeon crawling and RPG mechanics. It totally worked at its most basic level, but was somewhat diminished by a lack of words and variety in its gameplay. It's been a long time coming, but a brand new update has solved most of those issues, and if you missed it before then Crossword Dungeon is totally something you should check out now...

Sliding in under the radar of this week's new releases is Shattered Planet [Free] from Execution Labs and Kitfox Games. It's a strategy RPG set in a sci-fi world, and it's peppered with roguelike elements. Your job is to explore randomly generated planets collecting items and gathering information on the various inhabitants. It's set up like a dungeon crawler in that you'll explore one area, find the teleporter, then get zapped into the next, "deeper" area. You'll gain better rewards the deeper you go. There's also a slight element of permadeath, in that each time you die you'll lose all your items gained during a run and get sent back to the world hub, ready to start over from the beginning. However, there are permanent attribute upgrades you can earn that will slowly build up your overall character level...

'Cardinal Quest 2' Review - Come On, Rogue!

It may have a name that calls to mind bright red birds or baseball, but Cardinal Quest [$3.99] is a pretty cool roguelike. Originally released on PC and later ported to iOS in 2012, it basically boils the genre concept down and streamlines it as much as possible. Interestingly, the way the developer went about simplifying it didn't so much remove depth as take the direct responsibility for handling it out of the player's hands. It proved to be a great fit for mobile platforms, and has a good following of fans, including me. Unfortunately for me, when I finally made the jump to newer hardware than my creaky old iPhone 4, I was a bit heartbroken to find that Cardinal Quest didn't work very well anymore thanks to the new dimensions of the screen. I was left waiting for the announced sequel, and after a fairly lengthy soft launch period, Cardinal Quest 2 [Free] is finally here...

You might have noticed lately, especially if you followed our GDC coverage last week, that pixely dungeon crawlers are so hot right now. Back in January, we told you about a new one called Quest of Dungeons, which appeared to be a very straightforward roguelike with a nice sense of humor and a great look. Well, if you've been looking forward to it, Quest of Dungeons [$1.99] officially launched in the App Store yesterday. Here's the trailer...

'Shin Megami Tensei' Review - A Genuinely Classic RPG Gets Its English Debut

We've reached a point in gaming where, at least when it comes to major franchises, there are very few great JRPGs that haven't been eventually released in English. There are no lost Final Fantasy mainline games, all the holes in Dragon Quest have been filled, and even less famous series such as Ys and Monster World have had previously skipped over installments finally brought to English gamers. There are still a few significant gaps, though, and for me personally, none more significant than the missing games in the Shin Megami Tensei series. This is a franchise that, largely through the popularity of spin-off series Persona, has never been so relevant in the west as it is now. Sure enough, missing games connected to the franchise have made it over, one-by-one, with the entire Persona series now available in English and even the cursed Soul Hackers finally finding its way overseas, but we're still missing the games that started the whole ball of wax...

Although many have tried, no one yet seems to have been able to reach the success of Gungho's hit, Puzzle And Dragons [Free]. One of the more successful attempts is Brave Frontier [Free], arguably the second-best Japanese RPG of the last couple years with 'brave' in the title. Like many games inspired by Puzzle And Dragons, Brave Frontier uses many of the same trappings outside of combat and replaces the puzzle mechanic with something totally different. If you're a veteran of that game, you're going to find Brave Frontier to be a cozy fit, with plenty of familiar strategies along with a bunch of new ones. If you're new to this type of game, you've got a lot of catching up to do, and you can start by reading this guide. There's quite a bit to this game, so this guide is mostly going to cover beginner tips and some general advice...

It's that time of the month again, where Kemco releases another RPG from their stable of developers using the same old engines and... Sweet Merciful Odin's Beard, it's 3D! Only partially, but still! Okay, I'm being a little flippant here. Most of Kemco's developers have each brought out a new engine in the last couple of years, but Alphadia Genesis [$4.99], from Across Age 2 [$3.99] developers EXE Create, is the first one to use polygonal graphics. It's a superficial advancement, to be sure, but a welcome one from a publisher whose games are generally pretty hard to tell apart for the layperson. It's something of a half step, since only the battles are rendered in polygons while everything outside of them uses the same old 2D sprite engine, but that's to be expected considering the giant jump in scope and budget going full 3D would entail. So, less Final Fantasy 7 and more Wild Arms, but it's still kind of cool to see a polygonal JRPG on iOS from someone other than Square Enix...

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