Category Archives: Role-Playing

RPG Reload File 038 - 'Battleheart'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where the healer never heals quite as fast as we'd like. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the swirling mists of time to see if it can survive in our enlightened future society. It's a chance for some revisiting, reflecting, and going in different directions than a regular review typically allows. I'm your host on this little tour, and while I choose the course most of the time, this isn't just my bus to steer. Once a month, I put the choice to you, the reader, to select the game I'll be playing. Simply comment below, post in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or tweet me at @RPGReload with your choice, and you might just get to see me give it some time and a whole lot of words. Now that's something everyone can enjoy!..

'Fearless Fantasy' Review - The Stuff of Nightmares and Dreams

When tinyBuild’s turn-based RPG was released on Steam almost a year ago, players flocked to the game’s highly unique visuals and interesting take on RPG turn-based battle mechanics. Some even pointed out that the game would fit well on iOS devices. Indeed, we’ve been keeping tabs on a potential release even before an open beta was held on our forums earlier this year. Well, after a complete overhaul of the game’s art assets, as well as an extensive period of fine-tuning its mechanics, Fearless Fantasy [$0.99] is finally out on iOS and is well worth the wait...

'The Enchanted Cave 2' Review - Cave Glory

Enter the dungeon, go as far as you can, gather some loot, get some experience, and get out before you get killed. Go back in, get a little farther, grab a bit more loot, get a bit stronger, and escape again. Almost every great dungeon crawler has a pretty similar hook to it, and it works time and time again. It's fun to build a character, something that sits at the heart of almost all RPGs and, these days, plenty of non-RPGs. There's a certain thrill in finding a special piece of equipment we haven't seen before, too. But the biggest thing I think the sub-genre has going for it is its near-perfect realization of risk vs. reward. Oh, every game uses this to some extent, or at least the decent ones do, but the reward is usually something relatively meaningless. A little more progress, a nice power-up, a cool new gun, or something like that. The Enchanted Cave 2 [$2.99], like most of its dungeon-crawling brethren, puts an extra ante on the table, something more precious than any piece of loot: your time...

If nothing else, I'll give the developer of Soul Unleashed [Free / $4.99] this: I've never played anything quite like this before. Oh, all of the parts are familiar, to be sure, but the way they're combined here is quite unique. Better still, the combination actually works. What we have here is part single-player, turn-based dungeon crawler, part social RPG, and a dash of gamebook. It features probably my favorite implementation of the by now well-worn idea of bringing other player's characters into fights with you, and yet you can also play the game just fine without any internet connection. In the beginning, quests feel like little slices from a gamebook, but you're soon having to navigate labyrinthine dungeons and catacombs, fighting off monsters around every corner. It's an odd beast, but I ended up liking it quite a bit...

This week’s Final Fantasy: Record Keeper [Free] event is important for  a few reasons. First, it’s the English version’s first exposure to the Final Fantasy 8 record, complete with excellent sprite-representations of the game’s enemies. Second, it’s the first challenge event to offer an Elite equivalent for the event (complete with harder enemies, better loot, and higher stamina costs). Finally, it offers the opportunity to unlock FF8’s Rinoa, which is the first FF:RK character available and is an interesting character in her own right. In typical fashion, we’ve run through the event and have a few pearls if wisdom to impart as we go on the hunt to dispatch Edea...

'Demon Hunters: Dungeon of the Hell Dragon' First Impressions - Dungeon Crawling in 3D

Let's see if I can get your attention with two words: Fantasy XCOM. Pretty sure that worked. I've recently been playing Demon Hunters: Dungeon of the Hell Dragon (I know, not the most original title), an upcoming dungeon crawler by Wave Light Games that's gotten people in the forums very excited and for good reason. The developers, who come from a table-top wargamming and strategy-game background,  describe the game as a cross between Warhammer Quest and XCOM, borrowing the dungeon crawling and loot-gathering from Warhammer and the cover and line-of-sight aspects from XCOM. The game is currently in Testflight Beta, and while there's still a lot of work to be done, I like where it's heading...

Lifeline [$0.99] is a gamebook/choose-your-own-adventure novel that tries to do something a bit different from other games: it is designed as a game where you experience it through notifications as much as you do through the app itself, with simple A/B choices to make. It's got Apple Watch compatibility, so it's meant to be something that you can experience anywhere, at any time. It also plays off of the ways that we receive notifications on our devices, and wait for responses. It's a clever concept, with great writing, but it falls apart after the first playthrough, when the waiting gimmick quickly grows old and hinders the experience...

When about a month ago I decided to preview Soulspark - Battle Cards [Free], a new F2P real-time card battling game by Copenhagen Creators and Wizkids, I did so because I always look for games by designers who are trying to innovate or, at least, spice up genre conventions. I was very interested in the way SoulSpark's developers wanted to infuse card-battlers - which are usually defined by slow deliberation - with the element of timing and rapid decision-making. I was especially excited about the prospect of a multiplayer component in the game, which the developers have said they are working on for a future update. Now that I've spent more time with the game, I'm still loving the concept behind the game as well as the visuals, but there are some questionable, yet not game-breaking, design choices that detract from the experience as well as some hard paywalls that make SoulSpark more of a free-to-try rather than a free-to-play game...

RPG Reload File 037  - 'Final Fantasy 4'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we keep every severed animal tail we find. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past. It's a bit of reflecting, a bit of revisiting, and a chance to take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow us. The RPG world is a wide and diverse one, and I try to present a reasonably balanced selection from week-to-week. To help me with that, I turn the choice to you fine folks once per month. All you have to do is tell me your suggestion in the comments below, by posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forum, or by tweeting me at @RPGReload. I'll randomly choose a winner at the appropriate time, and plenty of fun will be had by all. Why, this very article you're reading is one such reader's choice! In the first week of June, this happiness could be your happiness, and all you have to do is say the name of a game. Pretty easy!..

'Trulon' Review - Right On, Trulon

Like everyone, I have my own set of personal biases and preferences that I have to work around. I love RPGs, but after years of social games and broken hearts I've come to flinch when I hear anything about a card battle system. I like card games well enough, but when they're used as an RPG concept, they tend to overtake the whole game. That's not to say I've never enjoyed an RPG with a card-based battle system. The Baten Kaitos games on the Gamecube were pretty good, and I certainly enjoyed the somewhat recent Card City Nights [$1.99] from Ludosity. But I'm not going to lie, it dampens my enthusiasm for a game just a little bit when I hear that cards are a major component. Because of that, even though Trulon [$4.99] was coming from a developer whose work I've greatly enjoyed in the past, I was still a bit hesitant as I loaded it up...

Dungeon Link [Free] is a clever game: it combines line-drawing puzzles, where you have to connect different sets of dots with lines that don't intersect, and makes it into an RPG battling system. Characters have different attacks and do more damage the longer their lines are, and the more they run over and by enemies. You can level up, combine, and evolve your characters, just like many free-to-play social RPGs, but the puzzle gameplay is the real hook here. Once auto-battling gets involved and the concept of the game just proves to be something you can just ditch entirely, then a lot of the charm that Dungeon Link first has goes away...

Sometimes getting a second chance works to your benefit, and this seems to be the case for Angry Bugs' Drylands, a post-apocalyptic RPG that briefly appeared on the App Store a few weeks ago only to disappear like all joy and happiness did in the recent Batman trilogy. Drylands' developers apparently fell victim to iOS 8.3 (as did many other developers, most notably Spiderweb Software), and decided to pull the game and fix it rather than just wash their hands of the whole thing. Many in the forums were wondering what the future holds for Drylands, and, fortunately, I have some good news on that front...

This week’s event in DeNA’s social RPG Final Fantasy: Record Keeper [Free] (which launched on Saturday night) not only offers a pretty awesome character in Final Fantasy VI’s Celes, but it also offers a first look at the third type of special event available within the game. As is custom for these events, we thought we’d take a closer look at the first of hopefully many Survival Events, provide some tips on the various bosses you may encounter, and then offer some closing comments on how best to utilize the Runic Knight as you venture into the Magitek Facility Infiltration event...

I'm generally terrible at roguelikes. What can I say, I'm young and reckless! But I love the genre (and its conventions that inspire other games) because they're highly replayable and demand that I get better at them. When Steam had its recent roguelike sale, I found out that I owned more than half of the games on sale – and bought a few more. So, MicRogue [$1.99] definitely appealed to me, especially as a bite-sized roguelike. And hey, I do love me some pixel art. Thankfully, MicRogue delivers solid, entry-level roguelike gameplay...

As a longtime fan of gamebooks and interactive fiction in general, I've enjoyed seeing the genre blossom on iOS, especially within the last few years. What's especially great about it is that it hasn't simply been the work of any one developer. The genre is far stronger for having a variety of voices like inkle, Tin Man Games, Forge Reply, and Cubus Games each doing their own thing. A lot of people who probably haven't picked up a physical gamebook since elementary school are enjoying the feast of choices we have available to us on our mobile devices. Each push of boundaries for the genre seems to widen the audience even more. A lot of the recent hits have focused on playing with the presentation or the freedom to move away from the traditional structure adopted from paper books. The monochrome sketches of Lone Wolf [$0.99] coming to life, the simple yet striking imagery of 80 Days [$4.99], the hilarious Kate Beaton sketches of Hamlet and company in Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], or even the rocking soundtrack of Heavy Metal Thunder [$4.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

'Ys Chronicles 1' Review - How Much Is That Dogi In The Window?

In my personal experience, I'm not sure if there's ever been as strong a case of sounding awful on paper but being outstanding in practice as Falcom's action-RPG Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished. I'm actually something of a latecomer to the series, though it was always in my periphery. During the old console wars, there were plenty of ads in game magazines for the SEGA Master System version, and later the TurboGraphx-16 collection of the first two games. It certainly got its fair share of positive press in reviews. In those naive years of my youth, however, I was a one-company boy, and my chosen team was Nintendo. Basically, that means my first experience with the Ys series was with Tonkin House's port of Ys 3: Wanderers From Ys on the Super NES. It was a bit of an odd duck in the series, but I didn't know that at the time. I wouldn't touch another Ys game for more than 20 years...

RPG Reload File 036 - 'Partia'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where no losses are accepted when we can just reload. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past. It's a chance to revisit an old favorite, reflect on how well it holds up, and take a deeper dive than our reviews typically allow for. With a genre so diverse that bloody feuds can start just by asking for definitions, it's important to present a balanced plate of games from week to week. I'll always do my best on that front, but just to keep me from going mad with power, I turn the choice over to you fine readers once per month. Simply make your suggestion by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload Club thread in the forums, or tweet me at @RPGReload and if the RNG gods favor you, your selection might pop up in the June reader's choice article. Why June? Because May's article is next week, and it's already been decided. As per a suggestion from reader Jonathan Leschinski, next week's article will feature none other than the legendary Final Fantasy 4 [$15.99]. Mark your calendars, friends. It's going to be a big one!..

Their last sale just ended, but Kemco's already rolling out their next one. I guess with that many games to your name on the App Store, you can pretty much just keep the sales coming if you want to. To be honest, this batch is a bit less exciting than the last one. All of these have been on sale before, and for cheaper to boot. But if you're looking for a new JRPG and really don't want to wait, you might find something in here to enjoy...

It seems that someone probably cast a spell or crossed a wire somewhere in the App Store because both Shadowrun: Returns [$1.99 (HD)] andShadowrun: Dragonfall [$2.99 (HD)] are currently on sale. When Harebrained Schemes announced a Kickstarter campaign to bring their cult Shadowrun Universe to the PC and iOS, many were both rightfully excited, because of Shadowrun's unique blend of magic and technology, and worried because many Kickstarter projects have been...short-circuited and never saw the light of day...

Spirit Lords [Free] from Kabam is their twist on the popular free-to-play hack 'n slash genre. Daniel Erickson, lead designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Phil Shenk, lead character artist on Diablo 2, played significant roles in the creation of this game. Additionally, Kabam wanted this to be what they term "white hat" free-to-play, where you can earn all loot through normal gameplay. What they've made is a solid action-RPG, with good touch controls, and a monetization system that can provide hours of play at no cost, but demands lots of grinding to be powerful...

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