Category Archives: Role-Playing

'The Last Warlock' Review - A Strife Less Ordinary

Like every genre, turn-based strategy RPGs have a certain common grammar to them. Most decent ones will bring their own ideas to the table, but the core gameplay rarely ventures outside of the well-established rules of the genre. Likely owing to its roots in chess and similar strategy board games, there's a certain rigidness inherent to this particular sub-genre that you might not see in others. While many games try to push against that by trying to offer the player a more free-form experience, balance is generally considered paramount. The more freedom a game gives the player, the harder it's going to be to maintain that balance. The end result is that once you've learned a good set of strategies for one game, that training will often serve you well in many others. It's not necessarily a bad thing, since most of these games are trying to simulate wars. It's not exactly reasonable to expect a commander to eschew time-honored strategies in favor of sending a pegasus-mounted zombie to chuck home-made bombs at a castle...

Dragon Blaze [Free], by producers Gamevil and Flint, is as fun as it is aesthetically pleasing. It sports a brightly colored world, intricately detailed backdrops, and characters animated with a puppets-on-a-string feel. The game opens with a pretty generic prologue, the extent of which is relatively unnecessary. The gist of the story is that Deathcrown the “King of the living and the dead,” has returned from banishment with an army of dragons, intent on opposing the humans and their ruler, King Gram. The main character is then tasked with unraveling the true story that lays beneath the war between dragons and humans, including the mysterious death of the princess and a royal plot that is darker than first appears...

Fresh off their recent launch of new permanent records and characters to unlock, the folks at Square Enix and DeNA have already restarted their weekly event that offers an opportunity for players to earn new characters and loot. This week's Final Fantasy: Record Keeper [Free] event sees the launch of ‘The Fire Crystal Awakens,’ which is a Final Fantasy V based event focused on the heroic attempts to save the Fire Crystal from exploding (spoiler: they fail). Lenna Charlotte Tycoon is the big reward for participating in this Collector’s Event and we’ve got the tips and strategy needed to make it an easy endeavor...

RPG Reload File 039 - 'Rogue Ninja'

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where we beat up kappa and eat up kappamaki. Friends, you do not want to mix those things up, I assure you. Each week, we take a look at an RPG from the App Store's past to give it another spin. It's a chance to revisit old favorites, check up on games that might have seen some improvements over time, or even just to take a deeper dive on particularly interesting titles. As the leader of this particular party, I try to balance out the schedule with a wide variety of RPGs. That said, every person has their own biases, so to make sure nothing gets left behind, I throw the choice to you, the readers, once per month. Simply let me know your suggestion by commenting below, posting in the Official RPG Reload thread in the forums, or tweeting me at @RPGReload. I randomly choose the winner, so anyone has a chance! The next reader's choice article is coming up in a couple of weeks, so be sure to get your selection in soon...

Heroes and Castles 2 [$1.99] runs into the problem that trying to bring big-scope, console-style games to mobile often have: these games are often well-made and can be fun to play. But sometimes, they're terrible fits for the actual platform. And that's where my issues with Heroes and Castles 2 lie: the game's good, I just came to dread playing it because it isn't a good fit for the mobile platform...

The official iOS release of Kickstarter-funded monster-training RPG- EvoCreo [$0.99] from brand new development company Ilmfinity LLC has finally come to pass. The game features a world that fans of a certain wildly popular Nintendo game will jive with pretty quickly. From its patches of vigorously shaking bushes to the impromptu destruction of random children’s precious pets, EvoCreo might leave you feeling a little nostalgic. ..

Beast Quest [Free] is an action RPG where you explore the fantasy world of Avantia in an attempt to combat a variety of creatures who have been cursed by an evil wizard. Follow Tom, a young warrior tasked with breaking the wizard's curse, and his friends as they slay monsters, collect provisions, hunt for treasure, and navigate a dynamic landscape...

It would be awfully easy for me to say that if you liked Knights Of Pen & Paper [$4.99], you'll love Knights Of Pen & Paper 2 [$4.99]. When I first started playing the game, I know that's how I felt. If I had called it quits an hour or so in, I might have walked away thinking this was a marginally improved, safe follow-up to the original. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, I stuck it out to the end, and while I think fans of the first will probably enjoy this game and get their money's worth out of it, Knights Of Pen & Paper 2 is in my opinion a step down from the first game in several ways...

The iOS gaming market has demonstrated a lot of interesting things over the years. One of those things is that even with a library containing literally hundreds of thousands of games, there can still be big holes in the lineup waiting to be filled. Even after a hole is plugged, there's no guarantee that it'll stay that way as games are removed from the App store. One of the biggest holes right now, in my opinion, is that of the Diablo-style action-RPG. I see people all over the place looking for a good one for their iOS device. Now, it used to be that you could just direct someone to Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter series and they would probably come away satisfied. The recent turn into free-to-play has turned the series into something that not everyone can get on board with, however, and the older paid installments have been gone for a while now. That leaves us with a gap, and its continued existence certainly isn't for a lack of trying. The latest attempt is The Barbarian [$8.99], which comes from a fairly small developer that appears to be stretching its legs for the first time. Unfortunately, it shows...

'Ire: Blood Memory' Review - A Hardcore F2P Game that's Challenging in all the Right Ways

I often hate when I'm right; you tell a friend not to climb that tree, he does, he falls, and then you have to rush him to the ER. Yet, there are times when I'm glad to be right, and the case of TenBirds' Ire: Blood Memory [Free] is one such case. When I decided to draw attention to the game recently, I did so because of the influences cited by the developers: Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Monster Hunter, three games that are demanding and relatively-slow paced and that aren't the kind of influences most iOS developers will cite. I was quite positive in my write-up, and even though most commenters dismissed the game outright because of its F2P monetization model, now that I've played the game, I'm glad to say that I was right about this game being one to look forward to. Ire is a brave and successful attempt to give iOS gamers a challenging, tactical Action-RPG that offers a great and complex battle system wrapped in a demanding inventory and forging system. While the game isn't perfect, it might actually come pretty close to that if some of its issues are addressed in the future, provided you enjoy difficult games that punish you often but reward contemplative, tactical gameplay...

It's hard to imagine a more generic studio name than "Game Dev Team," but their recently-released title Hardboiled [$0.99] is anything but generic. A lot of energy has gone into this one, the game content is rich, compelling and definitely worth a play through. Hardboiled is a turn based, strategy RPG that explicitly mentions the classic Fallout series as inspiration. In Hardboiled, you play as Max, a wanderer in a world ravaged by nuclear war. Armed with makeshift weapons and equipment, your mission is to explore the devastated town in search of items you need to progress in the game...

Fans of DeNA’s Final Fantasy: Record Keeper [Free] will notice that the freemium RPG didn’t have a new timed event this week. Instead, players that logged in over the weekend were met with the English version’s second large content update...

It's been almost a year and a half since the last volume of Gamebook Adventures, the homegrown series of adventures that kicked things off for prolific gamebook publisher Tin Man Games. The developers at Tin Man have certainly kept busy in that time, adapting several Fighting Fantasy books and a few other treasures like Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], and while many of those have been great fun, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been waiting for a return to the world of Orlandes. The tenth volume of Gamebook Adventures, Lords Of Nurroth [$5.99], brings the setting back with style, casting you as a professional liberator of goods who heads out on a routine job and finds a lot more than they bargained for...

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 [$2.99] 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 / $0.99] 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 [$1.99] 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...

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