Category Archives: $3.99

'Puzzle Strike' Review - A Great Game With a Few Missed Opportunities

The iOS version of Sirlin Games' Puzzle Strike [$3.99] is a tricky game to review. This is a fantastic game, if you're into deckbuilding games with a high degree of interactivity, and while it plays pretty well on mobile, there are some glaring omissions that detract from what would've been a mobile gem (pun intended). Still, even with issues like a lack of proper notifications and questionable UI decisions, Puzzle Strike is a great addition to the App Store and should more than satisfy those looking for a game that's easy to grasp but can take forever to master. While it definitely shines as a multiplayer game, Sirlin has packed the game with plenty of single-player content too like a pretty strong AI to play against as well as 10 Challenges that will test your skills and help you discover the game's strategic nuances. So, a great deckbuilding game, and a good mobile game, too...

Prolific mobile developer Nitrome announced back in September that they were going to be dipping their toes in the game publishing game. I say dip their toes because technically the first game they were set to publish, Ultimate Briefcase [Free], was created by outside developer Quite Fresh, but whose founder was also previously an artist for Nitrome. So Nitrome was branching out, but still somewhat keeping it in the family, so to speak. Anyhoo, Ultimate Briefcase somehow dodged our weekly Out Now post like it was some sort of bomb falling from the sky, but I'm here to let you know that it's officially available right this very moment...




Do you ever have a game that just does not click with you? Twofold Inc. [$3.99] is the equivalent of a restaurant where you can admire the work and craftsmanship that went into the product at hand. What you're given is made with care and skill. But understanding and respecting why something is the way it is doesn't mean that you have to like it. You can even understand why others may like it. I respect Twofold Inc. but I didn't have much fun with it...

Lost In Harmony [$3.99] is the latest game from Yoan Fanise, whose work at Ubisoft included directing Valiant Hearts [Free] and Rayman Raving Rabbids, along with sound design and audio direction on titles such as Beyond Good & Evil, Rabbids Go Home, and Assassin's Creed 3. With that kind of resume, it's perhaps not surprising that Lost In Harmony attempts to be an audio/visual spectacle, a heart-wrenching experience, and a unique hybrid of gameplay styles all at once. It succeeds completely on the first point and reasonably well on the second, but there are some definite issues that crop up with the third point. You can get a lot out of Lost In Harmony, but you're going to have to forgive a few things along the way...

If you've played Rymdkapsel, you probably know that the developer managed to make a highly-engaging game with minimalist graphics, and Twofold Inc. [$3.99], the developer's new game that's just released on the App Store, looks to do the same. As we wrote about a few days ago, this is one of those games that's hard to describe without actually seeing it in action, and even a simple trailer can't really do it justice. The developer describes the game as a "humble puzzle game" where you scroll the playfield to unravel the tiles, then make a path to clear them away. The levels are never-ending, there are no time limits, and in general the game seems to be more of an introspective puzzle rather than a frantic one like most puzzle games on the App Store...

'Dungelot: Shattered Lands' Review - Chewie, We’re Home

Most people that have seen the new Star Wars movie enjoyed it, but one complaint I’ve seen a lot is that it borrows heavily from the first film, A New Hope. I’ve read that it was intentional, and part of the reason was probably to remind people of how much they loved the original trilogy and help them forget the prequels. And as weird as it may seem, it sort of reminds me of what Red Winter has done with the latest Dungelot sequel, Dungelot: Shattered Lands [$3.99]...

Last month brought the release of Oddrok's Power Hover [$3.99], a behind-the-back hoverboarding game with an incredibly stylish look. Now, a little over a month later and Oddrok has begun teasing some of what to expect in the game's first content update. Backing up a bit, one of the things we loved most about Power Hover in our review is the number of truly interesting environments you got to hoverboard around in, and how cinematic the game could feel with its dynamic camera changing between various dramatic angles. Basically, with the cool visuals, great music, and smooth movement, Power Hover is a game that's simply fun to play and is the perfect game to kind of zone out with. So, as for the update, Oddrok says you can expect a brand new snow level and they've offered up a .gif preview which you can see below...

I've learned a few things from MetaHuman Inc. [$3.99], the latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games. First, with a little creativity, the ChoiceScript engine that powers these games can be more mechanically versatile than I thought it was capable of being. Next, I'm a terrible CEO. Just plain awful. Finally, I don't especially like being a CEO, and that ended up being a problem for me because being a CEO is more or less what MetaHuman Inc. is all about. At the start of the game, you are appointed the job of running MetaHuman Inc., a shady company that produces human enhancements through a variety of means legal or otherwise. The job starts in January, and you'll see it through to the end of the calendar year, at which point you'll face a final evaluation by the majority shareholders. If you fail to impress them, your death is certain...

'A Study In Steampunk: Choice By Gaslight' Review - Holmes Plus Steampunk Equals Excellence

As much fun as they can be, at the end of the day, most pieces of interactive fiction have stories that are good for games. That's the nasty little asterisk that reminds the player not to expect too much from the story, that it has sacrificed literary merit in exchange for getting the reader's input at frequent points throughout. It makes sense, if you think about it. Writing a great story is like making a great painting. The words are the strokes on the canvas of the page, and, ideally, each one will be carefully chosen to serve a purpose. Good writing is hard, in other words. An interactive story magnifies that difficulty greatly, as you now have to create hundreds of similar but equally great works based on how the player decides. Then you have to deal with the expectations of the audience, who generally want lots of action and a brisk pace, preferably with elves or aliens. I love the genre, but mostly because of the fusion of choice and narrative. If you handed me the stories on their own, I'd probably be considerably less thrilled with many of my favorite gamebooks...

There's something to be said about striking the cultural zeitgeist at the right time. Power Hover [$3.99] drops right when people are getting into hoverboards, what with the fascination over this being the year that Back to the Future Part 2 took place in, and those little scooter things that are called hoverboards despite not actually hovering. But I guess they have no better name. Point is, hoverboards are blowing up. Literally. And Power Hover is here to be an entertaining game where you race through deserts, on the ocean, and through tubes, on a hoverboard. It's solid if not amazing, but fun for the time you'll sink into it...

They say that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Which is exactly why whenever I write reviews, I wear my furry Chewbacca bath robe. You don't get quite as disparate, or quite as wide of a gap, as a lowly beggar literally wearing the face of god and getting godlike power in the process. That's quite the promotion! And it's also the premise of the lovely puzzle platformer and debut App Store game from Bad Seed, The Beggar's Ride [$3.99]...

For a game that wasn't received with much excitement when it was released, Sanitarium [$3.99] has held up pretty well over the years. The game first released in 1998, when adventure games were just about to drop off a cliff sales-wise for the next several years. Some of the things it was criticized for at the time actually seem to have anticipated the way the genre would evolve once it became healthy again, making this game something of a pioneer. Even setting its historical value aside, however, it's a compelling psychological adventure ported to iOS in fine fashion by the good people at DotEmu. It has its weak points, but I'd honestly recommend Sanitarium ahead of most other point and click adventures of its era...

'Diabolical' Review - Ridiculously Evil

The flexibility of topics in the interactive fiction genre is one of its greatest strengths. I've said this before, but due to the relatively low production costs of putting words on a page, interactive fiction can take risks that other games dare not. Thankfully, nearly every company releasing gamebooks isn't shy about flexing that privilege. The occasional release even goes for comedy, a fairly hard topic to do well in gaming. Earlier this year, we had the absolutely delightful Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99] from Tin Man Games, and now, from Choice Of Games and author Nick Aires, we have the madcap super-villain simulator, Diabolical [Free]. I'm feeling a little bit spoiled, to be honest...

Kemco appears to be on a bit of a strategy game kick of late on iOS, with Legend Of Ixtona [$3.99] releasing a few months ago, and now, Legna Tactica [$3.99]. Well, I can appreciate them wanting to change things up a bit here and there. Although I know many of their fans appreciate the regular trickle of traditional JRPGs, there has to be some kind of saturation point. Forty titles in, Kemco might just be finding it. Of course, it's also possible that their stalwart developers simply feel like making something different. Whatever the reason, we've got another strategy RPG in front of us, and I'm sure no one will fall out of their chair when I say that it's very derivative of the classic Tactics Ogre. This genre seems to have trouble shaking off Yasumi Matsuno's influence, and Kemco certainly weren't going to be the ones to do it...

I don't know about you, friends, but when I play games that give me moral choices, I tend to stick to the good side. When it's time to play the evil side, I really have to push myself into doing the bad thing, even knowing full well that it doesn't actually hurt anyone. I guess all those Saturday morning cartoons and superhero comic books worked. In games, as in cartoons and comics, it's usually pretty easy to sort out the good side from the bad side. Rescuing kittens from trees is good! Lighting a tree full of kittens on fire is bad! It's pretty rare for a game to present genuinely difficult choices that have no clearly just answers. The latest interactive fiction release from Choice Of Games, Deathless: The City's Thirst [$3.99], had me second-guessing myself all the way through. It's ultimately the best quality in a story that otherwise feels a bit episodic and unfocused...

Controls define how a player will interface with the experience that a game is trying to provide. If the controls are subpar, the experience will suffer. But sometimes, offering just different control mechanisms can change the experience in and of themselves, despite each being effective in different ways. PixWing [$3.99] is one of those games, offering both a gyroscopic control scheme to fly around, but also a virtual joystick scheme. At first, the game made you at least play through the tutorial with the gyroscope, since the game is centered around moving your body to navigate the wolrd, offering the virtual joystick as an alternative. This reinforced the intended way to play the game, but it came with a drawback: if you tried playing the game in public for the first time, you were liable to look like a lunatic...

As we learned this past June, the developers of stunning table tennis simulator Table Tennis Touch [$3.99] have been hard at work on a multiplayer update for the game, and today that update has gone live in the App Store. And let me say that this update is quite a whopper, adding in a ton of new stuff besides the expected multiplayer mode. ..

'Hopiko' Review - Gotta Go Fast

Laser Dog Games' Hopiko [$1.99] is a title I've been dying to see come to fruition since I first saw it and played it. The preview build I got to try had some real promise, but the game has come so far along that it's become this amazing, cohesive, and stylish experience. It's a demanding game, and one with some flaws, but Hopiko is too cool to pass up...

Back in June, a little puzzle platformer by the name of Furdemption [$1.99] launched in the App Store from developer RareSloth. Underneath its adorable, unassuming look lied one of the most challenging and satisfying gaming experiences I've had in some time. Not only were its 100 initial levels fiendishly clever and well-designed, but its main bunny character was cute as a button which made for an interesting juxtaposition with the game's many gruesome death animations. It was an easy decision to award Furdemption 5 stars in our review, but just a short while later in mid-August a huge content update arrived adding 40 additional levels, new mechanics and enemies, and Game Center integration. How could it get any better than that? I'll tell you how: Furdemption is getting a level editor...

A couple of weeks ago we broke the news about Frogmind's exquisite and often-updated cave flyer Badland [$2.99] getting level editing functionality, and as of this morning the update with the level editor has gone live in the App Store. This level editor is actually a streamlined version of the one Frogmind built and used to create the actual levels in the game, though it's been fancied up a bit to be friendlier for normal people to use. Here's a brief trailer showing off some of the features in Badland's new level editor...

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