Category Archives: $4.99

'Epic Little War Game' Review - Back to the Trenches

It feels like Rubicon's War Game series has been all over the place. Great Little War Game [$1.99] was an accessible turn-based strategy game packed with content and a cheeky sense of humor. Its follow-up, Great Big War Game [$2.99], went for a bigger scale and added in online multiplayer. The next game in the series was Great Little War Game 2 [$1.99], which went for a more streamlined experience with portrait orientation, smaller levels, and no multiplayer at all. It was a fun game taken on its own merits, but it was somewhat of an underwhelming entry for the series to go out on. Well, here we are three years later, and it looks like the General isn't ready to hang up his pants yet. Epic Little War Game [$4.99] is here, and if you were one of the people who wished the last game was more fully-featured, you're going to be very happy with this one...

'Framed 2' Review - The Second Half of a Really Good Game

When I reviewed the original Framed [$3.99], I said "Given the brevity and lack of progression in the concept, this really does feel like half of a larger whole stretched out to fill one game." Holy crap was I right. Loveshack Entertainment decided to return to the concept with Framed 2 [$4.99] and the difference is night and day. I don't know if I have ever played a game where the second title in the series made the first one look like utter garbage in comparison, but that's exactly what Framed 2 does. It is exactly what the original game needed to feel like the genius title that the concept deserved...




'Monument Valley 2' Review - Mother and Child Reunited

The first Monument Valley [$3.99] was a landmark game on the App Store, a title that brought a fascinatingly gorgeous experience to mobile gaming. Yet, I thought there was something lacking from it: it wasn't a particularly difficult game as far as challenge goes, and while the story had some poignant moments, its abstraction perhaps was too disaffecting from the story the game wanted to tell. But certainly, critics of the game are in a notable minority, as the game has become one of the top-selling mobile games of all-time, spawned many imitators, appeared on House of Cards, and caused many people to fall in love with the characters from the game. So the sequel Monument Valley 2 [$4.99] is in an unenviable position where it has to try and recapture that magic of the original. And to a certain extent, it does: it's still a gorgeous game, and Ustwo are the masters of their craft at putting Escherian impossible geometry into a game experience. As a delivery vehicle for some gorgeous colors and landscapes, Monument Valley 2 is once again a success. As a game, and even at times as a story, Monument Valley 2 falls a bit short...

Monument Valley 2's [$4.99] release timing was pretty impeccable, with the game popping on the App Store during Apple's WWDC 17. And, of course, the game had the huge success of the original Monument Valley as a wind beneath its wings, so it shouldn't be surprising that according to Sensor Tower's numbers, Monument Valley 2 reached the top of the US App Store four times faster than the original game, which is pretty remarkable. It's hard to know how well the game will do in the long-run, especially because the fortunes of paid games on the App Store change according to the times...

Everywhere you look today, you see Monument Valley 2 [$4.99] stories, which goes to show the impact the original Monument Valley made on the gaming community (and beyond) when it was released. To celebrate the release, Ustwo Games posted a behind-the-scenes video—made with the same artistry as the games—that's definitely worth your time. The video talks about the shift in focus in the new game and the way the developers see narrative and gameplay as intertwined. The developers emphasize the importance of telling a mother's story from her perspective rather than that of her children and hope to see parents and children experiencing the game together...

Telltale's Guardian of the Galaxy [$4.99] series is about to get its second episode, and today we got to see the trailer for Under Pressure. Spoilers from here on. The Guardians have in their possession an extremely powerful relic that can bring people back from the dead (and do even more), and they are being hunted by people who are more than willing to do bodily harm. So, Star-Lord and the rest have to go find old friends and call in some favors if they are to make it through alive. At the same time, the team isn't at its best, so it's quite possible the Guardians will start losing members in Under Pressure...

'Beholder' Review - Oppressing People and Taking Names Was Never This Fun

Recently, we've had the "pleasure" of playing quite a few games that turn you into a cog in a totalitarian machine rather than a hero fighting against a ruthless State apparatus. Paper's Please and The Westport Independent played on the delicate balance between being moral and staying alive in an oppressive regime, although with differing levels of success. Still, they both managed to involve the player in what is a game of moral tug of war, where any initial desire to play the game as a moral and just individual slowly gets crushed under the reality that is survival for you and, in many instances, your family...

There aren't many good games out there based on the Power Rangers franchise. Much of that is down to the nature of the licensing beast, similar to how hard it seems to be to get a superhero game of decent quality. There are many factors, both obvious and subtle, that work against licensed games. The Rangers certainly haven't been free of such hassles. The obvious solution is to take a swing at it without a license, but as Behold Studios found out, that's a delicate road to walk. Things worked out in the end, however, and Chroma Squad [$4.99] became an officially-endorsed spin on the Super Sentai concept that is free to do its own thing without the heavy restrictions that come with a full license. It's a good game, probably the best Ranger-themed game ever, though how much you like it will depend greatly on what you're looking to get out of it...

Trusty JRPG publisher Kemco's been trying to spread its wings a little bit of late, trying out new developers and gameplay variations after years of serving up the same old. They haven't quite given up on the old formula yet, though. Developer EXE-Create is still by Kemco's side, cranking out their serviceable brand of JRPG joy every couple of months or so. Onigo Hunter [$4.99] is the latest offering, and it's more or less the usual fare for Kemco. It tries to do a few new things but was obviously constrained by the resources available, making for an experience that is likely to be a little too familiar to mobile RPG fans...

There should be a public holiday whenever a new Goat Simulator [$4.99] game releases, as it really is a momentous occasion for not only the App Store, but the video games industry as a whole. Chaotic, buggy, and downright freakish action featuring a whole cast of eccentric animals guarantees a fun time, and Goat Simulator: Payday [$4.99] takes the typical shenanigans of the series to a new gangster-themed setting. With the eponymous mammal joined by a wheelchair-bound dolphin, a spitting camel and a flying flamingo, you're tasked with assembling your crew in an open world suburban town and taking the money of innocent bystanders with no mercy and an abundance of style. The screenshots look hilarious, and if there's any praise you can level at the Goat Simulator series it's that you know exactly what you're getting yourself into - if you're looking for the next essential iOS release, Goat Simulator: Payday is available now on the App Store for $4.99...

'Old Man's Journey' Review - Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

It's been on our radars for about a year, and Old Man's Journey [$4.99] is out now and well worth checking out. This adventure game is the tale of an old man who goes on a journey that touches on his past and is at times a harrowing tale of survival in a world where there just isn't that much transportation infrastructure. I'm joking around, but that is solely to cover up that Old Man's Journey is an emotionally effecting experience that is brief but well worth experiencing...

If you want a taste of how it would feel to be one of the cogs in a totalitarian machine, check out the just-released Beholder [$4.99]. In Beholder, you are a State-installed landlord, and your purpose is to ensure none of your tenants is planning any kind of subversive activities or posing any threat to the State. And, of course, why would they? They should know they live in the equivalent of heaven on Earth and should be thankful for it. But I digress. Your duties include bugging apartments, going through belongings for anything that doesn't belong there, and, of course, reporting anyone who seems like a current or potential threat...

'To The Moon' Review - When the Moon Hits Your Eye

To The Moon [$4.99] is an experience that depends almost entirely on the way its story unravels, and the exceptional music backing it. Spoiling the story, any bit of it, beyond the premise would be doing any potential player a tremendous disservice. And while I can offer up all kinds of praise for the audio, it's not as though that's easy to convey through text. So what should I write here? Let's start with this: To The Moon is an amazing journey through the memories of a man who has reached the end of his life, and as long as you don't mind the fact that the gameplay doesn't involve much more than walking around and clicking on things, you really ought to play this...

While mobile ports of hit PC and console games are pretty common nowadays, back in 2010 it was a pretty big deal that Hemisphere Games' critically acclaimed puzzler Osmos [$2.99 / $4.99 (HD)] was heading to iOS. It was also one of the first times I felt that the touchscreen version of a game actually made for a better experience than its desktop counterpart. In Osmos you play an orb floating around sucking up smaller orbs, which then makes you grow larger and thus able to gobble up ever larger orbs. The twist is that as you propel yourself around the screen, you lose some of your size, so the entire game is a delicate balance of going where you need to go while still maintaining enough size to gobble up the orbs you need to in order to complete a level. It's a really brilliant game, both relaxing and challenging at the same time. ..

Despite their intriguing stories and clever use of IPs, Telltale's games have been a mixed bag on iOS primarily because of technical issues. While most of the series were either fine or at least playable, Batman: The Telltale Series left a pretty bad taste on players' mouths because it was pretty close to unplayable on more than one instance. Well, I'm glad to say that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series [$4.99] (from now on Guardians of the Galaxy) plays just fine on my iPad Air 2, despite a couple of very brief—but unobtrusive—stutters. I don't know if this means Telltale has tinkered with the engine enough to make it work well or Guardians of the Galaxy was just less demanding than Batman; what matters is that Episode 1 of Guardians of the Galaxy should play fine on most of your devices. I will be reviewing the whole series, so expect the review score to change as more episodes release...

As most of you probably know, it's tough covering the onslaught of new mobile game releases on a daily basis. We do the best we can to be as thorough as we can when we put together our weekly new games lists, but inevitably there are games that launch after that list is posted or over the weekend which I try to group lovingly into a "leftovers" pile on Mondays and sort through to see if there's anything interesting that we missed. Today I came across an email sent to us over the weekend from Lemondo letting us know that their PS4/Steam/Wii U multiplayer platform arena shooter WinKings [$4.99] had made its way to iOS. I hadn't heard of this game before but the videos looked pretty awesome, as you can see in their launch trailer for the desktop and console version...

Over the past week or so, London has been spared of the typically bleak English weather - essentially dark, dismal clouds, chilly temperatures and perpetual rain, if you're lucky enough to be unfamiliar - and has instead been blessed by beautiful sunny spells. Hopefully readers from around the globe are experiencing similar improving outlooks as we slowly creep towards Summer, and what better way to celebrate such heat waves with a brand new Kairosoft skiing game! In fairness to the Japanese developer, the alpine season is still in full swing over the Easter period, and nothing is better than propelling yourself down a mountain in the glistening sun. Shiny Ski Resort [$4.99] also looks like a radical iOS simulator - with the typical Kairosoft formula of building a hotel supplemented by some neat skiing mini games, this latest title appears to hijack the developer's downhill descent of late, and is available to download for $4.99 today on the App Store...

Mobile has perhaps been lacking the great Spelunky-like game that could at least imitate one of the best indie games of all time while being something you can play on the toilet while at work. Orangepixel steps up to the plate with Meganoid 2017 [$2.99], the nebulously-named reboot/sequel to one of the solo developer's earliest works. Where the original Meganoid games, both Meganoid 1 [$1.99] and Meganoid 2 [$1.99], were more challenge platformers, Meganoid 2017 is a procedurally-generated platform that takes a lot of cues from Spelunky. Exploring the Meganoid spaceship, you have nothing but your platforming wits, some explosive charges, and whatever you find as you venture further into the spaceship, taking on a different layout when you die, and you will die a lot. Spelunky 2017 had a rather rapid development time, and while it gets the core gist of the Spelunky formula right, and does some rather cool things, the game suffers from its short development time, leading to a lack of variation in level designs. Also, the game just doesn't have the tight platformer feel necessary for what the demanding difficulty requires to give the player a good shot at succeeding...

Sometimes I see people share negative reviews of Steam games that have massive playtimes on them. They're shared in a context of this being ridiculous, that implies that the person with the negative review doesn't know quite what they want. And the people who share these seeming contradictions are often rather progressive people, sharing a rather ironically regressive view. It's a more complicated question than both parties realize. The negative reviewer perhaps should question whether the journey was worth it. But also, the critic should question just why they think it's hypocritical. Is it possible that people enjoy certain parts of experiences, but other parts become too grating over time? That, if they had the choice to take those hours back, they would have spent them differently knowing the end result? Or were the hours getting to that point worth it, even if the end was sour? This is a philosophical dilemma that deserves greater inquiry. I bring it up because I find myself quite conflicted with MLB Manager 2017 [$4.99]. It's another solid baseball simulator, but as a major baseball nerd, I find myself frustrated by so many of the little things that this game continues to not get right. Yet, I find myself more hooked on this game than perhaps any other that I come across...

The iOS port of Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion [$4.99 (HD)], the standalone expansion pack of the cult classic PC strategy title Rome: Total War [$6.99 (HD)], has been one of the most eagerly anticipated upcoming releases over the past few months. While Barbarian Invasion still retains the meticulous empire-building emphasis of its predecessor, the implementation of some interesting new mechanics, as well as the subtle yet dramatic change in the historical context, gave the expansion its own unique identity that saw it achieve critical acclaim when it first launched in 2005. Feral Interactive did an excellent job in porting the original Rome: Total War to the App Store, and it seems this trend has continued with Barbarian Invasion, which has today launched for only $4.99 on the iPad and should please not only those looking for a more in-depth strategy experience on-the-go, but also any fans of the original PC release...

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