Category Archives: $4.99

'Banner Saga 2' Review - Dredging up the Past

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October 7th, 2016 2:39 PM EST by Andrew Fretz in $4.99, 4 stars, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
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I hope you packed extra consonants and umlauts, because Stoic is back with Banner Saga 2[$4.99]. The epic journey has returned to iOS and with it new gameplay mechanics, new environments and new friends to see die in new and horrible ways. You've probably had enough time to get over the overwhelming depression the first episode was so good at instilling in you, I bet you're ready for round 2! Come and join me by the fire while we still have some rations to share while we look deeper into this enjoyably sad sequel...

'Antiquia Lost' Review - Goo Girl Gone

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You don't even have to squint for Antiquia Lost [Free / $4.99] to resemble the recent Asdivine games released by Kemco. In terms of its visuals, mechanics, and systems, it's barely changed from EXE-Create's last few games for the prolific RPG publisher. There are a few small twists, most notably that one of the main characters has an unusual method of leveling up, but for the most part, if you've played any of the EXE-Create RPGs that use weapon customization as a core mechanic, you'll know what to expect here. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, but it's also not a very exciting thing. The most noteworthy part of Antiquia Lost is in how it advances Kemco's IAP monetization techniques, and that's not really the kind of dinner bell most of us want to hear...




When I first heard about Burly Men at Sea [$4.99], the newest 'folktale adventure' from developers Brain&Brain, I envisioned a rugged and realistic tale with some ultra-realistic beard physics. While graphically I may have been off the mark a little - Burly Men at Sea has a similar minimalistic style similar to Doggins [$2.99], the developer's last release - the game is otherwise true to its name. Burly Men at Sea entails three bulky fisherman, all of which are named and defined by their impressive facial hair, who have decided to leave their monotonous lives behind to seek an adventure in twentieth century Scandinavian waters. We've been following Burly Men at Sea ever since we first caught wind of it back in August 2015, and after a year that has involved volunteering on farms for resources to continue making the game, and funding from the Indie Fund, the game has today finally launched on the App Store, and its beautiful presentation means it is certainly one that fans of narrative-driven adventure titles should keep their eye on...

In January of 2014 Stoic Studios launched their tactical RPG Banner Saga [$4.99] on PC to much critical acclaim. In October of that year, just shy of two years ago, they launched Banner Saga on the App Store, and it turned out to be a fantastic fit for the mobile platform. The following December, Stoic officially announced what many people had already assumed was coming, a full sequel, and also mentioned their plans to eventually bring that sequel to mobile platforms as they did with the first game. Well, after another well-received launch on desktop this past April and on consoles in July, Banner Saga 2 [$4.99] has finally popped up for purchase in the App Store...

Marriage is a tricky, tricky act, isn't it? Quite often those joined in holy matrimony don't really fit well together, and even when they do, compromises must abound if there is to be any kind of happiness in their new union. And when the marriage is of two very different people, the challenges are even greater. If you've played Minecraft (either the mobile or the PC version) and any of the Telltale games, then you already know why I started my review of Minecraft: Story Mode [Free] with these metaphors. When Telltale told the world that it would apply its narrative-based formula on Minecraft, the game that's now synonymous with sandbox, many gamers wondered whether Telltale could pull it off and whether Minecraft players would bother with a developer that put their beloved open-world game in a narrative straight-jacket, possibly chopping off any parts that refused to obey the narrative techniques that Telltale has used in its other series...

'Sorcery! 4' Review - The End of an Incredible Journey

It's been over three years since inkle released their adaptation of the first book in the Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series. In a lot of ways, that app redefined what players expected from a mobile version of a gamebook. It would have been a far simpler matter for inkle to do the expected thing and do a straight conversion of the original books. They had the engine for it, and the series is well-regarded enough that it probably would have done fairly well. Instead, the developers decided to make something that a physical book would have a hard time approximating, while at the same time appealing to the fairly large overlap between gamebook readers and tabletop gaming fans. The first game mostly relied on a unique presentation and reworked battle mechanics, but the following two games brought more and more complexity to the table. Sorcery! 3 [$4.99] was so near to a full-on RPG that its roots were hard to spot at times...

When I first played Exploding Kittens on mobile, I was quite happy with the way the physical had turned digital; the subtle additions of animation and sounds here and there really helped bring the game to life, making it even more fun to play than the original. Sushi Go! [$4.99] has followed a similar path in its journey from card to digital with the developer keeping the game's original card art but adding subtle animations that help make the game quite charming and make it feel more like a digital game than a straight port of a card game. Sushi Go! isn't perfect - there's limited interaction with other players (no emotes or anything like that), which detracts from the social aspect of a card game, and the iPad UI doesn't take advantage of the screen as well as it could. Despite these issues, Sushi Go! is a fun, quick card game that might also put a smile on your face every time you play it...

Last week we were told by the good folks at Mojang that the final installment in Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode [Free] would be hitting sometime this week, and now we finally know specifically when this week they were talking about: Right now! Or, right now-ish, I guess. The eighth and final episode of Minecraft: Story Mode, titled "A Journey's End?", arrives today on console and PC, and should be arriving on mobile platforms as well. In fact, it may even be there by the time you read this! In celebration of this momentous conclusion of Telltale's thus far longest episodic release ever, they've put together a brand new trailer for Episode 8 which shows the Minecraft: Story Mode crew going all Hunger Games to get out of their current predicament...

'Siralim 2' Review - Have Another Scoop of the Good Stuff

No matter how you slice it, making a sequel to Siralim [Free] was always going to be a tough job. The original game is essentially an overstuffed endless pit of RPG joy, densely packed with enough systems, side content, and additional challenges to keep any genre fan busy for dozens of hours or more. In hindsight, it was almost an impossible achievement. It was developer Thylacine's first stab at the genre, and it was extremely unconventional. Mixing elements of monster-catching, base-building, and roguelikes, it was like someone made a delicious Shin Megami Tensei - Romancing SaGa - Rogue sandwich and somehow pulled that blend off with only a few minor hitches. Excellent post-release support ironed out just about all of the game's issues, leaving one to wonder what exactly a sequel could accomplish...

Gorgeous Puzzle Adventure 'Submerged' Hits the App Store Ahead of Schedule

Earlier today we posted that Uppercut Games' gorgeous adventure Submerged was set to hit the App Store tomorrow, and while it may be "tomorrow" in some parts of the world already, the appearance of the game just moments ago does seem to be earlier than was intended. Hey, I'm not complaining! Submerged: Miku and the Sunken City [$4.99] released just over a year ago on PC and console to a somewhat mixed reception. This is a game that relies heavily on story, atmosphere, and exploration, which turned off a segment of the audience who was looking for more action. Those that enjoyed the type of game that it was, though, have had some high praise for the game. Here's a brand new trailer showing the mobile version of Submerged in action...

In our review of Machinarium [$4.99] back in 2011, we were stunned by its aesthetic beauty, but also the incredible narrative and puzzle design, describing it as "a treasure, judiciously and efficiently designed, with not a single pencil-drawn sprite out of place". At the time, Machinarium transcended virtually every point-and-click experience on the App Store, and Amanita Design's next iPhone release Botanicula [$4.99 (HD)] took the elements that made the former title so memorable, and expanded these into an equally beautiful natural premise. Samorost 3 [$4.99], which has released today on the App Store for $4.99, continues this progression, and is arguably Amanita Design's biggest and most impressive game to date, as you traverse some incredibly detailed environments across nine unique and varied alien worlds...

We've been riding the renewed wave of roguelikes and roguelites for several years now. By the very nature of the genre, a good roguelike can last players for a really long time. What that means is that any new entry is going to have to have some kind of way of standing out if it hopes to get attention. Hero Generations [$4.99] has a strong, easily-understood gimmick: every move costs a year of your character's life, and when they run out of years, it's game over. Before that happens, you need to find a mate and have a kid, who will hopefully be able to carry on some of the previous character's traits and legacy. As you expand your abilities and fame from generation to generation, you'll eventually piece together an urgent goal, but you won't be able to do anything about it if your family line dies off early...

The thing that has made the Square Enix Montreal "GO" series so appealing is that the games have been so subversive, as well as being fun puzzlers. Hitman GO [$4.99] was a particularly absurdist take on Hitman, what with all the stealth kills and assassinations taking place as figures on a game board knocking each other over. Something about distilling the game down to that feels particularly amusing. Lara Croft GO [$4.99] was a bit more in line with the brand, but still felt like a unique take on the series with a Monument Valley [$1.99] esque aesthetic and the lower-polygon-count look, along with the fantasy environments in play. It was still rather fun to play, though. The concern with Deus Ex GO [$1.99] was whether Square Enix Montreal could deliver more fun turn-based puzzling, but what I think we were missing was whether they could cleverly subvert the themes of the Deus Ex series, and that's really missing here...

It's tough to get a beat on exactly what Kairosoft's release strategy is, if they even have one. Sometimes it feels like months in between them releasing games, and other times it feels like there's a new one hitting every week. Not even two weeks after the release of the not-very-good Legends of Heropolis [Free], Kairosoft has just released another new game called The Manga Works [$4.99]. This is a simulation game (gasp!) that has you running your own manga studio, starting out as a solo artist and hopefully building up into a publishing empire...

Once rare treats in an overall line-up that included a few other developers, EXE-Create's games for Kemco have recently had to shoulder most of the load for the near-monthly release schedule of the publisher. Of this year's seven iOS releases so far from Kemco, five have come from EXE-Create. Now, this developer knows how to put together solid RPGs in a short span of time, but that kind of breakneck schedule isn't going to make anyone look good. Taking things one step further, this month's selection, Asdivine Cross [Free / $4.99], is a remake of one of the developer's old feature phone releases. Many of the gameplay systems have been changed, which would be good if the "new" systems weren't simply copy and pasted from their last few original games. In a vacuum, Asdivine Cross is a decent enough JRPG, even quite good in places. Unfortunately, we're not in a vacuum. We're in the world where this is the second Asdivine game I've reviewed in the last six months...

With wonderful titles like Triple Town [Free] and Alphabear [Free], Spry Fox is one of the preeminent developers of mobile games. But they make games for desktop and console, too! One of those games is a roguelike puzzler called Road Not Taken [$4.99], and although it took a couple of years, it has finally arrived on iOS. We first talked about Road Not Taken way back in May of 2013, when it was slated for release on desktop and "eventually" planned to release on mobile. Taking inspiration from Robert Frost's poem of the same name, Road Not Taken is about "surviving life's surprises" as you adventure around through randomly generated levels rescuing children who have lost their way...

If you've been playing Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode [Free], you'll be glad to know that the seventh episode of this long-running series, Access Denied, is available for download - or will be available today at some point. As we talked about recently, this episode moves away from the murder-mystery tone of Episode 6 and goes instead into a different narrative direction. Gone is the haunted house; instead, what we have in Access Denied is a battle between Jesse's crew and PAMA, a sinister AI seeking to command everything and everyone around it in a "pursuit of optimal usefulness and efficiency."..

Ever since Paradox Interactive declared its intention of bringing some of its big strategy games, such as Crusader Kings and Stellaris, over to mobile, I've been wishing for one thing; a Crusader Kings mobile game where I can play out all those complicated and often hilarious storylines that have made the game so famous. Well, although I won't take any credit, Paradox decided to give us a game close to what I was wishing for. Crusader Kings: Chronicles [$4.99], which just now hit the App Store, is an interactive novel that has you playing as the second son of an indebted baron in the middle of war-torn borderlands...

Do you want a lesson on how far the point-and-click adventure game has come, while still seeing the appeal in the classics? Day of the Tentacle Remastered [$4.99] is a perfect example of that. This is a genre classic made by some of the masters of the medium. Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert are two of the names behind this game that you likely recognize, straight from the LucasArts days. Fans of the original game will be glad to know that this is the exact same as the original, just with an optional enhanced interface and redone graphics that convey the spirit of the original game, adding some detail and animation, without altering the heart of them. For people coming to this for the first time, like myself – strap in for a frustrating experience, but one that's rewarding if you give it a shot and are patient...

'Crypt of the NecroDancer Pocket Edition' Review - Let it Steal Your Heart

One of my favorite games of the past few years on PC is Crypt of the NecroDancer [$4.99], a rhythmic roguelike that I tried out with a friend, and I fell in love with the whole concept of the game. It's a roguelike where movement is set to the beat of a fantastic soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky, with the idea being that the entire game can be controlled by the four directional inputs on a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad. After enjoying my first time with the game, I rushed out and bought the game with its soundtrack on Steam. ..

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