Category Archives: $4.99

'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...

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...




'Legend of Grimrock' Review - Sounds like a Tenacious D Song, Just as Epic

Legend of Grimrock[$4.99] just landed on the app store. Almost Human decided it was time, and I couldn't agree more. For those of you who are familiar, this port doesn't disappoint. I never got the chance to play the PC version, but I am convinced I have lost nothing in the translation. If you only play one dungeon delving game this summer, I feel bad for you, but it had better be Grimrock...

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...

Goat Simulator Goat Z [$4.99] by Coffee Stain Studios is among the worst zombie games I’ve ever played. It’s also one of the worst survival, physics, and score chasing games I’ve played. It is, however, a very good goat game. And it’s certainly the best physics-based zombie survival game featuring a goat to ever grace the App Store...

If there's one thing that Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities [$5.99] should be remembered for, it's the way that developers Psychoz Interactive have listened to players' feedback and quickly fine-tuned their game. After six years in development, the game we were presented with was a masterfully atmospheric but tiresomely difficult and repetitive horror game. But after just one week of hurried tweaking and re-balancing, most complaints were addressed to some degree, producing a game that is extraordinarily good but still agonisingly flawed...

'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...

'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...

'Sorcery! 3' Review - Live The Mongoose Life In This Amazing Adventure

It's been quite a wait for this third installment in inkle's adaptation of Steve Jackson's Sorcery! series of gamebooks. It's kind of funny now to look back at those who were impatient over the six months between the release of the first two chapters. With just about a year and a half passed since the release of Sorcery! 2 [$4.99], I imagine those people have champed right through the bit by now and have gone to work on biting their own faces off. With how consistently awesome inkle's work has been on this series so far, who can blame them, though? At the same time, I can't get too upset at the developer. We got the absolutely wonderful 80 Days [$4.99] and the pleasant Down Among The Dead Men [$0.99] in the interim, and Android players got to get up to speed on the first two installments of the Sorcery! games. Let's just hope that we don't have to wait quite so long for the final chapter...

To celebrate the release of Stealth Inc. 2 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows (via the Humble Bundle store), Curve Digital has slashed the price of it's iOS predecessor. For this weekend only, you can snatch Stealth Inc. [$4.99] for free on the App Store...

'Crowntakers' for iPad Review - A Royally Good Roguelike Spin

Some of the earliest video game RPGs were roguelikes, but if you didn't notice them around for a couple of decades, nobody would blame you. After being fairly popular in the early stages of home computing, they soon gave way to bigger, more persistent adventures. They still had a dedicated following during those years, with games like Nethack, Angband, and Japan's Mystery Dungeon series carrying the torch for the genre. The boom of indie developers and the surging interest in more compact gaming experiences in the last ten years has seen the genre make a big comeback. The basic elements of the genre have been used in many popular games that might not be strictly considered roguelikes but owe a massive debt to the genre nonetheless. A genre once almost totally represented by so few games that you could count them off on your fingers now has a strong influence, especially in the PC and mobile gaming markets...

Baseball is finally back after a long winter. It's looking like another rough season for my Texas Rangers, with more season-ending injuries and prospects they traded playing for other teams. Thankfully, baseball simulator iOOTP is back for another season on iOS. Boasting a fresh MLB license and a new name, MLB Manager 2015 [$4.99], the time has come for me to try and change my favorite team's fate, and develop them into perennial contenders. Previous iOOTP games came with what amounted to incremental improvements from year-to-year. MLB Manager, despite the fresh new license, follows the same tack: a few new tweaks and features rule the day...

'Gunpowder' for iPad Review - Explosive Rube Goldberg Play Sets

After first seeing the trailer for developer Rogue Rocket Games’ Gunpowder [$2.99] last week, I was instantly taken by the game’s Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic, and more specifically, that of the old Wile E. Coyote episodes of "Looney Tunes". It’s a style rarely seen in today’s cartoons, much less in any video game, so it was a refreshing hook that baited me to pay attention to the game. Fortunately, Gunpowder is more than just a pretty face, and brings with it physics-based puzzle gameplay that balances on the fine line of accessible yet satisfying...

'Shadowrun: Dragonfall' Review - The Matrix, Reloaded

I'm of two minds about Shadowrun Returns [$1.99 (HD)], the 2013 Kickstarter-fueled return to the cult cyberpunk setting. On the one hand, it's a really strong RPG that pays respect to the beloved 16-bit games. The pacing is snappy, the systems are enjoyable to play around with, and while the setting isn't quite as unique as it was twenty-five years ago, it's still unusual enough to help invigorate the experience. I mean, this vision of a dystopian cyberpunk future is almost adorably retro at this point, like looking back at the 1960s idea of where the space race would lead us. The writing quality is strong enough that those feelings of quaintness are quickly shaken as you get into the plot. On the other hand, the iOS release was extremely buggy at launch, the developer was slow to fix anything, and it's still missing content from the PC version, a situation that will likely never be resolved. The game has a tendency to grab you by the wrist and drag you along, with little in the way of role-playing options or any real agency on your part. That's a valid choice and I enjoy many games that use that kind of design, but at least where I'm concerned, I tend to feel that Shadowrun RPGs are best when they're a bit more open-ended...

'Tales from the Borderlands' Review - Less Loot, More Talk

The idea of Tales from the Borderlands [$4.99] was certainly an intriguing one once it was announced. The Borderlands series definitely has a unique feel to it from its setting, dialogue, and characters that can be easily screwed up by a developer not quite in tune with the way the series operates. The good news is that Telltale Games are experts at story, so the idea that they could approach and do justice to this universe while also expanding on it in a way that isn't just a loot-filled first-person shooter is an interesting proposition...

'The Trace' Review - Tracing Clues and Taking Names

'The Trace' Review - Tracing Clues and Taking Names

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March 25th, 2015 8:16 PM EDT by Tasos Lazarides in $4.99, 4.5 stars, Game Center, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$3.99 Buy Now

One of my favorite gaming experiences back in the late 1980s was playing the fantastic Police Quest series by Sierra Entertainment. I had perhaps too much fun playing the cop and roaming the streets as an incompetent instrument of justice. So, I was quite happy that The Trace [$3.99], the new game by British award-winning games developer Relentless Software, out now for iPhone and iPad, brought me back to my glorious crime-solving days. As Detective Sam Pearce of Baltimore PD, you get to follow a long trail of bodies in the hunt for a killer. Relentless Software has developed the game from the ground up for tablet and mobile devices, and it shows both in the game's influences and its controls. If you've been gaming on mobile devices the last few years, you'll easily recognize the genres that make up The Trace...

We're busy little bees running around GDC meeting with developers and checking out cool games, but this is just a quick heads up that the latest update for Pixelbite's tactical dual-stick shooter Space Marshals [$4.99] is now available as a free update in the App Store. The update adds Chapter Two to the game, which includes new weapons, new gear, new missions to complete and new enemies to defeat. Check out the trailer...

We were already well aware that Pixelbite Games were experts at making racing games, with the excellent Reckless Racing series and Repulze, but in early January they released Space Marshals [$4.99] and showed the world that they've also got a lock on tactical dual-stick shooters. We loved Space Marshals in our review, noting that it really focused on forethought, skill and strategy, which is a contrast from most dual-stick shooters which are largely blast-a-thons. The one bummer about Space Marshals is that it was designed as an episodic game, and the first chapter, while a nice meaty ride, still felt like it left you hanging when it was over. Good news, then, as today Pixelbite has announced that the Chapter Two update to Space Marshals is arriving next week on March 5th. They've released a new trailer showing off some of the awesome new stuff you can expect in Chapter Two...

'Pinball Arcade: The Addams Family' Review - And Now, This Mamushka Is For You

The developers behind The Pinball Arcade [Free / $0.99], FarSight Studios, are nothing if not extremely passionate about pinball. They've been in the games industry a pretty long time, over 20 years now, but they didn't truly find their niche until the 2004 release of Pinball Hall Of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection on the PlayStation 2. Its initial release was perhaps a little too early to catch the renaissance of video pinball, but it at least did well enough that they followed that up a few years later with The Williams Collection. With Williams tables being a lot more well-known among Americans, that release ended up doing pretty well, earning high praise for its faithfulness to the real machines. While this was all happening, digital storefronts started to become more popular. Soon, retail retro collections were becoming retro themselves, with a la carte offerings proving more popular with fans. It was a natural fit for the type of work FarSight was doing, and so The Pinball Arcade was born...

I love the idea of Adventure Time Game Wizard [$4.99] because of the power of its license. Pixel Press Floors [Free] was cool technology, in the way that it let people sketch out levels on paper using a system of glyphs, and then take a photograph to scan them into the game. It's a remarkably cool tech and idea. But really, the greatness of the idea and its reach was somewhat limited by the new intellectual property and the limitations that Pixel Press had in terms of PR and reach on the App Store. Thus enter Cartoon Network. The kids love them some Adventure Time. So, why not combine that license and the Cartoon Network marketing muscle with the latest Pixel Press tech? What is here is not just a competent platformer, but an incredibly powerful creation tool that I think could be really great because of the way that it opens up creation to a young audience in an accessible way...

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