Category Archives: Ratings

'Abyssrium' Review - An Underwater Tap 'em Up

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August 26th, 2016 12:48 PM EDT by Chris Carter in 3.5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation, Universal
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For some, clickers got real old real fast. Most people I know were introduced to them by way of Cookie Clicker, which took the world by storm for several weeks until people got tired of clicking on things. But since a multitude of developers (even Bandai Namco) are partaking in these click-fests, it's become more important than ever to differentiate yourself from the crowd. That can be done in a myriad of ways, from adding "endgames" or RPG elements. But for me, it's okay for a clicker to just be a clicker, especially when it has a relaxing atmosphere like Abyssrium [Free]. For the uninitiated, the goal of tappers is very much like a city-building simulator -- acquire currency (hearts), so you can use it to acquire items that allow you to gain more currency. It's not a tough thing to wrap your head around, especially since the vast majority of your time is going to be spent tapping indiscriminately at the screen. But Abyssrium manages to add a zen-like feel to the whole shebang that makes it feel like less of a chore and more of means to let off some stress. The spooky yet majestic art is mostly to blame. Your empire starts off with one adorable rock with a smiley face and builds from there. Soon you'll have plants growing out of your avatar, fish swimming around going about their business, and mystic artifacts surrounding your home, all of which impact your earn rate in different ways...

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...




'Space Marshals 2' Review - It's 'Space Marshals', Too

Pixelbite got a lot right with the first Space Marshals [$4.99]. They eschewed much of what is common in dual-stick shooters on mobile, going with a slower, more thoughtful, stealth-based game. With an array of interesting weaponry and tactics at your disposal, such as using noisemakers to distract enemies to take them out away from the prying eyes of other enemies, it was a cool concept and a fun game. The controls were great for mobile, with MFi controller support, and iCloud to boot. It was not a perfect game, but a great example of how to make an original, stylish title for mobile. Plus, they updated the game with 2 new episodes months after launch. Space Marshals 2 [$5.99] returns and basically is the same game, streamlined with a couple new features, and skipping on the whole episodic aspect to give you 20 beefy levels of tactical stealth action in a space wild-west setting. And like any sequel where iteration is the key difference, it's not bad – this is the superior game – but the lack of surprise can be a bit disappointing...

So, you thought you were getting a technical marvel of an action game in Eisenhorn: Xenos [$9.99]? Wrong! This adaptation of the 2001 novel set in the ever-expansive and convoluted Warhammer universe, starring inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, has disappointing combat, and the game largely tries to hide it and convince you that it's unnecessary. Instead, this is about telling the story from the novel, featuring Mark Strong as Eisenhorn, while presenting some gorgeous backdrops, with you at the controls driving the narrative. And if Warhammer lore is your bag, this is a game for you. As an action game? Eh...

'Leap of Fate' Review - Jump In

Leap of Fate [$3.99] didn't make a great first impression on me. The opening cut-scene dialogue is ponderous. The aiming feels a little off. The tutorial has a lot of clumsy navigation elements, suggesting there will be some shoveled-in platforming to break up the action. The first time I loaded the game, I played through the tutorial, wondered why Jared was raving about it so much, then switched over to something else. Of course, since I was assigned to the review, I had to come back to Leap of Fate soon. Reviewing games is generally a great job, but one of the few downsides is that you can't always walk away from games you're not enjoying. Sometimes, however, that turns out to be a good thing, and Leap of Fate is one such case...

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 [$4.99] 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...

'Jurassic GO - Dinosaur Snap Adventures' Review - Prehistoric Pokemon Snap

There aren't enough games like Pokemon Snap in the world -- there just aren't, even though it was released nearly 20 years ago. I'd like to think that Nintendo and The Pokemon Company are sitting on the concept, ready with a tiny hammer to smash a glass container somewhere with the code for a mobile edition, but we aren't there yet. Instead, we'll have to deal with the various "tourist" and survival sandbox games we have now, which get us ever closer to that fully realized open world Snap many of us long for. Thankfully, Jurassic Go - Dinosaur Snap Adventures [$3.99] is helping us get one step closer...

'Legend of the Skyfish' Review - Get Hooked on This

The hookshot, a close relative to the grappling hook, is one of my favorite tools in video games. Being able to pull things towards you, or reach faraway points, is just an aspect that is so compelling to me. Now, the number of grappling hook games being so small in number should not be a surprise – Kepa of Rocketcat Games says level design for grappling hook mechanics is really difficult. And considering Super QuickHook [$2.99] is so brilliant, and few games have tried to copy it, that makes sense. But there's such potential in a Zelda-style hookshot with a game being centered around it. Legend of the Skyfish [$3.99] is that game, and it uses the core fun of grappling and pulling from a distance inherent in the tool to make for a solid action-puzzle game in the Zelda vein...

Out There Chronicles [$2.99] is a good idea. Take the mysterious, interesting universe of the survival/resource management game Out There [$4.99] and create a gamebook in the same setting that helps flesh the background out. A boots on the ground view, so to speak. It's even written by the same person that wrote the original game. The presentation is quite strong for a game of this genre, adopting much of the aesthetic of the core Out There experience, and it even attempts to incorporate a few of the mechanics, such as learning alien languages and trying to conserve resources. As a companion piece to Out There, it's pretty neat. But while it's good at evoking the feel of its parent, as a piece of interactive fiction, it leaves me a bit cold...

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 [$3.99] 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 [$4.99] 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...

When it comes to interactive fiction, certain elements have to carry a disproportionate amount of weight on their shoulders. A good premise helps. Interesting choices are a must. While the story doesn't necessarily have to be spectacular, it should at least be well-written. There's more to it than that, especially if said game starts dipping its wick into the RPG genre, but at a minimum, quality interactive fiction should present the player with a good story in which they have some agency, or at least the illusion of it. Deadman Diaries [$0.99] is the latest release from Cubus Games, best known for their hardcore space action gamebook Heavy Metal Thunder [$3.99]. It carries a lower price tag than the rest of Cubus's line-up, and while I don't think you can always judge a game by its price, it's a useful indicator in this case...

'The Quest HD' Review - That Old Magic is Still Alive

Redshift's The Quest [$4.99] was originally released for Pocket PCs and Palm devices, but it found new life when the game was ported to iPhones in March of 2009. Its massive size and depth, combined with a seemingly endless parade of new content through regular expansion pack releases, made it one of the best RPGs on the platform, and for many people, the only one they ever needed. Surprisingly, the years have been generally kind to it in most regards, so it still plays as well as it ever did. Only a few respects betrayed the game's age. One of the most obvious points is that it offered no iPad-native version, forcing tablet owners to play it with a less-than-flattering zoom applied to the visuals. As detailed as the graphics in the original port are, they're clearly coming from the pre-retina days of mobile gaming, and while that's not something I mind terribly, it made the game look too old-fashioned for some...

'Heroes of Normandie' Review - This War is Hellishly Good

If you're a fan of strategy games, what is it about them that gets you hooked? Is it the ability to command huge armies and have them engage in long, epic campaigns over huge theaters? Or do you enjoy small, intimate engagements where every unit counts? For me, it's definitely the latter and that's because I like when games tell stories, when my soldiers' actions weave lovely - or painful - narratives that I can then recount and laugh, or cry. Heroes of Normandie [$14.99], the digital port of the Devil Pig Games' board game with the same name, is precisely the kind of wargame that creates stories not only because you usually command a very small number of units over a pretty small battlefield but also because the game is constantly celebrating its inspiration, the classic, bombastic WWII movies like The Dirty Dozen and A Bridge Too Far...

'Journey Below' Review - Started From The Top, Now We're Here

Inexplicably descending a dungeon full of trials, tribulations, and an eclectic cast of evil creatures that are dead-set on causing your avatar's demise - sound familiar? While it's extremely easy to draw parallels to Downwell [$2.99] - and such comparisons are certainly welcome, considering the latter was our Game of the Year Runner Up in 2015 - Journey Below [$2.99] manages to distinguish itself from similar titles through putting its own unique spin on the rock-hard, high-scoring gameplay that is so well suited to mobile gaming. It may not be the most expansive experience, but dig beneath the surface and Ravenous Games have managed to create a surprising level of depth in Journey Below that makes sure it doesn't stop being a highly compelling addition to the dungeon crawling genre...

'Reigns' Review - Reign in Blood

The core concept of Reigns [$2.99] on paper seems intriguing enough. It's basically dating service Tinder, with swiping left or right to make decisions, combined with ruling a kingdom. Seems interesting enough, but Nerial and company have managed to imbue Reigns' concept in such a way that each decision feels weighty. As well, there's an intriguing long-term game here, with secrets to discover and an overall goal to reach that gives each session a unique purpose beyond its amusing concept, and elevates the whole experience above an amusing concept...

Finally, Blitz Breaker [$2.99] is home where it belongs. After initially getting released on PC, Reece Kelly's fast-reaction platformer is on mobile. It's always felt like a perfect fit for phones in particular, what with the ability to simply swipe in the cardinal directions to launch your hero that way. Sure, it works perfectly fine from a keyboard, but it was easy to imagine doing all this with a thumb on a touchscreen. Lo and behold, it works beautifully...

Sometimes, based on the recommendation of the lovely Touch Arcade community, you get to go into a project completely blind. I had never heard of the source material for Eden: The Game [Free], which is apparently based on a UK reality television show where a group of people live in a remote area of Scotland for an entire year. It's not only meant as entertainment for the masses, but it's also a social experiment in and of itself. The mobile game adaptation somewhat symbolizes how difficult it is to get an encampment up and running from nothing, with a little less thrill involved, of course...

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

'Battle Champs' Review - A Great Blend of Ideas

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August 4th, 2016 4:21 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 4.5 stars, Free, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Strategy
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So, here's a juicy secret for all of you: To the best of my knowledge, I'm the TouchArcade staff member who has played Clash of Clans [Free] the least. It probably seems odd that a writer for a major mobile site hasn't played much of one of the most popular games on the platform, and you know, I can't argue with that. I'd like to say it's just because I'm busy covering other stuff, but the truth is, I don't really like games that emphasize competitive multiplayer. While the game has some single-player content, it felt like a complete afterthought and wasn't much fun to play. You might think my lack of Clash of Clans experience would make me a poor candidate to review the Clash of Clans-inspired Battle Champs [Free], but I think it allows me to offer a different perspective on the game. You see, I don't think I'm alone in finding the idea of playing Clash of Clans unappealing in spite of its obvious quality. If you're like me, you might want to give Battle Champs a try. It does an excellent job of extending an olive branch to those who might otherwise shy away from the genre...

I'll come to the point immediately today: Legends of Heropolis [Free]is a terrible game. If you had access to a state-of-the-art 1966 Batcomputer and asked it to show you the worst possible outcome of a merger between a Kairosoft sim and a Japanese free-to-play social RPG, Legends of Heropolis is what it would belch out on those little printed strips of paper before self-destructing. It's overly-busy, the UI is disastrous, there are elements included that make no sense whatsoever for the theme, and the battle system is monotonous button mashing. While there isn't much in the way of a hard paywall, you are required to be online, you have a stamina system to deal with, and there's a gatcha-type random draw for gear to entice you to spend real money. Not content to merely borrow from Japanese free-to-play hits, there are also timers on buildings that you can rush if you're willing to pay. It's a veritable Megazord of mean-spirited ideas...

'Lanota' Review - You Spin Me Round

Ironically, the very success of the rhythm genre back at Guitar Hero’s launch on home consoles in 2005 was ultimately its undoing. A complete over saturation of the genre in under five years - spanning many different formats, even more spin-offs and unbeknownst amount of instrument-shaped controllers - meant the genre vanished almost as quickly as it had arrived. Rhythm game fans should not be disheartened, however - many developers took this as an opportunity to create well-crafted and unique music titles that were not iterative, and used the best features of the platform to their advantage, instead of relying on plastic peripherals as a crutch. The App Store was one of the delighted recipients of this new wave of rhythm games, and developers like Rayark have led the way with stunning efforts such as VOEZ [Free] that have impressed us in the past for putting a spin on the tired formula without becoming too derivative from the core elements of the genre that attracted so many fans in the first place. Lanota [$1.99] follows this trend - while some of the more radical attempts at distinguishing itself from the crowd can occasionally become a distration, developers Noxy Games have crafted an immersive and beautiful world that makes merely tapping in time to a song become a fully fledged adventure...

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