Category Archives: 5 stars

'Prison Architect' Review - Running a Prison Shouldn't be This Fun

Let's start this review with the obvious: building and managing a maximum security prison in this day and age can be a peculiar experience given all we hear about the way the real-life prison system works. And yes, I know that some people have found Prison Architect [Free (HD)] disagreeable because of precisely these reasons. Add to that how the game's tutorial starts with having you build an execution chamber and then proceed to execute a murderer, and you can see why this game's theme might not be for everyone. Those reservations aside, though, in terms of mechanics and gameplay variation, Prison Architect is a very entertaining game with tons of content and plenty of depth that will keep you busy for many, many hours.While the title of Prison Architect implies that all you'll be doing in the game is building a prison, it's actually slightly misleading; you are in charge of so much more than just designing a prison. Your duties extend to planning your inmates' daily schedules, hiring the right kind of people to help run the facility, arranging for the prison to be "pleasant" enough so you can avoid riots, manage your tight budget, and much more. Prison Architect will definitely remind you of classic PC management games rather than modern mobile games when it comes to just how much you can control and how much tinkering you can do...

'Flipping Legend' Review - It's Flipping Sweet

It can be tough to stand out for a game that is in a well-worn genre. The sort of endless runner with action elements genre can be a tough sell for some folks when there's a ton of those games out there. But Flipping Legend [Free] doesn't deserve to be skipped. This separates itself from the rest of the pack by having a unique movement system, an RPG-style upgrade system, strong artistic direction, and most importantly: being fun to play at its very core...




'Yankai's Peak' Review - Pyramid Perfection

'Yankai's Peak' Review - Pyramid Perfection

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June 14th, 2017 9:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $1.99, 5 stars, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Puzzle, Reviews, Universal
$2.99 Buy Now

Developer Kenny Sun sure does like geometric shapes. His latest game is about pyramids, and just like his previous efforts, it's both bizarre and brilliant. Yankai's Peak [$2.99] might be titled like a sequel to last year's Yankai's Triangle [$2.99], but it's something totally new mechanically. While that game saw you spinning triangles around, disassembling them, and reassembling them to try to make them fit together, Yankai's Peak is more like a traditional Sokoban-style box-pusher. Instead of cooperative little squares, however, you're pushing around pyramids that aren't really good about moving in a straight line. The core mechanic is clever and rewarding, and the game sprinkles in new gimmicks regularly to keep you interested...

'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...

'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...

'Steredenn' Review - Horns Out For This Roguelike Shoot 'Em Up

Sometimes good ideas don't come together into being good final products. What sounds good on paper can be lackluster in execution. Not so much with Steredenn [$3.99], which sounded amazing on paper! A roguelike combined with a shoot 'em up, with a heavy metal soundtrack? It's like Pixelnest said "How can we make a game that Carter Dotson would enjoy?" Then, they made it. Of course, they didn't do exactly that since it didn't release on mobile for about a year and a half after its original release, and I am kicking myself for having not played it until now. Well, better late than never: Steredenn is fantastic fun for fans of roguelikes, shoot 'em ups, and/or heavy metal...

'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...

'Miles & Kilo' Review - It's Dog-Gone Great!

The original Kid Tripp [$0.99] was an excellent ode to Westone's classic Wonder Boy and the Adventure Island series that it spawned. The game looked and sounded like a latter day Master System or Game Gear game, and the auto-running platforming was almost pitch-perfect. To this day, I consider it one of the better platformers available on iOS. Well, the kid is back, and this time, he brought his dog. More importantly, however, Miles & Kilo [$2.99] tries to advance the Wonder Boy-style gameplay with new moves, gimmicks, and obstacles that Tom-Tom never had to worry about. The result is a fantastic game with one foot planted firmly in the past and the other in the here and now. If you like platformers, you won't want to miss this one...

'Spaceplan' Review - Delicious Potatoes

The clicker genre can still surprise and delight, it turns out. Jake Hollands and Devolver Digital have delivered a fantastic narrative clicker in Spaceplan [$2.99] that is well worth checking out even if you're clickered out on clickers. While the core hallmarks of the clicker genre are here with lots of clicking and idle energy generators, with waiting outside the app playing a role in the game. But it also features a unique sci-fi story that reveals over time that has an incremental narrative game influence, and a finite scenario to enjoy. Plus, there's lots of potatoes...

'Planescape: Torment' Review - What Can Change the Nature of an App?

Oh. Really? Another one of those old isometric dinosaurs got released on iOS? No. I am sorry, but that's wrong. THE old isometric dinosaur that devours and spits out other isometric dinosaurs is finally out for iOS. Fresh off solid remasters of Baldur's Gate [$9.99], Baldur's Gate II [$9.99], and Icewind Dale [$9.99], Overhaul Games is back with the magnum opus of the CRPG world Planescape: Torment [$9.99], and yes this terrible thunder lizard still has teeth. Much commentary of this recently revamped game is devoted to how the upgrade was handled. As many of you, dear readers, may not be very familiar, I will also be unwrapping my personal experience with the actual content of Torment. Even though I have been an avid gamer through the decades, this was one I did not get the chance to play back in the day (I blame Diablo II, personally). Now given the chance to remedy this grave personal flaw, I present to you my humble take on a giant of the industry. ..

'Death Road to Canada' Review - A Dog, Anime Magical Girl, and A Farting Man Enter a Bar...

I think you could make a strong argument that Rocketcat Games is the greatest developer in the history of mobile games. No studio has quite the collection of masterpieces that they do. Go on and look it up, their worst title is Five Card Quest [$2.99] and even that isn't so bad. Madgarden, meanwhile, has the strongest collection of unreleased titles perhaps out there, but when he releases something, it tends to be great. See their previous collaboration Punch Quest [Free], which is still brilliant and so unlike everything else on the App Store. In fact, that's the problem: these folks make games that are such pinnacles of what they do that nobody else can even come close. So, perhaps you might think Death Road to Canada [$8.99] off the bat seems a bit weird for them to do. After all, it's a zombie survival game. There's a ton of them. But that would be short-sighted: Death Road to Canada is another masterpiece from a partnership that keeps cranking out the hits...

'Card Thief' Review - It Eventually Stole My Heart

Tinytouchtales and artist Mexer reunite to make Card Thief [$1.99], a solitaire card game that is a follow-up to Card Crawl [$2.99]. Instead of being a dungeon crawler, this is about stealth, with a card system. You move your thief card around the board in any direction, dealing with traps, enemies, torches, and items that pop up. Your objective is to clear out cards to get through the deck, eventually picking up the treasure chest that gets on the board, and escaping when you've gotten through the deck. While there's actually an unlimited number of cards, the deck has certain milestones that pop up throughout your session. The thing is that where Card Crawl definitely added in some new elements after launch that added some depth and complexities to the experience, it's a much simpler game than what Card Thief is conceptually. For example, I went back to Card Crawl after a long time not playing (I have too many games on my phone...and iPad), and after a little bit of reacquainting myself, the game made sense. On the other hand, Card Thief off the bat is a more esoteric experience. It has its own rules, and a number of systems and card types that all interact with each other in ways that you probably won't understand right away. In fact, it plays fast and loose with the whole 'cards' concept to begin with. It could have just been a stealth action game without the card concept, I imagine. But the thing I found is that after a few sessions of not knowing what I was doing, the more I played, the more Card Thief clicked with me. And when it clicks, it's an amazing game...

'Hidden Folks' Review - Seek This Game Out

While Game Oven Studios, the collection of maniacs behind Fingle [$1.99 (HD) / Free (HD)], Bam Fu [$0.99 / Free], Bounden [$2.99], and Jelly Reef [$0.99], is no more, developer Adriaan de Jongh is still out there making games. And he's back with another fantastic and unique experience that you have to try. Hidden Folks [$3.99] is a collaboration between him and illustrator Sylvain Tegroeg that takes a very simple concept of being a "Where's Waldo" game. Then it makes everything happen in a monochromatic world, with huge canvases to explore as folks wander around, and you have to find a certain bunch of these folks. It's a simple idea, but the work that the team behind the game has done with the art, sound, and playability, makes this a fantastic experience. ..

'Slayaway Camp' Review - A Killer Puzzler

The first thing that drew my attention to Slayaway Camp [$2.99] was the horror theme. Designed as a pastiche of 1980s horror in all its cheesy glory, combined with a voxel look that allowed for some gory slasher action with a comical feel. And then the game released on Steam first. After some work to make the game acceptable for Apple, we finally have Slayaway Camp on mobile, and what I found wasn't just a game that was over-the-top in gore and humor. I also found a great sliding puzzle game, that also managed to integrate its theme in a masterful way. This is a game that's fun to play and experience the little world it has created...

'Dandy Dungeon' Review - Fine and Dandy

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February 8th, 2017 11:00 AM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in 5 stars, Adventure, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Role-Playing
Free Buy Now

At this point in iOS's life, it's getting hard to find a new spin on the whole roguelite genre. Most of the people reading this probably own at least twice as many as they've had time to play. I suppose my job here is to try to convince you that you ought to add Dandy Dungeon [Free] to that pile, because you really should. It's bizarre in all the most likable possible ways, and while its basic mechanics are familiar, the way it presents them is definitely unique. If the general theme of, say, Katamari Damacy appealed to you, this is a game you'll want to check out...

'The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth' Review - Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

At last! The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth [$14.99] has finally released on iOS, and it was well worth the wait. Perhaps the most popular dual-stick shooter roguelike out there, rumors, Apple approvals drama, and a constantly-shifting release date led to this being the white whale for many iOS gamers. As the release date narrowed down to a general range, every day saw one question surely asked: "When's Isaac coming?" Well, thanks to a surprise Tuesday night release on January 10th US time, The Binding of Isaac is finally here, and well worth the wait. The scatological, challenging roguelike dual-stick shooter promises challenging gameplay with mountains of secrets to discover...

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

'Mini Metro' Review - Train Braining

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December 30th, 2016 12:30 PM EDT by Shaun Musgrave in $4.99, 5 stars, Arcade, Game Center, iPad Games, iPhone games, Reviews, Simulation
$4.99 Buy Now

Continuing our year-end mop-up of games we missed out on reviewing at the time of their release for various reasons, the next requested title by our readers was Mini Metro [$4.99]. I've had an interesting relationship with trains over the course of my life. Passenger trains more or less vanished in the part of Canada I'm from when I was relatively young. Like most places in Canada, my town was far too small to merit a local metro system. I mean, we barely had buses. Thus, I didn't end up riding a train of any sort until I was in my twenties, and I picked a wild place to start. Imagine a small-town bumpkin arriving in Tokyo, Japan, and trying to make sense of the colorful spaghetti that is the Tokyo Metro system. After a while, though, I got the hang of it, and I now consider myself to be pretty good at navigating the sometimes seemingly nonsensical connections from place to place in that city...

'Bully: Anniversary Edition' Review - Another Rockstar Classic Heads to Mobile

At this point, a holiday release from Rockstar on the App Store is beginning to become tradition, and I really couldn't be happier. This year's addition to Rockstar's mobile catalog is Bully: Anniversary Edition [$6.99], celebrating the ten year anniversary of the original 2006 launch. Lots of folks in our community suspected that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories would be the next Rockstar game to hit the App Store, but it turns out that the one and only bigfart12 guessed correctly all the way back in March. Bully always seemed like the "forgotten" Rockstar game, at least amongst my circle of friends. It was released sandwiched in between Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories [$6.99] and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. I think it was close enough to the GTA formula that anyone interested in Bully likely just gravitated to either title instead. I suppose it also didn't help that literally everyone I know who was even remotely interested in video games was hard and heavy into World of Warcraft at the time either. Anyway, it wasn't until the remastered "Scholarship Edition" was released a few years later that I gave the game a try, and had one of those "Wait, what the. Why didn't I play this when it first came out?" epiphanies that often come with re-releases of games you heard were good but never actually got around to playing. The mobile release is technically a second remaster of the game, as Bully: Anniversary Edition comes with all the tweaks of Scholarship Edition, plus additional graphical effects, higher resolution textures, better lighting, and a new multiplayer mode, effectively making the mobile game the best version yet- At least until it's remastered a third time...

'Super Cat Tales' Review - Don't Paws, Play This Nya-ow

In spite of the seeming limitation of having no physical buttons by default, iOS has a lot of really great platformers. Some of them get by with virtual controls, putting some of the burden on the player to simply get used to them. That's fine, but unless the game is a port from another platform, I'm not sure if it's really the best way to go. I think some of the best platformers on iOS are the ones that avoid the temptation of using virtual buttons and find a way to build a game around a more fitting setup. Sure, you have to sacrifice some of the conventional ways of designing levels and obstacles, but in doing that, many games find something new and interesting...

'Neon Chrome' Review - The Roguelike That's Just Right

I can't get enough of dual-stick shooter roguelikes, but often the time and effort requirement is too much. I'm more of a gaming tourist – I want to enjoy a lot of different experiences in gaming rather than having to decdicate tons of hours to get the joy out of a single game. Thankfully, Neon Chrome [$9.99] from 10tons, adapted for mobile from PC and console, scratches that itch. It's not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and it can be punishing, but it tones down some of the harsher parts of the roguelike-inspired genre to be more accessible up front for players who just want to enjoy a game of this type. This is a game where you can extract genuine rewards from it in the early hours, while still getting long-term challenge and satisfaction. ..

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