Category Archives: 5 stars

'Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure' Review - It's Auro Good

The first half of 2014 was pretty packed with roguelikes, with games like Wayward Souls [$6.99], Cardinal Quest 2 [Free], and Hoplite [$1.99] all taking their respective stab at the venerable sub-genre. This year has been a little more quiet on that front, with only a few offerings of any note at all. The best of this year's bunch until now has been Lamp And Vamp [$1.99] which, while very fun, was riffing pretty closely on Hoplite. Well, mark it on your calendars, friends, because I think we've got our first fresh hit of 2015 in the genre with Auro [$4.99], the latest game from the developers behind 100 Rogues [$2.99]. This one's been cooking at Dinofarm Games for quite a long time now, but I think it's certainly worth the wait...

'Dark Echo' Review - Silence Is Golden, And So Is This Game

While I love blockbuster gaming as much as the next person, there's no question that the ever-increasing budgets and thinner margins have made the whole upper-end of the video game business disappointingly conservative from the player's point of view. Iteration is great. It's how games have come as far as they have. Yet, as an exclusive diet, playing it safe can sometimes be a little bland. It's a good thing we've got smaller developers who can afford to take risks on crazy ideas, because without such occasional spices, the hobby would be a lot less interesting. Dark Echo [$1.99] is one of those games that simply couldn't exist under the traditional model, but I'm ecstatic it does...




'Radiation Island' Review - Get Chased by Katana-Wielding Zombies and Have Fun!

Take the most irrational and demanding mobile gaming fan – you know the kind, the person that only wants paid games and hates in-app purchases and ads in any form – and ask them for a dream wishlist of everything they'd want from a mobile game. What they will describe to you is basically what Radiation Island [$2.99] from Atypical Games delivers on. It's a game that pushes iOS devices to their absolute limits, provides PC-style gameplay on the go with gamepad support, doesn't do much hand-holding, delivers dozens of hours of gameplay, offers online multiplayer, and oh yeah, it's only $2.99 for the entire package. And there's not in-app purchases to be found anywhere in the vicinity of the game, because those are for suckers, right?. Atypical Games decided to make a game for this most vocal and demanding of irrational consumer...

'Particle Mace' Review - Come and Swing with Me

As a rule, I try not to buy early access games unless I absolutely feel the need to. Particle Mace [$2.99] on desktop was one of those games I stayed away from, but always had in my mind: the concept seemed intriguing, plus it was iOS bound sometime down the road. As such, when I found out that the game was leaving early access and releasing for iOS, I was extremely excited. One, I like seeing games actually leaving early access and becoming finished products, because early access trades on respecting your customer, and delivering on the promise that you're finishing what you started as a developer. Early access can be a really great thing for developers and for players, but when developers use it as an excuse to just make money off of unfinished games, it's saddening. Two, I was excited to actually play the game without compromising my principles. I'm willing to bend them when I feel like it, so I'm perhaps not the person to listen to, but I stick to it more often than not. Well, Particle Mace was well worth the wait. And the developer, Andy Makes Games, was smart in tweaking the game to fit iOS...

'Dragon Quest 5' Review - The RPG Of A Lifetime

Dragon Quest 5 [$9.99] is a rare jewel. This is a game that carried the burden of being a sequel in one of the most successful franchises of all-time. In the pre-merger days, it's safe to say that Enix as a company depended on the performance of Dragon Quest games. It's the very definition of a AAA installment in the middle of a long-running series. Such products are not where we would expect to find the unique voice of the game's creator telling such a small and personal tale. That's just what designer and writer Yuji Horii did, however, and the result is perhaps one of the finest stories ever seen in an RPG. In my opinion, the series was never able to top this installment, but that's fine, because not many games in general have...

'Papers, Please' for iPad Review - A Must-Play Storytelling Experience

Papers, Please [$7.99 (HD)] is a weird game, as it's incredibly difficult to succinctly describe in a way that makes it sound even vaguely fun. Developer Lucas Pope (Of Helsing's Fire [$0.99] fame!) manages to turn pedantry and tedium into gameplay elements and in the process crafts an experience that will likely be among the most memorable games you've played this year. It's been out on the PC for about a year now, but much like FTL [$9.99 (HD)], it always felt like Papers, Please truly belonged on the iPad...

'Bean Dreams' Review - Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

Holy heck, does Bean Dreams [$2.99] knock it out of the park. The first Bean's Quest [$2.99] game from Kumobius was a solid game, with inventive ways to approach platforming on a touchscreen-based device. But after they applied their time-traveling take on Tiny Wings [$0.99 / $2.99 (HD)] with Time Surfer [$0.99], and gave the challenging arcade game genre an artsy twist with Duet [$2.99], now they return to their original game. And it's clear that the studio has picked up on a lot of lessons from the past few years, as Bean Dreams is possibly Kumobius' best game yet, streamlining the original's concept into a tight and concise experience that they can only further build on and make better...

'Dragon Quest 3' Review - The Stuff Of Legends

This is the fifth Dragon Quest game I've reviewed in 2014, and by now I'm sure I've hammered in the significance of this series to the JRPG genre, if nothing else. After starting the year with Dragon Quest 8 [$19.99], one of the more recent and certainly the most technologically advanced installments in the series, we took an odd side path to Dragon Quest 4 [$14.99] before heading back to the beginning of the series. I'm a firm believer that Dragon Quest games are like pie in that there's no bad one, but the first two games require a certain understanding of the context in which they were released to fully enjoy them. They're very much formative works of the genre, and as such have all kinds of prickly bits and loose ends hanging off of them. Dragon Quest 3 [$9.99] is where that proviso can be safely removed...

'Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath' Review - You're Looking Mighty Good, Stranger

The story of the Oddworld Inhabitants themselves is almost as interesting as that of any of their games. Founded by Hollywood veterans to take advantage of the correctly-predicted boom that 3D graphics would bring, the company had a clear, ambitious plan for a series of five games that took place in their Oddworld universe. A new team planning for that many games before they've even finished one is the game development equivalent of a rookie stepping up to the plate and pointing at the stands, but when Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee released, it seemed like the Oddworld Inhabitants weren't bluffing. The game was a massive hit, and the lead character Abe become something of a cult icon in the 32-bit era. It was followed by an initially unplanned direct sequel, Abe's Exoddus, which was meant to help fill the gap while everyone waited for the next chapter of the quintology...

'Checkpoint Champion' Review - An Incredibly Smooth Ride

There's a certain craft that goes into making a game that feels great. Protostar's Checkpoint Champion [Free] is a fun game on its own, but the game shows a certain craftsmanship that elevates the whole experience. This is a stunt racing game, where the goal is to drive a constantly-accelerating car around tracks full of checkpoints, collecting them in order, then hitting the final, golden checkpoint, in order to complete the level before time runs out. The game is about precise challenges across multiple terrains, presented in a simple way, but the game is stylishly presented and makes the most out of everything it does...

'XCOM: Enemy Within' Review - Killing Aliens? Check. With Huge Robots? Check. Instabuy? Check.

Sequels get a bad wrap. When you consider the benefits a prime iteration of a game or movie has going for it, its no wonder the follow up that lacks the initial reveal often disappoints. Luckily you don't have to worry about disappointment if you pick up 2k's XCOM: Enemy Within[$9.99]. Enemy Within has packed on a ton of features that dovetail seamlessly with it's successor. ..

'Crossy Road' Review - Watch Out for That Train!

What separates the great games from the good games? There's an intangible aspect of making a game feel fun to play that can be difficult to pin down when trying to describe it, and even more difficult for a developer to create. But when a developer nails it down, it's truly sublime. Crossy Road [Free] absolutely nails how a game should feel, which makes it endlessly replayable, and my current go-to pick-up-and-play game...

'Vainglory' Review - Portable MOBA Magic

'Vainglory' Review - Portable MOBA Magic

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November 20th, 2014 11:00 AM EDT by Eric Ford in 5 stars, Free, Games, iPad Games, iPhone games, iPod touch games, MOBA, Reviews
Free Buy Now

While soft-launched for nearly half a year, it really wasn’t until we saw Vainglory [Free / Free] during Apple’s September event that we’ve been keeping a close eye on it. Super Evil Megacorp’s keynote presentation was more than just a cool demonstration of Metal — it was also a pretty damn cool looking MOBA in its own right. With its recent end of its lengthy soft launch period and subsequent debut in the US Apple Store, we thought we’d take it for a spin and see how it compares to other iOS MOBAs. Suffice to say, I think Vainglory is one of the best genre offerings available and sets the bar in terms of visuals, balance and controls...

'Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition' Review - Another Remastered Legend Released for iOS

Beamdog is back. If you aren't excited as a D&D fan you should be. Not just a straight port, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition[$9.99] is bringing some new toys to the table and I've been geeking out ever since I got my hands on them...

'Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores' Review - Take Another Trip To The Valley

As I mentioned back when I reviewed Monument Valley [$3.99], it was bound to be a love it or hate it affair, and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that most people felt as strongly about the experience as I did. It's a beautiful thing to play with, an artfully-constructed world that you can manipulate and bend around in ways that only a few other games have allowed. It was a gorgeous, pure experience, free of the flashing lights and urging pace that seems to be the general speed of things in this wonderful hobby of ours. It was also very short, with a mere ten levels to its tale, about a third of which were basically tutorial stages. By the time it turned up the gas even a little bit, it was soon finished. As an experience, it's hard to argue with it. As a mechanical game, it was a whole lot of potential with a somewhat wanting level of realizing it. Generally, it was very well-received, with most people left crying for more. So developer Ustwo got working on some more, and after several months of development, they've released an expansion for Monument Valley called Forgotten Shores...

'Candy Crush Soda Saga' Review - Poppin' Bottles in the Ice

'Candy Crush Soda Saga' Review - Poppin' Bottles in the Ice

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November 12th, 2014 4:44 PM EDT by Eli Hodapp in 5 stars, Free, Games, Puzzle, Reviews
Free Buy Now

There's been a lot of super popular free to play games on the App Store, but the original Candy Crush Saga [Free] completely redefined the meaning of App Store success. The game was huge on Facebook, and the leap to mobile sent the popularity of Candy Crush to a level I'm not even sure the wildest dreams of anyone at King could have imagined. It's become part of pop culture to the point that the game is even referenced in unrelated TV commercials now, and it's almost rare to be out in public and not see someone playing the game...

'Bitcoin Billionaire' Review - I'm Ashamed to Love This Game

I hate Bitcoin Billionaire [Free] for existing. It's an idle clicker game, where tapping the screen gets stuff that can be spent on other stuff, but I've spent way too much time playing this. I've mined way too many fake bitcoins to be proud of myself in any way. I've had fun, and this game provides some real excitement and does so in a way that can be played for free with innovative incentivized advertising, but again, I feel kind of ashamed about it. Genuinely, it deserves five stars for excellence at what it is, but perhaps one star out of spite for existing...

'Ghost Blade' Review - Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you asked me a couple of months ago to make a list of game types that were highly unlikely to ever be realized in a satisfying way on a touchscreen, I can guarantee that stylish action games would be on the short list. The sub-genre launched when wunderkind director Hideki Kamiya sat down to make another Resident Evil game, decided that it would be more fun if every attack felt as good as doing a headshot with a shotgun, and ended up creating Devil May Cry. One game does not a sub-genre make, but once Tomonobu Itagaki created his masterpiece re-imagining of Ninja Gaiden, we were off to the races. It's not the most prolific genre, probably because it's so hard to do right, but it's seen its share of hits including the mainstream-friendly God of War series, the campy and cool Bayonetta, and the amazing parry-focused Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. These games are usually characterized by their highly-technical, deep combat, where players are graded according to how well they can dance to the game's beat. This usually involves a lot of different buttons, and we all know how well that usually works out on a touchscreen...

'Helix' Review - Let it Surround You

868-HACK [$5.99] creator Michael Brough is doing for the arena survival genre with Helix [$2.99] what he did for the roguelike with 868-HACK: take an existing genre and own it with his own style. This is an arcade game that's got great art, great controls, intriguing gameplay, and even a few secrets to try and dig up, that make this worth checking out if you love arcade games...

'Zombie Highway 2' Review - The Fun Never Stops

Free-to-play gets a bad rap among a lot of serious mobile gamers, and often for good reason: there are many games which devolve and infantilize their design because it's more profitable to do so. But not Zombie Highway 2 [Free]. This is a free-to-play game that features many of the trappings of the business model, two-tier currencies, and incentivized video ads, but it makes them feel optional, and doesn't get in the way of being a fun, zombie-splattering good time...

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