Category Archives: Ratings

Curling as an influence to a high score game? What? That's what Gameblyr's Into the Circle [Free] promises and delivers on. Curling is an underappreciated sport here in the United States. It's something I always try to catch whenever the Winter Olympics happen, or if ESPN3 has some on. It's surprisingly entertaining! It's better than watching golf on TV. There's not a lot of great curling games out there, so hey, we'll have to settle for curling-inspired ones like this. And Into the Circle winds up being a fun little game, albeit suffering a little bit from pay-to-win syndrome...

'Fatal Fight' Review - Two Finger Hurty Whack

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May 14th, 2015 2:00 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Action, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
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One of my favorite things about being a gamer in the indie/mobile/Steam age is how many new genres seem to pop up all the time. You’ve got your twitch games, Minecraft-likes, Hex-likes, Flap-likes. A lot of “-like”s. Of course, there’s a fine line between inspiration and cloning, and the App Store is rife with examples of both. Toghrul Samadov’s Fatal Fight [Free] is clearly inspired by the PC game One Finger Death Punch (which itself was inspired by those stickman flash cartoons that were all the rage a hundred internet years ago). Fatal Fight may not be the first, but it’s still a great example of a pretty kick-ass new genre of quick fix gaming...

'Fearless Fantasy' Review - The Stuff of Nightmares and Dreams

When tinyBuild’s turn-based RPG was released on Steam almost a year ago, players flocked to the game’s highly unique visuals and interesting take on RPG turn-based battle mechanics. Some even pointed out that the game would fit well on iOS devices. Indeed, we’ve been keeping tabs on a potential release even before an open beta was held on our forums earlier this year. Well, after a complete overhaul of the game’s art assets, as well as an extensive period of fine-tuning its mechanics, Fearless Fantasy [$3.99] is finally out on iOS and is well worth the wait...

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

Legend of Grimrock[$4.99 (HD)] 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...

'Seek: Find Your Friends' Offers Players a Lovely Window into a Vibrant, Mysterious World

Constantine Cavafy, one of my favorite early-20th Century Greek poets, once wrote that when you set out for a destination, you should hope that your journey is a long one. Why? Because once you arrive, you'll realize that the destination's only value was that it spurred you to undertake your journey. I've often found that unlike Cavafy, most game designers often privilege the destination over the journey by positing  level- or game-ending bosses as the moment when the hours a player has spent with the game acquire meaning. More often than not, the journey to the game's end credits is a blur with all elements of game design pushing with single-minded purpose towards that enemy waiting for you at the end. Yet, there are often exceptions to every rule, and Five Pixels' Seek: Find your Friends [Free] is precisely such an exception. Seek provides a literal window into a lovely, mysterious island and allows the players to blissfully meander inside the game world without inorexably pushing them towards a singular, rigid goal (despite the fact that the game does have an ending). This is definitely an island worth exploring if you, like me, enjoy savoring the journey and not just the destination...

One of the oldest names in Japanese video gaming, Namco is a publisher of many talents. Perhaps chief among them throughout its history is its ability to look at what its competitors are doing and make its own, often better version. It reached near-comical levels with SEGA in the 1990s, where SEGA would release a new arcade game, and Namco would chase it with their spin on the concept. This wasn't new behavior for them, either. Like most Japanese developers in the early era of gaming, Namco started popping out Space Invaders clones before the paint had dried on the cabinets of Taito's seminal hit. Namco's Galaxian added colorful graphics and aggressive enemies to the concept, launching a franchise that still pops up here and there, more than 35 years later...

'Tallowmere' Review - Axes, Clubs, and Rocket Launchers

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May 13th, 2015 3:00 PM EDT by Andrew Koziara in 3.5 stars, Reviews
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Booting up Tallowmere [$3.99] by Chris McFarland for the first time results in two things: eye strain and frustration. At least at first. The charm of this game takes some time to creep up on you, but when it clicks, it really clicks. There are some issues to be worked out, for sure, but there's a reason our forums were getting really excited in discovering this game together...

'Kindo' Review - Respect, but not Love

Kindo [$1.99] is the kind of game I feel somewhat conflicted about. It's a game that I like and respect. I appreciate it for what it is and everything that it does. I think the concept of the game is strong, easy enough to pick up on, while allowing for high level play. It does almost everything it needs to in terms of features. But it's the kind of game that I personally won't be playing long-term because it doesn't give me the kind of satisfaction I like from games...

'The Enchanted Cave 2' Review - Cave Glory

Enter the dungeon, go as far as you can, gather some loot, get some experience, and get out before you get killed. Go back in, get a little farther, grab a bit more loot, get a bit stronger, and escape again. Almost every great dungeon crawler has a pretty similar hook to it, and it works time and time again. It's fun to build a character, something that sits at the heart of almost all RPGs and, these days, plenty of non-RPGs. There's a certain thrill in finding a special piece of equipment we haven't seen before, too. But the biggest thing I think the sub-genre has going for it is its near-perfect realization of risk vs. reward. Oh, every game uses this to some extent, or at least the decent ones do, but the reward is usually something relatively meaningless. A little more progress, a nice power-up, a cool new gun, or something like that. The Enchanted Cave 2 [$2.99], like most of its dungeon-crawling brethren, puts an extra ante on the table, something more precious than any piece of loot: your time...

If nothing else, I'll give the developer of Soul Unleashed [Free / $4.99] 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...

Stop me if you've heard this before -- a new jump-scare horror game is coming out, and it's set in an asylum. As a child of the 90s I've had my fair share of mental ward scares, and Lost Within [$6.99] is no exception. Despite the overdone premise though there is something there, and well crafted touch controls certainly helps its case...

'Anodia 2' Review - Another Brick In The Wall

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May 11th, 2015 4:28 PM EDT by Nathan Reinauer in 4 stars, Arcade, Free, Games, Reviews, Universal
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It’s interesting how much you can read the history of the App Store in Clueless Little Muffin’s brick breaking Anodia series. Peel back the layers of the original Anodia [$2.99] and you’ll find a three-star rating system, physics-based levels, and a so-called premium price tag. And the visuals--while certainly not bad--do have a slight whiff of “four years ago” to them. Flash forward to now, and Anodia 2 [Free] feels strikingly modern, despite the actual gameplay being almost identical...

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...

Lifeline [$2.99] is a gamebook/choose-your-own-adventure novel that tries to do something a bit different from other games: it is designed as a game where you experience it through notifications as much as you do through the app itself, with simple A/B choices to make. It's got Apple Watch compatibility, so it's meant to be something that you can experience anywhere, at any time. It also plays off of the ways that we receive notifications on our devices, and wait for responses. It's a clever concept, with great writing, but it falls apart after the first playthrough, when the waiting gimmick quickly grows old and hinders the experience...

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...

When about a month ago I decided to preview Soulspark - Battle Cards [Free], a new F2P real-time card battling game by Copenhagen Creators and Wizkids, I did so because I always look for games by designers who are trying to innovate or, at least, spice up genre conventions. I was very interested in the way SoulSpark's developers wanted to infuse card-battlers - which are usually defined by slow deliberation - with the element of timing and rapid decision-making. I was especially excited about the prospect of a multiplayer component in the game, which the developers have said they are working on for a future update. Now that I've spent more time with the game, I'm still loving the concept behind the game as well as the visuals, but there are some questionable, yet not game-breaking, design choices that detract from the experience as well as some hard paywalls that make SoulSpark more of a free-to-try rather than a free-to-play game...

If you are looking for another insanely hard challenge that will spur you to throw your phone out the window in frustration then I've got the perfect game for you. Bouncy Bits [Free]; is a disturbingly demanding game, clearly inspired by Flappy Bird, Mr Jump and Crossy Road, which feels like Flappy Bird and Minecraft gave birth to a monster, an evil monster that will haunt your dreams...

'Test Chamber' Review - The Best Little Puzzle Game You Haven't Heard Of

Test Chamber [Free] is a gift for any game reviewer. The minimalist indie puzzler sneaked on to the App Store a couple of weeks ago with very little fanfare, and went largely unnoticed. But those who did play it discovered a wonderful logic game, with a unique physics twist and some excruciatingly tough but very satisfying puzzles. And now, dear reader, I get to share it with you, and you can discover its delights for yourself...

When we say a game is "love it or hate it", we typically mean that some people are going to dig it and other people aren't. Destiny Emerald [$2.99 (HD)] is "love it or hate it" in a different sense. Sometimes I love the game, and other times I hate it. I can't really decide which one is the overpowering feeling here. I love that it's a fairly straight gameplay homage to the older Legend Of Zelda games, and that unlike most efforts in that vein, it actually delivers a satisfying, lengthy adventure. I love the thematic tip of the hat to Falcom's Legacy Of The Wizard, with a whole family of selectable characters each with their own talents. The visuals are generally appealing, and the dungeon design is solid, if a little uninspired. I hate the unforgiving collision detection. I'm not a fan of the technical issues that end up slowing the game to a standstill or warping my character when the screen scrolls. The game's economy is completely broken, and it has a serious effect on the overall experience...

Kixeye'sVEGA Conflict [Free] has been out for some time on Android and desktop. If you aren't familiar with this Facebook integrated game, think Clash of Clans with space ships and a much more interesting combat system. The IAP is real, The in-game timers are real, but this is still a hot game. What I have been wondering though is how much gameplay is lost in translation to iOS. VEGA is not your typical Facebook game. Sure you have to sit around and wait on timers and micro manage your space town. The town, to me, isn't really where the game takes place. It's kind of more like an extended UI for the best part of the game, the combat. You get to outfit and pilot a fleet of ships with a very simple interface that has some surprising depth and a high level of skill needed to master. ..

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