Category Archives: Reviews

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. ..

'Wedding Escape' Review - 'Til Match-Three Do We Part

I think that when the world ends and cockroaches roam the Earth in search of Twinkies, there will still be working match-three devices out there. People just can't get enough of the match-three puzzle subgenre (myself included), and even after playing hundreds of them, Wedding Escape [Free] still feels fairly fresh...

'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...

Dungeon Link [Free] is a clever game: it combines line-drawing puzzles, where you have to connect different sets of dots with lines that don't intersect, and makes it into an RPG battling system. Characters have different attacks and do more damage the longer their lines are, and the more they run over and by enemies. You can level up, combine, and evolve your characters, just like many free-to-play social RPGs, but the puzzle gameplay is the real hook here. Once auto-battling gets involved and the concept of the game just proves to be something you can just ditch entirely, then a lot of the charm that Dungeon Link first has goes away...

'Kayos' Review - Star Faux

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Over the course of my entire iOS lifetime (which started in 2009), I've probably played a couple hundred runner games. Although I haven't given them an equal time of day, for some reason the genre just doesn't get old, and I can spend at least an afternoon with them as long as they're semi-competent experiences. Kayos [$1.99] is another cool little endless runner based on flight that won't garner your interest long, but enough to make an impact...

'Dungeon of Madness' Review - Pixel Giant Produces a Puzzle Gem

If you know Game Stew, you're probably already enamored with their high innovation to pixel ratio. There is always much fun to be had in their 8 bit styled titles and Dungeon of Madness[$0.99] is no exception. They burst onto the scene strong with 2012's Tower of Fortune[Free] and have been carefully extending their visual charm to various game types since then. Game Stew has successfully built a franchise in which they can now deliver various game types under a very solid unifying motif. The one in question today definitely lives up to expectations. Before we get into this game, Lets get some thing straight here. Game Stew is not a huge AAA corporate game dev. They have been an indie dev that has survived for the last 3 years continuously putting out reliably good games. I get that some people don't like the indie dev style, but there is substance under the pixellacious veneer. Like all of the best indie games, gameplay is the front and center attraction and it doesn't disappoint. If you are one to become unduly disturbed that a game may get extra recognition if it has this specific graphic style, worry not, white knight of modern graphics. This game could have been made with ascii characters or with hieroglyphics or cutting edge body movement capture technology. The fun transcends the medium...

Long a staple of the Japanese games industry, romance games have been slowly gaining a bit of a foothold in the west. It seems to have gone hand in hand with the establishment of the visual novel genre outside of Japan, owing to break-out hits like Ace Attorney [Free] and 999 [$4.99]. Like many sub-genres, romance games got their start primarily by targeting men or teenaged boys, offering a wide selection of cute girls with varying personalities for the player to try to woo. Unlike many sub-genres, somewhere along the line publishers got the idea that such games might appeal to the other half of the human race, too. While there are plenty of games for all combinations of gender and orientation in the modern romance game scene, there's no question that the biggest share of the non-explicit market is aimed squarely at women...

'Hearthstone' Blackrock Mountain Adventure Review - The Best Way to Experience this Fantastic CCG

After five weeks of playing, thinking, and writing about Hearthstone's [FreeBlackrock Mountain Adventure (BRM), the fun is over and we are back to playing plain, old Hearthstone. No more Wings to explore, no more crazy bosses to tackle, and, more importantly, no new cards to get. What's done is done though, and now that BRM is over, we can look back and see how Blizzard did in its second attempt at an Adventure after the successful Curse of Naxxramas. If we look at the Adventure as a whole, I believe that Blizzard did a great job thematically, perhaps better than with Naxxramas, as the Dragon-and-Fire themes were represented very well in BRM's various wings. The card rewards were also great, and although they might not revolutionize the meta, I think they'll help turn the RNG down a notch. BRM wasn't perfect, though, and some of the issues that Naxxramas had also surfaced here, especially in terms of the Heroic Bosses and the lack of extra deck slots. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

I'm generally terrible at roguelikes. What can I say, I'm young and reckless! But I love the genre (and its conventions that inspire other games) because they're highly replayable and demand that I get better at them. When Steam had its recent roguelike sale, I found out that I owned more than half of the games on sale – and bought a few more. So, MicRogue [$1.99] definitely appealed to me, especially as a bite-sized roguelike. And hey, I do love me some pixel art. Thankfully, MicRogue delivers solid, entry-level roguelike gameplay...

Minimalist platformer games have become one of my favorite unlikely genres on mobile devices. Years ago I would have scoffed the idea of running and jumping with precision on a touch-specific control scheme, but at this point, we have MFi controllers and a number of talented developers that make it work regardless. Burn it Down [Free] may not have the former convenience, but it works on multiple levels...

As a longtime fan of gamebooks and interactive fiction in general, I've enjoyed seeing the genre blossom on iOS, especially within the last few years. What's especially great about it is that it hasn't simply been the work of any one developer. The genre is far stronger for having a variety of voices like inkle, Tin Man Games, Forge Reply, and Cubus Games each doing their own thing. A lot of people who probably haven't picked up a physical gamebook since elementary school are enjoying the feast of choices we have available to us on our mobile devices. Each push of boundaries for the genre seems to widen the audience even more. A lot of the recent hits have focused on playing with the presentation or the freedom to move away from the traditional structure adopted from paper books. The monochrome sketches of Lone Wolf [$0.99] coming to life, the simple yet striking imagery of 80 Days [$4.99], the hilarious Kate Beaton sketches of Hamlet and company in Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be [$5.99], or even the rocking soundtrack of Heavy Metal Thunder [$2.99] are all signs of a genre that is casting off the limitations of the past and charging into its own unwritten future...

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