Category Archives: Reviews

'Linelight' Review - A Fine Line

'Linelight' Review - A Fine Line

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In years to come, the App Store will be both commemorated and condemned for revolutionising the delivery of digital content, implementing the use of innovative gaming inputs, and instigating an industry-wide transition away from fully priced releases. However, one of the most profound impacts this emergent platform has had on video games has been its ethos of ‘show, don’t tell’. Monument Valley [$3.99], Sword and Sworcery [$3.99], and a number of landmark titles have fought against the limitations of a handheld device to completely immerse the user through pure aesthetic bliss. Despite not originating on the iPhone, Linelight [$1.99] is the next notable independent release that champions these values, through slick puzzles, accessible controls, and stunningly dynamic visuals and audio. The resulting concoction is an extremely memorable mobile experience that, while by no means perfect, is far grander than its subtle minimalistic design suggests...

Something about the writing style in Avatar of the Wolf [$3.99] almost immediately put me off. Most of the well-written gamebooks from Choice of Games have an almost velvety tone to their prose, gently massaging your brain and doing their best to make it comfortable. Avatar of the Wolf, by comparison, is thorny. The words feel shorter, less comfortable to read, and above all, aggressive. It's even disorienting at times. The way this story is written does as much to set the tone as the meaning of the words the writer chooses. It was jarring to try to slide into the main character. Yet it turns out to be precisely the atmosphere this story needs. Avatar of the Wolf isn't a fluffy tale of adventure that will appeal broadly, but give it time to spin its yarn and you might find yourself unable to put it down...




'Layton's Mystery Journey' Review - Better Layton Than Never

Of all the possible games, series, and franchises that could have been ported to mobile over the years, one of the ones that made the most sense has been a no-show until now. Level 5's Professor Layton series of puzzle adventures, which debuted on the Nintendo DS in 2007, seemed like a great match for mobile both in terms of its game design and demographic appeal. For whatever reason, however, the platform seemed to get passed over for a mainline Layton game even as the occasional spin-off popped up. Well, no matter what the reason was, Level 5 seems to be ready to take a chance with the latest game in the series, Layton's Mystery Journey [$15.99]. This is a full Layton game in the traditional style, packed full of puzzles, a wild and woolly story, and plenty of tapping on everything for hint coins you'll never use...

'Motorsport Manager Mobile 2' Review - Racing at a Whole New Level

The original Motorsport Manager was a very entertaining racing game that I played quite a lot, initially at least. While the racing part was fun—even though I sometimes felt that my choices didn't have much of an impact—the lack of long-term driver development made each season feel insulated from the rest, which blunted my desire to play through multiple seasons. Still, the game was accessible to those who weren't that much into motorsports and good-looking enough to draw the attention of people just randomly looking at my phone screen. As one of the first motorsport management games on the App Store, Motorsport Manager definitely entertained, and I'm happy to say that Motorsport Manager Mobile 2 [$3.99] (MMM 2) has improved the original formula (pun intended) and turned it into a much more substantial game with a lot more fuel in the tank, despite some relatively small issues...

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it? Two and a half years have passed since I was delightfully surprised by Lowlander [$1.99], the cool Ultima 2 homage from developer Flat Black Films. The game did a great job of capturing many of the things that made the early Ultima games fun while simultaneously sanding off a few rough edges in consideration of the platform and the passage of time. While players might have expected a sequel to the game to look to Ultima 3 for inspiration, the game's developer instead opted to deliver a slightly more refined, much larger adventure in a similar mold to the first game. That left me hemming and hawing a bit about doing a review, as it feels a bit like reviewing a foot-long meatball sub after I already reviewed the six-inch. Did you like the six-inch sub? Do you want a lot more of it? If so, here you go...

'Street Fighter IV Champion Edition' Review - A Classic Mobile Fighter Gets a Fresh Coat of Paint

For being arguably the most well-known fighting game franchise in the world, Street Fighter has a pretty weird history on mobile. If you're interested in a bit of that history, well, read on my friends. If you're here just to read about the nuts and bolts of the Street Fighter IV Champion Edition [$4.99] which just dropped in the App Store, then skip on down to the sixth paragraph for more on that. Anyhoo, touchscreens have always been a sticking point when it comes to gaming on mobile devices. In the best of cases they have caused developers to think outside the box and invent new and exciting input methods for playing games sans physical buttons. For the most part though, bringing traditional console and arcade style games to mobile meant dealing with virtual buttons overlain on the screen. And fighting games have always been ALL about button inputs. It didn't seem like the best genre to try and bring to touchscreen devices...

Rampart is just one of those games that every retro enthusiast remembers. I was first introduced to it on the SNES, but it was ported to nearly every platform imaginable due to its immense popularity. Its angle of marrying shooting elements with light strategy and building components is still unique nearly 30 years later, and it's amazing that so few projects have attempted to emulate its formula directly. Castleparts [$2.99] is one such imitation, and although I had a few technical issues with it, it's a project worth playing if you're into the Rampart concept...

'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...

'Epic Little War Game' Review - Back to the Trenches

It feels like Rubicon's War Game series has been all over the place. Great Little War Game [$1.99] was an accessible turn-based strategy game packed with content and a cheeky sense of humor. Its follow-up, Great Big War Game [$2.99], went for a bigger scale and added in online multiplayer. The next game in the series was Great Little War Game 2 [$1.99], which went for a more streamlined experience with portrait orientation, smaller levels, and no multiplayer at all. It was a fun game taken on its own merits, but it was somewhat of an underwhelming entry for the series to go out on. Well, here we are three years later, and it looks like the General isn't ready to hang up his pants yet. Epic Little War Game [$4.99] is here, and if you were one of the people who wished the last game was more fully-featured, you're going to be very happy with this one...

Huijaus Games and publisher Appsolute Games have been promising us Mr. Future Ninja [$1.99], a stylish stealth-action game, and finally it is here. And there it goes. The premise seemed incredibly promising, but the problem is that the game is just too short. Characters and puzzle types get introduced, and then by the time you think they're done introducing things and ready to start really, really testing you, well, the game is over. It's a fun experience up until that point, but I just wish there was more of it...

'Yankai's Peak' Review - Pyramid Perfection

'Yankai's Peak' Review - Pyramid Perfection

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June 14th, 2017 9:00 AM EST 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...

'Monument Valley 2' Review - Mother and Child Reunited

The first Monument Valley [$3.99] was a landmark game on the App Store, a title that brought a fascinatingly gorgeous experience to mobile gaming. Yet, I thought there was something lacking from it: it wasn't a particularly difficult game as far as challenge goes, and while the story had some poignant moments, its abstraction perhaps was too disaffecting from the story the game wanted to tell. But certainly, critics of the game are in a notable minority, as the game has become one of the top-selling mobile games of all-time, spawned many imitators, appeared on House of Cards, and caused many people to fall in love with the characters from the game. So the sequel Monument Valley 2 [$4.99] is in an unenviable position where it has to try and recapture that magic of the original. And to a certain extent, it does: it's still a gorgeous game, and Ustwo are the masters of their craft at putting Escherian impossible geometry into a game experience. As a delivery vehicle for some gorgeous colors and landscapes, Monument Valley 2 is once again a success. As a game, and even at times as a story, Monument Valley 2 falls a bit short...

'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...

The iOS platform has been home to some pretty great space games. Some of them lean more into exploration and trading in the style of Elite or Wing Commander: Privateer. Others are pure shoot-em-ups in the grand tradition of Atari Star Wars and StarFox. Subdivision Infinity [$4.99], the latest release from prolific publisher Crescent Moon, is far closer to the latter type. You're not on rails, but you are generally operating within a set area for each mission. While there are some side missions involving mining and exploring, the meat of the game is in shooting down enemies before they do the same to you. It's not the deepest game around, but it knows what it wants to do and does it well...

There aren't many good games out there based on the Power Rangers franchise. Much of that is down to the nature of the licensing beast, similar to how hard it seems to be to get a superhero game of decent quality. There are many factors, both obvious and subtle, that work against licensed games. The Rangers certainly haven't been free of such hassles. The obvious solution is to take a swing at it without a license, but as Behold Studios found out, that's a delicate road to walk. Things worked out in the end, however, and Chroma Squad [$4.99] became an officially-endorsed spin on the Super Sentai concept that is free to do its own thing without the heavy restrictions that come with a full license. It's a good game, probably the best Ranger-themed game ever, though how much you like it will depend greatly on what you're looking to get out of it...

Trusty JRPG publisher Kemco's been trying to spread its wings a little bit of late, trying out new developers and gameplay variations after years of serving up the same old. They haven't quite given up on the old formula yet, though. Developer EXE-Create is still by Kemco's side, cranking out their serviceable brand of JRPG joy every couple of months or so. Onigo Hunter [$4.99] is the latest offering, and it's more or less the usual fare for Kemco. It tries to do a few new things but was obviously constrained by the resources available, making for an experience that is likely to be a little too familiar to mobile RPG fans...

'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...

Ah, the arena platformer. Truly, it has been one of the best genres to take prominence in mobile gaming. A big reason is because the combination of a small enough arena to fit on one screen, with simple controls, and endlessly-repetitive high score chasing, is a package that's almost the platonic ideal for a mobile game. We've seen it through countless fun games, with one of the more prominent examples being Super Crate Box [$1.99] from Vlambeer. However, with Vlambeer seemingly not updating the app for 64-bit appocalypse, that means that not only can a great arena platformer shine, but it could possibly take the crown. Penarium [$1.99], much like Super Crate Box, started on PC before moving to iOS. In this case, Team 17 published the game, developed by Self Made Miracle, and helped to bring the late 2015 release to iOS a while later. And it's quite a welcome title on iOS, while perhaps not as tight as some of the finest entries in the arena platformer genre...

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