Talisman Review

Talisman Review

Sep 29, 2014

Games Workshop games are quite often a treat, even though they seem to outsorce the licenses to some entirely random developers, and always price them a couple of dollars more than they really cost, just because of those licenses. Talisman is a staple GW game, and it’s pretty fun, even though it requires some time to get acquainted with all the numbers that it throws at the player from the very start.

At its core, Talisman is a turn-based tabletop adventure, sprinkled with RPG elements here and there. It’s a mix between Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders, with a bit of Talisman 2DnD on top for good measure. The players need to go through three looped “layers” of the game, reach the tower and defeat whatever lurks inside, to beat the game. Of course, the closer to finish, the more challenging the game becomes. Add to it the fact that players can spoil each others’ progress, up to and including direct confrontations, and you get a pretty competitive place. A lot of its elements are decided by dice throwing, but just like in Monopoly, the game is not about random numbers generator, but how you can use it to your advantage. There can be up to four player characters, and the game can be played with humans just as well as with AI.

There’s lots of mechanics, but basically, the players need to draw cards almost every turn. These cards can be positive, giving the character a companion, an item, or boosting one of his stats; or they can be enemies that the player needs to defeat. There are five stats that each player has: strength, that is his basic attack power; Craft that is spiritual power, being used against special enemies, as well as allowing spellery (spells are separate cards that can even be used on the opponent’s turn); Lives that are basically character’s health – they lose one when defeated, and can be restored or added to, in various instances; Fate that allows the player to re-roll their dice; and Gold that can be traded for some useful boosts or items. Each character has different starting stats and abilities, and playing for and against different characters gives Talisman a lot of replayability.

In general, I think the game is fun. It has a great combination of randomness that makes you eager to see what adventure you will get on your next turn, and skill that lets you plan and foresee your next steps, based on the current situation. If you’re a fan of tabletop adventures, then it’s an easy pick, but Talisman can be somewhat overwhelming if you’re not a casual with this sort of games.

Time Tangle – Adventure Time Review

Time Tangle – Adventure Time Review

Aug 25, 2014

Adventure Time is spawning so many game adaptations, it’s getting ridiculous. Not only that, but they all have different genres and seem to have different developers as well – it’s like Cartoon Network is giving out the license to everyone asking. Not that I’m against that, but you really never know what to expect when you get an Adventure Time game.

Time Tangle is an endless runner – and that’s the problem. It’s a runner that costs three bucks to play. It’s a decent title, but only when you compare it to other, free-to-play runners. And even then, there are some runners that exceed Time Tangle in some respect. I’m the last to defend free-to-play model, but come on – there’s not a single reason for Time Tangle to not be free, or almost free. It’s not entirely endless, and there’s a story advancement, but from the gameplay point of view, it’s just another runner with some action bits and cutscenes.

You play as Finn who runs forward and fights monsters and bosses, trying to restore the time totem that he shattered, because he’s prone to do that. The player can shift Finn Time Tangle 3sideways and jump, hit stuff to kill it, and activate a superpower if he “picked up” one of his friends on the way. Fighting is rather simple, but varying enemies and bosses make good use of it. The running part isn’t that exciting either, but since the player needs to fight and run at the same time, the gameplay manages to be rather entertaining. While running, Finn needs to complete missions that are assigned randomly and mostly require killing something, or getting somewhere in one piece. Again, they are just enough varied to be enjoyable. The awards for completing missions are time shards that need to be collected to advance the story. The more missions the player completes in a single run, the more shards he gets.

Two great things about Time Tangle are its writing and graphics. Although voice actors are very obviously not the ones from the series, the writing is pretty funny and the actors do a nice job. There’s not much talking in the whole game, though. The graphics and animation are also great, although Adventure Time’s design sets hard limits on 3D graphics. I think the game would look a lot better if it stopped trying to fit into Adventure Time’s heavily-styled 2D pants.

A word about items. There aren’t any. I still can’t grasp the need to collect gold from fallen monsters, as there’s absolutely nothing to purchase in the game. There’s a great and fun album that has information on every creature and item you encounter, but it has no real value and doesn’t require spending a virtual dime on.

Overall, I’d say Time Tangle is a disappointment. It’s a nice game, and it handles the Adventure Time trademark without issues, but it’s just not worth spending 3 bucks on. Unless you’re a big Adventure Time fan, you probably won’t find much of value in it. Most fun part about it is the Adventure Time world itself.

The Room Review

The Room Review

Aug 15, 2014

Mobile gamers rarely get to experience truly innovating games. Most of the high-quality titles are simply good at copying others. The Room is an incredible exception to that fact, as it’s the most fun and unusual quest I’ve played in several years.

The subject of The Room is a series of intricate and impossibly complex locked cabinets, containing clues about a mysterious discovery the player character needs to uncover. The game quite literally revolves around these lockers. The player needs to move the camera around the locker and try to unlock all of its locks, clasps and seals by a series of actions that might just make a person go crazy. The player needs to find keys, pick combinations, scout the locker for clues – and I’m not being sarcastic when I say that it’s damn easy to get lost around the cabinet. Screenshots don’t do justice to the crazy amount of elements each locker contains, and although there are hints, I got mildly frustrated several times, trying to solve the puzzles, or trying to find what the hell I was supposed to do next. It’s not that frustrating to complete, but it’s quite a challenge.

Another outstanding element in The Room is its design. Each piece of each safe is rich with engravings, details, and has great sound design. I literally cannot believe The Room 4this game is only worth a dollar, because it’s easily one of the best-looking and atmospheric games on the platform. The controls are quite awesome as well. Not only do they make use of the touch-screen, but they actually don’t make me want to strangle myself with an earplug cord! During the game, the player has to slide, rotate, turn, and switch an untold number of plugs and bits, and actually having to perform the actions, instead of just clicking on stuff, gives a great amount of satisfaction.

I’m not sure, but it’s entirely possible that The Room is number one Android quest there is. It’s worth ten times its price, and it even manages to cram a captivating story inside of its locked cabinets, in the form of notes and diaries. I don’t want to imply that it’s perfect from all sides – actually, screw that. The controls take a bit of getting used to, but besides that, The Room is a perfect Android quest.

Kickstarter for Project 13 Reaching Completion

Kickstarter for Project 13 Reaching Completion

Aug 8, 2014

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Subject 13 is an upcoming adventure game from Microids, featuring a thrilling story, courtesy of Paul Cuisset, and beautiful visuals, courtesy of Unity engine. The game has already reached its starting goal and will be funded on the 8th of August. So, if you want to chip in and help it reach new milestone, or just want to check it out, head here: Project 13 on Kickstarter.

Shadow Fight 2 Review

Shadow Fight 2 Review

Aug 5, 2014

Great, like the world needed another example of why free-to-play model ruins civilization. Shadow Fight 2 is a sequel to a game I had no idea existed, but I don’t feel bad about it, as it seems to be a Facebook game, and who cares about those? I don’t know the differences between them, but there’s probably no reason for fans of the original to dislike this sequel. Anyway.

Shadow Fight 2 tells a story of a ninja who mistakenly opens a crypt that unleashes demons upon this world and reduces him to a shadow. There are no shadowy techninques in the game, so it’s basically an excuse to not draw any actual character models – weird, considering there’s a bazillion of character portraits in game, but not a bit of texture or color on the combatants. The player needs to fight through the demons to get to their master warriors, and then defeat them, all in one-on-one fighting encounters. And it’s exactly as difficult as it sounds. I’ve had a hard time even getting to the second part, as it require beating a crapload of really tough enemies. To skip the details, it requires several hours fighting to improve the hero enough and get equipment good enough to take on the first level boss and unlock the ranged weaponry.

And that’s not even considering the energy bar – yes, Shadow Fight 2 has the blasted energy bar that allows starting about 6 fights in a row, before making the player wait for it Shadow Fight 2 2to refill. Or making him spend the precious gems, of course. The same old song. Since the game requires lots and lots of grinding, even if you don’t count the fights you lost, there’s going to be a lot of waiting. What’s even more enraging is that Shadow Fight 2 is damn good! It’s an honest-to-god fighting game with combos, fast-paced action, lots of weaponry, and opponents who you just KNOW are cheating bastards. There are also ranged weapons, and magic – magic! The game would be close to perfect if it wasn’t for endless grinding and frustration when you need gold but can’t get it, as you lose almost every fight and can’t restart it for the next 6 minutes.

In general, Shadow Fight 2 is must-try for fighting fans. If you can get past the energy hogwash, it’s definitely one of the best fighting games on Android. Also, that soundtrack is dope as hell.

Superfrog HD Review

Superfrog HD Review

Aug 4, 2014

The original Superfrog was a platformer that unashamedly ripped off classic Sonic the Hedgehog, and was made by Team17, a company that also made Worms series. Superfrog HD is a remake of that classic that is kinda good, but feels somewhat weird. The story is about a prince, whose princess gets kidnapped, and he gets transformed into a common frog. Well, a common speaking and intelligent frog. But then he notices a potion floating down the river, because why not? It gives him superspeed powers and a cape, because magic potions are awesome like that. Anyway, he needs to find his princess and turn himself back to human form, somehow.

I think that Superfrog HD is probably among the remakes that are really faithful to the original. For better or worse, it feels exactly like a game from the nineties, and although Superfrog HD 2it looks modern, every mechanic evokes the feeling of NES-type games. It’s kind of great, but it does come with disadvantages. There are a lot of moments when I became quite frustrated with how punishing Superfrog HD can be. It looks childish, and it’s not exactly Nintendo hard, but it’s all too easy to miss an enemy or fail a jump. It’s difficult to put the issues in words, so let’s just say the game is more irritating than it looks. By the way, it looks pretty nice.

The gameplay is pretty obvious, especially if you played any of the original Sonic games – or Superfrog, of course. The frog can run around the level, jump, and glide, to try and get as many tokens as possible, and then get to the end of the level. Getting to the end is pretty easy, actually, most of the challenges comes from the hard to reach fruits and coins – and get everything in time as well.

To conclude, Superfrog HD is a nice platformer for the fans of old-school games. It’s kids-friendly, if the kids aren’t too easily-irritated, doesn’t have any serious issues, and all in all, a good remake of the original.

Digits Review

Digits Review

Jul 31, 2014

When I looked at the screenshots of Digits, I immediately thought “great, another copy of 2048“. Not that I’ve seen lots of them, but it’s a pretty cheap move. If you want to rip something off, at least find something a bit more challenging. Anyway, my rage went unfounded, as Digits has nothing to do with 2048. What Digits is is a very satisfying puzzle that’s all about reducing numbers, not increasing them.

The game consists of dozens of different levels. Each level is a square field of numbers. The numbers and the field’s size change between the levels. The player’s task is to remove all of the numbers from the field by clicking on them. When the player clicks on a number, it is reduced by one point, along with any numbers that are above, beneath, and to the Digits 3sides of it. So, if there’s a line that looks like “2-3-2″, clicking on the three will make it “1-2-1″. Clicking on the three again will remove the ones, and leave the player with “1″ in the middle, which means that the player failed to remove all of them. The trick is to click on the squares in such pattern that no number gets left behind, as the player can’t click on a number that’s not connected to at least one other number. Thankfully, there’s no penalty for using an undo button and retracing the steps to any point of the level. And really, there’s not much need to do it, as when you get to know the ropes of Digits, it becomes almost impossible to fail.

That’s almost an issue for me, actually, as I’m accustomed to more challenging puzzles. I don’t know, maybe the game becomes more challenging in the expansion packs, but I’ve played through the first 50 levels without a stutter. Speaking of which, expansion packs? Really? Digits doesn’t seem like that complex a game that it would require purchasing additional level-packs. They’re not too expensive, but they already put it in the line of HD bestsellers among Google Play games. I guess that it’s alright if you like it, but I’d expect something heavier for $0.99 than just a level pack. Still, it’s fun, and free to try, so if you’re a fan of puzzles and don’t mind them being a bit simple, try Digits out.

Thomas Was Alone Review

Thomas Was Alone Review

Jul 29, 2014

To be frank, I was prepared to write up a review of Thomas Was Alone even before installing it on my tablet. I’ve already completed it on my PC several months ago and been listening to the soundtrack ever since. It’s really tempting to call it a masterpiece in game design even though, in all fairness, the game owes most of its appeal to the supreme soundtrack, writing, and voice acting.
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At its core, Thomas Was Alone is a platformer puzzle with a simple premise. There’s a bunch of rectangular characters that have to make their way to their portals through different levels. The characters slightly differ in size, shape, and abilities. Well, “abilities”. They can only move left and right, and jump. One of them jumps higher than the others, one of them can double-jump, one can walk on the ceiling, stuff like that. Each level the player gets some combination of them and has to make them work together to pass it. It’s a compelling puzzle and it has a golden amount of challenge that is exactly difficult enough to not be frustrating, but let’s say, it wouldn’t be named among the best indie games in the world just from that.

The magic happens when you add a majestic story, as told by a talkative englishman and a simple electronic soundtrack that easily beats orchestral arrangements of the modern Thomas Was Alone 4blockbusters in memorability. Actually, I’m listening to it right now, because it’s always on my playlist. Together, these elements create such a compelling charm that I admit getting rather emotional while playing Thomas Was Alone, even though it doesn’t try to shove any kinds of emotions in your face. The simple square shapes become fully fleshed-out characters, despite not uttering a word, and a simple puzzle becomes a brilliant story about fate, exploration, and free will.

As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a couple of issues with the Android release.of Thomas Was Alone, besides a hefty price tag. First, the character switching on the mobile isn’t that comfortable, although now that I think of it, it wasn’t that comfortable on PC either. Second, it started to stutter on my Samsung Captivate after a while. While it’s understandable that you should play it on something more powerful, and I didn’t have issues with my tablet, it could come as an unfortunate surprise for anyone who purchases it and doesn’t notice issues right away. Basically, just play it on a tablet and there won’t be any issues. Oh, and it’s a bit short, so expect to finish it in about three to four hours, including the additional campaign.

Beyond Gravity Review

Beyond Gravity Review

Jul 28, 2014

Beyond Gravity is a simple game about an astronaut who got stranded in open space with his spaceship’s parts flying around. Well, I say open space, but it’s actually crammed with planetoids that the astronaut can jump between, collecting any parts that he comes across on the way. The astronaut can’t move around the planets, but he can jump across them, so the player needs to pick the right moment to jump off the spinning rock to reach another one.

There are two paths between each planet. The straightforward path, when a hero jumps while looking straight at it, and a curved one, when he needs to aim correctly, so that the curvature of the jump would lead him to the planet, and not into the gaping nothingness below. Naturally, most of the parts he needs, are along the second path. It’s actually pretty easy to guess the angle, since the floating parts act as guidelines, and the astronaut can double-jump, if the jump got grossly miscalculated, but it’s not the only challenge. There are also asteroids that fly between some of the planets at high speed, and it’s rather difficult to avoid them, even when you don’t try to collect the damn parts.

The parts aren’t there just for the score-keeping, by the way, as they should be spent on different upgrades for the astronaut, giving him much needed versatility. Frankly, the Beyond Gravity 3upgrades aren’t that impressive, but they do help a bit.

What Beyond Gravity definitely lacks is depth. Once the tricky jumping mechanics are figured out, the jump calculations slowly start moving into subconsciousness and you end up sitting with a blank look on your face, as the bearded guy keeps jumping between the rocks like a space grasshopper. Some additional mechanics could go well, or some new challenges, or whatever. Mini-missions are a good thing, but it’s not enough in the long run, I think.

Overall, Beyond Gravity is a fine game. It looks great, it has crystal-clear mechanics, simple controls, and no bugs – what’s more to ask? If the simplicity isn’t an issue, it’s a great time-waster.

Defenderia Review

Defenderia Review

Jul 25, 2014

DEFENDERIA 2Defenderia presents an unusual mix between a classical squad-based role-playing game and a match-three arcade game. It also presents a strong case for hiring professional interpreters instead of using your own, heavily lacking English knowledge. I mean, wow. The game is good, but I had to learn its mechanics basically on my own, as it’s completely impossible to understand the tips and tutorials.

Apart from that, Defenderia is a fun game, although I think that it’s a bit short. The player controls three heroes, divided into three roles. Each role has two to three different characters that can fill it, although I didn’t notice much synergizing between any of them. The characters have a basic attack and a special attack that they have to use in order to defeat the stacks of enemies, coming at them in three columns. The battles are strictly turn-based, with each character getting a turn according to the value of his initiative. The player chooses an attack and then the target. The trick is not just to pummel the mob to nothingness, but to do the combos. Basically, each enemy has a plate underneath it. When three enemies with plates of the same color, or of different colors, but excluding the brown ones, face the heroes, these enemies get a significant amount of damage. If the player removes just the right enemy, and is a bit lucky, it’s possible to kill most of the mob in just one turn.

Defenderia is divided into a dozen maps that consist of several randomly-generated squares, contents of which are often only revealed when the player has already stepped on it. To finish the map, the player needs to uncover a boss square and defeat the boss, before getting all of his heroes killed. It has lots of little mechanics, like consumables that heal or improve damage, smiths that forge random items for the heroes, and enemies that have different abilities. It’s weird that a game with this rich amount of mechanics would look so primitive, but if you can get past the simple graphics and horrendous translation, it’s really enjoyable.

Digital Defender Review

Digital Defender Review

Jul 23, 2014

Digital Defender is a quirky defense strategy game, where the player’s base is constantly getting assaulted by hordes of old video game consoles. I didn’t see an explanation for a sudden sinister 8-bit uprising, so feel free to presume the silliest reasons. Player operates a turret that shoots arrows at the prehistoric consoles, and can cast spells, if they are purchased, equipped, are not on a cooldown, and the player has enough mana. The onslaught comes in waves, and after each wave, if the player kept their base more or less in one piece, they get awarded with some money and a chance to upgrade his abilities and equipment. There are tons of upgrades to purchase, including new spells, turrets, specials and more, and of course most of them require an ungodly amount of grinding to get. Not to say that it’s impossible to play without paying. I played for a couple of hours and didn’t feel restricted – but still, you have to wait for a while to get anything.

The concept sounds perfectly reasonable, even if one can get pretty irritated by the free-to-play limitations – but Digital Defender has one significant issue. It’s god Digital Defender 4damn boring. The whole time I played it, I waited for it to pick up and get exciting – but to no avail. It could probably be a great game, but we’ll never know, because wave in wave, level in level, you shoot the repetitive lines of plastic bricks as they come for your blood. Probably. I frankly don’t know where the problem lies, but it’s somewhere in pacing and repetitiveness. You can play the first level and get a perfect idea about the rest of the game. I actually looked forward to a paywall just to call it a day and complain about the free-to-play model ruining videogames, for the whole article, but I didn’t get one. The difficulty was raising at a snail’s pace and after about thirty nigh-identical waves, I just gave up. Maybe it gets incredibly good some time later, but I’d rather get to see my wife again, than spend eternity killing small, jumping SEGA Genesis consoles.

The game looks alright, though. The graphics and the animations are fine, and generally, Digital Defender never looks cheap. So, this is nice.

Dungeon Gems Review

Dungeon Gems Review

Jul 17, 2014

Dungeon Gems is an arcade game where the player needs to clear out a bunch of dungeons with the help of some gems. Pretty self-explanatory, I think. Dungeon Gems has a very simple gameplay, but at the same time – a bit too many mechanics. The player has a roster of hero cards that he can improve, equip in his active squad, and manage in other ways. These heroes have different abilities and are all divided into five elements, dealing additional or reduced damage to other elements. They interact in the rock-paper-scissors fashion: water “beats” fire, fire beats wood and wood beats water. Light and Darkness are apart and counter each other. The dungeons’ denizens also belong to these elements, so half of the battle is won by choosing correct heroes for the dungeon.

The battles themselves depend on the player’s luck as much as on his cunning. There is an area, filled with the titular gems. The player needs to connect the gems of similar color Dungeon Gems 2– or, if he has some bonus points, of different colors – and bash the enemies with his heroes. The battles are strictly turn-based, so there’s no hurry to choose the gems or heroes’ special abilities. There are three battles in each dungeon, the last one being the boss. After beating the dungeon, the player gets gold to upgrade his heroes, and several hero cards added to his roster.

Generally, Dungeon Gems is fine, although I don’t understand the need for the free-to-play arcades such as this to be so complex. I mean, most of the mechanics in Dungeon Gems aren’t directly related to the process of completing the game, and just add a layer of managing on top, mostly just confusing the starting players. Which wouldn’t be bad, if the core game would consist of more than just swiping the finger across some gems and activate abilities every once in a while. I mean, it’s still enough to fill a game, but I’d rather have the developers make a more nuanced core game, rather than adding a bunch of hero properties and trade mechanics you probably won’t even remember. Anyway, Dungeon Gems turned out alright, free-to-play irritations notwithstanding, even if it gets kinda lost in other card-based arcades, filling the Play Store these days.