Animals vs Mutants Review

Animals vs Mutants Review

Oct 20, 2014

Asia keeps pumping good-looking, poorly-designed content on Google Play, choke-full of free-to-play restrictions and mechanics. I can’t see why anybody would play another rip-off of a ten-year old flash game, and yet thousands of downloads suggest that there’s a reason. Animals vs Mutants is exactly that kind of game, with more mechanics than a Formula-1 pit-stop, and with just as short service time.

In Animals vs Mutants, the player is filling the shoes of a hero, whose animal friends get kidnapped by Dr. Wicked (literally his name – no wonder the guy went bonkers) and his army of mutants. It’s now time to build an army of cute but bloodthirsty animals and attack his strongholds to rescue them. The gameplay is a familiar 1-D strategy. One base on the player’s side, one on the enemy’s. The player controls a hero and can summon various animals to help destroy the base, while the enemy does the same. Two armies meet somewhere in the center and whoever is stronger, pushes closer to the base, while waiting for the reinforcements to come closer. The new mechanics here is that different animals fight Animals vs. Mutants 2better on different terrains. Pandas can roll downhill and push back the enemies below; squirrels can shoot acorns uphill, and platypuses get better stats underwater.

It’s all fine, but as always, instead of demanding better skills down the line, Animals vs Mutants just throws bloated bullet sponges at the player, and waits until they get enough upgrades and equipment for their animals and hero to out-sponge the enemy. Speaking of which, there’s tons of equipment that can be purchased, upgraded and swapped, each unit type can be improved, and there are special superpowers that cost gold to regenerate. In other words, the game is a market in and of itself, filled with stuff that you need to purchase if you don’t want to use an energy point for nothing. Oh, right, there’s also energy. I didn’t hit the paywall while I played, but I’m sure that it’s somewhere in there, further along the line. And even if it wasn’t, the game isn’t all that interesting, although I did enjoy it. I say enjoy it, I mean I tolerated it. I say tolerated, but what I mean is I poured acid on my face and danced on a fire ant colony in needle shoes to distract me. The little animals are all pretty cute though.

Loot Dungeon – Pixel Roguelike Review

Loot Dungeon – Pixel Roguelike Review

Oct 14, 2014

Foreword: Loot Dungeon is basically a mod of Pixel Dungeon, an open-source rogue-like that I already played a while ago, but completely forgot about, while writing this review. Oops. Anyway, consider this review to also fit Pixel Dungeon.

There’s been a great number of rogue-like games that were somewhat okay, but finding the classic rogue-like experience is still a treat. Loot Dungeon offers just that, with just a couple of tweaks here and there.

There are four classes in the game, each one having subclasses, all of them quite varied and differ in a lot more than just starting stats and equipment. The game has a standard dungeon-crawling pattern. The player needs to storm through several levels and fight a final boss, finding loot, killing countless enemies, getting levels, and ultimately being killed by a man-eating plant or giant enemy crab or other murderous flora/fauna/furniture/ambiance. There are potions, scrolls, and equipment, all of which have to be identified, Loot Dungeon 2unless the player is willing to risk drinking what could be a potion of liquid death, or putting on a cursed set of armor.

The dungeon floors are not only filled with enemies, but contain various traps as well. These traps can burn, paralyze, poison, or make a number of different effects. The hero can also place some traps in the form of mutant vines, found along the level. Going through corpses or graves can also spawn driad-like spirits of vengeance that can take the unfortunate hero apart in a couple of turns. Basically, in Loot Dungeon, everything can, and certainly will, murder you, if you’re not attentive, strong, or simply lucky enough. And I wouldn’t take it any other way. And no, although it would take a while for new players to acquaint themselves with it, Loot Dungeon isn’t in any way more difficult or unfair to the players, than popular rogue-likes, so it’s still as interesting to create a new character on the twentieth run, as it is on the second.

The graphics and sounds are rather simple and cheap, but they are present, so it’s already a lot prettier than the classic rogue-likes. I didn’t have any difficulty with its controls or interface, and only have minuscule critique I don’t even want to mention. Overall, it’s a great, free, solid rogue-like experience for those who crave some old-school dungeon crawling.

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

LEGO Star Wars Yoda II Review

Oct 13, 2014

The new Star Wars movie release grows closer, so it’s about time new Star Wars games start popping up. Lego Star Wars was the very first and successful title in the modern wave of Lego games, so it’s not surprising to see Lego making another one. Unfortunately, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles isn’t that exciting, but it’s a nice collection of mini-games to pass the time in, while waiting for the more interesting stuff.

Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles lets the player complete various missions, on all sides of the conflict, and throughout different points of Star Wars history. The two sides of the conflict have basically the same missions, and only differ in the characters and their surroundings. Which isn’t that bad, actually. Although gameplay gets repetitive after a while, the various landscapes definitely work for a while longer.

There are four kinds of missions: run-and-gun, where the player plays as a trooper or a jedi, moving forward on a path and shooting or striking the various infantry on his way, while evading the enemy fire; air strike (Hoth defence FTW!), where the player pilots an airship and his mission is to destroy small support airships, and huge battle tanks; space Yoda II 3battles, done surprisingly well for such a small-scale title, similar to air strikes, but in space, and solely against other aircrafts; and weird falling sequence, which has pretty uncomfortable controls, where the player falls into some sort of pit, while evading the obstacles and enemy fire. Although the games are endless by their design, the player only needs to keep up fighting until he collects enough blue pieces, after which the mission will be “complete”, furthering his progress and unlocking a more challenging version of the same level. Some games are not yet released as of this writing, so there might be more stuff later.

In general, Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles is a great way to kill some time. It’s varied, has that iconic Star Wars feeling about it, filled with characters and places from all over the Star Wars universe, and it’s entirely free! High-quality stuff. Even though the games get a bit repetitive after a while, it’s definitely a treat for all fans of Star Wars, or Lego.

Size DOES Matter Review

Size DOES Matter Review

Oct 1, 2014

I’ll cut to the chase: Size DOES Matter is a rhythm game, and it’s hard. I consider myself to be pretty handy when it comes to rhythm games. I’ve played an absolute most of them. OSU, Guitar Hero, DDR, Bit.Trip, tons of other, smaller indies – you name it. But I still wasn’t prepared for the level of difficulty that this deceivingly simple game reaches. It’s hard to believe that I had to give up roughly half-way through it, simply because I’m unable to proceed. Anyway.

Story, Locations and other distracting stuff are all absent from Size Does Matter, leaving just a style of 8-bit graphics and neon, spiced by excellent chiptune soundtrack. It’s got everything that old-school arcade players like, including throat-cutting difficulty. As for the gameplay, it’s rather simple: the player needs to guide a vertical bar through a labyrinth by squeezing through the openings in the “walls”. The bar can extend and contract to be 1, 3, and 5 squares tall, and can scroll up and down, one square per finger swipe. Each time a level starts, the player gets three “lives”, a life being lost every time the player doesn’t fit exactly into the opening – whether the bar is too big or too small. Even if the player loses all lives, he continues playing until the end of the level, but if he has any lives left afterwards, the level repeats, this time Size DOES Matter 4becoming stupidly, eyes-poppingly, finger-breakingly difficult. Why, you ask? For the scores, of course! Also, because the next levels only unlock if you reach a certain score in a level. Which is logical, considering they don’t get any easier.

One small problem I have with Size DOES Matter is an absence of button controls. There are swipe and tap controls, but swipe requires a bit too much actions, and tap controls don’t have any visible buttons, making them a lot less intuitive. On the other hand, most of the mistakes that I’ve made, I would probably make with buttons as well, but I’d feel a lot better if I wasn’t able to blame the control scheme for my mistakes.

In general Size Does Matter is a great game. It’s mainly for the fans of rhythm games, but it’s fun stuff with great music and barebones gameplay that will make the player clench his teeth a lot of the time.

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

Subject 13 4

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.