Explorers: Skull Island Review

Explorers: Skull Island Review

Jul 29, 2015

If I were to use a word to describe Explorers: Skull Island, it would be “a product”. Another good one would be “awful”, but that’s a given. Explorers: Skull Island is a generic economic strategy. Actually, no, it’s THE generic economic strategy. The players are in control of some inhumanly ugly shipwreck survivors that are actively living out a story of Tarzan on a seemingly desert island that has nothing to do with skulls. They are so ugly, in fact, that I’m certain that they were merely thrown overboard for looking like a bunch of aliens with a human skin over them.

The player’s job is to clean out the jungle that surrounds the beach and build all kinds of buildings that would help the shipwreck survivors, including hammocks, palm benches, fountains, and a theatrical stage. This game isn’t exactly for fans of survival, is what I’m getting at. The actual mechanics of the game are a pack of free-to-play strategy Explorers Skull Island 3 staples. The player has several resources that he spends to build various constructions, and explore jungle. These resources are coins, strange red liquid, that I’m almost certain is virgin blood, and, even more weirdly, machetes. The resources can be obtained from the resource-gathering buildings, or by exploring the jungle and performing various missions. The game is a never-ending cycle of upgrading your buildings and building new ones, then waiting while these buildings generate resources, and then spend those resources on additional buildings. So, again, nothing new here.

The sub-par, unimaginative quality of the product is so all-consuming that I actively struggle to write another word on Explorers: Skull Island. It’s an all around crappy game that even the fans of this genre should find appallingly dull. So, if this game looks anything but horrible to you, just install one of the older Farmville simulators that at least have a bigger budget and look better.

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth Review

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth Review

Jul 29, 2015

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth (or, simply, Kingdoms) is a free-to-play economic strategy, set in the Lord Of The Rings setting. That’s, pretty much, it. It’s a straightforward FTP game, with everything you love (or hate) about the genre. It’s alright, although I’ve seen people complain that it’s somewhat buggy. I didn’t notice any bugs while playing, so they don’t influence the score. Anyway.

I have to say that I don’t have any strong feelings towards The Hobbit: Kingdoms. For the people who don’t know much about Farmville simulators – congrats on your life so far. Still, if you’re interested in this game, it has almost nothing to do with the Hobbit – or Lord Of The Rings, for that matter. It’s just a casual fantasy strategy game, filled with micro-transactions and wait times and surprisingly great graphics. The gist of the game is in management of a fantasy town. The town can be either elven, or dwarvish – the player chooses so at the beginning of the game. The game contains several resources that have to be extracted, using special buildings such as farms and quarries. These The Hobbit Kingdoms 2resources can then be spent on constructing additional buildings, or upgrades for the town’s economy, or army resources. The army is required to wage wars with goblins, rival kingdoms, or to attempt an attack at the legendary Smaug himself. The game has a lot of elements, and they seem to be working rather well together, even if the story and ties to The Hobbit movies seem a little hamfisted. The gameplay is alright, if you’re a fan of the genre. Although for some reason, I think that fans of The Hobbit movies would be alright with a more complex (and not free-to-play) game.

The best part about The Hobbit: Kingdoms is, undeniably, its graphics. The game looks absolutely majestic, the little buildings standing and forces moving about at your command. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s miles better than most of the FTP strategies currently about on Play Store. If anything, the art department surely tried their best here.

Overall, The Hobbit: Kingdoms is probably going to be appreciated by the fans of both Farmville simulators and Lord Of The Rings universe – at the same time, I don’t think that it’s for you if you like only one of those things.

Dragon Blaze Review

Dragon Blaze Review

Jul 24, 2015

Another day, another half-assed free-to-play “RPG” game looking graphically better than 80% of western mobile market. Some artists either have it very good, or very bad, since all of the crappy excuses for games coming from there, look undeniably wonderful. But, after you take away the shiny wrapping, the nasty insides come out and you notice to your horror that the games’ guts are all twisted around, leaving them as half-dead husks just gobbling up playerbase by dangling the shiny sprites in front of their faces. I’m wondering how much better these games could be if the developers actually tried to make them better, instead of shuffling every ages old mechanic they possibly can inside a Skinner box.

It’s probably obvious that I don’t hold Dragon Blaze to the highest standards. It’s a tired, unimaginative gaming flick that reeks of bland corporate charts and some very tired programmers rehashing old code 10th time in a row. I don’t even want to describe the worthless, repetitive gameplay and generic, bland story. You run to the right and some monsters come up. Then you click on a single button until either your hero, or the monsters die, and then run further. There’s no skill involved, no interesting mechanics or Dragon Blaze 4turns. You have a squad that you can manage and alter, adding new equipment and learning new skills, but ultimately it’s all irrelevant, since this all doesn’t really make a difference. The story is about some dragon having attacked a kingdom some time ago, and its king hiding a terrible secret, or whatever. I don’t care one bit about any of those characters, since the developers certainly didn’t. This extends to the whole experience, really.

All in all, it’s not an unplayable game, or a cheap one, but it’s so generic and unfun that it’s impossible to appreciate whatever good parts it may have about it. Just ignore it, and continue playing any of the hundreds of similar games that have been around for years.

Always Sometimes Monsters Review

Always Sometimes Monsters Review

Jul 20, 2015

Alright, it’s probably time for disclaimer: Always Sometimes Monsters is long. I’m certain I didn’t complete even a quarter of the game, so I can’t speak for the turns that it may have later than four or so hours that I’ve spent playing it. And it is the kind of a game that you should complete before you state your opinion. So, I apologize for that, but I did play for a long time, so if the game suddenly becomes a strategy or a goat simulator later on, it’s entirely not my fault. But I do think that the game is pretty great.

On the first glance, Always Sometimes Monsters is just a pretentious indie RPG, made with RPG maker – and there’s certainly a lot of those. However, after playing it after a while, you start to understand something. This thing is devilishly great written. The story and the characters and the world are just insanely interesting and hold you for a really long while. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the game is, essentially, a life simulator. The player character needs to go to work, find a place to Always Sometimes Monsters 3sleep and eat, and remember all the little things that would bore you out of your mind in any other game – but here, it strangely works. I’ve never knew I wanted a game where I’m supposed to remember my appointments and decide if I want to spend the last dollar on a meal, or on rent. Graphically and gameplay-wise it’s really not any different from what you’d expect, but I was completely blown away at how skillfully this game simulates a life that is just a bit more exciting that your own. It probably sounds like I’m describing a cheap Sims knock-off, but it’s entirely a different thing.

Overall, I strongly suggest Always Sometimes Monsters for anyone who is alright with playing a game that looks more like a daily life simulator, than a classic “hero” perspective. It may look a bit anime-heavy, and it certainly looks somewhat bland, but it’s just too interesting to skip it.

Empires and Allies Review

Empires and Allies Review

Jul 16, 2015

It almost pains me to say it, but this Zynga-developed, free-to-play, unoriginal economic strategy that steals graphics from one game and mechanics from another, called Empires and Allies, is kind of fun. Now, before the sky falls right down on me, let me explain why.

To sum up its gameplay, it’s suffice to say that Empires and Allies is exactly like Clash Of Clans. It’s got all the same elements, the same battle structure and the same economics, only applied to a modern-day military setting. The player builds his base, trains units, and then attacks AI or player-controlled bases, in order to capture their resources. But, while the core of the game isn’t anything interesting, it still manages to capture attention.

There are three things that make Empires and Allies different – better, even – than Clash of Clans, and all of the titles that rip it off. First and foremost – it’s graphics. The game looks absolutely great. I am totally aware that it steals the graphics look of C&C Generals, but I think that it’s a vastly preferred option, compared to creating another generic fantasy crap. The units are all in glorious 3D, and the game looks absolutely top-notch, while still requiring relatively modest resources.

Second is the lack of energy bar. I may just be mistaken, and if so – feel free to correct me – but I haven’t noticed anything resembling that. I’ve completed a bunch of AI Empires and Allies 2missions in about five missions, and the only thing restricting me from doing more was that my army god beaten up and required new recruits.

The final part is the actual action. Most of the time, real-time parts of games like this are absolutely useless. The player chooses where to spawn his units, and from there he is basically absent. The abilities in those games might as well not be there. In Empires and Allies, though, the player is able to use his abilities at least once, and this can change the tide of battle – at least to some extent.

In the end, it’s just another free-to-play game, albeit with a nice quality to it. It’s still free-to-play, it still requires as much skill as it requires time and money if you want to get anywhere. But it succeeds in eradicating most of the irritating stuff, and it looks good. So, it definitely looks better than its competitor

Angry Birds Fight! Review

Angry Birds Fight! Review

Jun 19, 2015

Angry Birds were first released in 2009 – six years ago. It’s literally a thousand years in internet time. Although the franchise has long been erased from the collective memory, the games are still being released, and judging by Angry Birds Fight, they’re still going quite strong.

Angry Birds Fight is a simple match-three arcade with some fighting flavor thrown in for a good measure. The player picks one of the birds that have different abilities and stats, and fights against other players in a simple 1v1 matchmaking multiplayer. The task is to get more of attack and defense boosts than your opponent until the time runs out. After this, the birds fight each other and the winning bird gets experience, gold and possibly – some items as well. Defeating a certain amount of enemies allows the player to fight against AI pig boss that, when defeated, will open a new location and spawn some random accessories as well.

The match-three mechanics don’t really do anything different to any other similar, arcades, the only difference being that the players can mess each others’ boards by making different combos, erasing four or five blocks at once. The inventory system is really unoriginal, and while it provides some variety, I found it a bit cumbersome for simple gameplay of Angry Birds Fight. Really, the whole game has too many elements and would work a lot better as a simple multiplayer match-three arcade without the lengthy campaign and useless ship battles.

Angry Birds Fight is surprisingly balanced, if you don’t count the obnoxiousness that is its FTP restrictions. While Angry Birds Fight 2the gameplay itself is rather skill-based – at least for the time I’ve played it – there’s the whole package of the free-to-play elements, including the gems, the item upgrading, and the energy shtick, which is as repugnant as it always was. But, if you’re okay with playing up to fifteen minutes at a time, the game is rather enjoyable.

Overall, it’s another game, ruined by corporate greed and desire to have the same elements that the popular kids have. Angry Birds Fight could be a really great, simple game with good design, just like original Angry Birds were, but it’s sinking under the weight of the obligation to include every single FTP mechanic there is.

Fatal Fury Special Review

Fatal Fury Special Review

Apr 30, 2015

Fatal Fury Special brings nostalgic memories. Those of 16-bit graphics, cheat books, “you died, now my turn” hijinks, and lots and lots of blind adolescent rage. Fatal Fury Special on Google Play helps bring at least one of those things back, and it’s not the cheat books.

Fatal Fury Special is a direct port of an old fighting game that, as far as I remember, never went big in the western world. It doesn’t have the over-the-top violence of Mortal Combat, or over-the-top characters of Street Fighter. What it does have, however, is a solid fighting mechanic, a dozen of varied fighters with unique fighting styles, and a unique mechanic that allows the characters jump back and forth between two “layers” of the level.

There’s not a lot of content to speak about in Fatal Fury Special. There’s a bunch of locations and a bunch of different fighters. There’s a “story” mode that is actually just an arcade mode, in which the player has to defeat several enemy characters in a row, and a newly-implemented Bluetooth Mode, where two players can battle it out on their devices via bluetooth. That’s it. It’s a pretty bare-bones game, but since I got it for $.99, I don’t see any issues with that.

As for the gameplay, it’s almost identical to all of the other SNES and arcade fighting sims. Of course, it’s closest to Street Fatal Fury Special 4Fighter, to the point where some characters look quite a lot like that. There are four attack buttons, a “special” button, and a button that makes the character jump to the different layer of the level. Besides the layer-jumping, which isn’t really that game-changing, it’s exactly like the other arcade fighting games, so it’s no use describing all of its mechanics. Its fun, if you’re a fan of that sort of stuff, but it’s also incredibly difficult. The “beginner” difficulty AI had me plastered on the walls for about 10 fights, before I remembered how to button-mash. Fatal Fury Special is definitely aimed for the hardcore fans, and I’m sure those fans won’t be disappointed.

Overall, Fatal Fury Special is a straight, direct port of the original game, without any changes. Again, fans of the old fighting sims are going to be pleased, but I’m afraid more casual players will find it too punishing. Also, a couple of other things. The button layout and size can be changed in the settings, and I urge you to do that from the beginning, or the game turns into an unplayable hell, as the buttons take almost half of the screen.

Implosion – Never Lose Hope Review

Implosion – Never Lose Hope Review

Apr 30, 2015

Implosion – Never Lose Hope is a hack-n-slash action game that takes place after Earth has been invaded, and subsequently lost to, a weaponized virus that mutates humans into vile, disgusting creatures that kill everyone they see. With the question of how they sustain themselves decades after supposedly killing everyone off being left unanswered, the humans have set to the stars and created off-world colonies, being protected by a special army of special distantly-controlled robots, who are able to fight the creatures without putting anyone at risk of infection. The game follows the adventures of one of the pilots of these mechs, who has to return to Earth, in order to investigate a beacon that went off somewhere inside.

Right from there, Implosion – Never Lose Hope sounds like a high-budget game with an interesting and complex story – and, surprisingly, it is. There are cutscenes, and professional voice acting, and complex gameplay – the game honestly wouldn’t look bad if it was released on PSN tomorrow. But this all comes with a huge “but”. Implosion – Never Lose Hope is merely a trial that expires at several missions in, and requires the purchase of the whole game, which costs 10 bucks. It’s a pretty huge price for a mobile game. This means that even if the game is awesome, you’re left wondering if it’s better to purchase 5 simpler and cheaper games instead. Which is a shame, since Implosion really is a good game, but not on a 10 bucks level good.

Gameplay of Implosion is a pretty standard hack-n-slash, set in the cyberpunkish background. The player’s mech is controlled viaImplosion 2 a virtual stick and a bunch of buttons. It levels up and can be upgraded by installing special libraries that can be found throughout the levels, or purchased from the store. The mech has a main melee weapon, and a bunch of long-range weapons that are quite difficult to aim properly. The melee weapon has a relatively simple, but varied enough combo system, as well as several special abilities that can be activated in the time of need. The enemies are also pretty distinct and have different behavior and attacks, and require some skill to kill – especially if the player wants to get the perfect score after beating the level.

Wrapping up, I’d say that Implosion is a great game. I’m eager to see more of its kind on Play Store, which currently lacks serious triple-A titles. But at the same time, its price makes it comparable to the PC and console-style games – and when viewed in that light, Implosion isn’t exactly up to the level.

Titan Empires Review

Titan Empires Review

Apr 30, 2015

It’s really tempting to copy and paste a review I’ve made of another free-to-play gimp of a strategy game earlier. If the developers can’t bother with making new content and release a copycat game after game, then why should I do that? Oh, right, it’s cause I’m not a completely lazy bastard.

Titan Empires plays just as generic as it’s named. The player controls a warmongering kingdom that goes to war with all the neighboring kingdoms, completing genocide after genocide in an endless chase for gold and glory. Not to hold out my point, Titan Empires is a cheap knock-off of Clash Of Clans. Completely and utterly. Not only that, but it’s a pretty crappy knock-off, too. There’s nothing done better, or even differently, than in that game. It’s an ugly, inbred child of Clash Of Clans, without any quality to it. Still, if you’re interested, here’s a rundown.

The “game” consists of two parts. The first and main part is managing your kingdom. Here, the player has to build his defenses, Titan Empires 3construct resource-gathering mills and mines, and recruit new units. The player has an acre of land that he can fill with various buildings that will bring some value to his kingdom. The buildings can be upgraded to increase their value – of course, all of this eats up resources like crazy, so be prepared to wait for several hours to upgrade anything, later in the game. The second part of Titan Empires is the half-assed strategy, mentioned earlier. The player picks a town he wants to attack – either controlled by AI, or by another player – then selects his hired troops, and a hero that will lead them into battle, then selects where on the map to deploy them, and from then on, watches as they either trample or get trampled on by enemy units. Of course, the outcome of the battle depends mostly on whichever player spent more time and resources – real-life more than in-game – on his army. Different heroes have various abilities that can be activated – at a price, of course – to help the fighting armies, and that’s basically it.

Overall, really, there’s absolutely no reason to ever play Titan Empires. It’s merely another cash-grab that doesn’t even attempt to make itself distinct, both in terms of mechanics, and in quality. If you’re really enjoying this sort of games, just play Clash of Clans instead – better yet, don’t play neither, and spend your time with some better games out there. I’ve played it for an hour, and already feel like my life is wasted.

Sorcery! 3 Review

Sorcery! 3 Review

Apr 29, 2015

Sorcery! 3 is a continuation of an adventure game franchise from Steve Jackson, who is kind of a big deal. For those not familiar, Steve Jackson is a US tabletop game designer (not to be confused with Steve Jackson, a UK tabletop game designer – I wish this was a joke), who, among other great things, created a tabletop RPG system GURPS, and the bane of all geek friendships, Munchkin. He is basically neck-deep in the geek world. This should add credibility to the following statement: Sorcery! is one of the best, most immersive games, I’ve ever played.

It’s really difficult to explain Sorcery! 3 to a person that’s never played anything resembling a tabletop role-playing game. Because Sorcery! is basically that. It’s a digital tabletop campaign for one person. It’s not really an RPG in its purest sense, but it certainly feels like it. The player character is on a quest to defeat seven evil serpents that are controlled by a powerful warlock. The player must embark into a land, filled with magic, secrets, and time and space distortions, to find the ways to destroy the serpents – and to find the serpents themselves. The story is as rich and multilayered as one would expect from an RPG campaign, and describing it would take forever, so let’s not bother. Suffice to say, if Sorcery! 3 was a book, its page count would go far into the thousands.

The gameplay of Sorcery! 3 is a weird beast to describe, since it’s a mix of different elements without any anchor in established genres. At its core, it’s a really complex text adventure. But on top of that, you have a unique magic system with a couple of dozen of unique spells, a huge – and I mean, freaking huge – map with hundreds of points of interests, which change based on the circumstances, an endless amount of random encounters, and a whole lot of quests to complete on the way towards the serpents. I can’t describe how much stuff there is in the game. I’ve played it for hours, and I’m still well in the first quarter.

To be fair, while Sorcery! 3 is an incredibly great game, it’s not without some issues. The two biggest ones are the weird magicSorcery! 3 3 system and the weird battle system. The magic system could be made a lot more comfortable by removing the long transition and letter-picking mechanic, boiling it down to a simple list of castable spells. The battle system is just somewhat unintuitive. I’ve played a great number of fights, and still basically go with my instincts, rather than knowledge. The fights could also be a little more varied in terms of gameplay. Reading out the descriptions of the attacks is great, but it could very well be replaced with a more traditional turn-based system.

Overall, Sorcery! 3 is the best mobile game out there for people who like tabletop RPGs. If the thought of reading for an hour about how your character navigates through a magical forest, makes you dizzy, then it’s probably not the game for you. But, if you’re one of those people who want to try out a great tabletop RPG, but never seem to have the time, or people for that, then spending five bucks on Sorcery! is a no-brainer.

Joe Danger Review

Joe Danger Review

Apr 29, 2015

Joe Danger is a very nice-looking arcade game about a stuntman who may actually be completely off his mind. He rides his motorbike across landscapes, devoid of any observers, talks with a very freaky mole, races against monkeys, and encounters aliens. Despite that, the game is pretty fun.

The gameplay of Joe Danger is akin to an infinite runner, but it’s not. The game consists of lots of small tracks that the player has to complete. The tracks are linear and have a lot of scattered junk and gold around them, which the player has to navigate around. Joe can jump, double-jump, make a front and back wheelies, and duck in order to avoid the obstacles, or make use of the boosters and planks on the track. The unusual part is that the player needs not only to navigate Joe’s bike, but also use his finger to remove some obstacles from the way, and collect all kinds of stuff by pressing on it. This makes the game a pretty busy one, and despite the overall simplicity of the game, it actually takes quite a bit of skill – or repetition – to complete the level with perfect score.

Joe Danger 2Each mission has three tasks that Joe needs to complete. If the player completes some of them, he gets bonus gold. If he completes all of them on the same run, he will get a badge. The number of badges determine which levels the player has access to, so collecting them is required for progression. The gold can be spent on alternative skins that dress Joe as different characters, and gives a score multiplier. They are also required to get access on the bonus levels.

Overall, Joe Danger is a cool arcade game with great graphics and a challenging gameplay. It’s certainly one of the better-looking games on the Play Store, with colorful textures and models, a very distinct style, and a silk-smooth performance. Its price definitely feels justified. If you enjoy infinite runners, or simply a fan of casual arcades, Joe Danger is an easy choice. It’s fast, silly, well-designed, and fun.

Adventures of Poco Eco Review

Adventures of Poco Eco Review

Apr 28, 2015

I must admit, it’s been a while since I’ve last encountered an artsy game that wasn’t all just the looks, so Adventures of Poco Eco was a pleasant surprise, albeit a rather short one. Music-themed games have a special place in my heart, as well as simply games with great soundtracks, so I may be somewhat biased with my opinion. I hope it’s obvious that I absolutely loved the game, however short it was.

Adventures of Poco Eco is a story of a little creature that was sent to retrieve the long-lost sounds, in order to cancel the noise that’s doing I don’t know what, exactly, but probably nothing nice. He needs to use the magic cassette player to call out to the gods of rhythm and use their guidance in his quest. So, yeah, it’s that kind of game. However, there’s a good part: it does behave like a game – a puzzle game, to be exact. It’s not just a colorful railroad, since the player is supposed to use the brain to navigate through the fantastical landscapes on the way to his goal. It’s not very challenging, and plays out like something out of Mario 64, but even more weird-looking.

The majority of the time, the player simply needs to place Poco on different buttons in correct order, or press them himself,Adventures of Poco Eco 3 but there are some bits where timing is required. Which leads me to the single issue I have with Adventures of Poco Eco, the controls. Mario 64 comparison would suit here too, since this game would be a lot better with traditional arrow controls, instead of adventure-style click-and-go system. The player’s finger obstructs a huge part of the screen, and it’s uncomfortable to try and press on the small square you want Poco to go to – especially when the square moves around.

Overall, I’d highly suggest Adventures of Poco Eco to the people who like artsy games with unusual style in graphics and music. Of course, you also have to like the future electronica genre, otherwise there’s no reason to play this game. Personally, I’d just like it to be longer. I’ve completed it in about an hour, and it certainly didn’t feel enough. Otherwise, it’s a very interesting little game.