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.

Doug Dug Review

Doug Dug Review

Jul 11, 2014

I have to say that I’ve almost skipped on Doug Dug, just because it looks like a rip-off of Terraria, or Spelunky, or some other attempt at Minecraft design school – and I’m glad that I didn’t, because Doug Dug is neither of those things. It’s an original, captivating platformer that lacks just a few pieces to become absolutely awesome.

The player controls Doug, a dwarf who does two things all dwarves do all the time: digging for gold and sporting a kick-ass beard. Doug Dug is focused on the first task. The level Doug dug 3is a single screen wide, but infinitely deep, containing lots of treasures and challenges beneath. The player needs to navigate around it by digging. Dragging the finger across the screen will make Doug dig right, left, or down. He is unable to jump, unfortunately, so any loot that you miss on the way down, stays there most of the time. That said, it can come crashing down if it lacks any support, or is only held in place by a collapsable dirt block. So, the player needs to be aware of his surroundings and not get caught in the avalanche. Basically, the avalanche system holds about 50% of the game’s worth, as it grants a tricky random element to each run. The avalanches also crush whatever enemies get trapped under them, and it’s great, because the enemies are a pain. They can only be killed by falling on them from above, and Doug can’t jump. So, if he is on their level, or lower, it’s quite difficult to stay alive. The game has no shortage of things that can kill a digging dwarf, and if left unchecked, will definitely do so, leaving but a ghost of the spelunker on the next playthrough.

Basically, my only problem with Doug Dug is that there’s not enough of it. Besides the growing difficulty of the level, when the player goes deeper, there’s very little diversity in the content. The collected gold can’t be spent on anything, and its only worth is for the high-score. Regardless, Doug Dug is still a fun and unusual game with cool mechanics and a vast replayability. Definitely worth getting if you like mining, but not crafting.

Presenting Minube, a Travel Planning App

Presenting Minube, a Travel Planning App

Jul 1, 2014

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If you’re not sure where you want to go on your next vacation, Minube is here to help. It’s a free app that offers a selection of great places to visit, based on your interests. Set your categories, set your route, and get recommendations in a heartbeat. It’s available for free from here: Minube on Google Play.

MyDigipack is a Free App That Synchronizes Photos Across Any Devices

MyDigipack is a Free App That Synchronizes Photos Across Any Devices

Jul 1, 2014

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If you have a Blackberry phone with some important photos you don’t want to throw away (unlike the Blackberry), then MyDigipack is a cloud-sharing service for you. It can synchronize photos across Android, iOS, Windows, and yes, even Blackberry devices. It supports lots of sizes and file formats, so your photos will be saved, whatever their source is. The app can be downloaded from here: MyDigipack on Google Play.

Asphalt 8: Airborne Gets New Rides

Asphalt 8: Airborne Gets New Rides

Jun 30, 2014

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Asphalt 8: Airborne, a free-to-play, great-looking driving simulator, has received yet another update which brings more cars in its arsenal. The new rides include Ferrari FF, Ford 2006 GT, Mercedes Benz CLK GTR AMG, and 2015 Ford Mustang. The game can be downloaded for free from here: Asphalt 8: Airborne on Google Play.

Upcoming Modern Combat 5: Blackout Will Feature SSAO Graphic Effects

Upcoming Modern Combat 5: Blackout Will Feature SSAO Graphic Effects

Jun 30, 2014

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SSAO, or Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, is a neat effect that gives the in-game shadows a realistic, blurry look. It seems that the developers are going all-in with the graphical effects in Modern Combat 5: Blackout, so make sure you have a modern device if you want to get a taste of what the game will have to offer. Other features include soft particles, underwater distort and caustics, real-time character shadows and many more. It’s not out yet, but you can get the previous title from here: Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour on Google Play.

FFFFF2P Is an Upcoming Free-To-Play Game, Set in a Free-To-Play World.

FFFFF2P Is an Upcoming Free-To-Play Game, Set in a Free-To-Play World.

Jun 30, 2014

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FFFFF2P is a light-hearted parody of the current state of affairs in the oh-so-free ad-supported mobile game world. It’s a simple game, where the main hero has to jump on stuff for a while, get upgrades and power-ups, and then jump some more. It will be available on Google Play on July 10th, as a free-to-play game, of course.

Amazon Announces their Long-Awaited Fire Phone

Amazon Announces their Long-Awaited Fire Phone

Jun 19, 2014

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Amazon has unveiled the details about the smartphone that it will be producing, starting July 25. The device will feature interesting characteristics and an unusual 3-D technology that captures the user’s face and makes the screen image seem “extended” inside the phone. The phone will cost $199.99 for a 32GB version and $299.99 for a 64GB version, which includes a 2-year contract with AT&T. More details and pre-order here: Amazon Website.