Phantom Rift Review

Phantom Rift Review

Oct 29, 2014

Phantom Rift is an unusual little game with a world just as weird as its gameplay. We play as a mage who gets thrown into a limbo dimension for an unspecified reason. The only thing that the main character remembers is that (s)he was a powerful mage in the real world. A wisp that happened to be nearby explains that the rift has all sorts of entities, most of them malicious, so the mage will have to use his rich spellbook if he is to proceed through the endless levels of the rift.

Phantom Rift gameplay has two parts that seamlessly transition into each other. The character walks around a map that is literally building around him as he goes. The map contains various treasures that give precious loot, and portals that can transfer the hero to different parts of the rift, and every once in a while, a random encounter happens. Then, the game switches to the battle mode. The map shrinks into a small area, divided into two zones, three rows by three columns each. The enemies move around their half of the field, mostly at random, between the squares, and attack the hero in various ways. The hero needs to evade these attacks and try to kill the enemies, using his basic weapon and a range of spells. The spells are the most interesting part of the game, so I’ll focus on them.

There can be thirty “active” spells that the hero can use during the battle. Many more can be found and bought during the game, but from them, and their copies, the hero can only Phantom Rift 3equip thirty to use in battle. When the battle starts, the hero is presented with five random spells from the ones he equipped. Using each spell costs mana, so some of them have to be destroyed in order to generate more of it. The ones the player chose can then be cast at any time during the battle. The hero can repeat the spell cycle every several seconds. The system is very unusual, but it works great and there’s plenty of spells to choose from. At times, it almost feels like a trading card game, since the spells should compliment each other, and different spells should be used against different kinds of opponents.

Overall, Phantom Rift is pretty captivating, even though the gameplay is always the same, and the random encounters sometimes feel like grinding. It has great world and battles that are resolved by tactics as well as luck, and a loot-hoarding element, so it’s an incredible time-waster. I recommend it both to Diablo players who want something more tactical, and turn-based action players who want something more exciting.

Cheetah Simulator Review

Cheetah Simulator Review

Oct 28, 2014

Cheetah Simulator” sounds like a name I’d enter in a “create a new videogame genre” competition, when I was about 12. And honestly, the game is exactly the sort of thing that I’d imagine it would be. By which I mean, profoundly boring. Not that I had some expectations with a title like this, and for its empty price tag it’s certainly fine, just don’t expect to hold onto it for a long time.

Honestly, Cheetah Simulator is pretty self-descriptive. The player embodies a cheetah that suffers insomnia, constipation, extreme dehydration, and lots of other issues, which is more or less understandable, since it exists in an enclosed subspace that’s about a couple of city blocks in diameter. Here’s a list of tasks that it can perform: run, jump, claw, eat, drink, collect chests that contain cheetah facts, roar, produce offsprings, and die. I’d say that it’s a pretty compelling list of things cheetahs usually do, but that’s not enough for a varied gaming experience. There’s a bunch of animals that the cheetah can kill and eat, some of them being quite tough and able to kill the inexperienced cheetah pretty quickly. Basically, the gameplay consists of killing smaller animals, eating them and leveling up through it, so the cheetah becomes stronger, and then moving on toCheetah Simulator 3 stronger prey. There’s a couple of interesting mechanics, such as being able to mate and produce offspring that will hunt with the player and help kill off the most powerful animals. Another cool trick is that if the cheetah jumps and claws at an animal while running, she will perform a tackle that will kill off the smaller animals and, well, tackle the larger ones. It requires a bit of skill and makes hunting a bit more interesting. There are also several skins for your pride to wear that are unlocked after reaching a certain level, and a special attack.

Overall, Cheetah Simulator isn’t bad, especially for a free game, but it lacks features, multiplayer and proper scale. The same game, but blown up to at least five hundred yards and with several ecosystems, would be a nature lovers’ feast. Right now it’s basically just a demo for a non-existent game. I still recommend it for a younger audience and the fans of African savannah, so here’s hoping that it will grow into something bigger.

Airline Director Review

Airline Director Review

Oct 27, 2014

Simulations usually go one of two ways: engaging or painful. Airline Director looks to be in the former category.

The user interface is fairly basic, with a low-frill information presentation via the navigation screens. the walk-through runs one through the basics of what we are supposed to do: build an airline empire. The globe is shown, with airports as pin dots; clicking on one gives information on the selected port as well as action options.

The player starts out with cash and a couple planes; the game prompts the player to pick a starting airport on the globe, and from there it is necessary to negotiate rights to use that and other airports and (as is necessary early on) to create a hub, as hubs are essential to operations. The gameplay is turn-based, so after actions are taken, one can “play” to advance to the next time quarter.

Going forward, it is then prudent to set routes; routes are true business decisions, as one must weigh factorad1 like aircraft on hand, range, and costs versus profits. Then, expansion requires purchasing aircraft, expanding routes, taking heed of rising costs and more. At all times, it is necessary to keep an eye on the cash hoard, and to understand that not all moves are immediate; for example, ordering a plane can take a turn or two. Financials are presented periodically, and existing routes can be devolved, and planes sold.

I think what makes the game work is the flow of the gameplay. The developer does a better than decent job of tying concepts together, with economic realities that do not allow the game to be too easy. For example, use rights expire, so if one goes into them and isn’t able to start flights after getting them, the rights are lost and money spent wasted. There are tons of planes with different attributes, and even airports need to be researched before expansion.

The game engine is fairly easy to understand too, and this is definitely a plus. The different save slots can allow for different plays to have their own sims going (in theory).

I do think the UI could be spiffier, the game gets the point across with simple screens and basic animations, but I still think a bit more definition could be used to highlight the gameplay. Pricing ($6.90) might cause pause, but I’d take the upfront pricing anyway.

All in all, it plays like full-featured, logical sim, providing plenty of opportunities to explore and create virtual empires.

République Review

République Review

Oct 24, 2014

We’ve been wanting this one for a while.

And now that Republique is on Android, we can breathe a sigh of relief. We can stop giving Camouflaj and Darkwind Media the side eye. And we can taste of the goodness that this title unabashedly brings.

The gameplay comes in two modes: Story, which allows players to experience the story and explore environments, and Normal, which is the standard experience. Going the normal route allows one to pick an episode, and we’re off.

The opening sequence is interestingly tricky, and ominously transports the player to the persona of a person receiving communicating with a mysterious person named Hope. The dialogue helps bring the player up to speed, and we also get a feel for the gesture controls while finding out the negative nature of Hope’s dwelling. Prizrak are to be avoided, and this is where the stealth maneuvering comes into play. The elements come together, with visual cues and collectible items. The hacking concept works, giving multiple views that can assist with advancement, and helpers are cloaked in pieces that work into the gameplay.

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As pointed out, stealth actions are key; as such, carelessness leads to failure, which manifests in being “caught” and returned to a secure room.

Simply put, the graphics are well done. From the opening sequence, one gets a sense that a lot of attentions was paid to the idea of the graphics helping to carry the storyline along. Fear and desperation almost literally are baked into the pixels, and the net effect of the animations as purveyed through the unique camera views is an experience best played to really be enjoyed. The darkness is palpable, but the little things are represented very well.

Where the game excels is the ability to drag one in. Before long, the quest to avoid “recalibration” almost becomes tangible; Hope’s saga becomes our own. What really resonates are the underlying themes of totalitarianism and surveillance, and these issues weigh heavily on the minds of people today.

It’s a well-crafted caper, with subtle salutes to Orwellian topics. The season pass opion is a plus, and I like idea of easter eggs and commentary from the directors show how much the developer looks to engage the audience.

Which is just dandy, by the way, because resistance is sweet, but sticking to the man is always so much fun.

Dementia: The Book of the Dead Review

Dementia: The Book of the Dead Review

Oct 23, 2014

At the first sight, this game looks like another simple survival horror, which are quite popular on the mobiles. Surprisingly, Dementia: The Book of the Dead is neither simple, nor a survival horror, in a true sense. It has great and scary atmosphere, but once you understand that the unholy abomination before you can be dealt with by the means of stuffing it with holy bullets, or smashing its abominable face with not-quite-holy lantern, the atmosphere dwindles somewhat. Not to say that it’s in any way a bad game, but the main character’s death is more likely to summon a groan instead of shivers. It’s still a horror, so the enemies always overpower the main character and running away is often a better decision than fighting. In other words, great fun.

Dementia: The Book of the Dead has a twisting story with a bunch of characters and quite a lot of dialogue, although I couldn’t get past the protagonist’s corniness to get too immersed in it. Basically, the game is set in the dark ages England, where the ghosts and witches are all too real. The main hero is one of the best special agents of the church that deal with witches. He is assigned on a mission to exterminate some witches in some distant, small town. Witches are spooky enough in my book, but pretty soon the amount of Dementia 4

The gameplay of Dementia: The Book of the Dead is similar to other first-person shooters on the mobiles. Move and aim with virtual joysticks, kill the enemies using a couple of different weapons and a lantern, and solve whatever simple puzzles arise on the way. It’s powered by Unity engine, and it certainly shows. The game graphics feature a great level of detail, while the atmosphere of medieval England is seeping through the screen. Although the enemies aren’t that well designed, the general level of graphics left me really satisfied. Not so much with my tablet that struggled to render the game, even on the lowest graphics, and the loading times were pretty enormous, at least for me. Still, it’s a great and atmospheric spooky action, especially for its low price.

Five Nights At Freddy’s Review

Five Nights At Freddy’s Review

Oct 23, 2014

It is nice to see that some pc games are being ported to Android and that the idea behind the game stays intact. Same goes for Five Nights at Freddy’s.

If you have played Five Nights at Freddy’s on pc, than you know what you are up for in this Android version of the game. It is a port of the pc version and one that is very well made. Everything from the first version is the same, only now you use the touch screen as an input source, instead of the mouse. Input methods aside, these game is freaky. Very freaky. The first few times it gave me the creeps and my first reaction was to close the game. When that happens, I say: the objective of the developers must’ve been a success by then.

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But if you are not familiar with the concept, let me introduce you to it. You play as a security guard at night, keeping in eye on not only the property, but also the mechanical beasts inside. By day, those mechanical beasts are there to entertain children; by night, someone will put them on free mode, so they can walk freely. But when they see someone after midnight and before six o’clock in the morning, they assume that that is also a mechanic beast, but out of his costume. So they will take you away when they see, that’s all you need for a motivation.

But you’re need completely harmless — no, you can open and close two doors, the two doors that are right beside you. You can keep an eye on the mechanimals through some camera’s, in a lay-out of a map so you will know where they are. You won’t see them move, but when you switch camera’s, it is possible they left their original position and are getting closer to you. When you think they’re right next to you, you can close the doors, but that will cost electricity. And without, you cannot close them and you will instantly lose.

So the game is a constant struggle between the idea of being caught and being save by and from those mechanical animals. You need to plan a strategy at the very moment they’re coming to close for your taste, but have to always keep in mind that when you run out of electricity, the game – and your life – is over. That will put some pressure on ya. Overall, the sense of being hunted is very well produced by the developers and it’s good to see more people can enjoy this creepy horror game. If you like creepy horror games, that is.

e-CAL Calendar Review

e-CAL Calendar Review

Oct 22, 2014

When it comes to business, knowing where to be when trumps just about everything else; if mobility is the goal, even a greater emphasis need be put on functionality. On the go, and using a smartdevice as a calendaring hub, one must have a reliable utility.

And if the app looks good, even better, right? With that endgame in mind, checking out the former iOS exclusive e-CAL Calendar isn’t too hard of a proposition.

Off the bat, the first thing that jumps out is the freshness of the design. Google’s's newfangled material design is clearly on display, and is reflected in the terse layout and clean typography, as well as the splotches of green. It is a sharp look overall, and the presentation of the data works well. On the main page, the grid month apexes the individual calendar entries; the three lined menu rests to the top left, and gives us some ready insight into the app’s functionality.ecal1

The calendar is easy to work, with the material design add button at the bottom right. Tapping on that leads to the event entry form, which allows for specific reminders and such to be added. When a specific day is tapped on the calendar, events for that day are listed below. As expected, it syncs with the Google-based calendars installed on the host device.

The menu allows for one to navigate to tasks, and manage them. The app arranges them simply by “all,” “todo” and “done” categories. The tasks can be synced o Google Tasks, and it’s a plus that tasks due dates show up in the calendar. Adding tasks is easy, and as with calendar events, tasks for any given day are shown at the bottom when that day is tapped.

The in-app store has a lot of extras, a few available for free with signing up for an e-CAL account, and others that can be unlocked for cash. There are a lot of choices: religious calendars, weather, sports… even stock exchanges.

All in all, it’s a vibrant option. I think the user interface menu could use more visual options, but do like the built-in beta community, and the optional Event Planner companion app. For a glimpse of material design and a free, functional calendar option, one almost can’t go wrong with e-CAL.

Cars: Fast as Lightning Review

Cars: Fast as Lightning Review

Oct 22, 2014

When it comes to movie games, we’re all victims here. But sometimes, when a developer really takes time to produce something nice, it can work out for everyone. Enter Cars: Fast as Lightning.

The Cars movies have been loved and praised by many of us. I for one only saw the first entry in the film, and I liked what I saw. But this game is a kind-of direct sequel to the second movie within the franchise. And therefore, we see our buddy Lightning with his buddy Mater, whom I didn’t knew up until this point. But that’s okay: what really matters is your goal: trying to rebuild Radiator Springs. (Because apparently, there were some problems — the game assumes you know all this.)

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So here we have the first part of the two major gameplay pillars: rebuilding a whole town. And just like other town building games, there are simple controls and those nasty waiting bars. And yes, they go faster when you pay real life money. But, even though I had to wait quite some time now and then, I was glad to see that you are able to play the whole game, without spending any money. That way, I felt save when my little four year old nephew was playing the game on my Nexus 5. I was even able to turn the IAP off, completely.

But how do you unlock everything, without paying up? Well, by playing the race sections of the game and earning some shiny gems (which are buyable). The races are quite simple: you hold down the gas peddle and let it go in a skid, only to press it again when you’re out. It kind of resembles the old electric cars on a track idea (you know, the ones where you hold a controller with one button). Things you can unlock are several Radiator Springs landmarks, like the Luigi’s Tire shop, Cassa Della or Flo’s V8 Cafe.

Besides the fact the game offers two distinctive popular game mechanics under one roof and the feature to turn of IAP, Cars: Fast as Lightning looks amazing. It really sets up the bar for mobile games and gives that authentic Pixar movie feeling the movie gave me. So, yeah, it is save to say that this is one of the best Cars games out there and it’s awesome it is on Android.

Road Smash 2 Review

Road Smash 2 Review

Oct 21, 2014

If you thought Road Smash 2 was an arcade styled fast paced racing game, then guess again. This game is nothing like that. I even feels unfinished.

Road Smash 2 is a game about racing, fast cars and loud music. In a way, it has the perfect mix of what a racing game should have. But even with the right ingredients, you can make a bad meal and Road Smash 2 is the living proof of that theory. In racing game, controls are I think the most important part of the game, and when a developer fails to put some responsive controls in a racing game, the project has failed.

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So it doesn’t matter if a game offers different modes. In the case of Road Smash 2, you can choose four different kind of modes: the campaign, career (why these two a different category, I don’t know), free ride and the multiplayer beta. But they all suffer from the same thing: the lack of good controls. The game just doesn’t get it right. It feels unfinished to say the least. There are two types of controls: the one where you use the on screen steering wheel or the tilt controls. And both feature a delay in input and in response – it is practically unplayable.

Why a race game like this hits the Google Play Store, I don’t know. Maybe the developers wanted to cash in on the popularity of race games like Need for Speed, because it is save to say that Road Smash 2 borrows some elements and inspiration from that game. And maybe they hope that players will spend some money on the in-app purchases. But let me tell you now: don’t download this game, so you don’t have to think about all that.

Road Smash 2 even has some dull story moments where the non-playable characters never seem to care if the player is male of female. I played as a female, because it was the first choice presented to me and I didn’t care which gender I would play, because I didn’t think it would matter. But it did, in a bad way. It’s really sloppy. That’s kinda the feeling this game gave me: sloppy development, resulting in a unfinished product.

The Maze Runner Review

The Maze Runner Review

Oct 21, 2014

Admittedly, the runner game category is a bit stacked. Since Temple Run, we have seen a steady number of development houses use the tried and true genre to encase game offerings. And why not? It’s an intuitive game type, with a bit of twitch elements usually tossed in, and varied environments to help frame the gameplay. familiarity can be an advantage in mobile gaming.

With The Maze Runner, we get the trifecta of running games: decent graphics, leveled gameplay and a current-ish book/movie tie-in.

Backstory? It’s based on the movie that is based on the book (that all have the same name). Young people and dystopia are all the rage nowadays, but kids killing kids isn’t at the core of this adventure; an actual maze with teenage runners is. The basic premise is that there is a maze, and the teens run to find a way out, careful to avoid the deadly “Grievers” that inhabit the maze.

The gameplay will look familiar to anyone who has dabbled into runners; the basics are present: three lanes, withmaze1 obstacles that come into play. Gestures control the runner, as is usual in these type of games; swiping left or right causes the runner to dart right or left on a straightway, and to cut in the the direction of the swipe when the straightway ends. Swiping up causes the ever-forward moving runner to jump up, and a downwards swipe causes the runner to slide for a brief spell.

After the basics, the gameplay boils down to making it through the maze segment successfully in the allotted time. Some nice elements are tossed in, as noted, it’s leveled, and there are a few tricks up the games sleeve; first, the collectibles; a set of puzzle pieces need to be collected to successfully pass a stage and unlock the next part of the maze. There are gold coins and boosts hat can be collected; the former allows one to purchase stuff in the in-app store, while the latter help with directly with completion of the runs.

The game is ostensibly free, and makes no bones about requesting cash for the more of the suaver characters. The gold coins can be used to improve attributes too.

Familiarity is good, but The Maze Runner might suffer from being a tad bit too comfortable. It feels as if it doesn’t want to change the genre too much, and is comfortable as such. It does work with or without the surrounding story, and is a decent time-waster.

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.

Entwined Challenge Review

Entwined Challenge Review

Oct 16, 2014

Twitch games are an addiction of mine now, so checking out Entwined Challenge was destined to be.

The visuals rely on simulated distance perspective; to start, the two flying beings are colored red and blue. In the distance is a circle with colored segments; the colors of the segments are generally red, blue and green. the flying beings can be controlled by thumb gestures on either side to move along the axis of the circle, so that each flying being is guided through a matching color segment.

As progress is made, the game adjusts too; for example, where the color segments were stationary, they begin to move, forcing the player to make adjustments and quicker decisions on the fly. While the concept remains simple, the developer does a good job of delicately layering levels of difficulty upon the easy-to-understand premise, and it flows well, with no major deviations to distract from the chase of excellence.entwined3

Success in matching yields points and more playing time, and there is only a set number of misses allowed before the run ends, so accuracy is key. Dexterity is also an asset, as is the ability to react quickly. There are combos that can be attained, and high scores are recorded; the high score mechanism making it easy for folks to find an excuse to beat the previous score.

The game is split into five levels, with the threshold of a preceding one needing to be met for the next to be unlocked. The graphics of each level have subtle characteristics that highlight the Asian elements the developer based them upon.

I liked the way the game flows; the console roots show, and that is a good thing. While I think the controls can be tweaked a little to account for shifts in gameplay, I like that the sensitivity of said controls can be tweaked for sensitivity. Big ups for the upfront payment model.

It’s the perfect time waster, and is easy to get into. What more can we ask for while we test our reflexes?