The Abandoned Review

The Abandoned Review

Apr 30, 2016

Nothing beats the outdoor, especially when you don’t need to be outdoor… something like that. Safe capers come and go, and The Abandoned looks to be one Android users won’t forget soon.

It’s a survival adventure; to begin, the player is presented with a post-apocalyptic backstory. For an unknown reason, a part of the land becomes isolated, with weird happening and creatures in its dangerous, unexplored confines. The player takes on the persona of a helicopter passenger that is marooned in this area due to an accident.

The adventure begins.

The game is absorbed in first person (via landscape orientation), allowing one to consume the hi-def 3D graphics that define the gameplay; denizens of Minecraft might feel somewhat comfortable in the environment. It is an expressive representation, able to incorporate a natural feel with its deliberate use of colors. Animations are mostly smooth (despite the occasional stutter), and the use of highlights to help the gameplay along is relatively subtle. The sounds match the looks. Movement is facilitated by a liberal touch joystick.

ta3

There are three gameplay flavors (Story, Adventure and Survival); we couldn’t help but get into Story mode, which gives a great taste of the game. One starts wandering almost immediately… there are helpful dialogue boxes that provides hints and instructions, and it becomes apparent that, at the core, quickly completing tasks is a major element. With that, one learns how to collect materials, and then how to craft more complex tools, and even how to use them. Collected materials can be stored for future use.

Now, a lot of thought is put into the survival aspect; remember, this is the Exclusion Zone after all. One needs to find food, do rudimentary stuff like build fires and such, and create the tools to do so. In this sense, the elements are fairly interconnected, providing a logical sequence of actions. At the risk of being a spoiler one needs to watch one’s back, because there are a lot of unexplained creatures.

One can earn XP points, which can be used to improve one’s attributes.

It’s definitely an interesting going, with plenty of suspense and a heaping of implied creativity. It was temperamental in parts, but is overall a premium game, even with the optional extra in-app purchases.

Groove Planet Review

Groove Planet Review

Apr 30, 2016

I’ve been playing Android games long enough now that I’ve run into a fair few ‘clicker’ games in my time. It’s always difficult to stand out in an over-crowded genre, but Groove Planet has got a unique angle. It’s a ‘clicker’ enfused with a music twist where you have to click in time to the beat. Could we call it a ‘beater’? No – better not.

The idea is that you’re mayor of an extraterrestrial planet. You’re tasked with making and spending ‘beats’ – which is basically money. Using your beats you build musically themed building – recording studios, radio towers, for example. These buildings earn you money without needing to tap and from there it’s pretty much like every other ‘clicker’ – watch the number grow, buy buildings to make the numbers grow quicker.

What you can do is tap alone in time to a beat. Tapping in time to a beat will grant you a bonus that soon multiplies in size. The reward is substantial and well worth doing. The problem is that this is just one of many extremely generous ways that the game increases your income, soon making progress trivial.

For example – during your time with the game there are missions you can complete. These are often very easy, such as tapping 200 times or earning a certain amount of money. Completing these missions grants all of your buildings a permanent buff, often 250x production, sometimes even 500x production.

There’s also ‘chances’ that appear very often. ‘Chances’ see you presented with 3 albums. You don’t know what the album will do and there is a chance (hence the name) that the result will be negative. However, receiving a positive result gives you huge buffs, which watching an advert can make even bigger and any negative results can be ignored by spending the game’s premium currency or, again, watching an advert.

This means that you may be working towards one goal, say building a new giant microphone, and it’ll seem like a real challenge. However, if you hit a couple of missions, get a good ‘chance’ result and tap to the beat a few times and you’ll be seeing your bank balance where it needs to be in no time.groove 2

This goes against what a clicker should be, as they need to reward patience and time spent not ‘on’ the app but at least with it installed and you checking in regularly. Having the rewards dished out so easily means it fails as a clicker in that regard but the game also fails in another regard. There’s no incentive to leave it running and to keep returning to it.

You see, most clickers are all about setting up a better production line of money and leaving it to get on with it so you can come back to the game in a few hours or days and reap the rewards. Groove Planet doesn’t reward you for leaving the game alone.

Another problem is that Groove Planet has you construct a specific building which is responsible for collecting money in your absence. The issue here is that the sums of money this building can hold are so small, they’re insignificant and yet to level-up this building soon becomes too expensive and a waste of money.

This means that Groove Planet is a clicker where you very quickly unlock everything and are offered no incentive to ever leave the game alone let alone return to it. What should be enjoyable, opening up the app and seeing what you can spend your money on, is instead an anti-climax.

Groove Planet is a ‘clicker’ that actually wants you to play it – which is exactly what a clicker shouldn’t demand. Why shouldn’t they demand this? Because actually playing a clicker is just clicking! By demanding your full attention you soon come to realise what a pointless and boring thing it is, to click on a screen mindlessly.

A shame really as Groove Planet looks nice enough and it’s neat idea, being able to play your own tunes and tap along to their beat. The problem is this is a game that should be much more passive but wants far too much attention.

Metal Slug Attack Review

Metal Slug Attack Review

Apr 29, 2016

I don’t think I’ve seen better animated pixels than in the Metal Slug series. Wildly goofy gaites and exaggerated throwing motions were always the staple of the series, which was known as a brutal hard side-scrolling shooter back in the day.

Metal Slug Attack has retained the glorious and gorgeous sprite work of previous Metal slug titles but instead plays completely differently.

Boiled down, Metal Slug Attack is a card collecting game where each card represents a troop you can take into battle. Win battles and you earn more cards. More cards means you can level-up your existing army, etc, etc, you know the drill. There’s all sorts of convoluted hooks in the game to get you to spend money on cards. Free spins of digital roulette wheels every day, coins that turn to gems, gems that turn to coins and tokens that are granted every 2nd Thursday of months ending in ‘Y’. It’s incredibly convoluted.unnamed-6

Luckily, you can ignore most of that and get into battle straight away. Battles are all about protecting your drop-pod and attacking the enemies’ instead. The two pods are placed at each end of the screen and you have to tap at the cards you’ve taken into the fight to spawn little dudes or dudettes that will dutifully walk from the left to the right, shooting at and being shot by the enemy.

The strategy is that your different troops do different attacks. Grenadiers lob explosives whilst other troops are capable of sniping from a distance. Some characters like to get up close and personal, carrying a knife and running to the left with no regard as to their own safety. Your points slowly fill up as the game goes on and you can spend points on an upgrade that makes your points fill up quicker. You gotta spend points to make points, as they say.

So it all looks lovely. I can’t stress how much I love the Metal Slug series’ 2D style and animations. The gameplay itself is fine, with some wiggle room for you to create an army that plays just how you want. The problem is that it’s all wrapped up in such a confusing and obtuse array of systems, currencies, special daily bonuses and limited-time quests. It becomes overwhelming to know what you should focus on, whether you should upgrade your characters or save them for some other poorly explained trade-in system that buried twelve menus deep.

If you can spend the time and read the wikis to get your head around how all of the meta stuff works, Metal Slug Attack might turn out to be totally engrossing and well worth getting into. As it was for me, I found it really pretty, enjoyable to play but ultimately confused me to the point of no return. As in, I played it for a week and now don’t want to return to it. A shame.


slither.io Review

slither.io Review

Apr 28, 2016

I don’t like snakes.

I wouldn’t describe myself as deathly terrified (I guess it’s normal to be so), but I won’t go out of my way to hang with them. If there were a pet hierarchy, snakes wouldn’t make the list for me.

They’re just creepy, and then there’s that whole Garden of Eden incident.

But then, there goes slither.io. Simple game, easy-to-grasp concept… and slithery beings one might not even loathe that much. Maybe.

The playing area is a fusion of dark, tiled background, over which splashes of color are clearly defined. it utilizes relatively smooth animations, and the control mechanism is via touching the screen.

The main idea is fairly simple: survive and grow bigger. it is an online multiplayer game, and the boundless playing arena consist of multiple, user-controlled snakes. The player starts with a relatively tiny specimen, and an initial goal is to consume the colored pellets that are scattered around the area. Consuming them allows the user’s snake to grow incrementally bigger. Guiding the snake is important, and is done by the aforementioned screen taps.

slither3

Secondary to consuming pellets, one has to beware of opposing snakes; running into another snakes body with one’s head is deathly. Conversely, if another snake runs into the player’s animal, it is obliterated. Snake remains are quite valuable, with regards to getting bigger, so one should look to consume them.

With those parameters in place, the game feels a lot like a a game made for Patches O’Houlihan: dodge, duck, dip, dive and (uh) dodge. One has to guide one’s snake swiftly and decisively, avoiding head contact with bigger and faster snakes, while being offensively-minded as well. There’s a running tally of one’s length, and rank among other players.

The game gets more interesting the longer one plays (and grows); one has to balance evasive maneuvers with a willingness to be aggressive and look to make contact. The competing serpents can be fairly skilled, and so in the playing arena, every action has an opportunity costs of sorts.

As stated… simple.

The controls could use some refining, I think, and a few power-ups wouldn’t hurt, but the game does have a certain charm to it. It isn’t the most unique of ideas, but the online component is compelling.

All in all, it’s an interesting romp, and worth a look.

Damn Daniel Review

Damn Daniel Review

Apr 27, 2016

Why would anyone spend time making a game only to burden it with being associated with a meme that’s going to be forgotten in a week? That’s the number one question that sat on my mind during my time with Damn Daniel.

You see, Damn Daniel is basically a simple infinite-runner that’s grabbed onto the coat-tails of a meme, where one student points at another student’s shoes and shout “Damn Daniel!”. He makes comments on said shoes and it’s funny. Not actually funny but, you know, ‘internet funny’. Look it up.unnamed-3

You play as a cartoon version of the titular Daniel and you can see the trainers (sneakers) in question. They’re white and they stand out. This 2D infinite runner takes place in some form of infinite space, with a blue background broken up by blocks that you run over.

This needs to be challenging otherwise it would be less of a game than it already is. So what happens is these blocks drop away and sometimes they shift left or right. Basically, your route shifts right before your eyes and it’s your job to keep on top of this by tapping on the screen to jump to avoid gaps.

This is all fairly innocuous. No doubt you’ve played something similar before – the issue is that the shifting of the platforms feels unbalanced. It feels like sometimes the blocks will shift in such a way that escaping death is impossible. As if unfair deaths weren’t annoying enough, your demise is met by a sound clip from the meme that gave birth to this whole game.

“Daaammmn, Daniel!”

It gets very annoying very quickly and there’s little to make you want to keep on. The only glimmer of reward is that you can collect gems whilst playing and these unlock alternate clothes for Daniel to wear.

That’s it.

A highscore table and the ability to watch some adverts to grab extra gems are available but why bother? Damn Daniel is a bad example of what mobile gaming is about. A cynical attempt at riding the wave of popularity a meme is having by spitting out a sub-standard infinite runner. We can do better.

Damn, Daniel…

Rolling Sky Review

Rolling Sky Review

Apr 27, 2016

Imagine an infinite runner that has an end combined with a maze that shows you the way out. That’s what Rolling Sky is.

You control a rolling ball, controlling its horizontal movements by simply swiping left and right on the screen, as it makes its way from the start of the level to the end of the level. It’s so simple it requires no explanation. So ignore this entire paragraph.

The challenge comes through in the form of numerous obstacles that litter each level. Some levels are full of lasers, some are full of weights dropping from the sky and others have trees that cause you to explode.unnamed-3

Each level is set in stone. Where the spike pit was last time you played is where it’ll be this time. This means you have to spend time ‘learning’ each level and this is no easy feat. Some of the levels are seriously tricky and will require multiple attempts, especially if you want to collect the diamonds that are scattered about.

This would be annoying and boring if it weren’t for the presentation and the audio. The level’s are synched to the music which helps give everything a real punch. As the bassline of the song kicks in, the weights drop from the sky and it goes without saying that the music is pretty darn great.

Each level’s audio takes on a slightly different genre of music and the songs go through ups and downs with the levels representing this as well. When the song’s having a quiet moment you’ll be guiding your ball through a relatively simple slalom but when the beat kicks in, you’ll soon notice more hammers, spikes and other pitfalls coming your way.

Also nice to see is the way the game’s monetized. It’s not too abrasive, with 10 extra lives requiring that you watch an advert or wait for a period of time. You can also purchase your way out of this advertising which is a nice option for fans that hate adverts and want to throw some money the developer’s way.

On top of this there’s been updates throughout the game’s life, with new courses being added. Last I looked, the game was up to six. These courses only last about 3 or 4 minutes each, which may not sound like much of a game, but when you consider how hard they are to finish and how much harder it is to finish AND collect all the games, you’ve got something that should keep you busy for some time.

To finish, it’s safe to say that Rolling Sky isn’t revolutionary. It’s exceedingly simple but it’s all done exceedingly well. Well worth a download.


Aurora: Quarantine Review

Aurora: Quarantine Review

Apr 19, 2016

Simply put, Aurora: Quarantine is so easy to get into.

The backstory has a dystopian tinge to it, with a futuristic tale that is interestingly detailed and scarily familiar; the year is 2098, and in response to humans laying waste to resources, new “ecological cities” are created. These are only available to the wealthy though, and in time, a huge gulf between the haves and the have nots is created. In time, the cities have walls and such erected to keep the unwanted folks away.

Within one such city, a resistance group forms, and get a hold of dangerous stuff, and modify it; they use the weapon to annihilate the city, but the weapon has even further-reaching consequences than envisaged. One major fallout: no human can survive going into the city.

In an effort to save the city, the powers that be develop and deploy robots to find an antidote. The mission? Control one spherical robot in a quest to find the materials needed.

Whew.

aurora7

Le’s segue to a summary of sorts… it’s a freakin’ enjoyable game. One gets to use one’s finger (or, alternatively, a bluetooth gamepad) to control a sphere, and the idea is to guide the sphere in a series of tasks before completely expending limited resources.

The tasks tie together well, and require the player to due his/her due diligence… it behooves one to look around, and to pay attention to direction arrows, instructions and energy levels. Secondary to that, it makes sense to pick up XP bottles for leveling. One does need to be have a deft hand, and in several ways, the physics creates puzzles.

When it comes to visuals, this game goes all out. It presents a rich #D, landscaped environment, with stark graphics that make excellent use of virtual light. The animations are vivid, and the eye cues do the job of capturing one’s attention.

Dream Machine – The Game Review

Dream Machine – The Game Review

Apr 14, 2016

Give me a great puzzler that has great graphics, and then I can go to town.

Give me Dream Machine.

The artwork that graces this game makes no bones about tricking the eye and teasing the brain. Color-wise, it is fairly sedate, evoking a somewhat steampunk-ish vibe even while mostly ensuring that one doesn’t drift too far away from the fantastical structures that are at the core of this game’s visual presentation.

Yes, they are definitely interesting. If one has a thing for impossible objects, Dream Machine will definitely be the dmg2game to mess around with. It has several uniquely adjustable structures on display, and it’s easy to forget the actual gameplay while enjoying the visual permutations. The animations are smooth, and work well with the soothing tunes.

The gameplay gets right to it. The main idea is to get our protagonist, non-conformist robot from point A to point B; the robot moves continually once started, and if it gets to a point where it can go forward, it reverses course, unless manually controlled by the player. To do this, one generally has to use a supplied lever to turn a piece of the structure in such a way that the robot can continue on a path that leads to the end point. The cool sideshow is the way the structures disregard the laws of physics; as one moves to create a new path, the optical illusions all but become attractions in and of themselves.

The game is leveled; make one’s way to the end point, and a new, invariably tougher level is open.

As the game pops off further, the puzzles do get more complex, forcing one to move things around a bit, and do things like doubling back and such. There are boss battles, which are enjoyable in their somewhat unexpected nature.

It comes together quite well, a bit predictable, yes, but still manages to be engaging. It brings great looks to the fore without over-relying on eye candy, which is no small feat.

Chameleon Run Review

Chameleon Run Review

Apr 13, 2016

Tis the season of lizard games. Add Chameleon Run to the mix.

If one is looking for a visual treat, one need not look much further; Chameleon Run is veritable mix of glossy graphics and high-end animations that seemingly splashes color with every collision of virtual bits. In the default landscape presentation, the 3D imagery really pops. After a few goes, it’s hard to imaging playing the game in any other way than the angled view, and overall, it is a very becoming visual experience.

Extending into the gameplay, our protagonist animal is an agile being, and looks to get through the leveled action as quickly as possible. The opening tutorial level allows one to understand the basics of gameplay: the running area initially has gaps, and one taps o jump over the gapped or black areas. Secondarily to that, our running thingie has to match the color of the running area beneath it (the platforms change colors periodically). Thankfully, our chameleon can — yes, you guessed right — has the ability to change colors.

So, tapping on one side causes our hero to jump and tapping on the other side allows it o change color. To begin, the core idea is to navigate the holes and change colors quickly, back and forth as needed, and make it to the end of the run.

cr3

As one progresses, the gameplay becomes a bit more complex. One will find the need to double jump, look for aerial obstacles, take risks by dropping, etc to move on. There are collectibles as well, so one has to figure what is worth getting. There are tasks, including time trials, and each becomes a bit tougher as the levels become more intricate.

It’s a lot of the same — on paper. The way it is structured allows for levels to not only be repeated, but relatively evergreen with regards to advancement. It is an engaging experience that tests one reflexes on the way yo infinite pain and/or satisfaction.

Missile Defence WCP 1.2 Review

Missile Defence WCP 1.2 Review

Apr 12, 2016

“Simple” is the word of the day when it comes to App Entwickler Verzeichnis’ Missile Defence WCP 1.2.

Graphically, the game uses a relatively low frills template; the 2d-ish still image that makes up the playing area is presented in landscape, with a sprawling cityscape exists towards the bottom, populated with telltale skyscrapers of different sizes. The dark silhouettes do stand out, as they are meant to, and against the gentle horizon in the background and water body in the foreground, they almost look stately.md3

It’s an easy game to understand. All one has to do is to save the city from the missiles hurtling towards it from above; said missiles speed down all comet-like, with trails of fearsome white emissions making them loner — and more deadly — than they may be. They come downwards from the top of the screen, first somewhat singly, and then in waves which cause even more havoc.

The main tool to prevent destruction of the city are the two guns that are planted on either side of the playing area.
To get the incoming missiles before they make landfall, one needs to judge the path of an incoming projectile, and time the protective shell such that it hits the enemy weapon at just the right time, thus destroying it. Being off, even by a little, makes the protagonist fire miss. Some logical concepts are present, like the intuitive idea of it being better to take out missiles before they get closer to the buildings.

The game incorporates an upgrade system that allows one to improve weapons.

In essence, the game has one major concept: save the city by intercepting the incoming missiles. Timing and use of angles make it a bit of a challenge, but the encompassing simplicity of the gameplay is never really concealed.

That’s an enviable strength.

The Ghost Archives Review

The Ghost Archives Review

Apr 10, 2016

The Ghost Archives is an interesting hidden mystery caper from the crew that all but wrote the book on the handheld genre, G5. it packs in the mystery, puzzles and action that one inevitably expects from the Android development power publisher.

Shady Valley is our spooky town location. The game provides the option of two gameplay flavors: one gets Casual Mode, which is advertised as being a bit easier, with skip and hints that charge relatively faster than the alternative Expert Mode, which is geared towards experienced players looking for a challenge. Also, the latter has glints, while the former does.

The opening sequence does it’s part to create a foreboding atmosphere, detailing some missing folks in Shady Valley, and that leads one to an optional tutorial, which starts on a moving bus. The tutorial quickly and seamlessly gives the player an idea of how to play, and how to use things such as the inventory management system, the diary and the hints. Additionally, interactions are shown, as well as the use of objects to accomplish stuff. There are tasks to keep track of too, and these help keep one on gaming track.

ga3

The player takes on the persona of a S.O.U.L. agent, which is looking into the weird happenings; others have come before, though, which is a somewhat disconcerting fact. After the preliminaries, the true stuff starts.

As noted earlier, it all comes together as mainly a hidden object thriller, and this where it really shines. The artwork is particularly well done, with different environments and great use of virtual lighting. At some points, a simple touch to find items on a list mechanism works; in others, one might, say, move objects (by tapping) o recover concealed items. The game also manages to incorporate logic mini-games.

The different elements come together pretty nicely, preventing, to a degree, too much monotony. The mystery is cohesive, and is more than just the cherry on top.

Pull My Tongue Review

Pull My Tongue Review

Apr 9, 2016

Pull My Tongue, a new game from Noodlecake, is all about playfulness.

From a visual point of view, Pull My Tongue is quite inviting, with gentle characterizations, and a fun use of color that helps underscore the gameplay. It is brightly laid out in portrait, and the animations do the deed.

The game is simple enough to understand, and even easier to get into. Our chameleon is the friendly-faced protagonist, and it has a great craving for — of all things — popcorn.pmt3

Armed with a powerful, flexible tongue, the main idea is to guide said tongue in such a manner that the popcorn kernel can be collected. Therein is the the core game task: collect the popcorn to complete the level and move on to a subsequently newly opened level.

Simple.

There is one challenging, built-in element: the three star star system, whereby one can look to collect as many of three stars that are laid out in the playing area on the way to getting the  popcorn at the end. So, one need not collect all starts to move on, but why not? It’s irksome to just leave them there. The tongue cannot be pulled endlessly though, so one wants to carefully navigate with it. Thus, th stars are laid out, with obstacles and barriers of sorts that one needs to work around to finish the level.

The game delightfully evolves into a series of pseudo-physics puzzlers, where one needs to wind the exhaustible tongue round in a quest to collect all collectibles, even while the levels increase the difficulty quotient.

It does feel a bit like Cut the Rope with regards to gameplay — and that’s not entirely a bad thing in the least, as there is a reason that game is so popular. The three star system is easy to get into, and the infinite replayability of the game is definitely a plus.