Reigns Review

Reigns Review

Sep 27, 2016

So many apps are built to make our daily lives simpler. One app that has achieved true notoriety made the whole dating process as simple as swiping left or swiping right. You know the one I’m talking about, you know it’s called Tinder, don’t play dumb with me.

What’s not a simple process is reigning over a kingdom. Being a king is tough work and full of gray areas but Reigns doesn’t care. It’s a mixture of Game of Thrones and a dating app where your main aim is to stay alive for as long as possible.

This is harder than it sounds because your ‘helpers’ aren’t that helpful. They’ll tell you that the castle’s on fire and you have two choices, swipe left to save the garrison or swipe right to save the treasury. Either way, you’re screwed because if you upset the army enough, they’ll overthrow you and kill you. If your coffers run dry, the rich merchants of your kingdom will overthrow you and you’ll die, penniless, in the gutter.unnamed-19

Reigns is a totally brutal game of decisions and balancing everyone’s needs. The church, the army, the people and your finances all need to be balanced out. It’s a fairly literal in letting you know how ‘well’ you’re doing in each area, as on the screen an icon representing each element fills up. You’d think that filling up your ‘money’ meter wouldn’t end up in death, but it does. So you’re not allowed to let any bar fill all the way up or go all the way down.

It’s really as simple as that. You’re given clues as to how your decision will be perceived, as before you let go of each swipe you will see a small circle or a large circle appear over the icons that will be affected by your decision. The trick being, you’re told if the decision will be positive or negative and you instead have to read the text and infer whether it will fill up or drain the icon.

Luckily, all of this reading and very simple gameplay is hugely enjoyable and incredibly stylish. Each character you interact with clearly has their own agenda and its fun to see how their stories play out (assuming you live long enough). What keeps things interesting is the way the game dishes out and adds new characters and potential cards the more you play. You’ll be given vague clues as to targets to accomplish, such as ‘discover the traitor’, but upon finding out who’s the traitor in your court, you’ll unlock new cards that will reveal themselves in later playthroughs.

There is also an actual end to the game, though the real fun is in simply trying to see how long you can keep your king alive and how long you can get away with making bad decisions.

Reigns is incredibly simple but incredibly well polished and full of humour and style. I hereby decree that Reigns should be downloaded forthwith! Swipe right.


Become a daredevil pilot in Gunship Battle: Second War

If you’ve ever found yourself soaring around during a flight simulator wishing there was a little more action and a little less worrying about your altitude metre, Gunship Battle: Second War might be just the antidote.

Following on from the success of Gunship Battle: Helicopter 3D, South Korean publisher Joycity is once again taking the fight skywards, this time introducing 20 faithfully recreated World War 2 gunships for you to control. You play as an aspiring ace undertaking aviation missions for the Jasmine Militia, most of which involve unleashing hell on baddies below. Completing each mission will win you gold to spend on upgrading your favourite flying machine, which could be anything from the faithful Spitfire to the snarling Warhawk.

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Gunship Battle: Second War has a streamlined UI and superior graphics to its predecessor, as well as gyroscopic controls and a more manageable app size. The game also boasts a new cockpit mode, allowing you to switch to a first-person view as you guide your gunship of choice through the sky. There are 30 standard story missions to tackle, and additional Special Missions to test the mettal of the battle-hardened amongst you.

This month (09/21 – 10/20) you can also take part in three different in-game events. There’s the ‘Daily Login Event’ where gold, dollars and special items can be earned just by logging in on consecutive days. Or if you’d prefer to make your cash in battle you can pick up rewards for clearing each episode in the ‘Episode Clear Event’. You’ll also receive a coupon upon downloading the game which you can use to earn 1,000 gold upon clearing the games first episode.

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Gunship Battle: Second War is free to download from Google Play and the App Store, so why not hop in that digital cockpit.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner’s.

Soccer Shootout Review

Soccer Shootout Review

Aug 31, 2016

A an English person, the idea of taking penalties strikes fear into my heart. It’s just something we’re genetically unable to do. However, after some hours with Swipe Soccer, I fancy my chances from the penalty spot a little bit more.

Soccer Shootout’s a straightforward idea. It’s a penalty shootout game where you swipe at the screen to take a penalty or to get your goalkeeper to dive. You can apply swerve, direction and power to your shots by swiping in a particular way. Swipe quickly for more power, swipe at an angle to aim for the corners and draw a line that’s not straight for curve.

It’s the same thing for goalkeeper control too. Swipe left, right, high or low – it’s dead simple and actually quite fun.

The game has some added depth thanks to the fact you can unlock and buy new players. These are important as different players will have different stats. How good a player is will actually affect how hard you have to swipe and how precise you can be with your kicks. On top of this, players and ‘keepers can have special abilities. These abilities allow you to swerve the ball more wildly, reduce your opponent’s field of vision and even perform a really odd lob kick that belongs on an American Football field.SS1

The game has both singleplayer and multiplayer options. In the single player mode you take on teams from around the world, touring the globe one country at a time. As this isn’t an officially licensed product you’ll be facing off against some weird looking crests that will remind you of a real team’s logo, but most certainly are not a real team’s logo. This also goes for the names of the players, though some of the names have been so heavily altered it’s hard to recognise who they’re trying to be.

Online is fun, though you can sometimes come up against people who have much better players than you. Being in a shootout with players that are way better than your own means your keeper won’t have even moved by the time the ball’s flown into the net. I understand you want to reward players that have spent more time and money on the game than others, but it’s a little bit too much.

As you play through either mode you’ll earn money. This can be used to ‘train’ your players, which is just another way of boosting their stats. You can also save your money up and got ahead and buy an entirely new player. Those of you that are willing to part with your real money for access to the game’s fake money will have access to the more expensive and therefore better players.

In the end, Soccer Shootout is a pretty fun game that has a really simple premise but it’s so well made, it’s hard not to have fun. There’s new players being introduced regularly, so if you’re happy constantly taking penalties, there’s plenty to keep you going.

Deus Ex GO Review

Deus Ex GO Review

Aug 29, 2016

Phones and tablets, more often than not, can’t do what PCs and consoles do. It’s just a fact. Different control schemes and a lack of powerful hardware means it’s just not possible to plonk a beloved series onto a phone.

This is why Deus Ex GO is so impressive and continues the success that the GO series has had to date. Previous GO titles include Hitman and Lara Croft, where the games captured the spirit of their franchises whilst converting them into simple, turn-based puzzle games. Which is just what’s happened in Deus Ex GO too.

You play as Adam Jensen, protagonist of the recent Deus Ex console and PC games. The story is pretty throwaway, with you infiltrating a corporation’s building, espionage and so on. There’s links to the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, but the links aren’t that meaningful unless you’re a hardcore Deus Ex fan.

The game itself, as mentioned, plays almost like a board game, with you moving your one piece (Adam Jensen) whilst the computer controls everything else. The goal is quite simple, with you starting at one side of the ‘board’ and all you need to do is make it to the exit, which is a designated space on the board, often opposite to the side you start on.unnamed-2

This isn’t a simple game of snake and ladders however, as you need to watch out for all manner of enemies, traps and defences. All of these obstacles behave in fairly simple ways and are introduced at a good pace, keeping things interesting. The first set of enemies you’ll run into (hopefully not literally) are soldiers that, when they spot you, grow an exo-skeleton making them indestructible and they charge at you. The solution is to simply approach them from behind or from the side and, like a game of chess, you’ll remove them from the board. Of course, they can also remove you from the board and force you to start over. Other enemies include turrets that kill on site, robots that kill if you approach from the front and so on.

What’s so great about this game is the way all of the enemies interact with each other. One example is the turret and the indestructible exo-skeleton man. On one level, the solution involved me triggering the guard, moving to the side and then having the guard block the turret’s line of sight. This game keeps things fresh and interesting as there’s a near constant stream of new enemies and traps appearing and the fun is in finding out how they’ll affect each other.

On top of this there’s powerups to find, that can turn you invisible, for example and terminals to hack, meaning turrets are your friend and will shoot down any antagonistic guards or robots. The game is constantly asking you to rethink about what you already know and it’s so rewarding when you finally figure out a particularly difficult level.

On top of this, the game looks really great. It’s not a graphical powerhouse but it has absolute style. Adopting a polygonal look, characters burst apart into a stream of triangles when they’re defeated and each level has a unique layout, with different furniture littered about each board.

Deus Ex GO manages to keep its Deus Ex roots whilst distilling them down into a simple to play puzzle game. With tons of enemies resulting in tons of variety for each level, I can’t recommend this enough.


Soundtrack Attack: Steven Universe Review

Soundtrack Attack: Steven Universe Review

Aug 29, 2016

I’ll admit to something right off the bat – I’ve never watched an episode of Steven Universe. I’ve seen plenty of gifs and whatnot, my Twitter feed is full of people who love it, but I’ve just never given it a shot. Bear this in mind when reading this review and when I tell you that Soundtrack Attack is a rhythm game that has a soundtrack which means nothing to me.

You’ve all played a rhythm game before, right? The notes appear on the screen in time with the music and you’ve got to press the right button at the right time. It provides the illusion that you’re actually ‘playing’ the music when in reality you’re just strumming a plastic guitar or, in this case, simply tapping, dragging and holding your fingers down on the screen of your phone. All in all, it’s a pretty average rhythm game, though there were instances where I felt that the game was a little too forgiving. When faced with a screen full of notes I’d eventually lose track of what was going on yet somehow get through even the trickiest of sections with my combo intact, thanks to the fact I’d tapped randomly on my screen. I guess this makes it more suitable to what I imagine is its younger intended audience.su1

Another more personal issue I have with the game is that I just didn’t enjoy or recognize any of the music. Imagine playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero and having never heard any of the songs before. Imagine that you’d not only never heard them but that you thought they were bad. So this might be a harsh criticism and one based on the fact I’m not a fan of the series, but it’s a criticism all the same. There also seems to be a fair amount of reuse, as the same song will appear on several levels with only slight alterations to it.

On more positive notes, fans of the series should find enough to enjoy with Soundtrack Attack: Steven Universe. You get to create your own character (called a Gem?) and you can customize her as you progress. More customization options become available as you complete songs, with better performances earning you more coins to spend on these character altering elements.

There aren’t any power-ups to buy or use during levels. Once you’ve played through a level and heard its song, that’s all there is to it. There’s plenty of levels, mind, though not much to keep you coming back unless you’re after high scores or a perfect run.

In the end Soundtrack Attack: Steven Universe is a well made game even if it is a little basic and a touch too forgiving. This probably suits the younger audience out there, though I know a lot of Steven Universe fans who are well into their 20s. They might want to skip this.


Dots and Co Review

Dots and Co Review

Aug 26, 2016

I often think long and hard about the words I write. It might not seem like it sometimes, but it’s true. I fret over each adjective, hoping that I find the one that really evokes the meaning I’m going for. With Dots and Co I’ve struggled to find the perfect word. I wanted to say ‘nice’, but nice seemed a little bland, a little basic and a touch too simple.

However, Dots and Co is a simple, somewhat bland and basic puzzle game. It’s really nice.

It’s a really stylish looking game full of clean designs and pastel colours. Cute characters and animals place themselves at the top of the screen, acting as your avatar. There’s a good amount of polish to proceedings, with your avatar following your touch across the screen and with blips, blops and pops following every action. There’s also some really… nice ambient music that accompanies everything, filled with chilled out acoustic guitar.dots2

The game is made up of coloured dots placed on a grid. You need to draw a line between as many dots of the same colour as you can. Drawing a line causes the dots to disappear and more dots fall from the top of the screen to take their place. The challenge is that you need to clear a certain number of certain coloured dots to complete each level.

Adding some difficulty and variety to proceedings is special abilities you’ll pick up as the game progresses, ice blocks that stop you starting a line on certain squares of the grid and the fact that the grid itself will change shape and size from level to level.

The problem is that each level doesn’t really ask too much of you. There’s very little strategy to any of the proceedings means it’s hard to really call it a puzzle game. You just do the thing it’s asking you to do and all without much thought. I guess this makes it ideal for a casual audience but it’s probably safe to say that Dots and Co is a little too casual, especially for the first 50 or so levels.

This being said, it’s hard to be too negative. It’s just too nice, too relaxed and too gentle for you to get sick of it. I found myself not so much bored, more in a state of zen.

Which might be exactly what you’re after. A game to kill some time whilst you’re sat on the bus, something to keep you busy whilst waiting for a microwave to ding, something that requires very little thought and it really quite pleasant to look at.

Dots and Co is a nice game.


Mobius Final Fantasy Review

Mobius Final Fantasy Review

Aug 23, 2016

I have to admit it. When I first saw the screenshots for Mobius Final Fantasy, I didn’t believe it’d look that good, let alone look that good on my crusty old phone. I was wrong. This will undoubtedly be the first thing you’ll likely notice about Mobius Final Fantasy. It looks brilliant and it’s beautifully animated too.

The game itself is both confusing and extremely straightforward at the same time. The bit that’s easy to get your head around is the fact that this is simply a set of battles, one after the other. There’s a map shown to you but there’s zero exploration as all you need to do is simply click on the next location you need to move to. It’s entirely linear and it’s only the animation that takes up the top of the screen that lets you know that your character is actually on the move.

What’s also easy to understand is the controls. To fight your opponents all you need to do is tap on the screen to do a normal attack and press a button to cast some magic. Dead easy.ff3

This is now where things get out of hand and the tutorial lets you down in a big way.

You see, Mobius Final Fantasy is actually all about collecting, fusing and levelling up cards in a deck. The cards you’ve got will dictate what type of fighter you are, a melee, ranged or magic user, they’ll dictate what spells you can cast and they’ll also decide what your summon attack is.

The thing is, there are so many stats to each card and so many ways you can build a deck it makes your head spin.

Each deck has to have a ‘job’ card, this can be levelled up to unlock more jobs, has status boosts and abilities that can also be unlocked on it. Each deck has to have a weapon, this will also boost stats and attacks and statuses. Each spell also has abilities, both passive and active that can be levelled up. You can fuse two cards together to make the levelling up process quicker. There’s also an ‘affinity’ system during battle that means you take less damage from those types of attacks. Using and ‘affinity’ spell will mean you’re less likely to receive seeds of that type. Seeds are used to cast spells but only spells of that type of seed. Before you go into battle you can ‘rent’ a card. This is a card that is owned by another player and by fighting with it you gain experience for that card. This is good for the other user because they can be offline and have people level up their cards for them.

That giant paragraph I just wrote? It seems like total nonsense to me and I wrote it. Lord only knows how you feel.

So this is the major problem with Mobius Final Fantasy. It’s a bunch of systems built on systems with other systems that support it. Fuse this, rent that, meld them, collect these, pick up shards of the other… it’s too much for what is essentially a game that requires little skill.

Maybe you’ll enjoy building decks but the only thing that changes after you’ve spent hours in confusing menus with confusing systems is the fact you get to see larger numbers appear over a monster’s head. It’s so much work to play and to understand and not much fun to play. A visual spectacle that dazzles before the gameplay itself confuses. You can always press the ‘Auto’ button, whereupon the game literally plays itself. At least it seems to understand its own rules.


Unison League’s surprising update is inspired by Evangelion

Ateam’s Unison League lets you travel across a troubled land with a band of warriors, defeating monsters as you go. You build your own hero, choosing your class and customising your appearance, and develop guilds with other players. The game was released on mobile platforms last year – but there’s a brand new update on the way.

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In an unexpected crossover, the latest content for the game is inspired by hit anime Evangelion. The franchise took Japan by storm with its blend of dystopian sci-fi, subversive symbolism – and giant mecha bashing the bits out of angels. The latest film series, Rebuild Evangelion, takes the story further.

With this new Unison League update, you get a brand new plot that will unfold over two weeks. Each chapter reveals the next piece of the story – and you get to unlock a load of new Evangelion-themed items too. You can customise your hero to look the spitting image of iconic mechas Unit 01 and 02 – or protagonists Shinji, Asuka and Rei. There are brand new attack animations thrown in, along with a log-in bonus – a speed queen version of Rei Ayanami.

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If you’ve caught all the Pokémon and want a new game to give you that fix of Japanese culture, Unison League might be for you. It’s available for free from Google Play and the App Store.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel  Media Preferred Partners.

Fall Hard Review

Fall Hard Review

Aug 9, 2016

There will always be room for good arcade games. Games that offer and require no story, that don’t change with each playthrough. PacMan, Galaga, Super Crate Box – these games are always the same each time you pick them up and that’s just great.

Fall Hard is an example of this too. You play as a ball which desperately wants to fall to the floor. It’s like an inverse Doodle Jump, where you want to get to the bottom rather than reach the top. The game doesn’t score you on the distance you travel downards but instead gives you a point for each green square you hit. These green square bounce you upwards, but disappear as soon as they’re hit.unnamed-9

Easy, right? Well, it would be if it weren’t for the natural enemy of green squares, the dreaded red triangle. Red triangles will simply kill you on contact and end your run. Game Over. Here’s you score. Please try again.

So the game’s dead simple and the controls work well. Touch the left side of the screen to move left, right side of the screen to move right.

The visuals are striking, with a neon colour pallette and a cool looking CRT filter applied to everything. Audio is not much more than simple blips and bloops, though this plays into the hands of the ‘arcadey’ feel of the game.

The game’s real issue is with the ‘fairness’ of the game. With a title like Fall Hard, you’d expect there to be difficulty, however it seems to veer into the impossible on occasion thanks to the squares and triangle spawning randomly. Sometimes it will feel like you’re funneled into a trap, with a green square popping you up into a red triangle and offering you no choice but to get killed.

This might have been me being rubbish at the game. Perhaps my reactions were too slow, I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that I quickly stopped getting angry at myself and started blaming the game. It went too far and it became no fun. I put it down and only went back to it because I needed to write this review.

Most players will also find it difficult to come back if they’re not grabbed by the gameplay. This is because there’s little to unlock, except for some different looking circles. Aside from this there’s no change in the ‘enemies’ you encounter. You’ll always see red triangles and you’ll always score off of green squares.

Once you’ve played it the first time you’ll have seen everything. If the game feels fair to you, you might keep coming back to it. I, however, found Fall Hard to be more unfair than it was hard.

Tap my Katamari Review

Tap my Katamari Review

Aug 8, 2016

I’ve never hidden the fact that Katamari Damacy is one of my favourite games of all time. I’m also a pretty big fan of ‘clicker’ games. With this in mind you’d think that Tap my Katamari, which is a ‘clicker’ based on Katamari would be perfect.

Sadly it’s not.

The basics are as follows. On the screen you’ll see the Prince of the Cosmos. He’s rolling a ball, except it’s not a ball. It’s a sticky sphere called a Katamari. By rolling over items that Katamari picks up said items and eventually grows in size. This is the aim of the game, to grow your Katamari to gargantuan sizes. You’ll start by rolling up thumbtacks and before you know it you’ll be grabbing cars, buildings and eventually entire planets.unnamed-5

With each tap of the screen you prince moves forward, with a distance gauge showing you how close you are to picking something up. So you tap on the screen and pick things up, with each item dropping money. Money is spent on hiring your ‘cousins’ and they’ll earn money for you whilst the game’s closed. On top of this your cousins provide you with a boost so that each tap moves you forward further and quicker.

The problem here is that with most ‘clicker’ games you make progress when the game is closed. In Tap my Katamari you make progress to a degree, with money being earned whilst you’re away. This money can then be spent on upgrades, which is fine and makes future progress quicker. This means that if you return to the game after time away, you have a bunch of money and can now supercharge your Katamari. You’re now stuck having to tap away on the screen to pick up items. As no items were picked up during your absence no progress has actually been made.

On top of this lack of real progress whilst away there’s some real peaks and troughs to the distance required between items. You’d think that items would be harder to pick up (further away) as you progress through the game. However, some items are exponentially tougher to pick up, then you’ll have a very short distance and the sense of progression makes little sense.

Also, there’s 3 abilities you have to make tapping a little more interesting. You can use a ‘super-charge’, which gives you a one off boost of distance. Then you have an automatic clicker and finally you have a money boost which spits out coins for each tap.

These 3 abilities are fine but limited. Other clicker games have all manner of upgrades and abilities to unlock but Tap my Katamari has only 3, all of which will be unlocked on the first day of play.

It’s shame that this unbalanced and lacking clicker has such a great look and sound to it. The Katamari series has always had outstanding music and this one’s no different, but when the best thing about your ‘clicker’ game is its soundtrack, something’s gone wrong.


En Masse Entertainment branches out with an Android version of RTS title Battleplans

Having been released exclusively for iOS systems last month, Battleplans is now available for players who prefer Android systems, from the Google Play store. iOS players haven’t been forgotten either, with a brand new update released at the same time.

Battleplans uses a simplistic take on the often-overlooked genre, by combining addictively simple controls and an aesthetically pleasing layout, opening up the title to players of all generations and abilities.

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The iOS update sees the introduction of a brand new character in the form of Taigar the Huntress, who holds the Mystical Stag special ability and has quite the intriguing sleeping situation: she opts for trees…

With the game offering real-time integration, the opportunities become endless and the title truly becomes about skill advancement and progress, which can be monitored with the handy playback feature that the game includes.

Speaking of the game themselves, CEO of En Masse Entertainment, Sam Kim, told us: “Battleplans provides a fresh, new spin on real-time strategy games and fills a need in the marketplace.

“Players will find themselves immediately getting to the
fun elements of an RTS with easy controls to build heroes and squads, as well as scalable resource management – all of which lends for a great experience while trying to outsmart your enemies.”

Catch the game yourself from Google Play.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Android N is… Nougat!

Android N is… Nougat!

Jul 2, 2016

As is usual at this time — when a new version of Android is nigh — the world gets into a frenzy with regards to the new nickname that Google assigns to it. Even with the alphabetical convention and tendency to name them after sweets narrowing down the choices, the guessing is still usually wild and… well… interesting.

This time, Google even had a cyber suggestion box to spur discussion.

In any case, it’s official: Android 7 is Nougat.

Let the debate about Android O. Oreo? O Henry? Orange Julius?

Time will tell…