The Trail Review

The Trail Review

Nov 18, 2016

You might not believe you have a New World pioneering spirit deep down inside, but The Trail, a new-ish game under the Kongregate banner, just might have you doubting that surety.

This one has some great pedigree too, being another Peter Molyneux production; this one definitely reaches for the inner pilgrim; it’s set in a what feels like a newly populated land, and the player takes on the persona of one of the brave souls looking to make their fortune in the mostly uncharted territory.

The game begins with a very detailed, extensive tutorial; it leads one through selecting a character, and then gives the hint of a backstory which involves trail3the player arriving in the new land by ship. Thereafter, the game leads the player through the activities that hopefully ensure success. With the use of an in-game guide, the game slowly comes to life.

There is a lot of exploration; there are target destination in place, and the core idea is to make it to the checkpoints, replenish the life-source, and continue on. Secondary to that, there are plenty of mini-tasks to accomplish. One is collecting materials as one travels the pathways. This is very important, because this supplies the entire game, and involves things like collecting edibles and other things which can be crafted for trades.

This collection element is interestingly layered. After a while, one gets to do stuff like hack tree stumps and/or hunt game. There is also a resource management aspect; there is limited space to collect materials, so one needs to know what to carry or discard. Does one item have better trade-in or crafting value than another? Energy depletion is a real danger, so does one have an emergency snack onboard? Decisions, decisions…

These opportunity costs really make the game interesting. Stuff can be expedited with real cash, but play can go on without it. Progress unlocks more and more stuff, and the game continually unfolds, which is surprising for something that, at first glance, looks like a gingerly walk along the path. Take the trading battles for instance; losing is not to be condoned!

It comes together nicely; the graphics feel stilted at times, but the visuals do the job of adequately conveying the gameplay. All in all, it is easy to enjoy, and tough to put down; the combination of action, strategy and management make it easy to get addicted to.

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.

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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.

Master of Craft Review

Master of Craft Review

Aug 8, 2014

Master of Craft looks to be an engaging game that merges key gaming genres in a tidy package.

At its core, it’s all about simulating an economy of crafting. Off the bat, the busy animation of the game easily draws one in, with bright colors and vivid landscapes. If the developer’s goal is to please people that are iffy about the game at the start, it is mostly successful. The rustic vibe combines well with the whimsical representations, and the overall visual feel is that it is playful and serious at the same time.

Our main protagonist is a youngster looking to master the art of creating delightful objects of destruction. As in most crafting games, raw materials are a huge portion of the game, and to excel, one has to guide this apprentice to an enviable career.

The game elements are well-intertwined and mostly logical. It starts off small; out champion has limited resources that can be used to create relatively simplistic weapons that must be sold to pull in some money. As the game progresses, and a bigger war-chest is achieved, better objects can be produced and more money procured. In this, the trade system mimics real world economics. Patience and hard work are related. Further on, interacting with adventurers (characters that can accumulate advanced materials that are used to make more diverse weapons) becomes necessary.mc1

One unique part of the trade scenarios is the ability to set prices. Again, the developer does a decent job of making it feel sensible by allowing players compare and set prices. his affects gameplay in a host of ways. Also, the progression of weapons and the indirect fighting to pick up ingredients is a nice diversion. these can be affected by specials. Ingredients can be mixed and matched, and equipping armies makes a cameo.

If there were a game that induces in-app purchases, it’s this one; at some junctures, monotony makes the included ability of expediting via real cash mighty attractive. Still, for an engaging, logical simulation game, one really can’t go wrong with Master of Craft.

Angry Birds Epic Review

Angry Birds Epic Review

Jun 16, 2014

Angry Birds Epic is finally here, in all its official, free-to-play glory.

While the characters will feel familiar, the gameplay is a bit different; this one is a role playing game in conception, and he action is turn-based.

The piggies have not learned their lesson, which is unfortunate. They are still stealing eggs, and the initial red bird forgoes the intricate catapult method of vengeance, and instead dons some medieval-looking gear and takes it to the streets… in a manner of speaking. The first few battles (along with the highlighting done by tutorial) help bring the basic gameplay to life: the protagonist bird faces off against a pig and proceed to consummate a battle of attrition based on alternating moves. The winner is the creature left standing at the end.abe1

The battles are a series of opportunity costs, as one can decide to either attack or fortify oneself on a turn. Attacking is done by drawing a line to the target, which allows for the bird to inflict damage on the enemy. Then, the opponent gets a chance to return the favor.

Instead of attacking, though, it is possible to pick a defensive boost, which serves to parry some damage away. As the gameplay goes on, multiple opponents can appear in a level, and there are wave-type levels and even boss levels as well. On the protagonist side, multiple bird get unlocked as well, so that the battles are a bit more even. One fun element is the ability to transfer attributes from one bird to another. This allows for a bit of strategy to be involved in decision-making.

Winning yields stars, tenders and chances to spin for further goodies. There is a crafting element that exists beyond the fighting. Crafting allows for the creation of consumables and such that make the game more challenging; real money can be used to supplement this.

I do think the crafting portion could be a bit less convoluted, and even the RPG element get a bit busy in places. Still for a deviation from the tried and true, Angry Bird Epic is very, very far from disappointing.

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Terraria Review

Terraria Review

Sep 26, 2013

Outdoor survival, nicely-rendered 2D graphs with whimsical monsters and… wait for it… zombies?

People: Terraria is here!

The gameplay takes familiar survival staples and rolls them into a fairly complex system involving manipulation, combination and strategy. The tutorial underlines the basic stuff quite well; the first grand explains how to use the left-set control to move on either direction, as well as how to jump, scale downward… and instinctive movements, like directing jumps in either aerial direction are logical. The tutorial goes on to walk through collection of materials, protection, creations and dangers.

Survival boils down to, well, staying alive. There are bouncy monsters of differing colors that can do damage, and the game shows how to use the standard sword to beat them. Collecting materials invokes using a pickaxe to dig into the ground and getting metal ores of different kinds. Wood is a valuable resource, and to procure this, you can use the axe to chop down trees.

One of the the most urgent tasks is to create a shelter to protect from the undead prowlers that roam as soon as the sun goes down. Using the wood within set parameters, it is possible to build a structure with walls and a ceiling. But a house and walls do not a house make; a door needs to be crafted, and for this, the anvil needs to be activated. terr1

Thus the game goes. There are plenty of situations that demand problem-solving skins and combining tools, like making torches for nighttime use and making iron tools to access other things.

I suspect that what makes this game such a hit with some folks — the logical complexity — could probably be a barrier for others. There are some things that don’t appear intuitive in the gameplay, so I was constant researching gameplay. The pixelated graphics I adored somewhat obscured the identity of some items, so it took a bit more time to figure out what was what. The tutorial is probably the most valuable asset, and the lack of multiplayer is distressing.

Still, it is an exciting game that clearly shows why Terraria continues to be a hit across several platforms.