MageCraft: The War Review

MageCraft: The War Review

Dec 1, 2014

Magecraft: The War is yet another in a very long line of freemium city builders for mobile. Aping games like Clash of Kings and injecting a well-worn fantasy vibe does it stand out?

Magecraft starts off a lot like most city builders. Starting with a threadbare base, the player must construct buildings and crank out troops to capture resources from enemies and become stronger and gain experience to become even stronger and so on. All player cities exist on the same map so rather than the arbitrary “neighbors” system common in other social games cities must be marched to to be attacked and distance always matters.

Screenshot_2014-11-23-12-46-43Unfortunately Magecraft makes this all rather boring. The game has no action in it. There is little in the way of tactics since the player has access to only a few troop types and the game’s ho-hum fantasy setting isn’t engaging. Other games like Fire Age simply feel more epic.

Like most games of this type, Magecraft features a guild system. I could not really find a use for this in game as no wars were happening and the players seemed more interested in talking about anything other than the game.

Screenshot_2014-11-23-12-24-43This dullness is not helped by some of the longest timers yet seen in a freemuem game. It takes 2 and a half hours to train a decent amount of low level troops and resources tick up so slowly that buildings must be upgraded multiple times to even gain a trickle of resources. Of course all these upgrades also take time. This makes MageCraft a very slow experience indeed and it is simply not an enjoyable game.

Magecraft: The War looks a few years old. Buildings are generic static sprites while troops barely make an appearance at all. There is just nothing interesting to look at.

MageCraft: The War’s interface really needs work. It often takes multiple taps on buttons to get the game to register and tapping on buildings is often unresponsive.

Magecraft: the War is an uninteresting game further hamstrung by very slow gameplay a poor interface, lack of player interaction and a lack of anything to differentiate it from the scores of games like it on the Play Store. Players should check out Game of War: Fire Age or Clash of Kings instead.

Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors Review

Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors Review

May 5, 2014

Frankly, I didn’t expect to play a game, involving the dude from the The Witcher, Gimli, son of Gloin, and mage from Diablo II – and I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it. Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors is an action game that by the looks of it, has borrowed visual ideas from many a popular fantasy franchise. It’s got fonts from Diablo, characters from Diablo, story from Diablo, enemies from Diablo – okay, maybe not from many franchises, after all. The twist is that gameplay – whether by chance or not – is actually quite exciting.

The player character, whichever he chose for the mission, stands behind an energy shield that is being attacked by monsters of all shapes and sizes. The player needs to kill every enemy that is coming for his juicy insides, preferably before they attack the shield and crack it. But even if it is cracked, it can be repaired by quickly tapping on a series of dots. Of course, the player can’t attack anyone during these brief repair works, but this time can be also used to refill the player’s attack. Although each character has unlimited ammo, attacking reduces the special bar. When it gets depleted, the hero stops the attack, and the less of it remains when the player stops attacking, the slower it refills.

Each character has a number of special abilities, and even his own skill tree. The good thing is that activating special abilities doesn’t require anything, but waiting for it to Dawnkeeper Last Survivors 2recharge beforehand and afterward. The bad thing is that heroes and their abilities are leveled up with only gold, and there is a single gold reserve in the game. This, of course, means that the player is likely to spend his gold outfitting and improving one hero – let’s be honest here, it’s going to be Geralt, with mage being a distant second and the dwarf getting killed a minute into any level – while disregarding the others. This isn’t good, because each of the heroes has three lives that refill in real time. This means that if the hero dies three times in a row, the player either has to play as the dimwitted friends of his hero, or wait for at least five minutes to play again – which isn’t that bad, actually. There’s no energy in Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors, and while most of the gear has a ridiculous price, the game is mostly fair – except for the god damn Lich that just won’t die already! Gosh!

Two main issues in Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors are its control scheme and the replay bug. There is no indication as to where the heroes will actually stand, when given the order to move, and as their angle of fire is very limited, this means that placing the hero just right becomes a rather frustrating process. Furthermore, when trying to replay the levels, I often found myself out of enemies, while the level didn’t end, so I had to manually go back to the map, not getting bonus gold, and losing a life, even though I technically won. Apart from that, though, Dawnkeeper: Last Survivors is a surprisingly exciting game and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly – here’s to hoping the developers will fix what small issues it has.

Myth Defense 2: DF Review

Myth Defense 2: DF Review

Jan 15, 2014

Myth Defense 2 falls into the same category as the majority of other tower defense games. It’s fun to play, has relatively nice graphics, but doesn’t have any really innovations. I can’t even criticize these games properly, since they are still genuinely fun to play, even if they have completely similar gameplay.

In an unusual move, the story of Myth Defense 2 is turned against the forces of good that have successfully defended their land in the part one, and are now on the attack, on the lands of orcs, goblins and necromancers. The towers and technologies that are gradually unlocked by the player, are reflecting the dark side and provide a wide range of choices. There are several base towers available, and every tower has several stages of upgrade. The traps provide some on-the-field Myth Defense 2 DF 3protection, blowing up enemies in various ways. The rune system that allows player to boost certain towers by applying special craftable power-ups to them, helps bring more variety in the advanced game, and make higher difficulty levels more interesting. Enemies run/fly/drive from the enemy base towards the player’s base, and the player needs to build a labyrinth of towers on their way to make them travel the longest possible path, and eventually kill them. There are lots of levels, and each level can provide a whole lot of game time, with the game’s bendable difficulty system.

I should note that Myth Defense 2 is in no way free-to-play, and requires $2.49 to unlock the full game, which is, in all fairness, all fair. The game is really well done, and although the graphics are just scaled 2D sprites that could certainly get a little pumping up, and aside from rune system, the game is familiar to all fans of Tower Defenses, it’s certainly fun and long-lasting. There are no in-app purchases, and even if you choose not to spend two and a half dollars on a full game, its “demo” version is still heaps of fun, without any ads or hassles.

Overall, it’s a fun strategy, but its rules and mechanics don’t differ from any other tower defense title. It’s not really different from even it’s own predecessor. But if you don’t expect anything revolutionary, then you’re up for some very fun time.

Warlords RTS Review

Warlords RTS Review

Dec 16, 2013

On the first look, Warlords RTS is very similar to the cheap free-to-play browser strategy games from 5 years ago, with its generic fantasy style, filled with staples tighter than an office closet. The character animations look like someone broke all their limbs, and dipped them in glue, and the language is as middle-aged, as your average toddler. With that in mind, though, the game really is a real-time strategy. Just a very simplified one. Not that there’s no challenge, but most of it goes away around the time you finally begin to understand the way you can select the units you actually need, like a drunk general, trying to remember the names of his troops.

There’s no building phase in Warlords, and the economy is as complex as US foreign politics. You get a steady influx of gold, and if you capture particular buildings around your castle, you’ll get more of it. The gold can only be spent on acquiring new troops on the field. When hired, a warrior comes somewhere beside your castle and starts waiting for your orders. They can be selected by clicking on them. The controls are a completely different talk, and while the game provide a pretty finely-grained control over the battlefield, remembering to use the controls is more difficult than using forks in McDonalds. Anyway, the goal in every level is to destroy the enemy castle, and stop them from doing the same with yours. The enemies always have greater numbers, with the player’s troops always having an irritatingly low hiring cap, but there’s something in the player’s advantage.

The warlord is a hero who is always present on the battlefield, and is the most powerful unit on the field. If he is killed, he Warlords RTS 2is resurrected after a while. There are different warlords, but only one available from the get-go. He can level up after killing enough enemies, and can be dressed up in all sorts of lovely useful attire that can be found by killing the enemies, or after completing a level. The hero also has four different abilities that don’t cost anything, but do have a recharge time. Using them wisely can turn a tide of battle quite easily. All unit types can also be upgraded between the battles. Unit upgrades, as well as some other goodies, cost gems. They can be found relatively often in the game, but of course, they can also be purchased by spending cash. Warlords RTS promises that there’s no need for that to complete a standard campaign, and so far, I’ve had no reason to doubt it.

Overall, my issues with Warlords are purely subjective. I don’t really enjoy this messing around the RTS field, taking shy glances at the way the true strategies are handled. Simplifying mechanics leads to repetitiveness, and while Warlords RTS is a fine game, in my opinion, it’s quite a weak RTS. Still, it’s all good if it’s free, and it’s definitely better than running nowhere all the time.

CastleVille Legends Launches On Android

CastleVille Legends Launches On Android

Nov 5, 2013

CastleVille Legends 2

The fantasy-themed economic strategy game, CastleVille Legends, is now available for Android and iOS systems. The game makes the player a ruler of a magical kingdom that he needs to grow, expanding into the fantasy lands. Featuring animated graphics and multiplayer, CastleVille Legends is available for free from here: CastleVille Legends on Google Play.

Hero Academy Is Moving To Android

Hero Academy Is Moving To Android

Oct 14, 2013

Hero Academy 1

Hero Academy, a best-selling game from iOS, has finally made its way onto Android. It’s a mix between a board game and a turn-based strategy, in which players need to control various units, in order to destroy each others’ crystals. Hero Academy is deep and interesting, and can be downloaded for free from here: Hero Academy on Google Play.

Gurk III, the 8-bit RPG Review

Gurk III, the 8-bit RPG Review

Aug 16, 2013

I wanted to start this review by saying how Gurk was an old-school RPG from the olden days, but quick Googling turned up the fact that there was no such thing, and my memory is playing tricks on me. Well, how about that. It’s actually quite a modern-day RPG that was simply made to look like it’s a clone of an old-school game. Still, it doesn’t mean that the game is in any way bad. Conversely, it’s one of the most absorbing role-playing games on the mobiles, and it manages to be like that with only a handful of pixels and colors to spare.

Gurk III, the 8-bit RPG 2In Gurk III, three heroes, a mage, a warrior, and an archer, have to travel across lands and dungeons, eradicating all enemies that are all too eager to munch on their squishy human faces. They are represented by a single icon on the global map, but when encountering an enemy, the map will zoom up on them, and they will fight the enemies in a turn-based battle mode. As in all the other RPGs, there are tons of items to find, and tons of gold to collect.

Each hero has his own unique skills, and equippable items, as well as his own health and experience points. When a hero dies, he can be resurrected at the altar in any town for a small fee, but when the whole party gets wiped out, it gets transported back to town, and suffers a significant gold loss. One of the many interesting features in Gurk is mage’s ability to cast certain spells even outside of battle, healing his comrades at any time. Well, the whole game is interesting, really. But it’s very rudimentary-looking, and its controls could be a lot better. Not that they are really bad, but I got tired of surfing through inventory every time I want to cast a spell or change boots to the ones I found.

Gurk III is a surprisingly rich and mechanic-packed game. It’s more than just a dungeon-crawler, and requires tactical skills to defeat some heavier or numerous enemies. If Gurk’s ugly controls and graphical style don’t steer people off the game, there’s a lot of potential in this small tactical RPG. I’d certainly like to see it evolve into something a lot more amazing in the future, but it’s really alright as it already is.

Book of Heroes Review

Book of Heroes Review

Aug 12, 2013

Book of Heroes is a slightly unusual game, even though I wasn’t particularly engaged in it, because of my strained relationships with this sort of free-to-play games. Although it looks like a standard card game from the start, Book of Heroes is partially a card game, and partially player-versus-player role-playing game, with the unfortunate bits of free-to-play restrictions – because of course there have to be free-to-play restrictions. Story is absolutely generic and isn’t very relevant to the gameplay. In fact, let’s skip the story altogether.

The game begins with creating a main character, choosing its gender, and general outlook. After that, the general mechanics are introduced through a short tutorial. Book of Heroes is a turn-based game, where each side gets to attack only after another side completed theirs. The unusual mechanic lies in the fact that instead of turn points, or any other ephemeral concept, the resource that defines a turn in Book of Heroes is simply length of attack in time. If one hero has an attack speed of 0.95 seconds, he gets to attack before the hero with an attack speed of 1 second, and so forth. This means that the tactical component is present – but, considering that Book of Heroes is full of in-app transactions, and the hero’s fighting properties are directly proportional to the items he has equipped, I personally wouldn’t bet on it. Still, not counting this obvious issue, Book of Heroes presents a fine turn-based gameplay. There are three specializations for a hero, each containing its own skill tree that is eventually learned as the hero is leveled up. Although the gist of the game lies in PvP battles, there are also single-player quests and challenges that can be completed for additional gold and experience. Surprisingly, the game isn’t very crammed with useless mechanics, and is mostly transparent to understand.

Book of Heroes 4On the other hand, it’s not like Book of Heroes is without its share of problems. Aside from the pay-to-win concept, there’s also the stupid “energy” meter that has to be recharged, before the hero is able to go on the next quest, and the levels become ridiculously difficult to grind after about a level five or so. The other problem is that even counting the different specializations, heroes are still not that different, and if one hero is more experienced than the other, there’s pretty much nothing one can do to change the outcome of the battle – again, not counting purchasing awesome loot with awesome amount of money, of course. At the end, Book of Heroes is nothing new. It’s a free-to-play game that’s betting on its social mechanics – there are guilds, groups, and even an in-game global chat – rather than on an innovating gameplay. I’m sure that some people are going to love it – but I wonder if it would have even an ounce of its audience, if it wasn’t multiplayer-oriented. In any case, it’s a mediocre RPG, but nothing too unfortunate.

Blind Man’s Dungeon Review

Blind Man’s Dungeon Review

Jul 31, 2013

Blind Man’s Dungeon belongs to a lightweight category of games that only feature main menu, and a single gameplay mechanic. Although it means that the clutter of useless power-ups and in-app purchases is absent from the game, it also means that it’s incredibly repetitive, and if that one mechanic isn’t enough to keep the player interested for a long time, the whole game is pretty much useless. Naturally, Blind Man’s Dungeon suffers from the same issues. It has an undeniably working and unfamiliar core mechanic, but since it has nothing else, Blind Man’s Dungeon becomes dull somewhat quickly.

Blind Man's Dungeon 1The player is tasked with guiding a supposedly blind hero around with a fairy, whose ability is to build walls everywhere in her steps, unless there’s something already in that place. The hero always goes clockwise, so the walls should be built appropriately. The dungeon is screen-sized and tiled, and randomly gets filled with enemies, loot and traps. When the hero clashes with common enemies, he kills them and gets some points. Likewise, when he approaches loot, he picks it up, and gets more points. When the hero runs over a trap, or clashes with a special enemy, he loses one life, and the enemy isn’t removed. There’s a single activated ability, which allows the player to remove all the traps from the dungeon, but it can only be activated after a recharge.

This is pretty much, everything there is about Blind Man’s Dungeon. While it does feature different styles for dungeons and different heroes, along with various achievements and collectibles to mark at least some sort of progress, it’s still quite simple, and as such, can quickly become repetitive. Although it’s a very interesting game, and quite flawlessly executed one as well, featuring simple but endearing pixel graphics, and also simple, but working mechanics, it lacks variety. Some unlockable abilities, or additional dungeons, or different difficulty levels or something else to strive for, could greatly help. But, even as it is, it’s a fun little game, quite worthy of its price.

Cross Horizon Review

Cross Horizon Review

Jul 18, 2013

Yes, I know: there are a LOT of RPG titles for Android. Can Cross Horizon be one that is worth checking out?

The dialogue cutscenes were okay, but where the game really excels is in the “live” action sequences. These graphical representations highlight the fantasy world in rich three dimensional form, with perspectives done quite well. The greenery is not too green, and while the shrubbery won’t be confused for a live wallpaper, they work in the context of the game. The mythical creatures look suitably gruesome, and the animations (especially attacks) are relatively life-like. The entire art presentation makes the game stand out in a positive way.

I liked the customization options. At the beginning of the game, I got the opportunity to create a character. Face, skin color, hair type… even the shape of the eye can be tweaked. In a post-racial world (stop and dream with me), options like this signal, to me, the work of a developer that has an eye on details.cross1

The gameplay does not wander too far from standard RPG fare; the backstory lends itself to the adventure, and lets our created hero/heroine understand that he or she, along with two friends are the only hope against a meanie head known as the Bandit King. To procure this type of information, challenges generally have to be accepted (for example, to earn the trust of locals at the beginning). For example, one was to defeat a specific beast in battle.

The game tosses out hints in between level loading, and they work well in conjunction with the surprise in-game fighting tutorial. Success yields different types of rewards, and these rewards can be used as in-game currency to buy upgraded equipment, or to increase attributes, or for revival powers. And of course, real cash can be used to expedite leveling, though I didn’t find real money to be overly necessary.

RPG games are literally a dime a dozen on Android, but this one is most definitely worth an extra look or two.

Aralon: Sword and Shadow Review

Aralon: Sword and Shadow Review

Feb 27, 2013

Aralon: Sword and Shadow, an open-world RPG from Crescent Moon Games, is actually one of those games that makes you dive right in. So I did exactly that.

The gameplay had three levels of difficulty: Casual, Normal and Hard. After picking that, I was presented with the option of picking my character’s race. I could be an elf, a troll or human; each had traits specific to its category. Then, I got to select gender.

After the initial study, I got to pick from one of the five classes, and the :/was able to customize the look of my avatar, and then I was able to give it a name.

The opening cutscenes have the backstory, as well as sets our hero on his quest to save Aralon. It also led directly into a tutorial which helped me understand the basics of gameplay. The action was to down, with a generalized movement button on the left, and a matching virtual interaction button on the right. The latter allowed me to interact with objects. Additionally, I was able to use swipes to look left and right.

The way the tasks were laid out made sense. Interacting with other characters could lead to a task that had XP as a reward. I had to learn how to fight and defend, as well as pick up tips to make potions and such. The tasks were wide-ranging and fairly engaging.

The graphics were rich and detailed. The environment looked authentic, down to the clothing and free ranging chickens. The developers created a fantastic looking three-dimensional fantasy world, with rustic structures and clothes. Again, the attention paid to the little details showed, and even when creative license was expended (like during the swimming scenes), it was mostly done in a tasteful manner. The camera was controlled by rotating with a finger or two, and this was implemented well. The sound of the game was not too distracting.

I thought the menu could have been a bit less compact, and that interactions in the game itself were a bit stilted, but overall, this is a game that almost has to be played to be understood.

Theme Thursday: Forest for GO Launcher

Theme Thursday: Forest for GO Launcher

Aug 16, 2012

While it’s easy to presume that Android Rundown readers are manly men who like manly themes for their manly Android phones, it never hurts to throw a shout out to the ladies. That is why this week I took a look at a theme that will bring any honest Disney-loving princess back to the magical world of enchanted forests and talking animals. Specifically, the theme is simply titled, Forest and was created by Freedom Design; who, somehow, do not have an entry on the Theme Thursday columns yet.

While there is no direct Disney correlations the colorful and intricate icons will remind anyone of the magical forests and extraordinary fantasy that the company is known for. Small vines delicately coil themselves around a piece of paper in the Messages icon while the Settings icon features a gear surrounded by a flowering wreath. Actually, any League of Legends player should find these slightly familiar as they do bear an odd resemblance to the game’s interior jungles.

However, like most themes that feature radically different designs, Forest offers a disappointingly few number of icons and the contrast when seeing the quaint, rustic cabin that is the Market icon placed next to a bright and very modern Flipboard icon is fairly jarring and really removes the illusion. It is nice to see that they are continually rolling out new icons for more popular apps but there still are not nearly enough to give any unified look to a phone. One thing that did surprise me was the wallpapers. It would have been really easy to just phone that in, but because this is a “premium” app, the standards need to be a little higher. Fortunately, Forest delivers; and while it may not be the most macho wallpaper and most guys would rather be caught dead than be found sporting it, there is no denying it is high quality and easy on the eyes.

Settling in for just under $2 there is some risk associated with the purchase but as long as the home screen retains familiar and stock Android apps this theme should whisk any former princess off to their fantasy forest every time they open their phone.