Wayward Souls Review

Wayward Souls Review

Jul 14, 2014

Wayward Souls looks and sounds like the spiritual successor to the well-received Mage Gauntlet. Prepare to be surprised!

Wayward Souls is an old school rougelike with style. A virtual stick moves the hero, while a tap on the screen executes a normal attack. Abilities are handled with swipes. For the Warrior a downward swipe uses his shield, which defends against any attack or projectile for a few seconds. An upward swipe unleashes a throwing axe for defeating enemies that are too dangerous to get close to. This super slick control scheme works very well indeed and is much less fiddly that a collection of small icons.

Screenshot_2014-07-13-04-19-51Players can pick from three initial classes in Wayward Souls. Like many RPGS it features a Warrior, a Mage and the ever popular Rouge. The Warrior is tough up close and can throw axes and gain high health. The Mage can attack from a distance, but must allow her energy to recharge to attack, so she’s very vulnerable to getting overwhelmed. The Rouge meanwhile attacks and moves very quickly, but isn’t as good in a stand up fight as the Warrior.

Expect to die early and often in Wayward Souls. Wayward Souls is HARD. The player will die repeatedly. Enemies move around faster than even the Rouge and do loads of damage and there are tons of them. A lot of skill and constant attention are needed to survive for any length of time. Enemies are deadly and even the weakest ones, like berserk miners who throw pickaxes will do a lot of damage. A few enemies ganging up on the player can drop their health like nothing else. Of course like all rougetypes, as soon as the player dies, they must start the game all over again.

This is compounded by an almost total lack of healing. Getting hit kills the player fast and healing potions drop so rarely from enemies I wasn’t aware they even existed for a long time. The main source of healing is the small amount of health restored by reaching the end of a dungeon level and descending into the next.

Screenshot_2014-07-12-07-09-21Wayward Soul’s challenge is a breath of fresh air. While a lot of mobile games embrace pay to win and do not require skills, Wayward Souls is unashamedly a game in the vein of old school, rock hard SNES games which will eat players alive if they don’t have gaming chops and this is something not seem very often on Android. Indeed, it is often ports from other systems, such as Dragon Quest VIII and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that aren’t afraid to kick the player around if they can’t hang tough.

Thankfully, a satisfying persistent upgrade system is in play. Coins can be grabbed during games and traded for permanent upgrades. These can boost the chance of doing critical damage, boost attack damage or recover energy for special attacks faster. Each upgrade also boosts maximum health and energy, so characters will gradually become stronger. This allows players to make it just that little bit further before becoming just another stain on the floor. This kind of slow burning gameplay is an acquired taste, but the game hands out plenty of coins and there are no nasty in-app purchases to dilute the feeling of progression.

Some smart game design ensures this needed replay never feels like grinding either. Like most Rougetypes, Wayward Souls is procedurally generated. Each time a new game is started the layout of the dungeon and enemy type and placement is randomly determined to ensure an entirely new brand of rage inducing death. This makes each game feel new and guards against frustrating repetition. It also prevents the player learning patterns and making the game too easy.

Wayward Souls is tough then, but it is the good kind of tough. It’s what gaming should be; a game that punishes you for not playing well and rewards the player when they do. Players who relish the challenge of extreme games like bullet hell shooters will likely revel in the unapologetic ass kicking Wayward Souls will deal out if they slip up.

Screenshot_2014-07-10-06-27-32Wayward Souls looks incredibly good. A super smooth, warm pixel art style defines the game. While pixel art on Android isn’t exactly hard to find, the great lighting effects, detailed sprites and the attention to detail make Wayward Souls look like a very pretty 16 bit game. The way the player’s character changes appearance as they get stronger is great as well. The music is extremely well done as well. Some excellent ambient tunes warble on in the background and really suck you into the game. Noodlecake are known for their great music and Wayward Heroes is another example of this skill.

Wayward Souls
has enormous replay value if players can stomach the challenge. The extreme amount of skill needed to even begin to get anywhere in the game will require much practice and stat boosting and the three classes and three more unlockable ones give plenty of replay value.

Lastly, Wayward Souls has a good bit of story. Each time the player descends a dungeon level more about their character and their motivations are revealed. These simple story scenes really reward progression. Rougetypes aren’t known for their story, so this is very engaging.

Wayward Souls is unabashedly made for a specific kind of player and helps propel mobile gaming into a more hardcore, serious level of gaming. Players who are dyed in the wool gamers who take any challenge in stride and will persevere and will take the time to learn the game will enjoy it. However more causal mobile gamers, such as those who like their freemium city builders and such will find it an impenetrable game. Even fans of Mage Gauntlet may not enjoy Wayward Souls due to its difficulty. Well-made but merciless Wayward Souls is the Dwarf Fortress of mobile gaming and only the player can decide if Wayward Souls is the game for them.


Wild Blood Review

Wild Blood Review

Oct 23, 2012

Gameloft strikes again with Wild Blood, and this time, Camelot comes to town.

In this hack and slash adventure, the gameplay goes medieval. Looking for movies that have both Sean Connery and Richard Gere will help somewhat, but, off the bat, I thought the storyline was compelling enough to draw gamers in. Lancelot, my protagonist, is in love with the the Queen. King Arthur, understandably so, is enraged, and easily manipulated by his sorceress sister to release demon legions on earth.

In other words, Guinevere and the world were in trouble, and I (Lancelot) had to save them… in that order.

Graphics-wise, the game has good genes, and they are on full display. The 3-D pops out, and the developer did well to make the animations smooth and realistic. The imagery is rich in its darkness; even Lancelot departs from his usual regal characterization and takes a dark turn. The monsters look scary, the landscapes look adequately barren, and Arthur looks bewitched.

I found out the expected cache of power-ups existed. I liked the weapons. Yes, swords are cool, but longbows are even cooler, and there is something insanely exhilarating about an arrow-toting Knight. The swords mimicked sky-scrapers, and I was happy the Excalibur took a leading role. Without Excalibur, the story just doesn’t jive.

My biggest complaint was the inconsistency. Sometimes, the game acted grumpy and refused to load. This game is not dainty, so high end device with a LOT of space is needed. Also, I thought more minor, differing challenges would have been good to reduce any latent redundancy.

Wild Blood has multiplayer compatibility. I am a big fan of the “Catch the Flag” option. Of course, Wild Blood is compatible with Gameloft Live, so bragging rights, when earned, can be shared with friends.

I found Wild Blood to be a pretty cool 3-D title, but we have come to expect that from Gameloft.

Colosseum Review

Colosseum Review

Sep 1, 2011

Looking for some straightforward, mindless, hack and slash action? Then look no further; it doesn’t get much more mindless than Colosseum.

In Colosseum, you’re pitted against endless waves of ogres, skeletons and other beasties as you fight your way to the exit on the far side of the field. It’s not simply about making it to the end, however. You’ll have to find the key to unlock the door first, and that requires killing monsters. The key pops out after a set number of kills, and that number slowly inches its way higher as you progress through level after level. So long as you can survive long enough to find the key and make it to the door, you’ll be good to go.

After each level, you go to a store where you can buy weapon upgrades, armor and healing potion. As you can expect, each additional upgrade costs a little more.

Weapons come in two varieties: ranged and melee. Melee weapons do less damage than ranged but can be used much more frequently as they require less of a “cool down” period between usage. Ranged weapons also have magic powers. Bombs are eventually replaced by meteors, daggers can have fire elemental magic effects, the hatchet brings ice element effects while the spear does heavy lightning damage.

Colosseum is interesting for about an hour, if that. Once you’ve got the basic gameplay down, there isn’t much else to do beyond collecting money, buying upgrades, grabbing power-ups and seeing which weapon/magic skill you like best. Even as the monsters grow in number and strength, after a certain level, it just becomes endlessly more of the same. By the time I hit level 20, I’d purchased almost every item in the store and was quickly losing interest in the game. I fought through level after level, only to encounter the same level again and again. It’s like a hack and slash version of Groundhog Day. Almost nothing changes to keep this game interesting.

Other problems crop up in the controls, where button presses seem to be routinely missed. Some attacks do require a short “cool down” before they’ll be active again, but even attacks that are ready for action seem to ignore button presses. Sometimes, the directional buttons are ignored, as well. It gets to be frustrating very quickly.

Colosseum isn’t a terrible game, but it’s not a great one, either. The repetitive action and gameplay combine with the repetitive levels to make one mediocre experience. And the settings don’t make much sense, either. Going from a colosseum setting with large brutes coming at you to a graveyard setting with skeletons from every side is a terrible transition. At least if the setting changed to tell a story or reflect some kind of progression it would have made much more sense.

As it stands, Colosseum is a boring, repetitive game. It’s a little fun in the beginning, especially when you start coming up against some very big, very tough bad guys. After that, however, it’s just the same thing, over and over again.


Demon Hunter Review

Demon Hunter Review

Jul 7, 2011

If we’re to believe videogames, improbably-haired Asian teenagers are always being dragged into parallel universes. Once there, they must fight demons, have awkward conversations with large-breasted women and save one, some, or all of the days.

The latest entrant into this genre is Demon Hunter, an Android action RPG that casts you in the role of the subtly named Gun. Gun is dragged into an alternate reality by the even subtler named demon, Greed, and from there has to fight things, collect things and engage in badly translated dialogue exchanges with grumpy NPCs.

Demon Hunter is a side scrolling 2D beat-’em-up with RPG questing overtones and a frankly perplexing levelling and upgrade system. Armed with a sword and a gun, which you can swap between with the tap of an on-screen button, you guide Gun on a quest to find out what in alterna-Hell is going on.

Combat is quick and rewarding, with everything you need for slaughter displayed clearly on the screen. The only let down is the size of the buttons you’re using to control Gun – they’re a little small, and sometimes you’ll find yourself leaping in the air when you meant to bring a large sword crushing down on the head of an enemy.

The screen might be a little cluttered on smaller Android devices, but the action runs smoothly and there’s always something to be doing or killing. The respawn rate of enemies is perhaps a tad too high – you’ll sometimes be hacking the last of the on-screen enemies to death, only to find that the first three you killed are back and hungry for vengeance.

If you can get past the poor translation and the few niggles outlined above, then you’ll find Demon hunter to be a rewarding experience. The combat is fun and although the story is a gibbering bucket of nonsense, there’s plenty to do, explore and murder. Just a warning though, there seem to be some problems with the game’s latest update and rooted phones. Whilst that doesn’t change the quality of the experience, make sure you read up on whether it’ll work on your device before you download it.