Astray Review

Astray Review

Apr 15, 2014

With wearables and smartphones hitting the next level, and hardware components that are beginning to match standalone counterparts, games like Astray are inevitable. Or at least, they should be.

Astray is an interesting, augmented reality-assisted labyrinth game that touches on some interesting gameplay elements. The game walkthrough underscores some of the highlights, and ties in the important aspects together.

It would be a disservice to not lead with the fact that Astray is a 3D labyrinth game at heart; there is the maze, the metal sphere and the target location. The environment could be described as vaguely medieval, with a relatively well designed background imagery. Labyrinth core concepts are present: obstacles, gates and such. The dangers include stuff like colored portals that end the level unsuccessfully if the sphere falls into them.

The key part of the game is the picture; indeed, the gameplay starts with image acquisition. The first part of astray1setting up a game is taking a flat object (a piece of paper, a large envelope, etc.) and getting it within the program sights. It gives a visual score of how good the image is (with three stars being the best), and then, the game uses the object as a movable part of the game. The trick is that instead of moving the device, you keep it stationary, and use the underlying paper to guide the sphere to the right hole. Progress is timed, and solving one puzzle opens the next.

The game is well thought out idea. However, in practice, some things felt a bit weird. One thing was the picture taking mechanism; it seemed quite picky. The other issue is that by default, I ended up holding two things in the air with each hand, which can be uncomfortable over time, especially since I was using a tablet.

This is one game that I feel is worth waiting for, and the developers seem responsive (having already fixed a gripe I had in the last update). It’s free and interesting; how can one not like it?

Big kudos with regards to the musical score, one of which I understand was performed on a penny whistle by the lead developer.

Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review

Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review

Mar 4, 2014

Don’t take Monochrome – Shooter/Labyrinth Review too, too literally.

It’s a first person shooter crafted around the backstory of the abduction of several women — one of whom is the player’s wife, which, raises the urgency level.

This game gets its heartbeat from the intricate artwork; it’s mostly bathed in blacks and whites, with an ominous dash of red for effect. The area to be searched has uniquely designed walls that conceal objects… as well as some spooky dangers. Overall, the artwork conveys a palpable sense of foreboding and is quite well done.

The labyrinth in which the adventure takes place is a confusing mass of walkways, rooms and dead ends. As noted, it has a first-person perspective, and the hero husband is decked out with a re-loadable pistol and a cutesy compass. The mono1controls are mostly spread around the bottom, with a general movement toggle to the left, and a button to “swing” eyesight round on the right, along with the firing button and reload utility.

The lighting is challenging, presenting mostly darkness only pierced by what seems to be something like an unseen miners hardhat light. Early on, the player is treated to huge spiders, which are the main antagonists in this game. They materialize seemingly out of the walls, lumber around and are unnerving in their lethality. The gun is effective against them but require a degree of aiming accuracy and multiple hits. Letting them get too close and getting some licks in leads to game death. Getting through them, brings a sense of satisfaction, but this game incorporate some arcade elements, so beware of the boss creatures.

Searching and discovery is the name of the game, and patience and awareness are key. The gameplay is leveled, with success opening new levels.

I feel the control set can be tweaked for smoothness. A better mapping system could be useful too, but all in all, it is that type of game that keeps one quite engaged, and wonderfully priced.

Crazy Labyrinth 3D Review

Crazy Labyrinth 3D Review

Apr 18, 2013

I like simple games, and if there is one nice thing that accelerometer-equipped devices have spawned, it is the proliferation of cool labyrinth games like Crazy Labyrinth 3D, that continually seem to push the envelope. Pleasantly.

Crazy Labyrinth 3D is really nice to look at. I loved the graphical three-dimensional representation of the playing area. I could practically smell the wooden surfaces, and liked the glow of the ball and shadows of the barriers. The animations were sharp and responsive; even the slight rebound of the ball looked remarkably real. It looked like the developer spent valuable time and effort on the interface, and I, for one, loved it.

The gameplay was no big mystery. I had to tilt the ball round barriers while avoiding holed traps to get the ball intocrazy1 the jackpot hole. Now, what made the game a real challenge was the placement of the barriers and holes. I wasn’t able to use the rails and barriers as crutch for too long; there were plenty of holes strategically placed to dissuade that strategy. As the game progressed and I got to more intricate boards, I found there were more than one way to get to the jackpot hole. but some were red herring paths. Thoroughways that seemed so inviting were sometimes too tight to squeeze through, and in some cases, I had to reverse and find another way. Thus, there was a degree of strategy involved to finish a challenge as quickly as possible, as the shortest way usually wasn’t the quickest.

Falling into a trap hole immediately caused a restart, and cumulative time was recorded alongside the standing “best” time. The game showed several play levels of different types. There was a funky board with limited lighting, one that had moving pieces, magnets and more. These options gave the game more life than one would expect from just any other maze/labyrinth game.

All in all, it was fun and enjoyable. I thought the menu could be a bit more intuitive, but that quarrelsome point hardly detracts from the potential this game has.