Fading Light Review

Fading Light Review

Mar 8, 2016

Fading Light is an easy one to get with.

The visuals are clean, and seemingly meld retro with the glossy. It uses dark backgrounds to great effect, and this also allows the signature light effects pop more. We get pastels, shadows, perspective, and altogether, it has a vivid arcade feel, and the sounds to match.

The main concept is to make it through to the end line. Easy enough, yes, but we’re not talking about a straight line here. The playing area equates to a virtually dark maze, and the playing piece is an unassuming small square. Moving the playing piece is done by tapping either side to the screen — left to make the square bounce to the left, and right makes it bounce to the right. With a little bit of maneuvering, it is quite possible to move the square via continuous taps on either side, round corners and over ledges, on through the puzzle.

Another part of the challenge is that the square has an energy quotient of sorts. It is illuminated, and traveling along the maze kills some of that illumination. The problem therein is that if and/when that light goes completely dead, the run ends. Thankfully, there are several, lighted energy packs along the way that re-energize our little square.

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The trick is getting to one of the light packs before the light dies out completely, and then make it all the way to the end line, so as to unlock the next level. Success is measured as a factor of the time and number of taps it takes to finish the level.

It all comes together well; it’s a simple simple methodology makes it easy to get into and enjoy over time. The in-game energy requirement works very well, allowing the player to have a degree of control over level completion. The game does get tougher as one goes on… as expected.

It’s a lot of the same, but it does do “same” pretty well, and is worth a look.

RedShift Review

RedShift Review

Jun 18, 2014

Want a challenge? A race against time to save innumerable lives? While running through a complex with hidden rooms and levels?

Like pressure? Then RedShift is for you.

The backstory underscores the urgency that forms most of the backdrop of the game: there was an explosion at an energy plant, and the resulting inferno has caused the core to become increasingly unstable. To make things worse, the staff that could have dealt with the emergency are all dead. Thus, it is up to the player to prevent the vaporization of everything in a 250 mile radius by activating systems to control the unstable cores. red2

Moving around and finding stuff in this de facto maze is what it’s all about. At the top left is an abbreviated map with lighted points denoting pertinent points, and the main goal is to find the 5 switches before the place boils over. There are fires all over the complex that restrict access to some areas unless put out.

The gameplay is a function of the other controls; it’s set as a staggered 2D-ish runner, with virtual buttons that control running to the left and right at the bottom of the screen. When hallways or doors are encountered, an enter or travel button appears, and gives the player the opportunity to research the new area. There are also points when one can search for fire extinguishing equipment to put out the fires to be able to travel more widely.

As time reaches the crucial stages, ominous shaking and sound conveys the action quite well, and the entire dark, flashing visuals come together to create an exhilarating experience.

I probably would have liked a more seamless travel function, but the built-in system works. I think the menu is a bit clunky in places too; still, the freemium play is a great draw, and the different elements transform this from being Just Another Maze Game to an exciting experience.

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.

Lode Runner Classic Review

Lode Runner Classic Review

Jan 18, 2013

2013 is clearly gonna be the year of the retro gamer.

More and more games from earlier eras are making reappearances on handheld devices. Lode Runner Classic is one that evokes thoughts of old wine in new skin.

Lode Runner Classic was beautifully rendered in its original classic 8-bit glory, what with the collection of gold bars being the name of the game. Additionally, I had to avoid enemy guards and use blasters. It came together as a cute puzzler from yester-years as it closely followed the original script.

The color was basic, but in this case, that was fantastic; expect to see the blueish block formations of the original, with irregular caverns and paths intersected by white ladders and suspension cable. My stick figure traveled around, collecting gold, and trying to avoid getting stuck, or falling prey to the guards. To facilitate movement, I could use blasters to bore holes into the ground on either side of me; I could use the holes created to help in my movements, or, as part of advanced strategy, to trap the bad guys. Now, a big part of the game is that not all blue parts can be bored; solid “bedrock” pieces were impermeable to drilling. Also, the rock that could be blasted regenerated, which was lethal to folks (myself or guards) that got caught in a newly created hole or pathway too long. The guards, when not coming after me, actively tried to steal the gold.

The game looked deceptively simple, but invites strategy. Speed, dexterity and problem-solving are all needed to succeed. With some thought, it is possible to create traps to liberate gold that had already been confiscated by guards. I liked the different control options (joystick, touch or accelerometer) and the optional game speeds. There are also social leaderboards and action tutorials.

One element I wished it had was the ability to make your own maze; a community-driven repository of sorts would be exceptionally cool.

Lode Runner Classic boasts 150 different levels, so there is plenty of fun to be had. It is a compelling game that clearly transcends time.