West of Loathing is a delightful Western-themed RPG made by the Kingdom Of Loathing folks - a browser game that I’ve played for years - and I had a great time with it. It’s not perfect - I had some issues with the difficulty in the endgame and some puzzles alongside the infinite inventory clutter you quickly acquire but it was overall an amazing little RPG (which took me about 7 hours to complete) that I would recommend wholeheartedly to pretty much anyone.
Magic the Gathering: Puzzle Quest is an interesting concept; You use MtG cards to defeat enemies but instead of tapping lands to get mana in order to cast spells, you match gems on a board to get mana that goes to the use of your cards. Mana costs are now colorless and you can swap which card you’re going to play next. Instead of having a bunch of creatures on the board, you can stack identical monsters together - and there’s a limit of 3 types - and you’ll attack your opponent each turn with your available summons. The core concept is pretty cool, but it’s just a free to play mobile game with terrible monetization that made me hate it almost instantly.
Holedown is a neat little arcade game on iOS where you throw balls to break blocks and reach the core of various celestial bodies. Balls rebound on blocks and destroy them by progressively hitting them. You have a limited number of shots and you get more balls per shot - up to a maximum - by bouncing around. Each time you make a shot, the level shifts upwards and if it ever reaches the top, you lose. If you feel like if you’ve heard of games like this one before, you’re right, however, this one is solely premium and doesn’t have any microtransactions. I had a few frustrations with it, but otherwise enjoyed this one.
I played a bunch of old-school RPGs back when I was younger; Baldur’s Gates, other D&D properties and a few of the Fallouts as well. I had never touched Planescape: Torment, so I was pretty intrigued to try Torment: Tides of Numenera, as I started the game I wondered which aspects of the genre it would reflect in this modern offering; I tried getting into T:ToN as much as I could, but ultimately just hit my weary brain against a wall of pre-established lore and way too many NPCs to chat with. I didn’t have a bad time, but I also didn’t feel like I was connecting with the game, I was always waiting to get to some point that might not even exist.
I had played a few of the The Room games on iOS, but not all of them. They’re all very similar, but well-crafted puzzle games where you explore a location and uncover secrets by pushing, pulling, sliding and otherwise interacting in different ways with your environment. Old Sins has the character explore a dollhouse sitting in the attic of an old mansion in order to unlock nine seals in nine different rooms. I had a good time with it even if sometimes I just -had- to use hints in order to figure out what to do next. At least the game doesn’t sell these hints as in-app purchases and is otherwise very generous with letting you do what you want.
Duskers is a curious little game where you play someone stuck in a spaceship and you need to survive by exploring other vessels in order to collect resources to repair your ship and tools. To explore you have drones that you control either manually or by typing commands in a console. The game has a very interesting style and some neat mechanics - especially related to how you explore using your drones and the way everything breaks down over time - but the lack of direction and the fact that it’s one of these games where you need to restart when you lose (which I feel like I don’t enjoy as much these days, especially if a run lasts a few hours) made me drop it after one such run.
Questland embodies most of what I find is wrong with mobile games today; Good production values, interesting core systems - sometimes, but ultimately a bunch of timers, resources to buy and spend for incremental upgrades that almost don’t matter and a gameplay experience that involves a lot of busywork for not much fun. I tried to get into Questland and see if there was anything in there, but it didn’t take me too long to stop trying.
The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain is a game that reminds me of a choose-your-own-adventure book (and has the creative pedigree of such works, also has some Dungeons & Dragons baggage). You play an adventurer that goes into a vast dungeon to try and accomplish some personal objective while avoiding traps, fighting monsters and exploring the bowels of the mountain. I thought the core concept was neat, but the finer mechanics didn’t click at all for me. For a game that you need to replay multiple times, it quickly becomes a chore and the battle system feels random and unfair.
Postknight is an idle game where you fight across sidescrolling 2D maps as a young Postknight - a knight that delivers mail - by killing a bunch of mosters. The game is pretty simple, although maybe not idle enough and the barrier of free-to-play limits gets pretty rough after a while, but I enjoyed the bit that I’ve played. It’s not my favorite idle game of all time, however.
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into with Invisible Inc. On one hand, the game promised a deep tapestry of lore and intrigue set in a futuristic world ruled by corporations and filled with hackers, military drones and assassins while on the other claiming to be a roguelike where you would lose constantly, crushed by the might of the corporations before you would finally have enough characters, skills and AI programs to finally win by the skin of your teeth. I’m not sure I got either of these because my first playthrough went pretty well, didn’t take that long and I still managed to win, uploading my AI into the corporation’s server. The game kinda expected me to retry on a harder difficulty, but I was left wanting for a reason to do so; Either from a gameplay or story perspective, I felt I was done with Invisible Inc. after that run.
H3H3 Ball Rider is a mobile arcade game where you control a ball going through some levels by hurtling yourself forward via a stream of sweat. Most of the game is trying to get the highest score in each level, although there are special events where you are timed. You continuously lose energy - which can be recovered by following trails of small orbs which are always laid out on the critical path, but you ultimately get hit with obstacles and miss orbs and lose; There are power-ups to help you along the way and you can equip upgrades to help you. Ultimately I grew bored with the lack of variety in gameplay and the so-so controls, so I didn’t get very far.
Into The Breach is a really neat turn-based strategy game where you control a few mechs in order to defeat an alien force across multiple continents and save people. The core concept of ITB is that you have (almost) all the information necessary to plan your turns and that there is no randomness in how things play out. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock - new teams of mechs, new pilots, achievements and what have you - and you can replay the game almost endlessly with the same basic and effective mechanics set. I really enjoyed ITB!
Minesweeper Genius is a real neat small puzzle game loosely based on Minesweeper. It includes picross-like mechanics where you know how many ‘bombs’ there are in a row and a column. I completed the whole game since I liked it so much and while I thought there was something weird about the progression and the special tiles were a bit too similar in many ways, I had a ton of fun and the music was stuck in my head for ages while I was playing it.
I don’t usually do this (console game reviews), but I feel like I have something to say about TSA:NMH, a game that I was anticipating greatly. A game that meant so much to me as a Suda51 fan that I had bought the special deluxe collector edition from europe and I planned on buying the normal edition to have it at launch as well. I knew this wasn’t going to be No More Heroes 3, but controlling Travis Touchdown as you went through a bunch of different game worlds seemed like a cool proposition. Ultimately, TSA is a deeply disappointing title, both gameplay and story-wise and playing it frustrates me to no end. This review can’t be spoiler free, so beware.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a strange idle game that has an interesting core gameplay concept - leveling heroes and moving them around on a hex grid to maximize their killing potential and survivability - bogged down in microtransactions and weird systems outside the main gameplay. I think that I completed one (1) quest before calling it quits, but it could’ve been more since that world map was so confusing. Ultimately there are some good things in ICotFR, but not enough to keep me hooked.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed reminds me much of Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing in many ways. You race against other colorful characters - of dubious origins, seriously this is a weird roster - in tracks inspired by a bunch of SEGA games using randomly shuffling power-ups to hinder your opponents or get ahead yourself. At specific points in tracks, your kart will transform into a boat or a plane, changing the controls and physics a bit. I enjoyed my time with this game even if I found it way too hard on ‘normal’ difficulty and that some of the stuff around the core gameplay was clunky.
The Executive is a really neat idea of a beat them up/RPG where you play an office worker with martial arts powers fighting against werewolves, skeletons and other demons in a series of increasingly difficult levels while idly accumulating wealth from different divisions of your company that you upgrade alongside your stats and special abilities. Although I was disappointed by the endgame and some of the mechanics felt obtuse to me, I had a lot of fun with it!
Pathfinder Adventures is a card and dice based RPG where you control a party of adventurers going through a few quests in order to find loot and improve their stats and skills. To complete challenges you use cards and skills that give bonuses to your checks in order to match specific challenges. You lose if you run out of time and characters can die if their decks run out. I had fun with it even if the dice-based aspects of the game made it very random at times and I had some difficulties wrapping my brain around the concept of losing cards forever in a card game where your rewards are cards. Oh and there are also a bunch of free-to-play mechanics snuck in there that rubbed me the wrong way.
Idle Empires is a run of the mill idle game with an interesting (?) story conceit and a grin sense of humor. Although it has a few ideas here and there to break the monotony of idle gameplay, there wasn’t enough for me to stay engaged with it more than a few hours. The game’s reliance on very costly upgrades paths with few immediate effects and the general starting curve of revenue generation combined with the ticking revolution clock made this a weird mix for me.
Battle Chef Brigade is the combination of a light 2D monster hunting game and a match-3-like puzzle system where you collect food in order to cook great dishes in Iron Chef style competitions. It’s oozing with great style and characters and the mechanics are really interesting. I had a ton of fun with it and wish I could’ve spent even more time with the game. I have to say that it was a bit too stressful for me.