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.
Severed is one of these grand gaming experiences that could be enjoyed on consoles - and it is on Switch after all - but available on your iPad. This is a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s a fully featured -hardcore- game with enough content to last you a long while, deep enough mechanics, an interesting style and a cool soundtrack to boot, on the other hand, it’s not exactly the kind of experience you’re used to on your iDevices. If you only get a few minutes of play here and there during your commute you might have a weird time but if you manage to give this game the time it deserves, it’s just great! After catastrophe strikes your family, you set to find them in strange locales armed with a sword, fighting in first-person encounters by swiping at enemies and solving puzzles.
I’ve been a fan of Killer7 for a long while now (and other Suda51 games, in fact) when I heard that they were porting it to PC, I was cautiously optimistic; After all I was sure they would need to change some things here and there to bring this cult classic to computers, on the other hand I didn’t expect too much in the realm of bugfixes and other gameplay tweaks. I think I got almost exactly what I wanted, a modern version of Killer 7 that everyone can enjoy that doesn’t change a single thing about the gameplay, bugs and weird balance issues the game originally had.
2018 sure was a year for videogames! I’ve played plenty of Switch/3DS stuff and mostly plinked away at an impressively shrinking PC backlog. On consoles I’ve mostly played 80+ RPGs and adventure games at a very slow pace. It wasn’t hard to pick up a list of ten games for this year because I’ve only played twelve. Lack of free time, excessively long games, lack of motivation… It wasn’t because of poor quality, don’t worry! 2019 is going to be a bloodbath - I fear that I’ll have six games to play in the first three months - but for now, let’s look at 2018 and make a numbered list of games.
Konami Pixel Puzzle Collection is a game much like Picross - a style of game I simply adore - where you solve puzzles by filling lines and columns using numbers as clues. In this perticular version, you solve puzzles related to Konami characters and games and as a free product, it’s great. You only have to see ads after each puzzle, which isn’t too bad, and there is a timer on ‘boss’ puzzles which seems like it would make it take forever to go through them all, but otherwise I really recommend it.
Because of its name, I thought Infinifactory would be one of these games where you run a factory and need to expend infinitely in all directions, building more and more complex things in order to generate resources to unlock new technologies and all that. It’s not, instead I was faced with a neat puzzle game where you need to solve discrete problems by creating factory lines with blocks of various utilities. You can work to optimize the time necessary to solve them, the number of blocks and the space you take, but just solving each puzzle can be challenging while never feeling unfair, I really really liked Infinifactory!
Despite it’s extremely generic name, Crafting Idle Clicker is an okay idle game that caught my attention for an okay time. At its base, CIC is an idle game where you build nodes that produce resources which are then used to craft other resources or end products. You sell these things to buy more expensive nodes, which are in turn worth more money. You keep doing that while resetting your workshop to gain more levels, money multipliers and blueprints. It’s a fine idea for an idle game but after the luster of trying to optimize profits and production went off, there wasn’t much more in there to keep my attention.