Android Games Roundup [4/29/20]

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It seems like the harder I try to get a roundup out these days the longer it takes me.  You’d think it would be an easy thing with only 7 entries per article, but it still takes time to play the games, and for that matter to find the games I want to write about in the first place.  And, it seems that as I get older the responsibilities get more numerous instead of less.  But, that’s enough whining on my part.  Now if you actually choose to count the entries you’ll note that there are only six this time around.  Unfortunately, one of the games I selected to write about is no longer available on either the App Store or Google Play, so rather than delaying this even more to stuff something in its place I opted to crop the entry and release the roundup as-is.  I’ll try to stick an extra one in next time to make up the difference.

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff [2/11/13] – I downloaded this “game” for two reasons – the graphics looked cool and it was free.  Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m clearly not the target audience for this product by a long shot.  Even my kids are way too old to appreciate this.  Keeping that in mind, I wasn’t particularly impressed.  The package is well put together.  The graphics are nicely done and the voiceovers are perfect.  The problem is that there’s really not much content.  Not being a particular fan of the story to begin with I did not realize how short it really is.  Each scene has a few interactive elements in it, but even that had to be stretched out by adding scenes where your goat is merely walking through the landscape.  Ultimately, what will probably wind up being the most entertaining moment for most kids is the end – *slight spoiler* – where you can make the goats poop and pass gas.  Now I won’t deny that this might have been amusing for a bit, but is this really the best we can do to entertain our children?  If you actually have young children, or you’re just a really young child at heart, maybe you’ll see things differently.  Personally, I just can’t get behind this one.

Verdict: Pass
The Three Billy Goats Gruff on Google Play
The three Billy Goats Gruff Agens, The three Billy Goats Gruff – $2.99

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Faraway: Galactic Escape [12/1/19] – Welcome to the final installment of the Faraway series.  If you’re not familiar with the games, I like to call them “polished escape room” adventures.  Graphically they tend to look far more enticing than the usual escape room game, and there is an underlying story that carries throughout the games, which is not typical for such affairs.  Each game is divided into 18 areas, and to progress to the next area you have to solve all the puzzles and reveal the key that opens the exit portal.  You will collect some inventory along the way, but it is usually comprised of basically missing levers or keys or what have you.  There’s nothing that I’d really consider an “object based puzzle” inside any of these games.  One cool aspect of Snapbreak room escape games is that they tend to give you a generous portion of the game for free, in this case amounting to 9 areas or half the experience.  I have not played through all of the installments yet, but I will say that the first half of this one seemed to be a bit on the easy side compared to what I remember from past experiences.  It was still definitely worth playing, but while the second half is only $3.99 I’m still struggling to decide if that’s worth it assuming the other 9 levels don’t increase much in difficulty.  The other aspect of the series as a whole that I find kind of frustrating is the storytelling.  I love the fact that there is a story and that it weaves throughout all of the games in the Faraway franchise.  However, the story is told through notes that someone who came before you left, and you have to hunt for those notes within the level.  So, if you don’t find all the notes, you don’t get the entire story.  This time around, I think the only level I found all three notes on was level 9.  Despite any of the criticisms, though, Galactic Escape is a well put together game, and you won’t be wasting much other than download time to give the free portion a shot.  Maybe you’ll even be compelled enough to dish out the cash and continue the adventure.

Verdict: Play
Faraway: Galactic Escape on Google Play
Faraway: Galactic Escape Snapbreak Games, Faraway: Galactic Escape – Free

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Legacy 2 – The Ancient Curse [11/13/17] – I have a love / hate relationship with 3D puzzle games.  While I doubt there is a genre where I’d give a thumbs up to every game I’ve played, in general I really enjoy puzzle games.  However, I’ve found that for the most part I don’t get along with puzzle games when they are 3D.  I’m not sure if my brain just doesn’t work in the third dimension, but with rare exceptions like the series The Room, I tend to shy away from this sub-genre.  At one point Legacy 2 was reduced to free, and the graphics looked mighty slick, so I thought I’d give it a try.  At first I was actually having fun with the game, but it didn’t take long until 3D phobia set in.  I often found myself moving when I thought I was tapping on something interactive.  Other times I’d double click and the screen would just shift a bit, so I wasn’t sure if I was tapping something I shouldn’t have or if the game wasn’t adequately responding to me.  Those were just minor issues, though.  There were several puzzles I solved but I’m not really sure how.  Then there were puzzles I solved that got reset and I had forgotten that I already solved them, so I beat them again for no reason.  The biggest issue is the open-ended nature of the game.  I don’t mind if things aren’t completely linear, but before long I had way too many unsolved puzzles, and I began to lose track of what I needed to do an the rooms they were in.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I acquired a key but couldn’t find the place where I had off-handedly tapped and been told “this is locked – you need a key”.  Legacy 2 looks nice, there appears to be a lot to do, and it has much potential.  Ultimately it ended up not being a game for me.

Verdict: Pass
Legacy 2 – The Ancient Curse on Google Play
Legacy 2 - The Ancient Curse David Adrian, Legacy 2 – The Ancient Curse – $1.99

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Nobodies: Murder cleaner [10/28/19] – The Google Play description classifies Nobodies as a point and click puzzle adventure, but I liken the game more to an escape room type affair.  However you decide to classify the game, it has a deliciously dark twist: you are asset #1080, and your job is to clean up the messes that hitmen in your organization leave.  At the beginning of each scenario you get a brief explanation of what happened and what you should look out for, and then it’s up to you to figure out how to dispose of the body and clean up the evidence without getting caught.  Things start out pretty basic but quickly escalate to multi-scene situations where you have to manipulate a bunch of stuff, hide the body the right way, and slip out without being seen.  And yes, in some cases just because you can do something to hide a body doesn’t mean you should.  Each scene is well crafted, even if it might not be readily obvious what you need to do, and there are plenty of tasks to accomplish in order to complete a scenario.  Additionally, you’ll have to be sure to put everything you use back as best you can before making your departure, at least if you want to earn a perfect score on the given scenario.  The game does have its quirks.  On any given room if you hold two fingers down it will show you all the interactive spots, but this doesn’t always seem to work.  There are also times where you do this in one room and then some spots in the next room will be highlighted when you enter.  There’s no real punishment for making a mistake other than you have to repeat the scenario, but then it seems to arbitrarily choose what you start the scenario with and what you have to do over again.  Thankfully, whatever little glitches or oddities the game suffers from, it ultimately makes up for with a fun, rewarding experience.

Note: Downloaded the game when it was free
Verdict: Play
Nobodies: Murder cleaner on Google Play
Nobodies Blyts, Nobodies – $2.99

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Downwell [9/17/19] – As far as action games go, you can’t ask for much more simple and entertaining than this.  There’s no real story to worry about, and your goal is simply to get to the end of each level without dying.  Theoretically, all you’d have to do is keep walking off the platforms and falling until you reach the bottom every time.  Unfortunately there are a bunch of creatures inhabiting these wells that just assume see you gone as reach your destination.  Luckily you can bounce on some of them, and better yet you can shoot out of your feet to dispose of the tough ones.  This is actually a good idea, because quite often destroyed enemies drop gems, and if you’re lucky and run into a shop you can spend those gems to replenish health or buy upgrades.  You should also be on the lookout for rooms off the sides of the well that hide better weapons or extra gems.  Your ability to shoot depletes when you pull the trigger, but it will go back up relatively quickly as well.  Every time you pass a level you’ll get the opportunity to pick a bonus like refilling some life or having dead bodies explode when you shoot them.  With each game you play you’ll fill up a progress meter, and for every 1000 you get on the meter you’ll unlock a color theme or “style” of game play.  The latter is not really different modes, but rather varying how easy things are or how frequently certain things happen.  The trick with this game is that it feels like it is designed to play quickly, and there are certainly times where it is fun to just go crazy, constantly run out of charge and barrel your way down the well as fast as possible.  However, to do well you actually need to take a bit of time with it.  I still haven’t quite mastered that yet, as I haven’t even made it to level 2 (at least each level has several sections, so there is that).  Downwell is great for short bursts when you have a few minutes to kill, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing it longer than you intended.

Verdict: Play
Downwell on Google Play
Downwell Devolver, Downwell – $2.99

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Zind [3/25/20] – At first glance this feels like it should be the perfect mobile platfomer.  The graphics are decent, the music is pretty good and the controls are basic but effective: arrows to move left and right and an arrow to jump.  Throw in the fact that the levels are relatively short, which to me has always been a necessity for mobile platform games, and in theory we have a winner.  The problem is that with as basic as the controls are, they still feel wonky.  And this comes after an update that claims to have fixed the jumping issue, though I’m not sure what they define the “issue” as.  In general, it just feels off.  More specifically, there are times when the character seems to jump twice even though you know you only hit the button once.  Then, if you hit the arrow key while pressing jump to launch in the opposite direction while sliding down a surface, you seem to jump downwards instead of up.  Combine that with the occasional accidental slide after running (which of course always happens right at the edge of a pit with nasty spikes in it) and you end up dying a lot more than you should.  Level 10 is what ultimately sealed the deal for me, however.  After many times of trying to pass what should have been a relatively simple area in the level, I finally came out on the other side expecting to be near the finish given the average length of previous levels.  Turns out the developer apparently picked level 10 to start increasing the level size, and then I ended up at another part where I kept dying, partially because of the jumping issues mentioned above.  One thing I do like about the game is you can respawn from where you die by watching a video, but in this case it got to where I was spending more time watching ads than playing the game.  That’s when I decided that in the game’s current state it’s not really one for me.

Verdict: Pass
Zind on Google Play

That wraps up another edition of the Android Games Roundup.  Check the list below for prior installments and keep on gaming!