TouchMyApps » Role Playing http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:42:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Spellfall – Puzzle RPG in Review – You Better Watch Out, Puzzle Quest http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/27/spellfall-puzzle-rpg-in-review-you-better-watch-out-puzzle-quest/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:51:05 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74029 Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender … Read more]]>

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Since the dawn of the match 3 / RPG hybrid Puzzle Quest has always been king of the throne.  In fact, I think it was the game that introduced me to this wonderful mash up of genres.  Now Backflip Studios has released Spellfall – Puzzle RPG, and while I’m hesitant to say that this contender has usurped the crown, it’s pretty amazing in its own right.  The battles are fast and furious, the rewards are plenty and the rune system is a really nice bonus.  The combat effects are among the best I’ve seen in this style of game, and the overall polish is quite impressive.  Chalk up another win for Backflip.

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There is actually a story going on here, though to be perfectly frank I don’t remember what the whole point of the mission is.  It’s not like a “one and done” intro thing either because there is text at the beginning of each combat filling you in just a bit more on everything that’s going on.  In the end it won’t matter for most people because one of the pluses of Spellfall is that you can play for as little at a time as you want and you never feel like you’re missing anything the next time you load up the game to play again.  The basics are that you’re trying to conquer evil and in order to do so you must explore a series of different locations.  You’ll meet some interesting creatures along the way, and while it seems like they only introduce 2 or 3 new ones per area, given the number of areas that kind of pacing should still result in a nice range of foes to fight.

As you might have gathered, combat takes place in a match 3 scenario.  Instead of the usual breakdown of physical and magical attacks, defense and coins, however, Spellfall is all about the magic (though there are still coins to be matched).  You have four elements to work with, and most monsters will have a particular weakness to one of the elements.  Matching 4 of a kind will create a special tile that can wipe out a row or column, and matching 5 or more in a line will create a bonus attack tile.  If you match one of these tiles then when that turn is done your character will launch a special attack based on that particular element type.  There are also runes that match each element type, and if you have one of those runes and it is active it will get slightly charged each time you match the corresponding element.  When runes are fully charged they can heal, poison, shuffle tiles and more.  I do wish runes would charge as long as you had the equipped, but that’s a minor quibble and could actually make things a bit too easy.

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Monsters only get to attack once every so many rounds, but they make up for it by unleashing some deadly attacks.  If you’re victorious you can earn Exp Points which help you level up, Rune Points which enable your runes to level up, Collected Coins (those you match up during play) and Victory Coins for winning the match.  Should you fail you’ll still earn Exp Points and Collected Coins, but obviously winning is preferable.  Money can be used to buy weapons, armor and runes as well as to heal your character between battles and unlock rune slots on weapons or armor.  Thankfully runes don’t become permanent attachments to your other equipment, but sometimes to get the more powerful duds you might have to give up using some runes for a while.  That’s the single biggest point of frustration in this game – it takes a while to earn money unless you want to supplement your coffer via IAP, so you have to be real careful what you spend your loot on.  Add to that the fact that the items store is randomly supplied and items don’t stay in the store very long and you might miss out on something you really wanted.  Of course this is how they drive you to spending your cash, but since it doesn’t really hamper you from playing the game that’s okay with me.

The visuals in Spellfall are great.  The characters are very well designed so that even the creatures you’re used to feel fresh.  The animation is fluid, the creatures’ attacks are varied and interesting, and the bonus attacks your mage makes can certainly impress.  The sound effects are all pretty good, though your character does sound a bit wimpy when he gets hit.  The music has a nice fantasy tone to it, and while it’s nothing earth shattering it’s just nice to have there for the few seconds when you breathe between battles.  Otherwise you probably won’t even notice it.

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The match 3 / RPG hybrid continues to thrive, and while the basic tenets of each game is the same developers are still trying hard to add features that make their entry rise above the crowd.  Spellfall does an admirable job with that.  Quick, intense combat along with a constantly rotating inventory keep you on your toes while the deep runes system lets you customize your character to your style of play.  The whole thing is wrapped up in a slick graphical bow and topped with a wonderful incentive to keep you coming back: play for 20 days to get a special prize.  I’m working hard to see what mine is!

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App Summary
Title: Spellfall – Puzzle RPG Developer: Backflip Studios
Reviewed Ver: 1.2.0 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: Free App Size: 78.9 MB
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • Deep, diverse rune system
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice sound effects
  • Doesn’t hammer you about IAP
  • Runes have to be active to be charged
  • Often one fight forces you to wait or dump a bunch of money into recovering health

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Oceanhorn in Review – If We Can’t Have Zelda, I’ll Take This http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/12/31/oceanhorn-in-review-if-we-cant-have-zelda-ill-take-this/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 19:44:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=73485 Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of … Read more]]>

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Games like Diablo certainly popularized the concept, but in my opinion one of the earliest examples of a good action / RPG was The Legend Of Zelda.  There have been many installments in the franchise, but more importantly there have been a ton of wannabes made in an attempt to provide the same type of game to non-Nintendo platforms.  Some of them have succeeded to a limited degree, but Oceanhorn is one of the few to do so in both mechanics and spirit, and probably the only one for the iOS platform so far.  Apparently you don’t need a tri-force for this type of game to be fun.

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In this game you wake up a boy and set off to become a legend as you track down the mysterious creature Oceanhorn that is somehow tied to both you and your father.  To start your journey you must recover a mysterious necklace, and during that brief quest you’ll also find your first weapon.  Much like Zelda, you tend to find the useful stuff underground in the caves and tunnels you’ll explore.  Why do they always hide everything underground?  Anyway, you also have your trusty shield and fairly early on you’ll acquire the ability to collect and use bombs, so I’m expecting to find a bow and arrow or at least a boomerang at some point.  You soon get directed to visit a new island, and as you find documentation or talk to people that reveal the history of the land new locations will be unlocked for your explorative pleasure.

Naturally this won’t be a straightforward expedition, so you’ll spend some time traveling back and forth between islands to accomplish all of your goals.  In a nod to Wind Waker you actually pilot your boat during these treks, and once you get the bombs you actually have to shoot at things as well.  On the islands you’ll battle a variety of creatures, solve basic environmental puzzles that so far tend to revolve around moving blocks around and flipping switches, and some occupants on the islands will give you quests to complete.

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Along the way you might find items that you can equip or that relate to quests, and in a nice twist when you find non-essential items you’ll automatically sell them for gold.  No seeking out shops to clear your inventory in this game!  Each island also comes with three overriding missions to complete, though some or so broad you can actually finish them on any island.  Completing missions and killing monsters earns you XP, and once you’ve gathered enough you’ll go up a level which enhance or unlock some new trait for you.  There seems to be plenty to do, and the multiple levels make for some expansive islands, but even with the mini-map it can be easy to get lost and turned around at times, especially when you’re trying to get to that treasure chest that you can see on the map but just can’t quite find on the actual game screen.

To move your character along you use an invisible virtual joystick on the lower left side which works reasonably well most of the time.  Its impreciseness can be felt at times when you are trying to cross narrow bridges and such, however.  Most actions are performed with the versatile action button in the lower right corner of the screen, and special items are activated via the graphical item button above the action button.  Don’t confuse this with the button that actually says “item” which brings up the menu of special items you can pick from.  You can throw certain items by picking them up and holding them with the action button, aiming by dragging the virtual control stick, then releasing the action button to toss.  This does take some getting used to, especially since there is no nifty guide ala Angry Birds to show you where you’re actually tossing the item.  There is also a menu accessible by touching the mini-map that shows things like your current missions, items you’ve collected and a log of everything you’ve read and everyone you’ve talked to.

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Graphically I’d say the game comes in at about the level of the Zelda series when it was on the Nintendo 64.  The backgrounds are pretty stunning at times, and there’s plenty of detail strewn throughout the levels.  Some of the monster designs are rather interesting, and there’s an obvious influence from Zelda in cases like the monster that rises from the ground and spits rocks at you (sort of a combination of two classic Zelda critters).  The sound effects are pretty good and they did a good job finding people to voice the characters, though there are times that the voices don’t necessarily match what you’d expect by looking at an individual.  The music takes me back to the days of Castlevania IV on the SNES.  That was some of the best music of the 16 bit era, and the style still holds up incredibly well as evidenced by the soundtrack in Oceanhorn.

This game does offer a few frustrations, especially when it comes to the preciseness of the controls.  However, all the good in the game far outweighs any minor inconveniences these things might provide.  I’ve always been a big fan of the Zelda series, and since Nintendo doesn’t share the closest we were ever going to get on another platform was an incredible clone.  There’s no question in my mind that Oceanhorn is that clone.  If Zelda doesn’t mean anything to you then you’re still in luck because Oceanhorn is a pretty remarkable action / adventure RPG in its own right.

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App Summary
Title: Oceanhorn ™ Developer: FDG Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.3 Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $8.99 App Size: 170 MB
  • Closest thing to Zelda on iOS
  • Lots of world to explore
  • Challenging and rewarding game play
  • Excellent visuals
  • Great soundtrack
  • Virtual joystick not as precise as it could be
  • Often hard to judge where you’re throwing something
  • Easy to get lost on some levels

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Puzzle Blade in Review: 2 Minute Match 3 RPG Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/10/puzzle-blade-in-review-2-minute-match-3-rpg-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/07/10/puzzle-blade-in-review-2-minute-match-3-rpg-fun/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 23:15:33 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72844 One of the best mash-ups conceived so far (at least in my opinion) is the idea of an RPG that uses a match 3 board for combat.  Of course like any good thing there is almost an overabundance of them now, and there are just as many ones that make you go “blah” as ones … Read more]]>

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One of the best mash-ups conceived so far (at least in my opinion) is the idea of an RPG that uses a match 3 board for combat.  Of course like any good thing there is almost an overabundance of them now, and there are just as many ones that make you go “blah” as ones that captivate you like Puzzle Quest.  Fortunately, Puzzle Blade is one of those that fall on the side of captivating the player.  The developer has managed to put a fresh spin on the concept and made sure that anyone short of a person suffering from A.D.D. should enjoy it, assuming you’re into the genre in the first place.

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You play a character named Puzzelynn, though truthfully the game would probably work just as well with a nameless hero.  Your job is to clear out all the evil creatures that have come to the gardens in search of the mystical puzzle gems.  You’ll use said gems to vanquish the villains, matching three or more at a time to do some damage.  If you match the color the creature emits right before it attacks you can block the attack as well.  Periodically power ups and gold will appear on the playing field, and to take advantage of them you’ll need to double tap on them instead of trying to match them.  You’ll also get a blast power up when you match five of the same color gem that will either clear an entire row or column when double tapped.

Each round lasts two minutes, but no matter how many creatures you kill you only get to keep the spoils if you survive the entire two minutes.  In addition to coins you get a score for each round which can be bolstered by several accomplishments including getting more than 10 gold by defeating a monster or beating one in under 30 seconds.  Some score bonuses are based on individual battles and others on the entire round.  Money you earn can be used to buy elixirs at the beginning of each round, or they can be used to train various skills which in turn give you experience to level up.  As you level up you’ll unlock new things to help you in your quest like new types of gems and additional elixirs.

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Control is a simple matter of dragging to swap gems and double tapping to activate a power up.  I actually like the double tap idea because that means you can be a bit more strategic about how you use your power-ups.  Keep in mind that double tapping a coin also makes the gem that it is on disappear, which can definitely affect game play.  Double tapping seems to work fine, though a lot of times gems seem to slide in the opposite direction of what I’m trying to do.  I suppose that could just be me.  The game does support Game Center for leaderboards and achievements, except there are only 9 achievements and since I had no internet connection when I first played it doesn’t appear to have updated a couple of my achievements that I should have earned right off the bat.  Still, the game is entertaining enough that you don’t really need those things to enjoy it.

The aesthetics are a funny thing in this game because they are good, but the game is so fast paced that you don’t get much of a chance to pay attention to them.  The characters are well designed and have some decent animation, and there are a few special effects thrown around here and there.  Sound is adequate enough with each creature having its own noises and the main character uttering some vocals as well.  The background music is actually pretty nice, but the sound effects tend to drown it out such that you don’t realize it’s there half the time.  Still, I’d rather have good audio / visual elements that I don’t notice much than silly pictures and bland sound that overwhelm my senses.

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Like so many styles of games in the App Store there is getting to be somewhat of a glut of this particular mash up, which makes it all the more difficult to choose ones to play.  I would say this certainly qualifies for one to look at even if you think you’ve played it all before.  The two minute sessions alone are an appealing aspect of the game, but there are enough other little differences that make it all worthwhile despite the feeling that the game play mechanic has been burnt out.  Besides which, at the time I’m writing this the game is free, so what have you got to lose besides the time you spend playing it?

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Puzzle Blade Developer: matthew silverstein
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 6.0
Price: Free App Size:
  • Two minute game sessions
  • Nice little twists on match 3 / RPG mash-ups
  • Cool visuals
  • Good sound and music
  • Swiping not always cooperative
  • Achievements a bit buggy
  • Can’t stop to appreciate aesthetics

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QuestLord in Review – Retro Done Right http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/04/questlord-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/03/04/questlord-in-review/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 16:21:29 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=72050 When I was in high school I spent a lot of time playing games like Bard’s Tale and Might & Magic (back when they were RPGs and not strategy games).  After spending some time with QuestLord I remembered why I used to like these games so much.  Sure 3D open ended worlds are nifty – I … Read more]]>

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When I was in high school I spent a lot of time playing games like Bard’s Tale and Might & Magic (back when they were RPGs and not strategy games).  After spending some time with QuestLord I remembered why I used to like these games so much.  Sure 3D open ended worlds are nifty – I guess – and there’s no question that action / RPGs have their place in this fast paced mobile world.  Still, there’s something to be said about old fashioned tile based world exploration, and it manages to engross me just about every time.  QuestLord is no exception to that rule.

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The story is pretty cliché – the world has been overrun by an evil force and you’re the last hope.  Overused plotline aside, you get to pick one of three characters and begin your journey to become the ultimate QuestLord.  I like the fact that the game starts out in different locations and with different quests, so even if you’ve played through with one character type you can do it all again with a different one and it feels like a new game.  Each of the characters has different starting values for the three stats, but once you start leveling up you can apply your earned skill points to whichever stat you’d like.  It mainly depends on if you want someone that can swing a sword better, defend themselves more or be more adept at magic.

As you work your way through the land you’ll run into the typical selection of characters: those that want to “help” you by selling you stuff, those that need you to do something for them, and those that just want to kill you.  You’ll need money that you earn and find along your journey to deal with the first group, the second group will most likely reward you on completion of their task, but the third set are the most fun.  Combat is turn based though moving in front of a creature is considered your turn, so if at all possible try luring a creature to you using the wait button.  Casting a spell simply requires the tap of a button, but physically attacking a creature demands that you swipe across the screen.  I actually like the concept, but it often seems not quite as responsive as I’d like.  I suppose seeing as the game is turn based that’s not quite such a big deal.

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Many creatures will leave goodies when defeated, and you’ll also find a host of things lying around all the areas that you are exploring.  Healing items are always good to take, but if there are items you don’t need you can pick those up and then sell them when you get someplace to do so.  As you can see this plays out like your pretty typical 80’s CRPG, but that’s what makes it such fun.  I like the control scheme as a whole, though I do wish there were “side step” buttons like so many of these older RPGs had.  That would avoid some of the needless swatting you take from bad guys as you’re trying to move into place.  Once you get through playing each of the three selectable races, or when you just want a break from the main game, you can play a quick game.  This lets you pick one of three specific NPCs and tour randomly generated dungeons until you die.

I love the character designs.  Some blocky goodness combined with decent animation actually makes them work.  The backgrounds, on the other hand, might be a bit too retro.  More than blocky they actually seem a bit blurry, and it makes it really hard to navigate through certain areas.  The sound effects are really good, especially when it comes to ambient noises.  You might really think your outdoors with the chirping birds and howling winds, and when you walk into a tavern expect the Bard’s Tale nostalgia to come flooding back again.  There is occasionally some music, but not enough to really care about.

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I’m not sure how well QuestLord will sit with the modern Zenonia style players, but personally I love it.  The old school game play mechanics are great and keep me so engrossed that it’s easy to lose track of time.  The characters and sound effects are retro gold, and while I’m not entirely a fan of the backgrounds they even have their moments.  There’s been plenty to do so far, and hopefully the engine was written in such a way that a new adventure could be plugged in without too much trouble.  QuestLord is one trip down memory lane I’m more than happy to take.

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App Summary
Title: QuestLord Developer: Lava Level
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $1.99 App Size:
  • Old school mechanics nicely blended with touch screen tech
  • Lots to explore
  • Cool characters
  • Nice sound effects
  • Swiping not completely responsive
  • Need “side step” buttons
  • Not much music

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Dungelot in Review – Rogue-like At Its Best http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/20/dungelot-in-review-rogue-like-at-its-best/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2013/01/20/dungelot-in-review-rogue-like-at-its-best/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 20:42:13 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=71730 Back in the day, by which I mean a time I barely remember and which many of you probably weren’t born yet for, there existed a game called Rogue that quite possibly started one of the first trends of copycats, known as rouge-likes.  The games were simple in some ways such as consisting of only … Read more]]>

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Back in the day, by which I mean a time I barely remember and which many of you probably weren’t born yet for, there existed a game called Rogue that quite possibly started one of the first trends of copycats, known as rouge-likes.  The games were simple in some ways such as consisting of only ASCII graphics, but complex in others like having a myriad of commands to remember and randomly generated dungeons that were revealed as you moved through them.  While I actually enjoyed several games of this type, I’m happy to see that modern variants such as Dungelot have revamped graphics and streamlined control schemes.  Unfortunately one challenging feature still remains in many modern rogue-likes: death is death.

review-dungelot-2There might be a plot to this game, but if so it’s basically superfluous to any enjoyment you might get from Dungelot.  You choose a character – paladin at first and others once you’ve unlocked them – and attempt to conquer level after level of the dungeon until one gets the better of you.  The levels are randomly generated and consist of monsters, loot and occasionally someone to help you out.  You reveal the dungeon a tile at a time by tapping on them, and you don’t have to fight anything until there are no other tiles to reveal or you haven’t found the key to the next level yet.  This is actually a cool feature compared to “old fashioned” rouge-likes where you basically had to fight or run as the monsters came at you in “real time”.

Treasure consists of gold that you can use to upgrade your characters or open certain “greedy doors”.  You might also find hearts to restore some health, spells to alter stats or directly damage monsters and objects that help you while you wield them.  Physical objects can be traded in for money if you need it, and spells can be exchanged for hearts.  The exchange rate might not be what you desire, but since you only have eight inventory slots this option often comes in handy.  Thankfully multiple spells of the same type only take up one slot, though the same can’t be said of multiple objects of the same ilk.  Because of your limited storage capacity it’s also a good idea to use items instead of trying to hoard them.

review-dungelot-3Control is tap based and I have not experienced any responsiveness issues so far.  There is Game Center integration for leaderboards, and once a game is over you do get “medals” of sorts, but there aren’t any actual Game Center achievements.  Most of the replay factor comes from the fact that you have to work pretty hard to level up characters and unlock new ones, and the levels themselves are randomly generated.  The main drawback to the game is that there is no formal save.  If you leave it running in the background you can continue where you left off, but quitting the game means you have to start over.  My understanding is that is going to be remedied in a future update.  What won’t change is that the save is not for those who want to try something, end up getting killed and then want to go back and try something else.  Once you’re dead the game is over unless you have a way to resurrect.

The visuals are great.  Everything is detailed and cartoony at the same time, and there are some wonderful character designs.  There are also some nifty special effects strewn throughout the game.  The sound effects are decent enough, with some variance depending on what type of creature you’re fighting.  The music is good but actually a bit ominous at times, which doesn’t really fit the overall mood of the game.  At least it’s there and it doesn’t get boring.

review-dungelot-4This game works so well because it’s fast paced, randomly generated and despite being somewhat repetitive game play wise, it always seems like you’re discovering something new.  The lack of a true save game might be a turn off to some, but in the end the rest of the package more than makes up for this design choice.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Dungelot Developer: Red Winter Software
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Simple, fun game play
  • Randomly generated levels
  • Cool creatures
  • Lots to discover
  • Great visuals and good music
  • Somewhat repetitive
  • Currently no save game

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Dungeon Story in Review – Have I Heard This Tale Before? http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/11/14/dungeon-story-in-review-have-i-heard-this-tale-before/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/11/14/dungeon-story-in-review-have-i-heard-this-tale-before/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:51:47 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=70761 The concept of combining the RPG with match 3 mechanics seems to be pretty popular, though few entries come close to either Puzzle Quest for a more hardcore experience or Dungeon Raid for the casual folks.  Still, many of the options at least offer a few things that make them worth giving a chace, and … Read more]]>

The concept of combining the RPG with match 3 mechanics seems to be pretty popular, though few entries come close to either Puzzle Quest for a more hardcore experience or Dungeon Raid for the casual folks.  Still, many of the options at least offer a few things that make them worth giving a chace, and Dungeon Story is no exception.  While there are no quests to speak of, it’s more persistent than Dungeon Raid in that you can build up your character between plays.  It still provides a more casual experience than Puzzle Quest, however, because even if you get “stuck” in a dungeon all you have to remember between sessions is that when you come back there is another monster to fight.

I suppose there are quests in the sense that you must recover an artifact from each dungeon in order to progress to the next one. Other than that, the game is basically a matter of defeating monster after monster until one gets the better of you.  Then you take your winnings, upgrade some skills and equipment, and then go at it again.  It almost seems too simple and grind-ish to be fun, yet I find it hard to tear myself away each time I load the game up and start to play.  I think it’s the simplicity that draws me in. For the most part the interface feels like the myriad of generic MMOs that grace the App Store.  Everything is pretty much fancy text with a few buttons here and there to trigger some actions.  Once you get to the battle screen it’s more graphical because it would be a bit difficult to represent a match 3 battle with text.  The match 3 mechanic used works like Dungeon Raid where you select 3 or more of the same type of icon to get what you need.  The one exception is magic – you can mix both fire and ice to produce combo spells.  There are also swords for physical combat, coins for money and hearts for health.  Simple progress bars represent things like the amount of health you and your opponent have left and how much experience you’ve accumulated towards your next level up.

One thing I really appreciate about this game is that every update brings new features that while seemingly subtle can add a great impact to the game.  One update added a feature that shows you how much the combined total of your selection yields.  For example, if you have four swords selected it shows the amount of damage you’ll do to your opponent.  Another recently added feature is a merchant that pops up every few rounds to let you upgrade a skill instead of having to wait until your current run is over.  Of course I’m still on my first game since that update, so it will be interesting to see if the upgrades are permanent.  A display that shows your current amount of cash in the merchant stages would be nice, but that’s just a minor niggle. I’ve pretty much laid out for you what the visuals look like.  I will admit that I’d love to see portraits of the characters instead of simple progress bars, but I’ve actually pretty much gotten used to that by now.  The sound effects are actually pretty decent, with each type of item making a different noise when you select it.  While the monsters aren’t nearly as diverse with their growling and howling, there are still a few different noises to mix things up a bit.  The main thing missing is any sort of background music, which does get pretty noticeable from time to time.

There aren’t a whole lot of surprises in Dungeon Story, and if you’ve played a few games of this style before then you might have a sense of “been there, done that”.  In the end, though, I still find this an entertaining variant on the theme that has kept me engaged every time I’ve played it.  Sure a graphical face lift would be nice, and I definitely wouldn’t mind some music, but change it too much and the game will probably start to feel exactly like everything else out there! Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Dungeon Story Developer: Pantazis Deligiannis
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Quite entertaining despite “been there, done that” feel
  • New features are constantly added
  • Randomized dungeons means there’s always something to do
  • Lots of grinding
  • Presentation is lackluster
  • Doesn’t particularly stand out among peers

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Ultima V for iPad – hook, line, sinker http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/06/ultima-v-for-ipad-hook-line-sinker/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/09/06/ultima-v-for-ipad-hook-line-sinker/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 11:45:39 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=69712 Imagine how disappointed this Ultima idiot was to discover that Ultima V for iPad is nothing but a fan page – sort of. Its author links to various Ultima sundries: Ultima news, fonts, upcoming games, maps, and does it in the classic Ultima style, that promises something dark – something role playing – under the … Read more]]>

Imagine how disappointed this Ultima idiot was to discover that Ultima V for iPad is nothing but a fan page – sort of. Its author links to various Ultima sundries: Ultima news, fonts, upcoming games, maps, and does it in the classic Ultima style, that promises something dark – something role playing – under the surface. Real Ultima fans still append Dragon to their name. The bloke who made Ultima V for iPad, for example, is Edric Dragon; I’m shigzeo Dragon. I’ve had that nickname for years. I’m sure it’s the same for Edric. What other game series can boast such nerdy fans? And honestly, my lead in is rubbish: I love Edric Dragon’s site. Bookmarked it.

Edric Dragon pointed out something I somehow missed: Exult for iOS. (Exult is a reverse-engineered Ultima 7 engine for modern operating systems. I’ve blogged about it before.) If there is ANYTHING I’m waiting for (apart from soul-pleasing employment), it’s Ultima 7 for iPad. Edric, as much as he is a fisherman, has rekindled hope.

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Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia in Review – Skeletal Genocide on an Evil Scale http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/07/09/defender-chronicles-ii-heroes-of-athelia-in-review-skeletal-genocide-on-an-evil-scale/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 15:48:56 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=68914 As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight … Read more]]>

As someone who spends quite a bit of time with the many forms of iOS, I see roughly as many Tower Defense games in a month as there are base foot soldiers in any given TD game. However, every so often one of them is good enough to break through my defenses and march straight into my good books. Such is the challenge facing Gimka Entertainment with their offering of Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia.

In DC2, players must defend the world of Athelia from the evil armies attempting to take it over. Their motives? No one truly knows, but I believe it’s safe to assume they’re not simply looking for a new place to buy more crooked staffs, black robes, and ragged skeleton pants.

As is the case with any Tower Defense game, the actual mechanics are generally what allow the cream to rise. My first impression of DC2 was that the controls were actually somewhat clunky. While I did end up getting used to them, my initial qualms lead me to believe that the overall design isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be.

The 2D platform view works, but excessive waves of enemies can lead to serious, indecipherable clutter

Building encampments requires three button presses, and each press requires you to touch a different spot on the screen. For example, to build an infantryman station you must select an open area, press the infantryman icon which pops up on the bottom right of the screen, then tap the build site again. On occasion class icons can actually cover the area on which you are building. In these situations you can’t make the third tap without moving the camera, which ends up aborting the building process entirely. This seems miniscule, but in tight situations it can be quite bothersome.

Controls aside, DC2 manages to introduce a level of depth which is not seen in most other games in the same genre. Players may choose from one of four heroes to help lead their troops, and each hero has his or her own set of skills, weapons, attacks, and troops. In addition, each hero can be leveled up and given skill points with which to increase the effectiveness of their commanded units.

The levelling and equipment systems for each hero take some getting used to, but they can become as addicting as the tower defense itself

This aspect almost makes it as much RPG as it is Tower Defense, which may actually split its player base down the middle. For those looking for a pick up and play game into which they don’t have to invest much thought outside of where they place their troops, this will be very off-putting. However, players looking for a much more demanding game will fall in love with the hours of grinding and levels which, on occasion, may take up to as long as forty minutes. Hell, simply learning the leveling and equipment systems is a task which might take some less committed players up to two hours to fully understand.

On a more technical level, the game won’t exactly grab anyone with its visuals. In fact, the blocky character design looks somewhat like it was taken directly from RPG Maker. Okay, that might be a little cruel. Let’s say RPG Maker 2 (or some incarnation thereof). In spite of this, visuals are rarely the draw of a good game in this genre.

After 40 minutes, when the boss makes it to your final encampment on wave 114, the line between throwing your hands in the air, and your iPad at the wall is extremely thin

Levels are set up on a platformer-esque 2D plane akin to that of any of the famous “run and jump from left to right” games of the past. It’s an interesting response to the standard bird’s eye view, and aside from minor clutter and an occasional inability to decipher which area of the level the enemies are charging, it works fairly well.

Defender Chronicles 2 may initially come off as a drop in the pond, but it certainly manages to achieve the sought after “it” factor which shoots addiction into the hearts of Tower Defense fans. The one barrier to entry is the commitment of time and effort. The breakdown is simple: If I’m looking for a tower defense fix, and I’m not on an airplane for 3 hours, I’ll likely boot up something more along the lines of Kingdom Rush (TMA Review). However, if I know I have a good chunk of free time, Defender Chronicles 2: Heroes of Athelia is an excellent way to fully engross myself in the cultish glare of an iPad screen.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia Developer: Gimka Entertainment
Reviewed Ver: 1.1.1 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $0.99 App Size: 208.31MB
  • Innovative RPG elements
  • Highly addictive gameplay
  • Perfect for those looking to invest a lot of time
  • Clunky interface
  • Extremely long missions
  • Forgettable graphics and design

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Dungeon Of The Damned in Review – A Name Says So Much… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/26/dungeon-of-the-damned-in-review-a-name-says-so-much/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2012/01/26/dungeon-of-the-damned-in-review-a-name-says-so-much/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2012 15:46:01 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=65739 At first it sounded like the perfect marriage – dungeon crawling and classic point and click adventuring.  That alone was enough to entice me into trying Dungeon of the Damned, never mind the cool “old but new” graphics and nostalgic interface.  Unfortunately execution isn’t always as good as concept, and sadly what Dungeon Of The … Read more]]>

At first it sounded like the perfect marriage – dungeon crawling and classic point and click adventuring.  That alone was enough to entice me into trying Dungeon of the Damned, never mind the cool “old but new” graphics and nostalgic interface.  Unfortunately execution isn’t always as good as concept, and sadly what Dungeon Of The Damned has turned out to be for me so far is a boring traipse through a lifeless dungeon with no adventure game elements, little combat and frustrating puzzles.  The lack of a map doesn’t help anything either.

The dungeon’s infamous nature precedes it, but you don’t have a clue why you in particular have been cast into its depths.  That’s what you are attempting to find out as you try and escape from your eerie prison.  The journey won’t be easy, however, as your path is filled with confusing corridors, tricky traps and creepy critters.  Well, at least two out of three isn’t bad, right?  So far in my wanderings I’ve only run across three creatures, all of the undead type.  I’m not necessarily expecting the catacombs to be littered with encounters, but this journey seems to be tilting way too heavily in the other direction.

On the other hand, puzzles abound.  The first puzzle was figuring out there was a puzzle, and I failed – I had to seek out the developer on that one.  The next real puzzle had me scratching my head, even when I sought the solution on the DotD web site.  I even had trouble executing the steps the first time around and had to do it again.  I’m all for a challenge and I’m not completely clueless, but there’s no way I would have gotten that second puzzle.  From there the puzzles have been mixed.  There are a couple I haven’t solved yet (but I don’t want to cheat any more), and some were too easy or too random, I’m not sure which.  Then there’s the whole problem that half the time when you flip a switch or push a button the action it triggers is somewhere else so you don’t really know what you’ve done.

Speaking of being lost, the lack of a map is downright frustrating at times.  As might be expected from a dungeon everything tends to look pretty much the same, and it’s easy to get turned around.  I suppose I could drag out the graph paper and pencils, but that’s just a bit too 80s for me.  Since the system is capable of doing it, let the system do it.  Because of this lack of navigation you either have to take notes or be prepared to spend some time traipsing back and forth on certain puzzles, since the answers might be three to four loads away from the puzzle itself.  And since I’ve mentioned it, even though the individual load times aren’t that long, be prepared for one just about any time you step through a doorway.

On the bright side, the visuals are the perfect blend of old school feel and modern imagery.  Sure the graphics don’t look like they were generated with the Unreal engine, but they are pretty good.  In the same respect, the interface and basic texturing to the walls and such in the dungeon bring back fond memories of dungeon crawling in my younger days.  Action related sound effects are decent enough, but where the audio really shines is in the ambient sounds.  The background music is nice and eerie as well.

Is Dungeon Of The Damned a bad game?  Not necessarily, but you’re definitely going to need some patience.  Personally, though, I would prefer a better balance of puzzle solving and combat.  I’m also still waiting for those “point and click adventure game” elements promised in the iTunes description.  It certainly has the look and feel of the old games like Dungeon Master that I used to enjoy, but the game play both isn’t quite what I expected and is just a bit slow for me.

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Dungeon of the Damned Developer: Digi-chain Games
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:
  • Great nostalgic interface
  • Nice retro-modern graphics
  • Awesome ambient sound
  • Chilling background music
  • Puzzles fall too much on extremes of difficulty scales
  • Needs more combat
  • Where are the “point and click” adventure elements?

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SpellCraft School Of Magic in Review – Hogwarts has some competition http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/30/spellcraft-school-of-magic-in-review-hogwarts-has-some-competition/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/12/30/spellcraft-school-of-magic-in-review-hogwarts-has-some-competition/#comments Sat, 31 Dec 2011 04:54:57 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=63455 I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them.  The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of … Read more]]>

I’ve never been a fan of the freemium model employed by so many games on the App Store these days, but ever since I’ve had my iPad I’ve been hooked on two of them.  The first is Mystery Manor , which I reviewed just before Christmas, and the other is Appy Entertainment’s latest release, SpellCraft School of Magic.  Like everything else in their portfolio it’s different from anything else they’ve done, and it’s also not quite like any other dungeon crawler I’ve played.  In addition to the combat you actually have to grow your own ingredients to cook your own spells, and you can even get a pet to care for that will help protect you in exchange.  This may be a dungeon crawler “lite” in some regards, but it offers enough to keep me coming back for more on a daily basis.

I don’t know that there is any real plot to the game other than you are an apprentice at a school of magic ala Hogworts, and you need to train to become a full fledged wizard.  You’ll do this by exploring level after level of a dungeon where you’ll battle monsters, collect loot and maybe even scrounge up a pet or two.  Every successful combat earns you experience, money and fame.  The experience lets you level up so that you get more health, your spells are stronger, and you gain access to new spells and magical items.  Money helps you buy these items, though some require gems instead.  Besides buying gems via IAP I’m not sure where you get them from, but since the number I have is one less than my current level I’d say you get one for each level.  I’m also not really sure what fame does.

As you might have surmised from the name, the only method of combat in Spellcraft is spells.  During combat you’ll select a spell that you want to use, and when it’s your turn to attack a magic pulse will start travelling up and down your wand.  You tap on the pulse to stop it, and then hold to let it power up.  The closer to the tip of the wand the pulse is, the better the cast will be.  You also have to gauge the powering up appropriately, because if you don’t wait long enough or let it go too long the spell will be weaker.  When you’re ready, let go of the wand and the magic will be released.  If you wait too long the spell will launch automatically and be really weak.  The timing to catch the pulse in the first place is the hardest, and sometimes it gets frustrating as you miss 5 or ten times before actually getting it.

You can buy spells in the store using money and gems you’ve earned, but it’s much more cost effective to buy the ingredients and make them yourself.  You’ll have to plant the ingredients in the greenhouse and then harvest them by tapping on them when they are ready.  If you allow the game to use notifications it will tell you when plants are ready, even if you aren’t playing.  Do keep in mind that plants “grow” even while you’re not playing, and they can die if you leave the game for an extended amount of time without at least checking in on the garden.  Once you have the necessary ingredients you can go to the spell library and add them to the cauldron.  You then have to stir the ingredients by swirling your finger in a particular direction over the cauldron for a certain number of seconds.  How well you do this determines how many of the spell you’re making you actually get.

The visuals are stunning.  The characters look like they were ripped from a high quality cartoon, and there are nice special effects all over the place.  Even though it’s really nothing more than a gimmick, I love how the spells and monsters appear on cards as well.  The sound effects are equally impressive.  The nice thing about the creature noises is that not only do different creatures sound different, but the noises they make aren’t always the bland fantasy creature noises you might expect.  The music is decent, but it’s either very subtle or non-existent through most of the combat, making that portion of the game a bit too quiet.

Folks looking for an intense dungeon crawler or a full fledged RPG won’t care much for Spellcraft.  If you’re like me, however, and love the concept behind RPGs but just don’t have the time for one in your life right now, Spellcraft would be a great choice for you.  There’s enough combat and leveling up to feel like a dungeon crawler, but the lack of plot and ease of shifting between parts of the game mean you don’t have to spend lots of time with it each day to enjoy it.  The best part is that it’s free, though you can buy gems or the ability to block ads via IAP.  Overall, this is one school that’s actually fun to be a part of.

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: SpellCraft School of Magic Developer: Appy Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: Free App Size:
  • Easy to play
  • Interesting combat technique
  • Spell making is fun
  • Outstanding visuals
  • Great sound effects
  • Magic pulse on wand sometimes hard to trap
  • Ads can get annoying
  • Forgotten plants can die while you go about real life

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Galaxy Pirate Adventure in Review – Ahoy there, space mateys! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/21/galaxy-pirate-adventure-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/21/galaxy-pirate-adventure-in-review/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 15:30:45 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=61059 Slowly but surely, the App Store is being populated by all manner of Privateer-style games. We’ve already seen a superb space sim in Galaxy on Fire 2 (TMA Review), the original boardgame-like Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space (TMA Review), as well as a more adventure oriented experience in the amazing Warpgate (TMA Review). For fans … Read more]]>

Slowly but surely, the App Store is being populated by all manner of Privateer-style games. We’ve already seen a superb space sim in Galaxy on Fire 2 (TMA Review), the original boardgame-like Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space (TMA Review), as well as a more adventure oriented experience in the amazing Warpgate (TMA Review). For fans of the latter, a new title recently hit the App Store that may well fill their spare time while waiting for a sequel – Galaxy Pirate Adventure. All aboard!

Galaxy Pirate Adventure is a space exploration Adventure/RPG. You’re a prince of one of the rival pirate clans and are set forth by your father to take on the universe. The story unfolds further as mysterious raids are detected on the outskirts of your own area of known space. Our bold hero quickly finds himself right in the middle of conflict and hunted by his own father. Sounds more cheesy than it is, actually, though the sometimes sloppy in-game writing definitely doesn’t help.

Once you get through the short opening tutorial, you’re finally handed your first ship. As the name suggests the main premise of Galaxy Pirate Adventure is, well, pirating – be it for story driven or side missions. The latter for some reason are pre-defined, though based on the wording and gameplay, it’s quite obvious they’re randomly generated. The missions come in several varieties but basically can be broken down in 2 categories: travel to a system and kill a bunch of ships or bring a specific amount of goods to a particular system. Despite the promise of an open world, there’s little of it you’ll see as no travel within a system is permitted. Instead you choose a port and push the autopilot. You can’t even maneuver your fleet near a port except for combat.

Combat by the way is a marginally upgraded effort of Warpgate with very limited controls. You can get closer or farther from the enemy, fire weapons (one by one), turn on the invincibility shield and recharge. The latter makes you basically a running duck since until the process is complete, you can’t fire or toggle the shield. As such, the combat turns into closing in on the enemy, firing all weapons, toggling the shield, flying away from the enemy’s firing range, and recharging. Rinse, repeat. This simple tactic with enough patience and careful timing will allow you to bring down even the most powerful enemy with a much weaker ship.

Speaking of which, the ship customization part of Galaxy Pirate Adventure is definitely one of its stronger aspects. They come in a variety of classes – up to the all-powerful Battlecruiser – with a bunch of different models in each. They differ in speed and power capacity, as well as the amount of slots for weapons and auxiliary equipment. Most of the items can be bought though the more advanced versions are only available as rewards for side-quests. Unfortunately (and strangely enough), for several such rare items the chance of award is set as 0%.

In addition to credits, Galaxy Pirate Adventure requires additional resources for constructing new ships, which can only be retrieved through robbing missions. This led to a conundrum during the latter stages of my game however, as the two most powerful ship classes required Carbon for construction – something that I was unable to find anywhere in the universe. It took an e-mail to the devs to find out that it was indeed a bug and that the Coal I did find was the same thing as Carbon. This has since been remedied in a patch but left me spending a nervous hour or two beating the final story mission in a ship two classes too weak.

Another strength of Galaxy Pirate Adventure is definitely the graphics – space looks gorgeous with superb visual effects and detailed ships. All of this looks especially amazing on the latest gen of Apple devices (iPad 2 and iPhone 4S) thanks to power of the A5 chip. The game’s universal, so it can be played on both the iPhone and iPad. The only thing missing from this is the game-save syncing between devices.

Despite its claim Galaxy Pirate Adventure does not really deliver on the open world space adventure experience. The limited universe, pre-defined repetitive side-quests and cheesy story just don’t live up to the promise of true freedom. That said though, the combat is quite workable, the ship customization options are superb and the graphics are simply amazing, currently making it a unrivalled way to pass the time for any genre fan, at least until Warpgate 2 arrives.

With this I declare Galaxy Pirate Adventure officially touched!

Grab It Rating - 4/5

App Summary
Title: Galaxy Pirate Adventure Developer: Sunfish Studio Limited
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.3 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $4.99 App Size: 233.89MB
  • Excellent graphics
  • Universal
  • Wide array of ships and customization opportunities
  • Decent combat system
  • Repetitive pre-defined sidequests
  • Grammar and spelling problems
  • No free-flight in systems
  • Cheesy story

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Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space in Review – Unlock the mysteries of the universe in 30 minutes or less http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/16/weird-worlds-return-to-infinite-space-in-review/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2011/11/16/weird-worlds-return-to-infinite-space-in-review/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:46:50 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=60766 Have you wondered what’s out there in the great beyond? Are you a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars or Babylon 5? Have you ever dreamt of exploring new worlds, discovering ancient artifacts and meeting aliens? Well, settle in my dear friend, as now you can do all of that in the comfort of your … Read more]]>

Have you wondered what’s out there in the great beyond? Are you a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars or Babylon 5? Have you ever dreamt of exploring new worlds, discovering ancient artifacts and meeting aliens? Well, settle in my dear friend, as now you can do all of that in the comfort of your own living room! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the creativity of some indie devs, the full experience has essentially been recreated in Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space.

I usually begin my reviews by stating the genre of the title in question, but Weird Worlds got me stumped. It takes the exploration elements of Master of Orion, the RPG elements of a Space Rangers and throws on top a simplified tactics strategy game. A short backstory is provided depending on the faction you chose, but don’t expect a cutscene or anything. The goals are set and you are launched into space.

The ideology of Weird Worlds is actually closer to a board game than a computer one. You have to get the highest score possible in a limited amount of time. Score calculation is based on the faction you align with in the beginning – each has specific criteria. The factions in question are scientists, pirates and the army who value the most alien flora and fauna, unique artifacts and making first contact respectively, with some secondary goals as well. The ship and initial equipment you will have at your disposal for the actual exploration depends on the faction – so make your choice wisely.

The gameplay itself centers around exploration of the universe. Each star has a certain event associated with it – you can either find some artifacts, equipment or aliens in orbit. The latter vary from friendly traders to the hostile and protective races. Interestingly enough, some hostile races can be made friendly if you have previously discovered a specific artifact.

The combat system is quite simple: you are presented with a close-up view of both fleets and you can control your ships in real time to eliminate the enemy. I would warn the overaggressive types to carefully prepare for any battle though. Unless you have upgraded your ship with very nice equipment and found some allies to join your fleet, there’s a high likelihood you’ll end up dead. And in Weird Worlds dead is game over – no save game function is available.

Weird Worlds boasts some very nice graphics, whether it is the colourful overall map, the detailed icons and images of equipment and aliens or the nicely designed ships in combat view. The interface is generally very intuitive, with the rare ability for an iOS release to move the windows on the screen. The only change I would propose is to make the combat UI a bit more accessible and perhaps have it completely turn based. Also the lack of any save/load functions — though perfectly fitting into the ideology of the game — is often very frustrating when you die in a battle close to the end of the game. Multitasking is semi-supported, meaning if the game does not get closed completely, you’ll be fine. So if you run out of memory or manually close Weird Worlds in the multitasking tray, be prepared to start from scratch.

Weird Worlds is a unique application of the traditional board game ideology to an iOS release. It provides the essence of space exploration, including meeting and fighting aliens, recovering ancient artifacts, customizing ships and even traveling through black holes in carefully designed and tailored sessions. Even though I would like to see the ability to save/load a game, I can’t help but admit the significant effect its absence has on the experience, requiring you to assess the situation at all times and be extra diligent in your explorations. Yep, just like in real life! Up, up and away!

With this I declare Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space officially touched!

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space Developer: Astraware Limited
Reviewed Ver: 1.03.001 Min OS Req: 3.2
Price: $4.99 App Size: 23.26MB
  • Unique combination of genres
  • The essence of space exploration
  • Very nice graphics
  • Well balanced gameplay
  • No save/load function
  • Limited multi-tasking support
  • No campaign/story mode

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