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 Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:12:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.10 Devious Dungeon in Review: Random, Side Scrolling Fun http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/08/13/devious-dungeon-in-review-random-side-scrolling-fun/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/08/13/devious-dungeon-in-review-random-side-scrolling-fun/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 11:53:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74662 Ravenous Games is probably best known for their League Of Evil series, which is definitely an entertaining collection of platform games.  Personally, though, I actually get more enjoyment from Devious Dungeon.  Sporting the same cool pixel graphics as most of their other offerings, Devious Dungeon is a side scrolling rogue-like that provides random level generation, … Read more]]>

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Ravenous Games is probably best known for their League Of Evil series, which is definitely an entertaining collection of platform games.  Personally, though, I actually get more enjoyment from Devious Dungeon.  Sporting the same cool pixel graphics as most of their other offerings, Devious Dungeon is a side scrolling rogue-like that provides random level generation, loot collection and stat and weapon upgrades without all the hardcore stuff like needing to eat or weapons that get worn out and break.  It seems like the type of game that should get old after a while, yet every time I go back to play it I’m just as captivated as the time before.

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The plot is pretty basic – go down in the catacombs and clear them out.  In a game like this it works just fine because the lack of plot makes it real easy to pick up and play for a few minutes or a couple of hours, depending on your mood at the time.  The mechanics are equally simple.  Arrows allow you to move left and right, while two buttons provide you with the ability to jump and swing your sword.  It’s just enough to give you something to do without having to worry about forgetting all the commands or special moves between sessions.  The controls work quite well and make even the tightest of jumps fairly easy to execute.

So what exactly do you do in Devious Dungeon?  Well, your primary business is to slay lots of monsters and collect a bunch of loot.  Killing monsters gets you some experience and some coins, assuming you can catch them.  You also get coins from various statues and crates littered throughout the levels, so make sure you take out everything that you can destroy.  Most levels even contain a hidden area where you’ll find either a chest full of gems that earn you lots of coin or a tome that gives you a large amount of XP.  I really like the fact that as you level up the tomes increase in the amount of experience they give you, even if you go back and play earlier levels.  I also appreciate the fact that the game encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of a level, despite the fact that you might have found the key that opens the exit portal.

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Like most RPG style games, experience helps you level up.  When you gain a level you get one point to spend on stamina, strength or dexterity.  You can also buy potions that permanently increase certain stats as well as amulets and rings that bolster your stats as long as you’re wearing them.  And of course there are weapons and armor that fortify your attack and defense capabilities respectively.  I find it interesting that unlike most games where you can have multiple types of say a weapon or armor that do different things for you, in Devious Dungeon each object tree (weapon, armor, amulet and ring) is linear, with the next unlocked item is always better than the previous one.  The only question you have to answer at that point is which tree do you unlock the next rung in first?  In addition to simply completing the game there are 24 achievements to earn via Game Center as well as plenty of quests to complete which reward you with additional gold.  There is certainly plenty to keep you busy in Devious Dungeon.

If you’ve played any of the Ravenous Games offerings, especially from the League Of Evil series, then you know what to expect from the graphics, and Devious Dungeon does not disappoint.  Of course even if you’re just a pixel art lover you’ll be able to appreciate the crisp foreground objects and subdued backgrounds.  The characters are well rendered, and larger versions of creatures don’t just feel like resized sprites.  Even the main character goes through visual changes as you swap armor and swords.  The sound effects are decent, and while the individual creatures could use some distinct noises, you’ll always know when a particular ranged attacker is firing.  I also like the fact that wooden versus metallic objects make different sounds when you crush them.  The only thing that’s really missing aesthetically is a diversified soundtrack.  The music isn’t bad, but there appear to be only two main songs: one for all of the levels and another for when you visit Olaf’s camp to buy weapons or get healed.

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I’ve read in the past where people have felt that all of Ravenous Games’ offerings start to feel similar after a while, but honestly other than the jumping mechanic, Devious Dungeon provides a completely different experience from League Of Evil and really from most of their other games.  The random dungeons, myriad of quests and multitude of upgrades to collect give you plenty to do, and even in the sometimes tediousness the simplicity of the game incubates it never really gets boring.  Despite not actually being devious, Devious Dungeon is certainly plenty of fun.

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App Summary
Title: Devious Dungeon Developer: Ravenous Games Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 41.93MB
  • Lots of levels to conquer and loot
  • Plenty of quests to complete
  • Simple, effective control scheme
  • Great pixel visuals
  • Can get tedious at times
  • Needs a more diversified soundtrack

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Guardian Sword in Review – Match 3 / RPG And So Much More http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/19/guardian-sword-in-review-match-3-rpg-and-so-much-more/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/07/19/guardian-sword-in-review-match-3-rpg-and-so-much-more/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 17:34:21 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74595 I’ve always made the assertion that there’s room for one more match 3 hybrid on my device as long as the game keeps me entertained.  Guardian Sword has done so much more than that so far – it has become an addiction.  Rather than just mindlessly slogging through battle after battle this game actually has … Read more]]>

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I’ve always made the assertion that there’s room for one more match 3 hybrid on my device as long as the game keeps me entertained.  Guardian Sword has done so much more than that so far – it has become an addiction.  Rather than just mindlessly slogging through battle after battle this game actually has a story, items for you to collect and use, and multiple paths to pursue.  The characters and bosses are cool, and even the combat is handled differently than most games of this style that I’ve played.  I wasn’t at the point of being burned out on the match 3 / RPG mash-up yet, but even if I had this game would have sucked me right back into it.

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You play an adventurer named Guts that is on a quest for a weapon known as the Guardian Sword.  Of course whether or not he plans on using it for good is the question this story is hopefully going to tell.  Along the way you’ll meet some interesting characters, tangle with diverse minions and take on some powerful bosses.  You’ll also have to explore tunnels, unlock gates and flip switches almost like you were playing a Zelda game.  Then there are skills you can acquire, special tiles you can collect to aid you in your match 3 battles, and ancient relics that have awesome abilities like turning you into an owl to get over uncrossable gaps.  This game has almost as much to do on the map screen as it does in combat, which makes it more in depth than most of its peers.

Each minion battle sees you taking on 3 bad guys, while the boss battles are one on one against some of the toughest hombres in the land.  The match 3 mechanic has you dragging your finger across as many of the same tiles in a row as you can.  Your main weapons are a sword for melee damage and a crossbow for long range torture, and once you finally get magic you’ll trigger that by making matches with the mana tiles.  Any special tiles you’ve discovered will be used when you match them with their corresponding color tiles on the board, though you can only take four of them into battle at any given time.  The same applies to skills, though those are triggered by hand simply by tapping on the icon for the skill.  Each skill requires a certain amount of mana and has a cooling down period before it can be used again, and for the most part they take the place of making a match.

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Battles earn you experience, coins and sometimes an item as well.  Items will be things like healing potions or anti-stun herbs that can be used during battle.  Coins are used to buy additional items or upgrade your weapons and armor.  You’ll also collect gems which can be used to forge your equipment into even stronger equipment or to continue if you’ve been defeated in battle.  Finally you have skill points which can be used to build up certain aspects of your character.  There’s a lot to collect and customize which gives you the opportunity to experiment in how you’ll play the game.  One other great feature is the ability to have a teammate.  Teammates will join you at various points in the story and will level up as you use them.  On the plus side they do their thing automatically, but you can only have one “equipped” at a time.

The visuals in Guardian Sword are really cool.  The maps look good, the characters are well drawn and the animation is pretty slick.  The sound effects are decent for the most part.  It would be nice if the different creatures actually made unique noises to compliment their differing designs.  The music is nice enough to listen to, and each area has its own track to listen to.

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There are plenty of match 3 / RPG hybrids out there, with one or two popping up seemingly every day.  Because of that, it takes something special in the genre to get noticed any more, and Guardian Sword is just such a game.  The combination of skills, special tiles and teammates that you can have is enormous, and when you through in several different stats you can update the depth for this type of game is incredible.  The graphics are great, and story is actually humorous at times.  As a whole this is certainly one of the best recent releases in the mash up genre, if not one of the top released so far.

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App Summary
Title: Guardian Sword Developer: Picsoft Studio
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.1.1
Price: Free App Size: 119.10MB
  • In depth skill / special tile / teammate system
  • Lots to do on the map besides match 3 combat
  • Actually has a story
  • Great graphics
  • Nothing significant

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You Must Build A Boat in Review – Awesome Match 3 Rouge Like Action http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/06/12/you-must-build-a-boat-in-review-awesome-match-3-rouge-like-action/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/06/12/you-must-build-a-boat-in-review-awesome-match-3-rouge-like-action/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 20:52:57 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74497 This is a sequel to a game that I don’t recall the name of off hand, but I’m pretty sure I own it and have not actually played it.  After spending some time with You Must Build A Boat I realize I really missed out the first time around, even if the game were only … Read more]]>

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This is a sequel to a game that I don’t recall the name of off hand, but I’m pretty sure I own it and have not actually played it.  After spending some time with You Must Build A Boat I realize I really missed out the first time around, even if the game were only half as good as this one.  The best I can describe the experience as is a side scrolling rogue like with real time match 3 battles and a boat building sim to boot.  The real time nature of the game frustrates me to no end at times, but the overall package is so polished that I instantly fall in love with it again.  Also, this is one of the rare games I’ve ever played that actually makes you feel good when you die by displaying “You Win” at the end of a run, even if you didn’t meet any of your goals.

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As the title of the game suggests, the overriding goal of your travels is to build a boat.  You start out with basically a deck and a place to sleep, and as you progress through the game you’ll meet various characters that require their own rooms to be added to your ship.  Just so you don’t feel completely taken advantage of, however, each new resident will offer you some sort of service in return for your hospitality.  These include things like upgrading weapons, training captured creatures to work alongside of you and letting you sell back all the worthless junk you find in treasure chests.  It’s basically like having your own floating adventure game city always with you.

The dungeons themselves are a combination of a “window” to the dungeon at the top of the screen as well as a match 3 area below that.  Your character is constantly running towards the right of the screen, but any time a monster or treasure chest gets in the way you’ll have to stop and deal with it.  You get rid of chests by matching keys, and monsters can be dispatched by matching swords or staffs or by using spells or weapons that are revealed when matching seemingly innocent, empty crates.  There are also traps that will periodically show up that require specific object matches to get rid of.  What you need to keep in mind here is that if you aren’t running forward you will be pushed backwards, and if you end up getting pushed off the left side of the screen the run is over.

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There is plenty of loot to be found along the way, either in the form of gold coins or junk that can be sold to get coins.  Occasionally you’ll be lucky enough to score some silver as well.  All of this can be used to upgrade your sword, staff and shield.  If you want to recruit monsters to fight for your cause, on the other hand, you’ll need to match plenty of the arms and brains that you find on the playing field.  Each dungeon has plenty of quests to complete, and your rewards for beating each one will vary from some gold to unlocking monsters you can recruit to finding rare and useful items.  There is no Game Center integration, but like the olden days you’ll get much satisfaction from actually completing the game.

Speaking of old school, I love the visuals in this game.  Granted the pixelization often makes it hard to tell what things are, but that’s part of the graphics’ charm.  Of course if you’ve played games back in the days of Atari or the Commodore 64 then these images should look right at home to you.  The sound effects are actually pretty decent and don’t come off like standard match 3 hybrid type sound bytes.  The music is enjoyable enough, reminding me of NES / SNES era tunes.

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If you’re already a fan of match 3 / rouge like hybrids, there’s no reason you shouldn’t already be playing this game.  If you’ve never tried them or are burnt out on the concept, You Must Build A Boat is great way to get hooked (possibly for something other than the first time).  My inability to keep up with the action at times aside, there’s not a whole lot here not to like.

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App Summary
Title: You Must Build A Boat Developer: EightyEight Games LTD
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.1617 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 56.07MB
  • Plenty of action and places to explore
  • Lots of upgrades and monsters to recruit
  • Awesome pixel graphics
  • Decent audio elements
  • Real time combat can get frustrating
  • Multiple swipes sometimes required to move row or column
  • Can’t always discern what creatures are

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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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