TouchMyApps » Review 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 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 03:32:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.5 Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey HD in Review – Creepy Visions Make Nifty Games http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/03/01/mind-snares-alices-journey-hd-in-review-creepy-visions-make-nifty-games/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/03/01/mind-snares-alices-journey-hd-in-review-creepy-visions-make-nifty-games/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 03:32:17 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74298 If you’ve been adventure gaming on your iPhone or iPad for long I’m sure you’ve run across a G5 adventure or two.  The name Artifex Mundi might not sound quite as familiar, but they had their hands in both the Nightmares from the Deep series and Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden, both of which I’ve … Read more]]>

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If you’ve been adventure gaming on your iPhone or iPad for long I’m sure you’ve run across a G5 adventure or two.  The name Artifex Mundi might not sound quite as familiar, but they had their hands in both the Nightmares from the Deep series and Abyss: The Wraiths of Eden, both of which I’ve given high regards to.  Their latest combined effort is Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey, and having just finished it I’d say it deserves the Artifex Mundi branding.  Excellent visuals, theatrical quality music and an odd storyline do a great job of keeping you entranced to the very end.  Either this version wasn’t the collector’s edition or the typical bonus adventure was strangely absent this time around, but there was more than enough main game play to make up for that missing element.

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You play the role of Alice, a run down middle class laborer who is basically unhappy with her life.  On your way to a client you run off the road, and the journey that ensues is one of weird dreams and enlightening quests.  Alice certainly has a vivid imagination, as her black robed spirit guide takes her through a “living doll” factory, the salvation of a half dying tree and the quest to feed some old hag her supper.  Through it all you’ll have to complete plenty of object quests, solve a few mini-games and explore several hidden object scenes.  The game is broken up into an intro and four main chapters, and of them I think I liked chapter one the best as it had the most enjoyable ratio tasks: object puzzles took center stage, mini games came next and hidden object scenes were minimal.  As the game progressed the amount of hidden object scenes increased, and while I have nothing against them I’m finding that I much prefer the object based puzzles like adventure games of old.

Control is just what you’d expect from this style of game.  Double tap where you want to move, tap to pick up objects and interact with the scene, and tap or drag to use inventory items with something on the screen.  The mini games are all fairly basic and require little beyond simple tapping or dragging.  While conceptually some of the games were different then I’ve seen in the past, it would have been nice if there were a bit more innovation in interacting with the device itself, like tilting or maybe even using the camera.  The game has the standard difficulty settings that alter things like the time between hint recharges and whether or not “hot spots” sparkle so they are easier to find.  The game does have several achievements you can earn, and what it thankfully doesn’t have is any of those “collect 50 of these throughout the game” type objects.

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As usual the visuals are top notch, with finely detailed backgrounds, well rendered hidden object scenes and cool looking characters.  And as usual the main drawback is that the lip syncing always seems a bit off.  The sound effects are decent enough, and the voice acting is actually pretty good.  I also think they did a really good job with the music.  It’s not distracting, and when you actually take the time to listen to it you’ll hear that it’s quite well written.

Overall I really enjoyed Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey.  I don’t get to do a complete play through on games very often any more, but this one kept me going until the end was right there.  I would have liked to have seen the balance of game play styles stay consistent based on the first chapter, but other than that I have no complaints.  If you are an adventure game fan, and especially if you’ve played other Artifex Mundi games, you’ll definitely want to check this one out.

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App Summary
Title: Mind Snares: Alice’s Journey HD Developer: G5 Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:  1.0 Min OS Req:  5.1.1
Price: Free App Size:  779 MB
  • Interesting story
  • Lots of game play
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • As game progresses the balance of game play elements gets worse

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Satellina in Review – Simple Yet Engaging http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/02/18/satellina-in-review-simple-yet-engaging/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/02/18/satellina-in-review-simple-yet-engaging/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 01:52:30 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74269 There are a multitude of games in the “dodge everything” or “dodge this while avoiding that” genre of causal games, but few have managed to be anywhere near as intriguing as the Tilt To Live series.  With Satellina there’s a new contender to the throne, and the game play is actually unique compared with any … Read more]]>

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There are a multitude of games in the “dodge everything” or “dodge this while avoiding that” genre of causal games, but few have managed to be anywhere near as intriguing as the Tilt To Live series.  With Satellina there’s a new contender to the throne, and the game play is actually unique compared with any other games of this style that I’ve played before.  Combined with simple yet sharp visuals and a great soundtrack, this is basically a “can’t miss”.  The main gripe I have with the game is its length, or unfortunate lack thereof.

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The goal of the game is to clear each of the 50 boards in under two and a half minutes.  You can change the color scheme, but using the default theme you’ll do this by first collecting all the green items, then collecting all the yellow (which will turn to green), and finally consuming the red (yep, they change to yellow and then green respectively).  This sounds easy enough, right?  Well, the levels are lumped into groups of 5, and within a level group once the clock starts ticking it doesn’t stop.  If you touch one element of the wrong color you have to start that level over, so if you run into a particularly challenging level it can quickly eat into your two minute thirty second time window.

To top it off, you’ll have to clear every level in under 2:30 in order to truly beat the game.  Oh, and once you’ve mastered all that you can play the grand tour, which takes you through all 50 levels with one timer.  Controlling the game is a simple matter of dragging your finger across the screen, and you can either keep it right on your avatar if you feel that gives you tighter control or at a distance if you think it gives you a better view of the action.

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Having said all of that, I think I completed the entire game, including the grand tour, in about 45 minutes.  That’s not to say you can’t go back and try to better your score in a particular set of levels, and it is actually entertaining to do that for a while, but I really hope they have plans for more levels, because this is one game that definitely needs it.  The game does keep track of your score compared to other players, though it does this internally and not through Game Center.  It would be nice to have some sort of achievements even if they are trivial to provide incentive to keep playing.  Some multiplayer options would be cool as well, like say a competition where the game randomly picks five levels and see which player completes them more rapidly.

The visuals are simple but effective.  All the objects are circles that actually kind of look like a power button icon, and you are represented by a white crosshairs.  The background is a solid color which is there just for the sake of having a background.  The sound effects are basically superfluous, though there is a noise to indicate that you’ve cleared all objects of the “safe” color.  The music is quite nice, on the other hand, and there is a separate track for each level group.  The game is even kind enough to switch between tracks as you advance through the level groups in Grand Tour mode.

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Satellina is a good game, and every time I’ve gone back to it for final analysis before finishing up this review I’ve enjoyed playing it.  The music is great, the levels are varied and some are rather challenging, and trying to master some level groups to get the best score can be quite a rush.  I just wish there was more to the game.  I don’t know what the developers have in store for the game’s future, though the ? in the last level group circle indicates that there’s additional content coming.  Hopefully it will come soon and be as strong as what the game currently has to offer.

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App Summary
Title: Satellina Developer: Peter Smith
Reviewed Ver:  1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 4.0
Price: $1.99 App Size:  40.7 MB
  • Cool variation on “dodge and consume” style game play
  • Levels are often challenging
  • Great music
  • Current content is too short
  • No replay incentive other than high score

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Crazy Chicken Director’s Cut in Review – Second Verse, Better Than The First http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/01/28/crazy-chicken-directors-cut-in-review-second-verse-better-than-the-first/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/01/28/crazy-chicken-directors-cut-in-review-second-verse-better-than-the-first/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:51:07 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74254 The chickens are back, and I’m still not 100% sure what to make of the series.  As a mid-tier movie buff I like the setting of this game much better, especially since it focuses on sci-fi and horror movies.  On the other hand, there is only 1 game play mode instead of the three offered … Read more]]>

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The chickens are back, and I’m still not 100% sure what to make of the series.  As a mid-tier movie buff I like the setting of this game much better, especially since it focuses on sci-fi and horror movies.  On the other hand, there is only 1 game play mode instead of the three offered by the original game, and the number of achievements is significantly less.  I still think of the two offerings I’d rather play this one, but it probably isn’t going to be enough of a step above Crazy Chicken Pirates to satiate the hunger of those that got bored with the original.

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As with its predecessor, the top priority in Director’s Cut is to shoot the chickens.  Whereas the original offered three game play modes which admittedly mainly differed in determining what resulted in the game being over, this one offers only one option: you play until you run out of bullets.  The game toggles between a scene full of sci-fi sets and one that boasts spoofs of all your favorite horror films, and in order to transition from one to the other you must shoot a certain number of 3 different types of targets.  Of course the total number of targets increases with each transition, and so far I have seen no way to earn extra bullets aside from actually completing a scene and transitioning to the next one.  As a result, it almost seems inevitable that you will eventually not have enough bullets to complete a scene, especially if you make one or two mistakes (or decide to shoot something else just for the sake of it).

Thankfully the need to shoot everything in sight to find out what you can score on is still present in this game.  In addition to that, however, there are some instances where you have to solve a simple puzzle in order to get a chicken to a position where you can take them out.  And, if you happen to be a fan of either of the covered genres, you’ll appreciate trying to find all the hidden (or not so hidden) references to the films you know and love.  The game only has one leaderboard and 40 achievements to earn, so while it’s not quite as Game Center centric as the original there’s still plenty to work towards.  But, much like its predecessor, the game can get a bit repetitive after a while.  Even if they stuck to the same 2 genres and charged IAP for them, it would be nice to see a couple more scenes added over time.  That shouldn’t be too hard given the plethora of source material to choose from.

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The visuals are right in line with the first game, which is to say that they are cartoonish, detailed and quite enjoyable.  There’s a certain undeniable charm in seeing a chicken dressed as classic horror icons, and the sci-fi world is pretty cool as well.  The sound effects are decent and the music is well written, but it would have been nice if the audio gelled a bit more with the specific content instead of feeling generic. Still, I’m glad there at least was music at all, which is a step up from their previous effort.

The mobile touch screen paradigm is the perfect place for a shooting gallery style game, so it seems only fitting that the Moorhuhn franchise would find its way to iOS devices.  While not the best of the genre for said devices, the Crazy Chicken series certainly provides some decent entertainment with its colorful characters and plenty of extras to shoot at.  If you haven’t taken one for a spin yet I’d certainly recommend giving Crazy Chicken Director’s Cut a try.

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App Summary
Title: Crazy Chicken Director’s Cut – Moorhuhn series Developer: Teyon
Reviewed Ver:  1.0.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:  64.0 MB
  • Plenty to shoot at
  • Great themes with loads of colorful characters
  • Good music
  • Tends to get repetitive
  • Only one game play mode
  • Needs sound effects that relate to specific events going on

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The Secret Of Raven Rock in Review – Don’t Worry, I Won’t Tell http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/01/05/the-secret-of-raven-rock-in-review-dont-worry-i-wont-tell/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2015/01/05/the-secret-of-raven-rock-in-review-dont-worry-i-wont-tell/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 06:08:04 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74229 The Secret Of Raven Rock was the last game I played in 2014, so I figured I’d make it my first review for 2015.  As adventure games go it doesn’t have the most original or intriguing plot, but the game play is interesting enough that you want to keep coming back to find out what … Read more]]>

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The Secret Of Raven Rock was the last game I played in 2014, so I figured I’d make it my first review for 2015.  As adventure games go it doesn’t have the most original or intriguing plot, but the game play is interesting enough that you want to keep coming back to find out what you’ll discover next.  The puzzles are well balanced, the mini games don’t keep you hung up for too long, and the game actually tries to take advantage of some of the features of the device like multi-touch and tilting.  Overall it was a fun experience and worth the time investment for iOS adventure game fans.

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The basic premise is that you arrive home after an extended absence only to find the village abandoned and a weird vibe in the air.  Now you must figure out where your people went and who the mysterious warlock is that you’ve heard rumors about.  At least this gives you a reason to do what you’re doing, but this “disappearing town” shtick gets kind of old because it means there are no NPCs to interact with, and to me that’s half the fun of an adventure game.  Still, if you can get past that hang up there’s plenty to do in Raven Rock and an odd mystique that drives you to do it.

Navigating the world is pretty typical: tap where you want to move, tap to pick up items and drag to use items somewhere in your current scene.  At least, that’s what the game would have you believe.  As it turns out, there are times where you have to drag things to move them, hold things with one finger while tapping objects with another, and even an instance where you get to use the camera.  I like how they’ve integrated more than just simple tap mechanics into the game, though it would have been nice to know that such mechanics existed so I wouldn’t have torn out quite as much hair.  Still, I’ve already forgiven the developers and applaud them for thinking outside the box.  There’s also a map, and while it’s not completely interactive, at least it lets you jump to the start of any major section of the game.

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In addition to the bounty of object based puzzles there are also plenty of mini games to dig into.  There’s a nice variety, though sadly they still had to have at least two of the “slide tiles to make a picture” type, which are among my least favorite given that there is no recourse to skip a puzzle after a given amount of time.  Just like with the object based puzzles, there are times where you must use multi-touch and even an occasion that requires you to tilt the device to complete the puzzles, so while the types of puzzles might not always have been to my liking, I give them credit for not just making another simple tap everywhere type game.  If there was one true complaint I had it’s the fact that the game tends to be a bit unstable, as it crashed on me several times over the course of playing.  Thankfully I never lost any real progress.

Raven Rock looks really good.  All the backgrounds are crisp and nicely detailed, and for the most part it’s easy to tell what all the objects are.  The graphics do get a bit fuzzy when you transition between scenes, but I’ll take it because I like the whole transition effect.  It gives you more of a sense that you’re moving between areas instead of just suddenly being in a new place.  The sound effects do a decent job of conveying what’s going on around you, so at least it doesn’t feel completely dead.  The music is pretty good, and in certain locations they do a great job with ambient sounds – hanging around in certain locations can give you the creeps, especially if you forget the game is running!

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The Secret Of Raven Rock is certainly not without it’s issues, but along with Escape From LaVille it has provided a strong, enjoyable conclusion to my year as far as adventure games go.  And, despite the fairly clichéd story, the cliffhanger at the end has me hoping that they are working on a sequel for the new year.  I just hope the next installment comes with a slightly more stable engine.

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App Summary
Title: The Secret of Raven Rock Developer: Raven Rock Games
Reviewed Ver:  1.1 Min OS Req:  iOS 7.0
Price: $1.99 App Size:  96.0 MB
  • Plenty of puzzles and mini-games
  • Used mechanics beyond simple tap and drag
  • Really nice visuals
  • Good music and ambient noises
  • Story was pretty generic
  • Game crashed several times

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Escape From LaVille1 in Review: Beware The Green Mist http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/15/escape-from-laville1-in-review-beware-the-green-mist/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/15/escape-from-laville1-in-review-beware-the-green-mist/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:04:09 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74203 As I start to write this review the sequel to Escape From LaVille has been released for just a few days.  I never got the chance to play the first one, however, so I figured I should do that before diving into the sequel.  I’m glad I did.  Not only does it directly set up … Read more]]>

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As I start to write this review the sequel to Escape From LaVille has been released for just a few days.  I never got the chance to play the first one, however, so I figured I should do that before diving into the sequel.  I’m glad I did.  Not only does it directly set up the second game, but it’s actually a very entertaining adventure game.  Best of all, while the ending is brief, it’s one of the best ones I’ve run across in a mobile adventure game in a while.  It certainly left me surprised and stunned.

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You are Forest Campbell, and you have been sent to LaVille to try and figure out what wiped out the entire town.  Your investigation leads you to an old mansion with a weird green light that seems to emanate from the porch, and once you enter your adventures are only beginning…

It amazes me how many old mansions are filled with traps and puzzles, but I guess if they weren’t we’d have nothing to adventure around in, right?  This is a “pure” adventure game in the sense that all you’ll find is object and logic based puzzles rather than a collection of hidden object screens.  The puzzles are pretty straightforward and well thought out, and while I did have to access the help a couple of times I think there was really only one instance where I wouldn’t have figured out the solution with a little more patience.  There was really only one mini game that consisted of rotating some tiles in a picture, and it was fairly easy to figure out.  The interface was fairly basic adventure fare that requires you to tap to move and pick up objects.  In this particular interface, however, you tap inventory items and then tap where you want to use them instead of dragging them onto the scene.  Everything was extremely responsive and I never had trouble executing what I wanted to do.  If anything I might say the game could have been just a smidge longer, but I don’t think you’ll feel disappointed in any way.

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The graphics were good, though I think I did myself a disservice by playing the iPhone version of the game on my iPad.  I cheated a bit and used shots from the iPad version for this review, and they certainly look much crisper than what I saw when I played.  Still, for being scaled up to fit my device the visuals were certainly detailed enough and everything was readily discernible.  The sound effects weren’t bad, though we didn’t get treated to any voice-overs since this was a solo outing with no NPC interaction.  Musically the audio delivered with a soundtrack that fit the ominous tone of your explorations.

Escape From LaVille 1 is another fine example of how to do an adventure game right on iOS devices.  The interface was solid, the story was intriguing (though they could have used a better translator), and the audio and visuals did a decent job of taking you into Forest Campbell’s world.  You can quibble about the length of the game, but equal parts of me say it was a bit short and it was just the right length.  If you like adventure games you should enjoy this one.  Now if you’ll excuse me I’m on to part two…

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App Summary
Title: Escape from LaVille 1 Developer: Gabriele Pellistri
Reviewed Ver:  1.2 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:  87.8 MB
  • Good story with twist ending
  • Balanced game play with minimal mini games
  • Pleasant visuals
  • Good music
  • Might have been a bit short
  • Text could have been translated better
  • Needed some voice-overs

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The House on Usher in Review: Bosses That Go Bump In The Night http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/13/the-house-on-usher-in-review-bosses-that-go-bump-in-the-night/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/13/the-house-on-usher-in-review-bosses-that-go-bump-in-the-night/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 12:29:41 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74196 So here we are with another hidden object game that wasn’t released by one of the “big players”.  In fact, The House On Usher looks to be the first iOS outing for Red Aphid Games.  Turns out it’s actually a pretty fun game.  As sadly seems to be the case with most hidden object games … Read more]]>

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So here we are with another hidden object game that wasn’t released by one of the “big players”.  In fact, The House On Usher looks to be the first iOS outing for Red Aphid Games.  Turns out it’s actually a pretty fun game.  As sadly seems to be the case with most hidden object games there’s a bit of a response problem when clicking on the objects you’re trying to find, but otherwise the game has solid production values and plenty of locales to explore.  It also has a decent mystery vibe about it that makes you want to keep playing to find out what the strange force behind the house is.

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The House On Usher is what one might expect if the legendary Steven King where to try his hand at horror comedy.  You’re a neophyte real estate woman trying to make her name by turning over this worn down, abandoned property… which just happens to be haunted.  The story unfolds through newspaper clippings and your general investigation of the house, and your only contact with the outside world is your boss who seems to know a lot more than he’s letting on.  There’s nothing earth shattering about the story, but the lighthearted nature is a nice change form many of the macabre offerings of Big Fish Games.

The interface is pretty standard for this style of game play.  Tap on the screen to move to a new location, tap on items within the screen to pick them up and drag items from your inventory to use them with other items on the screen.  There are just a couple of different types of mini games scattered throughout the main game and they just require simple tap and drag operations as well.  You can pinch to zoom in and out, but there’s also a handy magnifying glass that will zoom you completely in or out with a quick tap.  More importantly, I really appreciate the fact that you can actually tap on the locations in the map and move directly to them without any fuss.  This should be a standard feature of adventure games in my opinion.  The main issue with the interface is that you often have to click several times on an object before it registers that you clicked the object.  Sadly that’s pretty common with hidden object games on the iPad, but in this case it gets really frustrating when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for in the first place.

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Game play is divided into three segments: object puzzles, hidden object scenes and mini games.  As a “bonus” you get to clean the house which consists of finding any stray cobwebs, bugs or mauve items (apparently your character doesn’t like mauve).  This is where it gets frustrating, because in a given scene you’re told how many items need to be cleaned up, but not what you’re looking for.  The bugs are especially difficult to find, and when clicking them doesn’t respond appropriately it may leave you baffled.  In hidden object scenes you’re always presented with a list so you don’t have to try to match shadows or place objects where they belong.  Most of the mini games are like a Wheel Of Fortune board where you’re given a clue and must spell out a phrase with supplied letters.  There are a couple of others, but thankfully unlike a lot of modern hidden object games you don’t have to complete a mini game to get behind every locked area.  Overall the game play felt pretty balanced.

The graphics fall in line nicely with higher end hidden object games.  Detailed backgrounds give you a real sense of the environment and also make it challenging to find the objects.  There are only two characters, you and your boss, but they are well designed and some of the boss’ expressions are pretty humorous.  The sound effects are decent enough, and they did a good job casting the boss, though I will say that the girl seems a bit whiny sometimes.  There’s a decent selection of music that all sounds really good, but don’t listen to closely to some of the tracks because you’ll realize that they are on a fairly short repeat loop.  Still, I enjoyed the tunes for the most part.

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While we’re seeing more “pure” adventure games show up on the App Store these days, they’re still few and far between compared to hidden object games.  As long as the latter is going to be prevalent for a while, I hope more of them turn out like this one.  Niggles about the interface and the sometimes repetitive music aside, I found myself practically unable to tear myself away from this adventure until it was complete, and that’s the way a good gaming journey should be.  I will leave you with one final warning: if you’re the type that finds the end more important than the journey you might want to stay away, because the conclusion to this tale leaves a lot to be desired.

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App Summary
Title: The House on Usher Developer: Red Aphid Games
Reviewed Ver:  1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size:  230 MB
  • Mystery that keeps you coming back
  • Decent balance of game play
  • Nice visuals
  • Entertaining music
  • Item tapping needs to be more responsive
  • Weak ending
  • Soundtrack does get repetitive

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Acky’s Breakout Reloaded – brick breaker in Review: Played The Rest? Try One Of The Best http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/03/ackys-breakout-reloaded-brick-breaker-in-review-played-the-rest-try-one-of-the-best/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/12/03/ackys-breakout-reloaded-brick-breaker-in-review-played-the-rest-try-one-of-the-best/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 20:51:42 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74184 If you consider yourself anything more than a solitaire player when it comes to computer games then you’ve probably played a Breakout clone or two in your time.  Much like the tower defense genre there’s a pretty basic game play mechanic that most variants in this genre stick to, so just like in tower defense … Read more]]>

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If you consider yourself anything more than a solitaire player when it comes to computer games then you’ve probably played a Breakout clone or two in your time.  Much like the tower defense genre there’s a pretty basic game play mechanic that most variants in this genre stick to, so just like in tower defense games it tends to boil down to window dressing.  And boy is Acky’s window looking spiffy.  There are power ups, pilots and pets, oh my!  Create more than one ball at the same time, destroy random bricks to help you complete a level and try real hard to conquer the boards where you must hit all the bricks without touching the side and top walls.  This may be “just” a brick breaker at heart, but there’s plenty of fluff to keep gamers happy.

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So it’s just another Saturday night as you head out in your extremely oversized paddle to knock around a few bricks that seem to have formed odd but appealing patterns in the middle of space.  If most of this sounds familiar then you get the gist of your average Breakout clone.  Thankfully Acky’s Breakout Reloaded tosses in enough extras to make it stand out from the crowd.  Foremost is the idea of creating balls from a mystical material called ether.  As long as you have enough you can create another ball and keep playing, and the stuff does regenerate over time.  You can also collect it as it falls from certain bricks or buy it in the store with the pizza that you earn.  There are plenty of power ups to collect and use, and whenever possible the game tries to put a new twist on them – for example, the Prediction power up will not only draw a line to show where the incoming ball will bounce when you hit it, but the ball actually slows down so you can try to reposition the shot if you want.

When you complete a level you’ll earn 10, 20 or 30 slices of pizza depending on the rank you placed in the level.  You can also sometimes pick up slices of pizza floating in space if your reflexes are quick enough, and naturally you can buy additional pizza via IAP.  Pizza is used to buy power ups (if you want to actually start the level with one), specials which include things like filling ether and gem tanks, and pilots and pets.  You can collect ‘em all if you wish – in fact it’s encouraged thanks to two of the missions – but you can only use one pilot and one pet at a given time.  Each has their own bonus to bring to the game, so choose wisely based on how you like to play.  The game boasts 175 levels, and so far none of them have felt repetitious to me.  There are also 24 missions (AKA Game Center achievements) to complete as well as 6 different leaderboards to rank on.  The only additional thing I’d like to see is some sort of reward for completing each mission.

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The graphics are retro HD, with cool pixel graphics that are nicely detailed and just enough special effects to keep them from getting boring.  You do actually see your pilot and pet in the paddle as well, which is a sweet touch.  The sound effects are pretty much what you might expect from this type of game, and it’s kind of disappointing that there are no special noises for any of the pilots or pets that you pick.  On the other hand, I really like the music.  It’s not necessarily the kind of stuff I’d listen to on its own, but the style just seems to suit the overall atmosphere of the game.

There is certainly no shortage of breakout style games on the App Store.  The question is whether you want just another clone or are you more interested in playing the best?  If you choose the latter then you’ll definitely want to take Acky’s Breakout Reloaded for a spin.  I’m not a big fan of the genre, but after more than 40 levels the game still has me thoroughly entertained.  Between the sheer number of levels, the achievements and the vast amount of pilots and pets there are to collect there’s never a shortage of goals to reach for, and the game even does a decent job of combating the “can’t get that last brick” syndrome so many brick breaker games suffer from.  And who doesn’t love the thought of using pizza as currency?

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App Summary
Title: Acky’s Breakout Reloaded – Brick Breaker Developer: Isotope 244
Reviewed Ver:  1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 5.0
Price: $2.99 App Size:  38.2 MB
  • Plenty of levels
  • Numerous achievements and 6 leaderboards
  • Lots of pets and pilots to collect
  • Great pixel art and rockin’ music
  • Pizza takes a lot of time to earn
  • Sound effects are a bit weak

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Zup! in Review – What Goes Zup… http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/11/12/zup-in-review-what-goes-zup/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/11/12/zup-in-review-what-goes-zup/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:09:31 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74156 These days the “infinite” mold takes on many different shapes and sizes.  You have your traditional runners, vehicular based romps, games where you’re constantly falling or in cases like this a flight to the ends of the universe (or at least to Mars).  Cool graphics, jazzy music and a number of achievements give you reason … Read more]]>

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These days the “infinite” mold takes on many different shapes and sizes.  You have your traditional runners, vehicular based romps, games where you’re constantly falling or in cases like this a flight to the ends of the universe (or at least to Mars).  Cool graphics, jazzy music and a number of achievements give you reason to keep coming back, but the lack of upgradable anything seems to be curbing my enthusiasm just a bit.

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Top Hat Joe just wants to reach for the stars, and it’s your job to help him fulfill his dreams.  The problem is that things like skull balloons, laser barriers and UFOs that shoot fireballs all do their part in trying to stop Joe from having a good time.  Luckily you can acquire temporary power ups like a gun or helmet that takes out the opposition or a magnet to attract stars to you so that you can stay out of harm’s way.  You’ll also occasionally run into hot air balloons that both give you an inflated sense of ego and add an extra life to your roster.  Don’t allow this to let you take your guard down, however, because no matter how many lives you have hitting enough of the wrong things will eventually end your trip and force you to start again.

Navigating Top Hat Joe is a simple matter of tilting your device left and right.  You do need to keep in mind that Joe will wrap around the screen, so make sure that when you’re trying to escape one obstacle by drifting “out of bounds” that you don’t end up colliding with something on the other side.  The game offers 2 leaderboards via Game Center.  One is for longest distance travelled and the other is for highest score.  I’m not sure what all gives you score, though I know collecting stars is one of the possibilities.  There are also 27 different achievements to earn, and while not all of them are overly difficult I think you’ll find that trying to get them all will keep you busy for a while.  The one thing I really missed was the fact that there were no power ups to upgrade or anything like characters or outfits to unlock.

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Visually the game is a cross between good sixties cartoons and the animated sequences in a Monty Python movie.  Object designs are well done and everything is nicely animated.  I like some of the little touches like your head growing bigger as you gain lives.  The sound effects are kind of a mixed bag, but the music further solidifies the whole Saturday morning cartoon feel the game exudes.  It’s definitely an atmosphere that both kids and adults can appreciate.

Zup is a fun infinite floater in a kooky Saturday morning setting.  It’s easy to get into and even if you’re not the kind of person to compete with others in leaderboards the achievements will keep you coming back for some time.  I just wish there were elements to upgrade or unlock to make you feel like the stars were really worth collecting.  I know the stars embellish the score, but to me the real joy in this style of game is getting a higher score because I’ve upgraded something to the next level.

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App Summary
Title: ZUP! Developer: e4 software
Reviewed Ver:  1.0 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: $0.99 App Size:  69.5 MB
  • Easy to grasp
  • Decent assortment of achievements
  • Cool visuals
  • Fun atmosphere
  • No unlocks or upgrades
  • Screen can get cluttered

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Gummy Drop! in Review – Match 3, Quests And IAP, Oh My! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/10/10/gummy-drop-in-review-match-3-quests-and-iap-oh-my/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:09:22 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74084 Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre … Read more]]>

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Most of my experience with Big Fish Games has been in relation to hidden object games, at least when it comes to my iDevices.  I was intrigued by the release of Gummy Drop!, though, because I was told that it wasn’t a cookie cutter match 3 game, and as a devout fan of the genre I’m always looking for something that feels fresh.  The truth is that from a mechanics perspective there really isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, or at least that’s the case with as far as I’ve gotten.  What does stand out, however, are all the goals and extras that come with completing the levels.  Be warned that this is a free to play game, which means you’ll need a fair amount of patience or the willingness to spend some IAP to keep progressing after a while.

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Your job is to travel the world fixing all the destruction the gummies have caused.  To do that you’ll have to match gummies like you’ve never matched before, clearing them away to reach high scores so you can move on to subsequent levels.  Some levels have special tiles that need to be cleared away in order to win, and still others have bricks that need to be collected by matching them.  There are even some cases where you have to gather souvenirs by matching away the stuff beneath them so they fall to the bottom of the screen.  Each level has three difficulties with progressively harder goals to attain and greater rewards to earn.  Besides getting to keep the bricks you match you will earn coins and other items that will help you fulfill certain missions.

You see, in addition to simply beating the levels there are various quests around the board that you’ll need to complete.  The most basic one is rebuilding certain structures which you’ll use the bricks you collect to accomplish.  In the first 10 levels you’ll need to collect special coins that you’ll use to help rebuild a lighthouse, and so on.  I like this because it gives you incentive to replay the levels at a higher difficulty and provides you with more satisfaction than just beating other people’s high scores and climbing leaderboard charts.  Of course if you really do care about that sort of thing you are more than welcome to invite your Facebook friends and challenge them to beat your scores.

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Coins are used to buy power ups that can help turn the tide when you’re not meeting your goals as well as buy extra hearts when you’ve run out and want to keep playing before the timer refreshes.  The problem is that the rewards you earn from beating levels don’t go a long way towards purchasing power ups, and the further you progress in the game the more non-optional power ups become.  Thankfully some of the quests provide you with extra coins, and you also get to scratch off a lottery ticket each day where you can win some money.  Between having only three lives and the hefty cost of the more advanced power ups, however, the game is definitely geared towards making you shell out for IAP at some point.  At least it has the courtesy of not popping up something every couple of rounds asking you to buy, though, so kudos for that.

I really like the way the game looks.  In the matching scenes there is plenty of sparkle, and on the map it has a cool “made out of paper” appearance.  There’s plenty of animation and everything is well drawn.  The sound effects are okay, but they can be useful for things like knowing that you’ve crossed a milestone in the score or cleared away yet another tile.  Your tour guide pipes up with comments quite frequently, though I’m still not sure what she means when she says “weekend”.  The music is nice and subtle so it keeps you entertained while you’re thinking yet is not overly distracting.  It’s kind of like good elevator music, if that is even possible.

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Overall Gummy Drop provides a pleasant match 3 experience, and while the actual matching mechanics don’t offer anything new there’s plenty to do with quests and multiple difficulty settings to conquer at each level.  I just wish there were some way to get the full effect of the game without having to spend a ton of money on IAP.  I could see investing $5 or $10 in this game, but to truly make smart purchases is probably going to cost you a lot more than that.

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App Summary
Title: Gummy Drop! Developer: Big Fish Games, Inc
Reviewed Ver:  1.0.3 Min OS Req:  iOS 6.0
Price: Free App Size:  72.3 MB
  • Plenty of levels to conquer
  • Each level has 3 layers of difficulty
  • Additional quests give you more to do
  • Good visuals and sound
  • Nothing new from the match 3 perspective
  • IAP basically becomes a must at some point

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Secret Files Tunguska in Review: An Adventure Game Like They Used To Make http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/09/09/secret-files-tunguska-in-review-an-adventure-game-like-they-used-to-make/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/09/09/secret-files-tunguska-in-review-an-adventure-game-like-they-used-to-make/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 20:59:36 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74061 While I’ll happily take any sort of adventure game for my iPad that’s half way decent, there’s something about the 80’s King’s Quest style adventure that can’t be matched by a first person point of view or lots of hidden object scenes and mini-games.  Apparently the developers behind Secret Files Tunguska get that, and as … Read more]]>

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While I’ll happily take any sort of adventure game for my iPad that’s half way decent, there’s something about the 80’s King’s Quest style adventure that can’t be matched by a first person point of view or lots of hidden object scenes and mini-games.  Apparently the developers behind Secret Files Tunguska get that, and as a result this is one of the best adventure games I’ve played on the iOS platform to date.  The story keeps you wanting to know more, the NPC interaction is plentiful but not overburdening, and the puzzles are intelligent and fun.  Add to that a polished interface and beautiful graphics and you can’t really ask for much more.  Well, a bit of background music would be kind of nice…review-secret-files-2

You start out playing Nina, who simply wants to visit her father at the museum where he works.  Instead you end up on a quest to find him as well as figure out the mystery behind the explosion that rocked Tunguska a century before.  Nina is joined by her father’s assistant Max, whom you’ll also get to control at various points in the game.  The detailed and intriguing story is told via dialog trees between the character you control and various NPCs as well as the occasional cut scene.  The actual “game” portion is your old fashioned mix of item collecting and object puzzle solving.  There are no hidden object scenes, and so far I haven’t run into any mini games.  Personally I hope it stays that way, though as long as the mini games are minimal I’ll be content.

The interface is simple yet effective.  Tapping on an item of interest brings up one or two options: a magnifying glass for viewing and a hand for interacting.  Depending on the situation “interacting” might mean taking an object, talking to someone or literally manipulating something without adding it to your inventory.  To use an inventory item you can drag it onto an item in the scene or onto another item in your inventory.  The inventory interface is a bit sluggish, and it can be frustrating because two objects must be combined in the right order (ex: dragging a matchbook to a cigarette lights the cigarette, but dragging the cigarette to the matchbook does nothing).  You can tap to move around your current area as well, but that’s rarely needed since your character automatically walks towards objects you interact with.  I did finally run into one mini game so far, and that was handled simply by dragging objects around the screen.

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The game auto saves at certain points and will keep your last position when you exit out of the game, but you can (and should) also explicitly save occasionally in the options menu.  You can also save and load your game to the iCloud if you’d like, which is a feature games of any decent length should have.  From a game play perspective this is just about the perfect adventure game, except for the dialog.  Now don’t get me wrong, because dialog between characters is one thing that sets a true adventure game above a simple room escape experience, but there are times when the dialog just devolves into nonsense that does nothing but make the game longer.  Plus, it makes you work a little harder to determine what’s actually necessary to move the plot along.  Not a major hurdle, but it can get annoying at times.

This is a pretty amazing looking game.  The backgrounds are extremely well drawn and finely detailed, and the characters look good enough in the normal course of the game.  The models don’t always look the best in the cut scenes, but then there are very few games centered around humans where they really do.  Overall the visuals are stunning.  The sound is another story.  There are some sound effects, but the game seems to be more focused on ambient noises, which actually do have the effect of making the world feel a bit more vibrant and alive.  However, there is very little music which is rather disappointing.  Also, while the voiceovers are nice, they seem to be a bit out of place in most cases.  For example, only one person that I’ve encountered in Russia so far even speaks with any sort of accent!

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Adventure games used to be one of the staples of my gaming diet, but as time moves on and the popularity of the genre seemingly diminishes there just aren’t as many quality options as there used to be.  Thankfully Secret Files Tunguska is one of the exceptions.  An interesting story, plenty of game play and overall pleasing aesthetics definitely make this a worthwhile experience for any avid adventure gamer.  Just remember that because you think you’ve moved on doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re done with something.

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App Summary
Title: Secret Files Tunguska Developer: Deep Silver
Reviewed Ver: Min OS Req:
Price: $4.99 App Size:
  • Intriguing story
  • Lots of NPC interaction
  • Plenty of puzzles
  • Excellent visuals
  • Nice ambient sound
  • Navigating inventory can be sluggish
  • Overabundance of silly dialog
  • Little background music

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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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Munin in Review – Puzzling Pleasure with a Twist http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2014/08/14/munin-in-review-puzzling-pleasure-with-a-twist/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:21:48 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=74006 There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating … Read more]]>

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There seems to be this intense push for “console quality gaming” on mobile devices, but if I wanted that I’d just buy a console.  What I like about Munin is it takes advantage of the hardware to be the best mobile game it can be without trying to be anything else.  It can get frustrating at times, but you’ll always feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’ve completed a level, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything should you not get back to the game right away after quitting to enjoy real life for a while.  If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Munin should be at the top of your list to try.

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I’m not really sure how important a story is in puzzle games, but in case you’re interested you play a servant of Odin who was once a magnificent crow.  Thanks to Loki you’ve been transformed into a human, and you must travel the realms to gather up all your feathers and return to your avian state.  If nothing else it gives you a reason for what you’re doing.  Naturally your task won’t be easy as the locations you visit have been well designed to keep you from the plumage you seek.  Fortunately you have the ability to rotate sections of the scene 90 degrees at a time, theoretically making the job of retrieving your feathers a bit easier.

Yes, this is a platform game with a quite literal twist.  It’s been done before in various ways, but this is by far one of the most intriguing.  The intro level set just gets you used to the rotating room mechanic (you can also move your character around and jump via on screen buttons just like a typical platform game).  Once you’ve completed the first leg of your journey you’ll get to pick between three different level sets, which is itself a nice feature.  Each level set introduces a new mechanic: filling areas with water so you can swim to and reach higher areas, rolling boulders to fill gaps and break walls while making sure you don’t crush yourself in the process, and animating various platforms by manipulating souls that are trapped within the walls of the levels.  I look forward to seeing what other novelties await as I unlock the rest of the level sets, as well as potentially seeing already established mechanics combined.

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As mentioned previously, there are arrows for moving your character left, right, up and down, as well as a button to make her jump.  They work well for the most part, but trying to accomplish an angled jump (up / left or up / right at the same time) can be rather difficult.  To rotate a section you simply tap anywhere within that section, as long as your character isn’t standing in that section when you try to rotate it.  Occasionally I end up accidentally rotating a section when I’m trying to hit a movement control, but as long as you pay attention that can be avoided.  The game has no Game Center integration or 3 star rankings or anything like that, so you need to be able to handle simply beating a level as its own reward.

Sadly, the graphics are the weakest part of the game.  They aren’t bad, with plenty of details and some nice particle effects when it comes to the water.  The main character looks pretty stiff where animation is concerned, however, and she is very tiny.  Also, a lot of the background elements tend to lean on the dark side, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine where passages, walls or other important items are.  On the other hand, the audio elements are top notch.  The sound effects and ambient noise are very well done, and the different musical tracks provide a wonderful boost to the overall ambiance of the game.  There are definitely some movie soundtrack quality pieces to be found here.

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Munin is a great concept wrapped up in a stellar execution.  The puzzles are challenging but as long as you preserve you should be able to conquer most of them before pulling any hair out.  The atmosphere of the game is great as well, despite less than wowing visuals.  This game definitely belongs in any puzzle lover’s iPad collection.

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App Summary
Title: Munin Developer: Daedalic Entertainment GmbH
Reviewed Ver: 1.2 Min OS Req: 4.3
Price: $2.99 App Size: 262 MB
  • Great mechanics
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Sticks to a single screen
  • Wonderful music and sound effects
  • Controls can be slightly finicky
  • Visuals sometimes hamper game play

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