Tag Archives: Review

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

With the world currently being forced to stay indoors it’s really the situation we as gamers have spent a large portion of our lives preparing for, but certainly one of the biggest suprises has been with the cult like following that has sprung up around  Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So keen to discover what it is that has everyone so seemingly hooked and with nothing but time on my hands I checked it out and set out on my own desert island escape.

The fifth official game in the franchise which started back in 2004 on the N64 with this latest installment being largely linked to shortages of the Switch especially with gamers following the government orders to stay indoors during the COVID-19 Pandemic while physical copies of the game have also started appearing at greatly inflated prices leading Nintendo to push more heavily their advertisements for the Nintendo e-store and e-copies of the game.

The game itself provides pure laid back escapism as you essentially play yourself or at least a fully customisable character who has signed up along with two animal companions to live on a deserted island and build a community. Now while this might conjure ideas of poorly built shelters and battling the elements to carve out a living nothing could be further from the truth as once again is a game with zero risks.

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Starting out in a tent which series mainstay Tom Nook rents to you and which you are tasked with paying off by collecting objects around the island or completing tasks as you quickly find that your now locked into an a series of escalating mortgage as you move from tent to house and with each escalating mortgage you pay off allowing you to expand your house but as with everything in the game no one is going to be chasing you to make payments and it’s this idea of living life at your own pace which runs to everything which happens in the game with the allure of expanding your island being the driving force to complete tasks.

While you might have a mortgage to pay off there is still plenty of other things to do on your island as you control the locations were your animal pals set up their houses as well as were structures like the museum and island store are built. Of course despite the fact your not the only resident on the island it does fall to you to do essentially do everything as you run around the island gathering items to for fill the checklist requirements needs for building structures and building items. Everything you need for these builds can be found around the items by chopping trees for wood and hitting rocks for iron and clay even the weeds and flowers can be gather to make objects to furnish your house or impress your new animal pals.

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The collecting habit though isn’t limited to just building as you can also collect bugs, catch fish, dig up fossils and later collect art to be displayed in your island museum by Blathers the owl who despite his dislike for bugs will display your finds slowly adding to the exhibits as you collect all the items. For this reason the museum is one of the more rewarding aspects of the game as you get to enjoy all your hard work as you wander its exhibits either on your own or with friends visiting your island.

If your a fan of story driven gameplay then Animal Crossing really doesn’t give this as instead the focus is on you creating your own fun by moulding the island into your ideal getaway with tasks only serving as a way to unlock new items, skills or to earn Bells (the local currency) or Nook miles (points for completing tasks) to allow you to buy new items, skills or even a ticket to another island to find new items to add to your own island.

Due to this pick up and put down style of play this a perfect title for the Switch a console best suited to this style of play than long gaming sessions. At the same time this isn’t the sort of game you beat over a weekend and instead a title which you enjoy over a number or weeks or even months watching your island community grow. The fact that the island is all played in real time meaning that 7pm in the real world is also 7pm on the island with weather patterns being scarily in tune with the weather of the real world and kind of the reason that my island has seen much like the UK so much rain.

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One of the biggest issues for the game is the lack of save options with plays forced to save directly onto their Switch while compared to one other games in the series which allowed multiple islands here the game only allows one island making it tricky for those of us who share a switch and were everyone wants their own island. Certainly a glance at the negative reviews for the game on Amazon reveal this to be one of the biggest complaints about the game and while Nintendo are apparently working on a way for players to recover their island if their Switch is stolen or broken.

Certainly the game is a unique experience that has the benefit of being on the Switch as it’s hard to say if it would have the same appeal without the pick up and put down style of gameplay that the Switch specialises in which is really the best way to play this game I found. Sure the laid back lifestyle offered by the game might not be to all tastes but certainly it’s a fun way to pass these lockdown hours or just take a break from your main gaming choice of the moment as you hunt bugs or hunt down resources for your next build Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game packed with distractions.

Rating 4/5

Glass Masquerade (2016)

Glass Masquerade is a 2016 independent game by Onyx Lute which takes its players to assemble stained glass art displays and clocks which are part of the International Times Exhibition set as a tour around the world.

Glass Masquerade is a puzzle game concept inspired by Art Deco and stained glass artisans of the 20th century. Its a casual gaming experience set with soothing and atmospheric music. There is no narrative story line. Its goal is to share the beautiful art pieces replicated as a virtual gaming experience of putting together these stained glass art representative of each country. It takes a twist on the jigsaw puzzle but translates it to something a bit more complex as the pieces are all in odd, irregular shapes and not the typical pieces that most people are accustomed to.

Glass Masquerade

For what its intended, Glass Masquerade is a wonderful experience. Its visually appealing. The world map is done really nice. The set-up for each of the different shaped clocks that acts as the stained glass frame adds some unique elements. The game gives a starting point of having certain red pieces that act as anchors to where to begin. There are also different difficulty levels to the puzzle which can be played as desired provided its been unlocked from completing a previous level.

Glass Masquerade

Available in both mobile, console and PC gaming platforms, Glass Masquerade is an indie game that can reach the much more casual gamers. Its one to play to simply relax. If the 30 levels of the base game isn’t enough for you, the game also has some free extra levels. Some are demo levels of a DLC pack that needs to be purchased as an add-on. Others are simple free themed single puzzles like for Lunar New Year. All this boosts up the level count to be a well-rounded 50 levels. If you finish with that and want more, Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions was released in February 2019.

Afterparty (Podcast)

Having already given us a game of the year with Oxenfree (our podcast review HERE) we were understandably excited to see what Night School Studios brought to the table with their follow up Afterparty which sees you playing as Milo and Lola, two college students and best friend attempting to escape from hell by winning a drinking contest with Satan.

Does it match up to the high standard set by thier first game? We find out as we check out the game for ourselves and share our thoughts.

Listen To The Show

Cube Escape: The Mill to Paradox

Cube Escape series

As we step into the second half of the Cube Escape series, the Rusty Lake world expands in depth now. A lot of the questions before are slowly falling into place with these next few games as The Woman, Dale Vandermeer and how Rusty Lake and its mysterious Mr. Owl and Mr. Crow all come together to create this time travel, fate changing sort of deal.

Cube Escape: The Mill

Cube Escape: The Mill

The sixth game of Cube Escape is set in The Mill which is starts off as one of the more complex games of the series. The Mill has multiple levels which open up through the main level where it all starts. It has the normal puzzles of point and click adventure with picking up items initially but also give little additional games like its memory game as well as some other formats. The Mill itself overlaps a section of the story that was shared before and this time is reflected also as the other side of the story, which gives it such a clever play at this point. At the same time, The Mill is the center of the link between Rusty Lake and how it works and something of the operation between Mr. Owl and Mr. Crow and how they use their victims and their memories and such, giving a deeper glimpse of this own Rusty Lake world.

Cube Escape: The Mill is a nice addition in terms of story as it gives a much clearer look at how water is processed through the mill into Rusty Lake and how this lady that we’ve seen and investigated the death of up to this point called The Woman (from the beginning few games) plays into the story. However, the games itself sometimes take a stretch of imagination and also the memory game is a bit hard (for those with limited memory like myself) which turned out to be slightly tedious and frustrating. However, all the elements are well laid out and just takes a little connecting the dots and perseverance to put it all together. What’s a game without a little challenge, right?

Score: 4.5/5

Cube Escape: Birthday

Cube Escape: Birthday

What we could only assume is that the elevator that take Dale Vandermeer in Case 23 is what leads to these various memory points where he goes back to change the course of events. The first stop is at Birthday which is his 9th birthday (if I remember correctly) and things go way bad and he gets the opportunity to rewind it and change the outcome. Birthday is a solid entry with a pretty decent twist. The puzzles itself are a little crazy at times but its all about noticing the details and knowing where to find the pieces back when they are needed (something that I’m not too good at). Birthday also marks a little more interaction with actual other characters who do direct the clues and what needs to be solved to unlock another part of the escape.

Score: 4/5

Cube Escape: Theatre

Cube Escape: Theatre

Cube Escape: Theatre keeps on with the whole down memory lane as it changes to another year in the life of Dale Vandermeer. Theatre has a lot of depth as it takes place at a bar with a stage for the whole program. There are puzzles around the entire room but the big piece of the puzzle is in finding the pieces to complete the entire program of the performing show with a lot of the familiar faces played by the actor. It has a lot of little fun bits from connecting pipes to make certain things happen to balancing out different items to the same weight or even mixing drinks to get more clues. There is a lot of detail and yet so much intrigue bits. Its actually much more grounded in the last few games as the NPCs are interactable and give a direction to what needs to be done next. It might feel a bit like hand-holding for some but with the depth and complexity of some of these puzzles and where to even find the objects to combine together, it sometimes feels rather necessary.  Cube Escape: Theatre is a very complete experience of point and click and room escape meshed together and adds some depth to the whole Rusty Lake world as a lot of past elements are thrown in here.

Score: 5/5

Cube Escape: The Cave

Cube Escape: The Cave

Cube Escape: The Cave is definitely one of the longer games in the entire series. It has two different parts in the whole game. It starts off in the cave where we solve a series of puzzles in a multi-layer 4 part (ish). There are multiple components that link to the story of the premium game, Rusty Lake Roots a little. After this area, it goes deeper into the cave to this underground mechanical room of sorts where there is a multi-layer puzzle which is about 4 parts or so to solve through. There are some tedious puzzles and others where its a point and click style similar to the previous games. The Cave is a fairly complete experience and one of the more fleshed out ones but does take a little stretch of imagination at times to link the clues together. There’s a great effort to link the pieces of the story of both the characters of Rusty Lake story so far (especially since we finally know the name of The Woman) as well as the premium games.

Score: 4.5/5

Cube Escape: Paradox

Cube Escape: Paradox

And we are at the last game (unless more get released) of Cube Escape series, although it does feel like a somewhat wrapped up version. Cube Escape: Paradox is separated in 2 chapters. The first is available for free and the second is a DLC purchase (or in-game purchase if you are on mobile). A little side info that I had backed the Kickstarter project so I got the game that way. On top of the two games, there is also a short film paired with it that you can watch HERE.

Paradox is a much more complex and deeper version than any of its previous games. It links to a lot of the elements that had been seen in the previous games and brings the characters together. One of the main reasons is that there are other premium games that help add to the story with Rusty Lake Hotel, Rusty Lake Roots and Rusty Lake Paradise all happening during these last 5 games which add a lot of depth to the world and link everything together. Its not necessary to play them but it does help to perhaps piece it better together. Review for those will be coming up.

With that said, Paradox at times is a bit far-fetched and a little too complex. Some puzzles once figured out are also a tad repetitive. Its a very odd feeling that there is a lot of mystery wrapped up both Chapter 1 and 2. The first being much more fleshed out as the story leads us to why Chapter 2 is a very similar room escape scenario but with some modifications to further sink the character that is trying to escape, Detective Dale Vandermeer further into confusion. While the puzzles here is more on the complicated side, the story does put itself together really well. There’s a lot to appreciate in something more fleshed out. In comparison to the games, the movie is an absolute treat that reenacts the game and gives it some more live action depth.

Score: 3.5/5

That’s it for the Cube Escape games (unless more gets released)!
Have you played any of the Cube Escape games? If so, share your thoughts on it in the comments below!

As I keep going through the rest of the Rusty Lake games, more reviews coming up!

Lie In My Heart (2019)

Lie In My Heart

Developed by Expressive Gamestudio, Lie In My Heart is a 2019 interactive visual novel with autobiographical elements about a man who loses his ex-wife and copes with both the loss of his son’s mother and how he and his son deal with it.

Autobiographical games are probably the hardest to talk about. After all, its someone’s life so there is no right or wrong to the story. Lie In My Heart is a cause and effect sort of story where the decisions made will affect the story. Its primarily a visual novel which means that there is a lot of reading. However, it also gives dialogue choices which will effect the outcome of the event as well as some timed actions, which probably will also have an effect by the end. At the end of each chapter, there will be a little note that pops up saying how many choices the player made that was the same as the real story. Of course, this leads to many ways to play the game again if the story intrigues the player, giving achievements of finding the complete path that the developer took or on the other hand, seeking out the completely fictional one as well as finding perhaps the good ending.

Lie in My Heart

As a one-sitting sort of game at about an hour or so in length (depending on reading speed), it paces itself quite well. There is reading but choices are also quite frequent as well as having some other actions to do. Its a neat little game that tells a rather poignant story about loss and mental illness. There are some trigger topics here so its not a suitable match for everyone or for people who are more sensitive to these topics. However, this has the autobiographical elements so makes it more real as well. Just like games like That Dragon Cancer, Lie In My Heart will be aim to make its players think a little. Games like these are reliant on how it connects with its players and that varies to the person.

Lie In My Heart

Lie In My Heart is a small game with a big heart to share their own story and experiences. The art style looks like hand-drawn like sketches with colored pencils. The music is paired very well with the story at hand. There isn’t a lot of shortcomings in the game mechanics either as everything is responsive. The choices in dialogue sometimes feel slightly odd but then, it might be done in a deliberate way to emphasize emotions and such with the punctuation (like exclamation points). Some of the reaction bits are very rare and its not very apparent what to do at first (but not hard to connect the dots). However, visual novels, especially ones interactive to a certain level is on rails so perhaps one thing here is that it may say x number of choices were similar but its easy to lose track where those choices were as it always felt less. The replayability here gives room to try again and its a quick game to play through even though, the themes here are heavier.

Bottomline: Is Lie In My Heart worth a playthrough? Absolutely. Is it something to play over and over again to discover the different endings even if its quick to play and has a poignant story? Maybe not (at least for me).

Review: 3.5/5

Lie In My Heart is currently available on Steam as of today (October 4, 2019).

*Key provided by developer*

Mobile Games Roundup – September 2019

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As we get back on track with mobile games roundup, this past month has been a whole new strategy to look for games to discover.

Here’s a few games with various genres that I’ve played this past month.

Project: Muse (Rinzz Co. Ltd.)

Project Muse

Project: Muse is a music rhythm game. It features different types of music featured through different characters. The playlist is extensive and the majority is unlocked through completing challenges or tasks while some can be unlocked using in-game currency collected by playing each of the levels and the “Gold Time” at the ending of each level to amass as many coins as possible. There are a few VIP levels that require in-game purchases however it isn’t in the majority.

Project:Muse is structured quite well as there are not only different levels and different speeds to play the difficulties, which is a common mechanic, however the levels itself a quite unique as it opens one to four lines of music to follow throughout which increases the challenge and the music is responsive to each touch of the screen to match with the music which makes it more immersive. Plus, the range of contact and responsiveness is balanced quite well also.

Score: 4/5

WTF Detective (Absolutist Ltd)

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Looking a lot like another mobile game called Criminal Case, WTF Detective, full name Wunder Task Force Detective actually packs in a little more depth. It doesn’t only have the heavy focus on hidden objects detective game where its about collecting stars and energy refills. The story also has quite a lot of details and dialogue in the investigation of mysteries. At the same time, aside from hidden objects, there are also other types of mini games that help increase energy in forms of what it calls tests which include word games and match-3 puzzles (similar to 2 Dots).

There is some real-time elements included for the analysis, which can be sped up. The in-game currency is in stars which help unlock the parts of the case. Its a game that can be ultimately played completely for free (but can also be sped up through app purchases). Its nothing too deep but its little additions gives it a nice breath of fresh air. The only thing that might be a little more concern is that there was a bit of lag or just lack of responsiveness for touch controls for some of the smaller objects (without zooming in the image) and the image in turn is more sensitive with shifting the frame instead. Minor little issues.

Score: 3.5/5

Traffic Run (Geisha Tokyo Inc)

traffic run

Traffic Run is a simple mobile game consisting of pressing and holding to move forward a car into traffic and stopping in the various roads to the finish line. There’s traffic to avoid and coins to collect which becomes in-game currency  to unlock new cars and colors. In reality, Traffic Run fits into the mobile games model quite well: short levels, in-game currency and easy to learn model. There is two things that go against it: the frequency of ads because its a free game and the more important of the two, its repetitiveness of the levels. Traffic Run is for short bursts and even then, its easy to be a little bored with the whole concept. The difficulty increases very slowly and its never really that hard but rather just reacting fast enough to stop and anticipating that stop time before going. Perhaps it might get harder further into the game but looking at the first 50 levels or so was already enough.

Score: 2.5/5

Cookie Run: OvenBreak (Devsisters Corporation)

cookie run ovenbreak

Cookie Run has history. It first launched when tablets were becoming pretty popular years ago back in 2013. Seeing how its changed from then to the current mobile phone versions definitely is a dose of “nostalgia”. Cookie Run has a lot of new elements now from level quests to breaking high scores and then different types of runs and a kinds of events going on with their own level designs and then a multitude of gingerbread people to collect to use and their little sidekicks that float around them. There are all kinds of different gummies to collect also. If anything, its a bit of an overload of what to discover.

Cookie Run has a lot to discover but at the same time, it does sometimes feel like a grind as the life meter extends as you level up the gingerbread character and then it goes further in the level slightly. In the farming stages, despite the different levels in events and such, its still a fairly repetitive experience. The graphics and colors and design all work but the overall experience is for a short few runs and then stopping and not meant to be more than that.

Score: 3/5

Bendy in Nightmare Run (Joey Drew Studios)

Bendy in Nightmare Run

Using the character of Bendy from Bendy and the Ink Machine, Joey Drew Studios takes Bendy for a Nightmare Run as the game is called Bendy in Nightmare Run where its structured like a little story with multiple acts (which are different levels in an overall chapter). The end of one chapter unlocks the next one which will open up a new world.

The game mechanics function where Bendy is running towards the screen. He can collect bacon soup and objects like bricks, anvils and axes (at least in the first chapter) to throw at the boss running after him. There are minions in the middle to throw off the guard. The level isn’t always flat. It functions on evading the attacks while collecting bacon soup and the main goal is to decrease the boss’s life. Bendy can move left, right, jump, double jump as well as throw a weapon with a swipe of a finger on the screen.

While everything is fairly simple and its rather challenging as it gets later on in the chapter and acts, the issue with the game is always with mobile games in the sensitivity of motion. The reaction time leaves a little to be desired (maybe its a hardware issue because some scenes do lag and I’m running it on a Samsung Galaxy 8). At the same time, the swiping motions sometimes don’t work quite as intended making it rather frustrating at times as well. These are all issues with mobile gaming that commonly occur. It could be a combination of how sensitive the game reacts and senses these motions or hardware problems. Its a decent game concept but a little polish on the controls would do it some good.

Score: 3.5/5

That’s it for the September mobile game round-up!
Have you played any of these games? 
What mobile games have got your attention lately?

If you have any suggestions, feel free to also share them in the comments.

Mobile Games Roundup – May to August 2019

Its been a while since the last Mobile Games Roundup! If you’d like to see where I was at, you can check out my blog Tranquil Dreams where most of the action was going on there as well as the post on Montreal Comiccon Indie Games Recap HERE.

With that said, we should be back in action and since I’ve been on the go, mobile games have been my main gaming source so as a heartfelt apology for the hiatus, I’ve doubled up this roundup with 10 games that I’ve played in the last few months or so.

Toy Story  Drop (Big Fish Games)

Toy Story Drop

Playing much like a lot of Match-3 games already out, Toy Story Drop gives it a more of a Toy Story-esque idea with toys being the focus. Woody is there to take you on the journey while You’re Got A Friend In Me’s tune plays in the background on repeat. Its interesting however how the toys concept is implemented as the games specials like the bouncy balls to repel an area of pieces off or the claw from the claw game can swap two pieces or that the little aliens can zap up a piece off the board and then possibly the most satisfying is seeing bubble wrap used as the overlay on the board to get rid of while having the popping bubbles sound as it is cleared. Toy Story Drop might not be a new concept and plays it safe but it does take whats known in the movie franchise elements and implements it fairly well to the concept. You get to also unlock bonus levels as there are appearances from a lot of the beloved characters from the franchise as well.

Score: 3.5/5

Faraway: Tropic Escape (Snapbreak)

Faraway: Tropic Escape

Faraway series is seriously putting these out at lightning speed. It almost feels like every few months has a new game in a new area. This time, its set in the Tropical setting. While Faraway is pretty good visually and tries to piece together notes to create the story which is only a side objective, the game is heavily about solving the puzzles to move from one area level to the next and take up the next challenge. The game is still structured as half free and the second half is a in game purchase to unlock and finish. Putting that element aside, Faraway: Tropic Escape is another improvement in terms of puzzles for the series. Its nice to see that the learning curve is still there but the puzzles try to have more layers and depth as well. There are some that are fairly simple but it does have different bits to put together before it solves one puzzle in a level to move to the next one. Faraway franchise has done itself a good job in terms of creating these games. Its fairly immersive and has the story element for completionists and also gives a decent visuals in terms of mobile, but its really the in game pay structure of paying to finish the game that still bothers me (which is a whole other topic of discussion on mobile games).

Score: 4/5

Bonza Jigsaw (MiniMega)

Bonza Jigsaw

Currently in beta (as of August 14, 2019), Bonza Jigsaw is a mobile jigsaw puzzle game. Using the world as the canvas, it takes pictures from different places around the world to create the images that need to be reassembled. As a screen is limited in space, it gives a few pieces to begin and adds more as the picture is put together more and more. There are 6 different games modes as well hundreds of puzzles ranging from really simple to the rather complex ones. As polished as the game is, there is something about physical jigsaw puzzles that can’t seem to be replaced.

Score: 3/5

Two Dots (PlayDots)

Two Dots

Adding a twist to the Match-3 concept, Two Dots can clear colors with only 2 dots as per the name but also has a lot of super powers per se like building squares can eliminate all the same colors on the board and that the matches can’t be slanted. It adds difficulty to the game especially as there are increasing objectives to fulfill and the board being structured in different ways where creating those special combos is what will make it work best. There are also an assortment of power-ups which also are given for free as daily login bonuses. It is visually minimalist and looks very simple and yet adds in a rather good balance of challenge.

Score: 4/5

Pokemon Rumble Rush (The Pokemon Company)

Pokemon Rumble Rush

Nothing like another Pokemon game to add to the collection for the mobile, right? After Pokemon Go and Magikarp Jump (and with Pokemon Sleep in the works for next year’s mobile release), Pokemon Rumble Rush is a bit more of a one button combat and exploration game. Most Pokemon games are fairly oriented for a younger audience compatibility so while its nothing deep or complex even if this one does have more ways to play like exploring different areas of the map and then fighting different pokemons and collecting them and upgrading them (as you would in most Pokemon games), its still a fairly easy concept. Plus, Pokemon in general is cute and adorable and it manages to have that as well.

Score: 3.5/5

Calculator 2 (Simple Machine)

Calculator 2: The Game

If you all recall, Calculator was showcased as probably one of the kickoff games for the mobile games roundup segment so suffice to say, it was great to see it have a sequel. Calculator 2: The Game not only adds different elements to the math puzzle problems here but also gives a story behind why solving all these puzzles will eventually lead to. It has some humor to the narrative which works for the most part and the puzzles itself have a decent learning curve. There are the basics as usual and also gives an easier puzzle when introducing a new button type, plus has the element of one puzzle having two different answers to reach, giving the puzzles a lot more flexible thinking behind it.

Score: 4.5/5

here (Techyonic)

here game

Nothing comes as minimalist as a black and white puzzles centered around compiling the word “here” in different structures and ways. These simple ideas sometimes do work the best, especially for mobile games. Because of the touch screen on smart phones, it gives this game a lot of flexibility and interaction and gives it a lot of variety. The game has 50 levels in total to challenge all kinds of possibilities with putting together one word as the final goal. Its easy to master and a lot of times requires more and more thinking out of the box as the levels gets further.

Score: 3.5/5

Lifty (Major Frank)

Lifty

Lifty is an elevator game where the goal is to deliver the determined amount of Lifties to their proper level in a limited amount of time before they blow up. As the levels progress, time becomes tighter while the puzzles have more floors and other obstacles that could be hazardous to the lifties. Its about mutlitasking and logically figuring out how to complete the levels in the most efficient way to keep going. This relies heavily on the controls functioning well and with on-screen control pads with only up and down arrows which generally had a decent sensitivity to them that worked fairly good.

Score: 4/5

Mindsweeper: Puzzle Adventure (Snapbreak)

Mindsweeper

Mindsweeper is a 3D puzzle adventure escape game which has a narrative story. The first 2 chapters are available for free as a trial before diving in to purchase the rest of the game as an in-game purchase. This game feels more oriented towards kids as the puzzles are fairly simple to go through as its just picking up items and then fitting the item to what needs to be done there, which is more point and click than puzzle at times. The visuals are fairly colorful however, the motions of the character moving around does feel a bit rigid at times.

Score: 2.5/5

Dr. Mario World (Nintendo)

Dr. Mario World

As a lot of the Nintendo franchises move onto mobile devices, it was only a matter of time before Dr. Mario would come out. Being a big fan of Tetris, Dr. Mario was always a favorite so just like some of the classic games (for example, Lemmings), this one also got a modern facelift as it had a very pretty look to it and very cute visuals and sounds to match it while still giving it a good challenge element to it. It starts simple and the learning curve builds up. Nostalgia and the modern twist and cute element definitely give Dr. Mario World an extra boost to a pretty nice retake on this game.

Score: 4/5

That’s it for this doubled Mobile Games Round-up!

Which games appeals to you most? Have you tried any of these?
What games have you been playing on the go?

Bound (2016)

Bound is a 2016 art and platform game where you play as a dancer submerged in a fantasy broken world chasing down a monster terrorizing her kingdom. As she tries to please her mother The Queen and chase after the monster unseen, she dances her way through the different levels from one obstacle to the next.

It is hard to pinpoint where to start to look at Bound. If we take the most basic and look at its story, it takes a parallel between two worlds: the reality and the fantasy world. The former is with a pregnant woman who arrives at a beach and as she walks along it, she stops various times to look at her notebook. Each stop flips her page to the next picture in her notebook that enters into the next chapter of the game. The parallel in the fantasy world is a world of broken pieces in its colorful 3D pixel glory. The world sheds away and opens up. It opens up the narrative of a princess facing her harsh queen mother as a monster calls out in the distance, trying to destroy the kingdom. The princess is tasked to protect her kingdom. However, the background of each chapter always ends with a first person view into a distorted image set in the past reality.

Bound Game

The story of Bound is done in an almost narrative without any words but just through the environment and the imagery presented. Some of the best indie games use this way to craft something that the player themselves can interpret. For this, Bound does a great job both in the fantasy and reality parallels. The reality is a much simpler world and it pretty much starts and ends there in opening and closing sequences. However, the fantasy world is where most of the action takes place.

As with any game reliant heavily on some artistic element. Bound’s main angle is that the princess in the parallel world moves gracefully in dance movements. She leaps across platforms, pirouettes through dangers and elegantly tiptoes through places while twirling against the wall ledges. The platformer elements of the mechanics are achieved through her movements in this 3D world. As beautiful as the concept is and as lovely as the music and soundtrack is done here, the dancing mechanics in place of normal movements feels more like the gimmick of the game as there is no hint as to how this dancing element fits in with the story other than making it visually appealing.

Its a pity because this is where Bound as a game falls flat. While everything works, despite some weird platform bit near the end that maneuvers the world around in one part and become a nightmare to control (not sure if its a glitch), Bound essentially feels like it relies too much on selling it on this dancing element that doesn’t find its place in the whole spectrum of things to give it more meaning than just being a means. However, credit is due for the fact that each level ends with this really beautifully constructed slide down a ribbon that reminds heavily of games like Abzu and Journey in their downhill or current push sequences where its just going along for the ride matched with some of the best orchestral background music to create a mesmerizing experience.

Score: 3.5/5

Have you played Bound? What are your thoughts on it?

Mobile Games Roundup – April 2019

Another month has passed by. Before we jump into what games we’ve played in April, in the mobile games front, there has been some fun news. First, Tarsier Studios announced their upcoming launch of the mobile version of Little Nightmares while secondly, Bethesda also released the early access of Elder Scrolls: Blades. Both very exciting news to say the very least and something to look forward to in the future.

Let’s take a look at what 5 games we checked out in April!

Tower Fall (Ice Storm)

Tower Fall

Tower Fall is an arcade game where you need to remove the pieces under the hexagon and balance it to not fall off the tower for as long as possible. Along the way, there aren’t only weird shapes but also different square pieces from those that turn into marbles to others with missile rockets or others that create a shake and turns the surrounding pieces into fragile shards. There is some strategy to how to approach what to take away but at the same time, it’s a straightforward game suitable for mobile games as it usually doesn’t last too long. It’s simple and direct with a puzzle sort of challenge.

Faraway 4: Ancient Escape (Pine Studio)

faraway 4

Four Faraway games down the line now and so far, it’s been the same structure with a different setting. The game is still partially free with am in-game purchase to play the second half of it. The puzzles are gradually more complex in the sense that there are more layers to it but mostly not too much harder in concept. The environment this time did have some different design especially with the Ancient Escape taking place in temples and such which still works overall. If you have been enjoying the Faraway puzzle escape games, this one still delivers well.

If you haven’t played any of the Faraway games, check out the review of the first one HERE.

Take Flight! (Waffle Games)

take flight

Using a traditional 1930s animation style like Cuphead, Take Flight is a casual one button game where you control a character in a plane to go up and down to collect coins, pick up power-ups like guns and magnets and evade the enemies attacks. Its colorful and stylish but remains a very simple concept for the most casual of gamers to just kill some time. There are a lot of customisable options which you can do in exchange for the in-game coins collected. It’s nice to see the rise of this visual style of game on the rise in all formats. This game is for the most casual of gamers and it can get slightly repetitive as the levels don’t have a lot of change in terms of enemies. Its for quick little cute doses of simple gaming.

Good Knight Story (Turbo Chili)

good knight story

Good Knight Story takes a puzzle and turn-based RPG style and blends it together. It follows the main character who gets drunk at a tavern and ends up locked in a dungeon with no recollection of what is going on. As he fights his way out, the night starts piecing back together. There is a dialogue in between that gives dialogue choices which also shapes the story a different way as well. There are some enemies encountered that also pay tribute to pop and gaming culture. For a game that takes not only a mix genre root, it has a lot of thought and charm added in. Some of the bosses here can also be quite challenging and takes some strategy as well.

Smash Hit (Mediocre)

smash hit

Smash Hit is Mediocre’s debut mobile game which goes on a first person perspective moving forward on a changing hallway. In the process, the player needs to hit crystals to gain 3 extra balls each time. There are icons to gain different power-ups like multiple ball shots or time manipulation. The levels change with colors and different obstacles and sometimes, even the speed. It isn’t a hard game to grasp but as the levels move further, it also gets a bit more reliant on patience, focus and accuracy. Being an arcade game in nature, there are a lot strengths to it and everything responds well in terms of mechanics. The only thing to keep in mind is that the game does have checkpoints but they are not accessible if the game is not fully bought.

If you like this style, you can take a look at our review of Mediocre’s second game, a virtual pinball game called PinOut HERE.

Mobile Games Roundup – March 2019

Mobile Game Roundup

March is now behind us and the first quarter of 2019 is behind us. Check out March’s mobile game roundup!

Finn & Ancient Mystery (Fenech Games)

finn and ancient mystery

Finn & Ancient Mystery is a 2D platform adventure where you play as a fox cub called Finn who is on a quest to find crystals. Along the way, he encounters different obstacles and enemies and can fight them using his sword and magic. There are metroidvania elements. Playing platform games with on-screen controls is always a tough aspect to deal with. For one, the responsiveness becomes a problem and its easy to not press the controls in the right spot which will yield no reaction. While it might not be the fault of the game itself, the on-screen controls definitely hinder the experience a little as a mobile game experience. However, there is a lot of heart here. While it’s not a particularly challenging game, it does require a lot of focus in the level to explore. The story itself and game mechanics lack a little finesse.

Score: 3/5

Liar! Uncover the Truth (Voltage Inc.)

liar! uncover the truth

Liar! Uncover the Truth is an investigative romance visual novel. However, the investigation isn’t about an actual mystery but rather for our protagonist to investigate and accuse the 9 of the 10 guys to reveal their lies. While it gives a lot of dialogue choices, this one still has a whole lot of reading and feels like the story itself is on rails. The investigation angle is fairly simple also because of how it sets up each of the scenes and gives us the amount of evidence needed to proceed. The puzzles itself lack depth to say the least. A good point for Liar is that it does craft some funny and some ridiculously absurd ones as well which adds a humorous angle to it giving it a little boost in creativity. Visual novels are really for a select group. You either like to read this style or enjoy a little casual gaming.

Score: 3.5/5

The Birdcage 2 : Magical Creatures (Keycube/MobiGrow)

the birdcage 2

Following the award-winning game The Birdcage, The Birdcage 2: Magical Creatures is a puzzle game in which you have to solve all the puzzles on a birdcage to set free the bird inside the cage. In this sequel, there aren’t just birds although the first two packs are free and feature an owl and a crow. Just like the first game, further packs all are in-game purchases. The Birdcage 2 is pretty similar to the first game in terms of game mechanics. It’s still about puzzles and asks to collect three gems. The difference is that the game starts off the free pack’s first few levels as a tutorial however as the game progresses the difficulty curve increases. There are some complex puzzles here and if not, they are a lot more steps before releasing the creature. It also adds in a story element with each cage and the crystals collected open up a scroll.

Score: 4/5

Merged! (Gram Games Limited)

merged

If you were to combine 2048 and Match-3 concept of games together, you would get something like Merged! Merged is about matching up dice blocks and domino pieces for as long as you can. The dice blocks match up from 1 to 6 and then transforms into an M block where three of those will create a little explosion on the board to rid the pieces around it. Other than its slick design and minimalist look, Merged is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. It doesn’t have time limits and also can restart over again if needed. It might look like a lot of the same but it does have the addictive nature of a mobile game to try to beat the challenge. Its one decent logic and brain training exercise.

Score: 4/5

Hit the Light (Happymagenta UAB)

hit the light

Hit the Light is similar to many other arcade mobile games out there. We have also mentioned quite a few with this same style in past mobile games roundups. The difference lies in the visuals and the angle it takes. Hit The Light takes it from showing us a lit up neon display and with a limited amount of balls and other items, the goal is to dim the whole display either by hitting the lights directly (hence the name of the game) or by some specials strewn across certain levels. These games mainly play themselves because some shots are launched and they go on for a while. It’s easy to pick up and requires a little physics and luck. There isn’t a lot of depth. For a mobile pick and put down game, it does fit the mobile game angle for people on the go looking for something casual and quick. Everything works as it should and the neon designs are pretty nice although they do start cycling after a while.

Score: 3.5/ 5