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Xenowerk review (iOS / Universal)

June 23, 2015

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10 word description: Alien-blasting twin-stick shooter. 50 levels. Lots of guns.

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10 word review: Great looking and cathartic, but repetitive and way too easy. 

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You will like this if you enjoy: High-score chasing blast-fests. Killing aliens. A top-down Dead Space without the story, variety or challenge.

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The good news: Presentation is top-tier. Visuals, sounds and effects create a great atmosphere. Controls are reliable, responsive, and can be customised. Loads of impressive weapons. The IAPs are purely there for the terminally impatient weapon-shoppers – there is absolutely no need to spend more money on this game in order to play it and enjoy it.

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The bad news: Challenge is completely unbalanced in the player’s favour, which I’ll explain in the verdict section. Gameplay is repetitive, despite cosmetic attempts to make it seem like it isn’t. Missed opportunity for massive boss fights.

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Arcadelife verdict: I like Xenowerk, but I also loved Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Smash TV. Xenowerk feels very much like the most recent version of Alien Breed, or an isometric Dead Space with the same lived-in space station vibe and darkly amusing messages and warnings scrawled on the walls by former inhabitants.

The first few levels introduce a game that could be the perfect touch-screen sci-fi shooter. There are weird, shambling organic aliens, a decent pair of starter weapons, a very helpful map, and a great, if not altogether original atmosphere. “Cool,” you think, as you back away from a lumbering blobby monstrosity, seeing it quivering under your concentrated fire before bursting apart in a shower of green alien guts.

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A few more levels further in, and you begin to suspect that you have seen everything that Xenowork has to offer. Corridors, aliens, explosions, terminals to tap, and an elevator to reach to end the level. And that’s pretty much it. It’s fun, and tugs compulsively in a way that the old-school shoot-everything-that-moves arcade games did, but it is very simple and very repetitive. It’s also extremely easy, which isn’t blindingly apparent during the first few levels.

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The main problem, as far as I can figure out, is caused by the fact that the weapons and armour can be bought at any time, in any order, if you have enough cash. The cash comes in quickly enough that you can buy a game-changing super-weapon by the time you have played most of the way through the first set of ten levels. Up to that point, the starter weapons and armour are more than adequate. Once I had bought what I like to call “The Gun That Makes This Game Too Easy” (purely because I liked the look of it), it didn’t take long to earn enough cash to go straight from the starter armour to the best armour in the game. Completing levels became a sequence of risk-free speed-runs, which is arguably what the high-score chasing is all about. I know I could have stuck with weaker weapons and armour, but the player shouldn’t have to gimp his own gear in order to keep the game challenging – that’s the job of the game developers and testers. If the available weapons were restricted based on level progres, that would go a long way towards fixing the balance issue.

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Ultimately, Xenowerk is an addictive, flashy looking shooter with a couple of gameplay flaws that are not critical or impossible to resolve. Blasting corridors full of slimy alien blobs is a lot of fun. If you enjoy doing it with overpowered weapons in what feels like a cheat-mode then this may just be the game you’ve been waiting for.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 8/10

GAME OVER, MAN

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.2.1
iTunes link

Pixelbite website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPad (iOS 8.3)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Hitman: Sniper review (iOS / Universal)

June 11, 2015

hitman sniper img_025810 word description: Fixed position Hitman shooting game. 150 Missions, 13 rifles, upgrades.  

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10 word review: Only one zone, but a hugely entertaining and atmospheric game.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Hitman games. Sniper games. Target shooting. Blowing stuff up and watching ragdoll bodies fly through the air.

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The good news: Great theme and style that fit perfectly into the Hitman universe. Control method is flawless enough to feel far more natural than using a mouse/keyboard for the same type of game on PC. Very nice graphics, sounds and effects create a compelling and believable atmosphere. Target and guard behaviour and AI, while not completely realistic, are plausible within the constraints of a video game about creative assassinations, and consistent enough to be used as a reliable mechanism in a variety of set-pieces and hit set-ups. New weapons and upgrades are acquired using in-game currency which can only be obtained in-game, meaning no currency IAPs. The IAP guns are completely optional, not necessary for playing or enjoying the game. 

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The bad news: Only one map/zone. Action is arguably repetitive: shoot things from a single sniping location. IAP guns – does the game need them? No. Do they spoil the game? No, but I would argue that all weapons should be unlockable without spending more real money on a premium price game.

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Arcadelife verdict: 

I can overlook all the bad points (above) purely because the game is so much fun, so utterly addictive, a fantastic touch-screen game, and just a very cool example of how to take a basic video game concept, keep it simple, and build an immersive and stylish experience out of it.

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It’s initially a bit disappointing that there is only one map, with a single sniping location, but any doubts about the depth and entertainment value of the game quickly dissipate when you start to discover the amusing subtleties of gameplay and the attention to detail and opportunities for lethal pranking in the environment.

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Hitman Sniper’s “one more go” capacity is unquestionable. What does have to be questioned is whether shooting the same blissfully unaware victims in the head, over and over again, is appropriate content for a game. Who am I kidding? Of course it is.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 10/10
Visuals – 9/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 7/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 9/10

A HIT, MAN.

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.2.0
iTunes link

hitman.com website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 8.3)
4th gen iPad (iOS 8.3)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Sword of Xolan review (iOS / Universal)

May 21, 2015

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10 word description: Retro styled action platformer. Adventure and speed-run levels.

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10 word review: Probably the best iOS game I’ll play this year. Probably.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Touch-screen action platformers done really, really well. Goblin Sword. 

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The good news: Gameplay has that magical “familiar yet fabulous” quality that doesn’t come around that often, particularly on mobile touch-screen devices. Visuals are wonderful. Controls are as responsive and reliable as anyone could wish for. No in-app purchases. 

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The bad news: No cloud sync.

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Arcadelife verdict: This is pretty much a perfect touch-screen action platformer. I’m not saying it’s a perfect game, or that the iOS devices can finally rival PCs or consoles with this game, just read the sentence and understand it for what it is. There are 30 adventure levels, 3 bosses and 9 speed-run challenge levels. There are permanent upgrades that you buy (with in-game gold) by paying to turn over random cards in the card shop. It’s more fun than you deserve, particularly at the low price point.

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I’ve scored it 10/10 and I rarely do that. All you have to do is buy it.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9.5/10
Visuals – 9.5/10
Controls – 10/10
Content – 10/10
Fun – 10/10
Final rating – 10/10

PROBABLY AS GOOD AS IT GETS

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.4
iTunes link

Sword of Xolan website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 8.3)
4th gen iPad (iOS 8.3)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Devious Dungeon 2 review (iOS / Universal)

April 21, 2015

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10 word description: Action platform RPG-lite sequel. 3 playable classes. Upgrades. Boss fights.

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10 word review: Bigger, slicker, much harder than the original. Fast-paced fun. 

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You will like this if you enjoy: Action platform games. Simplified RPGs. Trolls. Fireballs. Spike pits.

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The good news: Several hours in, no crashes or memory-leak slowdown; I reckon they’ve fixed or rewritten their engine. Controls are reliable and responsive, although they can’t be customised. Varied and attractive environments, enemies and objects. Progress is well-paced, with permanent checkpoints every few levels. Three save-game slots. Generally a whole load of fairly mindless fun.

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The bad news: Cloud save-game blatantly doesn’t work. Gameplay is repetitive, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as the action is relentless and entertaining.

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Arcadelife verdict: I like it, even the pervasive sense of grinding while battling to reach each checkpoint. It might not exactly bring anything new to the genre, or even to the Devious Dungeon series, but it’s a worthy sequel that is fun to dip into for regular blasts of platforming action. A special mention goes to the long overdue overhaul of the buggy, crash-prone engine that is no longer buggy or prone to crashes. Well done.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 8/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8.5/10
Final rating – 8.5/10

KILL KILL JUMP KILL

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.1
iTunes link

Ravenous Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 8.2)
4th gen iPad (iOS 8.2)
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Midnight Miner review (iPhone)

April 9, 2015

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10 word description: Endless vertical auto-run depth-driller. Permanent upgrades, leaderboard, achievements. 

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10 word review: Addictive, challenging fun. Free with unobtrusive ads – recommended.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Endless runners/diggers. Mining games. Permanent upgrades. 

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The good news: Clean, attractive graphical style that is retro without going into the realms of extreme pixel graphics. Reliable, responsive controls. Great sense of constant progression through affordable (game currency) permanent upgrades and unlockable minerals. No single-use consumable items – yay! Despite being a free game, there is no need to buy any IAPs – progress is constant and swift using just the easily obtainable in-game currency. 

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The bad news: There are adverts, but it’s a free game so what do you expect? They’re not particularly obtrusive and they can be instantly dismissed, not the type with timers where you have to wait before clicking the X to close them.

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Arcadelife verdict: It’s a bit like a twitchy, fast-forward version of Mr Driller or Doug dug, with a lot less strategy but loads more upgrades and unlockable stuff. I tend to avoid free games on principle, but this one actually gives the player a really fun, fully functional game that can be played, rather than an empty hole to throw money into. The upgrades and unlockable minerals can be earned very quickly, rapidly contributing to larger and larger scores. It’s extremely addictive and stands out as a shining light of the free game genre, something against which the majority of other free games, plus a whole slew of paid ones, would struggle to match for pure gaming fun.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 9/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 9.5/10
Final rating – 9/10

ROCKING

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0
iTunes link

Developer website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
iPhone 6 (iOS 8.2)

This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.

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Finding Teddy 2 review (PC)

April 2, 2015

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10 word description: 2D Adventure / Action game with a Pixel Art Retro finish. (Official game description)

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10 word review: Entertainingly familiar; a nice addition to the platform adventure genre. 

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You will like this if you enjoy: Platform adventure games. Metroidvania game style.

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The good news: Looks nice, in a retro homage way. Straightforward keyboard controls with several gamepad options. Familiar platform adventure gameplay is as enjoyable as it always was. Good variety of environments. Big bosses.

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The bad news: Doesn’t really do anything original with the genre, but that’s kind of the whole point. 

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Arcadelife verdict: Finding Teddy 2 is a decent platform adventure game that does what it intends to do, and does it in a familiar, visually appealing way. I like this kind of game, therefore I like this competent example of the genre.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 8.5/10
Visuals – 8/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 8/10
Fun – 8/10
Final rating – 8.5/10

CHARMING

Rating categories explained here.
STEAM STORE LINK
website link: www.lookatmygame.com
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
My PC (of course).
This review was typed on a Das Keyboard Model S mechanical keyboard – check them out, they’re really rather groovy.
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Finding Teddy 2 – PC (no, it’s not a review yet)

March 24, 2015

Look what I found:

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This is how they describe it:

Finding Teddy 2 is a 2D Adventure / Action game with a Pixel Art Retro finish. Help Tarrant in a quest, in which you will have to fight, use your sense of direction and hearing to accomplish your mission.
•Very long playing time, over 20 hours for the main quest. Dozens of hours for the secondary quests!
•Beautiful Pixel Art Finish that takes us back to the 8-16 bit era, with modern effects.
•Unique use of music with the Musicom.
•A high level challenge and difficulty that all Gamers will love.
•An Action / Adventure type game which is all too rare nowadays.

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