Archive for June, 2013

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Hero of Many review (iOS / Universal)

June 26, 2013

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10 word description: Epic journey through a dangerous world. 26 levels. Physical puzzles.

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10 word review: Emotionally engaging, extremely atmospheric. Seamless genre blend, great touch control.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Surreal adventures guiding a nameless, almost shapeless protagonist through a series of increasingly strange and challenging dreamlike worlds. Imagine a blend of Spore, Galcon and Solar 2 in a Limbo style. Now add some Super Sprint racing with stealth and RTS combat elements. Or maybe just Pac-Man based in a primordial swamp. That comes close to describing this game.

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The good news: The graphical style, while not unique, perfectly suits both the mysterious, organic theme and the ever evolving gameplay. The gameplay itself – an intoxicating mix of elements from various genres – initially impresses and continues to expand and surprise as you progress through the levels. The atmospheric and dynamic soundtrack demands earphones. It’s a great experience, but never at the expense of being a brilliant game – continually giving you more things to do and increasingly impressive ways to do them.

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The bad news: None of this bad news matters, but I need to mention it as I know there are people who get upset when a game has no scoring system, 3-star level ratings, Game Center or a tutorial. Also, if you like a game to hold your hand every step of the way, you may feel just a little bit out of your depth here.

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Arcadelife verdict: Hero of Many is a stunning iPad game. It wouldn’t feel out of place on Steam (PC) or as a console download, although the perfect touch system would always be the most intuitive way to control the game. Exploring is the key, exploring and discovering. The absence of a tutorial or any kind of explanation adds to the atmosphere of alienation and enhances the satisfaction that comes with each new discovery.

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The general objective of each level is to travel from the entrance to the exit – which is sometimes the same place – avoiding or overcoming  enemies and obstacles, solving physical puzzles and navigating the twists and turns of the labyrinthine environments. There is no map. There are no hints. There is no help. The game succeeds because none of that is necessary. Not only is it unnecessary, but the journey of discovery depends to a large extent on the unfamiliarity of the game world. Following a series of waypoints and instructions would significantly undermine the fun of finding out, breaking the sense of wonder as each new game element is introduced.

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It’s a personal journey, an emotional story without words. There is no score, no rating apart from the fact that you know you’re getting deeper and deeper into a surreal and dangerous alien realm. This is not a game for Game Center leaderboard chasers or those who assess their gaming progress by the number of stars on the level select screen. This is a game for the rest of us, the ones who play video games because they’re fun.

Arcadelife rating

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

FANTASTIC VOYAGE

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.1
iTunes link

Hero of Many website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.1.3)
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Home – a Unique Horror Adventure review (iOS / Universal)

June 24, 2013

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10 word description: Interactive murder mystery horror story in a pixel art world.

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10 word review: A dark, compelling, disturbing story. Arguably not actually a game.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Twisted serial killer murder mysteries. Answering “Yes/No” questions throughout a game and never really finding out if you chose the right answer, or even if there is a “right answer”.

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The good news: Despite the basic pixel graphics and sporadic sounds, the atmosphere is convincing and consistent. Home is distinctly different from the majority of iOS games, mainly because it isn’t really a game. Progress is auto-saved very frequently.

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The bad news: If you go in expecting a point-and-click style adventure you’re probably going to be disappointed or, more likely, going to feel like you’re missing something. It’s short. Despite the ambiguity of the ending, I didn’t feel an overwhelming compulsion to go through it all again just to see what I could change or do differently. Several random crashes on 4th gen Touch. There’s only one auto-save slot, no manual saves. You can’t “load” a saved game, just carry on from where you left off. No score or stats; it’s up to you to figure out how well you did, or didn’t do.

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Arcadelife verdict: It’s tough to rate Home on what it does, what it tries to be, because there isn’t much around to judge it against. I’d go as far as to say that it’s not a game, although the screen images make it look like one. There are no puzzles, just a linear sequence of actions to complete or sometimes to ignore. There are no hazards to avoid (none that I spotted anyway), just Yes/No choices that often have no immediate consequence. I don’t want to describe how the protagonist fits into all this because that would involve significant spoilers.

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Overall, Home is more of an experience – a dark and disturbing one – than a game. It’s also rather less twisted and complex than it thinks it is, or how you might end up thinking it is after getting through it the first time. Whether you go back and do it all again relies purely on how much the whole “interactive murder mystery” theme grabs you. For me, once was plenty – it is just not interactive enough.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 7/10
Visuals – 7/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 5/10
Fun – 5/10
Final rating – 6/10

INTERESTING, BUT NOT REALLY A GAME

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.4.0
iTunes link

Homehorror.com website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.1.3)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.1.3)
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XCOM®: Enemy Unknown review (iOS / Universal)

June 23, 2013

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10 word description: Strategy / management / turn-based combat. PC/console port, Game Center.

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10 word review: All kinds of alien-battling fun. Good touch controls too.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Action oriented turn-based games with a ton of depth and (almost all) the content and polish of a AAA PC/console title.

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The good news: As an almost complete port of a PC/console game, this plays and performs remarkably well on a touch screen device. Well, on my iPad 4 at least. The touch controls have been well considered and generally work without any issues. The gameplay, story, missions, leveling (rank increases) and research/development all work together to give a very addictive, engrossing overall package. You could always go and read the large number of reviews of the PC and console version to find out if this is generally going to be your thing. I’m only really concerned with reviewing how this version plays and performs on my iPad.

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The bad news: Some bugs. I’ve seen a few crashes, a problem aborting a mission that left me with no option but to close/restart and a particularly annoying issue where saved games become corrupted. As for the actual gameplay, graphics, sounds, etc. it’s all very good. I suppose if you already played the PC/console version this might not be quite as essential on your iOS device.

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Arcadelife verdict: I might as well just jump on the bandwagon and blab on about how great this is. Seriously, though, there’s not a lot of point pretending to dislike it just to be controversial. It’s a very valiant attempt to bring the full version (ok, almost the full version) of a popular and critically acclaimed PC/console game to iOS and, for the majority of the time, it succeeds admirably.

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What I needed to know, and what matters in a review of the iOS version, is whether the controls and overall feel of the game work well on a tablet. Forget the iPhone/Touch, it won’t run on my 4th gen Touch and I’m not going to be getting a later version for a while. As an iPad game, it’s just great. You’ve probably read elsewhere about the way your troops level up and gain ranks as they progress through missions. They can also die (permanently) so you tend to invest and draw a great deal of emotion (stress) into and from each turn of each encounter.

Overall, highly recommended (if your device can run it) and well worth the price.

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Arcadelife rating

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

DIE, ALIEN SCUM

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link
Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.1.3)
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Incredible Jack review (iOS / Universal)

June 18, 2013

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10 word description: Classic 2D platformer. 37 levels. Permanent upgrades. Boss fights. Game Center.

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10 word review: Slick, derivative fun. Extremely pretty, entertaining levels, great controls. Recommended.

3rd gen Touch screen

3rd gen Touch screen

You will like this if you enjoy: Super Mario / Donkey Kong Country / Sonic the Hedgehog. Classic platform games.

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The good news: Consistently high performance, even on 3rd gen Touch. Never crashed once in entire play-through. Responsive, reliable, well positioned controls. Very nice graphics. Sounds aren’t annoying. Solid level designs with a great variety of enemies and environmental hazards. Difficult in places but never overly frustrating. IAPs are completely unnecessary and can be ignored. This game is a lot of fun. iCloud sync of progress, including coins collected.

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The bad news: It’s really hard to find fault with this. Arguably, everything here has been done before but the end result is a lot more than just a bunch of cobbled together platform game cliches.

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Arcadelife verdict: I played this right through to the end, thoroughly enjoying it. It’s still installed on my iPad and 4th gen Touch and I often go back and replay a level or two just for fun. I was very surprised that it ran flawlessly on my old 3rd gen Touch!

Another 3rd gen Touch screen

Another 3rd gen Touch screen

Overall, this is loads of fun and should particularly appeal to anyone still hoping for a full-featured Mario style game on iOS.

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Arcadelife rating

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

INCREDIBLE (YEAH, OK, SORRY)

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

Chillingo / Incredible Jack website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
3rd gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
1st gen iPad (iOS 5.1.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)
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9th Dawn review (iOS / Universal)

June 14, 2013

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10 word description: 2D open world single player RPG. 3 classes. Loot. Leveling.

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10 word review: Visually retro. Decent controls, engrossing exploration and lots of action.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Ultima, Diablo, old school RPGs, action RPGs, questing ‘n’ leveling.

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The good news: Large free-roaming map with dungeons. Loads of loot to find. Great feeling of freedom. Very good controls and comprehensive touch screen interface. Screen layout, control placement, map and inventory screens are very good on iPad. Limited hand-holding makes exploration and discovery very satisfying. Full control over attribute distribution when leveling up. No IAPs. Hotbars (skill & items) work very well.

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The bad news: Graphics are distinctively retro, possibly a detraction if you’re not a fan of the pixel art style. Newcomers to this genre could feel that they’ve been dropped in at the deep end with little clue about what to do or how to do it. On the smaller (iPhone / Touch) screen, the mini-map is not much use, nowhere near as effective as on the iPad. Night is very dark, not particularly entertaining; an option to have permanent daylight would be nice.

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Arcadelife verdict: This is a lot of fun. Anyone who wants a straightforward single-player open world RPG (with a traditional western feel rather than yet another JRPG) will probably love this. The graphics do present a small initial hurdle to overcome, at least as far as total enjoyment of the game is concerned, but I soon found myself appreciating them for what they were rather than imagining how great this game would be with graphics similar to Warhammer Quest. Maybe one day…

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The open world works well, encouraging and rewarding exploration while also not holding back on a quick, decisive beating and a trip to your last spawn point if you wander too far into an area of higher level enemies.

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Overall, very good. A full, satisfying RPG that works well on touch screen devices and has no IAPs. Flashier graphics would be very nice, but 9th Dawn doesn’t need them in order to succeed at what it does.

Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 8/10
Visuals – 7/10
Controls – 9/10
Content – 9.5/10
Fun – 9/10
Final rating – 8.5/10

REALLY RATHER GOOD

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.0.0
iTunes link

Valorware website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.1.3)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.1)
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Warhammer Quest review – iOS / Universal

June 6, 2013

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10 word description: Top-down dungeon adventures in the Warhammer world. iCloud support. Game Center.

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10 word review: Very pretty turn-based dungeon crawling. Mostly a fun time.

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You will like this if you enjoy: Warhammer. Turn based RPG combat. Standard (Tank/Damage/Healer) party builds. Elves and Dwarves.

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The good news: Attractive presentation and graphics – the town book is completely over the top! – proven and virtually flawless control system, rousing soundtrack. Plenty of loot to find and buy. Combat basics are simple enough for anyone to pick up. Three difficulty settings. Three separate save slots. iCloud sync works.

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The bad news: Text seems a bit small, particularly on the iPhone/iPod Touch size screen. A lot of the content is available only as additional IAPs. The random events (basically just a text notification) that you have no control over can leave party members with handicaps for the entirety of the next dungeon – this does not add anything to the fun of the game. If you’re in the wrong frame of mind, the dungeons and combat can feel very repetitive. Rotating the device to access the inventory is a bit of a gimmick and quickly becomes mildly irritating.

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Arcadelife verdict: Overall this is a fun and very polished game. I expect Warhammer fans (I’ve never been into it) will either get a lot more out of this or will be more likely to spot things that are missing than normal people (no offence). I don’t like the random events that occur when you’re in town and select the level up option. The game randomly decide to hit you with an out of control cart or some other pop-up text box and one or more of your party can be afflicted with injuries or disease for the whole of the next dungeon. I don’t know if this is pure Warhammer tradition, but it certainly doesn’t make the game any more fun.

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Apart from that, and the generally repetitious nature of the game – which I don’t actually mind – there’s a lot of turn-based axe-swinging and Orc-smashing fun here.

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Arcadelife rating

Presentation – 10/10
Visuals – 8.5/10
Controls – 9.5/10
Content – 7.5/10
Fun – 8/10

Final rating – 8.5/10

PRETTY GOOD

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.02
iTunes link

Rodeo Games website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 6.0.1)
4th gen iPad (iOS 6.0.1)