Out Now: GDC Edition03 Mar 2017 3
Welcome to this week's edition of 'Out Now', where we take a look at all of the game's released this week and put forward our top picks.
The Game Developer's Conference (GDC) has been underway in San Francisco all week, which means all kinds of announcements and previews of things to come for the gaming industry. It also means a relatively slow week for new releases, as many of the people who develop and market newly launched games are fully immersed in the convention. We've still found a few games worth a look…a match-three variant, a competitive puzzler, a Risk-like game of world domination, an old friend ready for new devices, and a sandbox game about escaping prison.
Tavern Guardians (iOS)
Tavern Guardians is a match-three game with a monster slaying theme. You choose one of four different unlockable heroes—Paladin, Gunner, Mage, or Berserker—each with a bevy of special abilities. Your hero will act as guardian for a series of taverns, a noble pursuit no doubt. Ale and wine need defending too! You match symbols to strengthen the tavern walls, increase your health, recharge special powers, call on archers to help fight the monsters, and acquire gold with which to upgrade your hero. While not wholly original, it is a fast and fun match-three variant with a ton of items and about 50 monsters to fight. The different character classes aids in the replay value as well. This one is worth a look for fans of the genre.
Blue Black is a graphics light puzzler with a competitive streak. Each level displays a pattern and a series of dots. You take turns with your opponent placing colored dots on the game board and, when done, watch as the dots are connected and the pattern is traced. The player with the most line real estate, so to speak, is the winner. You can take on the AI or another person via pass-and-play. The game is very clever and fairly challenging and only a buck for 70 levels. Android users can try before they buy as well. Check out the quick trailer to see the gameplay in action.
Attack Your Friends (iOS and Android(?))
Attack Your Friends is a turn-based competitive boardgame of world conquest. Up to three friends (or random strangers) can play and the goal is to build up and expand your power in an attempt to dominate the map. Combat is dice-based with Troop and Defense cards thrown in to provide various benefits. Cards are things like putting a two-turn shield on a region or laying down mines that take out one-third of an attacking force. There is an in-game chat system to allow for scheming against an opponent or outright taunting and smack talk. The game is asynchronous with push notifications that let you know when it's your turn to act.
The UI is far from perfect. I accidentally fat-fingered all of my reinforcements onto Madagascar on more than one occasion and it was the rare troop-placement phase where I didn't have to use the undo button (which undoes all placements, not just the last one). The game is also free-to-play with an in-game currency that you earn incrementally after every turn. You can, of course, buy more and therein lies a pay-to-win problem. You can buy those Shield, Mine, and other beneficial cards and really swing a game your way, if so inclined. Playing with friends this can be mitigated through some sort of fair play accord, but with strangers all bets would certainly be off. Attack Your Friends is basically Risk right down to the regional breakdown and living and dying by the randomness of the dice. If that appeals to you, this one is worth a look.
We're fans of world domination game Legends of Callasia around these parts. Both the base game and the first expansion earned four stars from me last year and the game was our runner-up for multiplayer game-of-the-year in 2016. With the latest update Legends of Callasia is now playable on your Android phones, not just tablets. The game still features a meaty free trial so you can check it out before buying.
The Escapists has been out for a couple of years now on consoles and computers and has finally arrived in the world of mobile. The game is a pixelated strategy game that features an open world, role-play elements, resource management, and lots of crafting. Your goal is to bust out of prison (there's actually six unique prisons in which to play) through trickery or sheer force, although you can take your sweet time going about it. The touch controls were well implemented and in a lot of ways The Escapists feels like it was meant to be played on a tablet.
That said, the game also features a virtual joystick for those who dig that type of control. The game is challenging and there's a lot to plan around from barbed wire and guards to roll-call, bed check, and work detail. You'll also need to craft the tools of your escape, which necessitates making use of the prison barter system, some outright theft, and of course hiding your contraband from nosy guards. My favorite thing about The Escapists, and any sandbox game, is that you can totally blow off preparing your grand escape and wander around doing other stuff. It's more than a little freeing and reminds me of games like Minecraft, Crashlands, and the Grand Theft Auto series in being relatively open ended.
That's it for this week - seen any other games you think should have made this list? Post about it below and we'll add it! Enjoy your weekend.