Out Now: Thieves, Cannibals, and Legends Edition24 Mar 2017 2
The mobile gaming mantra for March is undoubtedly "so many games, so little time." Apple continued the deluge of awesome indie games through last weekend and into Monday, including the much anticipated Card Thief. Add to that the release of CCG-market contender The Elder Scrolls: Legends, an iPad port of the Lovecraftian Sunless Seas, AND a digital version of the popular boardgame Tokaido, there are plenty of worthy titles for your consideration this week. Let's take it from the top:
Card Thief (iOS)
After the awesomeness that was, and still is, the Solitaire-style dungeon crawling game Card Crawl anything TiNYTOUCHTALES makes is definite Pocket Tactics fare. The studio's latest, Card Thief, launched on iOS last Sunday and is the official follow up to Card Crawl. In Card Thief you play as a sneaky thief out in search of treasure to steal in various castles and homes of well off fancy-pants lordly types. Card Thief features Solitaire-style play as you swipe a path through a grid of cards—snagging bags of gold, dodging guards, snuffing torches, and ultimately securing the treasure chest along the way. As you clear cards more are dealt from the heist deck and when you get to the bottom of the deck, the exit is played. If you get to the exit with the treasure in tow, you win, but you'll be back for another run as Card Thief is a high-score chaser.
There are four different heists to play, each with various enemies and traps, and successfully completing them will unlock 12 upgradeable equipment cards. The game is fast and a lot of fun when you get the hang of it—the learning curve is a bit steeper than with Card Crawl. Card Thief is coming to Android "in about a month" and will be free to play with video ads and a $2 IAP to remove the ads.
Make sure you read new writer Michael's 5-star review for a better overview of the game.
Tokaido is a laid back game about getting the absolute most out of an adventure. The gameboard is filled with places to stop and do things like buy a souvenir, soak in a host spring, admire and paint a stunning vista, meditate at a temple (and make a small donation to the monks therein), and grab a meal. Doing these things get you victory points. The soak-it-all-in approach is rewarded by a gameplay element where the player furthest from the end of the journey getting the next turn. At the end of the game all of these various experiences are tabulated and the player with the most victory points is, well, the victor. There's some light strategy in this one and a lot of beautiful art.
The digital version, out on iOS and Android, does a great job capturing the beauty of the game. The single-player game is also faithfully represented and should satisfy Tokaido fans, and new players looking to see what it's all about. Unfortunately, the online multiplayer leaves something to be desired. You can either join an existing game waiting for players or create a new game table for 3, 4, or 5 players but there is no way to add friends or play a private game. If you create or join a game and switch apps or your device shuts off to the lock screen you might lose connection to the game. Tokaido will try to reconnect but is sometimes not successful. This matters less if there is a large player population looking for a game, but if there isn't, it might make multiplayer largely unusable.
Full review coming soon!
Apple's indie showcase offered up plenty of great puzzle games for gamers over the last couple weeks. I highlighted several in last week's Out Now and have another, Trilogic, here today. In Trilogic your goal is to use the classic elemental advantage mechanic—in this case leaf drinks water, water extinguishes fire, fire burns leaf—to clear colored squares from the game board until only one color remains. Each square indicates how many spaces it can expand and the trick is to figure out the right order of operations to clear a level. Gameplay is a bit like the excellent KAMI and is very fun and relaxing. There are 180 levels and an IAP for bypassing levels if you get stuck, though most won't need that.
Sunless Sea (iPad)
Sunless Sea, a terrifying tale of exploration and survival, has cast off into the App Store which means you can now play it under your covers, with the lights off...if you dare. With a tag line, "Lose your mind. Eat your crew. Die," you may not want to though. Sunless Sea is by Failbetter Games and set in the same Victorian gothic world as another of their games, Fallen London. In it you captain a steamship and head off into a very Lovecraftian unknown. It's all about exploring, learning a little bit more about how to play the game, dying, and then having another go. Matt's review for this one is already up and he gave it 4 stars, so check that out for more on the game.
Pavilion Touch Edition (iOS)
Another alumni from Apple's indie showcase, Pavilion is a beautiful three-dimensional puzzler with a fourth-person narrative, which means you control the environment rather than the player. There's no tutorial or instructions in this one and you're left to poke around and explore to see what's what. Pavilion's main character is a guy in a suit and tie who is clearly out of place in some bizarre ancient ruins. Your goal is to be his surroundings and cajole him onward to explore by enticing him in a certain direction, or scaring the inaction out of him. The game is a mix between a mystery-adventure and puzzle game and worth a look if you're interested in something fairly unique.
Zach Gage, maker of Really Bad Chess, Spelltower, and Sage Solitaire (all really worth a look), is back with a new word game for iOS called Typeshift. The game is a new take on an anagram puzzle where you search for word combinations in three to five words that have been scrambled around and stacked one atop the next. You move letters up or down to try and assemble words in the center row and keep going until you've used every letter at least once. Your efforts are timed, so it's you against the clock. There are other crossword like puzzles that offer several lines of clues and you have to find specific words. There's a daily challenge where you can match word-smithing wits against the world and the puzzles get progressively harder as the week marches on. Typeshift is free-to-play with the occasional easily closed ad though it very deviously seeks to get you to buy additional puzzle packs, which also remove ads, by being super fun to play, a good challenge for word-game fans, and exceedingly clever.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends (iPad)
A second major collectible-card game has graduated from beta this month. The Elder Scrolls: Legends is now available on PC and iPad with additional releases to Android Tablets (April), Mac OS (May), and Mobile Phones (early Summer) on the way. It joins Faeria in a quest to become your alternative to Hearthstone in the lucrative CCG market. The Elder Scrolls has quite a bit going for it in its bid. Like Hearthstone, it's based in a well-known and much-beloved universe with the ability to roll out faces and places that will be familiar to many. It's also backed and brought to us by Bethesda, a gaming company with more than a little experience bringing successful games to market and, potentially, the resources to make a proper go of it.
The game itself plays a lot like Magic: The Gathering, more so than Hearthstone and certainly Faeria. A primary gameplay difference is the battlefield is split into two lanes and you have to decide which you want to cast creatures into. It seems like a simple thing but it adds a compelling tactical wrinkle without bogging the game down in a lot of extra complexity. Cards are grouped by attributes—Agility, Endurance, Intelligence, Strength, and Willpower—rather than color and each attribute has its own identity. Endurance cards are meant to build up your Magicka (mana) reserves, for example, and Strength creatures hit for a ton but fall hard when attacked themselves. When you build a deck you choose a class like Archer, Monk, or Warrior. Classes are a combination of two attributes and when you build a deck you can choose cards from one or both attributes, a Monk is Agility and Willpower for example. It sounds like Hearthstone's classes but again, is more like the Magic color wheel without being a direct copy.
The game seems pretty stable on iPad. I've built a deck, played some games, and navigated around without issues. I played on my PC for about a week before the iPad launch and as far as I can tell thus far, there isn't anything you can't do on the iOS version. A full review is coming soon!
That's all for this week's update. Seen anything else you think deserves a mention? Want to share some gemeplay impressions on the above? Tell us in the comments below! If you'd like to see your game included in future editions, please email in or tweet us @mrvigabool or @pockettactics. Enjoy your weekend!