The entire plot of Coldfire Keep can be wrapped up by paraphrasing the famous Mallory exchange about Mt. Everest: Why should we explore your dungeon? Because it’s there. Funny thing is, most of the Dungeons & Dragons adventures I wrote have the same banal plot, so I can’t really criticize too much. Of course, I wrote most of those while I was 12 or 13 years old and didn’t know any better until TSR begged me to stop bothering them with my submissions on reams of loose leaf paper.
The complete lack of plot isn’t the worst thing about Coldfire Keep, however. It’s a boring, buggy mess of a game with uninteresting character development, boring and opaque combat, and a total lack of involvement with anything happening on the screen. I cared more about the toaster in Toast Time than I did about any of my characters or anything happening inside the keep. It’s a complete and utter drag that fails miserably at fulfilling the promise of being an old-school RPG like The Bard’s Tale or Eye of the Beholder.
Upon loading Merchants of the Sky for the first time, you’re met with a rather beautiful 3D world consisting of islands floating amongst clouds. As the tutorial began, I realized that, not only did it look good, but it’s also a city-builder. City-builders are one of my favorite game genres, and I was very excited.
The tutorial abandoned me after an only vaguely informative couple of minutes, and my excitement waned. Now what? Scanning through all the menus in the game, it appeared to be huge. Tons of goods to manufacture? Yep. Dozens of buildings to build? Yep. Technologies to research? That too. Maybe everything was going to be all right.
But that laundry list of city-building ephemera didn’t really matter. Merchants of the Sky puts on a good city-building facade, but underneath it’s a very simple game that, in the end, doesn’t come close to scratching that SimCity itch.
There are eight-million stories in the lunar city. This will be one of them.
If Outpost Luna was a physical board game, instead of an original digital one, I would expect the box cover to have a glowering European noble staring at me, like so many dry euro games do. Have you seen the cover of Caylus or Hansa Teutonica? Of course, Outpost Luna’s noble would have to be wearing a 1950′s style bubble helmet because it attempts to hide that “trading goods in medieval times” feel with a sci-fi theme. It doesn’t work. This game is more euro than Belgium.
Did I mention how funny it is that everything starts with the letter “Q”? I didn’t? I wonder why…
Any game that is based purely on rolling dice is bound to suffer a little when the dice rolling is done digitally. Part of the attraction is feeling the weight and hearing the clack of the dice on the tabletop. Other popular dice games have made the transition to digital, however, and managed to not let the virtual dice bring them down. Las Vegas managed to still give you the feel of rolling dice, and Elder Sign: Omens removed the dice altogether and changed the dice to runes from a grimoire. Same result with a different, and more satisfying, feel.
Now we have Quarriors, a game in which the entire game revolves around using dice to add, or remove, dice from a pool of dice that you’ll draw from each turn. In fact, one of the attractions of the physical Quarriors game is the 130ish dice that come packaged in the box. That’s a lot of freaking dice. Well, the app doesn’t handle dice nearly as well as those other apps. Here, dice rolling is handled automatically — you don’t even get to push a button. Dice just roll in from the side of the screen.
That disappointed me, but there is still a decent light game here – if you know what’s going on, that is. Knowing what’s going on in Quarriors isn’t as easy as it sounds.
You have just been captured and taken, blindfolded, to a dungeon. Surely this is due to your leadership of a terrorist organization that has been trying to take down the ruthless Emperor who has innocents executed at his whim.
OK, now forget all that, because it’s just the propellant to send you off on a routine fantasy adventure that has nothing to do with your far more exciting back-story. In fact your back-story is only the first 2 pages of the nearly 20 pages that start out Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs. That’s 20 pages before you reach any decision point. Maybe it’s me, but I kind of expected more “game” in my gamebook.
Let’s get one thing out the way before we begin. Contrary to what many might have surmised, Assassin’s Creed: Pirates and Sid Meier’s Pirates! have nothing in common. There is no swordplay, no boarding parties, no wooing governor’s daughters [pity. --ed.], no fleet management, no land battles, no sneaking into enemy ports. Assassin’s Creed: Pirates puts you on a boat before the game begins, and you’re going to stay there.
But do you remember the part in Sid Meier’s Pirates! Where you sank ships? Yeah, AC: Pirates has got that. Oh, how you’ll sink ships. Lots and lots of ships.
The arrows are pointing to the most interesting choice. Do I roll the dice or go play Lords of Waterdeep?
When Owen gave me the chance to review Mr. Ludo, I accepted without any hesitation. Of course, at the time, I assumed it was a new digital board game based on workday drudgery and office politics, which is how it’s billed. A game that David Brent might play, but not actually get the joke. Sure, sign me up.
It became apparent after installing the app how very wrong I was. Unbeknownst to me, Ludo is another name for dreaded children’s game, Trouble. You know, the one with the Pop-o-matic? Yes, I had just signed up for a week of Trouble.