Cards up: I didn’t play this. But it looks like it might be your speed, so here it is. Walking Dead: Assault was a surprise release last November. I guess we didn’t realise it at the time but this turned out to be one of the first in a trend towards making mediocre mobile RTS games based on big properties: Borderlands Legends, Riddick: The Merc Files, and Call of Duty: Strike Team, just to name a few. PT readers seemed to be more positive about this one, though.
Everything’s time-shifted 24 hours this week due to Thanksgiving in the US, so most of this week’s new releases are already among us. For those unfamiliar, by the way, Thanksgiving is an American holiday where we pay our respects to the brave American astronauts who, led by Bruce Willis, sacrificed their lives to divert an asteroid from colliding with the Earth. Sorry — I’m a little choked up right now just thinking about it.
The biggest release of the week is — as we’ve already discussed — Skulls of the Shogun, which materialised unexpectedly this morning on the App Store after formerly being a Windows exclusive. There’s no gamble with this one: it’s a universally lauded turn-based strategy game with some great art and cross-platform multiplayer with its PC forebear.
FTL is a PC starship management sim crossed with a roguelike RPG that became a certifiable phenomenon when it was released last year: a bona fide sales hit that hoovered up positive reviews and awards, built a ferocious fan following, and might even just end up immortalised with its own LEGO set. Nobody’s more surprised than its two creators, Justin Ma and Matthew Davis. “I have, in general, really low expectations about everything,” Ma tells me.
Talking to Ma and Davis (who collectively comprise Subset Games) leaves you with the impression of two regular joes who were waiting at the bus stop when Millennium Falcon pulled up instead. “FTL really resonated with people,” Davis says. “It wasn’t because of our marketing, that’s for sure. Unlike some developers, we’re not very good at maintaining the social profile of the company and building a big persona for the studio, that kind of thing.”
A little over a year since FTL launched, and after hearing countless thousands of fan appeals for a mobile version, Ma and Davis have just announced that they’re bringing the game to iPad early next year. FTL Advanced Edition (which will be a free update for PC, as well as a new iPad app) will feature new gameplay elements and new encounters written by legendary Fallout and Planescape Torment scribe Chris Avellone.
Last week I talked to Ma and Davis about why they finally got off the fence and decided to go mobile.
We knew that Harebrained Schemes were working on a major expansion for their fantasy/sci-fi RPG Shadowrun Returns, but today they’ve given us a name and a release date for the first time. Dragonfall is set in the lawless urban dystopia of Berlin in 2054, where “a new threat is rising, one that could mean untold chaos and devastation”, and… you know. RPG stuff.
What’s interesting to me about Dragonfall is how its European setting will mesh with Shadowrun’s world of magic made real. Shadowrun Return’s first campaign was infused with elements of Native American mythology: Chippewa totem poles sprang up in the middle of near-future Seattle where shamans summoned black bear familiars. I’m curious to see what Dragonfall will borrow from German and Nordic cultures to bring magic to life in Berlin.
From a gameplay standpoint, the single most important feature that Dragonfall expansion will introduce is the ability to save your game manually, ditching the hair-pullingly bad checkpoint save system from the original game. Thank goodness.
The Shadow Sun will come out tomorrow.* *Probably not tomorrow.
Canadian devs Ossian Studios have been working on 3D fantasy RPG Shadow Sun for iOS since 2010 — back when playing an Elder Scrolls-style game on your iPhone was a pipe dream. Games like Ravensword: Shadowlands and Infinity Blade might have stolen a little of Shadow Sun’s thunder in the ensuing years, but Ossian are still at it, and the game is nearing release. For real this time.
Ossian honcho Alan Miranda (an ex-Bioware man who produced Baldur’s Gate II add-on Throne of Bhaal) sent along a trailer last week and if Shadow Sun is the 10-to-15-hour adventure he’s promising, then this might be a game to keep an eye on. Shadow Sun will sport “a gripping story, important player choices, dynamic NPC dialogues, and multiple ways of solving quests”, says Ossian’s description.
I’ll let you know when we’ve got a release date for Shadow Sun. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.
Beamdog’s Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate II is fixing to go live later today for PC & Mac, but the iPad and Android editions of the revived fantasy RPG classic have been disinvited from the launch party and will “follow shortly” at some unspecified date.
Isle of Bxnes is out for Android right now. We talked about this one a couple of months ago — this is the action RPG where you play a Neolithic fellow exploring a mysterious island to find a new home for his wandering tribe. The interesting wrinkle is that when our hero inevitably dies, you can continue the quest in the form of one of his sons, who inherits some of his traits.
I know we’re all up to here [waves hand at eyebrow level] with pixel art games but Isle of Bxnes just drips with atmosphere. There’s something menacing and violent in those pixels.
Android owners can have at it today, but Whalenought Studios informs me that the iOS version is in the queue for approval at Cupertino and should be on the App Store before long. Trailer after the jump.
UPDATE: Isle of Bxnes is out for iOS now. It’s curiously iPhone-only, and the devs tell me that an iPad version is coming later. Not sure if that means a Universal update or a separate 2010-style “HD” app. I’ve asked, and I’ll let you know what I hear.
The long-awaited New Star Soccer version 1.5 update arrived a couple of weeks ago, adding an armload of new gameplay elements like player ageing, agents & physios, headers, and more to the widely-loved indie soccer career sim. But besides all that lovely stuff, though, the new update brought with it a big push towards consumable in-app purchases that dragged down the fun of getting lost in the game — an unfortunate phenomenon I chronicled at some length. And mine were not the only complaints.
NSS creator Simon Read has listened, and very much to his credit, a new update just arrived today for NSS seems to bring some balance back into the mix, shifting New Star Soccer back closer to where it was. I haven’t been able to spend too much time with it, but your player no longer collapses like a hot blancmange at the end of every match and there seems to be altogether less prodding about the IAPs.
So Simon Read proves himself a sensible chap, and NSS is fun again. I love a happy ending.