Out Now: You're Welcome Edition19 May 2017 5
Another week, another slate of new mobile games to check out heading into your weekend. We've got touching adventure games, crafting games, RPGs—even a couple card games including a new update for an old favorite. Have a good weekend and happy gaming.
Getting older means reflection on choices made, paths not taken, joys, pain, and the rest of the things that life entails. This is the idea at the heart of Old Man's Journey, a visually pleasing adventure-based puzzle game. You help the game's protagonist, an old man, go on a heartfelt journey of reflection and self-discovery and will learn more about his life and past as you go. The game lacks any text and is completely driven by its two-dimensional environment and landscapes, much of which you must manipulate to help the old man find his way.
Dawn of Crafting (iOS)
Dawn of Crafting is a recent entry in the craft/survive/thrive genre of games. It's been on the App Store for some time in some sort of live beta, but just updated to its 1.0 version this week. In it you forage, hunt, gather stuff, and unlock more and more sophisticated recipes. Well, you make your minion do a bunch of the actual grunt work, but you definitely call the shots. There are a bunch of quests to run through and lots of opportunity to discover new recipes for stuff through trial and error and experimentation. Both you and your minion have skills that improve as you try, and fail, and learn from your mistakes. Dawn of Crafting isn't as compelling as Don't Starve or Crashlands, but there's a lot to do and it works well in smaller play sessions.
I try a lot of free-to-play strategy games in preparation for this column. You almost never hear about them because, by and large, they are bad and/or make use of annoying freemium mechanics. Every so often there's an exception though. Redbros is a real-time dungeon crawl where you bring a small band of heroes into a dungeon to battle monsters, rescue fellow adventurers to grow your gang, avoid traps, and take out the end-of-level boss. You start with a specifically chosen band—heroes have roles like tank and long and short-range damage dealers—and it grows as you advance through the dungeon and free more heroic types.
The combat is real-time but fairly casual and certainly doesn't require split-second timing. You can move your band into specific formations by drawing on the screen or split the party by tapping in multiple places at once. You pick a target in combat and focus fire until it is dead, and then move on to the next. As you adventure you also special attacks and party-based buffs that spice things up and help win particularly tough encounters. You also earn gold as you go and can unlock more heroes to use in future dungeon runs.
The game is freemium and includes an occasional ad you have to sit through. Health is also a limiting factor. If you fail a dungeon level you lose a heart and it takes 45 minutes to regenerate it. You have three hearts and, I assume, if you lose them all you can't go adventuring. So far I've played 15-30 minute sessions, so health hasn't affected me at all. If you wanted to play much longer sessions I could see this being aggravating. There's also an in-game currency you can buy more of to unlock new heroes faster, but that's totally optional. Redbros also offers two IAPs that convert the game into a premium one. For $4 you can remove ads and for $8 you can unlock unlimited life. Both can also be purchased through in-game currency you earn over time.
Super Blackjack Battle 2 Turbo Edition (iOS)
A real-life mafia Godfather and Vegas casino owner invites a cast of black-jack playing characters to face off in a globe-trotting tournament. The winner will fly to Vegas to face the Godfather in a final Blackjack battle. The game is an homage to Street Fighter II—right down to the lame smack talk—and fans of that game will enjoy those special touches. The game features twelve characters and ten different story lines with different endings in the single-player combat mode. The game's biggest problem is that the AI is not particularly good at Blackjack. Online matches support up to four players, but unfortunately there aren't many players looking for a game.
The Colony Wars expansion has worked its way from paper to digital, and is out now via in-app purchase for a Star Realms app near you. The expansion adds 43 new cards with spiffy new mechanics to the game. They can all be purchased from the trade row and put immediately into play, or into the player's hand. There's also a powerful new "Stealth Tower" card that allows you to copy any base currently in play. In addition to cards, the expansion also adds two six-mission chapters to the game's ongoing single-player campaign. The story puts you in the shoes of the explorers of the newly discovered Morgana System. These characters are based on real-life winners of the Star Realms Legend Series who have been immortalized in the game. Colony Wars is $5 and available for purchase through your existing app.
If you've ever sat around wishing for a tactical RPG inspired by Power Rangers I've got good news: Your week has come! Chroma Squad is about five stunt actors who quit their jobs and craft weapons and mech costumes out of cardboard to launch their own Power Rangers-ish TV show. You run the TV studios, including hiring actors, marketing the show, crafting the show's gear and then turn around and manage the team in turn-based, teamwork heavy, combat. All the usual RPG elements come into play—skill trees and gear for example—and the game features a branching story with three endings. This game goes well beyond the usual tactical RPG using the TV-show narrative, which is pretty cool. The Power Rangers references and humor will be hit-or-miss, depending on how you feel about the real-life show. Combat is good but not great, though the teamwork powers are cool. Fight difficulty is pretty swingy and some of them can run long. I'd wager if you're a fan of the Power Rangers you'll really enjoy Chroma Squad and if not there are better options.
Beholder is based in a dystopian world where you are the landlord of a large apartment building, a position sanctioned by a totalitarian government. This privilege doesn't come without strings, of course, and you are expected to monitor your tenants and report any sign of subversive behavior. You're expected to let yourself into tenant's apartments, install cameras, seek out contraband and illicit items, keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, file reports about what you find, and watch the consequences unfold as police goons arrive to deal with enemies of the state. Or don't. To what extent you carry out this task is up to you. You can turn on the state and try to protect the tenants, but that too carries risks. Every character has a story, including your protagonist, and it's never grey. The art is very graphic-novel noir which is perfect for the overarching narrative. Decisions you make can be fatal for you, as well as your tenants, and multiple paths get you arrested or killed. If that happens you start over, which will likely turn some gamers off. Beholder also employs a clock to up the tension, which I feel is a bit unnecessary given the life-and-death decisions at the core of its gameplay, but then I tend to not like being rushed in games. Despite this, I think Beholder is certainly worth a go for anybody interested in exploring morality in an unfair, but fictional, world.
Seen anything else you think is cool? Got any comments or impressions to share from the above? Let us know in the comments, and have a good weekend!