It was another strong week of new iOS game releases, with a varied selection of new games across a wide variety of genres.
We are halfway through the Olympic Games in Rio and Bridgestone has launched Bridgestone Performance Trials, a fun little mini game collection with dozens of games, each of which represent an event at the Olympics from Swimming to the High Jump, Trampoline to Beach Volleyball and everything in-between including Equestrian Dressage. Each game is played using a combination of tilting, tapping and swiping and players earn gold, silver, bronze (or no medal) for each event, based on how well they perform. It is a fun little time waster that’ll get you into the Olympic spirit. It reminds me a lot of Epyx’s classic Summer Games video game I played a whole lot of on my Apple ][e back in the day. My 9 year-old daughter has been LOVING this one. If you have a Facebook account, you can challenge friends to see who is the better athelete.
Eraser is a neat little “pay what you want” 2D physics puzzle auto-run platformer in which players are thrust into a blueprint world where they try to manipulate the environment to help the running man escape the evil red marker that is chasing after him. Erase segments of the level to drop down platforms, trigger objects and change the environment to provide safe passage. Well-designed levels will put up a good challenge for players, especially when attempting to capture all three stars.
Ravenous Games returns to the App Store this week with Journey Below, a rather challenging, procedurally generated auto-running platformer in which players try to guide their Knight, fighting their way through a series of 12 dungeons before facing a boss battle. Your knight is constantly moving forward, but you can tap the left side of the screen to make him jump and the right side to attack. When he hits a wall he changes direction, but never stops moving. Each time you kill an enemy, your combo meter increases, so the faster you sequentially perform kills, the better your score. After you successfully navigate a level you’ll get to choose one of three random upgrades which could increase your score potential, heal you, increase total health meter, earn you a boost in attack range or more. You can unlock both a hard mode (as if the normal difficulty wasn’t already hard enough) and an endless mode through play.
Devolver Digital knocks it out of the park this week, publishing Nerial’s charming and creative Kingdom ruling simulation game Reigns. You are a young medieval monarch, trying to balance a flood of requests “from your advisors, peasants, allies, and enemies while maintaining balance between the influential factions of your kingdom”. Using a Tinder-style swipe-left or swipe-right mechanism, you must make all sorts of important (and not so seemingly important) decisions regarding your kingdom. Will your choices win you the respect of your people while angering the church? Should you grow your army or will that put too big of a dent in the royal coffers? With each decision you make, you’ll immediately see how it affects the church, people, army and treasury. Completely alienate one of these influential factions and your rule will come to an abrupt end, but strike a good balance and you’ll have a nice long reign as king. However, even the most thoughtful and respected ruler can’t plan for every contingency and not every decision will be so cut and dry, meaning eventually you’ll have to disappoint someone. Humorous, entertaining and fun, Reigns is one of those fresh and original experiences that is a joy to see show up on the App Store.
Are you a Whovian looking for a way to relax, then perhaps the new app BBC Colouring: Doctor Who, a Doctor Who-themed adult coloring book app may be the perfect activity for you. The app features 45 beautiful and intricate illustrations of the Doctors, enemies, patterns, scenes and more to color and help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s as simple as selecting a color from a pallet of hundreds of colors and then tapping the area you want to color to give the pictures your own unique style and flair. Aimed toward adults, this app looks to be suitable for Doctor Who fans of all ages.
One of the most anticipated titles of the week (at least by me), DIGIDICED has finally released Agricola All Creatures Big and Small, their third digital adaptation of a Uwe Rosenburg two-player board game. A worker-placement game about animal breeding, Agricola All Creatures Big and Small sees each player trying to raising horses, cows, sheep and pigs, acquire goods and materials to build stables, fences and stalls to expand their farms and increase their count of animals, amassing the most victory points based on a number of animals, varieties of animals and buildings over the course of 8 rounds of play. To get new players (such as myself) started, the game features a multi-part tutorial. However, while quite detailed and interactive, I found it was helpful to supplement this with a run-through video of the physical game as well. Another amazing entry by the folks at DIGIDICED, the game has that same high-level of polish and offers both online and local multiplayer or solo play. There is a completely optional “More Buildings Big and Small” $2.99 IAP, which “adds 27 new special buildings to the base game as well as a fifth Stall tile *and* a farm expansion”. I’d say complexity-wise, this one falls squarely in between Patchwork (the easiest to pick up and play) and Le Havre: The Inland Port.
Himalaya Studios, the developer and producer behind the well-received remakes of the King’s Quest series, have now brought their 10 year-old, classic Sierra and Lucasarts style point and click adventure game Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine to iOS. The result of three years of work, the game includes over 120 hand-painted background scenes and more than 15,000 frames of “fluid, pre-rendered character animation”. I haven’t had a chance to check this one out yet, but it certainly appears to recreate that classic pont and click feel and presents adventure gamers with a rather unique (and possibly divisive) tale which plays out over 9 acts: “Al Emmo is a single, feeble, forty-two-year-old easterner with a plan: travel out west, marry a mail-order bride, bring her home to introduce to his aging parents, and prove that he’s a real man!” The game also employs a humorous narrator character who talks about every location, item and character. This Wild Western classic-style adventure game is one that is on my radar this week and I’m hoping to check it out soon.
Finally, that brings up to Pixel Hero Games’ gorgeous, big new console-quality third-person, 3D adventure game, Eisenhorn: XENOS. Adapted from ‘Xenos’, the first book in Games Workshop’s best-selling ‘Eisenhorn’ trilogy, which follows the adventures of Gregor Eisenhorn, an Inquisitor and member of the ‘Ordo Xenos’, who has been sent to “fight and protect the Imperium of man from anything that may threaten it”. As the story unfolds you are given a brief series of tasks to complete which then trigger the next part of the story and drive the narrative forward. The world is big and open, giving the player the option to explore, but in actuality, focusing on completing the assigned tasks will usually lead you down a more controlled path. The game supports MFi controllers, but the touch-screen controls work quite well. A virtual dpad on the left side of the screen is used for movement, while dragging on the right side of the screen adjusts your view. A small cluster of buttons on the right side of the screen allow you to do melee attack, fire your long-distance weapon, and dodge. There are other buttons on the edge of the screen which toggle crouching, your tool for interacting with tech and “Pause For Breath” mode (a sort of bullet time that lets you take a breather during combat to explore your surroundings). A rich and grandiose experience, Eisenhorn: XENOS earns its premium App Store price tag and features absolutely stellar visuals and engaging voice-work by award-winning British actor Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kick-Ass, The Imitation Game) who provides the voice for Eisenhorn. The app is Universal, but I would say that it is ideally experienced on an iPad or larger-screened iPhone. It is definitely one worth checking out, just make sure you have some space available as those top-notch visuals come at a cost; the game weighs in at an eye-popping 2.8GB (installed).
That’ll do it for this week…enjoy.