It was an interesting week of new releases, with Apple deciding to feature two rather mediocre offerings from big studios, instead of highlighting the real cream of the crop. Hopefully the games featured in this list will provide iOS gamers with some better experiences than what Apple is parading around.

Soul Knight is a fast-paced, bullet-ridden top-down dungeon crawler where players exploring and blasting their way through enemy-filled rooms to find treasure and over 100 crazy new weapons. Using a dpad on the left side to move around, there are buttons on the right to trigger your weapon and other special abilities. Armed with a nice array of ranged and melee style weapons, these change up the way players need to dodge enemy fire and lay down their kills. Additional characters can be unlocked using either collected in-game loot or via cold hard cash. There is almost a roguelike element to the game whereby completing a dungeon gives the player a choice of three power ups which give them a boost for the next dungeon. The huge variety of weapons, characters and randomly generated dungeons give this game some nice replayability and the free-to-play mechanics are quite friendly to the consumer. While Soul Knight game is somewhat similar to previously released iOS games like the Heroes of Loot series, there is still a lot to enjoy here, especially when the admission into these dangerous dungeons is FREE.

Next up, is MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL which comes from Riverman Media, the studio that brought us one of my top three games of 2015, The Executive. A really rad arcade/action title which borrows elements of classics like Pong and Breakout, MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL has players simultaneously controlling paddles on the left and right side of the screen to ricochet balls into the rising, menacing menagerie of ghostly looking sea creatures in the center of the screen. These must be eliminated before they are allowed to reach the top of the screen or the player’s health will take a hit. Survive the full wave of enemies and progress to the next level. Between levels the player can use collected coins to purchase speed and health upgrades and leveling up unlocks new paddle types. These can be anything from bigger paddles which are easier to aim, or paddles which turn the ball into a fireball or restore some health after x number of hits. The really cool part is that any unlocked paddle types may be mixed and matched before each level depending on what may help the most. The name is a bit of a mouthful, but MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL was an excellent surprise and the promise of “endless upgrades” will keep you coming back for more as you see what new abilities each new paddle will unlock and if it will give you what you need to make it that little bit further in your next attempt. If this one interests you (which I don’t see how it couldn’t), then don’t delay too long as the game is currently on a special 40% off launch sale.

How about one for the kiddos… For their seventh app, Pepi Play seems to have really pull out all the stops. Spread across four floors of fun, Pepi Super Stores gives kids a ton of ways to use their imaginations as they roam through a giant four-story shopping plaza. From humans to animals and even aliens, the game introduces a whole new cast of Pepi Play’s unique brand of kooky characters to play and interact with. There are also loads of new clothes, accessories and hairstyles which may be applied to any of the characters as well. Wander through all sorts of shops, from a grocery store to a fashion boutique, sporting goods shop to a music store. The game is so big, that it almost feels like a compilation of content which could have just as easily been released as multiple individual apps. Kids can go grocery shopping, create their own band, style hair, design clothes, transform foods into other items and much more. It almost seems as if Pepi Play is going after competitor Toca Boca, offering up their own similar experiences to many of Toca Boca’s existing offerings, but all within this one single app and with their own quirky style. Both of my daughters loved this app and are big fans of both Pepi Play and Toca Boca so it is always great to see more of these imaginative play releases. If you prefer to have your kids try before they buy, a free version of the app is also available which gives kids unlimited access to the items and machines located on the third floor of the shopping plaza.

A free version of the App
Tin Man Games has already used their award-winning game book engine to bring seven Fighting Fantasy titles into the digital realm. However for their eighth, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstones’ 1982 publication The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, they chose to do something a little different. The fruits of a successful Kickstarter campaign, they’ve crafted something a little “closer to its tabletop role-playing game roots”, re-imagining this classic gamebook as a 3D digital tabletop RPG with miniatures and multiple character paths. Easily Tin Man Game’s most ambitious project to date, one can’t help but draw some comparisons with another Steve Jackson series brought to life in a rich 3D form, Inkle’s Sorcery!. Whether or not you are familiar with the original source material, you are in for a frolicking adventure as you explore catacombs and dungeons, trying to survive battles, traps, creatures and more. Decisions will be made, rejoiced and regretted, and combats will be won or lost by the roll of a die. Speaking of fighting, the combat system in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain works quite well, with player and enemies simultaneously selecting their actions, positioning themselves around a gridded board before the results play out on the screen via the nicely rendered 3D miniatures. You may perish several times along your quest and continue where you left off, but eventually your fate will be sealed and you’ll be forced to start your journey over. The original source material (which focused on a singular hero) has been expanded to include multiple potential heroes. There are initially four characters to choose from, with quite a few more available via IAP (some of whom appear to have been freebies for Kickstarter backers). Unless my memory is just bad, there also seemed to be a small amount of randomization in the locations of items between plays which also gives the game some nice replayability. A really stellar effort from the team at Tim Man Games, Fighting Fantasy )and or Tin Man Game) fans will no doubt rejoice at this beautiful evolution of this classic adventure. Highly recommended!

Another studio returning this week is Out There developer Mi-Clos Studio. Originally released on Steam last year, Dungeon Rushers is a 2D tactical RPG dungeon crawler with a humorous narrative and a tile-based movement system where segments (and the overall layout) of each dungeon is revealed as you go. As the player explores these dark dungeons, they will happen upon a mix of monsters, dangerous traps, treasures and other helpful items. Starting with just a single adventurer, player will slowly unlock and grow their party of characters. Characters have three consumable resources consisting of health, stamina and mana which do not regenerate on their own, but rather must be replenished using potions or other sources encountered during their crawling. It is always a good idea to make sure you have some potions stocked up before entering the dungeon. Special dungeon and trap abilities may be activated using stamina; these allow the player to manipulate the dungeon (ie. revealing multiple tiles or other effects) or trigger traps in a way that either minimizes the damage and/or focuses the damage to just a single member of the party. When players do encounter an evil creature within the dungeon, their adventurers are transported to a battle arena. Dungeon Rushers utilizes a fairly familiar turn-based combat system where the players adventurers and the enemies take turns trading blows. Prior to battle, players can position the members of their party into front and back rows, allowing them to protect previously weakened fighters from offensive melee attacks. Each character has (up to) three skills/abilities which may be triggered during the battle. These abilities will have differing effects (depending on the character) however, generally they offer a good mix of both ranged and melee attacks and certain abilities will be more effective on certain types of enemies. While Dungeon Rushers is similar to some other titles on the App Store, it doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel to be good. With its witty narrative, random dungeon layouts and solid gameplay, you get a well put together package with a good deal of content to play through and there are a couple of free (during launch) cosmetic IAPs available. If you are a fan of the dungeon crawling genre you should definitely consider adding this one to your collection.

Finally, that brings us to Turmoil, a delightfully charming oil digging simulation game that was first released by Gamious on Steam last year. Now out for the iPad, players strive to strike it rich in the oil business by bidding on a parcel of land and digging for black gold. Hire a dowser to find oil, set up a rig and hopefully find oil. Then get some horses to deliver the oil to competing buyers; if the current sale price is too low, build a storage container until the prices climb back up. Play the market and try to earn the most money possible in a years time. Sounds easy right…well things start to get tricky as multiple prospectors start bidding on the same parcel of land or there are costly oil spills, dry wells or the hired dowser just can’t seem to find any oil. To offset these hardships players may be forced to start taking loans and spending the big bucks to upgrade mining equipment. I am really enjoying this game, sure it’s a little repetitive at times, but the constant competition with the other AI miners and the fact that your money carries over from year to year, makes you consider the long haul instead of dumping all your cash on a quick score and then not having anything for the next year. Turmoil is one of those titles that you can easily lose your self in for an hour or more.

And that’ll do it for this week…enjoy!

Go to the second page of this post to watch the trailers for these games.