Starting things off this week we have some more creepy point-and-click adventure goodness from Rusty Lake Studios as they release Cube Escape: The Cave, the NINTH title in their free, quicker Cube Escape series of titles. In this episode, “an old man is about to enter a mysterious Cave and a familiar guest needs your help before you descend deeper and deeper into Rusty Lake“. In preparation for the release, I binged through the previous 8 Cube Escape titles (one for the second time). Having just played through the lot of them, I felt this latest one is perhaps the most straight forward when it comes to the puzzles. Which is kind of ironic, given that Cube Escape: The Cave features Rusty Lake’s brand new (and much better) hint system. I’m not saying that the game was easy, it is simply that a few of the previous games in the series required at least one incident of really outside of the box thinking to complete. Cube Escape: The Cave will still take some puzzling and trial and error to work your way through. It continues the story nicely and fans of this macabre series will be quite pleased.
Speaking of pleasing fans, Bethesda has tossed their scroll into the battle arena with the global release of their take on the popular Hearthstone digital card battling genre. The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a free-to-play strategy card game based on their award-winning Elder Scrolls® franchise. I myself and not at all familiar with The Elder Scrolls, but there is plenty of fan-service here with great card art, cut scenes and a rich narrative throughout the Story Mode of the game. As for the card play, it works pretty much the same as Hearthstone, with BethesdaLegends is a lane-based system whereby the player can deploy their cards across two different lanes. This allows for some different and interesting strategies, for while cards deployed in either lane can still attack the other player’s hero, cards in one lane cannot directly attack ones in the other. So for instance, if one lane has a Guard (think Taunt in Hearthstone) cards in the other lane can still freely attack the player’s hero from the other lane, so the player isn’t completely blocked; it gives the player a way out. If you enjoy card battling games, you’ll find even just this one twist adds some interesting things to consider. I got a sneak peek at this during PAX East this year, and now it’s already out and about in the wild so definitely check it out.
Created in partnership with Lionsgate and Saban, and just in time for Saban’s Power Rangers movie, Power Rangers: Legacy Wars is a real-time battling game where players can form teams of Legendary Power Rangers and villains from across the Power Rangers multiverse. Craft a team, upgrade their skills and let the punches fly as players try to defeat their opponents in quick, action packed matches. The gameplay falls somewhere between a turn-based strategy, defense game and button-mashing brawler. Each player has an energy meter that keeps slowly building up over time as well as up to three randomly available actions. These actions cost energy to deploy, but can be buffered to deliver a chained attack. There are no turns and (much like a button masher) players can keep firing off attacks as quickly as they charge. However, there is a rock-paper-scissors style circular hierarchy to the different action types, which are categorized as Strike-Breaker-Defense. Strikes and Defensive actions are relatively quick to deploy, but in general the Breakers can be more devastating. While the gameplay is frenetic from the moment battles start, anticipating what type of attack your opponent is going to throw and planning the proper counter (if possible) can make all the difference in a battle and can stun your opponent, leaving the ripe for a bigger attack. Fights will often still comedown to the fastest fingers and the most rapid attacks, however Power Rangers: Legacy Wars offers slightly more strategy than may appear at first glance and I’m sure it’ll be a hit with Power Rangers currently back in the spotlight.
If you like addictive little minimalistic puzzlers then Trilogic may be right up your alley. In each of the 180 levels, players are presents with a series of colored blocks and lines. The blue ones represent water, red is fire and green are leaves. The blocks have certain numbers on them representing the number of squares of that color which must be dragged out from the square in one continuous line. The line can twist and bend but all the block you drag out must be connected. At least initially, the goal is to drag out all of the leaves, then drag the red fire on top of all of these leaves and then finally put out the fire by dragging the water on the fire blocks. This leaves you with just a solid blue screen in the end. A perfect little time waster and hard to put down once you start; you can help but play puzzle after puzzle.
Without spoiling too much for those unfortunate few who may not be familiar with the brilliant BBC sci-fi series Orphan Black, it is a well written and acted show revolving around government conspiracies, ethics, science and technology and human cloning. So it seems pretty fitting that Boat Rocker Digital’s first official mobile game related to the series Orphan Black: The Game, would be a close clone of a game that we’ve seen (and loved) before. Though please don’t immediately think of this as a bad thing, in fact the game is quite good. Setup in a style very similar to SQUARE ENIX’s Lara Croft GO (and other titles in the GO series) Orphan Black is a puzzle game which takes players through 10 worlds and, in broad strokes, follows the flow of the series (which will be debuting its fifth and final season in June). Taking on the role of a number of their favorite clones from the series as well as other popular characters, players must solve puzzles to navigate trap and enemy filled rooms. Narrative components are weaved throughout and new puzzle mechanics (traps, sliding floor panels, pressure pads and more) are introduced regularly to keep things interesting. The goal is to clear each level in the fewest steps possible and there is a rather nice built-in hint system to guide you in case a level complete confounds you. Orphan Black is a well put together game, with an excellent theme and great isometric and comic-book style versions of the characters. If you enjoyed the GO series, you are going to love this.
Next up is a highly anticipated digital board game port, that was well worth the wait… In Tokaido™, players are ancient travelers in Japan, following the Tokaido, a prestigious route along the East Sea road from Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Players are trying to make this four-day journey as rewarding as possible by stopping at various places along the way. Perhaps they’ll sample delicious culinary specialties at a local Inn, purchase souvenirs, pay tribute at the temple, collect artistic panoramas, or benefit from the virtues of hot springs. Decisions, decisions. At the start of a game player are given the choice of two travelers, each with their own starting amount of money and unique power which provides some special benefit in the game like paying less for souvenirs, earn additional points, free meals and more. On their turn the player may elect to move to any of the open locations along the path in front of them and perform the action associated with that type of space. These actions could be earning free money or points or a location where the player can collect or purchase an item toward a set that will earn them larger points when completed. Players may only progress to a location that is not currently occupied (except for the Inn which we’ll get to in a moment). Players must always be moving forwards (never backwards) along the path and once all players have moved once, play continues with the player who is farthest back on the path, getting the next turn. This means that there is no set turn order and the same player may get multiple turns in a row. Deciding where to go next and how many places to skip over is key. Do you just go right to what you want/need to guarantee it won’t be blocked by an opponent? Or do you travel to a certain location to grab the item or benefit before an opponent can complete there set? There is a lot of strategy here and you will have to change your plans often, as other travelers are bound to spoil your plans. The last place all visitors will travel to each day (and the only location where ALL players may visit simultaneously) is the Inn. It is here that each player must purchase a meal (if possible) and then continue on their journey the next day. At the end of the four-day journey, players add up their victory points, with special Achievement bonuses handed out for each location type to the player who meets certain requirements. There are a number of additional rules, but those are the basics. Tokaido™ is a game that already features gorgeous art, but FUNFORGE’s digital implementation brings these all to life. Not your typical direct, cardboard to screen port, the app features a charming 3D world where the characters literally walk along the path from location to location. This gives the game an almost cinematic feel rather than a flat digital port. The buildings rise up out of the snow and the animations add a whimsical energy to the game. A helpful timeline at the bottom of the screen helps keep track of the path (like the board in the physical game) and handy pop ups are available at the tap of a button to track all important player information. It is a well-designed interface in both form, function and aesthetics. An absolutely gorgeous port, the app features both solo against AI as well as local pass and play and online multiplayer as well as a detailed tutorial to teach you the basics. I have found it difficult to get an online match going due to lack of opponents, but solo play is fantastic. Perhaps the only thing that’s missing is access to the full rule book. This is a great way to learn the game and/or take it on the go with you. Hopefully the expansions will find their way to the app in a future update (as IAP of course). Tokaido™ is a great example for other developers on how to elevate a digital board game experience from more than just pieces on a screen. It is a must-have title for anyone’s digital board game library.
A delightful mashup of B-rated zombie flick and road movie, Rocketcat’s long-anticipated iOS port of Death Road to Canada is finally available. In this humorous survival RPG, players manage a growing group of misfits as they ransack the remains of cities, looking for supplies, weapons, food and survivors as they attempt to make their way from Florida to Canada (“the last nation on Earth”). Much like I’d imagine a real zombie apocalypse would be, chaos reigns supreme, with hoards of zombies to fight or avoid. Everything in the game is completely randomized from the locations and events you’ll encounter to the survivor personalities and their skills, giving the game superb replayability. The story elements are very well written, with loads of unexpected and humorous situations and events and loads of crazy weaponry. Players always have to be mindful about who they let into their group as clashing personality types could be very detrimental. The game even features a full Character Maker which allows you to put your own friends, family or custom characters into the game. One of the must-have new releases, Death Road to Canada is currently available at a launch price of $7.99. That price will apparently be going up a dollar with each major update, but for comparison, its PC counterpart is currently priced at $14.99. So don’t wait too long, unless of course you just want to give the developer more money.
Finally that brings us to our last title a meaty PC port. Set in Fallen London, the same dark and Victorian-Gothic underworld where Failbetter Games debut title of the same name took place, Sunless Sea is a game of exploration and discovery. A sort of gamebook meets rouguelike hybrid, players must board and captain their ship, leaving the relative safety of London for unknown destinations, likely running out out of fuel and/or supplies along the way. With the assistance of your officers you’ll improve both your abilities and your ship, hopefully finding useful equipment along the way. Life on the zee is risky and you will die (often) however fear not, as death is only semi-permanent; lessons that you learned will help the next generation survive longer on their journey(s). Future captains inherit some of the skills, officers equipment and money of the fallen one, giving you a leg up on your next journey. While the topography of the Underzee will change with each new captain, your home waters of London will remain constant. Choices have consequences so make sure you choose wisely. The real star of Sunless Sea is the writing, featuring over 350,000+ words of stories, secrets, humor, crazy companions, mad mascots and other oddities, you’ll be compelled to dig deeper into this strange, dark world of bats, betrayal, madness and cannibalism. While not for everyone, those willing to put in the time with this one will likely find it to be a rewarding and entertaining experience.
And that’ll do it for this week, hope you too will enjoy some of these great new releases.