It’s been a big week for me personally, stepping down from Touch Arcade as one of the “resident games posters”. It may have seemed a rash judgement to some but it’s something I’ve been considering for months ever since being removed as a moderator for doing, what I felt at least, was the right thing. I will miss the fantastic community there though and many of the staff too; there were no hard feelings at all it just reached a point where my confidence couldn’t take all the small knocks.
Anyway. This week has been slow but not without merit, with the arrival of a few anticipated titles. It’s been championed by indies though; something that can be hit or miss for gamers, depending on your taste. While there might not have been a new Gameloft or Chillingo title for example, there were several titles from newly-starting studios that could end up becoming household names themselves. Something about that prospect excites me more than the hype a big name can produce. If you feel the same at all then there’s a good chance you’ll find something you’ll like in my picks from the week starting on the 27th of October.
Jaeger Builder (by Amir Zach) [Free, Universal]
From what seemed like a basic first project trying to ride the coattails of the Pacific Rim kaiju resurgence emerged an interesting beast. It’s not a Godzilla-sized experience but it’s smart, confident and enjoyable which hugely surprised me. Initially, it’s a twitch-avoidance with fantastic monochromatic pixelated visuals that pushes you with increasing difficulty and very fast action. You can only pick up objects that match the screen’s colour but each consecutive collection shrinks the play area so it gets much harder to succeed. Each time the screen reaches the top you complete construction of an appropriately miniaturised jaeger which is used in a sim-lite minigame at the end of gameplay. I’m yet to fully understand the depth, if any, of the post-game section but the main gameplay is more than satisfactory.
Vektor 1.0 (by Cagil Bektas) [Free, Universal]
Vektor 1.0, or more specifically, it’s first chapter The Courier has been likened to Tron, Blade Runner, Akira and many other seminal sci-fi titles. When you’re swooping elegantly between neon-lit hovercars and effortlessly swatting high-speed foes into traffic, it feels unique. It’s been criticised for its brevity and while it’s certainly an issue, the sheer atmospheric design warrants it a download onto anyone’s device. Highscore chasers have plenty to replay for and nothing quite compares to weaving between vehicles painting hazy colourful trails in your wake. As a showcase for what the developer is capable of producing in the future, Vektor 1.0 is an astounding demonstration.
Woah Dave! (by Choice Provisions) [$1.99, Universal]
It shouldn’t take a huge amount to sell a game to you that’s developed by Choice Provisions once you realise their pedigree, in particular under the name Gaijin Games. The Bit Trip series says it all really but throw in Lilt Line and you have a Studio inherently skilled at classy minimalistic retro goodness and Woah Dave! fits right in. Taking a little of Super Crate Box’s one room action and blending in high difficulty, incredible fast judgement calls and a little of Bubble Bobble’s charm. There’s a lot to take in; with realising the hatching enemies are both ticking bombs and your only weapons against ever-increasing odds but once it clicks it magical. There are complaints about borders on certain devices so it’s worth checking before buying but on iPad, at least, there are none and it looks utterly fantastic in raw bold fashion.
Gems of War (by 505 Games) [Free, Universal] New Zealand Soft Launch
Gems of War is, for all intents and purposes, Puzzle Quest 3. It might be a little disappointing that it’s not a premium product but it’s incredibly fair with content. It’s also reassuring that the aforementioned content is as good as ever; recovering from the mediocre Puzzle Quest: Galactrix and returning to the highs of the original. Introduced in Gems of War are CCG-like elements that are fairly subtle as to not turn off those opposed to shoehorned genre-mixing gimmicks. There’s a great scope for change given that it’s currently in soft launch which makes it difficult to discuss but it’s looking promising so far.
Meat Factory (by Steve Cable) [99c, Universal]
This is somewhat of an old-fashioned iOS experience for me. A simple highscoring challenge that focuses on doing one thing over and over with the action increasing in speed and challenge until inevitable failure. It’s an acquired taste, but Meat Factory is hugely charming, addictive and plays like a cartoony 1001 Attempts crossed with a platformer. The floor is a conveyor belt, pulling you to the left and carrying the cutesy animals towards you; it would be simple if not for the various crushers, NES zappers and other obstacles that want blood – quite literally. It’s gruesome and charming in equal spades and well worth dropping a dollar on.
Grey Cubes (by Bulkypix) [99c, Universal]
With the greatest of respect, Grey Cubes feels as though it was initially a physics tech demo to show off their game engine; everything is polished, minimal and focused whilst the physics involved are superb and realistic. A little like Smash Hit, Grey Cubes is almost too pretty in that it would be easy to assume the graphics are intended to deflect away from shallow gameplay but that’s in no way the truth. In a tired genre, this title stands out as one of the freshest and enjoyable with memorable and unique levels
Audio Defence: Zombie Arena (by Somethin’ Else) [$4.99, Universal]
It’s remarkable what Somethin’ Else can accomplish simply with audio design; levels of polish and finesse that put other studios to shame. Unsurprisingly, given the fantastic Papa Sangre series and The Nightjar, Audio Defence is a masterpiece – truly fantastic and proving the focus on sound to be more than just a gimmick. With eyes closed and headphones on, you’re transported to an underground entertainment ring that pits a blind man against the undead with only their hearing to guide them and a small array of weaponry to defend themselves with. From the sleazy, disinterested show host to the chomping and groaning of the zombies as they slowly shuffle towards you, there’s an atmosphere that grips you until the very end and a surprising level of replayability.
Lost Viking (by Red Winter) [$2.99, Universal]
Heavily inspired by Threes, or 2048 if you like infuriating your friends, Lost Viking is latest game from the developers of Dungelot. It’s safe to say that it’s mostly a case of shoehorning RPG elements into a popular formula which is normally something considered a sign of unoriginality but, be that as it may, most recently created genres stem from the mashing of parts from existing games. It ends up as the bastard son of Threes and 10000000; making matches to defeat foes, unlock chests and use the loot you discover. The leveling scheme is a little stingy and it’s not ground-breaking, but there’s solid gameplay that grows on you after the opening hours. It’s a slightly tough recommendation but those that love the studio’s other games and don’t mind a few odd decisions will get their moneys worth easily
There are many games that I don’t get around to trying, haven’t bought yet or couldn’t get to work on my devices for many different reasons. I’d love to play everything I post but it’s simply not possible but I do get to hear a lot of feedback from other people’s recommendations so these are some others worth checking out:
Twisty Hollow (by Arkadium) [$2.99, Universal]
Drift’n’Drive (by Kimmo Lahtinen) [$1.99, Universal]
Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf (by HeroCraft) [Free, Universal]