There’s always a pang of sadness when July is over. Luckily, we can cure this summer twilight angst with some fresh App Store games.
This week, we enjoy an incredible sequel, a new perspective on the flinging genre, some dungeon crawling and a very exciting title that’s come over from the console world — see you on the other side!
One of the most beloved titles on the App Store in the tower defence genre was Fieldrunners, a quirky and extremely accomplished example of the genre that offered addictive gameplay and polish without resorting to unnecessary distractions.
The sequel builds smartly on the foundations, with additions like more towers and more varied gameplay situations offering a tremendous improvement in the overall impression without compromising the spirit of the original. Graphics have gotten the Retina treatment, AI is craftier and can be frustrating, and the upgradeable new weapons are a joy to explore.
Demonstrating a profound respect for their appreciative fans, Subatomic Studios have also opted to eschew IAP altogether in favour of a slightly higher than average price for the game. This is a welcome break from the endless nagging of the IAP ecosystem, and presents a full gaming experience from the get-go where the only thing standing between you and success is your skill and cunning — as it should be.
As far as subtle changes making a big difference go, flipping the perspective switch on a formula as familiar as Angry Birds can yield some excellent results.
Catapult King is a charming flinging game that’s played from a first-person perspective. You and your trusty catapult will be taking aim at some aggravating knights on faraway structures. With three stones at your disposal, your goal — of course — is to obliterate the taunting airheads while enjoying the pastoral scenery. The basics of controls and scoring are pretty much as you’d expect, but Catapult King shakes things up with magical skills you can earn, and the 3D perspective leads to some nifty optical tricks in later levels.
Also, there are dragon battles. And the game is free to play, which makes it all the more easy to recommend.
Now for some dungeon crawling. We’re all waiting for the elusive mobile Diablo, and while the goal is lofty, it’s nice to see some games out there that are still willing to rise to the challenge — take Orc: Vengeance for instance.
An honest to goodness dungeon crawler, this amazingly presented title puts you in the shoes of mighty orc chieftain Rok, on a quest for revenge. While the setup is fairly generic, the story is actually quite involved and lengthy, and there’s a fair bit of lore to pore over if you’re the exploring type.
Weapons, enemies and environments abound in Orc: Venegance, and while you’ll miss the kind of complexity that Diablo offers in terms of crafting, multiple weapon wielding, classes, etc. you will still be left with an incredibly compelling distillation of the genre in mobile form — and one that looks absolutely stunning.
A classic comic, a hit TV show, a great episodic game series … yup, it’s The Walking Dead. For those who haven’t yet had an opportunity to try out the game series, assembled by the mighty talent at Telltale Games (famous for the recent Monkey Island episodic series, among other things), the new mobile port is finally here.
The move to mobile has been mostly faithful, with the majority of changes taking the form of a reduction in the number of situations where you’ll need to actively move the main character, Lee. This works out well, and since the game is more focused on tough choices and lasting consequences than direct action, you won’t be missing out on anything crucial to the experience. For now, just the first episode (of five) is released, with the rest coming as they’re completed as purchasable episodes in-game.
It’s worth noting that the game’s advanced graphics require a newer generation of device to run, so if you’re rocking anything older than an iPhone 4, you’re out of luck. For everyone else, this is an unmissable adventure and one that faithfully extends the rich world of The Walking Dead.
Manos – The Hands of Fate is a fairly ridiculous retro platformer that channels the spirit of the old school as directly as it can, resulting in some absurd and wonderful plot points.
The game takes place in a mysterious desert lodge, starring Mike and his family who are trying to find a comfy place to stay. Unfortunately, the lodge is crawling with bizarre creatures and phenomena, and his family quickly goes missing, leaving Mike alone and desperate to find them. Manos presents a world full of oddities and shows it to you in large levels, each of which features a tough boss battle at the end, just as you’d expect.
In the style of old NES games, the levels are unforgiving, and you’ll need to replay sections several times, memorizing the surprises, in order to make it through successfully. You’ll also be happy to hear that the controls are authentic, for better or worse — the physics are more rigid than modern platformers, but they’re wholly faithful to the titles that Manos seeks to emulate. It’s neither easy, nor aimed at everyone, but if you’re a fan of retro platformers, then this nostalgic revival will win your heart.
What Have You Been Playing?
Those are our picks for this week. We’re already having a lot of fun with them, but if you’ve come across other titles that we didn’t mention then drop us a comment. See you next week!