Sunday, December 09, 2018
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Best new mobile games on iOS and Android – September 2018 round-up

Mobile-Technology
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Castle Burn – a good game, but is it the best of the month?

GameCentral checks out this month’s new iOS and Android games from the sublime Barbearian to the habit-forming Holedown.

The Google Play and App Stores are fickle beasts. Sometimes there’s nothing but mindless match-three puzzles and dispiriting free-to-play driving games in the editors’ picks, while at other times you can discover gems that would scarcely even be possible on other platforms. This month is one of the latter, with the delightfully brutal Barbearian joined by the joyous and impossible to put down Holedown, and the serenely lovely Evergarden. These are games that as well as testing the limits of autocorrect, will also be remembered as classics of their genres.

 



Barbearian for iOS, £2.99 (Kimmo Lahtinen)

In Barbearian you control a little man in a bear suit as he walks around chopping up hordes of enemies with an axe, using a dash move to break up the pack, and briefly stunning larger enemies. To help you in the endless crowd control you use the scenery, some of which you can destroy to create handy bottlenecks, and also rescue minions – who follow you around and attack alongside you.

There are limited-use weapons that drop, wells that let you recover health, and various secrets hidden in each level. There’s also a duck in a scarf called Professor Vogelstrom, who enumerates your progress, his amusingly downbeat attitude towards your chances of success at odds with his endearing appearance. It’s ruthlessly hard, although you can adapt the difficulty level if it all gets too much, and it suffers from the usual issues with onscreen joystick and buttons, but its beautifully-rendered visuals and refined mechanics make it a joy to play from start to finish.

Score: 9/10

 



Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes for iOS, £ (Daedalic Entertainment)

Ported verbatim from a six-year-old PC title, the game’s painfully long, excruciatingly dull, un-skippable opening credits sequence is a perfect preparation for an experience that even in 2012 felt depressingly dated. Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes is a point ‘n’ click adventure with the kind of high concept humour that worked brilliantly in The Secret Of Monkey Island.

Unfortunately, unlike LucasArts’ classic, a combination of uneven translation and terrible voice acting neuter any hilarity, leaving its plot, which very quickly degenerates into abject lunacy, to fend for itself. Clumsy interactions, nonsensical puzzles, and non-existent animation are just the start of the horrors. This is in no way up to the standard you’d expect from veteran adventure developer Daedalic.

Score: 3/10

 



Castle Burn: The Crown League for iOS & Android, £Free (Bluehole PNIX)

Castle Burn shares a suspicious amount in common with Clash Royale. It’s a free-to-play, portrait-orientated card-collecting game, where you have to destroy your opponent’s castle whilst defending your own by placing troops in the play area, which then act autonomously. However, unlike Clash Royale there’s a touch more resource management involved, with towers that increase mana regeneration and others that extend your territory, whilst letting you accumulate a larger mana reserve.

You’ll also need to add troops to your deck as you progress through each round, rather than setting up your hand before you begin. It’s a new game and still feels a bit shapeless, with matches regularly lasting seven or eight minutes, which for a mobile game with ranked battles can feel like an excessively long time. If the community takes off, and with some well-judged balancing updates this could be one to watch, even if it still feels a touch rough around the edges, especially compared with the game that inspired it.

Score: 6/10

 



Pilot Perils for iOS, £Free – full game £1.99, (Excalisoft)

Pilot Perils is a physics-based side-scrolling flying game that has you weaving around aerial mazes collecting nuts and special items whilst avoiding the obstacles that litter each level. A tap on the left or right of the screen sends your steampunk plane in that direction, while both sides simultaneously make you gain altitude, a system that quickly becomes intuitive.

The problem is that there’s very little to do, with new elements introduced at a glacial rate. Meanwhile, harder levels are intensely frustrating, giving you nothing to look forward to but even more of the same. Pilot Perils has a nice art style but that’s as good as it gets.

Score: 4/10

 



Evergarden for iOS (also available for PC), £5.99 (Flippfly)

With its plinky plonky music, dexterity-free turn-based gameplay, and habit of letting you discover everything for yourself via quiet experimentation, Evergarden is a peculiarly tranquil puzzle experience. In each level you combine flowers by dragging one onto another to form a more complex blossom. You can plant seeds and grow them into mature plants 10 times each round, although that number can be increased by evolving a flower to its maximum level of combination. Doing so creates a stone obelisk, a structure with interesting additional properties that we won’t spoil for you here.

There’s also a cat with antlers sitting on one side of the board, thinking of combinations of flowers. Matching those gives you a moveable bloom that you can put anywhere on the board, making future combinations easier. Its straightforward introduction masks a game of extraordinary depth and complexity that you’re given access to by degrees, getting comfortable with its no-rush mechanics before discovering layer after layer of additional elements and working out how they interact with each other. Beautiful, strangely calming and with plenty of subtle intricacies to figure out.

Score: 8/10

 



Mars Power Industries for iOS, £1.99 (Lukasz Zmudziak)

Although screenshots might make it look like this is a charmingly-drawn base-building game set on the Red Planet, it’s not. Mars Power is a set of 60 puzzles focused on supplying electricity and water to tiny buildings. You do that by placing distribution towers on top of resource tiles to direct them to the buildings, opening new resources and occasionally triggering special nodes that supply entire rows and columns.

The result is a game of trial and error that starts extremely simply and eventually starts to get very slightly more testing with the addition of buildings that need multiple power-ups, towers with different effects, crystals that must never receive power, and red herring structures that you don’t actually need. It also tells a wordless story implied through the content of each level that sees your freshly empowered dwellings being devoured by an unnamed corruption. It’s an hour or two of mellow puzzling, which is a shade overpriced at £1.99.

Score: 6/10

 



Holedown for iOS & Android, £3.99 (grapefrukt)

From the same developer as the awesome but largely unpronounceable real-time strategy, rymdkapsel comes Holedown, a kinetic puzzle game that blends elements of Breakout with a mining mechanic which has you digging as deep as you can. Returning to the surface to upgrade is a process that give you more shots, space to hold extra upgrade crystals, and access to new planets and eventually a black hole. You take your freshly acquired powers back to the dig by bouncing shots off walls and other blocks as you mine your way towards each planet’s core.

On paper Holedown doesn’t sound terribly exciting. In reality it’s savagely addictive, the urge to have one more go at times threatening to prevent reviews getting written and children’s dinners cooked, so ecstatic is the feeling of success as each upgrade extends your range and capacity for further exploration.

Score: 8/10

 



Zero Escape for iOS & Android, 99p (Pandco)

Zero Escape’s 99 levels are all puzzles with a numerical answer, so the only thing you’ll see throughout the game is a mock-retro green screen number pad, and a clue as to what number you need to type in. Sometimes clues are obvious, like the year of the Battle of Hastings or knowing what a ‘gross’ is, and and sometimes a great deal more testing.

If it’s all too cryptic for you, there’s a question mark button that gives you a hint, but at heart this is a cute, throwaway set of quick fire brain teasers for the butterfly attention-spanned YouTube generation. It also has nothing to do with Virtue’s Last Reward et al. on consoles.

Score: 7/10

 

By Nick Gillett

(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2018-09-03 13:00:11

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