As video games become capital-c culture, the revitalization of the past in new forms is interesting to watch. Square brings a celebration of one the biggest franchises in video games to iOS. I’ve also got a look at a new detective game for iOS. Finally, I close out with a look at a text adventure from a a webcomics superstar.
Final Fantasy: Record Keeper – iOS(Universal)
Final Fantasy has become a full-on nostalgia machine. Though there are new games in the series that come out, the majority of games now are celebrations of their classic series. There’s nothing wrong with that, as they tend to do something more interesting than repackaging the old title.
Record Keeper actually brings together the entire franchise inside one game. The story is framed by a world that keeps all of the stories of the other games in the form of paintings. This is a convenient device to work through all of the games in scenes plucked throughout their stories. There’s a lot of Final Fantasy VII included, including special events.
The game is straight ahead turn based RPG battles, though you can automate this and let the AI control your characters. The characters you battle with come from all the different games, and are all leveled up separately. You also can use orbs to levels them up, as well as manage equipment to increase their stats. You can also automate this as well.
I am not sure if that is intentional irony, but you can play this game without any choice from the player whatsoever. It’s something that’s dogged the console side of the series, and it’s weird to see it on a casual mobile game. I didn’t really run into places where the game shook me down for money, but it does have a stamina system. You also use in app currency to get relics and equipment. It’s pretty light on the shakedowns.
What’s Good: Fun trip down memory lane with the Final Fantasy series.
What Sucks: Game can play itself.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of classic Final Fantasy, pick up Final Fantasy Record Keeper. Download it on the App Store for free.
1010! – iOS(Universal)
The puzzle game streak continues this week with 1010!. (I’m not sure why it needs an exclamation point either.) The best way to describe this game is static Tetris. You get pieces of varying sizes and shapes you have to place on a grid. If you complete lines horizontally or vertically they clear. If you don’t have enough room to fit one of the incoming pieces, you lose.
I like this game because it’s a deliberative puzzle game but is accessible as something like Tetris or Bejeweled. I am not that great at it, my high score is sitting at 2560 and I have trouble even getting close to that. What I think is best about this game, is that its your management of open spaces is the only bar to doing better. It’s not reaction time or memorizing patterns, this is simply knowing the game and keeping the board clear enough for all possibilities.
The game is free to play. You see ads in between your games. There’s nothing intrusive. The only IAP is $1.99 to remove all of the ads.
What’s Good: Well designed puzzle game, focused more on strategy than reflexes.
What Sucks: Sometimes it’s not clear why your game ended.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of slower-paced, strategic puzzle games, check out 1010! Pick it up for free on the App Store.
The Trace – iOS(Universal)
There are a lot of so called detective games on the App Store that are just hidden object or spot the difference games. The Trace puts you in the shoes of detective Pearce. You’re called to the scene of a suspicious suicide at an auto repair shop. You’ll need to look for fingerprints, find evidence, and assemble clues.
Though the game lays on a lot of police procedure, it boils down to an adventure game. Sadly that means that you’ll have to spend a lot of time clicking around randomly to find something to interact with when you’re looking for that last clue.
The game is also pretty short. There are three crime scenes to fully investigate. You get nice narrations of the discoveries as they happen, but also all sequenced into a smooth retelling of the events. The story that you uncover is interesting, though it will remind you of an indie movie classic.
What’s Good: Fun adventure game, nice take on a detective game.
What Sucks: Some points leave you tapping randomly.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a detective game that’s more than hidden objects, check out The Trace. Grab it on the App Store for $4.99
QuestRun – iOS(Universal)
QuestRun is an RPG that turns battles into endurance matches. It’s an interesting twist on a genre, each stage is just a series of battles. If you play your RPG’s for stories or thoughtful, deliberate game play; this isn’t going to be the game for you.
The game starts off with a couple of tutorials, ones that aren’t all that easy, and then tosses you off the deep end. The game has you manage equipment and leveling up on the fly in battles, the only element of the game outside of the combat is the map. It’s pretty novel, but I think one that people who really like RPG’s aren’t used to dealing with.
There are also mini missions that challenge you to win battles under specific conditions for bonus gold. These are things like finishing a battle in less than ten seconds, or you taking less than a certain amount of damage.
The difficulty on this game is pretty high. As you’re playing through levels the enemies’ strength jump rapidly, and your march through the level turns into a quick defeat. As you unlock the Pets and different classes the game can potentially get easier. It’s still never a walk in the park, I got stuck pretty early on in the game.
What’s Good: Interesting twist on RPGs as grinding battles.
What Sucks: Steep difficulty curve, missing a lot of details on the game play.
Buy it?: If you like RPG twists without much story, and don’t shy away from difficult games, check out QuestRun. Buy it on the App Store for $2.99
To Be Or Not To Be – iOS(Universal)
I think that reorganizing Hamlet into a Choose Your Own Adventure is a pretty tall order, more so when you try and tell the story from several different perspectives. That is exactly what Ryan North did, the artist behind Dinosaur Comics adapted the stage play with a ton of meta commentary. The game features art by an impressive array of webcomics all stars— like Sam Logan, Kate Beacon, and Jeph Jaques.
The premise is that Hamlet was directly lifted from the first choose your adventure book, and you can see the other various options for a story that you’re already familiar. You can go through the story as Hamlet, but you can change the outcome. You can also play as Hamlet’s father, or Ophelia. Ophelia finally getting some much needed exposition. The text incorporates some of the original play, but it’s layered in sarcasm and jokes.
A Choose Your Own Adventure based on classic literature isn’t likely to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’re a fan of North’s sense of humor from Dinosaur Comics you’re likely going to enjoy this. Each ending you get unlocks additional art that helps you figure out how many of the various branching paths you’ve completed. There’s a lot of game here you can play around with.
What’s Good: Funny concept, lots of different endings to find.
What Sucks: Niche audience.
Buy it?: Fans of Ryan North or Hamlet should check out To Be Or Not To Be. Pick it up on the App Store for $5.99