A fine balance has to be achieved when you decide to go the freemium route in a dungeon crawler. If you’re too generous then the player will simply grind through enemies in order to get better loot; this is after all the appeal of these games anyway. Make progression too hard however, and you risk subverting the enjoyment of your hack ‘em up, and relegating it to the ‘play to win’ category. Many players of Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter 3 felt that the pendulum had swung to far in favor of in-app purchases, unsettling the tried and true compulsion loop of incremental improvements to carry your character just that little bit further each time. Dungeon Hunter 4 redresses a lot of the complaints leveled at that game, but the question is; does it do enough?
Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet – Everything You Loved On Steam Perfectly Transitioned to Your Tablet
On Gamewoof, lots of ports of PC and console games have been reviewed and discussed for Android devices. Most of them however, either even out with or fall short from their non touch screen counterparts. Few, if any, have matched and surpassed the original. Then there is Paradox Interactive’s Magicka game. Magicka is one of those games that gets lots of love from those who’ve played it; a fantastic little adventure game that does a lot with less. Magicka boasts more DLC than a Capcom game, yet it hasn’t achieved super commercial success. But then, you probably haven’t played released Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet for Android yet.
The controls for the initial version of Magicka are pretty simplistic; it’s nothing more than a user casting 8 different elemental spells to combat against monsters. These elemental spells can be combined to create bucketloads of different spells and effects. It’s a simple concept that opens the door to being a rich and full experience, challenging players to think quick and smart in order to deal with the various monsters and creatures your wizard will combat. That mechanic is translated onto the tablet as seven different spells the users has to work with that are selected by touch and then released upon whomever one wishes, even yourself if you so chose in certain situations. The speed and smarts demand on the player are increased due to the touch screen controls as it allows the game to make the enemies come at you a little quicker.
A few years ago I met a guy who told me that he was working on the PSP version of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. He explained that their plan was to do away with the open world structure of the PC and console iterations, but would rather have the Imperial city as a kind of hub level, with the different lands accessible from there. Even in this reduced state, it was an ambitious undertaking for what at the time was still a reasonably powerful handheld device. Needless to say the game never saw the light of day; reducing a game of such epic scope not only to a smaller screen, but to machine more comfortable with PlayStation 2 ports was a bit of a tall order. Now that technology has caught up with the ambitions of game designers, and the most recent android devices more than capable of handling whatever processor hungry apps we throw at them, Crescent Moon Games is trying once more to give the mobile gamer that fully immersive, and fully featured, RPG experience in the shape of Ravensword 2: Shadowlands. And for the most part they succeed. Mostly.
InXile, developers of Bard’s Tale, made Kickstarter history when they secured over four million dollars to fund the incredibly ambitious Torment: Tides of Numenera, the spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, one of the most fondly remembered and respected hardcore PC RPGs of all time. While the Torment games deal in a very traditional form of Western role-playing aimed at those who have a lot of time to invest in an epic story of conflicted characters and mind bending worlds, Bard’s Tale offers something almost completely at the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing InXile to indulge the sillier side of fantasy gaming. Loosely based on three classic–read: old–games of the same name (all of which are included in the package) The Bard’s Tale was initially released way back in 2004 for PS2 and the original Xbox, which should give you some idea of what to expect. While it failed to set the world on fire, it was reasonably well received and has now become somewhat of a permanent fixture on the top ten Google play charts, due in no small amount to the deep discounts it has had since it’s first appearance.
After much finagling and whining I’ve finally managed to get my mitts on an early copy of Bladeslinger. Outside of some missing item descriptions — and no ability to take screencaps, unfortunately — I’ve been told what I have is pretty much a finished product. After spending four-plus hours in a car with my nose buried in the game, I’ve come to one final, resounding conclusion:
It rules. Hard.
Seriously. And that’s before a trip to Indianapolis, then after a trip to Indianapolis, the only two things guaranteed to put me in a terrible mood anyway. It’s like the ultimate acid test: If I’m going to Indy and I still like it, it’s probably pretty good. If I’m coming back and I still enjoy it, you know it is.
Let’s forget about the gameplay Undead Slayer brings to the table and talk about the title for moment. It is, perhaps, the most generic name NHN Corp. could have chosen for the popular hack-n-slasher. When I first read it, I thought of a fictional video game a kid in a movie would play: “Dang it, mom, one more level and I would have made it to the zombie battlemaster!”
That said, it’s also an apt description. You slay a metric buttload of undead in this game. As the anime-styled protagonist/monster lawn mower, you’ll use a variety of special powers, melee strikes, and ranged attacks in your quest to achieve your means.
This largely works. Outside of the legions of skeletons and other undead baddies you face, there’s a heck of a lot of content here. The environments are varied and generally great-looking, for instance, and the leveling system, for all its complexity, is actually pretty rewarding. Your cohorts (called “captains”) fill a variety of roles, from ranged attackers to healers to tanks. Best of all, you get all this in a free-to-play environment that doesn’t cram paid upgrades down your throat or require you to pay up to advance.
Is it fair to review a game that’s still in beta? Most of the core game mechanics will be in place by the time a title reaches beta, and if the devs have any plans to significantly change the graphical appearance, they’d really better get a move on. We can be pretty sure that what we’re looking at is an approximation of the final appearance. The beta release is traditionally a near complete product, with only a few bugs that need ironing out, some nicer menus and perhaps issues of gameplay balance to be addressed. Overall you should be able to get a good idea of what the final product is going to be (I spent hours in the Tribes:Ascend Beta and forgot it wasn’t even a full release). That said, publishers and game designers themselves want their baby to be seen in the best possible light, without those niggling unfinished elements, skewing the player’s perception of what the game should really be, and it might be that last minute tweak that really pushes the game up a level to greatness. On the other hand if the game is released for download, with a IAPs and intrusive ads in place, doesn’t it warrant being held against the same standard as one that is fully featured? If the game’s out there and is making money from the end user, shouldn’t it be considered more than just a beta but a legitimate release?