Game Reviews

Review Bites: Mini Reviews Ahoy!

In this inaugural edition of my new Review Bites feature we’ll set the ground rules and get rolling with a load of mini reviews (complete with gameplay videos) to share some love, some hate, and some “Meh!” Well, and likely complaining some about “freemium” games…

So… if you’ve taken a look at the DroidGamers Twitch Feed or YouTube Channel over the past few weeks you’ll have seen a fair amount of activity from yours truly. I’m an unapologetic gaming addict and if there’s something new or interesting people are buzzing about I want to find out whether they live up to the hype. Well, that and I tend to buy every Humble Bundle in existence and wade through that normal mix of great titles and utter nonsense. So, let’s be honest, good or bad there are a ton of games in the marketplace and for a variety of reasons (someone already has their own review planned, the game is freemium/relatively simple/god awful, etc) it isn’t practical to prep a lengthy review of them all, complete with breakdowns.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to get the word out quickly and efficiently. The game is awesome, the game sucks, it just isn’t my cup of tea… you get the idea. So the goal here is to shotgun through games more quickly with a rundown and then you all can get in the comments and praise my great wisdom or call me a moronic jackass (I was once called Adolf Nation for not posting a fan petition from another site on the site I ran, I’m pretty sure I’ve been called about everything possible). So on to the reviews!

Horn

After hearing so much hype about this game and seeing shots of it around the web a while ago I was looking forward to checking this out. Unfortunately, though it shows a great deal of reverence for the likes of the Zelda series it isn’t really able to capture much of its essence. What I played in the few hours I gave to the title was largely repetitive, hampered by weird controls, and honestly pretty boring. May return to it at some point if anyone could convince me it is better than my initial impression but just wasn’t feeling it.

 

Pros:

  • It really wants to be a Zelda game, which is good in theory
  • Even now, quite some time after its release, it is visually quite impressive

Cons:

  • Very repetitive
  • Controls are wonky and a major obstacle to it being enjoyable
  • Takes up a big chunk of memory on my tablet when there are other better games to put there
  • Unless you can pick it up dirt cheap, the standing price of admission is WAY high for how dull it is

Verdict: The Legend of MEH!

 

Heroes of Loot

There seem to be a good number of “rogue-like” light action rpgs out there and, among the ones I’ve played, Heroes of Loot is pretty quality stuff. Somewhat more reminiscent of Gauntlet than the others I’ve tried that could perhaps explain some of my attraction to it. Action is a quick and relatively straight-forward affair and then at some point you begin to get overwhelmed and you end up dead. No problem, you can now start back through again. The length of my average run may have been a little long for it to be a pick-up-and-play kind of title but the pacing and challenge worked for me.

Pros:

  • The action is quick and easy to pick up and enjoy
  • Multiple class choices give the flow some variety
  • A simple and yet effective art style that works for me
  • There is a free version out there, though I played the pay one so can’t speak to how annoying it may be

Cons:

  • For the type of itch this title would scratch, to me the average game length seems a little high, and for this style of game that is an actual con in my mind
  • Some other games of this type out there are visually more impressive and better paced
  • There isn’t much depth to the strategy in the game, though some may actually consider that a Pro

Verdict: Gauntlet: The Voxel Adventures!

 

Bomb Squad

Take a tremendously awesome classic title like Bomberman and add some elements that it didn’t have like bits of applied physics, more attack options, and some bizarre variant game options and you have Bomb Squad. While I definitely appreciate the love letter it sends to Hudson’s Bomberman series and can find no real faults of it the one area that is tough to ignore is that this game is heavily reliant on playing it with other comparably-skilled people. For me I didn’t have anyone to play against (or who was any fun or challenging) so while the title is novel I just couldn’t commit much to it.

Pros:

  • Takes an all-time classic and actually finds several ways to improve its core game experience without losing too much in the process
  • Multiple attack options and a fair amount of skill required to do some things make it hard not to appreciate the effort that went into geting the core game right and then making it better
  • If you can find reasonably-skilled friends to play this against I’d imagine it will be an absolute blast (heh) to play

Cons:

  • While there are things to do in the game with single-player it is missing the frantic challenge and profanity-laced yelling of playing with others, so harder to enjoy if you’re playing solo
  • I could see where the nuance and options in the game could frustrate people since all of that nuance can make it a challenge at times

Verdict: Bomberman: Physics-Enabled Madness Edition!

 

Asphalt Overdrive

My name is Justin Nation, and I’m a reformed Asphalt Overdrive obsesser! As much as I normally despise the format the game took (a free game that regularly throws things at you with the hopes that you’ll spend cash on them), it is executed impressively so it was hard to stay mad at it. Do you want to know the key to making a freemium game that people are dying to throw their time into? You construct what is actually a pretty decent game that is a mix of action, skill, and a little bit of puzzle-solving! Wise gamers will slowly figure out how best to invest their in-game money (Don’t over-upgrade unless you regularly need it, invest in the Tier 2 car in the next group by grinding a little if need-be), but even doing things the slow and sometimes grindy way can still be a fun challenge.

Pros:

  • Engaging gameplay that requires a bit of both skill and timing
  • IAPs are still a nuisance but the game felt reasonably paced in terms of unlocks without spending a penny
  • A very attractively put together package of a game on all fronts

Cons:

  • Sometimes when you’ve gotten into that groove and want to keep playing you hit the barrier of something timed forcing you to wait or pay to continue
  • In general terms it does get repetitive and the game won’t be for everyone

Verdict: Run-Everyone-Off-the-Road-to-Maintain-Your-Chain-Combo Overdrive

 

Obslashin’

When I originally saw some info on this game out there I saw a comparison to the indie PC title The Binding of Isaac and I immediately downloaded it (Isaac is awesome)! Unfortunately while the visual style of the game may be reminiscent, and you somewhat progress through a “random” dungeon of enemies to fight before facing off against a boss of some kind, none of the charm or challenge of Isaac was to be seen. Control is simply a matter of swiping the screen (unlike Isaac’s lovely twin-stick shooting)endlessly to cut through your enemies and use of the power-ups actually ends up being a bit clunky as you try to manage and place them. Just after an hour or so it all felt so very much the same I’d had enough.

Pros:

  • It is pretty
  • It tries to have some strategy with the inclusion of multiple power-ups

Cons:

  • Overly simplistic and, honestly, quickly boring
  • Power-up usage and management is overly complicated

Verdict: Obsnoozin’

 

Monument Valley

Had heard so many good things about this game from friends and around the web that when I saw it was the free game of the day on the Amazon App Store I jumped on it. What can I say? Pretty much everything good I’d heard people say about the game is absolutely true. Aside from simply being beautiful the puzzles it challenges you with are often quite inventive and usually involve some mind-bending acceptance of this realm inspired by the likes of M.C. Escher. Best of all, through the first several levels the types of challenges and obstacles continued to evolve, keeping it far away from the issue of repetition. If the game hadn’t already had sufficient praise heaped on it everywhere I’d write a full review for it, it is deserving of the accolades.

Pros:

  • The art style is simple but gorgeous
  • The puzzles are often visually-oriented, forcing you to see and think in ways you’re not probably used to
  • While it could have been a one-trick pony and simply rode its visual trickery it continues to add new elements to keep things interesting

Cons:

  • Wasted a few minutes of my life fruitlessly trying to come up with a legitimate complaint to put here…

Verdict: M.C. Escher’s Wild Dream Adventure

 

FlyHunter Origins

Perhaps my years of playing classic Nintendo platformers (Mario is my jam) makes me a cruel person to evaluate this game, or perhaps it helps me save you some time and money. Taking a step back and looking at FlyHunter I can see a great deal of care placed in trying to make the game visually impressive. Which, to some degree, it is. They put effort into some detail, trying to make a cute little story of sorts, and leveraging some of the pretty features that high-end hardware afford now. The problem is they didn’t invest anywhere near enough in making the gameplay engaging… at all. On just about every level through a few hours with this title I was simply bored. Well, bored and confused/confounded by some things I considered weird or sloppy. For instance, spiders… just the way the hitbox on them is and the way they just suddenly grab you annoyed me.

Once I got a gun I thought maybe things would get a little more varied. If anything the let-down in the utter worthlessness of the gun only made things worse. Just for its price of admission I could not recommend this game to anyone. There simply HAVE to be more engaging platformers out there than this, no matter how polished they tried to make it visually.

Pros:

  • It has a distinct and pretty consistent visual style
  • It makes obvious effort to utilize any and every bell and whistle afforded to it by the hardware

Cons:

  • The effort to make it visually more impressive sometimes came at the cost of smooth performance and the game actually locked on me a few times
  • There simply was nothing engaging or fun about playing it for me, moving through the levels was an exercise of “been there, done that (and so much better)” for its own sake without almost anything of interest to do
  • Being unable to set the controls to inverted in the flying levels drove me nuts

Verdict: FlyHunter BORE-igins

 

Marvel Contest of Champions

Named after a goofy and fun comic book “event” mini-series that pre-dated (the much better) Secret Wars: Check!
Includes a large roster of Marvel heroes and bad guys to play with: Check!
A fighting game that you can play against other humans on-line: Check!
Strikes a reasonable balance of annoying-ness for people unwilling to spend money to unlock characters or progress: Um… sorta?
Characters have distinct and nuanced moves to learn in the tradition of great fighters: Uh, no… The fighting control is classic “simple to pick up, hard to master” ala Smash Brothers: Well, no…
WTF? So this is a “fighting game” with a tremendously hot property that has no depth and only exists because of the Marvel stamp on it: Yeah, I’d say so…

Pros:

  • Marvel… nuff said!
  • If you like social network games like Mafia Wars, this is pretty much the same structure except you can have versus matches against people live
  • Deadpool!

Cons:

  • Deadpool… who you can purchase right now in the game store as part of a package for as much as a real fighting game
  • Realistically this amounts to a semi-strategic and fancy game of rock/paper/scissors with you pitting your ability to use the limited move set against someone else with the same constraints
  • Matchmaking for Versus fights often was poor, making most fights a slaughter in either direction with stats for the respective fighters often unfairly mis-matched

Verdict: It’s Marvel: Don’t You Want to Buy Your Favorite Character? (Please ignore they all have the same moves, just their attacks and minor perks are slightly different… but not really)

 

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