first chapter of Stoic's single-player Banner Saga campaign,
originally released for PC earlier this year, has arrived for iOS, where it fits right in. The turn-based tactical gameplay -- similar
to the Final Fantasy Tactics games -- involves moving a team of
fighters around the board, deploying a variety of abilities to take
out opposing units. It's engaging gameplay, but it's not precisely
Where Banner Saga truly shines is in its setting,
inspired by Viking sagas, its gorgeous art, with hand-drawn animation
sequences, and its storylines, which bring an emotional depth as you
form relationships with each of the characters.
The Angry Birds slingshot-style mechanic ought to be a familiar one, but the way Skullduggery applies it is fun and new. The premise is that you're a repo agent for the Infernal Revenue Service, collecting from the rich hoping to bring their wealth to the afterlife. You do this by ricocheting yourself around the levels, pulling your elastic brain back to fling yourself around. But it gets ludicrously fast-paced as you fight skeletal foes, avoid hazards and need to speed up to beat moving walls looking to crush you -- all the while collecting riches and repossessing artefacts to complete level objectives.
Last month saw a couple of awesome tabletop games make their way to iPad. First up in our round-up is Galaxy Trucker, based on the two- to four-player game by Vlaaďa Chvátil, and it can be played with the same number of players, both online and locally on a shared iPad -- and it also offers an extensive single-player campaign, offering a wonderfully faithful digital adaptation, played in two phases.
The first sees you collecting tiles to build a spaceship, racing against the clock while scrambling to make the pieces fit, making sure you have everything you need, such as batteries, cargo space and guns, all in the right place. Phase two is the adventure phase, where you have to take your Frankenstein's monster of a ship to the skies, drawing cards to determine the events that befall you and the other players. Both single and multiplayer modes are brilliantly realised; it would make a fantastic addition to your digital board game collection.
First, a caveat: I am a Brave Knight is very much an "art" experience that is intended to take you on an emotional journey by condensing a lifetime into 10 minutes. Originally created for the 2014 Global Game Jam, it's not really a game as you might expect the term to mean. Instead, your role is to participate in the main character's life story by filling in words on the screen. It is, actually, quite a lovely experience, and we think the developers deserve credit for developing it in just 48 hours. However, we aren't entirely convinced that mobile is necessarily a superior platform for the game than browser flash -- which version has been taken down in favour of the mobile release.
Now this is a casual match-three puzzler with panache. Muertitos, created by a three-man studio in Mexico, offers an interesting twist on the gameplay: pieces generate around the edges of the board, and you can only push from the edges of the board to match pieces in a row. As each game progresses, it gets progressively more challenging as the board fills up -- introducing an element of strategic planning not usually required for match-three.
Our second tabletop port is the superhero-based cooperative card game Sentinels of the Multiverse. The game includes two modes: a solo game with three to five heroes, or pass-and-play on a shared iPad, with 10 heroes, four villains and four environments to choose from. It offers a very faithful port, with one exception: the app takes care of the arduous calculations, so that all the players have to worry about is which cards to play.
Yellow house from is the first game from Russia-based one-man studio Copy Paste Games, and it's certainly flagged developer Ruslan Zhukov as someone to watch. It looks like a point-and-click adventure, but it's of an unusual kind: protagonist Henry Sykes has lost his memory, and the game takes him through a series of flashbacks trying to piece them together.
In every memory, though, nothing is quite as it should be -- and it's up to you to set the scene to rights before the story can proceed. This involves locating everything that's awry and swapping, connecting and fixing it all by drawing symbols on the screen or shaking the iPad. It's not perfect, but for a first game, it's pretty danged good -- and it shows a boatload of potential.
Minority Media's Spirits of Spring is an attempt to tackle the subject of bullying, and it's definitely a game worthy of attention for trying. How well it succeeds will, we suspect, vary from player to player, but the concept and gameplay are interesting: As Chiwatin, you have to restore Springtime to the land after bullying crows instated eternal winter. You achieve this totally without combat; instead, you explore the environment, seeking out the spirits, using them to build bridges and control your companions Bear and Rabbit to reach out-of-the-way areas, and ultimately to revive the spirit trees.
Michael Brough's games are never not interesting, in their own visually idiosyncratic fashion. Helix is no exception, following the computer-innards thematic vein of Hack-868. It's twitch-high score gaming at its best: you control a strange 8-bit glitch-thing, and the screen is filling up with other strange, 8-bit glitch-things -- computer viruses that you need to destroy. you do this by drawing circles around them, but they move fast; and if you touch one, you're dead. It's unusually simple for Brough; the game actually started as an exercise in working with touchscreen controls, and the result is a game that's intuitive, delightful to touch, and weird as all heck.
Finally, an iOS Warhammer title that is truly worthy of the name; none of this Plants vs Zombies clone or football sim stuff. Space Wolf is actually brilliant, combining the mechanics of a CCG with a turn-based strategy game. You lead the Sons of Russ, taking them on a variety of missions across a huge single-player campaign on a hostile planet.
Your actions on the board are determined by your decks of cards, which can be won, forged or purchased via IAP. These include hundreds of weapons, which can be used in a variety of ways against your foes, and you can choose from three main heroes and two of five companions to take with you according to your play style or mission objectives. It's deep, it's engrossing, it's everything we love about the Warhams (with the exception of multiplayer PvP, coming real soon).
(Here's a hint: weapon cards can be used to move your characters if you get no move cards in your hand. That seems to be confusing for some players.)
Their first game was launched in January this year, and indie dev team Alexander Trowers and Leanne Bayley have been hard at work -- the sequel is out already! Super glyph Quest is bigger and better than its predecessor, with an upgraded quest system, customisable characters, an overarching plot, and sub-plots that see guest appearances from Skullkickers and Hatoful Boyfriend, as well as famous creators such as Rhianna Pratchett, Ken Wong, Austin Wintory, Barry Meade and Jim Zub.
Tin Man Games is like the Energizer bunny, constantly releasing its gamebook adventures -- yet every one is beautifully crafted. Caverns of the Snow Witch is an Ian Livingstone Fighting Fantasy original, released in paperback format in 1984, and the app goes out of its way to capture that nostalgia 30 years later. As well as the developer's gorgeous style, the reader can choose to enjoy the book in its original design, complete with illustrations by Gary Ward and Edward Crosby.
After the release of Baldur's Gate on mobile, it was only a matter of time before Icewind Dale hit. This enhanced edition includes the original game by Black Isle Studios, adapted for touchscreen displays and enhanced with additional content. This includes new spells and items, new kits and classes, a brand new interface, cross-platform cooperative multiplayer, remastered graphics and a completely redesigned interface. It is worth noting that it plays best on larger tablet screens.
Zero Age is another first game, this time from Lebanon-based two-man team Majd Akar and Hosni Auji -- and it also tags its developer as someone to watch.
The gameplay is based around block puzzling. You play a wizard whose powers involve moving blocks and creating more blocks out of nothing, and you use them to climb towers, circumvent obstacles and block deadly features of the environment.
Its UI isn't perfect -- indeed, it can get quite frustrating at times -- but the puzzles are clever and mind-bending, and the art is absolutely gorgeous. This is a dev team that is absolutely worth supporting.