Price: FREE ($3.99 to unlock full game)
Version Reviewed: 1.4.31
App Reviewed on: iPad Mini Retina
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
While not as free as it initially appears (the tutorial is free - everything else requires an in-app purchase of $3.99), SettleForge is an interesting combination of puzzle gaming mechanics and board gaming sensibilities. It doesn’t entirely work, mostly because it can get overly complicated, but I still found things to like about it.
The idea is that you’re establishing a settlement. You place hexagonal tiles on a board to represent places within your burgeoning creation. These tiles need to be placed adjacent to relevant ones, such as ensuring that fishing huts are next to water or that lumberjacks are next to forests. SettleForge keeps it fairly traditional in terms of what forms the basis of a settlement. Each tile also has colors alongside the outskirts and you need those to match up too.
That requires a certain amount of planning, with the more important tiles utilizing more varied colourings. You can always switch a tile, either by holding down on it or by ‘burning’ it and turning it into coastline, but you don’t always want to do this. It’s a balancing act that represents the puzzle aspect fairly well.
Each session involves working towards a particular objective, although sometimes it’s not always clear as to how you can achieve this. While the tutorial is reasonably clear, the rulesets behind SettleForge are quite complicated and there's a lot to take in. That’s where it feels much more like a detailed board game, but it can be intimidating on your iPad.
Practice certainly makes perfect. While SettleForge never quite manages to be one of the most beguiling of settlement-based board games, it is quite intriguing. It brings a decent single player side of things to a format that’s conventionally multiplayer only. While the story isn’t that gripping, at least it’s there to add some purpose to the experience.