Expert App Reviewers
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out the Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
The roguelike-inspired genre hasn’t really taken off on mobile like I expected it to quite yet, but Wayward Souls sets the bar so high for any other developer that tries to jump in that I do not envy them. Wayward Souls is a darn fine roguelike action-RPG. The game, which is a spiritual successor of Mage Gauntlet, thrusts players into three dungeons where they have one life, a limited amount of health, the character’s special abilities, and occasional power-ups, upgrades, and coins that can be collected. The coins are the only permanent thing that is carried between games, which can be spent on upgrades. Otherwise, the game features permadeath: any upgrades and items collected don’t carry over. So choose wisely and don’t be afraid to actually use the items. As well, the game features random levels in each dungeon, so no run is ever the same. There are common elements each time through, but expect the unexpected. –Carter Dotson
When a game starts with a gentle and vaguely ethnic voice talking about “good mornings” and “purple light,” players know that they’re in for something unique. But lavish production values and lovingly realized characters are just the beginning of the greatness that is Leo’s Fortune. Tilting Point and 1337 & Senri set out to make a mobile game as fun and fantastic as something on consoles. Fortunately, they succeeded. Players take control of Leo, a brilliant inventor and adorable elderly fuzzball, as he attempts to reclaim his stolen treasure. It’s impossible to oversell how delightful his design is. Imagine a grandpa’s beard that suddenly came to life. That’s just the start of Leo’s Fortune‘s amazing aesthetics. The game’s graphics have an old-world whimsy full of wartime, turn of the 20th century, Eastern European influences. Also, with its stage motif, the game draws from the early world of cinema that Martin Scorsese sought to recreate in the movie ‘Hugo.’ On a technical level, the naturalistic environments like desert ruins and ocean floors, or more industrial ones like a fiery underground furnace, have exquisite lighting and immaculate textures. However, the art style is so strong that the impressiveness of the visuals just adds to the wonder instead of being boringly photorealistic. With all that eye candy to take in, the fact that the feature film-level soundtrack and professional voice-acting equally amaze just speaks to their quality. –Jordan Minor
The Strongarm falls into that special category of hardware I like to call “Simple but Effective.” Really it’s just a couple of suction cups that can pivot around each other, but if you’ve got a flat enough surface handy it can make for a pretty effective stand for your iOS device. With a few caveats. Using the Strongarm is super-simple: just place the larger end on a smooth, flat surface and push down five times. This creates a vacuum that will keep it solidly in place for quite some time – depending on the angle and the weight of the device at the other end, of course. Then do the same for the smaller end (place on surface and push five times), only use the back of your iOS device instead of a table or wall. And viola! You now have a stand for your iPhone or iPad that can swivel around if you need it. Want to remove your phone or move everything to a new spot? Just push down on one end to disrupt the vacuum and the Strongarm pops right off. –Rob Rich
The twofold attack of complexity and cost have always been the biggest barriers to entry for newcomers interested in collectible card games. Arcane layers of terminology and elaborate multi-stage turn structures can prove daunting to the uninitiated and indeed were almost my own undoing during my teenage introduction to Magic: The Gathering. Even if newbies can handle absorbing the rules, there’s still the financial bite of dropping $4 for a single booster pack of around a dozen cards. But with the release of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Blizzard has managed to execute a truly impressive feat of plate-spinning. They have not only created a CCG that is both quick and easy for newbies to pick up (while still challenging for veteran card slingers), but have simultaneously crafted what may well be one of the best free-to-play experiences on any platform EVER. –Rob Thomas
Boxer is a mailbox app for iOS that seems to be able to do almost anything one could ask of it. Where many mail apps I’ve tried tend to lean either more toward user-friendliness or high customization, Boxer does a great job of balancing both – making it my new favorite mail client for mobile devices. When users boot up Boxer they are greeted with their inbox view, which merges all of the incoming email from all connected accounts in a column view that is similar to most mail apps on the iPhone. From here users can open messages, swipe to archive or delete them, or assign other labels or actions to them such as putting them on a to-do list, liking them, or sending quick replies. While I found this layout relatively intuitive, Boxer accounts for the fact that this may not be the desired way to use email for everyone and have included customization options for users that want to boot into a different screen on startup, or change what the swiping actions do. –Campbell Bird
Sometimes it is hard not to become jaded as an app reviewer because there are times that it may seem as if many apps are rather familiar – making me wish for something unique, interesting or simply beautiful. Because of this, I am happy to have had the chance to review Petites Choses: an interactive app for young children that has a wonderfully crafted style, setting it apart from other apps seen in iTunes. Petites Choses is an app for small children that includes simple, unique mini-games that one discovers inside the included beautifully-illustrated cityscape that employs a serene use of color and a watercolor style that I greatly appreciate. As one scrolls though this city, children will be lead to the areas of this app that are to be explored – be it scenes found within the windows of a building as well as within the trees, taxis, flowers or umbrellas also seen within this urban landscape. I do love the look of this app – the hazy use of color and the clouds that hang over this city as well as the buildings that include a layered look that gives this city depth when scrolling through this landscape. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Every now and then, I get, well, got. I do try to be a beacon of impartiality, mostly immune to the wiles of software titles, but every so often, a game throws it on me, and I get weak. That what Voxel Rush: Free Racing Games from HyperBees continually does to me. With regards to gameplay, it is as straightforward as it gets: it’s a first-person endless runner set as a race through an artsy, creatively minimalist environment that is built to challenge and stimulate the senses. The game depends on this ever-changing backdrop to deliver the excitement that it intends to, and it mostly delivers. –Tre Lawrence
G5 is practically the authority when it comes to hidden mystery games, and one can be fairly certain that a game from the venerable development house will be better than decent. With Letters From Nowhere: Mystery, we do get what we expect, and a bit more. The gameplay goes a bit beyond Murray finding miscellaneous objects in different environments; this game has a few palpable elements that add to the overall gameplay in quite positive ways. –Tre Lawrence
Smash and Dash is a game title that delivers: in the game, you smash up guns that fire blue bullets at you, while you dash away to not get hit by those bullets. Smash and Dash is played on a grid, and strongly reminds us of another great game: Geometry Wars, only now on a smaller scale.The little flying machine you control can smash every enemy on screen, but is extremely vulnerable when it comes to bullets. Only one of those is needed to knock you out, what makes the game really challenging to experience arcade gamers. It’s really fast-paced and it suits the game very well. And the controls are very smooth, too. On screen, there is an analog stick that directly controls your flying vehicle and the response of that stick is utterly fast. It has to be: a fast-paced game where you need to rely on your own skill, won’t benefit from anything other than that. –Wesley Akkerman
Finally, this installment of AppSpy’s Week in Video, reviews troubled web-wanging sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, noir sneak-‘em-up Third Eye Crime: Act 1, and neon endless-runner Unpossible. AppSpy also takes a sneak peek at new releases like fluffy platformer Leo’s Fortune, and the impressive-looking roguelike Wayward Souls in our live Twitch show Eye on the App Store. Watch it all on AppSpy now.
And, this week Pocket Gamer gave a rare Platinum Award to Wayward Souls, shared some tips for Blizzard card battler Hearthstone, picked out the best puzzle games on Android, and weeped over 10 franchises that have been spoiled by the intrusion of in-app purchases. All this and more over at Pocket Gamer.