Posts Tagged monument valley

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.

Banner Saga

 
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Titles that feature the graphical polish of Stoic’s Banner Saga don’t come around every day. Seemingly pulling inspiration from the art style featured prominently in Disney’s animated films such as 1963’s “The Sword in the Stone,” the game tells two parallel storylines of parties venturing into the wilderness and relative unknown, with the simple goal of surviving to see another day. Amazingly, the animated aesthetic doesn’t dull the bite of the compelling storytelling and weighty decisions facing the player. People can die at virtually every juncture; so try not to get too attached to any one character. The action itself plays out through the standard fare of conversational decision trees and third person tactical turn-based combat. Depending upon the abilities of any one character, as well as their prior achievements on the field of battle, they can be upgraded to better meet the steadily increasing challenge brought forth by AI combatants. Any player who is familiar with the tropes of the tactics genre will find that Stoic has stuck very close to the formula, which also reflects well on Banner Saga’s approachability. –Blake Grundman

Skylanders Trap Team

 
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Before I delve into the particulars it’s worth noting that the download for Skylanders Trap Team is free, but you’ll need to own the Trap Team Starter Pack ($74.99) – and an iPad 3 or up – if you want to play the full game. The price is nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but bear in mind it comes with a wireless Skylanders Portal, one Trap Master and one slightly less fancy Skylander, two Trap Crystals (more on those in a bit), and a wireless controller. The gameplay should be familiar to Skylanders fans. You’ll be wandering around various levels with your characters, fighting against the forces of the evil wizard Kaos, solving some relatively simple puzzles, platforming on occasion, and swapping between Skylanders in order to access special element-specific gates. It’s a bit on the simple side, which is an understandable byproduct of being a game meant for a younger audience, but it’s absolutely overflowing with charm. –Rob Rich

Acorns

 
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Money management and investing in the markets can be daunting for even some of the more seasoned adults, let alone 20-somethings and those making their first long-term financial decisions. With all the heavy fees and blind trust in traders with sometimes dubious intentions it can seem like the risks far outweigh the potential rewards. Acorns is an ambitious app that aims to gain a following by removing all of the hassle of financial planning; even if that means over-simplifying the process. I will say that Acorns does a lot right. The app looks great and navigating throughout the windows is a joy, even if the initial task of finding where all the windows are can be a bit arduous. The simple graph on the front page gives users a simple summary of how their investment is doing, and a more detailed breakdown can be found by simply swiping to the left. Money can be invested either by direct transfer or by linking a bank account and letting Acorns round up purchases made via credit or debit card. This means on a $5.88 purchase, $0.12 would be siphoned into Acorns. –Joseph Bertolini

Just Dance Now

 
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Normally, with console versions of Just Dance, you’d use your controller (or Kinect, or motion control, as it were) to dance along to the choreographed dancers on-screen, but with Just Dance Now all you need to do is download the app. Anyone who wants to join in can download it as well, then hop into your game by providing a code that can be found at the app’s official website. What follows is a surprisingly complete experience, with a catalogue of pop songs that’s quite impressive. While many are locked behind a paywall in the form of a VIP Pass, many of the free songs are refreshed each day so you can at least have some semblance of choice. You’ve got songs like “Gangnam Style” and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” and there’s a fun selection of free songs so you don’t have to worry about spending money. –Brittany Vincent

Toonia Twinmatch

 
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Toonia TwinMatch, as the name may imply, is an interesting new game for children – a matching game of sorts that players old and young will find far more interesting than the typical app based on “memory” or “concentration” where one needs to flip over tiles in order to create pairs. Instead, Toonia TwinMatch is based on traditional Mahjong Solitaire where 144 tiles are laid out as well as stacked in specific ways, with free tiles in need of being paired are those that can be moved without being blocked by other tiles on either the Left or Right and Top. Likewise, top tiles need to be removed to open up tiles on lower levels. Adults may be familiar with the vast options for Mahjong Solitaire as an online computer game or apps for adults. Likewise, instead of traditional Chinese Character tiles, Toonia TwinMatch includes bright, colorful, and stylized fruits and vegetable tiles to match, as well as a helpful light bulb that can be turned on with a tap that will identify free tiles by darkening the ones currently blocked. Pairs will faintly be highlighted as well if a player is slow to make matches, which is a nice touch. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

FIFA 15: Ultimate Team

 
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This year, EA shakes things up by only presenting us the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 15 for Android. That’s a fact that you either hate or love, but I must say: I was surprised by that choice. Normally I would start a soccer game review with the words that the game is bigger and better than the version released a year ago. But that is not the case with FIFA 15: Ultimate Team. Instead of making the game, sometimes unnecessary, bigger, Electronic Arts tried to built upon the core of the Ultimate Team mode. You know, the mode where you need to collect cards of players, technical staff, coaches and attributes and build your own team based on the cards you collect. You get those cards by fulfilling certain goals. –Wesley Akkerman

Escape Bird

 
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When I saw the screens for Escape Bird, I thought: this looks like the Dark Souls version of Flappy Bird. Was I right? We all know the type of game Flappy Bird was. It was an unfair and unpolished, but somehow hilarious game about a bird, trying to escape whatever through some odd looking pipes, that somehow reminded us all of a Italian plumber. By tapping we made sure the bird didn’t fall or touch anything and by doing good, we all scored higher points. Or not, depending on the (lack of a good) hitbox. –Wesley Akkerman

Sony Music Unlimited

 
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One of the biggest question a music service has to answer is the one that pertains to content. On this front, Sony Music Unlimited packs a major punch; not shocking, considering we’re talking about, well, Sony here. It boasts more than 30 million songs, which is far from shabby. In reality, it picked up almost every artist I threw at it across genres. I was happy to find entire albums from even obscure artists; it didn’t have ALL, but I think I could be satisfied with the selection. The audio is quite clear (320 kbps High Quality Audio), and no ads to contend with. The ability to access the premium service on the web, multiple mobile platforms, Playstation consoles/handhelds and compatible Sony electronics adds to its allure. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer played the new VR game from the guys behind Monument Valley, reviewed Skylanders Trap Team, went hands-on with Chaos Rings III, reported on a pair of clever new business models, and shared some sad news for iOS emulation fans. It’s all here, and more, at Pocket Gamer.

Another Week of Expert App Reviews

 

At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little extra something special. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

 
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Gameloft is responsible for bringing us some of the most polished and frenetic mobile shooters for the iOS platform in the form of Modern Combat. The latest entry, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, raises the bar even higher, despite still having some of its own setbacks. This fifth entry is certainly an improvement that demonstrates what can be done within the mobile genre. Players take up the role of Caydan Phoenix, an ex-marine who was deployed into Venice to tackle an uprising sweeping the area. After Phoenix is inevitably set up, he finds out that the international security agency who sent him in is up to no good – in fact, it’s acting as a front for an international terror organization. That’s where you come in: righting all these wrongs and clearing his name; with guns. –Brittany Vincent

The Order of Souls

 
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The Order of Souls is a turn-based, free-to-play role playing game set in a fantastical world that melds science fiction and fantasy elements. Throughout the course of the game players can expect a surprising amount of interactive story elements, but most of that requires them to grind through a middling series of combat scenarios that really drag the whole game down. The Order of Souls‘ various elements include head-to-head multiplayer, crafting, singleplayer combat, party management, etc. Most of these systems and mechanics seem familiar to those that have played RPGs before, but the game does very little to do unique things with them. It’s almost like the developers were more concerned with checking features off a list than they were thinking about how they might add a unique dimension or dynamic to the game. This is not to say that it has any seriously flawed mechanics, but they just aren’t as interesting as they could’ve been. –Campbell Bird

Revolution 60

 
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Revolution 60 has a lot of influences. It wants to be a sprawling sci-fi action RPG full of choices like Mass Effect. It spices up its numerous cutscenes with quick time events like Heavy Rain. Parts of its plot recall Metal Gear Solid, and its stylish 60s espionage vibe is probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to another No One Lives Forever. However, instead of being derivative, Revolution 60 emerges as a fantastically fresh original vision and a great debut for developer Giant Spacekat. Starting Revolution 60 feels like stepping into a wholly realized sci-fi world. In fact, the lore can get so dense at times it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on, but players will pick up enough. Plus they can purchase a separate guidebook explaining the universe, which fortunately seems interesting enough to warrant such a cost. Besides, the characters are what really matters, and Revolution 60’s cast is definitely worth getting invested in. –Jordan Minor

Secret Files Tunguska

 
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Previously a PC, Wii, and DS release, point-and-click adventure Secret Files Tunguska has made its way to iOS, and it’s quite enjoyable despite its dour tone. Veering away from the casual nature of many other titles in the genre, Secret Files Tunguska sticks to the traditional scenario of plenty of asking questions and combining items to create further useful tools. Set around the Tunguska event, a mysterious large explosion that occurred in 1908, the game delves into conspiracy theories that would make Mulder and Scully proud. You play a woman whose father, a scientist investigating the event, has gone missing, and soon enough various intelligence agencies are out to get you. –Jennifer Allen

MTN

 
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MTN is not a game. It is not highly interactive app. What it is, is a serene part of your day that will bring you a few minutes of amusement. The MTN app, by David O’Reilly, opens by asking you to draw things based on 1-word prompts. According to David O’Reilly, “The drawings influence things like the shape of the mountain, the type of vegetation, the amount of vegetation, the length of your summers, the amount of snow you’re going to get, all sorts of different things.” After the prompts are answered the app generates a small, free-floating mountain in the middle of space. –Jessica Fisher

Bio Inc

 
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Mama, just killed a man. Pinched a vein inside his head. Pressed “OK” and now he’s dead. Bio Inc is a “biomedical simulator” from DryGin studios. While there are dozens of medical/surgical simulators available on PC, mobile platforms, and consoles, Bio Inc is a little different. Other medical-based games ask players to save patients in peril (even if said players may wind up removing the patient’s brain during a routine appendectomy, either accidentally or on purpose). Bio Inc, on the other hand, requires players to drag the Hippocratic Oath behind the hospital and shoot it. –Nadia Oxford

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

Ruzzle Adventure

 
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What does a developer do when a game around forming words and multiplayer becomes a succes? It takes out fifty procent of that golden formula and turns it to a list of chores. Ruzzle Adventure is a game where players need to form words on a grid full of letters. In the past, we’ve seen dozens of iterations of this concept in the form of Boggle, Wordfeud or even an earlier published version of Ruzzle. In all those games the goal is the same: make as many words as possible, to get the highest score. By making bigger words and combining tougher letters to make words with, the score multiplier raises and so does one’s score. Remember Scrabble? –Wesley Akkerman

Shurican

 
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Man, developers still make flappy games? I thought that that hype was over, but judging by the game Shurican, there still were some… I don’t know what to call it… Innovations..? …left in the subgenre. Yeah, I was surprised as well. How much can different people do with one mechanic? And especially the flappy mechanic? By looking at the flappy games in Google’s Play Store, not very much. Many of the flappy games are direct and shameless clones of the original and unintended successful original one, but sometimes a good one pops up and offers the same, but somewhat a different challenge. Shurican is one of those game, and not only because the game is played in widescreen mode. –Wesley Akkerman

Super Tank Arena Battles

 
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In Super Tank Arena Battles, we get the to see our favorite weapons (tanks) go head to head in our favorite fight environment (an arena). It just gets even more hyper from there. It’s a simple looking game, but still manages to impress graphically, with the opening menu made up of cheery animations and pastels guiding the text. Here, amongst other options, we are presented with 5 game modes: Survival, Catch The Flag, One On One, Mines Rush and Hardcore Survival.The first is open, while the others need a threshold of some sort needed to unlock successive modes. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer reviewed Modern Combat 5, created an expert guide for Hearthstone’s Naxxramas DLC, picked some awesome seeds for Minecraft: Pocket Edition, found 5 games like Monument Valley, and asked Double Stallion whether turning Big Action Mega Fight into a paid game was a success or a huge mistake. Read all of this and more, at Pocket Gamer.

App-tastic!

 

How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

CLARC

 
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It’s the classic love story. Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy tries to get Girl back. But did I mention the Boy is a downtrodden maintenance robot and the Girl is pastel pink nuclear missile? I guess maybe ‘classic’ would be stretching it a bit. Things are not going well in the deep recesses of this dilapidated Martian factory. F.A.T.H.E.R., the supercomputer in charge, has disappeared, leaving the worker robots confused and without direction. Lacking anything better to do in the interim, some enterprising bot discovers that consuming diesel fuel gets them quite tipsy. The result? NON-STOP ROBOT PARTY! –Rob Thomas

FTL: Faster Than Light

 
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A year and a half after its critically-acclaimed PC/Mac release, FTL: Faster Than Light makes the jump to iPad. However, this isn’t an inferior late-to-the-party port. Subset Games has just released a free update for the original, dubbed FTL Advanced Edition, that gives players a slew of new options. Why does this matter? Well, the iPad port also has all of those new tweaks under the hood. And what a package it is. A bit of backstory. FTL is a strange hybrid of a thing: one part RTS, one part sim, two parts Roguelike, all white-knuckle frustration. Players control the crew of a Federation ship trying to deliver a vital data payload to their home sector. As they jump from sector to sector, a fleet of Rebel ships dogs their heels, sweeping across the galaxy like a swarm of locusts. Along the way, players will have to fight hostile ships, respond to random events, and generally scrounge for supplies to keep themselves operational long enough to get home. –Rob Thomas

Fairway Solitaire Blast

 
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One of the iOS games I often find myself returning to is Fairway Solitaire, an addictive card game based around golf solitaire. It’s been a mainstay on my iPhone since launch so the prospect of a new title in the series, Fairway Solitaire Blast, got me pretty excited. This new installment is more freemium-focused, more reminiscent of King’s selection of titles, and currently lacks a certain amount of the ‘wow’ factor. Working on a level-by-level basis with a structure very similar to the mighty Candy Crush Saga et al, Fairway Solitaire Blast leads players down a path of increasingly tricky challenges. At first, players simply progress by clearing all the cards across three holes of each course (or level), but as they move through these stages other requirements emerge. Clearing 10 face cards in a row might be one such challenge, while others might require the player to clear 10 cards, each alternating in color, in order to progress. –Jennifer Allen

Monument Valley

 
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Monument Valley – ustwo’s puzzling adventure game where players must twist and turn an Escherian world to discover its secrets, able to tell protagonist Princess Ida where to go and with various levers and twisting points that they can manipulate – can be approached and analyzed in two ways. One is purely as an experience. The other is as a game. As a game, Monument Valley is really quite short: it’s 75 to 90 minutes long across 10 levels that pose few threats to players. There’s maybe one puzzle in the entire game that made me really confused. Those who can’t comprehend the Escher-esque levels and designs, (that perspective can mess with one’s head) will probably have a hard time with the game. Those who have an eye for it will likely breeze through it. There’s not much in the way of replay value as there’s no time being kept for a level, which is a shame as it would be a fantastic way to promote coming back. As well, if there are any secrets they’re really, really well-hidden, which is a shame because this kind of game would promote hiding things. Its clear Fez inspiration sure had plenty of secrets of its own, so why not this too? The story isn’t really engaging – it’s ethereal and always felt out of touch to me, except for one moment that focuses on emotion rather than narrative. It’s not a perfect game. –Carter Dotson

Boom Beach

 
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The follow up to Clash of Clans, Boom Beach is guaranteed to be quite the success. While it maintains many similarities to its alliterative predecessor, it also improves upon the format. While Boom Beach still won’t sway its cynics (yes, it does like one to spend money), it’ll still entertain many. As before, players are given a home base to defend and build upon. Attacks from enemies will be on a daily basis, so it’s fortunate that there are plenty of defensive capabilities to install – such as sniper bases, mortars, and the trusty mine. The latter adds a strategic element to the game, allowing one to place them in whatever order they wish, hopefully taking out the enemy before they get too close to one’s base. Defense isn’t all that’s required of the player, with conquering (or liberating as this game like to sometimes call it) other bases just as important. –Jennifer Allen

Kapu Forest

 
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Having reviewed many apps for children and families, I am on a special lookout for applications that I find truly beautiful to look at – making them desirable choices to share with young children who may be getting very limited screen time. Kapu Forest, with versions for both iPad as well as iPhone, is such an application that will delight the youngest app users as well as their families. At first glance, adults will be quite pleased with a rich palette of blues, greens, and browns, as well as a thoughtful use of sophisticated jazz music that real keeps in mind the needs of the adults who will most likely be spending time sharing apps alongside their young children. There is a non-specific vintage quality to the look of this app that I find utterly appealing, making it stand out among a sea of other applications. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

Expedition Platformer

 
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Expedition Platformer surprised me. It’s a retro-looking 2D platform game with an arcade feel that tells the story of Bogee, a budding anthropology expert on an expedition to different environments. The game scenery clearly looks to be framed by this narrative, and does a good job of creating a somewhat pixelated jungle environment. There are platforms that make up the playing area at different heights, and green is the predominant coloration in the early level. The controls are fairly flexible, with a movable direction-cum-jump-cum-dodge button, and a “shoot” button to dispense bananas. –Tre Lawrence

Mesh

 
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Mesh looks like a neon drenched coin muncher game of old, but is it worth playing? Mesh is all about tapping accurately. Formations of blocks rain down the board interspersed with bombs. The idea is to tap the blocks without hitting the bombs, which ends the game. Missing too many blocks also ends the game. As the player survives longer, the formations get much tougher with many blocks surrounding bombs and it becomes tough fast. A robust combo system rewards players for tapping blocks quickly and without missing taps .Since the game scrolls blocks down quite slowly it’s a good idea to let the screen fill with blocks before starting a combo so the player can’t just tap as quickly as possible. This adds a nice risk dimension to gamepay. –Allan Curtis

Beyond Space

 
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Space cowboys take heed: Beyond Space is here. The gameplay is quite engaging. The tutorial is a mission in and of itself, replete with instruction and back and forth dialogue. It shows the basics of flying, dogfighting and more. Controlling the space fighter is a matter of using one of the options provided: tilt or virtual joystick. There is a frontal radar system, and spot buttons for shooting and afterburnrs to the right of the screen. There is also gesture-based controls for evasive and tactical maneuvering like rolling and U-turns, and vitality meters at the top left. The tutorial goes on to show how to bring all these parts together, and I found it to be a pretty fun affair. Finishing the tutorial by successfully completing the tasks given leads the main missions. –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week our comrades at Pocket Gamer took a look at the best games of March, reviewed FTL and Monument Valley, went hands-on with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and tried to trick everybody into believing something implausible for reasons of tradition. And it’s all right here.

Monument Valley Review

Monument Valley Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Monument Valley is beautiful, that is unquestionable. But how it holds up as a game is debatable.

Read The Full Review »

Wide BannerMonument Valley can be a confusing game at first glance: its worlds are built to mess with players’ perceptions of them. However, by keeping a few good tips in mind, it’s possible to master Monument Valley. And if not – we have playthrough videos of the entire game to help you out.

The trick the game pulls, similar to an M.C. Escher painting, is that real-world perspective is essentially useless. Mainly, if a place looks like it can be traveled to, then it can. So when manipulating objects, don’t consider their absolute position, consider where they are relative to Ida. This is often the key to many puzzles: moving an object in one spot where according to its perspective, Ida can reach it, then moving it with Ida on the object, to where she needs to go. This is the backbone to the majority of the game’s puzzles.

Remember that the key rule to interacting with Ida is that she can only move where you can see her, so if a path is hidden to you, it’s likely that it is not the right path – at least for this perspective. Maybe a quick rotation will do the trick? Don’t be afraid to experiment – there’s no way to die or otherwise fail at the game.

If a location can be traveled to, it will illuminate with a circle around it. This doesn’t mean that Ida will travel to it, just that it’s actually possible to go there. This is worth keeping in mind if one gets stuck.

The crows can be tricky, but it’s often just a matter of timing to get out of their way to let them pass. Remember that objects can be moved while the crows are on them. Ida is the only character in the game who can cause parts of the level to be non-manipulatable. If the mechanism doesn’t change into an unworkable state (the handles on cranks will retract if Ida is on their manipulatable portions) then it can be manipulated.

Monument Valley CrowsKeep these tips in mind, and the world of Monument Valley can be explored in all its glory.

We’ve talked about Monument Valley in the past. I got a chance to sit down with some of the development team at GDC last week to get an update. The game is looking even better than the last time I got my hands on it. I can’t wait for the release. And the good news is it’s going to be released next week on April 3rd!

MVDemo

Shiny Happy App Reviews

 

The App Store can be a daunting place. What to try? What to buy? How do you know? Thank goodness the review team at 148Apps is here to save the day. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you’re looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we’ve been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.

Galaxy on Fire-Alliances

 
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Galaxy on Fire – Alliances follows in a long line of well-established mobile games in a couple of different ways. First, Alliances is set in the same sci-fi universe of the previous two Galaxy on Fire games. Second, Alliances is a management style game the likes of which are all over the App Store. As someone who doesn’t have a huge amount of familiarity or reverence for either of these mobile game establishments, I find myself compelled to keep playing Alliances primarily because the game does a great job of making players feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. At first, Alliances appears to be a pretty rote menu-based game where players build structures, apply upgrades, and so on and so forth for the sake of progression. For the most part, it appears this way because that is the game. However, with a huge galaxy of multiple planets to explore, the game allows for players to form alliances, which makes all of the relatively mindless upgrading feel much more meaningful than it would otherwise. –Campbell Bird

Cover

 
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The same old movies, music, and video games can become boring and mundane. Sometimes it’s great to experience something new and interesting. Cover is an app that helps iOS users discover old, new, and upcoming releases so that there’s always something entertaining to enjoy. When Cover is opened, users will see a screen that looks somewhat similar to the App Store. A banner at the top displays an ad, but it also displays new releases and categories. Underneath this changing screen are featured lists to explore like Movie Classics, Inspiring Favorites, Most played on Spotify in 2013, and Great iOS games. Tapping on a category brings up a list that users can interact with in order to find something of interest. For instance, tapping on the Spotify list brings up a list of songs that can be previewed and purchased from iTunes. Additionally, tapping on a movie allows users to play a preview and they can also view the actors, a release date, and even read a description. –Angela LaFollette

Shuyan the Kung Fu Princess

 
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Aimed at the slightly younger market, Shuyan The Kung Fu Princess is an ideal interactive story for showing kids how violence isn’t always the way forward in gaming. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the positive message within remains throughout. The story revolves around Shuyan, a princess in ancient China who is haunted by a secret burden. Players help her along as she discovers new talents and learns that peaceful intervention is often better than aggression. It’s a fairly simple game. Each level is comprised of Shuyan going up against a series of enemies. These enemies aren’t the conventional sort though, in that they can be pacified through greetings and gentle slaps rather than punches. It’s possible to knock them out as well as anger them, causing them to be more violent, but often the game rewards one for non-confrontational dealings. Shuyan must often carry small stones from one side of the level to the other, avoiding fights so as to not drop the stones. –Jennifer Allen

Bonza Word Puzzle

 
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Bonza Word Puzzle claims to be a crossword puzzle with a difference, and it stays true to its word. It effectively turns the crossword puzzle on its head, giving players the answers first and a common category second. Players must then go about composing a complete crossword from separated parts, whereby they must place the fragments near their companions by sliding them together. They will then click into place, and be movable as one. If a part is in the wrong place, the game will let players know by leaving a tiny gap in between the tiles. For some added perspective or just to create some extra space, players can also zoom out using a quick pinch of the screen. –Lee Hamlet

Word Forward

 
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It’s a little simple to look at but don’t let that fool anyone, Word Forward is a highly enjoyable word game. It’s a game all about making words out of a series of tiles within a grid, which is a concept that might seem a little too familiar to some. Word Forward mixes this idea up though, with the idea being to gradually reduce one’s score by doing so. Each tile is given a score according to its difficulty rating with 100 points going to Z and U, while 10 points go to A or E. Each level requires reaching a particular target score by removing expensive tiles, so the key is targeting the trickier letters. –Jennifer Allen

Toca Pet Doctor

 
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I always find it exciting when Toca Boca releases a new digital toy for children, and I am excited to let readers know about their new app, Toca Pet Doctor – an application that will allow toddlers and young preschool-aged children a chance to express their empathy as they mend sick or injured animals in this charming application. Toca Pet Doctor allows children to peruse a veterinarian’s waiting room complete with 15 animals that could use a little help. I am really fond of the tone of this app, bringing out the caring side of children who will enjoy all the different animals looking for a little TLC such as a gassy mouse, an itchy, flee-bitten puppy, or my favorite, an iguana with a belly ache. Each of these creatures looks uncomfortable in its own way but Toca Pet Doctor is devoid of drama, as no creature looks too sick or unhappy that it would make children uncomfortable – which I really appreciate. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

Penombre

 
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Penombre is a side-scroller with a dark mission. For an endless runner, the game relies heavily on it’s theme. It’s a mostly black and white affair, with dark object silhouettes “moving” from right to left as the dark running avatar of Umbra is doing her thing in standard endless runner form. Lighter colors make an appearance, but play second fiddle to the absolutes and red, which mostly signifies dangerous objects. There is a life bar to the upper right and counters to the bottom right and top left. –Tre Lawrence

Royal Revolt 2

 
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Royal Revolt 2 does a good job of making the player feel like a king. As one of a huge number of feuding kingdoms providing subjects with food and gold is just as important as raising armies to plunder enemies and gain more power. Royal Revolt 2 follows the tried and true Clash of Clans formula, at least as far as building up a kingdom. Players will partake in all the familiar tropes for this genre, such as constructing and upgrading resource buildings to generate resources, which are then used to build new buildings and upgrade existing ones in a never ending snowball of economic growth. –Allan Curtis

Caveboy Escape

 
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Caveboy Escape is an enjoyable combo-type puzzler. It takes the match-3 paradigm, and tosses in some tile travel to create a fun series of puzzle situations. The tutorial does a fine job of walking players through the finer aspects of the gameplay. The successive playing areas are rectangular, and made up of smaller tiles. The tiles are of different colors seemingly randomly placed, and there are usually two special points, start tile (point A and an end tile (point B). Facilitating the escape means moving the avatar from point A (usually at the bottom of the screen) to point B (towards the top). –Tre Lawrence

And finally, this week Pocket Gamer went to GDC and saw Framed, Monument Valley, Spider 2, and more. Plus, the guys previewed Angry Birds Epic, picked out the best RPGs on iOS, and chose 5 awesome games like Terraria and Starbound. Read the full rundown right here.

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Monument Valley, the upcoming puzzler from London-based ustwo, has raised quite a lot of interest since first being teased a few months ago. It’s uniquely MC Escher inspired interactive 3D puzzle style has piqued the interest of many. It seems to be on-track to be the next indie hit for iOS. I recently had a chance to sit down with Dan Gray, Producer, and Neil McFarland, Director of the game to discuss and play through the game. Let’s find out if all of the early accolades are deserved.

MVFin2Ustwo has a reputation of quirky, yet quality games with a very unique visual style. Their office in an old warehouse in the Shoreditch area of London is just what I would imagine from a company that makes games like Whale Trail. A large number of bright, interesting, inspirational, funny, and oddball bits and found objects all over the offices and common spaces fits that perceived personality. It’s as though their offices were in the world’s largest art student dorm room. A perfect environment to foster the unique styles and somewhat off-the-wall games. Their previous iOS hit, Whale Tail, is the perfect illustration of their unique style in action. It combines a visually interesting look and bright color pallet with fun game mechanics and music.

Monument Valley takes a slightly cleaner, reserved aesthetic over Whale Trail, though it maintains a very oddball game mechanic. In this game the main interaction is rotating parts of the screen, mechanical or otherwise, leading to illogical optical illusions that create new paths for the characters to travel. It’s these unique puzzle elements that require that you put what your mind thinks of as spacial reality on hold. Swinging platforms and stairways connect in seemingly impossible ways by rotating the entire structure or small sections on screen. It seems illogical, but when it fits, it’s genius.

The game is designed with flat colors and intentional lack of detail that lends perfectly to the logic defying geometric puzzles. The lack of color and detail is almost the exact opposite of what would be expected for a game that moves in this way and stresses perceived logic so greatly. Where detail is given in the game, it is intentional to draw the eye to an available action or clue to how to progress. Tremendous thought has been given to the many levels of puzzles in this game. Maddening levels of trial and error have lead to some of the most unique puzzle and maze elements I have experienced.

MVDemoFor some reason the game reminds me of what a sliding 15 tile puzzle would look like if MC Escher designed it during a month long bender on absinthe and peyote. It’s absolutely visually compelling and draws you in, wanting more and more. Moreish as the English say. It’s relaxing and stressful. Balancing that line perfectly.

Ustwo takes pride in making unique and interesting games and it shows in Monument Valley. We can expect to see it released at some point this spring or early summer. It will be a premium game, priced reasonably the developers tell us.

Expert App Reviewers

 

So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone 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 Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.

Shadowrun Returns

 
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What was old is new again. Thanks to popularization of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, many forlorn, neglected, and abused franchises of yesteryear are receiving a new lease on life. One such series seeing a massive resurgence is the strategy RPG and table-top classic, Shadowrun, which finally found its way to iOS in the form of the newly released Shadowrun Returns. Can it somehow live up to the nostalgia laced, sky-high expectations of fans, or will it suffer the same fate as the attempted Xbox 360 reboot? Looking back through the annals of history, the last time that a proper Shadowrun RPG was released, Sega was trying to hock the Sega CD. Thankfully, time has been kind to the genre, and the developer, Harebrained Schemes, has went to great lengths to assure that the title’s mechanics meet up with the expectations of a modern audience. The action itself plays out from a third-person, isometric view, akin to what would be found in most modern tactical RPGs, and is coupled with an extremely organic screen tapping control scheme. –Blake Grundman

Incredipede

 
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Incredipede by Sarah and Colin Northway, is almost two different games built into one title. The first is the main adventure, one where players control Quozzle, a spunky little cyclops gal going through those awkward years where one doesn’t know how many limbs and muscles one has at any given time. There’s not just that, but there’s also the need to collect fruit to save the fellow members of one’s species who have been kidnapped. So the player, serving as the control agent for Quozzle’s muscles, tries to both get Quozzle to the end and to collect the fruit in the levels, which are used to unlock future levels. –Carter Dotson

Pixel This!

 
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I suppose a sign that a game is really good is when I lose all track of time; just constantly diving back in, ignoring all other responsibilities, just playing the game again and again until there’s no more game to play. That’s Pixel This! by Mark Brown , a game he created because “Most of the Picross apps on iOS kind of suck, so I made a better one.” Well, he succeeded. –Carter Dotson

Projector Up!

 
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As a freelance writer and small business owner, keeping tabs on all of my finances and projects can become quite daunting. Plugging numbers into excel, cross referencing projects and figuring out my profits are just a few tasks that can get overwhelming. Now that there’s an app for pretty much everything, I was intrigued by what Projector Up! had to offer myself and other freelancers. The app’s main purpose is management of accounting. It focuses only on small studios and freelancers and isn’t intended for big businesses. Aside from its simple and clean interface, Projector Up! boasts many features like goal tracking, financial planning and visual tracking. –Angela LaFollette

Gappy’s Mystery Letters

 
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Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming and effective interactive letters app starring Gappy, the cartoony character from Spinlight Studios’ earlier app Gappy’s First Words. Here, Gappy will be thinking of a letter and asking children to trace with a finger a moving star which engages children to draw a letter that they will then match up with a series of letters to choose from. I believe that the sense of mystery, complete with fun and suspenseful music, will keep children engaged longer than simply tracing over a template which can oftentimes be scribbled over instead of specifically worked with, as this app taps into a child’s sense of wonder as they form these letters. Another nice moment is revealing the gift Gappy receives that corresponds with the letter in question, such as wagon for “W” – nicely stylized as an image later to be used as a coloring page – a nice touch as this cute moment will not register the way it would if Gappy were being given a whole lot of “stuff” like more tangible toys. I would, however, like to be able to control the speed that one needs in order to follow the star as I could see a child new to tracing or printing having difficulty at first – a minor concern really as this is a great app for those new to learning their letters but who are looking for something a little different. Also included is a blank drawing page as well as 52 coloring pages based on the alphabet that can be unlocked by slowly solving the mystery games found within this app. –Amy Solomon

Other 148Apps Network Sites

 
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:

AndroidRundown

Blood Battalion

 
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Sometimes it is fun just to watch games. Anyone who’s played the Sims knows that watching the drama unfold can be as fun as creating the drama. These types of players will likely love Blood Battalion, a strategic RPG which is light on the gameplay and heavy on the spectacle. Players begin the game by selecting a hero. It’s possible to pick from such heroes as a healer girl who’s fairly useless in a fight, but has the vital ability to keep other troops alive, to a swordsman who has immense power but not much else. –Allan Curtis

LavaCat

 
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Fast Cats and lava. Welcome to LavaCat from PocketCake. The basic premise is what one expects in a side-scrolling adventure: moving from the left of the screen to the right, the main objective is to get as far as possible without getting fried by any of the heat-related dangers that lined the playing area. In the interest of fair disclosure, it should be noted that the playing area is molten lava travelway with falling spikes and steam geysers that can do lethal damage to a poor little puddy cat. The controls are minimalist. One bank has a direction button set that controls “forward” and “backward” movement. There is also a jump button. An hourglass button rounds out the core controls. The cat remains stationary on the bottom surface unless a button is being held; not a lot of momentum is retained when movement in either direction is not engaged. –Tre Lawrence

Total Conquest

 
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Ever wanted to build a charming Roman village from the ground up, build a thriving economy and then shatter the peace by recruiting a huge army to crush friends and rivals, then look no further than Total Conquest, a new game from Gameloft where aspiring generals can do just that. In Total Conquest the player starts off with a Town Hall and not much else. From there villas are constructed to generate gold and farms are planted to generate food. Each building can be upgraded multiple times. Temples can be raised to gain blessings from the gods, bestowing faster or stronger attacks and players can also build a bunker like Militia building which garrisons troops in case of attack. –Allan Curtis

And finally, this week This week, Pocket Gamer reviewed The Cave and Transport Tycoon, crowned the best iOS and Android games of September, looked at the most exciting mobile games for this month, and went hands-on with The Room 2, Monument Valley, and Framed. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.

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