All posts by Campbell Bird
Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark to sell people more cards. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, it’s nice to set aside a time of year to celebrate the people you have close connections with. Many people like to do that around this time of year, and that’s pretty cool I think.
Something else that’s cool is how games are increasingly exploring interpersonal relationships. If you’re in the mood for experiencing games that do this well this Valentine’s Day, I’ve hand selected a few mobile games that can give you exactly that. See below:
Spitkiss - $0.99
Spitkiss is a bizarre platformer about beings that can only communicate through emojis and bodily fluid. Strange premise aside though, it’s a really fantastic game that feels perfectly tuned for touch screen controls. Pick this up if you want a mechanically satisfying game or one that explores the nontraditional relationships.
Feral Interactive has been bringing a lot of PC games over to iOS over the years, and their latest port job is of Relic Entertainment’s Company of Heroes. The game is slated to release on later this week, but you can take a look at the game in action right here ahead of launch day.
PictoQuest is a charming little puzzle game, but it left us a little disappointed. The game just didn’t seem to use screen space effectively, to the point that using the touch controls (as opposed to the default virtual d-pad) could lead to errant taps. This, combined with a somewhat unpredictable—and arguably unnecessary—layer of RPG mechanics made a game that would otherwise seem perfect for mobile hard to recommend.
Over the weekend following its release, though, there has been an update to PictoQuest that addresses some of these issues. Most notably, players can now solve puzzles in Zen Mode, which nullifies things like enemy attacks in levels. This allows you to sit an ponder out a puzzle without having to worry about time pressure.
Last week, Nippon Ichi Software dropped Disgaea 1 Complete on the App Store seemingly out of nowhere. It also came with a pretty hefty price tag. Similar to Square Enix’s pricing of their beloved RPGs on mobile, Disgaea 1 Complete is a whopping $32.99. Although the game looks gorgeous and has some nice mobile-friendly design features like cloud saves, there are a couple things you should know about the game before you buy it.
I recently came across a beta test for a game called Book of Demons: Tablet Edition, which aims to bring some Diablo-like action to your iPad, and it’s shaping up to be something you might want to look out for. It’s a sort of stripped-down action rpg where you play as one of three classes and venture as far as possible deep into a dungeon whilst making occasional return trips to town to heal up, identify new gear, and purchase other upgrades before going back to battle.
Book of Demons seems to be very aware that it’s borrowing heavily from a tried and true playbook, but the game also goes out of its way to make unique design choices. Most of these changes operate to make Book of Demons a much more mobile-friendly experience. Heroes move along linear, restricted pathways, for example, and you can pick up items or attack enemies from these pathways, even if those things aren’t directly in line with you. The game also has its own “Superhot Mode” that pauses the action any time you aren’t moving your character or making them attack.
Another fascinating design choice is how Book of Demons allows you to pick and choose the length of your play session. Using the Flexiscope™, players can elect to take on quests of five different sizes, ranging from “very small” to “very big.” For each size increase, you’ll take on more floors of the dungeon for greater rewards, but that will also require more time from you to complete. I’m not really sure I can say whether there are meaningful gameplay ramifications for using different sizes on the Flexiscope™, but having a time estimation for your play sessions is nice information to have regardless.
When you first start playing Book of Demons, you only have access to a single class: the warrior. It doesn’t take too long to unlock the additional rogue and mage classes though. These archetypes act almost exactly the way you’d expect them to, though the game does have an interesting system for balancing gear usage vs. spells which can take some getting used to. Specifically, every character in Book of Demons has a certain amount of mana, and that mana determines both which spells you can equip and the kinds of gear you can put on your character. As a result, it makes sense to build characters with a good balance of hit points and mana to make sure you can use abilities and equip loot to make your hero stronger.
In this beta state, Book of Demons does have a few odd issues that hopefully get straightened out by launch. Most of the problems I’ve encountered so far pertain to the game’s card system. Sometimes when equipping cards, particularly spells or items, they appear behind another UI element, which makes them really hard to see and trigger. Also, there’s a button you can press to bring up a list of equippable cards, but tapping this button also changes between loadouts that you can customize and switch between. This can make card management quite annoying.
Perhaps the strangest thing about Book of Demons though is its startup screen. Upon booting up the beta, you can see seven different pedestals with books on them, and only one of these books is for Book of Demons. The remaining six pedestals are empty, but there is an implication that other games might stand on these some day, particularly because the title above these pedestals reads “Return 2 Games.”
Although Book of Demons appears to be the only game developer Thing Trunk has worked on, it seems they have plans to bring six more games along with it. Given the relatively high quality of Book of Demons in this beta state, I’m excited to see what other games Thing Trunk might bring to mobile, or elsewhere.
This is Part 2 of our Apple Arcade Ranking list. To see part 1, go here.
51. Mini Motorways
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Mini Motorways is the follow up to Mini Metro. Only this time, instead of building public transportation, you are building road ways from houses to buildings with parking lots. Your goal is to create as smooth and quick a flow of traffic as possible, and if too few cars can reach their destination in an appropriate amount of time, you lose.
Mini Motorways is a fine minimalist puzzler, but it doesn’t feel all that different from Mini Metro. On top of that, the games moves dreadfully slowly and has some clunky controls which often result in accidentally building roadways where you don’t mean to.
In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.
Patch notes have been removed and have been replaced with (NEW) designation for the games most recently added or updated on this list.
Games marked with an asterisk(*) are games that suffer in rank due to technical problems.
All current rankings are listed below. More titles will be added frequently until the list is complete.