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5 reasons why The Lord of the Rings remains the most exciting fantasy franchise

Posted by 148Apps Staff on November 24th, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

When Peter Jackson adapted The Lord Of The Rings into a blockbusting, Oscar-winning movie trilogy, he achieved the impossible. Although JRR Tolkien’s magnum opus had long since established itself as the definitive, most influential tale in fantasy literature, its size, complexity and vast mythology led many to assume it was unfilmable.

Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, had other ideas, however, and their epic adaptations (released from 2001-2003) were made with such reverence and affection for the source material that they rapidly became every bit as beloved as the novels.

The success of the movie franchise quickly led to a swathe of officially licensed games, with notable highlights including: The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Even today, nearly twenty years after the release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, players can continue to experience the legendary director’s vision of Middle-earth thanks to the recent launch of The Lord Of The Rings: Rise To War for mobile.

To celebrate the upcoming anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring, we’ve explored why Middle-earth remains fantasy’s ultimate destination for gamers…

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 15

Posted by Campbell Bird on November 9th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

I have finally reached a new landmass in Divinity - Original Sin 2. I left Fort Joy, ventured through the Hollow Marshes, finished my harrowing boat journey aboard the Lady Vengeance, and am just now disembarking to explore Driftwood. As highly anticipated as this new region was, I have to say I'm a little disappointed by it.

If I didn't know any better, I'd assume I was back at Fort Joy and the Hollow Marshes. There isn't anything particularly visually distinct about Driftwood, though I guess I'm ok with new NPCs to interact with and quests to take on. There is also the main quest to follow, though that just seems to be "go find so-and-so so they can tell me where to go next." Fascinating stuff.

Steam Link Spotlight - Nuclear Blaze

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 29th, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally wall using the Steam Link app. Our last entry looked at If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers. Read about how it plays using Steam Link over here.

This entry is for a game that isn't quite exceptional on Steam Link so much as it is exceptional for the kind of game that it is. Nuclear Blaze is an action-oriented puzzle-platformer where you play a firefighter who finds themselves in a mysterious subterranean nuclear facility.

The basic idea of the game is that you're armed with a water pack and hose which you use to help you navigate your environment, most of which is on fire. By aiming your hose and making judicious use of your limited water supply, you can douse the flames of an area, which typically allows you to move on to the next room.

The key to putting out fires in Nuclear Blaze is to do so quickly and strategically. If you put out a portion of a fire, it always has the chance to relight if left too long next to things that continue to burn. You can't just spray your hose willy nilly though or you'll run out of water, so making your way through a room often looking like charting a path that allows you to reach the flames effectively while also passing water stations to refill your tank, and then seeing if you can execute on that path in a timely fashion.

Because of how timing and efficiency are important in Nuclear Blaze, I wasn't confident that it would feel good when streamed to a touchscreen device. But, to my surprise, it works pretty well! I think most of this is due to the game's overall design. It doesn't have particularly complicated controls, and the way that most rooms let you take your time to figure out your approach to extinguishing fires no matter how many times you've already tried to solve it, are tremendously helpful to making it a comfy experience on iOS.

That said, the easiest control layout for the game is to use virtual buttons, which isn't ideal. As you can see in the video capture of the game there are times where I missed button presses and died as a result, but Nuclear Blaze is thankfully quite generous with its checkpointing so it didn't feel like a huge setback.

Even thought it's not perfect on Steam Link, Nuclear Blaze was surprisingly fun to play. I could also see it getting some revamped controls and coming to mobile at some point, since there is nothing else about it from a visual or complexity standpoint that would hold it back on mobile devices. I'm not sure that will ever happen, but one can hope!

Nuclear Blaze was developed and published by Deepnight Games. It launched on October 18, 2021 and is available on Steam for $9.99.

Steam Link Spotlight - If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 22nd, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry looked at Ambition - A Minuet in Power. Read about how it plays using Steam Link over here.

This entry focuses on something that might be good to play around Halloween time. If On a Winter's Night, Four Travelers is a dark and macabre point-and-click adventure game that can make your skin crawl. Although it may not look that way at first, this pixel art experience is incredibly detailed and evocative, especially when its vignettes take their dark turns.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 14

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 20th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

When I last touched Divinity - Original Sin 2, I thought I was done with my seafaring shenanigans aboard the Lady Vengeance. I was away from Fort Joy on course for Driftwood, but my journey got interrupted. This entry deals head on with this interruption, as the magisters intercepted me and wanted to bring me down.

As it turns out, the magisters came prepared. This combat encounter documented in the first video of this post is definitely the most challenging Divinity - Original Sin 2 has been to date, to the point that I failed it a couple of times before devising a strategy that allowed me to protect the NPC tasked with devising a magical escape from the fight. This is to say the fight is designed not with victory in mind, but rather one that tasks you to hold out for long enough before being whisked away further into the story. Had it been a more straightforward fight I probably would have had an easier time with it.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 13

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 6th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

After such an eventful encounter on my last foray into Divinity - Original Sin 2, I'm lulling on the game a bit since I went from a huge battle and story dump to being stuck on a boat. Still, it was nice to be able to debrief with the characters we've met along the way so far on our adventure and achievements. This also seemed to be a definitive "break" point in the sense that my party was disbanded, though I could choose to have them re-join or convene with others.

The first video here does a lot of that stage-setting, informing me that our next destination is Driftwood, a small fishing village that is key to the Seeker movement, and learning more about what it means to be Godwoken as opposed to a Sorcerer. After speaking a lot with folks, though, I found myself at a bit of a loss on how to get the ship moving, so I admittedly flounder around a bit.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 12

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 20th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

The momentum is back! After having gone a month between play sessions of Divinity - Original Sin 2 (partially due to how inconvenient it is to keep a huge game installed on a device), I'm back in a regular rhythm with the game, and things continue to move forward.

It also helps that I ended my last play session on a heck of a cliffhanger, with a battle against magisters being interruped by a gigantic void worm. The first session posted at the starts with fight against said worm, while my second play session revolves around just about getting off of this initial island that is mostly comprised of Fort Joy and a marsh wasteland.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 11

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 7th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

It's been practically a month since my last foray into Divinity - Original Sin 2. A bit part of this was because of the directionless muddling I was doing to try and access Braccus Rex's vault, but even more than that was the strain this game was putting on my iPad's hard drive. At 17.15GB, I have to do a lot of juggling with app offloads and reinstalls just to maintain room for it.

In fact, my break came about because its file size was such a huge headache that I deleted the app entirely for a couple of weeks--which left me hoping that its cloud save functionality was actually good and would let me resume once I decided I wanted to. For the most part, this is true, but it took more effort than I was hoping for to be able to resume progress from a fresh install of the game. I had to connect my iPad to my PC and move some files around to get this done, though I understand that the latest update to Divinity 2 also allows for save syncing with Steam cloud saves, but obviously only if you own the game on both mobile and PC (I do not).

Steam Link Spotlight - Ambition - A Minuet in Power

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 27th, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry looked at Jupiter Hell. Read about how it plays using Steam Link over here.

This time, we're looking at what seems to be the PC counterpart and evolution of Regency Love. There's no apparent lineage between the creators here, but Ambition - A Minuet in Power certainly bears a close resemblance to Tea for Three's excellent (and underrated) mobile title about the trials and tribulations of navigating the complicated social web of old European high society.

The best mobile tower defense game is buried inside Genshin Impact

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 13th, 2021

Back in February of 2021, Genshin Impact added an event called Theater Mechanicus as part of its big Lantern Rite festivities. This mode was a sort of tower defense game that challenged players to build death traps of elemental towers against waves and waves of Hilichurls, Ruin Guards, Abyss Mages, and other common Genshin Impact foes.

The major twist with the event was that your character's power completely didn't matter. Whether you were a whale with a full bench of maxed out, S-tier, five-star adventurers or a free player with nothing of the sort, Theater Mechanics was an accessible, challenging, and super-satisfying event to take on in single-player or co-op. The only bummer about the whole thing was that Theater Mechanicus was a time-limited event and it disappeared after just a couple of weeks.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 10

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 11th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

It is on this 10th entry in the Divinity - Original Sin 2 Gameplay Journal that I completely found myself at a loss of what to do. After trekking back to Amadia to bask in the praise for rescuing Gareth, I found myself with some clear instructions but not a good sense of how to perform them.

The plan itself is simple: steal a boat to get off this island. It seems the best chance to do that is to pick up some weapons that can pacify the Shriekers guarding the harbor. Those weapons are hidden away in the tomb of someone named Braccus Rex, which was easy enough to find, but all I could find there was a blocked door, rude skeleton, and not much else to go on.

Steam Link Spotlight - Jupiter Hell

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 10th, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Steam Link Spotlight is a feature where we look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry looked at Roguebook. Read about how it plays using Steam Link over here.

For this entry, we looked at what would probably make a good case for reinterpreting Doom as a turn-based affair tuned for mobile. Jupiter Hell may not be on the App Store, but it sure as heck feels like it should, and it brings sci-fi horror, heavy metal, gore, and gunplay together in ways that remind me of old-school 90s shooter aesthetics.

Infinity Island is a remarkably unassuming idle game

Posted by Campbell Bird on August 4th, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

I've been playing Luca Redwood's latest release, Infinity Island, for almost a week now, and I'm a little perplexed. The mind behind innovative, premium titles like 10000000 and Photographs put out an idle game fueled by ads and in-app purchases that is remarkable mostly by how pedestrian it is.

In it, you collect little pets on a cartoonish desert island by launching a hook out to sea to retrieve boxes of loot. These pets produce currency automatically that you can use to purchase various upgrades, almost all of which serve to help you produce currency faster. At various points throughout the game, you can also opt to watch ads to double your rewards or make in app purchases to accelerate your progress. If you ever reach a state where progression seems to plateau, the game offers to reset (or "Infinity") your island and allow you to spend some other currency to accelerate your progression rate on the new island.

There's never been a better time to hop in to Genshin Impact

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 22nd, 2021
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: GIGA GACHA :: Read Review »

We were obviously big fans of Genshin Impact when it launched last year, so much so that it grabbed our Game of the Year award. Since that time, though, the game (and our enthusiasm fo it) had gone somewhat quiet.

You see, Genshin Impact is a service game, but since last winter there had been precious little added to the experience. Post-Dragonspine, a couple of story quests showed up and a trickle of new characters came and went, but there was nothing really new and exciting for players to latch onto--regardless of whether they played daily or dropped off months ago. This summer showed a glimpse of excitement with a temporary archipelago being added to the game, but the whole experience felt like stopgap effort designed to prevent more of the player base moving on to something else.

Divinity - Original Sin 2 - Gameplay Journal - Part 9

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 13th, 2021
iPad App - Designed for iPad

The more I explore The Hollow Marshes, the more two things are evident: First is that The Divine Order is categorically evil. Second is that these marshes are confusing as all heck. In both video segments for today, I alternate between wandering around like a lost puppy and stumbling upon magisters that are doing bad stuff. At least one of those things makes me feel better about killing that blind, defenseless chap from the last entry.

The first video starts with me wandering up on some sorcerers that have been crucified, seemingly by The Divine Order. The nearby elf suggests there is nothing I can do to help them, though I find a way to seek vengeance soon enough. Not far from the brutal scene is a camp of dead Seekers that eventually leads me to the group of magisters that killed them. I didn't think twice about attacking, and feel like Divinity - Original Sin 2 has finally surpassed any point of sympathy or curiosity I might have had for The Divine Order. There's no perspective they could have that makes what they are doing seem worth it. They will continue to die by my hand as often as I can make it so.

In any case, my fight with these magisters got cut off prematurely, so I finish it off at the top of the second video here. From there, I find a mysterious dungeon with a cursed door that has killed some greedy magisters (good), though it doesn't really do the same to me (weird). I couldn't puzzle out how to open that door, but I found some more magisters to kill in order to meet Gareth, a Seeker who is looking for weapons that will help him steal a magister boat to get off this island. My guess is those weapons are behind that dungeon door and that that's my next step in Divinity - Original Sin 2's main quest.

All that said, I spent much of the rest of my time in this play session kind of wandering. It is almost never clear to me where I am supposed to go in this game, and the map system seems horribly unclear. Perhaps it's all these years of playing mobile games but I wish at some point there was just a way to teleport to the next thing I wanted to do or an arrow that could point me to where to go. I am finding some things along the way as I wander, but some of it is equally as puzzling so it doesn't quite feel all that rewarding.

I'm really hoping that in my next entry or two I'll have these weapons and be on a ship off this island. Only time will tell though. Maybe I'll be marooned here forever. Until next time!

View all of our other Gameplay Journal entries here.