I wouldn’t say any of these updates have made Hearthstone any friendlier or more accessible as The Dalaran Heist did, but they have given players different ways to engage with the game’s cards in new and neat ways. Keeping all of this in mind, I was pretty excited to hear that another single-player expansion was coming to Hearthstone. But—now that it’s finally here—Hearthstone’s latest update, entitled Galakrond’s Awakening, feels like a return to basics for Blizzard in a way that feels a bit disappointing.
Two Spies just dropped on the App Store this week, and it looks pretty neat. The game has two players capturing various cities across Europe, with the goal of eventually spotting and striking the other spy down. It may be simple-looking, but after playing the tutorial and a few bot matches, there’s a hidden depth here that makes it seem like something I’d want to play regularly on my phone.
Sometimes it’s hard to stick with a game, even if you enjoy playing it. Perhaps it’s just too stressful, perhaps it disturbs you, or—as is the case with Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror—you might not be down with its narrative conceit.
Queen’s Wish: The Conquerer is an open-world role-playing game from Spiderweb Software that’s been five years in the making. As soon as you boot it up, you can tell the love and craftmanship poured into the game, particularly via the game’s writing and attention-to-detail. My only problem with it is it’s asking me something I don’t really want to do: reclaim a colony as part of the queen’s empire.
Over the Thanksgiving break, a bunch of games went on sale, but one in particular is worth talking about. Xenowerk Tactics, in addition to falling to $3, got a huge content update alongside it’s price drop. Even though the game is back up to full price, you need to buy it now if you haven’t already.
In my initial review of Xenowerk Tactics, I liked it well enough, but the game felt a little too easy. In building and managing a team of professional alien killers, there was always the potential for me to lose a soldier or get forced into a retreat, but it essentially never happened. I could almost always just take everything in stride and kill aliens with abandon without any problems. This update changes that.
This weekend, Apple Arcade will officially be one month old. That means anyone who signed up for the free trial on day one has a decision to make: Stick with the service and shell out $5 a month, or cancel and go about your merry way.
As someone who dove head first into Apple Arcade by playing 35 games since launch (and counting. See their rankings here), I’ve come away ambivalent about the service in its first month. While it is really nice to have a huge, curated list of premium games from a lot of well-known developers, there’s a lot about the service that could be improved. To illustrate this, check out some of my notes I kept while thoroughly testing the service:
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re all bad, and mostly in the same way.
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat asynchronous.
Instead of having to wait to match with other players in a lobby in order to play with them, live events allow the entire Rush Rally 3 community compete for the best time across six courses. This operates almost exactly like the game’s Career Mode, except you’re competing against human players and the events last a few days.
It’s a really genius move, as it makes sure you’ll basically never run out of Rush Rally 3 to play. There will always be a new event and new times to beat. If you aren’t quite up to snuff on your rally racing skills, you can also choose to frame your times in competition with your facebook friends instead of the global player charts.
In order to access live events, though, it will cost you a little money ($1.99). This seems more than reasonable though, as it adds a tremendous amount of replayability, and the good kind, too. As opposed to free-to-play racers that want you to grind or pay to become competitive, I found Rush Rally 3’s live events something I could immediately hop into and post respectable times, and I look forward to doing so again for the next event.
Come join me! Download Rush Rally 3 and add me as a friend (namestolen) so we can enjoy a great, premium racing experience together.
I play games almost exclusively on mobile, and I’ve been doing so since around the time I started writing for 148Apps. This is why I’m late to the party on Journey. It wasn’t until last week that the game was playable on mobile, and it wasn’t until last night that I played through Journey for the first time now, and I found it just as captivating and impactful as folks did almost a decade ago.
While playing the game though, I couldn’t help but notice how similar Journey was to another game I played recently. Earlier this summer, Thatgamecompany put out a mobile exclusive title, Sky: Children of Light, and it’s almost eerie how similar the games are to each other.
I’ve done a lot of messed up stuff in video games. I’ve beat people to death, slaghtered innocent animals, and even committed genocide. In doing all of that though, I’m not sure I’ve felt as uncomfortable as I have while playing Do Not Feed The Monkeys.
A self-described “digital voyeurism simulator,” Do Not Feed The Monkeys is a kind of management sim where you shovel money into a dark web enterprise that hacks into cameras or (referred to as “cages”) that you then have to watch. As you look upon these scenes, you then take notes and try to piece together what you’re looking at. All the while, you have to manage your health and hunger in real time, as well as earn enough money to afford to eat, pay your rent, and buy new “cages.”
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late.
Lo and behold, a few hours later with the game and the only enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it is seeing Bowser in doctor cosplay. Otherwise, the game’s single-player offerings feel like Candy Crush Saga with less satisfying puzzle mechanics and the multiplayer is... a competitive version of that.
It feels like it shouldn’t be so hard to bring a quality version of Dr. Mario to mobile. It’s a falling block puzzler like Tetris or Lumines, and there are solid-to-great versions of those on the App Store already. Instead of just translating Dr. Mario’s mechanics to the small screen though, Dr. Mario World is a slower, clunkier, and less intuitive puzzler than its predecessor.
I spent the better part of my weekend playing Flappy Royale. I didn’t necessarily want to. I just felt like I had to. It’s a hypnotic experience that’s way too easy to just keep playing.
Flappy Royale is the brainchild of Orta Therox, Em Lazer-Walker, and Zach Gage. It's a very simple idea: Take the the rules of Battle Royale games (e.g. PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends) and apply them to Flappy Bird. 100 players play as birds that jump out of a bus. From there, they must fly between as many pipes as possible until one player is deemed the champion.
The game controls pretty much exactly like Flappy Bird did back in 2013. The only real differences are the hopping out of the bus (presumably inspired by the Fortnite Battle Bus) and 99 ghost birds flapping on screen with you, all competing for the number one spot.
This latter element—the ability to see other players play while you do—is the secret sauce that makes Flappy Royale such a tantalizing challenge. You can always see your competition flapping alongside you, and you want beat all of them. If you can’t do that, maybe you settle for getting a top 50 finish before diving in again to see if you can do better.
Although it’s not officially released, anyone can go and download the beta release of the game here. In this early state though, the game is already quite popular. Here are some stats Orta Therox shared about the game over the weekend:
Oh… Damn. I was doing the stats wrong.
600,000 games were played on mobile native. 1,300,000 games were played on web.
2 million games of Flappy Royale is really impressive, especially considering it populates each of those games with 100 players. Where it starts feeling downright magical is when you consider that all of these matches start pretty much instantly.
Right now, Flappy Royale really feels like it has huge potential. It successfully distills the most thrilling aspects of Battle Royale into a really tight mobile package. A lot of this has to do with how quick and easy it is to play ten rounds without blinking, so here’s to hoping the game doesn’t get too bloated with extra features or monetization schemes before it officially releases.
There has been an auto chess explosion on the App Store. Within just a few weeks, three games in this new genre have popped up and are all competing for your attention.
If you’re not sure what auto chess is, welcome to the club. This new genre was born out of a mod for Dota 2, which is a game based on a mod for Warcraft 3. After taking off on PC and having over 300,000 concurrent players daily, it was only natural for it to make the jump to mobile in a big way.
This has a lot to do with the gameplay of auto chess games. If I had to describe it, I’d say auto chess is like a slowed down version of Clash Royale, but with an in-game store that gives you random units to buy instead of using a deck of your own creation. There’s a bit more to it than that, but it’s focus on management and paced-out auto combat makes it relatively well-suited for touchscreens.
I’m sure it’s a kind of game that isn’t for everyone, but if you want to try auto chess out, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. So with that, I decided to check out the current offerings of auto chess on mobile to let you know which one you should be playing:
I am someone who wrote Hearthstone off a while ago. It was hard not to try and stick with it. The game has incredible production values and a core of really great talent working on the game continuously to keep it feeling fresh and fun (full disclosure: I have a friend who actively works on Hearthstone). I can appreciate all of that from a distance, but when it came to actually playing the game, I would always bounce off of it.
It took me a while to realize, but the thing that always stuck in my craw about Hearthstone is how disingenuous it often feels. No matter how approachable it looks or fair toward free players it seems, the game is a hardcore collectible card game (CCG). The more that time went on, the easier it was for me to recognize this. From the separation of cards into the two buckets of Standard and Wild formats to single-player expansions like Rastakhan’s Rumble, the game was preoccupied with keeping multiplayer extremely competitive and single-player content extremely challenging. None of these updates spoke to me, a player that felt like occasionally dipping a toe into the game once every couple weeks.
To be fair, Blizzard has very few reasons to prioritize folks like me over their huge pool of dedicated players. I totally get that. But with each passing day, Hearthstone had started feeling less and less relevant to anyone who wasn’t already all the way bought in. That is, until now.
Steam Link has finally released for iOS! That’s right, you can play your epic backlog of PC games on the go now. Well… sort of.
While the Steam Link app was announced seemingly ages ago, it only got actual approval for release last night. Check out the video above to see what it looks like in action, and be sure to ignore my amateur Into the Breach skills. For some more detailed written impressions, see below:
Kingdom Rush: Vengeance just got updated once again to add more content to the game. This addition, called The Frozen Nightmare, adds three new levels, five new enemies, two new heroes, and some new achievements.
Overall, it’s not a huge amount of additional content, but it is free, so it’s hard to complain about. In case you’re thinking about whether it’s worth buying or re-downloading Kingdom Rush Vengeance to check out The Frozen Nightmare, here’s everything you need to know about it.