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Book of Demons Open Beta Impressions

Posted by Campbell Bird on January 29th, 2020

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.

Shadowgun War Games Closed Beta Impressions

Posted by Campbell Bird on January 23rd, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ALL’S FAIR IN WAR GAMES :: Read Review »

Shadowgun: War Games is an upcoming free-to-play multiplayer shooter that’s essentially just an Overwatch knock-off. There are hero characters with special abilities, and you compete in 5-v-5 game modes where the goal is to use superior team tactics to win the day.

Depending on who you are, this might sound exciting, but given my time with the closed beta for the game, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Although War Games looks nice and pretty, it doesn’t feel that different from other mobile shooters that have already tried the same thing (i.e. Modern Combat Versus).

Hands-On with the Pocket City December Update

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 9th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: PREMIUM BUT NOT PERFECT :: Read Review »

At the end of last month, Codebrew Games announced an update coming to their popular city-builder, Pocket City some time this month. In this update is the promise of expanding your city out into other regions, enacting policies, and more. The full info on the update—as well as a link to sign up to test these new features—can be found here.

I’ve spent the last week or so testing out this new content for Pocket City, and it makes for an undeniably better game. That said, I wasn’t super impressed with Pocket City when it first released, and this update doesn’t suddenly change my entire impression of the game. It’s still got some rules that feel too restrictive, but it finally allows you to build public transit that makes sense, which was one of my primary grievances with the original version of the game.

Something to note about this new update to Pocket City is that it doesn’t provide much to new players. To start enacting policies or expanding between regions, you have to level up your city to at least level 28, which takes some doing. Even when you get there, it doesn’t feel like it shifts the gameplay too much. In fact, after I got the ability to pass policies to improve my city, I routinely forgot to actually do it because my city was cruising along just fine without their benefits in play.

If you’re eyeing this update to Pocket City as a way to really deepen the experience of playing it, I think you’ll be disappointed. That said, this December update—whenever it drops—improves the base game and adds a couple more layers to Pocket City that make it more interesting than it was previously.

Steam Link App - Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Campbell Bird on May 16th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

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:

Everything You Need to Know About World of Demons

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 22nd, 2018
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Last month, Platinum Games, the developers behind celebrated games like Nier: Automata, Bayonetta, and Vanquish announced they were going to make a mobile game called World of Demons. While the trailer didn't show a whole lot of gameplay, it seemed to promise some super stylish character action-style gameplay.

In the time since the game's been announced, World of Demons actually entered soft launch in select regions, which has allowed us to get some hands-on impressions of the game. If you want to know what the game is like, check out the video above for some unedited early gameplay, and look below some key take-aways:

Everything You Need to Know About The Fortnite Mobile Beta

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 16th, 2018
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

In just over a week, Epic Games has made a flurry of announcements. First, they revealed that Fortnite—their ultra-popular PUBG competitor—is coming to mobile. This was followed by brief sign-up period for interested beta testers before sending out their first round of invites yesterday afternoon. Fortunately, we were able to get our hands on one of these early invites, so we can clear the air on exactly what Fortnite on mobile is like.