App Review – Outwitters – Multiplayer Strategy/Board Game

The Goblin overlords at the Goblin Beat have been on me to write a review of some apps that are worth playing and since this game is about  creating an army and waging war it was right up their alley.  Looking for a challenging app for your phone or iPad that has a high replay value?? Then take a look at Outwitters from Onemanleft.com.  The app is free to try but will cost you a small amount of $ to buy the full version.  You can spend hours playing the game continuously or just pick it up once a day to take your turns with your opponents, so the time commitment is solely up to you.  What’s it all about you ask?  Think Risk meets Final Fantasy tactics…

The game pits you against an opponent on a hex grid map.  You square off against one another using 1 of 4 races (Fishmen, Robots, Veggiemen, Adorables).  Every race has the same 5 basic troop types and one special class that vary by race.  The players take turns producing new troops, moving their troops, and attacking their enemy.  Each soldier creation, movement, or attack costs you Wits.  You start each round with a set amount of Wits plus extra ones for each Witt square you control.  The 5 troop types vary in how far they can travel each turn, how much damage they can withstand, and how much damage they do with an attack. The various troops also have different attack ranges associated with their attacks.  For example a Scout can move up to 5 tiles per round and do 1 damage, but only has an attack range of 1 and total life of 1, meanwhile a sniper moves 1 tile per round has 1 life, but can do 3 damage up to 3 tiles away.  The object of the game is to either destroy your enemy’s base that has 5 total life, or destroy all of their troops and occupy their spawn points.  If a round ends and they have 0 troops and you are occupying their spawn spaces the game is over.  There are plenty of other nuances to the game about earning extra widgets during a turn by destroying enemies, etc. and using the special classes of each race, but the game is pretty straightforward other than that.

outwitters2

When you first get started with the free version you only have access to one race and the ability to have 5 matches at a time.  There are different options for purchasing the additional races, and the ability to have more games going at once (Up to 20).  The bundle is the best way to go b/c you get access to all races, and you can have up to 20 games going at once.  You may be asking yourself, why would I continue to play this game every day…  Well if you are anything like me then you like to win, dominate your opponents, and essentially be the best.  Outwitters will rank you after your first five matches into different Classes/Leagues, and with each win and loss you earn more points towards your rank and you can see yourself moving up the leaderboards within the different ranks, plus its funny totally destroying a guy’s entire army when he had no idea he was going to lose on his next turn.  The creators of the game also hold month long tournaments for its purchasers of the game, as well as put out updates for the game regularly with new maps, and recently the 4th race.  All of these were free to anyone had purchased the full version of the game.  They are actively keeping the game updated and improving upon it, so you can expect to get your moneies worth once you have the full version of the game.  I travel a lot so I use this game to pass the time in airports and the hotel when I am on the road, and it never lets me down.  Unless I don’t count my Wits correctly and fail to destroy a soldier on my turn just to watch him get healed and massacre my guys the next.  You will definitely come back for more once you try this out, and the best part is that it is free to try out.  You will not be disappointed, because the opponents will always play differently so your strategies need to change for every different battle you are in on every map.  Some players are more aggressive, more defensive minded, or even very methodical in their troop creation and will slow play you into a trap.  Bottom line is it doesn’t get redundant or repetitive!

The Good: Easy to learn, Great Gameplay.  Challenging opponents that you are matched against based on both your ranks, so you won’t get matched against someone who has played for a year.  Different races allow for different playing styles.  Different maps call for different strategies.  You can have multiple games going, so you don’t have to wait on everyone to take their turns constantly.  Time needed to play a few rounds is minimal.  No match is ever the same.  Developers are continuing to support and update the app.  High replay value.

The Bad: 2vs2 matches take way too long to play. The Adorables race and maps are too cheesy/pink.  You need an internet connection to send your turns, so if you don’t have Wi-Fi for the ipad or a cellular service on your device for any reason…aka no offline play.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

 

 

KickStarter Hopeful – Soul Gambler

If you’ve ever enjoyed a “choose your own adventure novel” then you will like this game.

Billed as “an interactive visual novel” by m.gaia studio, this solo rpg has a contemporary setting, but is based on the 19th century play, Faust by Goethe.  Actually, your only choice of character is a male named Faust.   He is offered a seemingly preposterous deal by a mysterious old lady at a bus stop: sell pieces of your soul for anything you may want.  Using supernatural powers, she quickly convinces Faust that she is for real.  Since the game hinges on him wagering his soul and refusing the deal just prolongs the inevitable, Faust soon enters into a pact with forces beyond his comprehension.

Currently, only chapter one is available, and the character creation screen is simple and logical.  Faust begins with six points to distribute across 4 attributes (Health, Intelligence, Charisma, Manipulation), but cannot initially add more than three points to any attribute.  During the course of the game, there are problems that Faust needs to solve and anytime he sees his reflection, a demon offers to help for a percentage of Faust’s soul.  Depending on the situation, if he has high enough scores in certain attributes, he can save some of his soul and get the job done on his own.

Overall, if you’re looking for an action-packed, fast-paced game, than this isn’t for you.  If you would like something that takes some careful decision making and you like the idea of watching a story unfold as you take part in it, then this game may be a lot of fun.  It’s also perfect for a smartphone, because it’s so easy to put it down and come back later to where you left off.  You can play the free demo version on your computer here or download it through your smartphone’s app search feature.

This is a kickstarter.com game still in pre-production, so if you want to find out more about the developers or about donating,  check out soulgambler.com

Godus Makes Funding Goal

Imagine being a god with nature as your plaything and your own worshipers to inspire or strike with fear as you see fit.   In the upcoming game, Godus, this will be possible.  You will shape the contours of the land throughout the centuries and manipulate volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, and more in order to help and grow your body of worshipers in an eternal battle of the gods.  If this concept sounds familiar, then like me, you may have played a game back in the early nineties called Populous. The development of Godus is being headed by the same man to create that game over twenty years ago.  Head developer, Peter Molyneux wishes to revive the “god game” genre and is poised to do just that by recently achieving his funding goal on Kickstarter.  GODUS_3You can find a video of the game in action as he discusses some of its major features at www.kickstarter.com.  22 Cans is the company behind Godus which has received major headlines at bbc.com and pcgamer.com.

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land

The Wasted Land is a based turn-based strategy game created by Red Wasp Design and based on the Call of Cthulhu rules set.  I picked this game up to play on my iPhone for two reasons, 1. it had the word Cthulhu in it and 2. it was based on the rules from the Chaosium game.  $4.99 is a high price tag for a mobile game these days but thankfully there is a free version of the game on iTunes which lets you get a feel for the way the game plays before shelling out all of that dough.  There is also an Android version for those of you interested.  In my case the free version definitely did its job, giving me enough of a taste of the game to convince me that guiding my group of investigators through the battlefields of World War One in search of a dark cult was well worth the paltry price of $5!

KaulsDiary

The Good

Wasted Land does a good job following the basic rules of Call of Cthulhu.  The story-line is also engaging and adds an extra element of depth to the turn-based strategy action.  I was as interested in finding out what happened during the next mission as I was in blowing up more reanimated corpses and Leng Spiders.  I also enjoyed being able to customize the investigators between battles, spending experience gained during missions to increase skills I decided were important to particular characters.  By the end of the game I had a well trained team of specialist mythos-killing machines.

The difficulty of each game was also well balanced.  I never found myself breezing through a level on auto-pilot.  The threat of failure and character death was always real and kept me on my toes.

The Bad

Several elements of game-play were frustrating.  Some are attributable to playing the game in a touch-screen environment, like having difficulty clicking on the correct characters whenever large scale melees break out, and others are simple game flow problems that could use some work.

One of my main issues with the game is I have no idea what some of the skills are used for, even now after I’ve finished the game.  Knowledge of Cthulhu Mythos for example seems like it would be very important to a Call of Cthulhu game but I have no idea how it is actually used in the game and whether or not I wasted experience increasing the skill on some of my characters.  I also never figured out how to add extra ‘AP’ (action points) into an attack to increase the chance of it succeeding.  In the tutorial you are told you can do this but not exactly how.  I tapped on every part of the screen I could think of but was never able to get this to work.

Lastly I found myself frustrated by the fact that there is no way to ‘give up’ on a level and go back and re-equip your group.  I ended up playing one level 3 times because I had chosen equipment poorly and had no way to go back and change out what my team was using.  It would make the game infinitely more playable to allow the user to go back and retool their group after a failed mission.

The Verdict

Overall I really enjoyed this game and will most likely buy the $2.99 add-on which lets you play an additional set of scenarios, this time as the bad guy!  I would recommend this game to anyone fond of turn-based strategy, Cthulhu, or horror genre games.  The few problems I mentioned above were annoying but weren’t bad enough to keep me from finishing the game, which is saying something because I normally get bored with games long before I’ve completed them.  The story and the escalating level of Mythos involvement were both well done and kept me highly interested from start to finish.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Baldur’s Gate for iPad

A whole generation of D&D fans were weened on the original Baldur’s Gate for PC in the late 90’s and now it has returned!  A new ‘Enhanced Edition‘ has just been released which claims over 400 improvements from the original game.  Not only that but you can also get this new version on your iPad for $9.99.  Baldur’s Gate EE also includes a new adventure, new playable characters and even new voice sets and player portraits.  Some of these have become the inevitable ‘in-app purchases’ that plague the Apple app ecosystem but you still get a very nice and robust game for $10 and a chance to play all new adventures in the game in which many of us once spent way too much time.

Android lovers aren’t getting left out either, the game is set to release soon for Android as well as for Mac.  A new PC version is already available for $19.99.

Source: BaldursGate.com

Like Angry Birds? Like Star Wars? Maybe You Will Like Them Together.

Not since the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, have we seen a mash-up of such an extraordinary magnitude as this; that rights, ladies and gents, the Angry Birds have taken over the Star Wars universe, and now things will never be the same. As you can probably guess, the heroes of the Star Wars saga will be portrayed by our favorite avian hotheads, while the dark side will be porking it up. Dark Snout? Emperor Porkatine? The fun times could go on and on.

There will, of course, be a crap-ton of toys and other merchandising to go along with this strange mash-up.

You can go HERE to find out more about the game, or HERE to see some previews of the toys that, quite honestly, I would not mind getting my hands on. It is times like this I wish I had kids so I could buy them things and them monopolize them.

CLANG Project Kickstarter Review

In keeping with my kickstarter project reviews I found (and backed!) another project on kickstarter.  This project was actually the brain child of Neal Stephenson.  Yes, that Neal Stephenson.  The guy who wrote the books Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon is now trying his hand at creating a new genre of video game.  He decided that we all needed a better way to play sword fighting games that was more realistic than just pressing a button on a controller to swing in pre-programmed motions.  Instead this game, code named CLANG, will use existing hardware and the Unity game engine to create a better way to make this happen where the user actually has to go through the motions of swinging a sword to play.  People already asked why not use the wii remote or the xbox kinect but it turns out those aren’t sensitive enough to reach the realism they are shooting for.  Instead they are going to use the Sixense Razer Hydra mouse/controller.  This provides the quick and speedy updates of real time angles and position as well as the millimeter precision needed for sword fighting.  Also with the latest update from the Unity project will now support Linux then this game SHOULD be able to come out on all three PC, MAC and Linux.  I’m hoping this will turn out better than what they are thinking and becomes the new standard in sword fighting genre video games.  The only problem I can see not being able to overcome is the sudden stop two swords make when they CLANG!

Game Review: DC Universe Online for PS3

 

I swore off MMORPGs a while back because I found that they have a tendency to consume my life; plus, at $10 or more per month, they also put a drain on a my bank account. It was usually the emptying of my wallet that gave me the extra little push I needed to stop playing games like EverQuest, Dark Ages of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, and World of Warcraft (that is, when I wasn’t play my Dad’s accounts. Hey Dad!). So, you can imagine my dismay when I began to see advertisements online that these games are now, for the most part, free. Much like a heroin-addicted monkey with an eight-ball dangled in front of his face, it was only a matter of time before I gave in to the cravings. So it was, just last week when my wife was out of town, when I noticed that DC Universe Online was free to play through my PlayStation 3, I might as well have been picking up a syringe instead of a game controller. At least we’re getting this nifty review out of my relapse, right?

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Xenoblade Chronicles will be a change of pace for most

Anyone who’s an RPG gamer with years of experience with the new age Final Fantasy series and the like will certainly love this new RPG for the Nintendo Wii called Xenoblade Chronicles. This is a preview of what to expect when the game is released (hopefully) in April.

xenoblade-boxart
The box art seems familiar...

The story is a fairly standard man vs. machine where man (or Bionis it’s called including animals and plants it would seem) is living peacefully until they are suddenly attacked for no apparent reason by the machines (or Mechonis they are called) one beautiful Tuesday afternoon. So then of course it is up to you, the hero named Shulk, to bring the Monado blade (the red one in the picture) back to life in such as way as to not get hurt by it so you can use it to defeat the machines. The other character, Dunban, used the Monado before to defeat a bunch of Mechonis but it left him pretty badly hurt. The female lead, Fiora, had to nurse him back to health so there should be plenty of jokes in the story line about that.

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