$1.99 - Developer Website - v1.0.1
by Meg Stivison
Introductory video from the Developers
Dungeons of the Endless from Amplitude Studios, is the new iOS port of the popular rogue-like strategy game. In DotE, your space faring heroes have crash-landed their escape pod and will need to fight their way past dangerous obstacles and hostile hordes to achieve their freedom. Players select two heroes to begin the game. You may not be able to tell from the pixelated portraits, but two of the potential starting characters are women and there are more lady space warriors to be found and unlocked in the escape pod dungeons as you go through the game.
The basic resources for survival are science, industry, and food. With science, you’ll be able to research new technologies and use it to your advantage in game. DotE relies on a wiki here, as it’s pretty hard to tell what benefits a mechanical pal or what a dust field generator confer. And in a punishing rogue-like, players aren’t able to experiment and discover these powers organically. You’ll also need the wiki to figure out which weapons, armors, and devices are most desirable as well as how best to use each character’s special abilities.
Each room contains random, pixelated art of alien blossoms, glowing slime, broken crystals, or other space debris, and a random chance of having a reward, like extra resource points, helpful items, or even enemies. One of those found items was a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—a nice nod for fans of other ridiculous sci-fi adventures. Send your heroes to loot everything worthwhile, while avoiding the bad… just kidding. A word of caution: There is no avoiding the BAD. This is a rogue-like!
I always love seeing space opera themes, pixel art, and careful resource management in games, so DotE was an easy sell for me. And yesterday, I got so caught up in defeating waves of hostile aliens on my crashed ‘pod that I missed my stop on the train. I can’t give a mobile game any higher praise than that!
Watch the DotE Gameplay
- Pixelated space monsters
- Random and ridiculous items to find
- Carefully balanced resource management
- Strange new space friends to unlock
- Punishing rogue-like
Free - Developer Website - v1.0.5
by Meg Stivison
For away missions, players choose three crew members to form an away team, and then use their particular skills to defeat the challenges posed by that mission. The game keeps the “Star Trek feeling” by allowing players to meet challenges with diplomacy, jury-rigging, and all sorts of non-combat skills. Players have access to a wide variety of beloved Star Trek characters, so an away team might be Troi for diplomacy with B’lenna for engineering and Spock for science. The overall storyline involves a time anomaly, and this conceit makes sense of all the multiple instances of characters.
Star Trek: Timelines is freemium, with a solid, though slower, free game experience, and IAP of dilithium crystals -- what else? -- to spend on needed action points and better gear. In addition to the various chunks of dilithium for straight purchase, one interesting option is the “monthly pass” which offers extra dilithium crystals as a sign-in bonus for thirty days.
Star Trek: Timelines Gameplay
In every ten levels, the Timelines crew members will need four items to “advance” and permit experience to be gained from missions. Each item is related to the character (as Janeway wants coffee, or Picard has a saddle), but the drop rate here is either insanely low (we’re talking about 20+ replays of the same battle, looking for one piece of a multi-item crafting recipe) or it might be bugged. The game is fairly new, with occasional downtime while the staff finds and fixes the bugs. I thought this incredibly low drop rate must be the IAP squeeze, but since I could find no way to purchase the needed items (even for premium currency) there’s just an oddly grinding aspect of this otherwise successful strategy game.
- All your favorite Star Trek characters in one place!
- Use diplomacy, jury-rigging, and all sorts of non-combat skills
- Clips of Star Trek actors’ voices adds to the theme
- Surprisingly grinding repetition in an otherwise accessible game
Free - Developer Website - v1.1.0
by Meg Stivison
Sky Wars: Archon Rises is a solid, if somewhat generic, resource management strategy game, with a fair amount of click-and-wait and IAP to monetize.
Trailer from the Developer
A generic half-dressed female NPC leads players through “tapping to improve” in a tutorial that is much too long for a fairly generic combat MMO. If you like tapping to improve, collecting resources, building and improving your army and the other usual combat MMO standards, Sky Wars provides a gorgeous background to do this. Fortunately, I found a code to unlock more gems in the game, otherwise I’d still be tapping to improve and waiting to acquire resources before I could really get into the game. (The code can be found at DownTheScreenhole’s tongue-in-cheek review of this game).
Sky Wars’ visual style is appealing to the sight. It blends beautiful world building backgrounds, fantasy weapons and monsters, as well as creative tile improvements. On the hex tile system of land expansion, building improvements are often circular or hexagonal, and it really works with both the overall feel of an exotic world and clear visualization of a player’s improved tiles.
In general, the game’s clear UI reminded me of trading cards. The stats of player troops and enemies especially resembled collectible card games. With the artistic effort invested in a distinctive and gorgeous world, it’s almost confusing as to why such amount of detail was placed over a generic army MMO game.
Unofficial Gameplay Video
- Great world art
- Lots of IAP squeeze
- Usual click-and-wait of freemium games
- Long download and installation time
by Kim Salvarita
The stories made from epic battles in Battle Fleet 2 can now be read and enjoyed by fans of the game as well as WW2 history buffs. Mythical City Games created a Battle Report format to let players share their battles with the rest of the Battle Fleet 2 community.
This link is the first Battle Report entitled "The Wolfpack" which is about a group of Japanese submarines that intercepted 2 US carriers on their way to join the US task force.
Now it is possible to read these interesting stories of glorious victories, cunning new tactics or devastating defeats in its full detail.
You can either write up your report as a discussion on the Steam community or as a "Note" on Facebook that is then shared with their Facebook page.
Note that should you want to share images, use Facebook as the Steam discussions does not support images.
Battle Fleet 2 is a WW2 naval strategy game with cross-platform multiplayer and massive single player campaigns. The game is available on Steam for PC/Mac as well as for iPads and Android tablets. Find out more and watch the trailer.
Free - Developer Website - v 0.3.0
by Meg Stivison
In Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, beloved Star Wars characters make this stand out from the flood of turn-based RPGs in the App Store. Galaxy of Heroes won’t exactly replace Guild Wars for me, but it’s an engaging turn-based RPG for mobile devices, with the high production values we expect from EA games. Players will unlock favorite Star Wars characters, then apply their characters’ special abilities in battle, and upgrade and improve their team as they fight harder enemies.
Gameplay trailer from the Developer
The game isn’t terribly innovative: if you like turn-based RPGs, you’ll like Galaxy of Heroes, but it does what it sets out to do and does it well. The battles and powers are well-balanced as well as the beautiful renditions of Star Wars characters and its settings keep it from becoming just another turn-based party battle. You can also see that care has been taken to make sure the characters’ special abilities line up with their movie characterizations and behavior. (Star Wars purists take note though: This is not meant to be a canon adventure. Instead, the premise is that this is the hologram board game Chewie played on the Millenium Falcon where they played with Star Wars figures on data cards as playable characters, so there is a chance that characters from different planets and different alliances might appear on the same team.)
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes Walkthrough
There are enough random elements in this game to keep players excited, without letting the typical freemium daily bonus and mystery boxes overrun the player’s strategic choices. Like most freemium games, pretty soon players will have to decide between waiting for an action, or paying for an IAP to complete it then and there.
If you want to play some battles in the Star Wars universe, but you’re getting too old to run around the house making lightsaber sounds, check out Star Wars: Galaxy Heroes.
- Star Wars everything!
- High production values all around, with especially good game art and sound effects
- Analyze this game too hard, and it becomes just another turn-based RPG
Free - Developer Website - v2.1.2
by Meg Stivison
Developer's Promotional Video
AstroNest is an iOS sci-fi resource management and space combat game from ANGames. There’s a lot to discover in the AstroNext galaxy, with a massive tech tree of upgrades for your fleet of starships, many different resources to harvest on your planets, talented heroes with a variety of skills to recruit, and endless forms of in-game currencies and power-ups. Fans of resource management games have a lot to enjoy here. The length of play sessions, though, is still defined by either IAP or waiting for action points to recharge.
Science fiction in general requires good writing to keep it from becoming a meaningless technobabble story. With “trons” to build and “cosments” to collect, good writing could take AstroNest from spreadsheets in space to a vivid and exciting sci-fi adventure. Unfortunately, the combination of typos, spelling mistakes, and poor localization in the game’s text makes directives hard to understand and really destroys any world building intent a player may have in the process.
AstroNest players can send their fleets into battle in campaign mode, pursuit mode, raids, or big server wars against other players. Different modes offer different bonuses to achieve, but players are still basically grinding for materials to improve their fleet. Completed campaign battles are replayable for extra grinding. Space battles are repetitive, and so underwhelming that the developers included a fast forward option, but at least the background galaxy art here is beautiful. In fact, the stylish futuristic UI, the attractive space backgrounds, and just the art in general might be the strongest selling point of this game.
A fan made video that shows the game experience
With so many oversexed female NPCs appearing in strategy games, it’s worth mentioning that in AstroNest, I recruited loads of skilled female heroes and I didn’t see a single battle bikini. Fully clothed ladies commanding space fleets and managing planets? Yes, please!
- Beautiful space art
- Fully dressed female heroes
- Lots to explore and discover
- Poor text localization
- Lots of grinding
- Uneven difficulty in campaign mode
Free - Developer Website - v1.5.0
In the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land from Next Games Oy, high production values and solid combat mechanics help this stand out from the crowded field of freemium zombie battles. The zombie apocalypse setting will be familiar for fans of the show and comic, players will send survivors on dangerous missions to gather materials, XP, weapons and more. Meanwhile, players use a familiar system of resource gathering and upgrades to improve base camp. Camp improvements include a weapons workshop, a training camp for survivors, farm plots and so forth, to give your survivors the best chance of defeating the zombie hordes.
Fans of The Walking Dead will enjoy recognizing characters and outfits straight from the series, while players just looking to slay some zombies will wish for some character customization. In a zombie game, blood and gore is almost a requirement, but fortunately most of it are just splatters of dark blood or contained in skippable cut scenes. It is just perfect for gamers, like myself, who enjoy strategy and suspense in a combat game, without seeing internal organs.
Gameplay video from the developer
Missions can be replayed on “Hard mode,” allowing for a bit of replayability, but I wasn’t particularly tempted by redoing locations with tougher zombies, especially with new locations to explore and new strategies to try out.
Like most freemium games, Walking Dead: No Man’s Land relies on the common click-and-wait mechanic. Players can either wait for an upgrade to complete, or pay to speed it up. Without a premium purchase to recharge, players will quickly run out of energy to perform actions. There are plenty of worlds to be explored, but the freemium mechanics will keep play sessions short.
- Missions require thought and strategy, but aren’t too difficult for newcomers
- Good for short sessions on the bus or subway
- Usual freemium mechanics like “click and wait” or energy recharging keep play sessions short
- With such attractive & detailed art, character customization is a real missed opportunity