$2.99 - Developer Website - v1.12
by Jasmine Greene
Nanuleu by Selva Interactive is a minimalist strategy game with an interesting concept coupled with colorful art and sound design aspects that will amuse the sight and experience.
With that said, Nanuleu’s minimalist theme goes with games that are classified as simple rather than like other strategy games that involve deep experiences. It is set to be so, but I see some fault in it. Playing the game, you can see what the developers were trying to do but it breeds a feeling that the game seems to be unfinished.
Developer Gameplay video
Nevertheless, there is one aspect where Nanuleu shines. It is in its art and sound design. Despite using basic shapes and a set color palette, Nanuleu manages to look very impressive. The colors included in this game are bright and vibrant with each tree signified by a different color and shape.
The developers added some subtle touches to make the game come alive. For example, the color of your map changes as you expand and claim more land. Also there's a brief animation whenever you place a new path or tree on the map. This attention to detail really increases the quaint charm of the game. The graphics in addition to the atmospheric background music and basic sound effects are the highlights of Nanuleu.
There are three different modes: Apprentice, Warrior and Sage. These represent the difficulty levels of the game. Only the first two options are available to you in the beginning of the game. Once you beat Warrior you can unlock Sage mode.
The basic gameplay is straightforward—use your resources to build paths and capture resources. Once you capture all the white life trees, you’ll unlock an offensive war tree to defeat the enemies. Like other strategy games, you must balance your use of resources and expansion while the enemies attack your base. This means ensuring the proper placement of your protector and war trees to keep your life trees and towers safe. The longer you play the more waves of enemies you’ll need to repel. Unlike other tower games, the map for Nanuleu is random each time you start a new game, so you never get the same experience twice. Unfortunately, this can be a double-edged sword.
Since there's no upgrades or progression system in Nanuleu, advancing its levels often seem more due to luck than skill-based gameplay. Sometimes your resources will be close together and other times they will be very spread apart. This is especially frustrating with the life trees. Not only do you need them to unlock your war tree, you also need them to plant your resource and protector trees. If your life trees are too far apart from your starting area, enemies will easily overwhelm your forces. Yes, the game does tell you where the next enemies will appear and there's a timer to indicate when the enemy tree produces new units, but often there's nothing you can do besides wait. While this aspect of the game isn't unique to Nanuleu, its simplicity makes it all the more noticeable and frustrating.
What compounds this frustration is the fact that the game is real-time. If it were a turn-based game, it might not be as bad, as you can take in the level and plan accordingly. Yes, you have unlimited time when you start a game to plan out your path, but you have no idea where the enemies will appear. That means you'll end up building in one direction and then have to build in another to keep the enemies at bay. A simple indication of where the first enemies will pop up could go a long way in improving the overall gameplay. This isn't a new mechanic either. Other tower defense games like Kingdom Rush show you exactly where the first enemy waves will come from, so you can then plan accordingly.
Speaking of enemies, there are several different types that also gives different attack mechanisms. If they encroach on your territory you will lose the land and any trees placed on these tiles. If you want to reclaim these areas you'll need to build on the land again, which would sometimes lead to wasted resources. The problem with these enemies is that their difficulty seems randomized. I noticed upon playing that sometimes one defender tree could hold off two enemies. Another time, two defender trees were taken down by only one! I believe this randomization has no place in a strategy game. If I don’t have a solid grasp on the strength of the enemies and how to defeat them, the entire strategy aspect of the game falls apart.
Overall, Nanuleu sets out to be a simple strategy game, but in the end it gives you the feeling of having an unfinished experience. As much as I like the style and the idea, I’m not very much fond of it. I believe choosing the game would greatly depend on ones taste in strategy and visual stimulation.
- Vibrant and bright colors
- Soothing atmospheric music
- Easy to understand gameplay mechanics
- Randomized enemy difficulty
- Randomized maps
- Punishing difficulty curve
Free - Developer Website - v1.1
by Meg Stivison
Gameplay video by a gamer
Total War Battles: Kingdom brought to us by SEGA packs so many choices and customization into the usual strategy game pattern of farming for resources and improving your combat units. Sure, players will build barracks, blacksmiths, stables, and so forth, as well as upgrade these units including land tile improvements for better results. But placing these is more than just the typical click-and-wait since there are so many options to consider. Productivity is affected by neighboring buildings, by terrain, by the quality of workers, and by seasons, so each minor choice actually matters in the game.
Once your city is functioning, you’ll be able to raise medieval troops and send them into battle. Each unit has a specialty and a weakness. All of these units can also become stronger by spending earned XP on upgrades. Again, players can choose from a variety of upgrades and customize their units for their particular combat style. Injured units require time or gold to heal, and then they’re ready to fight another day.
Total War Battles: Kingdom allows players to fight one-off combat encounters in Missions, follow a storyline, or duel against other players. There’s a range of difficulty levels, again allowing players to customize their experience and decide between a tense, challenging combat or a quicker and easier battle.
Graphics include stylized stained-glass icons, for that medieval lord aesthetic, and surprisingly detailed battle animations. The pre-battle and post-battle cut-scenes can drag a bit, but one victory dance from my two remaining swordsmen, after a very narrow win, was so hilarious it made all the animations worthwhile. Throughout the game, players can zoom in for a closer look at the land tile improvements or battling troops with ease.
Total War Battles: Kingdom isn’t quite as robust as a Total War computer title, but it offers a complex and responsive game world for strategy gamers or medieval history fans to enjoy on mobile.
- Detailed battles against AI or human opponents
- Meaningful choices in city and resource management
- Many different play styles available
- Not as robust as the Total War PC games
- Paid combat upgrades can make the dueling system pay-to-win
$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