Greetings fone fans! Our digital cup runneth over with quality selections for your pocket rectangle of choice this week, so let’s get into it!
A hard reign's gonna fall.
Nothing to do with controversial wrestler Roman, instead this latest pocket title from Devolver Digital tasks you as guardian of the realm to make some dignified decisions via some sovereign swiping a la Tinder. Your august pronouncements affect the balance of power between four areas: the church, the army, the common peasants, and your kingly (or queenly) coffers. Choices can affect multiple areas at once, and either depleting or maxing out any of them triggers a swift end to your reign. The title is plural though, and sure enough your offspring stand ready to inherit the throne upon your untimely demise.
Completing listed objectives unlocks more characters and decision cards to vary the experience, and the game’s off-the-wall humour and basic but distinctive style is ably brought to life with an appropriately regal score from Disasterpeace. You shouldn’t need a royal decree to pick this one up!
Social engineering 101.
This breakout hit series has been lauded as much for its accurate depiction of hacking as for its tense plot and excellent cinematography, so a crafted interactive experience from Oxenfree developers Night School Games in collaboration with those narrative masters Telltale set in Elliot’s uncertain world is a great fit. Masquerading as a text messaging app from the the odious and omnipresent E Corp, you’re contacted by Elliot’s sister and F Society ringleader Darlene and coaxed into performing a little social engineering to help out the cause.
Obviously fans of the show will get the most out of this experience, but the verisimilitude of the app from the muted colour scheme to the gently pulsing ellipses as the other party ‘types’ does much to draw the player in. The text was written in close co-operation with series creator Sam Esmail, and the characters write in a voice very true to their on-screen counterparts. Lasting about a week in asynchronous time, Exfiltration is an excellent accompaniment to a quality series which might just leave you doubting the veracity of your own online interactions.
Puzzle games have always been a natural fit for handhelds since the original Game Boy launched with all-time classic Tetris in ‘89. Sony’s short-lived PSP had the all singin’ all dancin’ Lumines. A version of the game had been ported to mobile some years ago, but this new incarnation from Japanese publisher Mobcast is bursting with polish and acts as a sort-of greatest hits compilation of the original and its numerous sequels.
Lumines’ falling block affair is not entirely unlike its Russian progenitor, but with about 1000% more pizazz. Squares rather than lines are the objective here, with completed blocks eliminated by a play-head sweeping from left to right in time with the game’s slightly garish but engaging trance beats. Each level has its own unique skin to suit the particular track, and the levels from the original game are unlocked right off the bat. If you missed it the first time round, this assured and timely reissue will get your toes tappin’ as well as your fingers!
Boom AND bust.
The whole 8-bit vibe is still hot currency in the indie games biz, and although some chancers fire out any old pixelated rubbish, banking on the nostalgia of aging gamers to gloss over its inadequacies, it’s always a pleasure to find a project that is a wonderfully true homage to those halcyon days. Treasure Buster is such a game. The latest from the saucily-named Pixel Licker studio who also made Slayin’, this is a sweet blend of arcade-style dungeon crawler and pinball, not unlike the previously reviewed Wizorb.
Your chosen hero must be fired about the arena to impact and defeat enemies, but speed and trajectory are crucial as enemies will use ranged attacks once charged. True to the title, when a dungeon-dweller is vanquished an absolutely absurd torrent of loot pours forth into the room, and the levels are replete with power-ups and bonuses galore. There’s nothing really to fault here - the art style is fun, the sprite work and sound effects are good ‘n’ chunky, and the killer soundtrack from noteable chiptune composer Norrin Rad (aka Matt Creamer) is a note-perfect tribute to the best of the arcade era. An unreserved recommendation that you’ll treasure forever.