Hardcore Droid http://www.hardcoredroid.com Hardcore Gaming on the Android OS Sun, 26 Jul 2015 19:45:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Bad Dinos Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/bad-dinos-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/bad-dinos-review/#comments Sun, 26 Jul 2015 19:45:54 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35130 Android-strategy-baddinos-thumbBad Dinos wants very badly to be a Flintstones game. From the opening screens of the story, a family of cartoon cavemen is working their way across a prehistoric landscape in their stone-age RV. This particular family’s relationship with dinosaurs is quite different from that of the happy citizens of Bedrock. Rather than performing domestic chores (“It’s a living!”), these dinos are, well, bad. And hungry.

In each level of Bad Dinos, the family’s RV is brought to a stop, leaving them vulnerable to approaching threats. These threats take the form of varied dino species, from “baby rexes” in bonnets to raptors and triceratops, to the big King Rex. They march toward the RV along a web of paths, leaving you to defend it by building a series of towers. (Heard this one before?) I’m not generally a huge tower defense fan, but I was very impressed with Bad Dinos’ design.

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Towers are built on predefined slots, with various options for attack speed, range, and damage. Some dinosaurs have shields that can only be broken by special towers. Playing the game with towers alone would actually prove quite difficult, so Bad Dinos sweetens the deal by including character powers, each on a short cool-down that will keep you active throughout every battle. You can slow dinos with tar, bombard a small area with spears, and even capture weakened dinos in nets.

These captured dinos can then be sent out on the paths in reverse, to devour the (ideally smaller) enemy dinos. My prehistoric bacon was saved many times by a quick dino release after a few stragglers had passed the last of my towers. The powers and dino-capturing really gave me much more moment-to-moment satisfaction than most tower defense games I’ve played. Even the early levels feel tense, since your towers really need your help to succeed.

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My only real gripe about the game is the presentation. While the visual style is very successful in recalling the Hanna-Barbera classics, the cutscene animation is fairly weak, more like a Flash cartoon than cel animation. The menus are strangely sparse, and the title screen looks like an afterthought. It’s a shame, because I think this game really deserves a confident presentation. I also found that most levels ran a little too long. They were action-packed enough to hold my interest, certainly, but it’s strange for a pick-up-and-play mobile game to demand almost 15 uninterrupted minutes for a single level.

The presentation issues are made all the more puzzling by the game’s pedigree. It was made by Insomniac Games, creators of Sypro, Ratchet & Clank, and more recently Sunset Overdrive. It’s easy to see where the strong cartoon style comes from, but I would’ve expected a little more pizazz. With any luck, the game will receive some attention for its gameplay merits and earn a couple polish updates from its developers. Even without, though, Bad Dinos is worth a peek back in time.

 

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You Review It Strategy: Siegefall http://www.hardcoredroid.com/you-review-it-strategy-siegefall/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/you-review-it-strategy-siegefall/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:15:19 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35116 From the Play Store ~

Smash the castle gates and leave nothing but rubble behind in the game that makes you builder, strategist and destroyer, all in one!

Journey to an epic realm where great battles and wars are fought over kingdoms and crowns. Challenge millions of players in fast, tactical action as you take direct control of your battle forces to break through their castle defenses using raw might and your mastery of magic.

In his review of Siegefall, Hardcore Droid’s Sharang Biswas gave it a 2.5/5, calling it a “a little flat”. Do you agree? Or does he completely miss the finer points of strategy games? Let us know!

<<Back to You Review It>>

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Rogue Legend Tame the Wild Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/rogue-legend-tame-the-wild-review-2/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/rogue-legend-tame-the-wild-review-2/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 05:40:43 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35032 Rogue Legend thumbnailRogue Legend Tame the Wild is a survival simulation/RPG that is in the designer’s words, “a mash up of Harvest Moon, Mine Craft, Recettear, and Zelda.” The game opens with a heartwarming scene of family life interrupted by your character’s town falling under the attack of heavily armored soldiers. Your mother promptly directs you to a hidden door secreted behind the fireplace.

And there the game begins: In a secret passageway behind the main character’s ruined home. After collecting tools, crafting stone into blocks and then placing them over a pit, you finally exit the underground by smashing through a wall and entering upon a scene of your hometown in ruins.

Upon exiting this 8bit horror show, the screen fades to black bearing the text “One Year Later.”

In this new chapter of the game, you find yourself the owner of an unfinished farm and faced with an un-named proprietor. Who is this guy? Who rebuilt the town? Where did they come from? And why are berries 60 bucks?!!!
Oh, I get it, you tell yourself. You just “bought the farm” and the guy who sold it to you is Satan. Actually, he’s not. He’s just an unidentified NPC in Tame the Wild’s pitted plot. The right topmost corner of the screen sports a message log, where you are told what to do next. As mentioned earlier this title is an RPG/survival sim hybrid. As such, your character experiences the pangs of a normal human (dashing my hopes of this game being some sort of afterlife sim/parody). He experiences thirst, fatigue, hunger, sickness, and cold via thought bubbles appearing above the character’s head and notifications above the status bars at the bottom left of the screen. The weather also comes into play, ranging from dust storms to varying levels of rainfall and changes with each season.

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In the beginning of the game, NPCs, namely the Satanesque dude, advise you to prepare for the winter. This alone is a daunting task requiring a delicate balance of farming crops; raising livestock, crafting tools and weapons, and exploring the wild for raw materials (Consult the game Wiki for tips). None of this is made any easier by surprise attacks on your farm (whether or not you are present) by coalitions of bees and bats hell bent on destroying your crops.

Of course one can purchase items in town instead of crafting them or forage for them but the prices are reminiscent of Soviet Russia in its decline. However, if you are looking to kill some time, one of the shops features a gambling machine where you can spin a wheel for a chance to multiply a pay-in of $10.

Rogue Legend animals
Although Tame the Wild exhibits many attributes of a competent RPG the controls could use some work. As is often the case, the touch screen is not completely compatible with game play. Tame the Wild’s crafting system is your bread and butter but, unfortunately, can be a precarious venture. It is not possible, for example, to see what it takes to craft an item without having at least one of the necessary ingredients in your inventory. Tapping on pictures in an attempt to find out what they represented often resulted in crafting something I didn’t need and losing valuable raw materials. Ugh!

I also found myself re-positioning my character when attempting to select an item in my inventory and vice versa. This can be especially aggravating when one is trying to care for crops and sometimes devastating when battling enemies.  Furthermore the vertical orientation places the button for consumables right beneath the inventory. Titling the screen solves one problem but limits visibility of the exit.

Rogue Legend cherry blossom watering

Luckily, the developer is very much open to customer suggestions. Consultation of his Kickstarter site reveals upgrades such as a multiplayer option, 3D graphics, and more detailed combat (including spells) to be included in Rogue Legend 2.

This game is hardcore in the sense that it requires constant attention to status bars and dedication to routine yet ends up being too mundane. If you want a game that will keep you playing and guessing look elsewhere. The only thing unpredictable about game play is where the grass will grow next.  Maybe with better control options; updated graphics, an engaging battle system against random enemies, and a more interesting plot Rogue Legend Tame the Wild could aspire to be a solid 3.

 

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Siegefall Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/siegefall-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/siegefall-review/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 04:56:01 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35077 Siegefall | Best Android Strategy GamesOkay I’ll admit it: I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed Siegefall, Parisian game studio Gameloft’s latest strategy title. I’d imagined a cash cow varnished with only a flimsy patina of “gamification,” with gameplay mechanics that were yawn-inducing at best. Instead, I found a fun tactical strategy that, if it weren’t for Gameloft’s economic incentives, might have held its own among the hoi polloi of fantasy-themed strategy games on the market.

In an effort to be “multiplayer,” Siegfall tries to implement a weird hybrid of RTS and tactical strategy. The RTS elements actually fall pretty flat. You control a city (the game promises a “Kingdom,” but it’s really just a city, womp womp) where you can construct buildings that are geared towards resource-gathering or maintaining and upgrading your troops and spells. Resource gathering is standard, boring, and annoying mobile-game fare: build a few economic buildings and just wait for the gold, wood and what-have-you to flow in, tapping your structures every so often to stockpile your resources. True to the genre, the game employs all the known psychological tricks to keep you playing, and hopefully, paying. For instance, there’s a cap on your resources, ensuring that you spend your stuff quickly (by playing continuously), upgrade your buildings (an expensive and time-consuming process), or lose the excess, a galling prospect for the power-gamers among us. Then there’s the wait time: building or upgrading anything takes an annoying amount of time, encouraging you to spend “gems,” the paid currency of the game (isn’t it always gems? I’d love to see some originality). And like an astute drug dealer, the game dishes out tiny parcels of gems now and then to keep you craving for more, slowly increasing how many gems you need to complete anything, until you’re hooked and slowly bled of your hard-earned cash.

Siegefall | Best Android Strategy Games

The kingdom-building portions also include a faux-multiplayer warring system, where other human players can invade your city while you’re logged off. I got attacked multiple times while I was at my day job, but since the consequences were relatively trivial (your structures get rebuilt as soon as you log in again), I barely noticed. I soon chose to eschew the various walls, towers, barricades and other defensive structures that were meant to defend against marauding players: I cared little about leaderboards and my wealth was far better spent upgrading my troops for story missions.

I’m not even going to bother with the plot, because it’s obvious how tacked on the narrative was. Not to mention the awkward voice-acting in the form of cheesy sound-clips that you suffer through whenever you complete an action. No, I want to focus on the meat of the game, the tactical combat encounters, which are unfortunately somewhat overshadowed by the RTS elements. To each battle, you can choose to bring in a hero, a few squads of troops, and a handful of spells, all of which are built in your city. Once a battle begins, you can order your troops exactly once, choosing to send them to one particular area on the map, after which the AI controls their movements.

Siegefall | Best Android Strategy Games

This mechanic, which may sound limiting, actually makes your choice of where to send them much more interesting. Plant them in an area surrounded by watchtowers, and you’re in for a tough fight, as your troops try to take down every tower before moving on. However, if you head straight for the fortress and fail to destroy support structures, you’ll be missing out on valuable opportunities to collect “food” with which to reinforce your troops. Add to that a collection of spells with various effects, from freezing an area to unleashing a dragon, and you’ve got yourself a fairly compelling combat system.

In the end, Siegefall ends up in that long list of “could-have-been-greats,” games with an excellent core system, but marred by flaws to glaring to ignore. In Siegefall’s case, it’s the intrusive pay-to-play elements and a muddled RTS system that distract from what could have been a great tactical strategy title.

 

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Vainglory Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/vainglory-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/vainglory-review/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 03:32:21 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35094 PbjAND96_400x400

 

In 2015 the MOBA is more than a game genre. It’s a phenomenon.

A success in every way that you could possibly measure the word, the MOBA started as a mod to the popular Warcraft franchise and since that time has evolved into the poster child of the competitive gaming world.

Conceptually, the MOBA is pretty simple. Combining elements of RPG’s and Real Time Strategy games, you and your team engage an opposing force across a multiple lane map, where you level up your characters with various items and abilities all in the pursuit of destroying the enemy encampments, and eventually their home base. Along the way you will find a variety of side-quests that often offer a high risk/high reward proposition, as well as plenty of opportunities to tangle with the player controlled enemy heroes that make up your most compelling competition.

The idea itself is a fairly simple one to grasp once you get into it, but the amount of elements it combine at a blazing gameplay pace have largely kept the MOBA limited to the PC where precision mouse controls and various key bindings allow these games the competitive potential that makes them so great. It’s why the three essential entrants of the genre (Dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of The Storm) are all PC exclusive.

While Vainglory is not quite at the level of those giants, I can say without hesitation that it is the greatest MOBA  not currently on the PC.

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What makes Vainglory so great is that it understands that there are limitations to converting the MOBA to mobile that simply cannot be avoided.  The biggest victim of these limitations would be the game maps. There is only one map in the game, and it replaces the traditional three lane environments with a much simpler layout that combine a single lane between enemy bases, with a standard “jungle” environment below, were the various side-quests are. Admittedly this, combined with the drop to 3 v.s 3 matches as opposed to the more traditional 5 v.s 5, does take a pretty big strategic element out of the traditional MOBA experience.

But that’s the thing you need to understand. Vainglory isn’t a traditional MOBA experience, and it isn’t trying to be. Instead, it take the essence of  what makes the MOBA so great (the sense of progression, the feeling of strategic superiority, the thrill of learning a new hero) and translates it through the unique capabilities of the Android platform.

The results are simply exhilarating. A typical game of Vainglory lasts about 20 minutes, and brings with it all the thrills you would get from a standard match of, say, League of Legends. No it doesn’t quite have the same depth as that game, but it does do a tremendous job of integrating the player quickly into the experience (largely through some really well done tutorials) and then becomes remarkably consistent in giving you a streamlined version of the standard MOBA, every time you log-in.

That isn’t to say that Vainglory doesn’t do some things well in its own right. First off, the graphics and animation are superb. With apologies to the hardcore MOBA fanbase, I’d rank the look of this game with any other in the genre. It’s more limited character hero selection screen and map space don’t afford it the same level of creativity as those other games, but everything that is here is simply flawless from a visual standpoint.

Oddly enough, I also kind of like having less heroes to choose between compared to other MOBA games. It allows the developers to put a little more love into each hero and, more importantly, make sure that each is perfectly balanced. The sheer number of characters isn’t nearly as high as you get in other games, but the quality is well above par and you would have a hard time not finding one that fits your style.

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Actually, where Vainglory falls short is in the developer’s decisions to not adapt enough to the mobile platform. This is especially true of the items system, which doesn’t really need to be here. It’s nice having the ability to purchase these different items and upgrades, but it adds to to the clutter of the interface, and frankly doesn’t feel especially well developed. I wish the developers had taken a cue from Heroes of The Storm and removed the item system in favor of a larger skill tree, as the skills in this game are sadly underutilized from an upgrade standpoint.

There are also a few wrinkles in the mobile interface that don’t really get ironed out. It took me quite a while to really understand what every button did, and to perform simple things like seeing what my abilities do mid-match. Even when I did get a grasp of what was happening, I never felt like accessing this information was done in the best way possible. The game’s minimap takes a similar hit, as it requires you to use a sort of dual touch mechanic to properly navigate, and doesn’t afford you the same ability to cleanly navigate to the action as a PC MOBA might.

Honestly, though, some of these criticisms are nitpicks and preferences. The elephant in the room concerning your enjoyment of Vainglory is its technological requirements. You’re going to need a fairly modern phone or tablet to run this game, and even then you are honestly not getting the full experience on a phone. It’s perfectly playable, but things get cramped pretty quickly. You run your own risk playing this game on anything less than a modern tablet with a strong internet connection. Thankfully that’s the closest this game gets to pay to win, as the in-app purchases are tastefully done and do nothing to hinder the experience.

If it is within your technological ability to download Vainglory, though, then you must. It is in many respects as good as a MOBA game can be at this point in Android technology, and can only get better as the development team builds upon this stunning foundation they have crafted.

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Shall We Date: Demons’ Bond Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/shall-we-date-demons-bond-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/shall-we-date-demons-bond-review/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 23:28:20 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35067 Android_-_Adventure_-_Shall_We_Date_-_01My ultimate goal in taking on Shall We Date: Demons’ Bond was to expand my horizons in gaming, try something new and expose myself to a genre I don’t usually indulge in. The “Dating Simulation” genre is not one that I have played in…really ever. So I saw this and thought to myself: “Alex doesn’t discriminate! Alex plays all games!”

What a fool I was.

I’m still not sure if I like dating simulation games, mainly because I’m not entirely sure Shall We Date: Demons’ Bond is actually a dating sim at all. It’s more like a digital manga that was either not edited or translated very poorly. Misspellings, malapropisms and syntax failures plague the script which is terrible for people who write (you know…people like me) and is especially bad for this game because reading is about 100% of the gameplay. You are occasionally given a choice to make, which (kind of?) alters the course of the story, and by occasionally, I mean about 1-2 times per chapter. The chapters are at least forty-five minutes long, so most of this experience is reading terrible writing, or fast forwarding through it when you can no longer stand watch the English language being beaten to death by grammar mistake after grammar mistake.

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Something to note as well is the deceptiveness of the game’s “free” price tag on Google Play. You see, when you download the game of the site for “free,” you’ll open the game to find the Prologue, which sets up the game’s setting. In order to actually play through the story, you must pay five bucks for one of them. There are several, depending on which guy you want to try and date in the game. There are three or four possible guys to chase during the story of this game, which means if you would like the “full experience,” this game is actually going to run you $20. $20 for a poorly-edited badly plotted digital manga.

No, sir, I would not like another.

The setting for the story honestly confounds me. It is set during the Sengoku period in Japan, which for anyone who knows about Japanese history, is a period of feuding daimyo and almost constant war. Names like Tokugawa, Nobunaga, Takeda and Sanada come out of this period to forge the great history of samurai-era Japan. You take on the role of a female demon. You don’t have a choice. You must be a woman chasing a man. Mind you, I don’t mind playing a female. I do mind playing this female, though. I’ll get to that in a moment.

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Before this gets confusing, demons look exactly like humans in this universe, they are just slightly stronger and better-looking. They also aren’t evil. In fact, a lot of the game revolved around how humans are more evil than demons. Your female demon is part of something called the Ten-Demon Alliance. If you think that’s a stupid name for an alliance. I suggest you steer clear of this game, because I doubt that there is a sentence in the script that doesn’t have “Ten-Demon Alliance” in it. People say things like “we are part of the Ten-Demon Alliance,” and, “As a member of the Ten-Demon Alliance…” and, “BUT WE’RE THE TEN-DEMON ALLIANCE,” in each and every breath they take. It’s pretty annoying.

Your character seems to be the only female member of this alliance and straight from the beginning of the game, you are ridiculed by almost every other member for being a woman. Also, as the sole female member of the Ten-Demon Alliance, it falls squarely upon your shoulders to be put in dangerous situations so that you may be rescued continually by the big strong man you decided to pay five bucks in order to fawn over for the course of the story. That is why I don’t like playing this female character. She purposefully doesn’t have a personality so that you can project your own personality on her; this makes her bland and co-dependent. The decisions that you make don’t add anything to her depth, and she’s constantly trying to make the men around her happy, which often times borders on weird subservience. I would love to play a badass female demon. This character isn’t badass, and she doesn’t look like any demon I would hang out with.

When it comes down to it, this isn’t so much a game as it is a reading experience. As far as reading is concerned, this is literal eye-torture, especially for anyone who is passionate about literature and writing.

Save yourself the headache. Buy a harlequin romance if you’re feeling frisky.

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Lifeline Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/lifeline-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/lifeline-review/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:26:16 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=34890 Android-adventure-Lifeline-thumbI would not have expected text-based games to make such a comeback, but here we are. Twine is becoming more and more popular with novice game developers, and the discussion around Depression Quest nearly brought the entire video game medium to a grinding halt. Now, we have Lifeline, widely regarded as one of the killer gaming apps for the Apple Watch. That’s right: the hottest tech device is being used to play choose-your-own-adventure stories.

But we’re here to talk about the Android version. Android Wear support will be added later this summer, but without the benefit of futuristic wristwear, Lifeline takes the form of phone notifications, like text messages. It begins as an intercepted transmission from an astronaut whose ship crash landed on a barren moon. The astronaut, Taylor, was merely a science student working on the vessel and he or she (gender is intentionally obscured by the developers) needs the player’s assistance to make various survival choices.

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Interaction is brief and simple. The player never has more than two options to choose from. These choices, however, range from selecting a reaction to Taylor’s corny jokes to deciding whether to power an injured crewmate’s stasis pod instead of a rescue beacon. This can make the smaller decisions seem trivial, but they often serve to build Taylor’s character, and luckily, she’s fairly interesting.

The greatest weakness of Lifeline is that it is clearly written by a good writer who wants the player to be entertained. Like a Tarantino movie, its dialogue is engaging because it’s clever, not because it’s natural. This seems a bit at odds with a game that presents itself as a series of text messages, but it’s hard to be mad at the writing for being “too good.” Without spoiling anything, the “bad” endings are a welcome change – exactly as abrupt as they need to be.

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Those abrupt ends never feel unfair, though. With every difficult decision, Taylor offers her own input and a chance to second guess oneself. My early death (or her early death, as it happened) came as a result of me not trusting her instincts. Later on, I was much more careful to listen to her, but not in a way that made me overcautious. It’s about an even split between choices that reward caution and those that reward risk.

The game is paced rather well, too. Taylor takes time to perform each task, and will even sleep through her nights (unless something wakes her). It’s refreshing to have a mobile game that will leave me alone for eight hours. Toward the end (the good, real end), things pick up, and they admittedly drag on a bit, with one or two too many suspenseful moments. But I still think it’s worthwhile to see such a unique structure play itself out.

Taylor is fun to talk to. You’ll feel terrible when you lead her to her doom, and you’ll be elated if you actually manage to get her off that rock. She’s a friend who won’t annoy you by texting every second, and she can tell some pretty good stories.

 

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The SilverBullet Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/the-silverbullet-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/the-silverbullet-review/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:57:53 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=35015 Android-Action-The SilverBullet-01The SilverBullet feels like a game with good ideas made by people who didn’t know what to do with them. It’s clear that there was potential here, as the game plays like a bite-sized more linear version of the original Metal Gear Solid. Unfortunately the game takes no advantage of its interesting mechanics and the end result is nothing short of mediocre; delivering excitement at the start before quickly falling to tedium.

The SilverBullet is a stealth-action game with a semi top-down perspective, a genre not too often seen in the mobile game market. It begins in a promising manner: you start by investigating a mysterious accident on a dockyard, only to find no clue as to what happened other than the appearance of a horde of endless zombies. The SilverBullet is in no way a zombie game, and while I would normally cry foul at their addition, I appreciated their use in the opening level, as slow moving enemies providing good opportunities to learn the controls. You move around by sliding your left thumb around the touch screen, similar to a console analog stick, and you shoot with a single tap, automatically aiming at the nearest enemy. It might sound almost too simple, but the introductory level makes perfect use out of the control scheme. It gets more challenging with the first boss fight, forcing you to run and dodge exploding debris while timing your shots just right, as the dockyard falls to pieces around you.

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That first boss fight is a spectacle, and I was looking forward to more moments of the same quality. Unfortunately, the game never again reaches those heights. In fact it never even comes close. The second level gives you the first opportunity for stealth, as your character claims to want a bonus for not using her weapons. The stealth works by walking into an enemy, and auto-initiating a silent takedown. The flaw in the system is that the stealth is not rewarding in the slightest. The mandatory silent walk is ludicrously slow, and the enemies’ movements are too simple to offer any challenge. The Rambo approach is more efficient and effective, as ammo is never a problem outside of a few boss fights. But the action route is no more satisfying than going stealth. It’s entirely too easy to mindlessly walk through the levels, tapping the auto-aim, and repeating. In case you manage to die, you have a large surplus of revivals, called Miracle Crosses, and they’re very easy to sustain. Thanks to them, dying devolves into a momentary inconvenience rather than something to avoid or to encourage you to play better.

The game also includes a slight RPG system. You can level up to gain health, and find items called Demon Souls, which can be spent to upgrade the basics: health, damage, speed, and accuracy. Because of how the enemies scale with you, upgrading is a necessity, but you never feel like you improved your character in any meaningful way. You still play the same way, enemies still die in a matter of seconds, and no matter what, stealth is never a worthy option.

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The SilverBullet wears its influences on its sleeve; the overhead stealth is reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid, and the style of the gunplay takes cues from early Tomb Raider. But despite a solid base and some good ideas, it never gets off the ground; each individual aspect is too shallow to be of any worth. The developers have the potential to create a great game, but this isn’t it.

 

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Durlindana Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/durlindana-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/durlindana-review/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=34974 rpg-android-durlindana-01Durlindana is a fantasy RPG by Simon Matts. The premise is that you are a lowly but ambitious peasant on a quest for power and notoriety, symbolized by the search for Durlindana, “the most powerful sword ever forged.” It’s a pretty classic example of a McGuffin, but a trope or two can be forgiven if used effectively. On my first day in-game, I did what one usually does in an RPG: I accepted the first available quest and set out to make a name for myself in the big city.

This was a terrible mistake.

I was immediately knocked unconscious by a unicorn. My “energy” and “vigor” stats were knocked to zero, and my “honor” had dipped into negative digits. As night fell in the city, I found myself with no money, no credibility, and no place to go.

Doing missions and other good deeds earns “honor” and some missions have a minimum honor requirement. If you don’t meet the bottom threshold, you’re not trustworthy enough to accept the mission. But if you can’t carry out missions, it’s difficult to earn honor, which makes it difficult to accept missions, and… you get the picture. Instead of a fantasy romp, this game soon turned into a reminder of bleak real-life conundrums like applying for jobs or credit.

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I tried to exit the city and live off the grid, camping in the wilderness, but I was interrupted by random encounters, which I lost, putting my honor further in debt. I tried to hunt, but again found myself defeated. I tried to train in the arena and improve myself, but even losing in a practice match to a trainer costs honor, no matter how honorably I thought I was failing. Lacking in every single stat, I tried to resort to a life of crime. But I was quickly apprehended and beaten.

After I got out of jail, I wondered where my fantasy life had gone wrong and decided it might be time to consult the “how to play” guide, unhelpfully hidden in the settings menu. For my taste, the guide spends too many pages describing the various stat displays. But then again, that might be because there are several useless stats in this game. Along with the amount of money you have, and the skills you hone in strength, dexterity, agility, and jousting, as well as a general “experience” category, you also must keep tabs on the previously mentioned energy, vigor, and honor. But in an annoying departure from RPG norms, experience and honor are spent like currency. After painstakingly saving them to purchase useless items or titles, I found my honor had been depleted, leaving me less qualified to accept missions than before.

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Eventually I got my honor out of the negative and learned the basics of combat. And by combat, I mean tapping at random clip-art monsters. Soon I was defeating my foes in one hit. But even with some experience and resources to my name, I was never able to complete a mission above the “easy” rating. Every single time I tried to fight a more difficult enemy, I was severely punished, so I never felt any drive or incentive to challenge myself. I had to be content doing the same mindless, easy tasks over and over in order to play. Every morning I would check the job boards around town, often finding none I was qualified to do, and every night I would loiter near the fireplace at the inn instead of paying money to sleep in a bed. The more I played, the more depressing a metaphor for real-life employment Durlindana became.

In addition to being infuriatingly difficult, the fantasy setting is too generic, apparently relying on the fact that I’ve played RPG’s before and can fill in the gaps myself. I don’t interact with any characters besides the poorly drawn creatures and villains I fight, and the city and country in which I’m supposed to be concerned about making something of myself don’t even have names.

A game can be boring or mind-numbingly difficult and still be fun, but not both. Save your money and pass on Durlindana.

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Dead Among Us Review http://www.hardcoredroid.com/dead-among-us-review/ http://www.hardcoredroid.com/dead-among-us-review/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 23:14:47 +0000 http://www.hardcoredroid.com/?p=34959 dead among us, dead among us review, android game, android game reviewI have a slight obsession with all things-zombie. Zombie games, zombie books, zombie apocalypse, zombie survival guides, Rob Zombie; the multitude of facets that make up this revolution of the dead always draws my attention. Whether they hold my attention is another matter.

Dead Among Us is a FPS where you play a bow-wielding survivor making his way through a city dilapidated by the zombie apocalypse.  The bow aspect is a nice twist on the usual weapon selection (guns, grenades, and more guns). The focus on upgrading the bow rather than leveling up your own skills could be really cool, and enhanced by the slightly worn art direction of the menus.

dead among us, review, android game, android game reviewIt spins itself as a one hand shooter and runs in portrait mode: the character is a sniper, so it makes sense that the game posts you up at one location. On the other hand, because the learning curve is so low, it gets boring fast. It ends up feeling more like a rail shooter without the point-to-point movement.  By the end of the city (the equivalent of a full level) I longed for more zombies to kill per mission, or at least a greater variety in the mission goals, considering the game’s other constraints.

Speaking of constraints, Dead Among Us employs quite a few freemium tricks. Stamina points, for instance, are an old ploy that limits the number of times you can actively play in a row. You get one every ten minutes. Succeeding at a mission rewards you with cash, and you get one gold piece for leveling up your character. There are also special abilities that you can buy; slow time, radar, and kill shot. Counting stamina the game has three currencies, unless you consider specials currency since they are only earned between levels, then you can make that six.

Dead Among Us, Dead Among us review, android game, android game reviewThere are three mission types. Regular missions are easiest with the lowest reward, and are unlimited. Challenge missions are the second hardest, and there are a certain number of them; you get a bonus when you beat them all.  Star missions are the “main” missions; completing them is the only way to progress to the next area.  The differences between them are scant. Star missions are slightly harder, but challenge and regular missions have the same objectives –defend a static or moving NPC or object in your field of vision, or defend yourself.

You can’t continue – can’t even attempt any missions – until your bow level matches the mission’s requirement. Upgrading requires cash. So instead of feeling like a reward for hard work, upgrading your weapon eventually becomes yet another limitation. Even though it was interesting to break down the parts of the bow (again, instead of the parts of a gun), since each part has to be upgraded individually, increasing your bow’s power gets expensive very quickly. But that’s the idea. The more you need your currencies, the more likely you are to break down and buy one of their money packs from the in-game store, which has offers for fake, in-game, not-real-anything “money” at up to 100 dollars

Dead Among Us has many promising premises, but unfortunately squanders them all. The zombie apocalypse setting has been used a million times and though the concept still gives a little thrill, the execution has to set it apart for the first impression to last. In this case, it doesn’t. The bow loses its cool earlier than it should due to the way players earn its upgrades and the fact that it’s tied to mission progression. The one-hand shooter aspect could be challenging and freeing at the same time, but because the rest of the game is so content-light it comes across as a limitation. It’s kind of cool that there’s a running count of how many zombies have been killed by everyone playing Dead Among Us on the website, and the title itself is pretty great. It would be nice if it belonged to a  better game.

 

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