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MrToad

Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Feb 27 2018 08:29 AM
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Topics I've Started

Ghost Trick

19 October 2017 - 11:36 AM

Technically this isn't really a new game, but an iOS conversion of an old DS classic. The good news is it's great, largely because it's a complete breath of fresh air in many ways :)

At the beginning of the game your character finds that he's a ghost next to his corpse, which is lying at the bottom of a junkyard. An unfortunate side effect of being recently dead is that you've completely lost your memory, so you've got no idea who you are, let alone why you're lying dead or how you got there... or who the redhead girl is or why she's being attacked by a blue skinned hitman in a sharp suit. And you've only got until dawn to unravel all these mysteries.

Thing is though, you're a lucky ghost because you've got special "powers of the dead" (or indeed "ghost tricks" ;)) which allow you to possess and manipulate objects, travel down phone lines and rewind time to four minutes before someone's death (except your own, of course) so you can change their fate. And thus an unusual film noir-esque mystery thriller unfolds through the medium of a continuous series of puzzles.

The action itself is quite straightforward. You switch into "ghost mode", where time is paused, to move between objects which you can then manipulate when you switch back to real time. But your transfer range between objects is very short, so you have to create a chain of objects to get from A to B. It starts off pretty simple, with solutions as simple as opening a box will cause the lid to extend far enough for you to reach the gate which you can swing to knock the gun out of the hitman's hand and save the girl... at least temporarily. But it gradually gets more complicated and introduces timing related challenges too, such as open a cupboard door to flick a ball across the room, then quickly move to the ball so you move with it and get into position for the next trick. Thankfully the game is quite forgiving; it's primarily about solving the problem, not precision timing. Once I'd worked out what I was supposed to do it usually only took a few goes to get it right. Also, while some of the solutions can be a little "unusual", the characters are often quite generous with hints to point you in the right direction. I found I made it through the whole game quite comfortably without ever really getting stuck for long.

However, what really sucked me in and held me was the plot. The story is quite dark in theme, but told with tongue firmly in cheek. There's a large cast of crazy characters and events get increasingly outlandish. Things possibly get a little too silly towards the end, but is saved by a suitably satisfying denouement. It's also just about the right length too - I managed to blitz it in probably about 10-ish hours.

I found solving problems and manipulating events from the shadows became immensely satisfying, particularly when combined with the wacky but involving plot served with large dollops of humour.

On iOS it's free to download the app itself which includes the first couple of chapters, and that's more than enough to know if you'll like it. After that you can buy the rest of the plot as an IAP for £9.99, which is a fairly reasonable price for the considerable enjoyment I had from it :)

If you want something completely different and refreshing then I highly recommend it :)

Fire Emblem: Heroes

17 February 2017 - 12:50 PM

Usually I take the App Store tags "Price: Free" and "Offers In-App Purchases" as an indicator of freemium pay to win tat and give the bearer a miss, but this one also had "Publisher: Nintendo".  Hmmm... maybe I'll give it a look then.  One week of playing an hour or two a night and I've got to admit I'm hooked... at least for the moment.

 

Whilst I've heard the name, I've never played a Fire Emblem game before.  Turns out the franchise is pretty big (15 games?) and detailed, and this is a much simplified mobile version.  You have a team of (up to) 4 heroes to take out a similar team of AI characters in a turn based battle.  What makes it interesting is the array of character categories, which results in a complicated game of rock, paper, scissors.  Each character has a weapon class, movement type and colour.

 

Colour is either red (sword), green (axe), blue (lance) or colourless (ranged).  It's a straight RPS loop: Red > Green > Blue > Red.  Coloured characters are either melee or ranged magic users, and are largely focused on trumping the appropriate colour.  Colourless characters are either specialist ranged weapons (bow for flying units, shuriken for infantry) or healer (staff).

 

You get a hint of what's coming up in the next match (e.g. level 15, 2 red melee, 1 archer, 1 blue magic user) and can choose a suitable team from your pool of heroes... assuming you have them.  If not there's always the training tower or an arena match.

 

The main appeal for me is the heroes.  There is a huge array, all from other Fire Emblem games, so I guess anyone who knows the series will enjoy seeing some familiar faces. Playing through the first few story missions gets you a starter team, but to get more you have to summon them using "orbs", which is a "spin the wheel" RNG affair.  There's no choice, you just have to hope for a good one.  Orbs can be bought as in-app purchases or given as rewards for story missions and other quests.

 

What's more, characters have a 5 star rarity rating. 5 star characters have high stats and access to the full array of skills, lower tiers are more limited.  You can upgrade a favourite character to the next tier by getting them to level 20 and spending items.  Upgrading their tier resets them to level 1, but retaining all their skills and unspent skill points.  Summoning guarantees at least a 3 star, but you can also earn a 1 or 2 star version from a daily quest.

 

There's also PvP... of a sort.  In the Arena you pick a team and go up against another player's hand picked team, although the enemy team is controlled by the AI.

 

Yes, it's a fairly shameless grind... but yet it's one that I'm enjoying a lot.  The characters are fun and appealling, and creating teams and growing them is satisfying.  Maybe I'll burn out when I hit the free grind limit (I never spend money on these games), but so far it doesn't seem to be pay to win so all good :)