1844 Published Reviews
Genshin Impact is easily the most impressive free-to-play game on mobile. It offers such a rich world that rivals those of ambitious console and PC games while pacing its content such that mini play sessions using touch controls feel satisfying and worthwhile. There's nothing about Genshin Impact's business model that is new or praiseworthy, but it thankfully doesn't get in the way of enjoying what is otherwise a legitimately amazing open-world adventure.
FAR: Lone SailsiOS
Far: Lone Sails is a well paced and designed narrative adventure. Even though it's sometimes hard to see what is going on, its meditative nature, puzzle design, and overall storytelling are top-notch. Its blend of mechanical interaction, traversal challenges, and quiet routine make it one of the more satisfying games in this genre that I've encountered.
Ordesa's gameplay blends so smoothly with its storytelling that you can't help but feel totally immersed in its world. It's not a long game, but be sure to carve out the hour or so it takes to complete it. Getting ripped out of Ordesa and having to replay sections of it is just as irritating as it would be to stop watching a movie and return to rewatch parts of it before finishing.
1-800 SUPER should have probably avoided being a Reigns-like. This short narrative adventure doesn't need additional hooks or systems to make it compelling, it just needs more story to tell. Hopefully Pangolin Park is able to take a second crack at this fantastic idea, or perhaps the game will inspire someone else to do it justice.
HoloVista starts as an exciting world of possibilities but fizzles out into a small reflection on personal growth. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it maintains a fantastic sense of style and finds creative ways to push the plot forward that are mostly enjoyable. For these reasons alone, it's worth picking up. Few mobile games have such a strong sense of identity as HoloVista, just know that if you see it through, you'll end up somewhere very different from where you started.
Empty. mostly feels special almost entirely because it's a game that gives without asking for much of anything in return. If this weren't the case, I'm not sure it would be recommendable, especially considering there are games out there that do what Empty. does, only better. Things being as they are, though, Empty. does feel like a nice, calm gift when compared to most other games on the App Store.
Barring a few small problems, the digital edition of Root is a faithful and fun interpretation of the board game. Its inventiveness and strategic depth are sure to win over any strategy die-hards who want to test their skills against online opponents.
Terafyn is such a promising game. It has a great sense of style and props it up with some satisfying and balanced gameplay for the vast majority of the experience. Right at the very end of the first episode, though, the entire game makes an unpredictable turn in difficulty and structure that feels unfair and frustrating. If subsequent episodes of Terafyn look anything like the end of first, I will not be playing any more of it, but there's a case to be made for buying into the experience if that fight gets re-tuned and subsequent episodes stick to the game's core formula.
The Unfinished SwaniOS
It wasn't exactly easy to get through the mobile version of The Unfinished Swan, but ultimately I'm glad I did. It's a weird little game with a ton of heart and personality, both in terms of its narrative and overall design. The mobile version is not the ideal way to play, but it’s serviceable enough and I certainly recommend that folks find a way to play this game if they haven't yet.
In its current state, Swordshot is at its most impressive from a distance. When you dig into the game, there isn't much there, and a glaring technical problem makes your basic tool of interaction frustratingly inconsistent. Assuming this issue gets fixed, I still wouldn't be in love with Swordshot, but at least I could see how someone could enjoy it.
With its attractive business model and sharp visuals, it's hard to resist giving Deck 'Em! a try. That's the most exciting thing about it, though. Once you open it and start playing, it's all downhill from there. This isn't to say it's an outright bad game. It's just an experience that needs a bit more to prop it up as a full experience.
My Exercise definitely feels more like a "game" than KIDS does in a lot of ways, but I almost wish it didn't. Having unlocks and hidden easter eggs set me up to expect a deeper world inside My Exercise, but there's not a whole lot to be found.
Meteorfall: Krumit's Tale is simply an exquisite package. It is a well considered and significant evolution of Meteorfall: Journey and then some. The preponderance of modes, loads of personality, and tons of convenience features add so much to what is already a fantastic game at its core. This is a must-buy.
I'm fascinated and impressed with how Ord. can convey so much information with so little, but this accomplishment is part of what hampers its appeal. Reading and re-reading one-word phrases while making choices--some of which seem totally random--can make Ord. feel like a guessing game that grows old as you stop encountering novel situations.
Shadow of Naught is pretty hard to recommend. Although there is some novelty to its look and mechanics, it's ultimately trying to deliver a story and is woefully incapable of doing so. The end result is a short experience that will likely leave you wanting.
Even with access to only one chapter, Circulous is well worth its asking price (it's also worth noting that subsequent chapters are scheduled to release monthly for free). Despite my personal troubles with some of it, I enjoyed enough of Circulous's clever puzzles, focused design, and immactulate attention-to-detail to come away from the experience satisfied and eager for what comes next.
As much as I like Brawlhalla, I find it tremendously unsatisfying to play using a touch screen. This limits its appeal significantly, as it's only worth playing if you are ok with routinely whipping out a controller to do so. There are some other quirks to the game itself, for sure, but Brawlhalla is otherwise a surprisingly fun and focused platform fighter that is uncompromised in its mobile form.
In a lot of ways, PUSS! feels like a game made by an artificial intelligence that has been studying a raw feed of internet ephemera and cats. Sometimes it's rad, but at others it can feel pretty random and shallow. A bit more commitment to shaping and structuring PUSS! intentionally could really help it realize more of its potential, and make it more like the artistic showpiece and satisfying avoidance game it is trying to be.
Gun Rounds has an appealing concept and structure, but it needs a little more depth to make wading through its difficulty rewarding. Without that, the game loses its novelty quickly and feels more like an exercise in muscle memory training than something with satisfying tactical and strategic options.
Bird Alone isn't your typical game experience, and this makes it a bit of an acquired taste. It's also what makes it special, though. Chatting with a bird on and off over time is remarkably endearing thanks to some clever writing. Although you might not spend a whole lot of time "playing" it, Bird Alone is still well worth your time.
Good Sudoku by Zach GageiOS
I don't think I would have ever played Sudoku in earnest if it wasn't for Good Sudoku. I'm also not sure I'd want to play Sudoku in any other form, either. This game just makes you feel so comfortable and supported while playing that reaching for harder challenges feels both achievable and satisfying, even if you've never touched Sudoku before.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy HaviOS
Danganronpa is a fun and weird game that I enjoyed my time with once it was actually playable. It's characters may be a little flat and problematic, and the game's pacing a bit strange, but this weirdness ended up enhancing the appeal for me, and I was happy to have a dense, narrative-focused game to chew through on iOS. This port is still not perfect, but at least now there’s little getting in the way of you completing it.
It's ultimately hard to recommend Arrog. As much as it seems committed to a specific vision, it doesn't do a good job at communicating what that vision is. And, just as it feels like you're digging at what it has to say, the game ends. There is beauty in Arrog, for sure, but without the proper context or substance surrounding it the whole thing falls flat.
There's always a temptation to reward and praise games that look and feel expensive, and I get it. Thronebreaker boasts production values that outclass most other titles on iOS. I would love to see more games of this scope and aspiration hit the App Store. Unfortunately though, Thronebreaker is a lackluster mobile port with some core design flaws that make it a hard sell. I found myself enjoying Thronebreaker well enough for the spectacle of it, but I wish it was a more technically competent port that used a more robust card game for its action.
One Finger Death Punch IIiOS
Action-heavy, reflex-dependent games that feel good on mobile are hard to come by, which is all the more reason to celebrate One Finger Death Punch II. Silver Dollar Games makes it look easy. Although this mobile version isn't quite up to par with the others, One Finger Death Punch II is still a satisfyingly brutal experience well worth checking out.