Dungeon Crash


Dungeon Crash is another iOS “RPG” game similar to Heroes Charge, Summoner War, Heroes of Dragon Age, and countless others. I use the term “RPG” lightly, as my gaming experience calls Boulder's Gate, Mass Effect, and Diablo RPGs. It really feels we need a new term for these type of games other than “RPG” as they all pull the same elements as eachother, though each tries to have its all special nuance. But for the sake of simplicity, I'll just use RPG here.

Mobile RPG mechanics all center around gathering your 3 to 6 heroes battle increasingly more difficult waves of enemies. Typically, you have “worlds,” each consisting of a number of battles and each battle containing 1-3 waves of enemies. Dungeon Crash is no different: It has the same core mechanic of gathering your heroes (in this case, 5 per battle) and fighting 1-3 waves of monsters. Like most the other games, you collect heroes and items which need to be broken down to create new ones and get the ones you like. Similarly to most RPG games, Dungeon Crash does indeed throw in its own little twists. Some of it is good and actually had me hooked, but some of the user interface choices are extremely frustrating.

*The Battles: These are like most other RPGs. If you've played one, you've played Dungeon Crash. The little nuance is you have 3 classes: Melee DPS, Range DPS, and Healer. Little floaty icons for each class appears on the screen as you hit enemies. Tap the icons and then click you hero to do an extra attack. Even though the battles have nothing new, they're still enjoyable and fast paced enough to leave me bored.

*The Grind – The Good: This is partly where the name gets its name from. You have a little village and underneath it, there's a dungeon starting at level 1. You'll unlock more dungeons as the game goes on. You can assign up to 3 heroes to each of the dungeon levels to automatically take care of business. Like most mobile games, this automation takes some period of time which can be sped up through in game currency. At the end, you get prizes like treasure chests and crystals. I like the dungeon element because 1) It's easy to assign everyone in like 2 minutes, 2) it gives something for all those extra, useless heroes you pick up and 3) you can still fight battles with heroes at the same time they're assigned to dungeon tasks. Basically, the dungeon element gives a parallel method of grinding items & materials which I can appreciate because, lets face it: All RPGs have an element of grinding.

I also appreciate that at you castle a random visitor appears every so often, which stacks up to 10 so you don't have to always be logged in. The visitor will give you something useful like a quest, crystals, or treasure chest. This is an easy way to insensitive players to log in just to check their visitors, even if it's for a few minutes. I much prefer it to the typical, “Login every day for progressively better gifts,” method mobile games tend to employ as the sole means of free stuff. Dungeon Crash does give out a decent amount of free stuff to help you feel like you're progressing.

*The Grind – The Bad. Like most RPGs, you'll end up salvaging heroes and gear to enhance or get better stuff. But here's the annoying thing for gear: You salvage green & blue gear to get Magic Dust. But as far as I can tell, the only thing I can purchase with Magic Dust is more blue gear. And considering there's only 2 sets of blue gear – most of which I've already randomly found – then salvaging gear for materials is a pointless feedback loop. Add to that something I find very obnoxious: You cannot salvage gear you've leveled up. You must pay with crystals to Rebirth and item back to level 1 so it can be salvaged. I just find that an irritating method to get players to pay for crystals. At least when I salvage heroes and get Soul Gems, those can be purchase for all kind of higher-level heroes and materials. That, I can enjoy.

Another complaint is that it seems that the only way to grind for better gear via the Gear Shop is by grinding the Labyrinth, a one-a-day dungeon where you try and beat as many waves as you can. While I don't mind the Labyrinth, it does create a single point of grinding that I was hoping to avoid.

*The user interface – The Positives: The home screen is useful in that you're guided on what to do next. Have an open gear slot? Here's a red dot! Don't know what to do next? Oh look, there's the quest dot! How are my dungeons doing? Just click on the treasure chest icon to collect them all and reassign heroes. The interface aspect of figuring out where your progress in terms of grinding is at and what to do next is friendly.

*The user interface – The Frustrating: Managing your gear and heroes. The first time you get gear a hero in your lineup can use, you get the magic red dot designating they have an open slot for it. Great! The issue is anytime you get better gear. I must first go to the Lineup screen, click on my individual hero, select 1 of the 6 item slots, click change, and then try and find a better piece of gear. I find this frustrating for two reasons: 1) Knowing when you've actually found better gear (a lot of games will give you that magic red dot when where's better gear to equip – not just for an empty slot to be filled) 2) Stat comparison. When I go to look at different gear, the gear I'm looking to change goes off screen so I have no idea what I'm comparing it to. You briefly see a +/- of numbers if you change gear, but it is so brief you don't really know what the change is unless you write it down.

This issue also goes for heroes. When looking at the list of all your heroes, all I see if the list of their level, fate (alignment), class, and if they're in your lineup. Their stats are noticeably missing. Do different characters within the same tier (eg, Unique, Epic, Legendary) have better or worse stats at the same level? Hell if I know! Short of writing stats down or finding a wiki, I have no easy way to tell. The other major interface issue: when looking to grind shards (eg, needing 20 hero shards to recruit a hero), I have no idea what their class is. No contextual clue or ability to click on that hero to see what the deal is. Same thing with gear. In a game where you can spend days collecting enough shards to recruit a hero, you're probably looking for a certain class. But I'm unable to even tell what class the hero I'm grinding is is for or what the item's optimal class is. This is extremely frustrating to me and takes away a lot of desire to grind.

Dungeon Heroes does actually have a lot going for it. I like the multiple paths to grind. I love the dungeon aspect to put your crappy heroes to use. The gameplay itself is solid. But then there are the user interface aspects that are just terrible. However, my issues are fixable, and if they do change, I will most likely come back. Even a simple patch to allow me to click on a hero shard to see their level 1 stats, fate, and class would go a long ways to improving my experience. If you like RPGs, it's worth giving Dungeon Heroes a whirl and may find yourself hooked. But if you've never liked the genre, I'm not sure it brings enough to the table to bring in a new audience.


Ratings War Review

There's something to be said about a game that has to rely solely on story, and Ratings War, is one of those stories. This is a choose your own adventure type of game in which you play the part of a small time reporter in the year 2061. It is through your decisions that your rise or fall in fame will occur. 

You will have to put yourself in danger, and if you can navigate through this game you might find yourself being one of the most successful reporters there is. The thing I really liked about this game is that there were layers to your character. You can be ambitious, extremely charismatic, extremely factual, etc. There's also the chance for romance, if you so choose to do so. Personally I always like to have a little bit of romance in my stories.

I personally really liked the way the writing was done in this game, I was drawn into the world, definitely could feel the corruption, and I definitely felt the weight of the choices that were presented to me. I know that not everyone is looking for a game in which you are faced with just text on the screen, but if you're looking for a story to lose yourself in, this might be up your alley.

Part of me wants to play through the story again, but as is the case with many of these games where your choices influence the overall flow of the story, I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to do so simply because I liked how my story ended. Sure my character went through a ton of bumps and bruises, and hospital stays, but in the end I got the ending that I felt satisfied with. Although the very end of the game kind of jumped and then fast forward which was a bit jarring. This game gets an 8.7 out of 10.

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I Can't Escape: Darkness Review

You have decided to go in search of a mysterious treasure, something that many of attempted to do, but none have returned. Now of course you are going to be the one who will make it to the other side, you are going to be the one who will solve all the puzzles put in your way, and of course you will be the one that all will envy... or perhaps that is just a dream that will be shattered upon your descent into the Darkness.

I Can't Escape: Darkness is a game in which the levels of this labyrinth will never be the same, but there are definitely things that you will have to accomplish on each level if you are going to even have a chance to survive through it all. There are many holes to fall into and as long as you are careful, and the randomized level you find yourself on is kind you might be able to return to a previous level.

You start with just a flashlight, and you think that this might be enough to get you through most of the scary things that lurk in the dark, but I have one thing to tell you, the battery life is not infinite, and once that light goes out, it is out, and you might find yourself in total darkness. Oh and there are definitely things that lurk in that darkness that are just waiting for your light to fail, so be prepared to fail, a lot.

Personally I have, I believe, gotten pretty close to solving the riddle of this game, but for one reason or another, I have yet to be able to walk back up into the light. There are many things to do on each level, and many creatures that aim to kill you, and I think I've been killed by basically every single one that is down there.

The one thing I wish that this game had was slightly better graphics, it definitely has that dated look. Yes I know that this does give it that old school feel, but for something that is there to scare me, and it did scare me from time to time, I think that the fear would have been higher if it was a bit more crisp looking.

Now there's also the controls that really needed to have a little bit more attention thrown at them. I attempted to play with a controller and the keyboard/mouse. Don't play with the controller, you are only going to find really quick ways of dying and its going to be out of total frustration because the controls DEFINITELY don't respond like you would like them to. That being said the tried and true keyboard and mouse combo definitely work.

You see the big issue with the controls is that this game is a turn 90 degrees, or strife left or right, with a keyboard you have Q and E to rotate, and A and D to strife, and it is set distances, the whole game is done on a square grid, and so its not like if you tap the key you're going to inch forward where as if you press the key hard you're going to run, it's not that type of game.

This is a challenging game that must be played in the dark, and is definitely one of those games that you're going to want to take note of what is the special "something" on each level so that you know what you're going to need to advance down into the depths. All I can say is that there is something, I believe its on the second level down that you are going to need that will make the difference between life and death when it comes to having to spend lots of time with your flashlight on because as you descend there's less light filtering in from above, and those wall sconces aren't always lit.

So if you are looking for something a little old school, that definitely gives you a new game each time you play, and you are all in for some spooky/scary gameplay in the dark, this is a game you need to check out. This game gets an 8.2 out of 10.

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Alien Robot Monsters Android Review

You and your colony ship have landed on a unknown world, for this reason the name Planet X is given to it. As you disembark your crafts you are met by hostile Alien Robot Monsters. You are then thrust into a battle where you will have to build towers to defend your colonist and repel these strange creatures. For there you decide that it is time to take over everything and start the invasion.

You'll be faced with many levels in which you will have to decide what towers to use, and where to place them. You see in this game you are only given a limited amount of spots, and it is with those spots the game is won or lost. If you try to put the most powerful towers out there first you might find yourself left exposed to attack if they get by those towers, but if you decide to just put the base level of towers out there, that too may spell your demise. It is with a clever balance of the two that you can win each of these levels.

In each level there is a preset path, and as previously mentioned set number of locations to place your towers, but what you might not know is that there is a very wide range of enemies that you will have to face off against, each one with different skills, attacks, armor, and more. Have no fear, though, you see you too will have a wide range of towers to deploy and that number will keep increasing as the game goes along. Not only that but you will also have upgrades that will help you increase damage, health, and range. 

If you can balance all of these aspects you're going to find a very challenging and enjoyable tower defense game, and the best part is that it is for free. Now before you run off to buy this game I must warn you of one SMALL yet major flaw that is present on Nexus 7 tablets, the device I reviewed the game for. The issue is that there is a serious graphical glitch that will flash black squares near the locations that you can build towers and it is because of this that the game is almost unplayable, and headache inducing. The flashing is not constant or predictable, and so I could only play this game a level at a time and then was forced to take long breaks.

Now that's not to say that this game is like this for every Android or iOS device out there, but for me this crushed the chance of a good review score for this game. Honestly just get the PC version, I know that you have to put some money down for it, but its the same game and I think you'll enjoy it as much if not more. So its with a very sad face that I have to give this version of the game a 4.7 out of 10. It has been brought to our attention that this may be a device issue and not a game issue, so we will wait for a fix.

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Alien Robot Monsters PC Review

You are trying to find a new planet for your civilization to survive and so you have found your way onto Planet X. There's one small problem, there seems to be robotic inhabitants that keep attacking you at every turn as you try to carve out a place to live, and of course build defenses to protect those who came with you.

I'm not going to lie, you're playing as the "asshats" in Alien Robot Monsters. You land on this planet get attacked and then you retaliate, that makes total sense, but then to go on the offensive and decide that you are going to commit basically genocide seems a bit rough. 

Now of course we are talking about a fictitious world, and of course this is just a scenario to help you into the story of a tower defense game. In this game you will be unlocking upgrades to your towers, as well as upgrades to units that you'll be able to utilize later in the game. You are given specific locations where you will be able to place your towers, so even if you have extra scrap metal (that's the currency) that you could use to purchase a tower, once all the spots are filled you are going to have to either blow up an existing tower, or just work with what you have.

This game is quite challenging and you will definitely have to pay attention to what is coming at you down the predetermined paths. I will say that there is definitely a balance needed between what type of towers you have out there as well as the order in which you upgrade them. You're going to get a basic tower with two gunmen to start off but as you progress deeper into the game you're going to be able to change that tower into many different types of towers, some of them will have units that you'll be able to place outside of the tower to try to take on the enemies as they come. There will also be towers that will shock your enemies, literally, and though expensive, a very good addition to have on the maps to help you through some of the tougher spots.

One of the things I do like is the fact that there is a little bit of customization that is done between levels. You can decide how you use your victory stars. For each level you will get 1 to 3 for successfully getting through the level. Now of course you're going to want to have every level give you 3 stars, but lets be honest there are sometimes when you just misjudge the enemy and a couple slip through, ruining your perfect run on that level. Have no fear though you can gain those missing stars with a replay.

Anyways you will use the stars to upgrade damage by weapons, unit health, more scraps collected per kill, etc. I personally like to at least get the base level of each upgrade but there's definitely reason to try to max out one upgrade before giving the rest some attention, its all in the way you play, and I think for this reason it definitely caters to the player.

The graphics aren't going to blow you away, but the overall flow and design that you are presented with looks great. I do enjoy the fact that there are enemies of all shapes and sizes and that each out is truly different, be it in speed, attack, or durability. There's also bosses that you need to be concerned with, if you survive specific levels you will find, after the final wave, that there's one more monster that wants to destroy you, get through that and you're well on your way to victory. 

This game can be your's right now on Steam, and if you are a tower defense type of person, this is something that you're going to want to add to your collection. So with that being said I'm going to give this game an 8.7 out of 10.


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Moon Tower Attack Review

You must gather your forces, build your turrets and above all else defend the moon from invaders. In this tower defense game for the iOS device you will be faced with many different types of enemies, but have no fear you're going to be gain an impressive arsenal of weapons to combat those enemies with.

Graphically Moon Tower Attack looks like a solid tower defense game for the iPhone. I do like the fact that you can have the placement grid on, but you do not HAVE to have it on if you don't need it. I also appreciate that there is a mixture of level layouts that you will have to get through. Some of the levels have strict paths that will be followed, while others have a more wide open space where you can kind of dictate the flow of how enemies move across the level. My favorite thing about the levels has to be the fact that I can see the flow of how enemies are going to be moving, this definitely helps me make sure that I'm covering the area that I need to and that I haven't made any of my weapons obsolete because of an errant placement.

Here's the thing about this game that will madden many tower defense players out there, and its something that just doesn't make sense and perhaps the developers were trying to rush to get this game out. There are two blatant issues with this game, the first is that the game gives you a choice of difficulty for each level that you take on, however be warned that if you try to take on just the casual setting you will have to replay levels 5 levels at a time. For some reason the developer decided to go with an amount of stars equivalent to finishing each section of 5 levels on Normal. The really odd thing is that once you've done that and you can now play on you will be given the option to play on casual yet again. 

The other big piece that is sure to piss off the serious tower defense players is the fact that the scoring for Casual and Expert are flip-flopped. For some reason you get the Expert scoring for playing on Casual, what this means is that your point total will actually be higher than Normal even though you had an easier time. Oh and if you play on Expert you're going to get the lowest point total as you are going to get the Casual multiplier.

It is frustrating to me that this game definitely has that appeal to me where I want to keep playing, but because of the constraints on what it takes to play the entire game, I just don't think that this game is ready to be played. So sadly I can't give this game a strong grade. I can definitely see the potential but in the end it is botched and will leave almost every player to pick up the game with a bad taste in their mouth.

There is one more thing I want to mention, through the game you are going to pick up gems, and these gems will allow you to do special attacks during a level. My issue is that those attacks are never talked about. You are given information on each new weapon that is opened to you, but the special attacks are never talked about. Sure you can find the information from the main menu, but that just doesn't seem obvious. There's also the fact that the micro transactions that are in this game revolve around getting more gems, and to me there's never ever going to be a reason to purchase those gems, I collect enough of them in game, and if you REALLY want to get more you can just redo a level and get more than enough that way. 

So here you go my final conclusion for this game, unless you are desperate for a tower defense game look elsewhere, as I stated before this game's potential was botched, and even though it might be corrected down the road there's just too many other games coming out every day for many to come back and give it a second chance. This game gets a 5.8 out of 10.


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The Battle Cats

Are you looking for a real-time tower defense strategy game that has a heavy cat influence attached to it on the Android platform? Well then do we have a game for you. The Battle Cats is just that. You will have to take on waves upon waves of enemies, trying to conquer each side-scroller level to advance to the next area.

Now of course there is a twist, this is not a game that you can just get into and never pop out of, there is some micro-transactions involved. There is a specific amount of energy that you'll be saddled with that will of course end your gaming session once it has been depleted. Now of course there are ways to purchase more energy, but to be honest I was totally okay with just playing with the allotment I was given.

You will battle through different areas of the world, each with potentially a different amount of energy required to start, and in each level you will also notice that the enemy tower might be closer or further away than in a previous level. 

As you play through the levels you have the chance of unlocking more cats to help increase your potency and your survival rate as you progress through the game. You will be collecting EXP points that will allow you to upgrade your different units, unlock new ones, and increase other aspects of your game.

When I say other aspects what I mean is that the tower has a single cannon that can change the tide of battle, but it has to warm up first. Through upgrades you can improve the damage, range, HP, and decrease the charge time. You can also increase the speed at which you gain the currency required to summon units, decrease the amount of time needed for the cool down of units, increase the amount of EXP gained through a level, and much more.

Since this game does run on limited energy, and micro-transactions you will also be gifted the daily login bonus that will allow you to potentially unlock new units, gain more EXP, gain power-ups that can be used for a single round of combat, or perhaps gain some Cat Food. Cat Food is basically the in game special currency that will allow you some extra changes or upgrades that you wouldn't be able to do with just EXP that you have accumulated.

So I guess lets get down to how I like this game... For the most part this game is enjoyable. The units are a little bit simplistic when it comes to art style, they are literally a 2D animated unit that has a black borders and is white (although there are a couple of exceptions that add a bit of color to the design), but the thing is that because of this art style it makes thing flow better. I do like the fact that you are not facing off carbon copies of what you have in your "army" you will be facing completely different units from your cats, there will be dogs, snakes, penguins, rhinos, and more. 

Speaking of units when you look at the description of some of your units that you will have at your disposal you will notice that there is some wording about red enemies, black enemies, etc. I have yet to discover what exactly the advantages are, I feel like all the units basically fair the same against all the enemies that I face. I feel like you do need a variety of units on the field, but I have never really needed to deeply strategize about what I want to use to pit my army against my opponent. I basically stuck with the units that I found advantageous to the way I play and I've stuck with them, upgrading them whenever I've accumulated enough EXP.

This game is not going to be for everyone, and there is a good deal of what I feel are random pop ups that definitely detract from the game, but for the time I have, ie the energy I have to spend, this is a solid game that definitely is fun to play from time to time. This is not, in my opinion, a game where I'm constantly waiting for energy refreshes to occur, this is a game where when I'm in the mood I might hop in and play through all my energy or maybe I just play through a level or two before leaving it be for a good amount of time. So with that being said I'm going to give this game a 7.9 out of 10.

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