New Salem - Card Board Game Review


New Salem is a deception game for 3-8 players.  Like many social deduction games, there’s a “good” and “evil” team.  Unlike other social deduction games, you don’t always win by virtue of deducing each other’s identities  You have to compete with your own team members to see who has the most points at the end.  It’s a delicate balance, though, as your team still has to win!

Each player receives a righteous “good” or witch “bad” card.  There are multiple rounds - we always had five - where you draft the cards desired.  The witches are trying to get enough pestilence points from the cards to win, whereas the righteous players have to keep pestilence below a certain threshold.  Meanwhile, cards give certain points creating a dynamic where I may be righteous but the cards to give me points also create pestilence.  What to do?!?  I appreciate the drafting mechanism because it gives people like me - who aren’t the best at social clues - another method of deduction by being able to decipher the cards passed to me and what the player I passed cards to keeps or passes.

After the drafting phase is complete, all players lay down all their cards at once putting into effect the pestilence or hope points their cards designate.  Of course, one may consider this an obvious way to deduce a person’s roll, but you also have to consider a player may only be passed cards that have nothing to do with their roles or, of course, they may be paying certain cards to throw people off their scent.

Now, the reason being able to deduce a player’s role doesn’t mean victory is because the game’s really about pestilence points (witches need a certain amount to win) and then the point values from the card if your team wins.  In my first game, I was the witch.  I immediately gave it away by purchasing a certain card.  Even so, players were still forced to play enough pestilence cards that, combined with my cards, I won.

Players who are really into social deduction games like Werewolf and Resistance may not appreciate New Salem because deducing a person’s role doesn't necessarily mean victory.  However, I like the add drafting & point systems allowing players of all social deduction skills to have fun and succeed.  Overall, New Salem is definitely a game I’d try - even if social deduction games aren’t your forte.


Totem Forge Review


Totem Forge, for iOS devices, is one of those games that is deceptive in that it looks like it's going to be easy and people will probably get tired of it quickly. The thing is that this game is one that even after truly understanding the single mode that this game presents I can't stop playing it. 

You see, this game is all about placing the objects you have the bottom row of the screen in such a way that you make matches while trying to avoid adding objects that don't match causing the play area to move one row down. As you play through the game you're going to notice that you'll have to pay more attention to what is on the board as more twists are added. You'll have to deal with gold nuggets, angry totems, and more. 

This is the kind of game that once you feel like you've mastered it you're going to feel like you hit a brick wall when things change up just enough to keep it interesting. Now I'm not saying that this game is for everyone,but if you give it a try you might find that this game has more to offer than you'd first expect. Oh, and before I forget, you do have a couple of chances to correct the error of letting the stones reach the bottom of the screen, and if you can clear everything up for a long enough time you will start regaining those extra chances.

The only real quirk about this game is that for some reason the game ignores the volume setting on your device. So even if you have the device muted you're going to have to turn down the volume once the game starts. I'm not exactly sure how the developers pulled off this trick, but periodically forgetting about this does cause some embarrassing moments when the game's sounds start playing and if you're in a place where you probably shouldn't be playing games... Well, I think you know what I'm getting at.

The game is easy to pick up, it is challenging, and you're going to keep coming back to it. So I think it is safe to say that you're going to want to have a spot on your device so that you can have this game available at the drop of a hat. This game gets a 9.2 out of 10.


SkyHill Review

Many might recall that about a year ago I reviewed this game for the PC, well it turns out that the developers behind this game ported the game over to iOS. So you know I had to get my hands on it to see if the quality dropped or the experience changed. I'm happy to report that the randomly generated rooms, the adventure, the survival, the crafting, basically every aspect of the game is intact. Not only that but it feels natural on an iOS device. 

You are just your average guy who decides to stop in a hotel for the night. You awake to discover a nuclear bomb has gone off and you are on the top floor of the hotel, floor 100 to be exact. You will have to make your way down all the floors to make it out of the building and perhaps gain a better place to survive the fallout. There's only one problem, you don't have the elevator key and there seems to be monsters dotted throughout the hotel.

In SkyHill no games are the same. Sure there will always be 100 floors, and each floor will contain a elevator and stairs area and then two rooms, but what is in those rooms, what are in those halls, who might be lurking in the shadows, all of that is unpredictable. There will be times where the going goes smoothly, there will also be times where things couldn't go any worse.

You see there is one other thing that you have to account for and that is that you not only have to keep an eye on your health but on your hunger as well. You will need medical items, or rest to keep yourself healthy enough to keep going, but you're going to need to remember to feed yourself otherwise there is no amount of medicine or sleep that will keep you alive.

There are many different endings to the game as well, so even if you somehow find your way all the way to the bottom don't expect to find the ending you think you'll have. I've got to be honest this game works really well on a portable device, it is the type of game you can pick up and put down, but more than likely once you start you're going to want to keep going until you get in a jam. 

If you were waiting for this game to be on something other than PC, and you need to get it right now, seriously after seeing my score click on the link above and just buy the game. This game gets a 9.1 out of 10.


Kubo A Samurai Quest Review

Kubo A Samurai Quest is a game that comes straight from the highly successful movie Kubo and The Two Strings. In this iOS game you will have to battle in different ways utilizing a match 3 mechanic. You will have to harness the ability hidden within origami creatures in order to come out victorious.

There are a number of different types of levels that you will have to battle through. You will run into levels that will have you collect a certain amount of a specific color(s). You will also have to deal with levels that will have you trying to reach for a high score. There's also a type of levels that you will have to match a certain amount of a specific color, and after you have done that the color needed changes, but you have to be fast because you only have so long. The final type of level that you will have to deal with are origami creature battles. 

The creature battles are your average affair of trying to have the stronger creatures and of course the correct affinity (water, fire, earth, etc) to deal maximum damage. You will take turns with the CPU to try to create matches that will defeat your enemy. There are matches that can be made to replenish your health, attack your enemy, and power up your special attack.

One of the ways that you can help make sure that you have the strongest and the best is that you try to get origami boxes. Inside these boxes could be origami creatures. If you collect enough of a certain type you will have the ability to power them up to the next evolution. Now of course it isn't that easy, you'll also have to have enough coins to pay for the evolution, and the amount needed will only increase as you go through the game.

Alright, so now that I've laid out what the game is and how it works, lets get down to the part that most of you have come to read about. Let's talk about is this game worth my time or not. Well, personally there are definitely some things about this game that I really enjoy, but there are also some things that drive me nuts. 

Let's talk about the good to start. I'm always up for a puzzle game that throws a couple of wrinkles and twists into play. I also like that there are different creatures that you get to collect and each one feels unique when using them in combat.

Here's the deal, this is a free to play game, and of course this game definitely has micro-transactions in it. You will have 5 energy, or 5 pieces of origami paper that will slowly replenish over time. You will use 1 piece of paper per level to attempt it, and no matter if you win or lose they are going to take that paper away from you. As I've stated SOOO many times before, when it comes to games that have potentially very short levels I feel absolutely robbed when I can only play 5 attempts within a 10ish minute span. I'm looking for more bang for my buck (well not buck because I didn't spend anything, but you get the idea). The thing is because of the sheer amount of origami creatures coupled with the number of different affinities, and the very limited amount of playing time in a session I just don't see how people are going to stick around long enough to even think about spending some money in the in-app store.

As much as I would like to say that this is a game you should get because of the movie, you might just be better off watching this amazing movie. Sorry, but even as a free-to-play game, there's just not enough here to sink your teeth into before you're going to have to deal with the micro-transactions to "really" get to play, and that, in my book, is something that didn't truly get completely thought out or tested. This game gets a 5.1 out of 10.


Two or More Review

Two or More is a free-to-play game in which you will be trying to draw a line to all blocks of the same color. You will be restricted to go in only up, down, right, and left directions, and you'll find that there are going to be plenty of times that you wish you were playing a game that allowed you to knock out the same connected colors instead of drawing the lines.

The problems with this game are numerous. The first big one is that this game really doesn't differentiate itself from any other matching game out there. 

You have 3 modes to play around with. The first is the classic mode where you are trying to get X amount of points to advance to the next level. The second is the 5 Steps mode where you will have to try to obtain the target number within 5 moves. The last is the 60 Second mode where you will try to collect as many points as you can. So as you can see all these modes are what you would see in any generic matching game.

As I stated before, you will be drawing your lines on the screen to connect as many of a certain color to get points. There is some strategy to this because sometimes you don't want to collect all of that color. The reason is you want to set yourself up for a bigger score with another color. The thing is that the line drawing mechanism is BEYOND frustrating. Now I can partially blame my large hands for this, but there's something not quite right with this game. There have been many times where I've tried to quickly draw the lines and have found that the game didn't pick up either where I started from or where I ended. There's also the fact that if you stray off that color while holding your finger down to do the trace and try to come back you might not be able to continue the line you will have to carefully retrace your steps so that you don't get robbed of points. The final thing I will say about the line drawing is that there's actually a second or two after the level loads that you can't actually draw anything, or you cause one of the blocks to change to a drawing point and you have to tap on it again so that you can actually start to draw.

Now up to this point I have to say that I do feel a bit bad going after every little thing, but this next "wrinkle" to the game really unnerves me. As I stated at the top of the review, this is free-to-play, however, there is a way to do a one time charge to make the ads go away, and if I'm being honest this game isn't worth the unlock. The problem is that if you don't pay that price you are going to be so thoroughly bombarded by ads that you're probably going to quickly move on from this game. Here's an example situation:

You just lost the level:

  1. Watch this ad and restart the level
  2. Go to the home screen, oh and you'll have to watch an ad first
  3. Retry the game mode, oh and you'll have to watch an ad first

With the sheer amount of ads being pumped into my face I had to find out what the hell is going on, and it turns out that, in my opinion, the developer is making DAMN sure that they are going to get some money out someone playing this game, even if it's not from the actual player. You see there's a chance that the developer will make a little bit of change every time an ad plays, and they could get a bonus if someone were to actually click through the ad. So I feel like I've been tricked, or I'm doing work to get someone else paid, it is not a good feeling.

So here's my conclusion, this game does not do anything to separate itself from the rest of the pack. There are plenty of games just like this one, and some play much better, and are more enjoyable. There's also the fact that I have yet to come up against a game that even comes close to the amount of ads being pumped into it as such a frequent rate. This game gets a 2.1 out of 10.

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MonoChroma Review

I have to admit, I was super excited to see MonoChroma by Nowhere Studios jump over to the XBox One. To give you a bit of a refresher the game thrusts you into the role of a young boy wearing a red scarf. You will have to venture through a world that is basically different shades of whites, blacks, and greys. You will find that your little brother needs you to protect him if both of you are going to survive what is ahead.

Even though this is my second go-around playing this game I still have to say that I love the noir look of the graphics. There's a certain level of complexity to the environment but you won't feel like you're having to struggle with the environment to play the game.  The subtle use of red throughout the game makes certain things pop. 

The music in the game continues to, in my opinion, enhance the game in a subtle way. It made me think of an old crime story where you just know there's some sort of evil behind the scenes.

The controls once again were the weakest parts of the game. They continue to just not feel precise enough. There are times where you have to make a jump, grab a ledge, or some other feat just right to continue through the game, and it was just a smidge off, just enough where frustration could creep in, especially if after doing the exact same type of movement in the game, you got different outcomes.

This game has challenging puzzles throughout. There are puzzles where you will need to move platforms, you have to clear the way for something, you have to swing from something just perfectly, you have to climb, you have to sneak, you have to push and pull, and more. The thing that I enjoy, yet again while playing the game, was that there wasn't this ever growing curve of difficulty. That's not to say that there weren't puzzles that were difficult, but there was something about the way the puzzles were laid out that you never knew what type of obstacle you would run into next. I felt that there was this hidden balance where no matter the difficulty if you kept an open mind you were going to be able to complete the puzzle/obstacle.

If you are looking for a game that differs from your average game, one that uses a great art style, and challenges you to take actions that will draw you into a story filled with danger. This was a pleasure to play, I have to say that I enjoyed playing this game again, so with that I have to give this game an 8.6 out of 10.

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Puzzle Monster Quest Review

Puzzle Monster Quest, for the iOS, has had me hooked since the day I got my hands on it. Now it might have been the simple fact that I'm a sucker for RPGs with a puzzle component to it, or maybe it was the fact that coupled with that was a free price tag. In this game you will be creating a group of creatures/monsters/heroes to battle through different levels, special events, and group activities. 

You will get to level up your party to make them stronger, and eventually you will have the chance to see some of them evolve into an even stronger version of themselves. Now there is a catch with the leveling and evolving and that is that you have to sacrifice other creatures to accomplish the tasks. You will also notice that you have a limited amount of space that you get to work with when it comes to the number of creatures you can have in your inventory at one time.

Now the interesting thing is that your hero also gets some love from the leveling up and evolving mechanics in the game, but this time it doesn't take sacrificing creatures. You will be able to create weapons, armor, and helmets to better your character. Each of these items can be leveled up and/or evolved. To accomplish these tasks you will have to use ingredients that you have collected through your adventures in the game.

There is a lot to like about this game, you do burn energy to take on areas, and there isn't a set number of energy needed to complete the levels, so you'll have to keep an eye out for that. There's also the daily quests, tasks to complete, and the daily sign in bonus that will definitely keep you coming back at least for a short time to rake in some of the low hanging fruit. 

The battle mechanics work like this, you will have your character on a grid with different colors on it. You will then draw a path of like colors around the board, once you've gone as far as you can you will simply lift up your finger and your hero will walk the path. Now you must be wondering what about the creatures in my party, well if the color you are walking on is the same as one, some, or all of the creatures in your party they will walk the path as well doing damage along the way. 

Speaking of damage, there are several different types of damage found in this game, you will do damage simply by walking by an enemy, but if you walk enough in one shot you can unleash a special attack, this also applies to your creatures. So I think it's pretty obvious you're going to want to try to find the longest paths and walk them so you can unleash true power. There's also one other thing, you see as you are moving around the board you're also accumulating color points and if you have enough of a color you can unleash a special attack, or a creature can unleash a special attack. The best part about this is that each creature and your hero have a separate collection pool. So if you have a bunch of fire creatures and you walk along a red path all of them get the same amount to fill up their gauges and when one uses their special it doesn't affect the others.

I will say this, it does require an internet connection, so there's not going to be any playing of the game if your connection sucks. That being said, this is a fun game, there are TONS of different types of creatures, there are different special events that will unlock special creatures and ingredients for you. Actually, every time you complete an area you do get a random selection of creatures, gold, and ingredients, so don't think that the only way to get stuff is special events.

Here's the deal, if you like match-3 games with RPG mechanics and a ton of different party customizations to play around with, and the chance to find ultra rare ingredients or creatures, you will eat this game up. I have to say that for me personally, it is a bit difficult to play energy based games, but this is one of the few that I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. This game gets a 9.2 out of 10

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