John Woo’s reputation as a director and filmmaker was built on graceful action set-pieces and high-stakes melodrama. Unfortunately, his first foray into mobile gaming — Chillingo’s thuddingly titled Bloodstroke — has neither. You play as a private security contractor, codenamed Lotus, whose task is to escort a brilliant, nervous doctor through a series of levels stretching from Hong Kong to Beijing — all while dispatching the roving bands of gangsters, hitmen, and thugs trying to kill him.
With a name like Marvel Run Jump Smash!, it’s fair to expect something lively and exciting — which isn’t typically a tall task for the iconic Marvel Comics heroes featured in this side-scrolling endless runner. But despite taking its cues from genre greats like Jetpack Joyride and Punch Quest (and pairing that blend with a cute cartoonish aesthetic), this licensed affair can’t help but feel dull and dopey, thanks in large part to its laboriously slow progression system.
If you’re in an area currently blitzed by heavy snowfall, you’ll likely appreciate the distraction offered up by the frantically challenging Dawn of the Plow. Taking the wheel of a pixelated plow in a lo-fi world of cars, snow, and asphalt, you’ll battle to keep the roads clear for the never-ending influx of traffic. It’s at once silly, hectic fun and frustrating brutality, punctuated by chirpy chiptune music.
The original Dungeon Keeper series on PC turned the tables on old-school fantasy conventions. Rather than being the do-gooder hero, you instead took the role of a dark overseer tasked with carving out a vast subterranean realm and populating it full of insidious traps, not to mention evil minions primed for slaughtering virtuous warriors. Opening the floodgates and sending the good guys to their doom was a great change from the norm, which made for lots of fun and oft-hilarious moments. Dungeon Keeper on iOS — a free-to-play reboot of sorts — streamlines things enough that it's a different beast from its predecessors, but the series' trademark humor and absorbing lair crafting remains blissfully intact.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch reconstructs the tried and true gaming tradition of inescapable challenge in a new, orange cephalopod body – and a three-piece suit. It's exactly as endearing as it sounds, occasional irritating objective aside, delivering a pleasantly confounding stumble through mollusk fatherhood.
Featuring a battle system that feels like the perfect blend of fighting and role-playing encounters, Super Nintendo classic Tales of Phantasia was kept out of Western gamers' hands until it was ported to the Game Boy Advance nearly a decade later. Now almost 20 years after its original release, this classic Japanese RPG makes its way to the App Store in a universal iOS release. Unfortunately for those expecting a seamless port, its new free-to-play format and associated changes make it a less-than-enjoyable trip back in time.
Game Dev Story and Dungeon Village developer Kairosoft very nearly returns to form with its shogun-themed strategy and city-management hybrid, Ninja Village — but a promising setup and compelling core mechanic too soon devolve into tedious grinding. Managing a village full of ninjas trained in the art of war, your task is to build up a thriving local economy while battling rival lords, all in an effort to help the shogun reunify Japan.
Becoming a teenager is never easy, but it's even less so when you've spent your life trapped on a spaceship with Fisher-Price décor and an omniscient, obsessively overprotective mom-puter. And don't even get us started on how tough coming of age can be when you've been selected as your village's maiden sacrifice to a giant, mysterious monster. These predicaments couldn't be more different, and yet they're intertwined in Broken Age, which follows space-boy Shay Volta and sacrifice-girl Vella Tartine through goofy parallel quests to subvert their destinies.
The heroes of The Banner Saga, the debut effort from a three-man upstart called Stoic, are rarely heroic: one is dashed against an outcropping of boulders after he falls off a cliff, while another assaults a young girl and takes an arrow through the eye for his trouble. The backdrop of The Banner Saga may be Armageddon — or Ragnarok, in keeping with the game's Norse theme — but its characters are merely, tragically human.
In Fear I Trust is the first game of its kind from Chillingo, but it feels a bit like playing through the third or fourth sequel in a horror movie series. That apex point in a cinema franchise tends to be when the production is nicely polished, but the concept begins to feel bland and generic. In Fear I Trust is similarly a well-made but somewhat forgettable thriller. Most of that responsibility belongs to the story, which feels unfocused and scattershot even within the short span of these first two episodes. Without a clear indication of what exactly is going on, it crams in spooky clichés by the bucketful.