Chess, strategy, and role-playing meet those ASCII computer adventures that you once obsessed over as a kid.

It’s interesting how, in this age of advanced gaming technology, we arm ourselves with portable systems and smartphones only to buy the same simple-looking, merciless games that made us bleed and cry in the age of the Commodore 64. Of course, there’s a reason for that: sometimes it feels good to get flogged by a game. It’s like being pushed over and laughed at by a bully. We stagger to our feet because, man, we gotta prove something.

And anyway, as 100 Trials demonstrates, puzzle-heavy dungeon-crawlers will never go out of style, no matter how many generations of computers, consoles, and cell phones come and go, and no matter how close we come to throwing our phones across the room in frustration.

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100 Trials is a follow-up to 100 Rogues, another fantasy iOS title from Fusion Reactions. There’s a story to go along with the game, something about confirming whether or not the “last wild Satan” from 100 Rogues is truly dead or not, but it’s insubstantial (though it must be said that “Last Wild Satan” is a bitchin’ name for a metal band). The story for 100 Trials is not important. What’s more important is finding a way to survive the game’s (ahem) 100 Trials.

Good luck with that. Overcoming your 100 separate trials requires brains, strategy, forethought, and a little knowledge of what’s on your side; guns, projectiles, magic, etc. Playing through 100 Trials may in fact remind you of a game of chess combined with the aforementioned ASCII-based Commodore 64 adventure games of old. You must navigate traps and figure out how to best enemies, and you must do it one move at a time. You play through the game as four different characters, so you also have to keep in mind that what works for one character class may not work for another.

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100 Trials is a rough game – oh boy, is it rough – but it’s not unfair. You can examine each challenge before you engage in it, which includes looking up the skills you have at your disposal for each scenario and reading up on the rules and goals. You can also get a sneak peek at the enemies you’re up against, and hopefully get a hint on their weaknesses (can they attack you if you’re right next to them? Are they immobile?). By assembling the scraps of information you’re given, you can get a fuzzy picture about how to best meet your goal. Of course, you might simply fail and try again. Then again. Then again.

100 Trials will make you howl in frustration, but when you finally conquer a challenge on your twentieth try, the feeling of elation is unmatched. Even so, the game’s difficulty will drive many players away, making 100 Trials something of a niche title. It goes without saying that if you liked 100 Rogues, you must play the follow-up. If, however, you’ve been pining for an iron game that mixes strategy with laying and a dash of humor, 100 Trials will keep you busy for a long, long time.