Fable Age Review: Match-3 Upon a Time

Apr 18, 2014

Match-3/RPG hybrids are cool. Always have been, always will be. Whether we’re talking Puzzle Quest, 10000000 or Puzzle & Dragons, there’s a flavor of puzzle-RPG out there for everyone. Fable Age is a game that plays closest to the latter, but don’t let that fool you – in a world of Puzzle & Dragons clones, Fable Age manages to take those familiar pieces and craft something that can stand on its own two feet.

Fable Age

The debut mobile project from developer Blue Tea Games, it’s no surprise that the team chose to explore the world of myths and fairy tales. It’s a theme that they’re more than familiar with, having developed the popular hidden object series Dark Parables (which never failed to get top marks from our reviewers here at Gamezebo – The Final Cinderella even netted a perfect 5/5).

But while Dark Parables took a rather sinister tone, Fable Age remains playful. Bright colors and cartoony designs rule the day.

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RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile Review: Stop the ride, I want to get off!

Apr 17, 2014

Digital marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play are governed by a set of unwritten rules. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile from Atari breaks a biggie by charging players admission for a game packed with the waiting and premium currency purchases typical of a free-to-play title.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile has another problem: It's just not very good. It's not unplayable by any means, but there's little about the game that differentiates it from other mobile games based around developing and running an amusement park. That's kind of a sad thing to have to say about a title that bears the legendary RollerCoaster Tycoon moniker.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile

Nevertheless, build you must. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile puts you in charge of a patch of land that you need to nurture into a thriving destination of fun and games. If you don't, the mayor will turn the lot into a strip mall. Boo to shopping! Hooray for riding the teacups after eating corn dogs, and other bad decisions made in the name of good times!

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FarmVille 2: Country Escape Review: Portable Plantation

Apr 17, 2014

Along with death and taxes, the only other certainty in life is that casual gamers love farming. It’s a good thing too, because otherwise Zynga’s FarmVille 2: Country Escape would be showing up unfashionably late to a party the company started itself with FarmVille back in the halcyon days of Facebook gaming. As it is, this fully mobile installment has much improved graphics and a fair bit of charm, but at the expense of the creative freedom that made the original such a monster hit.

FarmVille 2: Country Escape

This is the part where I’d usually go into the setting and object of the game, but this one should require little explanation. You’ve got a family farm to fix up, so you’ve got to get busy growing crops and harvesting resources from plants and animals, most of which can be crafted into more complicated and lucrative products at the appropriate stations: the dairy churns out milk products, the windmill can grind grain into flour, etc.

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Moebius: Empire Rising Review: An adventure worthy of the name Jane Jensen

Apr 15, 2014

Moebius: Empire Rising has an impressive adventure game pedigree thanks to creator Jane Jensen’s genre-defining work at Sierra, and on the Gabriel Knight series specifically.  Her commitment to quality writing, characters, and plot in each Gabriel Knight entry opened the point-and-click adventure up to explorations of deeper, more mature subjects that have persevered through modern entries like those from Wadjet Eye.  Moebius maintains this focus on writing and story, playing out like a page-turner mystery that also happens to be filled with ingenious puzzles and challenges.

The story revolves around our protagonist, Malachi Rector, a world-renowned genius who utilizes his photographic memory and knowledge of history to appraise priceless antiques and expose fakes.  We learn early on that this is no desk job: Malachi travels the globe to meet the needs of his clients and has been sent to the hospital by some who have received less savory appraisals. 

Moebius: Empire Rising

At the start of Moebius, Malachi is approached by a government agency, FITA, to investigate the death of a young woman in Venice.  He is not expected to solve the murder, but simply research the woman’s life and use his talents to decide if her biography parallels that of anyone in history.  Of course, this unique assignment becomes the gateway to a much larger mystery and conspiracy that ensnares Malachi and the player for seven chapters.

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Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Review: Simpsons did it (better)

Apr 15, 2014

The Simpsons: Tapped Out was released for iOS in the first quarter of spring 2012, and later on Android in 2013. Not only has the Springfield-themed city-building game remained a consistently popular download since its launch dates, but it's also one of the top-monetizing free games on the App Store and Google Play.

So it's not at all surprising that TinyCo looked over in EA's direction and said, "Say - look at what they're doing!" before taking pictures and frantically scribbling on a pad of paper. What is surprising is that it's taken this long for a Simpsons-style mobile game to get wrapped up in a Family Guy skin and slapped on the digital market.

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff

Sadly, the wait hasn't been worth it. With its aggressive panhandling for in-app purchases, long wait times, and (mostly) flat jokes, playing Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is as sad as watching Rupert the teddy bear grow soggy in a torrential rainstorm.

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Evolution: Battle for Utopia Review: Variety is the spice of life

Apr 11, 2014

In my time spent sampling the many, many freemium flavors on the App Store I feel like I’ve gotten familiar with just about everything that’s out there. And yet here I find myself somewhat smitten with Evolution: Battle for Utopia - a game that doesn’t so much reinvent the wheel as it tries to be a whole bunch of different wheels all at once. The weird thing is it actually kind of works.

Evolution: Battle for Utopia

While on a mission to colonize the planet Utopia, the Commander and his crew are shot down while landing and their escape pods scatter them across the land. A land filled with all sorts of very large and aggressive animals, nomadic scavengers, and plenty of other nasty hazards. The Commander will have to fight his way through hordes of enemies in order to reunite his crew, begin terraforming the planet, and start restoring order. And that’s all within the first thirty minutes or so.

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile Review: Building a Mystery

Apr 11, 2014

The first two episodes of The Wolf Among Us got me thinking about how interactive media can transcend games. After all, Telltale’s take on the world of Fables plays more like an interactive film than a traditional point-click-adventure.

With episode three, a new thought dawned on me: as much as Telltale’s approach to the medium can reinvent the way we tell stories, The Wolf Among Us is an equally brilliant example of how well suited this new form of storytelling is to mysteries.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile

Picking up where the cliffhanger in Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors left off, my initial thoughts weren’t of what’s next, but what came before. I found myself piecing together the bits and pieces of information I’d been fed, weighing them against the narrative, and starting to draw my own conclusions. Do I think their suspect is the guilty party? Why or why not? What evidence have I been shown to support it? And if I don’t think they are, what do the clues that have been revealed tell me about who the real killer might be?

It’s the digital equivalent of an Agatha Christie novel.

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Trials Frontier Review: A fantastic ride with frustrating free-to-play elements

Apr 10, 2014

The world wrapped around Trials Frontier is full of dust, rocks, and rust. Only the bravest, hardiest souls are capable of taming the land from the backs of their bikes. They ride hard while their motors rasp through the shimmering heat. They leap for glory, pop wheelies for justice…

…and then are forced to sit on the sidelines while their depleted fuel stocks slowly refill. They tap their feet and check their watch while an instrumental rendition of "Spanish Flea" pipes from the background.

Trials Frontier

Trials Frontier from RedLynx and Ubisoft is a mobile iteration of the Trials biking series. There was some worry about what that would entail, and it turns out said worries aren't totally unjustified. Trials Frontier has an intriguing setting, a good sense of humor and lots of stunt bike action, but its free-to-play trappings are sure to turn off hardcore fans of the Trials games.

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Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance Review: Warhammer? More like Snorehammer

Apr 8, 2014

Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance is something called a "lane strategy game," and yes, that's "lane," not "lame," although truth be told... well, never mind. I don't want to spoil any surprises, and it's not an awful game by any stretch. It's just not very good, as either a strategy game or a Warhammer title.

"Lane strategy games," as far as I can tell, are those in which enemy forces approach one another on a battlefield composed of – you guessed it – lanes, meeting and clashing in a kind of a "Showdown at the O.K. Bowling Alley." Plants vs. Zombies is probably the best-known (and quite possibly the only known) example of the genre, and it's the game that most quickly springs to mind as a comparison. Sadly, that's not because Storm of Vengeance shares that game's wit, artistry or excitement – it doesn't. The resemblance is purely mechanical and, as I soon discovered, somewhat superficial.

Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengeance

Rather than an attack-and-defend scenario, in this game the player and the AI-controlled enemy send forces against each other, one side representing the Dark Angel Space Marines and the other the Ork Waaagh!, each occupying opposite ends of a battlefield composed of five lanes. Units are created by collecting and spending resources – Redemption for the Space Marines, Teef for the Orks – and can be immediately sent on their way or stored, in very limited numbers, for later use.

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Monument Valley Review: A beautiful journey through an impossible world

Apr 7, 2014

Monument Valley is a work of art.  Its intricate, delicately crafted levels are masterpieces that exceed their M.C. Escher inspirations.  Where Escher designed 2D representations of impossible-yet-operational architecture, Monument Valley opens that idea up to a 3D world that must withstand scrutiny from every angle as well as direct manipulation by the viewer.  Paths that appear elevated and inaccessible from one direction become stepping stones when rotated.  Supporting archways are actually stairs once flipped.  Every part of the towering structures fit together like crisp, fresh out of the box jigsaw pieces, and yet they can be turned and twisted to create dozens of new pictures that are just as unified and smooth.

Monument Valley

Your interaction with these impossible structures is twofold: at times, you will manipulate them directly, turning cranks or sliding pieces of the architecture to achieve tactile, immediate changes.  Other restructurings require characters within the towers themselves to step on buttons to elicit responses, ranging from doors opening to entire sections of the world moving.  All of these actions have one goal: get our protagonist, Ida, to the platform at the end of the stage.

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