Third Eye Crime: Act 1 Review: Foresight is 20/20

8 hours ago

A game. There’s always a game. On this particular night, rain spattering against the window so hard you’d think the big man upstairs had a score to settle, it wasn’t just any old game, however. This one, she was something special; the kind of game that grips you in a thrall, turning minutes into hours. The kind of game you know might be trouble, but which coyly beckons you to follow it into the wee hours of the morning. The kind of game where you know better, but say “yes” anyway. 

Ahem. 

Third Eye Crime: Act 1

All cinematic asides aside, Third Eye Crime is definitely not your run-of-the-mill mobile title. The self-styled “game noir” offers a refreshing take on top-down stealth mechanics, all while bathed in a gorgeous graphic novel aesthetic and accompanied by a smoky jazz soundtrack that will have you, too, concocting monologues in your head. Be warned, though: sometimes you’ll be tearing your hair from atop it as well. 

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The Blackwell Epiphany Review: A grand finale, no bones about it

Apr 24, 2014

What seems like just another day on the job for spirit-wrangling Rosa Blackwell turns out to be an adventure cumulative of everything she has experienced through her entire life. While The Blackwell Epiphany was my first experience with the series, it was clear in no time that the writers at Wadjet Eye Games were raising the stakes in Epiphany higher than they ever dared to raise them before. With guest appearances by characters from way back from the first game, The Blackwell Epiphany powerfully and poetically concludes a game series which has lasted nearly a decade.

The Blackwell Epiphany

The Blackwell Epiphany is a point-and-click adventure where players control two protagonists (Rosalinda "Rosa" Blackwell and her ghost sidekick, Joey) who are tasked with finding restless spirits and guiding them to the afterlife to finally find peace. While Epiphany does feature a few puzzles, a staple of the point-and-click genre, the majority of "puzzles" involve uncovering facts by grinding characters for information, and conducting online research through Rosa's smartphone. About halfway through the game I fell into the rhythm of searching online, checking with the police, and asking suspects about a new piece of information I had uncovered. By the end of Epiphany I felt like I was ready to be a paranormal investigator myself. 

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review: Does Whatever a Spider Can

Apr 23, 2014

Like a girl who can’t help dating bad boys, I’ve had my heart broken by Gameloft super hero titles before. More than once, in fact. So I went into The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fully prepared to be let down again, only to find that it’s really good. With slightly tighter controls, it could even be fantastic. Or amazing, if we want to keep the right adjectives with their respective franchises.

One thing that sets this game apart from its Gameloft brethren is that there’s no genre confusion. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is unabashedly an action-adventure game, thrilling in the freedom that the web-spinner has at swinging through New York and showing off his acrobatic skills at every chance.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spidey’s objectives in each level are a mix of open world encounters and planned events that drive the narrative. Thanks to a gang war that is engulfing New York, there’s no shortage of random crimes to stop, and the random missions do a good job mixing things up. You’ll find yourself stopping robberies, taking injured police officers to the hospital by webline and simply signing the occasional autograph for starstruck citizens.

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Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse - Episode 2 Review: It feels good to hit the road with old pals

Apr 22, 2014

Nico and George are back on the road with Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse - Episode 2. The previous episode of the fan-funded adventure game ended on a cliffhanger, with the conspiracy-loving duo barely escaping London with their lives. Episode 2 keeps up the pace by delving more into the mystery of La Maledicció, a stolen painting that allegedly harbors a world-changing secret.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse - Episode 2

The hefty length of Nico and George's newest adventure made it necessary for Revolution Software to split Broken Sword 5 in half. Episode2 plays much like Episode 1 as a result, meaning the latter retains the former's strengths and weaknesses alike. But Episode 2's story should keep you engaged through all its twists and turns, which is arguably the most important thing you can say about an adventure game.

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Hitman GO Review: Smart, Beautiful, Boring

Apr 22, 2014

Agent 47, or Jonathan Hitman as I like to call him, is an assassin with a heart. He may garrote goons with piano wires taken from actual pianos and dump their bodies in children's ball pits, but he usually does so for some contrive good reason. I think the previous games involved clones or …something?

You know what? It doesn't matter. Hitman GO is nothing like the games from which it derives. It's a board game - several board games, according to the main menu. You move the titular hitter of men across prescribed grids like a game piece while other pieces representing civilians and thugs of various orders patrol and/or survey the board to knock him over. The hitman always moves first, and moving into an opposing piece from behind or the sides will knock them over instead.

Hitman GO

That's literally all there is to the game. It's as minimalist as 47's own well-waxed dome, and far more appealing to look at than Timothy Olyphant's.

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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Review: The Art of Non-Sacrifice

Apr 21, 2014

I've already written about how much I love Hearthstone. I talked about how the game is a ballet of mathematic interactions glazed with Blizzard's trademark visual flair, production values and the World of Warcraft aesthetic. I probably said something about how the free-to-play elements are balanced with in-game currency that accrues at just the right speed to keep you from ever feeling obligated to spend real money.

I've admittedly fallen off my daily quest schedule quite hard in the months since Hearthstone's official release out of beta, but now it's on iPad. Now the game has changed.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Except that it hasn't, really, which is a good thing. It's a fantastic thing, as Hearthstone was already a fantastic game. The transition to a mobile platform hasn't changed that. In fact, it feels rather like the game has come home.

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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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