By Nate Adcock on Sat, 09/28/2013
This was a good all-around gaming week: Three decent games, and only one featuring detested in-app purchases (IAPs). Top billing goes to Orborun ($1.99), which is a mind-melting 3D physics puzzler with multi-level high-flying courses and tricky obstacles. Gods VS Humans ($1.99) is a different strategy game that pits you against ancient humans that are trying to dethrone you as their deity—also great for the whole family. Asphalt 8: Airborne ($0.99), previously reviewed by Siva Om, is about as freaking cool a race game as you can find in the known universe.
Orborun is an awesome tilt game, if you want to call it that (the levels provide the somewhat easier on-screen tap-control option.) The object is to circumnavigate a sort of Tron-like 3D gerbil run (with a robot or "orbot" capable of folding up into a ball and rolling) without falling or rolling off to go crashing to the lab floor. You can also collect power ups and bonuses along the way.
The challenges are simple at first, but quickly become more difficult—requiring serious tilt-tap eye coordination and timing. Mainly you roll forward following the Newtonian laws of physics. (though you can reverse course in some cases.) You can't stop rolling, though you can slow down, and sometimes the robot reaches a long straight stretch and unfurls to a running version.
Each level uniquely inspires the player to use course features to grab the goodies and successfully hit the exit portal at the end. Some of the coolest gizmos include springboard-like platforms that launch your robot high in the air to land on another section of course, or a portal point that will instantly beam your robot to different course sections (sometimes back to a previous section). The graphics remind me a little of the simple clean stylings of the hit game Portal. Orborun is cleverly done, and as addictive as any puzzler I have played thus far on iOS. I give Orborun high marks on both style and gameplay!
Gods VS Humans
Goofy and simple came to mind at first play, to be replaced with mildly interesting and engaging once I was introduced to the full supernatural toolkit and the human worshipper activity. GVH requires the player to use the tools to either appease or thwart the busy human building endeavors. The game is a Wii game ported to iOS.
True to their nature, the humans seem hell-bent on doing stuff, and if they ultimately complete the tower levels (and send up the guy with the horns), it will end your godly reign. I didn't fully understand the happy-effect meter in the game: Some levels seem more about dropping the hammer, while others seem more about being nicer—keep the humans too happy and confused to do anything I guess? Not sure, so it was an aspect I think needs work, but you can also keep humans occupied by scaring them or just smashing them and the tower with bolts of lightning and fire (other similar powers are added, and you can play different mythologies).
Some cute comedy adds a nice touch: sending out the pin-up dancing girl to distract workers made me laugh, for example. The game also gets a big plus sign because it has no IAPs (same with Orborun above).
GVH is basically a race between you, as you zap the tower in various ways, and the humans, as they fix and complete the tower.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Ashalt 8: Airborne is, how do you say? Sick... Maybe stupid sick! Not sure I have the fresh lingo, but it is whatever passes for cool, trick, fresh, crazy good—pick your embellishment! Siva raved about this game for good reason. As a racing game, A8 gives your car wings to fly (not literal wings, but never mind...), and the ramps and jumping are only half of it!
You want drift? Yeah, drift is in the house. Cars and 18-wheelers coming at you while you race? Check. Twisty crash hazards, and nitro boosts? Check. Eye-popping 3D graphics and effects? Check. Great thrashing soundtrack and varied sound effects? Check, and double check! The game almost seems too darn fun (drive a car 500 mph in a screeching street race, flip it a hundred feet in the air, and have it land on the tires unharmed?), but for all its eye-watering glam, it does include the hated IAPs (which are not required to advance.) But hey, it's still a mucho awesome racer for $0.99!
I give all three games reviewed this week a thumbs up for being solid, fun, unique, and compelling (even exciting.) Extra credit goes to Orborun and Asphalt. I still can't say any one of them knocked my beloved Trigger Fist off the "most played WIPTW title of all time," but I'm just getting hooked on Orborun, so I have to give it time. You can grab any of them at the links above.
Orborun draws the player into harder and harder levels!
Gods VS Humans combines cheeky and fun together into strategy bliss!
Asphalt 8: Airborne is adrenaline-soaked racing at its best!
GVH could use a bit of development in the god-human social interaction department, but then it is simply a port
Asphalt 8 gets a small con for including IAPs, but a big-name racing title without IAPs would be like being lucky enough to be attacked by a shark without teeth!