Well, it’s time for another review of a G5 hidden object game. Don’t worry, though, because this won’t sound just like the last few that I wrote. It’s not that I didn’t like The Ghost Archives: Haunting Of Shady Valley HD (Free with $6.99 unlock), because I am enjoying it so far. Compared to a number of their other releases in the last couple of years, however, this one is fairly average when it comes to game play. There was also an odd bug that I ran into that did not make me very happy, but more on that later.
Most of the time, I review a game because either I ask a developer if they want a review or because someone asks me to write a review. Occasionally, however, I just feel compelled to write a review on my own, usually because I simply can’t stop playing the game that I’m reviewing. Beach Hero (Free with IAP) is just such as case. I honestly probably wouldn’t have even given the game a second thought had I not coming across it while compiling a list for a different article; but ever since I first launched the game, I find myself spending more time with it than just about anything else on my device. As a result I decided it was time to share it with iPhone Life's readers.
I was a big fan of iCoolgeek’s first adventure game effort, Tesla’s Electric Mist, so excitement coursed through my veins when the chance came to beta test their second outing, Mount Olympus ($0.99). While I enjoyed the experience, the game just didn’t grab me like Electric Mist did. Now that I’ve completed the game I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I enjoyed playing through the game, but there was a certain unevenness about the different chapters; and in the end, I never much cared about my end objective, which was to locate the missing gods. Ultimately, Mount Olympus just didn’t have the same spark as its predecessor.
One thing I love about virtual shelves like the App Store is that you can often find items years after they have been released. When they’re good, that’s always a bonus. I wrote this review more than a year and a half ago, but I hate wasting things, so I figured I’d go ahead and publish it despite the age. The Lord of the Roads ($0.99) is still available on the App Store; and when I fired it up again, just to be sure that I wasn’t overinflating things, it turned out the game is still just as fun as it was back then. Plus it runs quite well on my iPod Touch 4. If you don’t get the significance of that, you’ve obviously never had the “privilege” of owning an iPod Touch 4.
With G5 and Big Fish Games on the iOS scene there is certainly no shortage of quality hidden-object and adventure games for your Apple-centric gadgets. With all the AAA titles available, though, it does make it a lot harder for the small developer to compete. Tales Of the Sanctuary: Chapter 1 ($0.99) makes an admirable attempt at doing something different, and I will admit to gleaning an odd sense of enjoyment from the game. In the end though, the game felt a bit too piecemeal for me. A bit more coherence would have gone a long way with this tale.
When I first played Lost Echo ($2.99) I got to the trigger event that causes everything else to unfold and while the game seemed like it had a lot of potential it didn’t really hook me. Now that I’ve revisited the game several months later I’ve realized that it’s actually a really interesting interactive story. Much like a chapter of the Twilight Zone mythos, this sci-fi romp manages to provide more adult-oriented themes à la Cognition: Episode 1 or Yesterday. I think it has a lot to offer adventure game fans, though it might not be as “hands on” as one might like.
I feel I should state from the beginning that I am not a fan of “free-to-play” games (F2P) that are driven by in-app purchases (IAP). Some day I might just write an article about that, but for now let’s just say that I don’t really like the concept of continually paying for one game (I’m not a fan of massively multi-player online games [MMOs] for the same reason). Anyway, despite those feelings I decided to spend some time with Pet Zoometery, and while there are some features about the game that I do enjoy, in the end it feels just like any other F2P: it’s fun for a while, but ultimately gets tedious and somewhat stale.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Back when graphics were first starting to take shape for computer games, Sierra set the standard for adventures with titles like King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. The fact that you could actually see your character follow your commands along with the immense amount of dialog made the experience feel as much like an interactive movie as anything. Phoenix Online Studios clearly understands what it takes to make this style of game, and as much as I loved the old Sierra games, I’d say the Cognition series kicks things up a notch or two. More realistic characters, adult subject matter (in a mature way, not like Leisure Suit Larry), and a focus on exploration and discovery (instead of finding an obscure key in a tree to unlock some mystic chest) give Cognition Episode 1 more of a Law & Order bent than anything. It’s just too bad this intriguing story telling couldn’t have come with a better interface wrapped around it.
City Birds (free from $0.99, Nov. 27-29)
Matching fans are in for a treat should they decide to take City Birds for a spin. This game is pure casual action fun that’s not quite like anything I’ve played before on my iPad, and given the amount of games I have played, that says quite a bit. It’s easy to learn and quickly gets addictive. The problem is that once you’ve unlocked all the birds and completed all the challenges, which sadly doesn’t take as long as one would like, the game grows kind of stale. Hopefully updates that are in the works will address this issue so that this original game can remain fresh to its players for quite some time.
I used to start out just about every review of an online game making some sort of comment about how I don’t really like online games. I'm beginning to think that’s not really the case. What I don’t like are games where if you’re not in the “elite” you’re pretty much dead when you step out on the battlefield. I also don’t care for games where people pretty much expect you to chat or make the game as much about taunting as actually playing. Thankfully The Rats Online (free with IAP) handles all of these things in just the right manner. Its simple nature makes it easy to get into, and the nicely organized list of folks you need to exact revenge on makes it worth coming back in periodically to see how things are going.