The Omega Mobile Games Roundup
Love it or hate it, mobile gaming has taken modern culture by storm. Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can join the gaming sphere with a few taps of the screen, and this wider audience has facilitated the creation of a greater range of games in smaller, easy-to-handle packages. This year I’ve been listening to recommendations here and there and checking out a few titles on my Android tablet, so I’d like to introduce and share my thoughts on a few of them.
Love Live! School Idol Festival (KLab, 2013, iOS/Android, Free-to-play)
It may come as no surprise that I play this pretty competent rhythm/card collecting game regularly. Boasting a large library of songs by the Love Live project’s idol group µ’s, and new tracks from the new group Aquors being added as they are released, School Idol Festival sees you selecting nine school idol cards in a team and tapping them in time to the music, with a series of slice-of-life visual novel-esque story vignettes gating progression and acquisition of content. The card-collecting element offers a wide range of variant characters from µ’s and Aquors, as well as a large cast of minor idols created for the game. Each card can be “idolized” to reveal alternate artwork and unlock the card’s full potential stats, and increasing your bond through continued use grants premium currency and smaller story sections. What is encouraging about School Idol Project is how well it handles the free-to-play model. Rare cards generally require premium currency to obtain, and while micro-transactions for this and other currency systems exist (and some are pretty pricey) it is fairly easy to build up the premium stuff through regular play, elevating SIF above a lot of the shady and insulting business practices that have infected the games industry of late. STATUS: STILL PLAYING
Monument Valley (Ustwo, 2014, iOS/Android/Windows Phone, Paid App)
A short-but-sweet puzzle game, Monument Valley sees the player guiding Princess Ida through a series of mazes whose geometry is founded on optical illusions; shifting and rotating sections of the level to create new impossible paths to the goal. The level design is highly creative, with each stage offering unique obstacles and solutions. The minimalist storyline unfolds with almost no dialogue and I found it strangely compelling despite it’s simplicity. At only ten levels it won’t take more than a couple of hours to complete, but it’s a very charming, almost zen experience, and an additional eight levels are available for purchase if you need some more content. Well worth checking out if you have a little spending money going free. STATUS: COMPLETED INITIAL TEN LEVELS
DEUL (Greenlight Games, 2015, iOS/Android/Windows Phone, Free-to-play)
DEUL is a simple game based around one-on-one gun duels. After a short countdown you tap the screen wherever you want your character to shoot with the bullets they have available before your opponent gets the draw on you, then let ragdoll physics take care of the rest! Score is determined by where you shots land, with higher scores for disarming and headshots. Opponents get quicker on the draw the further you progress until you take a hit and the game ends. There are also coins that can be shot for additional points. DEUL is a pretty fun little game to play in short bursts, but I found it just a little too simplistic compared to the other mobile games I play as timewasters so it is currently uninstalled. STATUS: DROPPED
Reigns (Nerial, 2016, PC/iOS/Android, Paid App)
What if ruling a kingdom was like using Tinder? That’s the simplest way to sum up this game published by Devolver Digital. You control a cursed bloodline of kings and are faced with decisions from your advisors and townsfolk in the form of cards which you swipe left or right to make your choice. Each decision has a positive or negative effect on at least one of your kingdom’s influential factions: the church, the general population, the military and the treasury. If any of these factions gain or lose too much power then your reign ends with one of several nasty deaths and you begin afresh with the next king in line. Various buffs and bonuses are available through play to either protect a faction from negative influence or constantly increase or decrease their power; all of which must be very carefully regulated to avoid a gruesome fate. And if you can figure out a way to break the curse before the era ends and you have to start again that’d be handy too. Reigns is a surprisingly deep game wrapped in a veneer of simplistic resource management that generates the “just one more round” feeling that accompanies some of the best mobile games on the market. Highly recommended. STATUS: ON THE BACKBURNER
Mystic Messenger (Cheritz, 2016, iOS/Android, Free-to-play)
If you’re a fan of otome/visual novel games chances are you’ve already heard of this little gem from South Korea. The player character finds herself inhabiting a secure apartment after downloading a mysterious app and using it to talk with a group of six people who are members of RFA; an organisation that works together to hold fundraising parties for charitable causes. After agreeing to take on the vacant position of party planner you work with the other members to find guests to invite and convince them to attend the upcoming event. What makes Mystic Messenger fascinating (and potentially life-consuming) is that the entire game is played through the RFA app, with all character interactions taking place in chatroom scenes, text messages and phone calls. Events unlock in real time according to a preset schedule throughout the eleven days of the story, with some occurring in the small hours of the morning! Fortunately it is not necessary to take part in 100% of the conversations yourself, and as long as you read the missed threads before moving on you should be able to progress well enough during your waking hours. Each of the six characters has their own unique route to play through, some are simple stories between you and them while others delve into a deeper story concerning your predecessor and her relationship with the other members. Premium currency exists to let you participate in missed conversations, call characters yourself, and unlock extra after-story content and the final two character routes. Each member of the RFA have distinct personalities and quirks, and I found myself thoroughly drawn into the foibles of their social group through my first playthrough. Currently my partner and I have cleared one character route each, but we will both definitely be trying out some others when we have the time. Just be sure you don’t have anything important going on for the almost-two-weeks it takes to play, because if you enjoy Mystic Messenger then catching the characters online can get a teeny bit obsessive; try not to lose too much sleep over your favourite guy or girl! STATUS: YOOSUNG ROUTE COMPLETE; TAKING A BREAK BEFORE REPLAYING
This handful of titles are just the ones that have left a lasting impression on me, but I feel they are all special in their own ways. What do you think of these games if you’ve played any of them? And what mobile games have you discovered recently that you would recommend to others?