February 9, 2017

Casual Capsule Reviews

Tags: A Gamedev Plays

This post is from the now defunct website “A GameDev Plays…”, copied here for posterity

Time for some more short reviews of small games.

Hexcells (US$2.99) is a modern variation on the old Microsoft Minesweeper game. Although it is much gentler - rather than game-ending bombs, the player is identifying certain hexes. If a mistake is made then it is just recorded as such and the game continues. There is no timer or time limit, nor any way of scoring other than minimizing the number of mistakes made. The puzzles are hand-designed (no randomness) and provide a couple of hours of thought to perfect with mix of basic logic and memory (as the puzzles do not change if restarted). It is a nicely polished game with clean graphical style and responsive music. It has no replayability, but it is cheap and well made. Definitely worth picking up in a sale or bundle, as I will be doing with its sequels.

Citalis (US$1.99) involves a great deal of clicking. It is nominally a city-builder, but in a simple casual fashion that tends more towards clicking and repetitive gameplay. The players build businesses to earn money in order to repay a large loan (paid back each day in increasing amounts). The businesses require water and people. The people require beauty. So the player has to provide structures that supply these. If either water or beauty is insufficient then crime rises, possibly shutting down businesses. So the game becomes a matter of clicking to build business and then quickly checking if anything else needs to be built and repeating endlessly. There is very little polish here. The UI is ugly and regularly blocks the screen. There are spelling mistakes. The minimal upgrade options are quickly exhausted relatively early in the game. Citalis is half an idea, rapidly and carelessly implemented with repetitive and uninspiring gameplay. I feel no need to play again and can not recommend it.

Collisions (US$3.99) is a casual puzzle game by the same developer as the previously reviewed Chains. The aim of the game is to move your little ball off screen through various obstacles with various flippers, switches, and other physical items that move or restrict movement is some manner. There are 54 levels (plus a couple of mini-games), but it is all very simple and I finished all of them in an hour. This is a polished but simple game, with an nice and subtle art style. FYI: I received a free copy from the developer.

Conclave (US$11.99) was previously a kickstarted web turn-based RPG, but has now come to Steam. There are the standard cRPG tropes: loot, level progression, lots of fighting. The gameplay is mainly combat, performed on a off-square grid by selecting various abilities and their targets. It differentiates itself with a nice online multiplayer system (if you can find someone to play) and a non-standard setting (to me at least). There are many missions, chained together to tell the story, and grinding is kept to a minimum. The main concern with this game is that in the transition from the web to a thick-client Steam game it has kept all the original web controls, making it seem incredibly clunky and player-unfriendly. Click, click, click. I hope that the developers take some time to properly take advantage of their new platform, as this game has some potential. FYI: I received a free copy from the developer as a Kickstarter reward.