Isle of Arrows developed by Gridpop is a card based tower defence game made by a single developer. The game presents a fairly simple concept of randomised cards that allow you to place new paths or towers onto your island (also randomised each game) and defend against the incoming waves of enemies. There are 5 different classes that can be played, each with different abilities or lack thereof. Aesthetically it’s a pleasing simple low poly and pastel colour palette.
Between each wave you are presented with a new free card to place and can purchase more additional cards for an extra 2 gold. Some cards will have water tiles attached which require some forethought and strategy when being placed as removing them isn’t always easy. There are also random events and relics that can help or hinder you as you progress through the game. As you build up your reserve of cash, every 10 gold, you will earn an extra 1 gold per wave (ie if you have 10 gold, you will get +2 each wave, if you have 30+ gold you will get +4 each wave). There are 3 main game modes to play: Campaign which features 4 main areas, Gauntlet which presents increasing difficulty and challenges and a daily defence challenge.
Isle of Arrows is both an an aesthetically pleasing and beautifully simple game with a good amount of depth and some potential for further development and features. The PC version will set you back around £10, whereas the mobile version is around £5. The game has a few core levels and the gauntlet and daily challenge give some additional gameplay options after you’ve completed those – it would be nice to see even more cards and areas added in the future. Some more customisable game modes would also be interesting, for example custom card/event/relic selection or increased random event frequency. There is a slight issue when trying place paths that may end in a solid block (or blowing them up with bombs).
Overall the game is nicely balanced, providing a good challenge while also remaining fun and interesting. There’s a good deal of gameplay to get stuck into, the game can be played offline and in portrait – making it a perfect mobile game and definitely worth
Try not too spend too much money until you reach around 30 gold, then you can spend each turn provided you don’t dip under 30 gold, so you can ensure you’re getting +4 gold per turn.
Think about where you’re placing towers and paths and how they’ll be affected in by future cards.
When you get a 2nd or 3rd spawn point added, you can get away for 1-2 waves before you need to add more towers or paths to them – just ensure you don’t overinvest in them, but also be weary of leaving them unprotected – in an ideal scenario you want them to come close to your existing towers and paths.
Try and place traps on corners where they can hit at least 2 paths, likewise try and maximise the number of paths that each tower hits.
High ground can be very useful with most towers to increase their hit areas.
Not all cards are worth placing – gardens or cards with water tiles can make the late game quite difficult if you don’t have enough bombs to remove them.
Dicey Elements by DoubleThink Games is yet another rogue-like deck building dungeon crawler game. The game starts out by introducing you to its key mechanic, rolling a set of dice which determine what cards you can play. The dice effective function as mana with each move requiring a certain number or combination of dice. You can choose to hold dice and reroll others for better combos. You can only ever have six cards in play so you will have to be selective as your deck expands on your adventure. Enemies get harder as you progress and each one you defeat will give you gold (which can be used within the dungeon), stardust (used for permanent upgrades outside the dungeon) and exp (to level you up). Initially there’s only one character (The Fearless) to be played on the most basic mode (NormalMode), additional characters can be purchased and the additional modes are unlocked as you complete the previous mode.
As you navigate the dungeons, each room will have 1 – 3 exits and an enemy, shop or loot inside. If there’s an enemy you will need to defeat them before progressing. There’s a decent variety of enemies, some with special artifacts or powerful cards that will really challenge you. As you progress you will get rarer and better cards and be able to customise your deck to pull of some truly impressive combos. You will also unlock the ability to craft potions using Element Stones – some potions can be particularly useful in a pinch. You will be able to upgrade your adventure permanently through the Adventure Reform upgrade menu, as well as unlock some permanent features like blacksmiths and black marketers or even the arcade section of the tavern, which features a series of arcade games where you win tickets (although it’s not quite clear what the use of these tickets is). This section also features the daily challenge, which will feature a random character – disappointingly you cannot play unless you own the character (this could have served as a nice preview of various characters in order to help me choose which to purchase).
The game is free to play and ads are only there if you want them – in the guise of a fairy which can offer you a random prize (ranging from gold to epic artifacts) or a revive if you die. You can play the game without either of these two. There are some slightly annoying ad banners on screen, but for a free game this is to be expected somewhat. The additional characters all cost various prices – The Stealthy can be picked up with in-game currency (gems), The Chanter will set you back $0.99, while The Prophet, The Telepathic and The Greedy are $1.99 each. There is also a purchase available for additional level up rewards for $2.99. My biggest issue with the pricing of all of these is that there’s no bundle or overall purchase where I could get everything for a reasonable price. $1.99 per character is a little bit expensive, The Chanter seems to have the perfect price, however it would be nice if all characters were still purchasable with premium currency so as to make it technically possible to purchase by purely playing the game. Also none of these purchases remove ads (separate purchase), it would be nice to know that if I am spending money on a game it will at least remove the annoying banners in game. There are also the occasional grammar or spelling issues throughout the game.
Overall, the aesthetic of the game and the sound are quite unique and very enjoyable. The overall gameplay loop isn’t anything too new or innovative, but the use of the dice as mana and throughout the game works really well. A successful run will usually take around an hour to an hour and a half depending on difficulty, but if you ever have to pause or quit, the game does a good job of recording your progress. With the adventure reform and several characters to unlock and play and a variety of difficulties and challenges there really is quite a bit to unpack and get stuck into. It’s a great game, good for medium-longer play times, but can also be picked up and dropped for short sessions.
If a card is on fire it will deal damage to you for using it
Red doors are basic enemies, Pink doors are elites, exclamation marks lead to a dice battle
Elites drop better loot
Artifacts are OP, but you can only carry 10 so think carefully about which 10 are active at any point in time
Spells or abilities that restore health are very useful
Remember to craft potions using your Elemental Stones, but you are unlikely to need them on easier runs
Unlock the blacksmith from the Adventure Reform as he will allow you to upgrade and sell cards
“Pick up” from the adventure reform unlocks the arcade/casino area
Having the Black Market Merchant (All for Cash) in the tavern isn’t really worth it although he does allow you to complete quests for small premium currency awards
Different characters synergise better with different decks and playstyles – the game is all about getting the right combos of cards, artifacts and that little bit of luck
Don’t overload your hand with hard requirement cards as it could make it very difficult for you to actually play any in a turn
If you have a lot of cards of 1 element, try and get some with 1/2 Pair requirements as these can be used with any cards and won’t leave you stuck with nothing to use
Cards that generate other cards are extremely useful (just make sure to use them when you have space for the new cards) – generating new cards allows your turn to go on for longer and for you to deliver even more damage (same goes for temp cards or the Soul Flame artifact)
Be careful with the Light Scythe artifact because if you have a “the next time you deal damage” card that will trigger for the hit of the Light Scythe
The Way Home by CONCODE is a rogue-like dungeon explorer game with some interesting crafting and progression mechanics. You play as a cat named Cheese fighting your way through procedurally generated dungeons as you attempt to figure out how you and your human ended up on a mysterious island. Each time you take on a dungeon you can choose the skills you get when you level up from a choice of stat improvements, passive abilities or modifiers for your bow shots.
At the end of each floor of the dungeon you will have the option to walk away with all resources you have gathered so far or to carry on (risking the loss of 2/3 of your gathered materials). Once you return to your home island you can invest the materials gathered into work stations, permanent buffs or new spells and passive abilities to chose from on your dungeon runs. As you progress you also find out more about the backstory to how you ended up on this island and why it is so cursed.
The game is really fun and aesthetically pleasing, there’s a good sense of progression and it provides a good challenge too. The story and writing are interesting and engaging, there’s a variety of enemies and their attack patterns and a good variety of upgrades and skills to try out. Where this game is let down a little bit is in it’s pricing for the full game.
After beating the first boss you are prompted to pay £5.99 to access the remaining 3 islands of the game OR watch around 15-20 ads per platform (you need to get to the adjacent island) and then watch an ad after every dungeon run. While this model is quite interesting and does allow you to essentially play the game for free, quite a few players feel a bit tricked by the free trial aspect of the first island (no ads). The full game price is possibly slightly on the expensive side – 15-20% less would make it a much easier decision to purchase.
Research the work stations first (Resource/Etc page)
Focus on getting the better pick to get better materials (Anvil)
Skills that modify your arrows (like Ricochet) are particularly useful for attacking large groups of mobs
For the boss focus on building up your damage and health, ideally have a potion as well
The Gauntlet by Cutlass is a minimalist turn based RPG. A simple, retro feel and a great time waster. The game is focused on combat over 100s of floors of monsters. You can also permanently upgrade your heroes or purchase new ones with your
You can pick what difficulty gauntlet you’d like to start, after which you select your fighters – initially there are 4 classes available and more can be unlocked through cash or in-game currency. The 4 base classes are Warrior, Thief, Mage and the Knight – each offering different stats and its own skill tree. Once you’ve selected your 3 fighters you are plunged into the gauntlet and you’ll start fighting waves of enemies. The game will cycle through your characters allowing to choose your moves – attack, defend, use items or cast spells. Beat all the floors and you’ll have mastered that gauntlet.
Overall it’s a brilliantly nice and simple game with a unique art style and solid gameplay. There is potential to expand on the game by having equipment for the different classes, more achievements, challenges or perhaps even some different game modes. Each new class costs $1.99 or 50 000 souls, which are fairly easy to collect from a few successful runs. This means there’s no pressure to actually purchase classes, but buying them is a great way to support the developers. There are also no ads, which is awesome. When you need to do something else you can just exit or pause the game and it will save your progress, convenient for when you’re out and about and just need something to do for 5-10 minutes. The game is worth a download, just don’t get too distracted because you will keep thinking “just one more floor” and we all know how that goes.
Use items to restore health/mana, also items are per character rather than a shared pool of items
Clear smaller easier units before focusing on the boss
Mage is useful against phantom characters, who don’t take damage from physical attacks (they do take damage from various spells though)
Knight has a “Provoke” (Taunt) ability that will make enemies more likely to target it
Heroism by MINMAXIA is an Early Access game available on Android. It’s a brilliantly deep roguelike(ish) action RPG game with some idle game elements (although it’s not really an idle game). The game has a cool retro pixel style, multiple classes to choose from when creating your hero including some more unusual choices like the Chicken King (and his army of chickens). If you’ve played games like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon you may notice some familiar elements. The game has a lot of classis RPG elements like attributes, active or passive skills, companions, randomised tiered weapons and armours. It’s got it all. There’s also an impressive variety of points you can gain in order to invest into upgrading yourself, your companions and your rewards. This is where the idle elements come in as you can just keep upgrading and upgrading so that when you’re exploring a dungeon you make more and more – you guessed it to spend on more upgrades.
The core game play loop is focused around you exploring dungeons in order to complete various quests a la collect an item, rescue someone or clear all monsters. You can use on screen controls or tap to go to a location – you will encounter mobs and loot on your way through the dungeons. If you play with some of the settings (there’s a lot of settings options) – you can extend the range of your auto attacks so that you path towards any enemy within that range. This allows you to play the game sitting back while your character does the hard work of chasing down mobs, however this may not be the fastest way to navigate the dungeon. As you explore the dungeon each grid space has a “Heroism” orb on it. Personally it took me some time to grasp how all of these various points (there’s also experience, kill streak, progress points, death points) are accumulated and I think I was a bit confused by the similar shape of the Heroism and Experience Orb. However once you do get the hang of it collecting them and investing them strategically is highly rewarding. Even death gives you points to invest in death driven events.
Heroism is a brilliantly simple and charming game that’s definitely worth a play. It’s good as both an active game or more of a sit back and enjoy the ride type of game (almost like an idle) as you watch your hero destroy enemies and explore dungeons. It would be great to see how much more can be done with the game – things like making the story missions a bit more special, almost like adding cutscenes or special events to them to make them feel a bit different. It would also be great to see some new types of missions added or even other towns with NPCs as more of the map is discovered.
Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out – it can be quite addictive as you keep thinking – just one more dungeon. There’s so many different types of points to upgrade and invest in, some really interesting settings and options too. It would be great to see even more done with the game as after a while the core gameplay loop does get a bit repetitive, but the increasing difficulty after each main story mission and the various types of dungeon will keep you on it for a while. There’s virtually no gatcha elements, you can watch ads if you like, but they are very non-intrusive, you can purchase an ad-free version for £3.79 as a great means to support the developer.
Extend the range of your auto-attack in order to go directly to any enemies within the dungeon
If enemies are very easy, you may want to increase the minimum enemy level
Invest in the range of your auto collects
Necromancer and Chicken King are great for passive play as their minions will do a lot of the dirty work
Progress the main story quest whenever you can
Get a companion as they’ll help collecting loot and clearing the dungeons faster
If you do a rescue mission you can then go into another dungeon and the person you rescued will help you out