Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. Things are picking up again, though it’s not quite as busy as it was back in February. There was a surprise release of the old classic, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as well as a couple of other notable releases. But I also spent a lot of time this week playing games that released over the last few weeks. Still, there’s plenty to keep you busy if you’re in need of some new games. So pull up a chair and let me fill you in.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Konami ported Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to iOS and Android this past week, completely out of the blue, without any warning. I never played the original, and though I do have some experience with the Castlevania series from my Game Boy Advance days, I came into this game knowing very little. But it was cheap enough to take a chance on, and I wanted to see how it felt with touch controls. After playing on both my iPhone and iPad with the onscreen buttons, I found it was nigh unplayable on iPad, due to the controls all being stuck in the corners with no way to adjust them. It’s too awkward to play like that. It’s much better on iPhone, though I would often have trouble pulling off jump attacks without looking directly at the buttons before pressing them. Thankfully, the game does support physical controllers, and it plays great that way, once you memorize which buttons do what. Unfortunately, there’s no iCloud sync. I would love to be able to play on my iPad with a controller when I’m home, but continue the same save on my iPhone when I have a few minutes here or there to spare. Hopefully it will get some extra features like customizable controls and iCloud sync, though I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect that from a $2.99 port. I should also mention — for those who’ve never played the game before — nothing is explained. You need to figure it all out yourself or read a guide. I actually had to look up how to use the save points because the game doesn’t tell you. It’s also confusing because you pick up hearts but they don’t actually heal you. So you may want to read up on a few things before starting. Anyway, I wrote more here comparing the three different ways of playing and included videos of each.
I almost wrote off Jesse Venbrux’s Seven Scrolls as clone of Michael Brough’s games, especially because of the art style that looks very similar to Imbroglio‘s silly cartoon monsters. In fact, at first glance I though it was a Brough game. But it seems Brough doesn’t mind, so I took a chance on it. It definitely is a Brough-like, and will feel familiar if you’ve played any of his games. That also makes it easy to jump in without too much of a tutorial, though there are some things that become clearer as you play more. Basically, you control the monk by swiping in any of the four directions. If there’s a monster in your line of sight, you can swipe in that direction to shoot a laser at it and harm it. If the monster is next to you, it will attack. Monsters move when you do, and their goal is to kill you, so they’ll predictably head in your direction. But there are doorways on each wall that teleport you to the other side of the room, so you can use those to try to escape monsters. On each floor, the goal is to grab a key to unlock the exit and get out of there. But it’s also a high score chaser, so you want to pick up as many keys, scrolls and hearts as you can for extra points. Chickens drop a key when they die, but they also have the most health points, so they’re the most dangerous to face. Little Demons sometimes drop hearts that heal you, and Bear Heads drop scrolls. And scrolls are game-changing — quite literally. You can carry up to seven scrolls at a time, and each one will have a random effect and trigger. For instance, one might turn a random monster into a key when the monk gets hurt. Another might heal a monster when another monster dies. Once you have seven scrolls working together, you can get some pretty bonkers results, to the point that it can get a bit difficult to even follow the chain of events. But it’s certainly entertaining to watch! I’ve actually been having a lot of fun with the game, despite its heavy reliant on luck. You can get dealt some pretty bad scrolls. Even though there are ways to get rid of most — usually by taking damage — it’s hard to recover from a really bad hand. Meanwhile, a few good scrolls can make things a lot easier. I actually found scroll that gave me near invincibility, as it revived my monk every time he died. I eventually lost because the seventh floor of each round has more monsters, and I got a layout that made it hard to get to the exit without going through a whole bunch of them. I lasted a long time, but eventually got overwhelmed by the number of monsters in the room and my monk had no room to revive. But a slight change of luck likely would have allowed me to get a much higher score with that scroll. So now I feel like I’ll probably wait around for that scroll — or the one that clones you when a monster dies — if I continue playing. On top of that, there doesn’t seem to be any leaderboards to compare your scores with others. Since it’s a high-score chaser, that’s a strange feature to leave out. Anyway, if you’re not bothered by the luck component, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Seven Scrolls.
War Tortoise 2
I never played Foursaken Media’s War Tortoise, mainly because I’m turned off by games with lots of IAPs for consumables and currencies. But War Tortoise 2 looked too impressive to pass up without even even giving it a try. Without any introduction, the game throws you into battle as a giant armored tortoise accompanied by little rodent soldiers. All sorts of creepy crawlers are attacking and you need to shoot back before they get to you and take you down. As you kill enemies, you earn gold, which can be used to upgrade your weapons and hire more soldiers. This is very much a game about upgrades. Still, I was enjoying it until I died and was set back a few levels, not really sure what exactly I kept and what I lost. On top of that, there’s just too many IAPs to navigate. You can buy premium currency, special soldiers, and all sorts of other useful stuff. It makes me wonder how balanced the game is, whether it’s meant to push you towards purchases. I also learned later that you can automated the battles and just focus on the upgrades, which makes things seem even more pointless. Soto sum it up, I like the idea of War Tortoise 2, and had it been a properly balanced premium game, I might have stuck with it. But as is, I just don’t have the patience for it. You can watch some of my gameplay video below or try it for yourself, since it’s free-to-play.
Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron
HandyGames’ Aces of the Luftwaffe Squadron actually released last week, but I didn’t get a chance to try it until this week. It seems like a pretty solid bullet hell shooter, where you control four pilots at the same time, each with their own skills to upgrade. It can get pretty hectic, though it seems to be fairly forgiving even to players like me who aren’t particularly skilled at these types of games. That said, I wish it had been clearer right away how to turn on auto-shoot. I spent several levels thinking I had to hold the shoot button the whole time, when you can actually just tap it once to toggle it on. I’m not even sure why anyone would want to have to hold a hand on that button the whole time, as it’s incredibly awkward. It makes much more sense to just focus on navigating your planes. That said, it’s still a bit weird playing something like this in landscape mode on an iPad. Usually they’re in portrait mode, and it feels more natural. But this is otherwise a quality game with a ton of content for those who like it. There’s also fully voice-acted dialogue between levels and multiple difficulty modes. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see if it’s something you might like.
Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition
I played some of Raw Fury’s and Long Hat House’s Dandara a while back, but I found it too difficult and quit after about 30 minutes. But then the game got a couple of updates, one to add some accessibility options to make it easier, and a new content update that released this week to add more difficult content for those who want it. It’s called Trials of Fear, and I’m under no illusions that it’s meant for me, but I figured I should at least take this opportunity to give the game another chance and see if the accessibility options make a difference for me. But unfortunately, even with the added checkpoints, they feel too far apart. I even witnessed a flaw in the design due to the checkpoints system. Early on, you need to make your way around through a sequence of rooms to a lever. Then you need to go back through those same rooms to reach the area you started in. But I died due to some spikes and instead of placing me back in the room where I died and forcing me to continue the trek back, it just sent me to the checkpoint in the starting room. But since the lever was already pulled, I could just continue from there with full health, without having to go through the whole gauntlet. So dying allowed me to a skip a huge section. I’m not sure that I even wanted to, but I wasn’t about to go force myself back through it for no reason. Besides that, I find the game disorienting, since the rooms often rotate. There is a mini map, but it doesn’t really help me that much. I can appreciate that there’s a quality game here for those that gravitate to it, but I think it’s just not for me. If you want to take a chance on it, though, it’s on sale for its lowest price ever at $1.99.
I already covered Philipp Stollenmayer’s Sticky Terms last week in my roundup and preview piece, but I’ve since completed the game and my walkthrough. I think I’ve pretty much said everything I wanted to about the game, but in case you haven’t don’t so, you should definitely pick it up. It’s free to download with opt-in ads to unlock level packs. But it’s free for anyone who bought supertype or see/saw, which is incredibly generous. I believe more content is planned, too, so don’t fret if you complete it too quickly.
Book of Demons: Tablet Edition
I’ve been playing Book of Demons since it released on iPad, and it’s been sucking up quite a bit of my free time. I keep wanting to go back to it over all the other games I have to play. This week, I started new games with both the Rogue and Mage just to give them a try but I think I prefer the Warrior. I also defeated the Antipope and made my way into Hell! I’m a bit torn, though. I like that the game is ramping up the difficulty by throwing more and more monsters at me at a time. I’ve earned and upgraded some great gear by now, so I feel pretty powerful. But what I don’t like about Hell is that demons there can drain your mana, thereby forcing you to remove some gear until it’s replenished. I wasn’t prepared for this, and since there’s no way to grind for extra cards or currency in the game, I’m not really sure how to manage it. I can try using mana potions, I suppose, but the mana drains so fast that I’m not sure it would help. What is strange, though, is that I realized if I stay near an exit, I can go through and refill my health and mana for free, then go back to the dungeon and pick up exactly where I left off. It feels like cheating, but if the game allows it, should I not take advantage of it? I’ll have to see how things go moving forward, but the gear is such a huge part of the strategy in this game, that I find it strange it would try to now make me deal with losing it constantly. I still plan to continue playing this week, so I’ll let you know next week how it went. And you can see all my gameplay videos here if you missed any.
Element TD is an old tower defense game that happened to go free this week, so I decided to give it a try. I was actually enjoying it for a while, despite some information being cut off on iPad. But I had the same issue with it that I have with a lot of TD games. The difficulty ramps up very slowly for a while, making me think my defenses are sufficient. I last a good while without any trouble. Then all of a sudden, the waves of enemies get much bigger and stronger. Instead of making quick work of them as usual, they got all the way pst my defenses and through the exit. I wasn’t prepared for them, because I had an easy time till then. This isn’t the first TD game to do this, so maybe it’s to be expected. But it always bugs me. It’s still a cool game and worth checking out, especially for free, but keep in mind that your defenses might not be as good as you think.
Dead Man’s Phone
Dead Man’s Phone is still in beta on both iOS and Android, but it seems to be nearly ready for release. So I played some of it this week, as I’m a big fan of “found phone” mysteries. But I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It starts with a young man falling off the roof of a building and dying. You then receive a call from the detective on the scene. From there, you go through the victim’s text messages. What’s weird about it is that important texts are highlighted and you get points for tapping on them. It doesn’t feel very rewarding, as you’re not actually deciding yourself what’s important. I also didn’t understand a lot of what was saying due to the slang, but I suppose that makes it more authentic? Things did get more interesting when I started interviewing suspects. There your dialogue choices actually seem to make a difference. But after a short time, I unlocked the second episode, despite still having so many things left unfinished. Instead of starting the second episode, I continued the first one, and now I’m just utterly confused. How is this game supposed to be played? Why is it broken up into episodes if you don’t have to complete one to move on to the next? I’ll probably spend more time with it, but I’m concerned the in-game currency might become an issue on top of the strange layout. Anyway, it’s still in beta, so these things can change. I would still keep an eye out for it if you like “found phone” mysteries.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week, aside from a couple of Apple Arcade games. I should probably do an Apple Arcade roundup soon, though new games are trickling in only once every week or so. Anyway, let me know in the comments section which games you’ve been enjoying and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!