We're tweaking up our formula for best apps of the week, but only ever-so-slightly. Instead of providing brief overviews of the top ten apps and games released in the App Store over the course of the week, we're going to dive deep into the top three, and filling out the end with a short list of additional download links if you're hungry for more.
We figure if all you need is a description of what's available, the App Store and trailers can handle that. Instead, we're going to focus on delivering expert opinions. After all, that's what you're here for, right?
World of Warriors
On the surface, taking warrior archetypes steeped in bloody history and repackaging them as a kid-friendly mobile game is a little weird, even if you adopt the "boys will be boys" mentality. After playing a few rounds of World of Warriors, troubling thoughts of long-term geopolitical ramifications of conquest are washed away in a sea of snappy quick-time events and cartoony card battling. The usual freemium tropes are here, such as a food-based energy system which puts a cap on how often you can play, and not one, but two premium currencies.
Over time you build up a collection of warriors, each with their own characteristics, special abilities, rarity, and progression. A crafting system helps put your excess warriors to good use. An element-based system provides a rich backdrop for tactical options, like tailor-building a squad to tackle specific enemies. Real-time combat mini games mostly involve precisely-timed taps and rushed resource gathering after attacks. The goofy graphics are undeniably charming, and the idea of having a band of badass vikings hits my soft spot for Danes.
If you can get through timers and consumables, World of Warriors has a nice balance of action-based gameplay and long-term teambuilding in a nicely presented final product.
Monzo was very much a surprise project from the guys that created over-the-top shooters like Dead Trigger 2 and Shadowgun: DeadZone. Monzo is, very simply, a virtual model builder. You take various kits, assemble intricately detailed parts, paint them how you like, slap on stickers of different colors and shapes, and take photos of the final result (even with a live background generated from your device's camera, if you like. Though the app is free, new models, bundles of models, paints, and stickers can be nabbed through in-app purchases. Some of the models are even perfect recreations of real-world Revell kits.
You get the impression that someone at Madfinger Games is just absolutely nuts about model cars, and convinced the team to go all-in on this regardless of the potential widespread appeal. Don't get me wrong, I get the attraction; I was into Warhammer figures within recent memory. Assembling something from scratch and applying your own personal flair to it can be very relaxing. The clincher is the physicality of the whole thing, and Madfinger is ambitious to think they can translate it to virtual models while still maintaining the appeal. Virtual creation can be so much more free-form without being that much more complicated, after all. Plus, the sense of accomplishment of the finished product comes from having a real space to show it off, not to mention the dexterity and patience required to fiddle with tiny physical bits.
Monzo is an adventurous app appealing to a largely neglected (and likely older), but still dedicated audience.
Simogo has been making interesting games for awhile, and the latest breed have pushed the boundaries of what to expect from mobile games. It's easy to breathlessly fawn over App Store titles that lean on the artsy side, so it's worth examining what exactly Simogo has been doing right with Device 6, Year Walk, and now The Sailor's Dream. If there's a common thread between the three is that these are all permutations of point-and-click adventure games. They're similar to the classic Myst series due to the first-person perspective, but there are plenty of stark departures from that series. Device 6 twists text around your device, Year Walk takes you down a foreign and surreal path, and The Sailor's Dream anchors itself in well-known maritime themes and wonderfully mixes in music and words. Compared to Simogo's previous games, The Sailor's Dream is decidedly less dark, but still has a nice range of mood to it.
These games aren't outwardly difficult, but the plodding pace and and lack of linearity in the puzzles can be a quick turn-off to traditional gamers. On the flip side, these qualities can immediately attract players that aren't typically into games, and therein lies the value of what Simogo's doing with The Sailor's Dream. The App Store is full of hidden object shovelware titles that cater to a similar audience, that is, those that crave story and have no desire to be rushed. Simogo approaches these nongamer sensibilities with so much more class than others.
The visuals, though fundamentally 2D, are meticulously crafted, and the music is both a beautiful and integral part of the experience. Leaning heavily on text provides an immediately familiar literary vibe while still letting the game do some new and interesting things with words. Simogo's games are engendering a very specific kind of gameplay that, regardless of the gamer that plays it, fits into the mobile form factor very well. Without any time restraints, you can drift in and out as your schedule allows, and the high quality visuals take advantage of the high quality displays at our disposal.