Mobile Roundup #7 - September 2018

September 17, 2018

The shining rays of summer are now just a fleeting memory, the cold wind nips at your ankles and the skies are once again a dull, dishwater grey. Why not stay in and play some games? Here are our thoughts on a few choice selections for your portable device.

(iOS, Android)

Some problems are impossible, until you consider them from another angle. In Causality, adopting a temporal perspective is key to the solution. In each level, you are tasked with guiding a lone or occasional pair or trio of sci-fi explorers to their designated teleport squares, avoiding traps and dangerous creatures along the way. They’re not the smartest though, and without intervention will run straight ahead until they meet a dead end or bump into each other. Via manipulation of special arrow tiles pointing the way, they are reliant on you and your time-rewinding powers to guide them.

A simple swipe up reverses time and sends the spacemen scurrying back to their starting positions, but the little changes you made to their path tiles are locked to the time you made them, ensuring a different turn of events will unfold when time’s regular flow is re-established. A clever little puzzler which will gently massage your brain.

Hexo Brain (iOS, Android)

Here at JDR we aim to provide good value recommendations, and with Hexo Brain you’re getting two related but distinct puzzle games in one download! Hexo Next has the player seeking the hidden connections between hexagonal glyphs and arranging them into the correct order, while the objective of Hexo Net is to turn a grid of hexes all one colour by flipping adjacent tiles.

Both are the kind of minimalist yet challenging puzzles that are perfect for the mobile platform. Its low cost of free is ad-supported in a non-intrusive way, although you’ll have to run out a timer or watch an ad if you’re stuck and need a hint to progress. The accompanying chilled, vibraphone-led jazz soundtrack helps to stimulate the logic centres required for this kind of exercise. See how far your brain will take you!

Trexels II (iOS, Android)

On the face of it, a cute, cartoonish, 8-bit mish-mash of all the Star Trek shows sounds like it should be nerd catnip, but scratching beneath the surface reveals precious little in the way of content. Comprising a mixture of away mission combat and shipbound base building and featuring the vocal talents of Lt Uhura herself, Nichelle Nichols, you start off on a single ship and gradually build a fleet as you go, but most times the only skill being tested is your patience.

Watching ads to increase stats or get a spin at the dabo wheel at Quark’s only makes it more obvious that you’re being taken for a warp-speed ride. Ironically for a series that states multiple times that money doesn’t exist in the 24th century, it sure does here, and the developers would like you to spend more of it. Sadly, any goodwill garnered by seeing your fave Trek characters rendered in pixelated form is dashed by shallow gameplay and all-too-familiar ‘pay or wait’ mechanics.

Solbot: Energy Rush (iOS, Android)

A fairly simplistic collect ‘em up whose primary goal, apart from collecting energy, is to make us realise how precious it is and stop wasting as much of it in the real world. Flying through the inky black void, your environmentally-cautious robot must collect only the approved eco-friendly energy spheres, and avoid the rest.

Some will balk at the thought of a mobile ‘edutainment’ game, but Solbot throws up some useful factoids between levels about energy sustainability. Granted there’s nothing groundbreaking about the graphics or gameplay, but the message is one we could all take heed of in today’s device-laden landscape.

Wastelands' thrilling finale means it's a step up from Rules, but it makes a few missteps in its handling of the brothers’ relationship to get there.
Steve McCullough

Gaming has come such a long way since I first started playing, and I can't wait to see where it goes next! Especially interested in mobile and indie games, and also a huge board game fan. Will talk about all of the above for beer money.