Mobile Roundup #9 - November 2018
This winter, whether you’re curled up on the sofa or on the freezing night bus home, be sure to warm your hands around these hot mobile releases!
Reigns: Game of Thrones (iOS, Android, PC)
As we found in the original Reigns and its direct sequel Reigns: Her Majesty, life at the top is not a bowl of cherries, and that goes double for Westeros. Commencing with the coronation of Queen Daenerys Stormborn, like the previous titles you must be her counsel and guide her reign for as many moons as possible, keeping the crown’s coffers, the will of the people, the needs of the faithful and the challenges of power in careful balance. Exceed or deplete any one of these and the Mother of Dragons’ time on the Iron Throne will come to a swift end, replaced by one of the other main characters. The core gameplay remains identical, swiping left or right for each decision presented to you by your loyal (or sometimes traitorous) courtiers, but this time it’s made all the more fun by the presence of our favourite Westerosi lords and ladies, Ramin Djawadi's unforgettable soundtrack, and other elements from the show. Get through a few beloved and benevolent rulers before the show returns for its unmissable final season next spring!
Transformers: Earth Wars (iOS, Android)
The Transformers franchise has been through a few gaming iterations, including on mobile, but seems to perform best when recreating the halcyon days of Generation One. Robots are modelled in their bright and colourful original G1 style; the grey dingy realism of the films is nowhere to be found here. Gameplay consists of choosing your favourite Autobots and setting them loose on the battlefield to take down a base. There is an RTS feel to the proceedings, but you cannot issue direct commands, only a few special attacks which take time to charge. Placement and timing are key to victory; some bots have ranged weapons which can be invaluable at the right time. Meanwhile, back at your own base, you can get busy upgrading and augmenting to be tough enough to repel attackers of your own. With enough accrued currency it’s possible to bring across ever more fave characters through the space bridge to fight for you.
Great care has been taken in keeping the soundtrack and the overall feel true to the ‘80s cartoon. As ever with these kinds of games the microtransactions are pushed hard, but if you can ignore the requests to open your wallet, there’s a modicum of nostalgic fun to be had.
For certain fans of the turned-based strategy genre, I could just say that Warbits is the closest analogue you’re going to get to Advance Wars in the app store, and leave it at that. For the rest of you, let me explain further. Warbits takes the heady, intense business of battle and filters it through a cartoonish lens, with two armies on a tiled map taking turns having a pop at each other until one side has either been eliminated or had their base captured. Each faction has a variety of land, sea and air units, with differing strengths and weaknesses against other units. Terrain is also important, with units able to take strategic high ground, or seek refuge in cities. The first few missions grant the player with a set number of units, but later ones provide factories to pump out as many as needed to seal the victory. It’s an excellent formula, one which has been more or less perfected by Intelligent Systems’ long-running Wars series, but this is a worthy imitation for those of us lacking their signature handheld devices.
Valleys Between (iOS)
A calm and relaxing puzzler which encourages thoughtful contemplation over rapid reactions, Valleys Between places you as the custodian of a small, peaceful plot of land, divided into hexagonal segments. Raising a barren segment will fill it with the water of life and cause all adjacent segments to flourish, raising a fertile segment brings forth a tree, and adjacent trees can be linked to form a mighty forest, which in turn creates new land to begin the process anew. Dangers include fires, which can be extinguished by an adjacent water tile, and obelisks, which can be deactivated by friendly animals which wander the fertile tiles and waterways. Sounds complex, but it is in reality instantly intuitive. Scoring highly causes different animals and quests to be unlocked and the seasons to cycle through, all backed with a soporific kalimba soundtrack. Taxing in the most pleasant of ways.