Full of Stars – A two genre mashup

Full of Stars (iOS version reviewed) combines two unlikely genres, pairing an interactive adventure story with arcade-style action.

As you set out across the galaxy to escape a devastating war, you’ll need to dodge obstacles and collect materials in each vertically-scrolling level. The controls take a bit of getting used to, since everything is based on how you touch or swipe the touchscreen. Once you adjust to them, however, they become intuitive.

Dual Currency

The resources you gather come in two forms of currency. Idium particles are more common and can be used for ship upgrades, repairs, and similar actions, while the rarer idium crystals function as money. You also gain leadership points if you complete certain challenges during your flights, such as flying a certain distance without crashing or destroying multiple rocks at once. Idium particles, idium crystals, and leadership points are all necessary if you want to keep your crew alive.

Choices

You see, whenever you crash during a flight, you’re faced with a random event—usually a problem—and a decision to make. For example, your crew might start rioting. You can either use leadership points to calm them down, spend idium crystals to improve conditions on the ship, or leave the result up to chance, in which case crew members might die.

These situations are interesting at first, although they become repetitive after a while. If you and your crew members all die, you’ll need to start over as a new pilot, which means the story text at each planet can also become repetitive.

However, the game remembers certain things from one playthrough to the next. For example, once you’ve seen evidence of the war, you can evacuate immediately at the start of the game.

Your ultimate goal is to reach the fabled Blue Sector and start up a colony. Once you do so, subsequent pilots can bring new people to your colony, which allows you to upgrade it further. Later ship upgrades, as well as a second story featuring a different character, are locked until your colony reaches a certain level.

That is, unless you want to pay.

Pay Wall?

Full of Stars wants you to make in-app purchases. One purchase can remove the colony upgrade block. Another can unlock the second story. You’re limited to three flights before you must wait for your core to recharge, unless you pay for an unlimited core. And of course, the game’s currencies can be bought, too.

Repetitive, but entertaining

This design can be frustrating, especially due to the repetitiveness. Nevertheless, Full of Stars is an entertaining game with a fair amount of content, even if you want to play it entirely for free.

Guest Post

This post was written by Samantha Lienhard.  Visit her blog to see her writing, and more game reviews.

Samantha Lienhard
Readers and Gamers Unite

Kami 2 is a puzzle game with a simple concept

Kami 2 is a puzzle game with a simple concept. You are presented with a colorful pattern, and your goal is to make the entire screen a single, solid color in a set number of moves. You can select any color used in the pattern and tap a section to change it to that color.

Although it starts out easy, the puzzles become increasingly complex, with many different colors and complicated patterns. It becomes a strategic challenge to determine which sections to change, in what order, to reach your goal before you run out of moves.

This is where Kami 2’s primary in-app purchases come into play. If you’re stuck, the game encourages you to use a hint to see what the first correct move is. However, it only gives you one free hint. If you want more, you’ll need to purchase them. This gives the game an unusual balance where it can be played entirely for free but will tempt players to buy hints as the puzzles become more challenging.

No Undo

The game’s biggest flaw is that there’s no way to undo a single move. If you make a mistake, you have to reset the puzzle from the beginning, which can be quite frustrating for puzzles that take many moves to solve.

Kami 2 has several gameplay modes, although the basic gameplay remains the same across all of them. The main mode, Journey, can be played offline. It includes over 100 puzzles, divided into sets of six. As you complete each set, the next unlocks. Some also give you special rewards, such as additional colors to use when making your own puzzles.

Community Content means never run out of puzzles

The remaining modes require you to take Kami 2 online. In Build Mode, you can create and test your own puzzles using an easy, intuitive interface, and then publish them for other players to try. Special color palettes can also be purchased.

In Explore Mode, you can browse player-created puzzles, save your favorites, follow specific puzzle creators, and search for other players. Challenge Mode presents you with a series of player-created puzzles and tasks you with completing several in a row to build up a streak, while Daily gives you a new player-created puzzle to try each day. These additional modes make sure you won’t run out of challenges even if you complete all of the pre-made puzzles.

 

Beautiful Puzzler

No matter which mode you play, Kami 2’s beautiful paper aesthetic makes the game a relaxing experience, even when it stumps you with a tricky puzzle. The ability to undo moves would be nice, but it’s still a game puzzle fans should look into.

 

Guest Post

This post was written by Samantha Lienhard.  Visit her blog to see her writing, and more game reviews.

Samantha Lienhard
Readers and Gamers Unite

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes – Game Design Quick Review

This is a great, huge, complex game.  Way bigger than you think when first starting out.  If you are a Star Wars fan you will geek out for about the first month you play this game.  It has characters to collect, and power up.  Fights for the Light Side, and the Dark Side.  Plenty of things to collect to power up your characters (armor, boosts, etc).  And that is where the problem starts.

There is honestly too much to do.  You can spend 30+ minutes in this game every day just trying to knock out the daily mission list.  Then if you join a guild (and you should), expect more raids for the team and helping each other out.  This starts to feel like an MMO style treadmill after a while.

Pay to Win downfall?

The real downfall for me was the constant (I mean as in 10 times a day sometimes) bombardment of ads to buy something.  They have premium skills and characters you can spend tons of money on.  If the rumors are to be believed this game has made close to $1 billion across all platforms since launch.  The pay to win aspect, and the constant buy this limited time character or power, and then this one, then this one just really wears on you after a while.

Still a great AAA game title that is really free to play, as long as you don’t want to get competitive or win PVP very often.

TWD: No Man’s Land – Game Deconstruction

The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land is a huge licensed property that ties into the TV show.  But don’t think you can’t learn some lessons from it.  It has great game design at the core, and then layers on a lot of complexity.

Not casual, needs commitment

The game suffers from too much to do after a while.  If you want the level of commitment of an MMORPG this is a great game.  If you want to play casually for 10-15 minutes at a time this will frustrate the heck out of you.

Watch the video above for some idea of the levels of complexity in the game.  I personally loved the cinematography and the characters.  The main game loop is a turn based combat system that is satisfying and gory for fans of the show.

Additional Links and References

Official Website for TWD No Man’s Land

IGN Game Review for TWDNML