Let me start by saying Final Fantasy V is not a terrible game, but it does have many terrible qualities to it that made me cringe constantly throughout my experience. The game starts off slow, simple, and boring, and after many hours this game does eventually ramp up to have some complex battles, abilities, and jobs. In fact, the most enjoyable dungeon is the optional one that you can only access after you have completed the game. And by the time you get near the end of the game you have so many classes to choose from with a lot of interesting abilities, which allow for various tactical combinations. Unfortunately the "bad" in FFV is overshadowed by weak design decisions throughout, making an otherwise enjoyable RPG something rather laughable.
Below I am listing out what I think are the 6 worst attributes of FFV, and in no particular order (they're all bad). Warning: spoilers.
#1 - A Very Slow Start
For about the first 40% of this game I found myself just letting auto-battle fast-forward me through the majority of battles, mainly just melee hitting every enemy. The boss battles for the first half of the game are incredibly simple and one-dimensional, lacking any real sense of strategy offensively and defensively (just whack at him over and over and maybe cure on occasion).
#2 - Lazy Story Telling
Nothing breaks immersion more when you can feel how lazy or predictable a writer or designer is, and there are 3 parts that stand out as prime examples from FFV:
#3 - Our Dorky Hero
When I play an RPG I hope that the main character is cool looking, or at least evolves to have some more edge (as we see in Final Fantasy Tactics). However in FFV you get one of the worst looking main characters produced by an RPG. What's sad is that there are some great looking outfits for the various classes (e.g. Dragoon, Ninja, and Warrior), but you only see those outfits when you are in battle. And since you spend the majority of your time moving the main character around towns, the world map, or inside dungeons, you are forced to look at man-boobs here for hours.
#4 - The Lame Character Gestures
I'll just let the screenshots speak for themselves on this one:
#5 - Bad Controls
Somehow the FFV team managed to create such terrible movement controls for such a simple top-down game. I frequently found myself driving my character in directions and angles I never intended, often rubbing him against walls that he would slide across as I attempted to get him to go up a flight of stairs.
#6 - Cheesy Dialogue
I swear this game must have been written by a 7 year old boy (or at least the "humor" parts). The story-line is very cliche (most RPGs are), but it was the cheesy one-liners that really made me drop by face into my palms, with gems like "hasta la bye-bye". This game couldn't decide if it wanted to be a serious, epic adventure or just be a string of campy jokes and exaggerated animations, and it really suffers as a result. Check out some of my favorite lines in the below screenshots:
Warning: spoilers below
400 Days is the latest addition to Telltale Games' The Walking Dead series, where you play the role of 5 different survivors. You select the character order to act out, and the choices you make in the individual stories impact portions of how the other stories act out (at least to a degree). Ultimately the characters all come together, and are offered a proposition by an outsider.
As with the previous 5 episodes the experience is a mixture of rich story telling and engaging decision making. There were definitely a few gritty moments where I was shocked (in a good way) and would cringe at what had just occurred (but again, in a good way). Seemingly missing from this specific episode are the simple puzzles that I enjoyed in episodes 1-5, leading to a much more linear, and simplified experience.
I am a huge fan of the 5 episodes that proceeded this installment. In fact, it's the best iPhone game I have ever played, however I am a bit disappointed in this particular release. While the stories are interesting, overall the experience was very short lived. After completing the episode I was left with more questions than answers, which may prove to be a good thing once the second season of this game is released. Also, I felt somewhat cheated to spend 5 dollars on an episode that now gets packaged for free with the bundle that I had previously purchased, a purchase made before this episode was developed.
But more problematic than the length and the price was the disconnect I felt from all of these characters. The reason being that the stories, of which there are 5, are spread too thin. By the time I start to connect with a character or understand a fraction of their background, their story comes to an abrupt end, and we move on to another brand new character. Again, my hope is that Telltale Games continues to expand on these characters, but as it is right now, just getting a taste of the intro to a story, with an inevitable wait until the next release, leaves a bitter taste.
There are many great games for the iPhone/iPad (iOS) devices, and selecting my top 10 favorites was not easy. Let me know if your favorite game isn't listed by dropping a comment. Here is my top 10 list, with #1 being "the best".
#1 - Walking Dead: The Game
Summary: Dynamic story with engaging puzzles and unforgettable and diverse characters.
#2 - Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
Capybara Games Inc.
Summary: Simple yet complex puzzles and the most amazing retro sounding soundtrack.
#3 - Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars
Summary: The joy of GTA constructed perfectly for touch screen devices.
#4 - Kingdom Rush
Armor Games Inc.
Summary: Incredible tower defense game with lots of bonus levels and customization.
#5 - Year Walk
Summary: Immersive experience that transcends the typical gaming boundaries.
#6 - Shining Force
Summary: Classic tactical strategy game with a huge collection of characters.
#7 - Plants vs. Zombies
Summary: A relaxing strategy game infused with silly humor.
#8 - Zombie Highway
Summary: The best of the "infinite runner" games -- highly addictive.
#9 - geoDefense
Critical Thought Games
Summary: Thought provoking tower defense game with visual effects that excite the mind.
#10 - Orbital
Summary: A simple puzzle game with endless replay value.
Choice of Zombies, for iOS, is a choose your own adventure game (think interactive story if you aren't familiar with the old CYOA books) brought to you by Choice of Game LLC, a group that produces a variety of CYOA style apps. Warning: spoilers below.
The game begins with the player defining who they are (male/female, job, etc.) which factors into some of the statistics that evolve as you progress through your adventure. And yes, the stats do seem to matter when making choices in the game. For example, during one of my three adventures I selected to be a guy that exercises, so my choices tended to lean towards physical activities. Whereas in another adventure I was a software engineer that was out of shape, and I elected to be sneaky and slow to save a survivor, which proved to be successful.
Overall there isn't much of an overarching story here, and I was really hoping I would discover more about the characters, the settings, and the outbreak. Most of the writing is instead geared towards campy humor, of which is sometimes funny but more often just too cheesy for my taste. Instead I would have enjoyed seeing more written about background stories, details, and character motivation.
Unfortunately there aren't any images (unless you count the main menu screen), and because of the simplistic style of the story telling I think some artwork would have been a great addition here. I remember as a child reading CYOA books and my favorites had amazing drawings to enjoy. I understand the argument that images in books can deter from the imagination of the reader, but again the writing focuses mainly on humor and simple facts, and is rather sparse on descriptions outside of the key details (e.g. there is a weapon on the left or the boy is sitting down) so I only see artwork elevating the experience.
During my 3 sessions I tried to take myself down different paths, for the sake of variety, though most of my paths intersected leaving me to believe there isn't a whole lot of content here. I did manage to collect a variety of different characters, many that overlapped between the adventures as well, and I noticed the game was a lot more interesting the more characters I brought along with me. At times a character would make a critical suggestion for how to resolve a problem, a small character would fit through a tight space, and other times characters argued about each other.
There was one annoying bug I experienced during one of my adventures that I'm hoping the developers can clean up, as it was definitely an immersion breaker. While at the church we parked our car inside the gate, and when Brian left our party in a rush he also left the car behind. However, when I fled the church later I was told the car was gone since Brian had taken it.
9 out of 10
Before I get into my review of Year Walk, as a disclaimer, there are no specific spoilers in my review. I think it’s important that everyone experiences this game with fresh eyes so that they can truly appreciate it. However, the only guaranteed way that I can promise nothing below spoils anything is to advise that you play the game first, and then read my review.
Year Walk, both mysterious and enlightening, allowed me to encounter a wide array of emotions that many games fail to do: excitement, fear, intrigue, sadness, hope, satisfaction, and understanding. And all packed into a short, yet complex and thought-provoking, iPhone game. In many ways I have trouble classifying this as just a video game, but rather think of it as a combination of game, exploration, and mystery. The interactive experience transcends the usual boundaries of typical games, with the true ending only coming to light once the player has fully dissected all of the rich layers that encompass this poetic story of self-discovery, love, and sacrifice.
As with any stellar game, book, or movie, Year Walk left a lingering impression in my mind, like a stamp composed of the cocktail of sensations I had felt. My thoughts remain curiously fixated on the characters, creatures, and settings, with a desire to know more, but a satisfaction with what I had learned and revealed.
Brian Riggsbee lives in San Francisco CA. He enjoys gaming, writing, creating art, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chasing adorable dogs, and spending time with his wife and boy.