iGamer Reviews: Blood Masque

By Square Enix

For iOS

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Hey everyone, and welcome to another issue of iGamer, where Riknas reviews all the hottest (and other temperatures) mobile game titles. This week, we’ll be going over Square Enix’s Triple A title, Blood Masque, showing that the gaming industry is still a good five years behind the movie studios trying to cash in on the vampire craze everyone was talking about.

 

The Story

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The story of Bloodmasque is far from groundbreaking, however, it is just different enough to be interesting. The setting takes place in an alternate world where Vampires exist and nearly conquered the globe, and only recently are being overthrown by a new generation of half-vampires seeking to free themselves and the human race. The main story takes place in victorian-era France, where you play one of the many half vampire hunters; investigating rumors of a new Vampire leader that threatens to reverse all the progress the vampire hunters have made.

The Features

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Bloodmasque markets itself as a graphically intensive, cutting edge game with the unique feature to have your face placed onto your character.

One and a half out of three isn’t terrible, but not exactly jaw-dropping.

While the graphics are certainly high quality, the “Masque” feature is remarkably gimmicky, the game will access the camera on your phone and create an outline for you to line up your face with. That’s it. It just takes an actual picture of your face, and just plasters it over your character. I don’t even want to mention how important it is you also have your face fit into the outline perfectly, lest the game give you such ridiculous proportions that I don’t even want to show you what my pictures ended up looking like. Along with that, the game’s ability to show three separate expressions is also remarkably unimpressive, as it just asks you to take two more pictures beside the first one you picked. Really, you don’t even need to put up pictures of your face for that matter. At one point I decided just to take pictures of my rug, the tile floor, and my door knob. Boom, those are the images for my casual, excited, and angry expressions. While there is a certain novelty to it, you can easily go through the game without touching this feature at any point, and use their standard character creator.

With that said, in regards to how it plays…

The Game Play

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The gameplay in Bloodmasque is somewhat similar to the gameplay of Infinity Blade, in the sense that you use the touch screen to attack and dodge, which is sort of like saying a machine gun is like a flintlock pistol. Which, while technically true, doesn’t really say a whole lot.

The game mostly revolves around a series of encounters against various vampires, and sometimes their human minions. You tap the screen to attack your target, and swipe the screen to dodge. Unlike Infinity Blade, which direction you dodge in isn’t relevant so long as you time it properly. While it makes for rather simple gameplay, it’s fast paced and just challenging enough to keep it engaging. To add a little complexity, quick time events are added in to power up your special attacks, as well as provide bonus experience at the end of your encounters.

While each mission is simple, each of them is replayable, giving you opportunities to grind for experience, coins, and unique treasures in each mission. The item drop rates are fickle however, which can make the process tedious to people that aren’t enthralled with the gameplay.

This of course, brings us to…

The Catch

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Ah yes, this game does indeed have a catch. Along with a standard 7$ purchase price, the title has a pay-for currency to facilitate micro-transactions. The currency is “rubies” and can be used to progress through the game faster, or make it easier. This includes health boosts, time-extensions, upgrades, and even some exclusive items. 

For what it’s worth, there are other ways to get more rubies in the game, but they are both slow and inefficient, especially compared to pulling out your wallet.

Conclusion

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While I’m hardly a fan of micro-transactions being mixed in along with the actual “box” price, apparently everyone along with the industry has gone ahead and accepted it as standard affair. That said, the micro transactions aren’t as heavily encouraged as they are in other titles, and the price is relatively average as well. If you’re interested in some hack-and-slash vampire action and have some extra change you’re willing to spend, this might be the title for you.

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iGamer Reviews: Infinity Blade

Developed by Chair Entertainment. Published by Epic Games.

For iOS.

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The Game 

Infinity Blade is easily one of the most iconic names associated with the iPhone iOS, and one of the most successful games Chair Entertainment has released yet… If you haven’t heard of this game, then you clearly haven’t experienced this side of mobile gaming.

The Story

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The story and setting of Infinity Blade is a strange hybrid of medieval high-fantasy mixed with sci-fi steampunk, playing an unnamed and masked adventurer, determined to avenge his father by storming the tower of the God King, wielder of the game’s namesake: the Infinity Blade. It is entirely expected that you will die in the process, bringing you to the beginning of the tower, now playing as the next male descendant of your previous character. Once again, you will take up arms against the God King…

The Gameplay

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Infinity Blade is most easily described as a dungeon-crawling fighting game, although I hardly find that does the game justice, as Infinity Blade expertly uses the iPhone touch screen to its fullest capacity. Your character’s progression through the God King’s tower is facilitated by a series of short cutscenes, initiated by clicking on the location that you wish to go to. This will allow you to interact with doors, treasure chests, and enter combat encounters, which brings me to the real meat of the game…

Progressing through the tower, you will encounter various enemies that will try to stop you from reaching the God King. By swiping across the touch screen, your character is able to swing his sword, dodge from left to right, and block with his shield. Along with using your weapon to attack, it can also be used to parry your enemy’s strikes. The game follows the saying, “Easy to learn, hard to master” perfectly. Although the controls are simple and intuitive, perfect timing for attacks and dodges requires the utmost amount of attention, along with a fair bit of practice. And whenever you think you have the game nailed down, it hits you with a curveball by letting you win…and making it harder for the next round.

Infinity Blade’s gameplay works with the storyline absolutely flawlessly. While there was a point where I came to think that the game was intended to actually follow an infinite loop (which technically,  is possible) I was shocked to find that the game does in fact, have a definitive ending, which almost entirely recontextualizes the game you thought you were just playing.  

The Conclusion

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This is one of the first Triple A titles released for the iOS, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in bringing a console-like gaming experience to their iPhone or iPad.

Riknas, signing off!

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iGamer Reviews: Ace Attorney (HD Trilogy)

By Capcom.

For iPhone and iPad. Individual titles (non-HD) available for Nintendo DS.

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This may actually be the most appropriate review to get started, considering the last post I made that wasn’t just composed of news and false-announcements. In a way, for this first post I will be reviewing both a mobile game title, but also providing a more in-depth look of the Visual Novel genre. That said, let’s get with the review.

What is it?

You might be wondering to yourself, “What could possibly be so interesting about something called, ‘Ace Attorney?’ How exciting can you make a game about lawyers?” These are fair questions. Actually, I even asked those same questions myself when I first heard of the series. Would it be fun to read over legal terms and papers? Could I extract some enjoyment from writing up a crookedly-designed contract with my client, so that after the trial is over, they will be permanently indebted to me so that every time they cry; I can bottle their tears so that I may drink them at my leisure? While the second example may create an amusing mental image of sorts, I believe that the correct answer for most of you is, “no”. Fortunately, neither of those examples reflect how the game actually plays.

Capcom seems to be acutely aware of the negative perception lawyers have in America, and goes well out of its way to make the job of “Defense Attorney” seem as glorious and heroic as possible. You see, to the people at Capcom, being a legal representative is just one part of the job as you also happen to be a private detective and forensic analyst. That’s not to say you actually play someone who is both a detective and forensics expert; instead, it is just entirely assumed that detective work and forensic analysis is part of what being a “lawyer” is, which is enough to make you wonder why all lawyers aren’t also police officers.

What’s the story?

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In the Ace Attorney trilogy, you play the novice defense lawyer, Phoenix Wright, on a personal mission to protect all those who have been falsely accused of wrongdoing. Over the course of three games, Phoenix Wright meets a variety of different characters, both friends and foes, visits various locations, and uncovers several conspiracies, each more elaborate than the last one.

Each game in the HD trilogy is composed of a series of case files that Phoenix Wright takes on, and although each of them have their own respective story, most of them tie into one larger narrative, while some cases tie into the sequel after it. The final result is an elaborate web of expertly crafted mystery stories that seamlessly lead you from one game to the next.

How do you play it?

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As I mentioned in a post, long, long ago, Ace Attorney plays very similarly to a Visual Novel. That is to say, while the narrative mostly takes place from the perspective of Phoenix Wright, you do not physically control him or move him around like a traditional video game. Rather, each case file has two different styles of gameplay: Investigations, and Trials.

Investigations are very reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure games, albeit with some more complexities. In each Investigation, Phoenix Wright must interrogate witnesses, search the crime scene, and collect evidence to help prove his client innocent, all the while determining the true perpetrator of the crime. However, the Trials are an almost entirely different beast.

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After you have collected all the evidence you need, you will ultimately find yourself at the courtroom. From there, your reading skills and memory will be tested instead of your observational skills, as you are forced to go head to head with the prosecution and cross-examine the witnesses. It is through the testimony of the witnesses and claims of the prosecution that you must find the lies or contradictions made, and point them out with the evidence you gathered from the scene of the crime. These sequences  can be brutal if you can’t remember everything that happened, and the courtroom judge will penalize you for presenting the wrong evidence at the wrong time. With too many penalties accumulated, your defense will be overturned, and your client will be found guilty. While this can make picking the correct evidence all the more satisfying, sometimes the correct lines and pieces of evidence are so unintuitive the only logical way to handle the situation is to save your game, and guess wildly until you found the right piece of evidence (or just look up the correct answer online). That said, the logic-defying choices are most common in the first game, and are less common in the other two games.

What’s the final word?

Overall, I had a fantastic time playing through that game, and I’m willing to bet that anyone who is a fan of legal dramas and mystery stories is bound to enjoy it as well. Along with that, at only seventeen dollars for three games (although you can buy each title individually for roughly six dollars through in-app purchases) you will definitely get your money’s worth. And although there may be some frustrations along the way, the experience only gets better with each game you play.

That’s all for now,

Riknas, signing off!

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