Commuting Cognition: Cavefall, Snake Towers

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first-impression brain dumps. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.

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Cavefall: Endless Adventures

Cavefall is an endless faller. The most obvious comparison is Downwell, but a much simpler version of it; that’s not a bad thing at all.

You’re constantly sliding down a cave well, and must tap to jump from one wall of the well to the other, in order to avoid obstacles and collect coins. You also spin your pickax as you jump, which kills incoming enemy bats and destroys power-up crates. Movement is instantly responsive and very satisfying.

Those power-up crates can contain a health restore, and they’re *very* generous with them. After finishing your first match you’re led to a shop where you can buy passive upgrades, the first of which is one extra health; thanks to that my second match went on forever, due to restores being so common, and i had to die on purpose just to try and see more content during my bus ride. This was fixed on the second level, which ramps up the difficulty with blockades that must be lifted by hitting switches.

New levels are unlocked by collecting scrolls, which also contain backstory and are a really interesting part of the game, and another motivator to want to keep playing and reach further levels.

In addition to being fun and interesting, the game looks and sounds gorgeous; this one’s definitely a keeper.

 
Snake Towers

Snake Towers is a Snake roguelike. If that doesn’t sell you on it, i’m not sure what will.

The game takes obvious inspiration from Binding of Isaac: you move into random small self-contained rooms, and must eat all the apples within to unlock the doors to adjacent rooms. Some rooms don’t have apples and instead have two treasures, allowing you to collect one that gives you a permanent upgrade for that run. Repeat forever (as far as i played, anyway).

Unfortunately, despite the amazing concept, the controls did not work great for me. You swipe to change direction, but the swipes aren’t the most responsive and are definitely not terribly well-suited for the swift movement that snaking around corners requires. I feel that something more akin to path drawing would work best: tap and hold the screen, then drag to instantly move in that direction.

Because this is Snake, you die as soon as you hit a wall. One-hit kill feels really unforgiving for a game of this type, especially when you encounter rooms like the Inverse room, which reverses your controls. I feel like a lives + checkpoint system would work best, but it does depend on how long the dungeon is, which i had no way to figure out from my short run.

Also, i never really talk about the music, but the background music is *really* boring.

With some tweaks, namely tighter controls, this could have a lot of potential. But then, i just really love Binding of Isaac.

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