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 impressions. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.
Glyph Quest Chronicles is a match-three puzzle game where you match orbs to deal damage to opposing enemies. It doesn’t have the most unique gameplay, but the way it’s presented makes it quite appealing.
Being presented as a spellcasting game, probably its most relevant gameplay mechanic is the elemental system. Orbs have an element attached and will deal damage of that type to enemies, which have their own elemental weaknesses and resistances. All very Puzzle & Dragons. Their additional spin on this is a chain / reversal mechanic, where you deal extra damage by continuously casting spells of the same element, or by alternating between one element and its opposite. To further capitalise on this they don’t allow matches beyond three orbs, and also allow matches of only two orbs, ensuring you can take the most advantage of these mechanics. They work quite well.
Also uniquely for the genre, the gems in the puzzle board don’t fall when you make matches below them. Instead, new gems just spawn in the slots. On the one hand, this is one less thing to worry about and makes the plays more straightforward; on the other, it’s quite a significant meaningful decision to remove, albeit lessened by being able to match two orbs. I didn’t notice this for a while, which credits the decision to remove it, but i’m not entirely sure i agree with it.
Quite a dangerous consequence from these design decisions is the fact that no automatic chains occur after you play, removing a big source of instant gratification. Personally i don’t mind it, as it makes the game more tactical and less random, but it’s easy to lose mainstream appeal without that sort of system.
The game also features a level system, equipment, different characters (and spells, presumably), quite a bit of stuff to keep you occupied. Coupled with the charming aesthetic, i quite like this one.
Sticker Switch Quest is kind of an automatic runner. You move around a line forming a shape, and can flip from outside of the line to inside, and vice-versa, while collecting coins and avoiding blocks. Not sure why that was so hard to explain, it’s not exactly unique.
The gameplay is super simple and not terribly exciting. It doesn’t seem to be prepared for you missing a coin; you’ll need to go all around the shape again at a pretty slow pace, and it gets boring quick. As you collect coins obstacles start spawning (including spawning right in front of you; add some distance checks, people) but the pace never quickens, and it really ought to. I would’ve eschewed obstacles altogether and just force you to not miss coins, all the while increasing the movement speed.
Upon death you may be prompted to continue. If you do, you’ll be treated to a video ad, even though nothing in the popup mentions one. It’s not at all unexpected if you’ve played a few of these, but it’s still really cheap.
The shop features a fixed-cost blind-buy system, which is probably my least favourite of them all: you have several items available, each with a fixed cost, but you don’t know what they are. If you want fixed-cost, let people know what they’re buying; if you want blind-buy, use a gacha system. This is the worst of both worlds.