Commuting Cognition: The Human Age, Bored Ogre

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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The Human Age

The Human Age is 2048, with one particularly subtle but interesting difference.

You’re in charge of a 3×3 board where tiles randomly spawn, each depicting a human in a different age of civilisation. Swiping will slide the tile (or group of tiles) in that direction until it hits something; matching three of a kind will merge them into a higher civilisation. It’s 2048. One thing i found particularly interesting, however, was that on each turn you can see what tiles are going to spawn on the next turn, which allows you to plan much better and even block those spawn tiles if you need to conserve space. This was probably necessary due to the board’s small size, in order to avoid getting stuck too frequently, but i really like the extra strategy it adds.

Outside a match, you can spend resources to start constructing a building representative of each age. Reaching a new age in-match will unlock the plot for that building, and finishing the construction will unlock a new space in the board for your next matches. This is great for replayability, though i do question the decision of adding a single space instead of three; i’d have to play further to understand the real impact this has in matches.

 
Bored Ogre

Bored Ogre is a collection of mini-games skinned in a theme that should be funnier that it is.

The first game mode is basically mini-golf, where you’re using a spoon as a catapult to sling knights around. You have a few virtual buttons at your disposal in a very cluttered UI; two arrows aim left or right, and a power button charges the shot while showing the arc pattern it will follow. Upsettingly, the power meter resets and loops back from the beginning if held down to the maximum instead of looping back and forth, like in every other game, meaning it’s easy to accidentally shoot with minimum power if you’re aiming for maximum. There’s also a lives system, in which you lose one if you shoot out of bounds; losing all your lives will force you to restart the course from the beginning. I have to question the necessity of this since your score is already being penalised, and the score is really the main point of the game.

The second game mode is darts. You swipe forward to launch the dart, and it does not work well at all. The swiping is far too sensitive, to the point where i don’t think it’s physically possible to hit the bottom half of the target, and there’s zero feedback to how your throw will turn out until you actually throw it. The third mode is similar but you’re just tossing knights into a bowl by swiping forward; the swiping seems better tuned in this, or at the very least feels more intuitive.

Thematically it all revolves around the titular Bored Ogre, whom you control, slinging captured knights around as balls or darts. It’s a funny premise in theory, but it doesn’t really come through in the game. The art style, presentation, and overall feedback is very stiff and bland, and it has none of the energy nor expressiveness necessary to make the theme shine. Bit of a shame, really.

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