iOS Universal, Android • The Battle of Polytopia is one of the best pick-up-and-play time wasters on the App Store. In minutes you can build an empire, quash your enemies, and then realize your score is tens of thousands lower than everyone else who’s ever played the game. Hooray! Battle of Polytopia is one of only two things you can be terrible at and still have a good time. You can guess what the other one is and, yes, I’m terrible at that, too. Yesterday, Midjiwan released a major expansion for Polytopia ensuring my futility will continue for all time.
PC/Mac/Linux • Nostalgia is a tricky beast. Some creators will use it like bad wallpaper, covering the cracks of their leaky foundation while trying to remind us of the wallpaper in our childhood bedroom as if that would make us ignore what’s underneath. Other creators will use it to enhance the story or characters by dropping us deeper into whatever it is they’ve crafted. Last year’s X-Files reboot was the former, Stranger Things was the latter. Nostalgia can only take you so far, and if the product isn’t good to begin with then nostalgia won’t suddenly make it worth your time. Thimbleweed Park drips with nostalgia. In fact, they could have called it “Nostalgia: The Game” and I would have nodded and thought it was a good choice. Thimbleweed Park exists solely to remind you of classic point-and-click adventures from the 80’s and 90’s, especially those from LucasArts, but it does it with a deft hand and excellent new mechanisms, making it far more Stranger Things than X-Files. This is nostalgia done right.
iOS Universal, (Android coming soon) • It’s not often that we post about app updates unless they include some major new features or content, but here we are prattling on about an update to the excellent Card Thief which adds neither. It’s almost as if it’s been a slow news week or something.
iOS Universal, Android • Shortly after this review was published, Funforge updated Tokaido, notably adding the previously missing two-player option. Because two-player local play was my ideal use case for the game, this pleased me greatly, and it deserved special mention. My thanks to forum-goer “Misguided” for directing my attention to the improvement. Tokaido crystallizes thinking about the merits and challenges of digital translations of tabletop games. The cardboard version features lovely art, evocative of stylized watercolors, which sets the mood for a pleasant walk along a scenic road in ancient Japan. Not content to simply replicate these static images, developers Funforge created a 3-D, animated version which captures the artistic impact of the original–given the extent to which this is the game’s greatest asset, that’s genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, the very quality of the presentation highlights limitations of both the app and the underlying game.
iPad, Android, PC/Mac/Linux • On Monday we wondered about the timer that Beamdog was winding down on a site that just happened to be named “Planescape”. When the timer went off yesterday revealing that, yes, it does indicate a new, enhanced version of the Infinity Engine classic, we were right there to post all about it. We were, our site was not. Turns out we had some issues on the backend that were preventing posts from appearing on the front page and, although he had absolutely nothing to do with it, I blame Kelsey. We’re back now–the issue self-corrected, which doesn’t inspire much hope for a problem-free future–and we’re ready to talk about the only digital RPG to feature the Lady of Pain.
iOS Universal • Word games are usually not my go-to, but every now and then one will get under my skin and become an obsession. The last was Tim Fowers’ board game port, Paperback, but Zach Gage’s latest, TypeShift is the newest word game keeping me up at night.
PC • Not only were strategy fans left to solve the quagmire of Afghanistan last week, but the equally brutal Battle Brothers lumbered out of its stint on Steam Early Access on Friday. Because there’s clearly not enough you could be spending doubloons on. To arms!
iOS, Android, PC/Mac • Over the past four years, Beamdog has made it their mission to resurrect classic Bioware Infinity Engine RPGs on both PC and mobile. They’ve already released both Baldur’s Gate and it’s nearly perfect sequel, Shadows of Amn. They’ve even cranked out the combat-focused Icewind Dale. What’s missing is the one Infinity Engine title that everyone [to be honest, BG2 was always my favorite. -ed.] wants, Planescape: Torment. Is that about to change?
iPad, PC/Mac • When Commands & Colors: The Great War was released earlier this year for PC/Mac, HexWar assured us that it would only be a matter of time before we could play the Commands & Colors title on our tablets. True to their word, yesterday The Great War was unleashed on the App Store.
iOS Universal, Android, PC/Mac • While it arrived on Steam way back in 2015, Militia escaped our attention mainly due to the fact that no mobile version was on the horizon. Turns out developer BrainGoodGames always had a mobile version planned, they just didn’t let us know about it until yesterday which is a good thing, because that’s when it landed on the App Store.