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[Review] Twisted Lands: Insomniac (Android)

“I don’t want to scare you, but we’re going to do a lobotomy.”

Imagine being involved in a bus accident, and waking up in a sanitarium, strapped to a bed, and the first thing you see is some ugly doctor who wants to perform a lobotomy on you. Oh, and he is some sort of lizard/ alien in disguise. That is just the type of game the sequel to the Twisted Lands franchise brings us in Twisted Lands: Insomniac, a game I played the free portion of on my Android tablet.

Insomniac is a sequel to Twisted Lands: Shadow Town. To recap from the last game, Angel and Mark are on vacation. The two rent a boat which capsizes. Mark and Angel go into the drink, and by the time Mark gets to shore, an evil spirit thing takes Angel away, and Mark spends the game looking for her. The ending of the first game does not exactly carry forward to this game; How she ended up in a bus accident is beyond me. What is clear is that whatever whisked her away in the previous game is now making everyone she meets turn into some lizard thing, including this crazy ass doctor who is keeping her captive and threatening to perform a lobotomy on her. You know she eventually escapes the asylum, cutting herself loose using whatever is at hand. She must now find her way outta Shadow Town, back to her husband.

Insomniac gives you a lot to do in the game, and the plot moved along. The scenes look great, and bring you right into the creepiness of the game. The game is predominantly hidden object as well as collecting tools to be able to help you move from one scene to the next.

The one thing I have to complain about (and you know I would…) is that right to the end of the fourth chapter, just when I was really getting into Insomniac, the game prompted me to start paying for the rest of the game. I was a little surprised by this since when I found it on Google Play originally, there was no paid version that I was aware of. But, looking at it now, the paid version is only $3.16 CAD and I may consider paying to complete the game. At any rate, it was this that prevented me from finding out how the story ends.

If we are to compare both Twisted Lands games, I would say Insomniac is the strongest in terms of storyline, gameplay and above all, production level. Shadow Town was good, but its production level could have been better, and it certainly is recognized in this sequel. I recommend it!

Twisted Lands: Insomniac
Publisher: Alawar Entertainment
Released: July 2013

[Review] Sacra Terra: Angelic Night (PC/Android)

99 cents! 99 cents! I got this game for 99 cents!

Ahem, actually it was $1.02 Canadian on Google Play, but still…El cheapo. I came upon an app called Appsales that notifies you of Android apps on sale. Flipping through, I was curious to see if there were any games that have gone down in price. According to Appsales’ history, Sacra Terra: Angelic Night was advertised for $1.02, a 50% discount four months ago, and surprisingly, it is still at that price. I couldn’t resist playing this game on my Android tablet, as I had played it on PC a couple of years ago and had fond memories of it. Sacra Terra: Angelic Night is full of everything – great graphics, great gameplay and plenty of hidden object puzzles to keep the HOG fan happy for at least a couple of hours. It is from Alawar, the developers that brought you Twisted Lands: Shadow Town, and that game wasn’t bad.

Angelic Night starts predictably in an abandoned mental hospital where you wake up disoriented. You soon discover a spell has been cast, and demons representing the 7 deadly sins are poised to take over the world. It is your task to destroy these demons and save the world from damnation. Soon, you meet up with an apparition of a beautiful angel who is there to guide you through your task.

I really enjoyed this game for its puzzles and hidden object scenes alone. The plot was a bit of a stretch, and what was this game’s weakest element as it had some confusing plot twists and turns that really went over my head. At any rate, the graphics were well-rendered, and you could actually see even the smallest speck on screen. The PC and Android versions are very similar; it has been two years since playing the PC version, so the brain’s a little foggy – but I’d hazard they are the same game.

The negative for me? The Android version of Sacra Terra: Angelic Night crashed every time I moved from one scene to the other on my tablet. Every time! I’m not sure if my tablet’s recent update is causing problems…I would still recommend buying this game on either the PC or Android device, even while it might crash – that says something about the game!

99 cents / $1.02 for Sacra Terra: Angelic Night on Google Play – right now! I think the PC version costs $10.71 on Big Fish Games. Either way, pick it up!

Sacra Terra: Angelic Night
Developer: Alawar
Released: 2011

Credits: ggpht / blaze.com

[Review] The Passenger (Android)

I’m starting to think these games for the Android Tablet in the Google Play store are like a book written by Joyce Carol Oates. I watch the trailer (or read the dust jacket as it goes) and am immediately drawn into the game. I put money down, and start to play, only to be disappointed by its execution. This is exactly what I’ve ever gotten out of an Oates novel (no offence to Ms. Oates and fans who like her novels – I love the synopses she weaves on the dust jackets, but end up not liking her actual books). I wonder what attracted me to the game in the first place, but stronger still, I am left feeling like I got suckered.

This is the case with my latest choice, The Passenger, an Android game I played on my Asus eeePad Transformer the other night. What drew me to the game was the beautifully hand-drawn graphics, and the potential for a decent story. But unfortunately, my love for the graphics of this game is where the affair ends.

The Passenger is a dude in a trench coat who, when we first see him, appears to be in the midst of some sort of domestic issue with his family and he is kicked out of his home, forced to ride trains endlessly. Then, like a hobo, he proceeds to hop off trains at certain points where he goes searching aimlessly for stupid stuff and is forced to solve an endless array of dumb puzzles.The dude is a little figure on screen that you give direction to by pressing your finger a few inches ahead of him to make him move. That’s okay, except the little figure moves slower than molasses. So if you get clues on how to solve a puzzle in one scene, but solve the actual puzzle in another, you have to leave that scene, and have your little dude walk…back…three…screens…to get your clue, then have him walk…back to the actual puzzle to solve it. This eats up time and gets on your nerves.

*poke poke poke* I said left, dammit!!

The Passenger, overall, is frustrating – instructions on how to play are given at the start of the game, but as you play, there is no direction on how  you are supposed to go about solving these puzzles. No hidden object scenes, only hunt and peck around the screen where you pick up a shovel…some matches…You are not sure what the point of this story is, and never learn, as this game is easily only 30 minutes long, and then it ends. There is supposed to be a part 2 to the Passenger, but I am not invested in this dude and his story enough, so I doubt I will be buying. $0.99 from the Google Play store was enough of a loss for part 1. My advice – stear clear of this one.

The Passenger
Developer: Loading Home
Released: 2013 (so sez the Google Play store)

Photo credits: 1. Androidgamesroom.com / 2. androidmarket