Hey guys! Welcome back to another exciting rendition of recAPP. I kept thinking this was going to be long overdue, and I was really slacking, but now that I look at it we’re pretty much on time! How about that? So this month, I played a few games that had been on my radar for a while. Thankfully, they all ended up being pretty good, for the most part! I even went a bit overboard and wrote extra-long paragraphs about them, so I hope they sound good to you as well. Let’s get to it!
Call me a shill, but one of the most passionate, clever mobile game developers on the market is Noodlecake. If you’ve followed my career at all from a previous website, you’ll know just how much I loved their previous game, Golf Blitz. Taking a mini-golf title, putting it on a phone, and allowing for four-person cooperative play is something I never would’ve imagined in a million years. Yet somehow, it worked perfectly. So once I wrote an article about it and it absolutely blew up, I figured I’d sign up for the beta of their next game, Motorball (which has now been fully released). Let’s just say… it’s not as original, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Unlike Golf Blitz, which brought a completely unique concept to the mobile gaming space, Motorball takes Rocket League, makes it exclusively two-player, and attaches a static camera to a top-down view. The action itself is frantic, and with nothing but a joystick, a boost button, and a power-up button to control the car, it’s minimalistic nature is as refreshing as it is easy to grasp. I enjoyed my time zooming about the arena, scoring goals, and fighting for the oversized ball. Rocket League is popular for a reason- it’s portrayed extremely well. Motorball does the very same and makes a great game similarly great on a mobile device. Customization adds some variety, like turning your car into an egg with a trail of flower petals, and the ability to spectate random players’ matches makes it feel like a real sport. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get past the Rocket League similarities when trying to praise this game. Motorball is undeniably fun, and if you love its spiritual predecessor, I highly recommend giving it a shot, for Noodlecake’s sake. However, I do miss the originality of old, and I look forward to their next game, whatever it may be.
I downloaded Archero about two months ago, I think? Never played it, as you can see, because the other games were so much more exciting to me. Fast forward to this month when a mobile ad popped up for this very game, and I must say, it lives up to the ad! Unlike many other mobile titles, Archero looked and felt as captivating as the advertisement promised, and I dare say it may very well be one of the most ambitious mobile games I’ve ever played. There’s not a whole lot to Archero’s format. Picture a Roguelike on a vertical plane, with velvety fantasy backgrounds and nothing but a bow to keep you safe in the face of danger. Now, imagine fighting from one room to the next, as enemies get increasingly stronger and faster, and finally coming to a safe room where a large ghost gives you one of three upgrades. These can range from faster attack speed to more arrows at a time to elemental damage. Upon reaching the tenth room, you’re met with a larger-than-life boss, who forces you to think on your toes and slay him in the most efficient way possible. Once he’s dead, it’s in the room 11 to start the cycle again! That’s Archero, and it’s so much more enticing and addictive in practice. You’ll lose yourself in the world and the action onscreen, until you finally perish and find yourself back at square one. Before jumping back in, however, make sure you upgrade your talents with collected in-game currency. These can be equipped permanently, and give you a boost in the next run. I call it a Roguelike, though, because even though you can purchase talents, the main game restarts after every death. It’s frustrating and requires a lot of focus, but once you get sucked into Archero‘s gameplay, it’s hard to pull yourself away.
Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad
If you’ve watched one of Ubisoft’s showcases in the last two years or so, you’re well aware of Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad. Also known as “the game that faked us all out and made everyone think a new Splinter Cell was really happening,” Elite Squad takes the “beloved” characters from Tom Clancy’s repertoire and blends them all together into a visually pleasing, fairly simplistic, kinda crunchy turn-based smoothie. Aside from knowing barely any of the characters in this game – seriously, do you remember side characters from The Division, or the bad guy from Splinter Cell: Double Agent? – the gameplay itself is as entertaining as it is familiar. I’ve played at least three turn-based strategy games over the last three months, and almost all of them feel the same. Not to say that’s a bad thing, especially considering the gameplay is fun and well-executed. But what really differentiates them all is their unique visual styles. Elite Squad brings an isometric viewpoint, with backgrounds that at times look like genuine photographs. The game has a cinematic mode that can be toggled to speed up the action, but I kept it on, as I liked to see what effects my actions had on a closer scale. My biggest qualm – aside from the loot boxes and minimal tutorial assistance with gear customization – has to be the fact that gameplay progresses on its own, with the player only choosing an attack when the timer allows them to. Fighting off waves of enemies without much player interaction can feel like a slog sometimes. But this does put more of a focus on assembling a strong, crafty team that works well together. On top of this, the missions are fast, explosive, and strangely addicting. All in all, I had a lot more fun with Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad than I’d anticipated. Just beware of the fairly large download size (1132MB).
It’s Literally Just Mowing
I’m terrified of committing a cardinal sin right now. Have I already talked about this game? Searching for it in thumbnails and keyword searches on the site brought me nothing, so I’m going to just go with it and assume I have not. To be honest, I didn’t play a ton of apps this month, I was slacking in the recAPP department for most of it. However, I figured I’d mention one game that’s kept me company for a couple of months now, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s Literally Just Mowing offers exactly what the title suggests. This game is a lawnmowing simulator in which your cartoonish character travels from street to street, mowing lawns for people. There’s no real story – other than the rather pointless level-up system – but the beauty of this game is its calming nature throughout. Who would’ve thought a game made entirely of mowing lawns into nice patterns and tapping cats and birds as they pass by could be so relaxing? I kid you not, this is the whole game! Just swipe in the direction you want to move, and mow every bit of grass. Tap the animals to add them to your nature book, and customize your mower with cosmetics as you progress. Even the loot box system doesn’t disgust me, as it keeps to itself with boxes earned through gameplay and unlocked over the course of a few hours. Just collect them and forget them! But what makes Mowing really special is its breathtaking visuals. For a game this small and simple, I never expected it to be so pretty. Every object is affected when the mower passes by, from flowers sprouting to clotheslines spinning around. Occasional wind gusts will blow the grass as you ride along, making the world feel rich and lifelike. I’m almost ashamed to call this a time-waster, as I know care was really put into it, but check this one out if you’re looking for some quiet relaxation. You won’t be disappointed.
Apple Arcade’s selection is growing, and there seems to be no better time to jump on than right now. One of the games from a while back, however, was recently shown at a Nintendo Switch showcase, and it made me want to give it a shot before the console release. Grindstone is a game by Capybara, who you may know as the makers of Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP. They have some background in mobile gaming and bringing larger experiences to a smaller screen. If you’re a frequent reader of recAPP, Grindstone follows a similar puzzle format as Pokémon Café Mix. Players control a buff Viking dude as he fights his way up a mountain to get to, I don’t know… Valhalla? Anyway, the story isn’t important in the slightest. What matters in Grindstone is forming the biggest line possible along with enemies of the same color, to ensure the most carnage will be left in your wake. Upon murdering 10 enemies in a row (make sure you check the options for the blood slider, because you can make this murder look as gory or as kid-friendly as you want), a Grindstone will be formed somewhere on the field. If Mr. Viking collects this, he can swap enemy color mid-massacre, allowing him to rack up even more casualties. Levels vary in size and difficulty, with optional treasure chests, bosses, and stronger enemies appearing along the way. Most levels just require a specific amount of enemies to be killed to progress, but my favorite aspect of Grindstone is the ability for hubris to be your downfall. Feel free to stay in the game and rack up more kills and Grindstones. But the longer you stay past the level requirement, the more likely the enemies are to fight back, and if you die? Bye-bye, everything. You’ll die and be sent back to the tavern, where you can heal yourself, upgrade, and head back out. Grindstone is like Candy Crush on steroids, and I am having a blast with it. I can’t wait for the Switch release.
Pretty exciting, right? Yeah, I thought this was a good month. Next month’s shaping up to be pretty sweet, too, if everything releases on time. I have a few surprises up my sleeve (I hope they’re actually good games, that’s also important). Also, September has already given us two Apple Arcade titles I really want to try, so… would that be scandalous if I included two next month? Feel free to object in the comments or on Twitter, but if I don’t see you there, I’ll see you back here next month! Happy downloading!