Well, I finally jumped on the Hero Academy bandwagon this week. It's very good, but also a bit unsatisfying. I'll get into why below.
Games of note this week:
1 - Legend of Grimrock
2 - Dungeons of Dredmor
3 - Battle Nations
4 - Titanic Lite
5 - Hero Academy
The mechanics of Hero Academy are great - elegant mechanics, clean controls, infinite undo - it's all just fantastic. The art is clean, the game loads fast - there's just nothing wrong with the implementation at all.
Unfortunately, the game falls down quite a bit in the overall design. I don't mean the battle mechanics - which are well-balanced and tactically interesting - I mean in the way you play the game. Hero Academy is only playable in asynchronous multiplayer battles. New teams are available, but you never get to see them without an in-app purchase.
This is a game which I would devour in single-player mode. I would love to practice and learn how to play the game - experiment with the UI, and play entire games at once. I'd love to play hotseat with a friend on the same screen.
Since it takes hours (or days!) to play through a game, it is very easy to get 5-10 games going at once. But this makes it impossible to remember where you are in each game - is this the game where I lost my Ninja early on? How many attack upgrades are left in my deck? Have I seen the opponent's super-unit yet? Without access to this information, games played over days become more like random chess problems than real tactical successes.
If I could pay $2 for a single-player version of the game, I'd be on that in a heartbeat. And a sample single-player level with each new team would give me a great chance to try them out - and possibly encourage a purchase. Unfortunately, as things stand now I won't be spending any money on Hero Academy - even if I keep playing it.
This is a puzzle game I discovered (like most good puzzle games!) through Tom Cutrofello's excellent blog. This game has you rescuing people from the water into a series of lifeboats. The trick is that boats rescue the first drowning person they touch - and can't be moved once they are full. So paradoxically you keep your boats away from people in the water as much as possible - because you don't want your locked boats to block the future boats. The game is free, and it's an excellent puzzle experience. Highest recommendation.
I'm still very much enjoying Battle Nations - in fact, I'm getting close to buying my first premium building thanks to all the Nanopods I've earned through Tapjoy. I'm at a point now where my Iron output, unfortunately, just clobbers every other concern I have. I don't mine stone, wood, or oil at all these days - it's all about iron. damaged units take around 1000 iron each to repair, which takes most o my supply.
Dungeons of Dredmor
My interest in DoD is waning again, which is natural after 400+ hours invested. Gaslampgames has announced a new free DLC coming in a month - so I'm sure this will continue to be a great game for me to play in the evenings. My 8-year-old son has finally started his own character in the game, and he's enjoying himself even though his math skills prevent him from really digesting the game's finer points.
Legend of Grimrock
I'm nearing the end of the dungeon, finally, and I have nothing but respect for what the developers have accomplished with this game. The only thing I want in Legend of Grimrock is more - much more. The game doesn't lend itself well to multiple play-throughs (I say when I'm on my third...) and the skill trees sort of cap out pretty early on. There are some really genius moments - like the Guitar Hero-esque light puzzle, and the Headhunter skill for Minotaurs. The lighting system, food, encumbrance, defenses - everything is in place to make Legend of Grimrock a really great game. We just need more of it to love.