Castlevania: Grimoire Of Souls and Zookeeper World are the biggest new releases on mobile this month, but which is worth the download?
This month in mobile gaming sees a significant update for Dead Cells, which gets the free Fatal Falls DLC and lets mobile players customise their runs; Mini Motorways adds the city of Aotearoa in New Zealand, home of the game’s developer Dinosaur Polo Club; and Monument Valley 2 gains a forest chapter in support of Playing For The Planet Green Game Jam. If, however, you’re in the mood for a brand new game, read on…
Kitty Q – A Quantum Adventure
iOS & Android, Free (Philipp Stollenmayer)
A collaboration between Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education & Research and legendary mobile game designer Philipp Stollenmayer, Kitty Q uses the classic Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment to create a child-friendly introduction to quantum physics, a field even adult scientists can struggle with.
Solve puzzles and collect accessories for a cat that is at all times both dead and alive, and unlock simply worded explanations of complex numbers, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal, cold chips, and the mind blowing, counter-intuitive world of quantum mechanics.
It’s a work of brilliance and certainly expanded our meagre understanding of the next adventure in physical science.
Beatstar – Touch Your Music
iOS & Android, Free (Space Ape)
Touchscreens are really good for rhythm action games, a genre that in no way demands a physical controller to work properly. In Space Ape’s new rhythm actioner you’ll be using both thumbs to tap tiles as they slide down the screen in three columns.
Start by selecting your gender and the decade of your birth, and your musical selections are lightly tilted towards your demographic – although we must admit we still hadn’t heard of all the song selections.
It’s got a polished interface and a well-judged difficulty level that rises over the course of each track but suffers from its free to play status. Victory rewards you with a loot crate that soon requires several hours or real cash to unlock, meaning you can only actually play it a few times per day. A frustrating flaw for an elegantly designed game.
Exit – The Curse of Ophir
iOS & Android, £4.99 (USM)
Famous author Tory Harlane is missing, last seen at Hotel Ophir in the Witchita Mountains, where you head to look into both his disappearance and reports of unexplained phenomena.
What ensues is classic point ’n’ click adventure meets escape room, with discovered items added to your inventory so you can zoom in, rotate, and examine them, before using them to solve the game’s sometimes fairly obscure puzzles.
Although its interactions are relatively simple, you’re left to figure things out on your own, its hints never amounting to full solutions. With tidy graphics and voiced over narration, it’s a neat little mobile mobile-sized mystery.
iOS & Android, Free (Parallel Space)
Having a fully fledged PvP space combat sim in your pocket is an alluring prospect. It’s unfortunate, then, that Battleship Apollo gets so many things wrong in its attempt to deliver that.
Gameplay involves dropping fighters, bombers, and tactical support craft onto a hex grid, drawing from a slowly refilling pool of energy in a way that will be instantly familiar to Clash Royale players. Once on the map units go about their business autonomously, attacking enemies and where possible heading for your opponent’s flagship.
The issues are legion, but the most annoying is matchmaking, which regularly pits you against commanders several levels above you, against whom you stand no chance whatsoever. Parallel Space’s previous game, Hades’ Star remains a better and more balanced experience.
Castlevania: Grimoire Of Souls
iOS, Apple Arcade (Konami)
Arriving in the same month as the excellent Castlevania Advance Collection comes Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, a rather different sort of whip-wielding adventure.
Retaining the side scrolling 2D design, attacks are partially automated by default, an over-simplification that extends to all aspects of the game. No longer will you unlock previously inaccessible areas using new skills, making this less Metroidvania and more dispiritingly easy generic slash ‘em-up.
Factor in cut scenes that are long, frequent, and catastrophically dull, and tediously incremental levelling up and weapon unlocks that have quite obviously been shovelled over from its original design as a free-to-play game, and you’ve got a title that’s well worth avoiding.
iOS & Android, Free (David Kirchner)
Amusingly titled and very much not a tube train driving simulator, Severe Delays is much nearer to being a London Underground-themed driving game.
In each level your train automatically accelerates, leaving you to steer left and right, in just the way that real tube drivers can’t. Avoid oncoming trains whilst picking up coins and Clam Cards – their take on London’s Oyster card, whose motto is ‘The world is your clam!’
Although it’s been out for a while it’s just received a major Night Tube update, and remains simple, moreish fun that’s completely free with no microtransactions.
iOS, Apple Arcade (Kiteretsu)
Originally released for Nintendo DS in 2003, Zookeeper is a monstrously addictive match-3 puzzler renowned for its delightful pixel art and angrily dismissive zoo boss, for whom none of your efforts can ever be enough.
Although your boss is now disappointingly encouraging, the tile swapping gameplay remains just as engaging, plus it’s now got a likeable, if purely cosmetic, meta-game grafted onto it, where you earn money to rebuild and re-populate your zoo.
Timed levels are elegantly designed, as are the mecca-bosses, providing variety to spice up the tile matching, even if you can’t escape the feeling that success is a little too dependent on the tiles you’re dealt rather than your emergent matching skills.
By Nick Gillett
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