It’s the first Saturday of the month and in order to make the month to come a little bit easier, as well as hopefully highlighting some games that you may have otherwise not played, GodisaGeek.com is here to show off some games from the Mac App Store.
This time on Mac Medley, we’re taking a look at Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch from Orchid Games and Art Mogul from Funzai!.
Keep reading for a full review of each game, and even a handy little button to allow you to download them for yourselves. Don’t forget to check back to GodisaGeek.com for more Mac Medleys in the future.
Titles are available from the Mac App Store unless specifically stated otherwise. If you like what you read, click the small black “App Store” button to load iTunes up and purchase the title!
SPIRIT WALKERS: CURSE OF THE CYPRESS WITCH:
The one good thing about G5 Entertainment’s long line of adventure games not changing much from iteration to iteration, is that it’s possible to see how the company has advanced in the way that they make games. They’ve improved a lot over the past couple of years, taking aspects from games that work and keeping them, while getting rid of the stuff the feels a little bit too dated now. It’s a transformation which, for me at least, started with The Cursed Heart and has continued to get better and better; Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch, despite its problems in the storytelling department, has some of the best gameplay mechanics and visuals that the whole line of G5 Entertainment’s adventure games have to offer.
Firstly, the negatives. The storytelling, and the story itself is some of the weakest that I’ve seen in any adventure game, not just the ones published by G5 Entertainment. The characters lack charm and the player won’t find themselves caring about their exploits, the overarching story is strange and it’s never explained why the main characters care so much about the chance that a ghost might exist that they’re willing to risk their own lives. The voice acting does its job, to a point, but all of the actors feel as if they’re reading from a script in order to get paid; not really attempting to be the character. The on-screen subtitles are even worse, being littered with spelling mistakes, instances of words that nobody ever said and more. It’s almost better to skip the text entirely and attempt to solely listen to the mediocre voice acting.
With that being said, as I mentioned earlier, the gameplay in Spirit Walkers is some of the best that G5 Entertainment has to offer, and easily eclipses the inadequacies of the story, enabling me to continue playing much longer than I would have thought possible. A lot of the same game mechanics we’ve grown to love from these types of games, from this publisher, have made their return. There will be moments where you have to find objects in a scene – although, this time, you’re trying to find them based on a silhouette instead of a list, which makes things a little more enjoyable – as well as combining items so solve puzzles, on top of solving intricate puzzles in their own right. Gameplay continues in this vein for the entirety of the title, giving you just enough “adventure gaming” to whet your appetite, then throwing in a puzzle for you to do when it thinks you may have gotten a bit bored. This tactic ensures that whether you’re playing Curse of the Cypress Witch for five minutes, or five hours, you’re not going to get too bored of any one aspect.
There are lots of different kinds of puzzles for players to sink their teeth into too. There’s the obligatory (for a G5 Entertainment game) scene search games, which we’ve mentioned, but there are also puzzles which ask the player to build pictures like a jigsaw puzzle, rotate dials to a specific point in order to open doors, and even puzzles that span entire sections of the game, expecting players to take what they’ve learned from previous areas – and sometimes objects that they’ve picked up much earlier in the game – and apply them to the brand new puzzle that’s before them. The puzzles aren’t always easy either, which makes the fact that there’s a ‘Hint’ button in the bottom right-hand corner (which is on a cooldown to stop people using it constantly) a bit of a godsend. If you’re having particular trouble with a puzzle, just hit this button and the game will either guide you towards the answer or let you skip the puzzle entirely and move on with the story; although quite why you’d want to do that is beyond me.
Spirit Walkers: Curse of the Cypress Witch isn’t the best game on the market right now, it isn’t even the best game of its genre, but what it does do is show that the developers the G5 Entertainment work with are improving over the course of time. They’re learning from their mistakes instead of continuing with the bull-heard notion that they’re always right. Spirit Walkers is a game that shows these improvements better than any of their other games at the moment. It still has the little “quirks” we’ve come to expect, and the story is, frankly, downright terrible, but the gameplay makes up for most of this by managing to be what a video game should be; fun.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Some games change a little when they make the move between the smaller devices of the iOS range and the much larger home computers such as Windows or Mac PCs, and it’s understandable. There’s a huge difference in input methods between using the touchscreen and a standard keyboard and mouse. Sure, the mouse is pretty much the same as your index finger on a touchscreen but the addition of a keyboard, with its myriad of keys, allows for the addition of keyboard shortcuts which can make life a hell of a lot easier in certain games. Art Mogul, developed by Funzai!, is a game that hasn’t changed in the slightest during its travels from the mobile to the desktop space. Some may see this as lazy, whereas some may see it as a case of “if it isn’t broken, why fix it”, but the important question still remains: is it fun to play?
The main gameplay element of Art Mogul involves the buying and selling of pieces of art, this is done by travelling to the various locations around the world, buying some artwork, then flying around the world again to find the best location to sell it in. There are a couple of ways players are able to buy pieces of art, either from a respectable art gallery – where everything is going to be genuine but may cost a little more – or from the coffee shop – where there’s a chance the artwork may be a fake, but will be significantly cheaper. It’s totally up to the player where they want to buy things from, as well as whether or not they’re willing to pass fakes off as the real thing.
There are puzzle-like gameplay elements involved in Art Mogul too, asking the player to find certain objects within the paintings in order to make them cheaper (when buying) or more expensive (when selling). When you’re potentially buying a painting from an art gallery, you will be shown three items, as well as a selection of important aspects of them along the bottom of the screen. Find all of these important aspects in each of the paintings and you’ll drive the cost of each of them down. Selling paintings works the other way, as you’ll be asked to point out these important aspects to your potential buyer, with doing so pushing up the price and your own profit on the whole.
One of the other major aspects of Art Mogul comes from the buying of paintings from coffee shops in each of the cities. These have a high tendency to be frauds and it’s your job to tell them apart and drive the cost of the item through the floor – providing you even want to buy it once you know it’s a fake, which is a moral question as even fakes can sometimes turn a profit if you can find someone to take it off your hands. Discovering fakes is as simple as looking at the painting on offer, then clicking a button at the bottom of the screen to overlay that image with a photocopy of the original. Doing this allows the player to discover fakes quite easily – even if the differences can be subtle – and the price being quoted for the piece of art will drop through the floor; which is what you want.
Art Mogul is still a fun game to play, but nothing has been added during the transfer from mobile to desktop gaming. There are plenty of instances when a keyboard shortcut would have been beneficial but they simply haven’t been added. Having said that, however, the developers haven’t taken anything away from the game either. It’s still the relaxing, relatively fun game it always was and it’s nice to be able to play it on the larger screen of my iMac. What it really boils down to, when making a decision about which version to get, is how you’re going to play it. If you see yourself playing it at home while watching TV or relaxing, get the Mac version, if it’s more something you’d play on the train to work, get the iOS version. The two versions are pretty much identical to each other otherwise.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.