The modern age of online gaming is a truly beautiful thing, but ultimately it has come at a cost to regular, old-fashioned local multiplayer. There is nothing like being able to stare your opponent in the face as you absolutely shame them in your game of choice, or having to be graceful (possibly) when it’s your turn to eat humble pie. Those opportunities to play against, or with, someone in the same room are constantly dwindling, but at least there are a few developers trying to keep the local multiplayer torch burning, like Fortune’s Vault.
Their latest release is a collection of three two-player local multiplayer-only games for iOS devices. Each game is represented by a shape on the minimalist main menu, and is accompanied by a full tutorial. Each one takes a bit of time to get your head around, which could prove to be quite a stumbling block to getting a friend to play this with you.
Circle is a game that is reminiscent of Curling. Each player has a selection of different rings and coloured balls, each with their own behaviours and abilities. After picking a ring and ball, you must flick it in a direction of your choosing, trying to rebound your rings off the edges of the play area to score points, with the most points earned for hitting the furthest wall. Blue balls (snigger) will freeze other balls, red balls will unfreeze them, while black balls will move the others around. The game is timed and, in the event of a tie, the player whose yellow ball is closest to the centre of the arena wins.
Line is similar to the classic Pong. Each player controls a paddle with their finger, and can shoot balls by releasing their finger. Competitors must defend a line behind them that starts off small, but grows the more they move their paddle. Winning can be achieved by shooting a player’s line five times, bouncing one of the pink balls that litter the area into their opponent’s line, or by bouncing a player’s own projectile at their own line.
Finally, Square is partly a test of reactions, partly a test of strategy. Each player has a square button, which can be pressed after a countdown. Once both players press this button, a centre square is activated, which enables a couple of different ways to achieve victory. If a player releases their button first once the centre square is activated, they win. If a player continues to keep their button held, the button will grow larger to fill a square, which will win the game if completely filled. Each player can touch their button five times, but if after a set amount of time there isn’t a winner, the one with the largest button will win.
Each of these games is an interesting idea, but the biggest problem with them is that they’re far too confusing and complex. Even with in-depth visual instructions for all three games, neither myself or the people I tried to play this game with knew what was going on. Rounds are finished without anyone really understanding who won and why, which is a pretty big problem for a competitive game. With the graphics and sound being so minimal (which isn’t usually a big deal), I found it really difficult to persuade other people to play the game, and that was even before I tried to show them how to play. Once I did convince people to play, not one of them wanted to play more than a couple of rounds.
VERDICT: Me Vs. You tries to do something a little different, and while I can’t fault the developers for their good intentions, the simple fact is that two player games don’t work if the rules are too complicated and the user interface is too bewildering. If this was a free download then it would at least be worth a try, but I can’t honestly see a reason why you’d pay money for this, especially since the vast majority of people won’t play this for longer than a couple of minutes. It’s not terrible – it’s just not amazing, either.
POOR. Games tagged 4/10 will be playable, perhaps even enjoyable, but will be let down by a slew of negative elements that undermine their quality and value. Best avoided by any but hardcore genre fans.