Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire
We knew this was going to be good. Any by golly, we were right.

Slay the Spire was already being talked about in a reverential tones well before it arrived on iOS. This is a roguelike card battler of uncommon balance and depth, with a bewildering array of tactical possibilities.

The mobile version didn’t arrive in perfect nick, with a UI that didn’t seem as well attuned as it should be. But still, if this isn’t the finest game of its kind on mobile, I don’t know what is.

SteamWorld Quest

Publisher: Image & Form

Genre: Card battler

SteamWorld Quest
You know I just said “if this isn’t the finest game of its kind on mobile, I don’t know what is” about Slay the Spire? That was true right up until the second week of December, when SteamWorld Quest landed on iOS.

I’m not sure that it’s actually better than Slay the Spire, but thankfully Image & Form’s card battler is different enough that I don’t have to make that call. The two complement one another wonderfully.

Here the tactical card battling is m arried to a more traditional, fleshed out RPG structure. Oh, and I&F’s wonderful cartoon-steampunk presentation, of course.

Gumslinger

Genre: Action, Multiplayer

Gumslinger
With all that in-depth card battling taking up my time, not to mention lashings of existential dread, I found myself pining for some lighthearted relief at various points in 2020.

Gumslinger was on hand to provide just the tonic I needed. Its rubbery, shiny, tactile showdowns are hilarious to behold and oh-so-moreish to play.

You simply haven’t lived until you’ve poleaxed a jelly-cowboy with a pinpoint bullet, let me tell you.

Songbringer

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Songbringer
If I were to describe a game that’s a twisted sci-fi take on classic Zelda, with the action quotient ramped up and stunningly stylised pixel-art graphics, you might think I’m talking about Hyper Light Drifter.

But here at the end of 2020, Songbringer is giving me those vibes. It actually doesn’t play all the much like Hyper Light Drifter, with weightier, slower-paced combat and a more exploratory edge.

It’s also even weirder, with an off-kilter sense of humour and disorientating procedurally generated levels that spawn from the word you ascribe to it. This one’s deeply trippy, not to mention endlessly replayable.

Reventure

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Reventure
There were games that I played way more than Reventure in 2020 (see above for details), and plenty of games that I found to be more fun (ditto). But Reventure was the one that gave me the most “huh, that’s cool” moments.

At first glance it’s a pretty typical platform-adventure set in a compact semi-open environment, and with a somewhat overly familiar retro aesthetic.

But start prodding at the seams and you’ll realise there’s some real ambition here. There are 100 possible endings to this pocket Groundhog Day adventure, demanding an experimental approach to exploration, and resulting in plenty of cheap yucks.



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