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Old 09-12-2017, 03:07 PM
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Default "Honest" mobile gaming

Can we talk about "honest" mobile gaming and maybe offer reviews and recommendations?

I like playing video games on my phone, but I don't like micro-transactions and in-app purchases. It's not that I'm cheap (ok maybe I'm cheap but that's not the problem here) it's that I really dislike the model of paying for turns or paying to "speed up" an artificial timer because in my stupid little brain, it betrays the game mechanics.

So what is "honest" mobile gaming? I'd define it as: "Games that charge a price up front for the entire game." (There used to be a site that covered this idea, but I believe it is now gone.) That price can be free or it can be $20 or whatever, just as long as you get a full and complete experience for one price. Offering DLC is fine as long as it adds extra content to an already complete game.

(Before I continue I want to point out that I have no moral qualms with games that offer in-app purchases, and I don't belittle those that play them. They just aren't particularly fun for me.)

I'm currently playing a game called Star Command, which costs $2.99. It's a space RPG/strategy game with real time combat focused on crew placement and mini-games. I'm a little underwhelmed by the game at the moment. I thought it would be something closer to FTL than it is. There's some of that in there, with outfitting various rooms and weaponry on your spaceship with different crew, but combat seems very boring and solitary rather than the frantic immediacy of FTL.

It actually has some kind of linear narrative, which was kind of surprising. I actually appreciate the attempt at structure in this kind of game, even though the actual story is fairly weak so far.

I'm not sure I can recommend the game. The boring combat really is a killer here since there's very little else that requires any kind of skill.

Who has something else they can actually recommend?
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2017, 03:21 PM
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If you like JRPGs at all, Kemco churns em out by the bucketful. There's actually a few good ones floating out there, but I don't remember which ones in particular.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:22 PM
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Punch Quest is easily one of my favourite iOS games ever, ever, and while it's free, the Punch Doubler upgrade is permanent and removes any grinding you'll ever need to do, and even without it, the only "punishment" is that you get to play more of a super-fun game.

The game itself is an auto-scroller and beat-em-up hybrid, featuring your punch man/lady charging through a monster infested dungeon. Your only commands are to either jab or uppercut, but you can combine them for a fairly robust move set, and each enemy type requires a slightly different approach.

Besides that; it's got all the familiar trappings of the genre; you're assigned missions and completing them gives you money you can use to either buy new special moves or cosmetic items to customize your puncher, and there's no real persistence, short of trying to complete 50 challenges so you can unlock a new hat and see the (frankly amazing) ending cinematic.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:31 PM
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Speaking of JRPGs, obviously there's all the Square-Enix stuff. Of course, you pay the S-E tax, but most of them are up-front charges.

I want Romancing SaGa 2, but I don't $17.99 want it.

Assuming they still work on your device, the Chaos Rings games are also very solid. I think the first game and Omega don't work on Android devices beyond a certain point now; not sure about the second and third.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:38 PM
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Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders all the way.
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2017, 03:52 PM
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Although you can certainly pay your way into power (so this may not be what you're referring to), pretty much all of Final Fantasy: Record Keeper is doable without any purchases. In-app purchases just get you more of the consumables you can spend on gachapon equipment, but you can get hundreds simply from playing through the game normally. I'm free-to-play from day 1 and am still enjoying the game. (Sorry if this isn't quite what you're talking about.)

ETA: And confirmed, this is probably not the sort of game you're looking for. Sorry!

Last edited by ozacrot; 09-12-2017 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:53 PM
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Egglia: Legend of the Redcap is a good RPG with a board game-esque combat / exploration system. It's like a single-character tactics game with dice rolls influencing everything you do. It has elements a f2p game would have, but like, their good twin. Instead of money, they're fueled by playing the game, and instead of 24 hours to your next crop, it's like 10 minutes (conveniently about the length of a dungeon). It's a really charming game along the lines of Legend of Mana. We've actually got a thread about it. I would link it, but I'm on a phone.

QuestLord is a single-character first-person rpg. It's got open world elements, though the world is constructed out of twisty passages, not wide open fields. QuestLord 2 should be out as well, but I don't know if it remains microtransaction-free. It does look like it improved the interface dramatically, however.

9th Dawn (and 9th Dawn II) are pretty much older Ultima games, but with an action combat system and classes. Knights are tanky but don't have ranged options, Mages are delicate but have supreme firepower, and Rangers are somwhere in the middle with bows and daggers. The art's pretty nice, and it's kind of cute how the otherwise static sprites hop around.

EDIT: Seconding Romancing SaGa 2. It IS a SaGa game though, so beware if you're not into esoteric mechanics.
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozacrot View Post
Although you can certainly pay your way into power (so this may not be what you're referring to), pretty much all of Final Fantasy: Record Keeper is doable without any purchases. In-app purchases just get you more of the consumables you can spend on gachapon equipment, but you can get hundreds simply from playing through the game normally. I'm free-to-play from day 1 and am still enjoying the game. (Sorry if this isn't quite what you're talking about.)
Yeah, this is probably exactly what ThornGhost is not talking about. I'd say freemium games are a dime a dozen, but technically they're all free, so you can just keep the dime.

This similarly probably excludes apps like the ones for board games where you pay up front for the base game but can purchase expansions separately. Those can be very high-value games, and you do know what you're getting up front, so I don't know.

My personal recommendation? King of Dragon Pass, naturally.
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:21 PM
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I would not recommend Record Keeper based on ThornGhost's description.
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  #10  
Old 09-12-2017, 04:24 PM
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The Room (Not to be confused with that one) is a good, solid Myst-like puzzle game. And if you like it, there are two sequels that are slightly more adventure-like but also very puzzle oriented.
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  #11  
Old 09-12-2017, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
This similarly probably excludes apps like the ones for board games where you pay up front for the base game but can purchase expansions separately. Those can be very high-value games, and you do know what you're getting up front, so I don't know.
DLC style games are fine, so this boardgame model sounds like it fits. A game up front for money with expansions available for additional money is good.
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:35 PM
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Solitarica is a great roguelike-ish game that I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned already.
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  #13  
Old 09-12-2017, 04:44 PM
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I second the suggestion of Kemco's stuff. The quality is super hit or miss, but they're broadly very good for the fact that it seems a new one comes out every other month or so.

Another dev I really appreciate, though they have fallen a bit into F2P stuff at times, is the fine guys at Kairosoft, makers of such games as Game Dev Story.
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  #14  
Old 09-12-2017, 06:52 PM
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They're more of a tablet thing than a phone one (because resolution), but there's a number of old cRPGs available. Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic* are only $10, and The Bard's Tale 2004 comes with the entire Bard's Tale trilogy for only $3.

* You'll want a gamepad or keyboard + mouse for KotOR, though. Optimized for touch screen play, it is not.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:21 PM
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Kairosoft does make a lot of good stuff, but anything they have for free that isn't labelled "Game XYZ LITE" is actually an F2P game. Even in those the freemium bits are pretty ignorable, especially if you're like me and only tend to play mobile games in short bursts anyway.

Similarly, I've seen other games where it's free to download but only a few levels are available, with the full game being in the only in-game purchase. I love this model and Kairosoft-style stripped-down or time-limited lite versions because they give me a chance to try the game and make a decision without making a commitment first, but I've seen (ironically, especially considering the title of this thread) a lot of Google Play Store reviewers call this practice "dishonest."
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  #16  
Old 09-12-2017, 07:23 PM
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The F2P garbage gets most of the attention and money, but there are still more than enough honest mobile games to fill my available phone gaming time many times over. Here's a grab bag:

Async multiplayer board/card games (the category I spend the most time with): Ascension, Star Realms, Cthulhu Realms, Summoner Wars, Lords of Waterdeep, Tsuro, Race for the Galaxy, Twilight Struggle, Age of Rivals, Neuroshima Hex.

Roguelite: Cardinal Quest 2, Hoplite, Enyo, Crowntakers, Solitairica, Empire, Auro, Pixel Dungeon, 868-HACK, Dream Quest, Imbroglio.

Light strategy/wargames: Rebuild, Atlantic Fleet, Minos Strategos, Polytopia, Epic Little Wargame, Card Thief, Squids, Ticket To Earth, Militia, XCOM, Templar Battleforce, Kingturn series.

Puzzle: A Good Snowman, Hitman/TombRaider/DeusEx GO, Concrete Jungle, Slayaway Camp, The Sequence, Mini Metro.

Shmup: Raiden Legacy, DariusBurst, Shogun.

Fiction/gamebooks: Sorcery and 80 Days are the big ones if (like me) you're not a big fan of the genre. If you love it, there are a ton from Tin Man Games.

Last edited by Thraeg; 09-12-2017 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thraeg View Post
The F2P garbage gets most of the attention and money, but there are still more than enough honest mobile games to fill my available phone gaming time many times over. Here's a grab bag:

Async multiplayer board/card games (the category I spend the most time with): Ascension, Star Realms, Cthulhu Realms, Summoner Wars, Lords of Waterdeep, Tsuro, Race for the Galaxy, Twilight Struggle, Age of Rivals.

Roguelite: Cardinal Quest 2, Hoplite, Enyo, Crowntakers, Solitairica, Empire, Auro, Pixel Dungeon, 868-HACK, Dream Quest, Imbroglio

Light strategy/wargames: Rebuild, Atlantic Fleet, Minos Strategos, Polytopia, Epic Little Wargame, Card Thief, Squids, Ticket To Earth, Militia, XCOM, Templar Battleforce, Kingturn series

Puzzle: A Good Snowman, Hitman/TombRaider/DeusEx GO, Concrete Jungle, Slayaway Camp, The Sequence, Mini Metro

Shmup: Raiden Legacy, DariusBurst, Shogun

Fiction/gamebooks: Sorcery and 80 Days are the big ones. If you love the style, there are a ton from Tin Man Games.
this post is a glorious treasure
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:43 PM
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Monument Valley
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LancerECNM View Post
Egglia: Legend of the Redcap is a good RPG with a board game-esque combat / exploration system. It's like a single-character tactics game with dice rolls influencing everything you do. It has elements a f2p game would have, but like, their good twin. Instead of money, they're fueled by playing the game, and instead of 24 hours to your next crop, it's like 10 minutes (conveniently about the length of a dungeon). It's a really charming game along the lines of Legend of Mana. We've actually got a thread about it. I would link it, but I'm on a phone.
Seconded, though I'd add that Egglia requires a persistent connection for no good reason. It has a reason, but that reason is very bad.

It's worth reiterating that Egglia has all the addictive bits of a f2p game without any of the exploitation. If you've had gambling issues with gacha games in the past, Egglia makes for eggcelent methadone.
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:15 AM
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I really like the Super Stickman Golf games. They're typically free to download but have a one-time pay option that either removes ads or unlocks all the courses. Either way, pay once and you're good to go.

Also, the original Plants vs Zombies is a great game that plays really well on a touchscreen and doesn't have any microtransactions that I'm aware of. Avoid the sequel like the plague, though.

If you like word games, the New York Times Crossword app starts you off with a generous bundle of puzzles and then lets you buy packs when you're ready for more. And Typeshift is a unique take on word puzzles, specifically the clue puzzles that are like tile-based crosswords - you'll get a decent number of puzzles to start with for free and after that it's à la carte packs that you pay for.

Finally, I'll second Mini Metro (super cool, beautiful puzzle game about building a train network in real cities), 80 Days (intriguing adventure/text game with tons of different routes to take) and XCOM: Enemy Within (a tiny miracle that accurately ports over about 95% of the content of the PC game and plays well with touch controls).
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:43 AM
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I don't like mobile gaming because I'm unreasonably concerned about battery life on my phone but back when I had an iPad Plants vs. Zombies (the first one) and Ridiculous Fishing were in high rotation.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:17 AM
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CALCULORDS Is good because it combines Math, and a bunch of enemies that are all unmistakably written by Seanbaby.

Stardog! Stardog!

...Stardog?

Stardog!!!
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  #23  
Old 09-13-2017, 08:24 AM
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Rule With an Iron Fish is a fun little fishing pirate RPG that I enjoyed quite a bit last year that's structured like a numbers-go-up incremental FTP but is single price with no in-game purchases. It's only $3 bucks!

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  #24  
Old 09-13-2017, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post

My personal recommendation? King of Dragon Pass, naturally.
I bought this game but refuse to play it since the Android version demands access to my contacts. That pushes them out of the 'honest' category for me.
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  #25  
Old 09-14-2017, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meditative_Zebra View Post
I bought this game but refuse to play it since the Android version demands access to my contacts. That pushes them out of the 'honest' category for me.
That was surprising to me, so I looked it up. According to the website:

Quote:
Some of our Android apps were reported to be requesting access to the contacts book of the mobile phones. This is required by the “tell a friend” feature. Nevertheless, your contacts information is used within your phone and never downloaded by us.
Seems like they could, you know, not have that feature, or maybe they could not have it pull your contacts list. At least Android warns you about it, though -- on iPhone, you'd be none the wiser.

If you happen to have an Android tablet or other device that you don't mind cleaning of contacts, that'd be one way to play the game without giving up information. I agree that this is a real annoyance for a $10 game, though.
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  #26  
Old 09-14-2017, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
Seems like they could, you know, not have that feature, or maybe they could not have it pull your contacts list. At least Android warns you about it, though -- on iPhone, you'd be none the wiser.
Doesn't iOS prevent apps from doing this all together?
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  #27  
Old 09-14-2017, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krelbel View Post
Doesn't iOS prevent apps from doing this all together?
From asking, you mean? :P
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  #28  
Old 09-14-2017, 07:12 PM
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The best mobile (Android) games I've beaten so far:

Bloodbones
Bulb Boy
Devil's Attorney
FRAMED
Monument Valley
Ravensword: Shadowlands
Sorcery! 1-4 (these are the very best mobile games IMO)
Super Cat Bros
Traps n' Gemstones
Tormentum: Dark Sorrow
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  #29  
Old 09-14-2017, 08:14 PM
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Tell me more about Sorcery!.
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  #30  
Old 09-14-2017, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bongo Bill View Post
Tell me more about Sorcery!.
I personally found everything about it to be infuriatingly arbitrary and random, and on the whole absolutely no fun whatsoever. I honestly don't understand why it shows up on so many lists of best mobile games.
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