Legends Of Mora
Developer: DeNA/Blowfish Studios
Availability: Later this month
Price: Free-to-play (iOS)
Everybody wants to build the next billion-dollar game. So it should come as no surprise that Legends Of Mora (LOM) is yet another Clash Of Clans wannabe.
The fundamentals are similar: Build a city, create an army, and protect your city while plundering the cities of other online players. But where LOM differs is that it incorporates plenty of map exploration, just like the classic PC game, Heroes Of Might And Magic (HOMM).
You cannot just recruit as many units as your economy can support, because you have to find additional units beyond your starting band.
With your world blanketed in a "fog of war", you must explore new areas to find imprisoned allies, wandering monsters, and new buildings and enemy castles to conquer.
The shrine, for instance, lets you recruit three new random units every few hours.
The arena lets you challenge the most powerful creatures, the Legends. Beat a Legend and it joins your army.
The plot revolves around an epic battle between the forces of Light and Dark.
I chose the Light with the early build and was soon hooked. My first hero was a dwarven paladin called Iron Guardian.
I also had four elven archers and soon recruited wolves, gyrocopters and peasants to my cause.
Getting my first Legend - a fallen angel called Blood - was a huge boost to my combat strength, as Blood could damage multiple units with a single blast of her special attack.
In battle, you can decide where to position your units, but cannot control their movements once they are in place. However, every unit has a disposition to either attack the nearest enemy, go for the defensive towers or rush to plunder the mines. Every hero and Legend has two passive skills and one active skill, which you can apply in battle to turn the tide of battle in your favour.
Legends of Mora is not just a great made-in-Singapore game, it has real potential to take the world by storm.
ArmaGallant - Decks Of Destiny
Developer: Rock Nano Global
Availability: Later this year
Price: To be announced (PS4 exclusive via PlayStation Network at launch)
This home-grown studio's debut game looks set to launch with a bang. Complete with glorious graphics, imaginative gameplay and an epic soundtrack, this game puts you in control of an army of fantasy creatures and a repertoire of spells.
Each creature or spell is represented by a card you can play to bring the creature or spell to life on the battlefield.
In this combination of deck-building Magic The Gathering game and the real-time strategy classic Shattered Galaxy, the aim is to be the player with the greatest amount of health at the end of the 15-minute battle round.
This head-to-head multiplayer game lets you battle against an opponent online, or team up with a friend in two-versus-two matches.
There are about 100 cards to be unlocked, from which you must form a deck of 30. As in Magic, you need mana to play any card and different cards have different casting costs.
You may want to create a deck of fast but fragile creatures to rush the opponent, or focus on defence until you can summon powerful creatures, or play with a combination of both. Spells can damage or heal creatures, or boost the rate at which your mana regenerates, which is a long-term investment for the right strategist.
As you win matches, you earn gold that you can then use to buy more cards. To hurt the enemy's health, you can either place troops in "capture zones" to reduce your foe's health continuously over time, or destroy special crystals to deal one-off massive damage to him. Destroying your opponent's creatures also damages him.
Every creature unit can be either a melee, mount, ranged or magic character. It is important to have a balanced army. Melee creatures have an edge over mount; mount over range; and ranged over melee; just as in the scissors-paper-stone game.
Creatures and spells belong to one of five elements - fire, water, earth, light and dark. Creatures and spells of the same element often work better together to create powerful combos, but sticking to a single element gives your opponent a better chance of guessing your style of play.
ArmaGallant lacks a single-player campaign, but if it can pull off its grand ambitions as a deep card strategy game, it could well be a force to be reckoned with.
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution
Developer: Ratloop Asia
Genre: Action platformer
Availability: Middle of this year
Price: To be confirmed (PS4 and PS Vita exclusive via PSN download)
The crazy birds from the action platformer are making a return this year in the third Rocketbirds game, the most ambitious title yet from the 10 members of this home-grown studio.
The six-chapter single-player campaign mode continues the story of the protagonist, Hardboiled Chicken, who goes up against the evil penguins led by their supreme leader Putzi.
As before, you must exercise your brain to solve puzzles and defeat evil mini-bosses to clear the levels. But the real fun begins only when the solo campaign ends.
That is when you start Rescue Mode, a series of cooperative rescue missions which you can undertake by yourself, or by matchmaking with friends offline and online.
Using twin thumbstick control for the first time, you get to move your bird hero with the left thumbstick, take aim with the right thumbstick, then hit the Right Trigger to fire away.
There are more than 40 weapons available, including assault rifles, flame throwers, electro-guns and multi-directional shotguns.
There is plenty of replayability as you keep playing rescue missions to earn gold to purchase new weapons and armour, and to replenish your ammunition.
Another new feature is "stacking", in which one player can jump onto another and focus only on shooting the enemy creatures, while the main player controls movement for both players.
This is a great feature for geek dads who want to play the game with their young children.
There is also a child-friendly mode in which the hat comes off instead of the head, and sweat is spilled instead of blood.
Masquerada: Songs And Shadows
Developer: Witching Hour Studios
Genre: Role-playing game
Availability: Next year
Price: To be announced (PC, Mac and possibly console)
Fresh from its success with the Ravenmark mobile games, Witching Hour Studios is now gunning for the PC market.
Masquerada is a top-down role-playing game that follows the comic-art style of games such as Transistor and Bastion, while adopting the epic storyline and gameplay of classics such as the Baldur's Gate series.
In this fantasy world, everyone is born with the ability to cast spells, but only those who are properly trained and own one of the limited magical masks can manipulate magic to its full potential.
Even ordinary folk can easily summon a small flame, but it takes a trained masked artist to unleash a burning fireball.
In the short demo that I tried, I controlled three characters and used them in various battles against enemy creatures. Every character has four skills to choose from. Each spell has a different cooldown time, so you must plan your combat strategy carefully.
Combat is in real-time but you can always hit the space bar to pause the game while you execute individual moves for your characters. Hit the space bar again to start the action rolling again.
The main character can cast a powerful Void spell which damages multiple enemies caught in its area of effect.
The same dude can teleport away, as well as summon enveloping vapours to slow down the attacks of enemies nearby.
The second character is a male healer of sorts who can, well, heal his allies, and who can also cast a tidal wave spell which damages nearby enemies.
The third character, a spear-wielding warrior, can rush into battle with an ability that sends her charging across the screen in a straight line, damaging any enemy that stands in her way.
Another unique feature is that each character has three different layers of life points.
The first to be depleted when the character is damaged is Armour, which does not regenerate naturally over time. The next layer is Focus. Like the shields of the Master Chief in Halo, this will naturally replenish itself. Focus points can also be used to increase spell power or to upgrade weapons, sacrificing defence for greater offence. The final layer is health. When it is depleted, the character is dead. While the game is still a long way away from being complete, the graphics - inspired by French comics - are beautiful and the deep plot is something that classic RPG fans will definitely be looking out for.
Developer: Gumi Asia/Sega
Genre: Role-playing game
Price: Free-to-play (iOS and Android)
Created for Japan by video-games giant Sega and internationalised by Singapore-based studio Gumi Asia, this highly addictive game will have you hooked for weeks, if not months.
As in traditional Japanese RPG games, there are plenty of stories about the hundreds of characters that you will encounter and recruit in the game. While the purists will love the long-windedness, I tend to focus on the gameplay.
The battlefield is a three-by-six grid in which you must hold the line against waves of enemies that start from the left of the screen and move towards your base on the right, like in Plants vs Zombies.
Every hero has his own skills and special attacks, and each comes from one of five main classes - soldier, knight, archer, wizard and cleric.
You can amass all the heroes you desire, but no more than five can be on the battlefield at any one time. Four of these will come from the heroes drafted into your main team; the fifth is an ally you can "borrow" from other players in the game.
You also have the option of using two more "substitute heroes" in your team, who will come into play if one of your main heroes falls in battle.
Every team needs a combination of melee fighters, ranged fighters and healers to complement one another.
Knights and soldiers are the melee fighters. Knights are more skilled in defence, while soldiers wreak more damage.
Either way, they are the front-line combatants who must protect the healers, who are more fragile, and the ranged archers and wizards. With three rows to protect, your heroes must be constantly switched from lane to lane to beat the enemy. Each hero has his own special attacks, ranging from super heals to devastating spells that can take out multiple enemies at the same time.
The thrill is in finding the best heroes and assembling a formidable team to take into battle. But as you start with only a handful of low-level heroes, you can expect to be hooked for a very long time as you go about exploring the game and fighting battles to eventually command a powerful army.
Dusty Raging Fist
Developer: PD Design Studio
Genre: Action platformer
Availability: End of the year
Price: To be announced (PC, Mac and possibly consoles)
Dusty Raging Fist is the prequel to the award-winning indie game Dusty Revenge. Best played with a gamepad controller, this is an action platformer combined with plenty of shooting and special attacks.
Raging Fist features a younger Dusty, a long-eared kungfu bunny with fists of fury and a cache of guns.
This time, Dusty hears of an ancient evil in a faraway land where children have been disappearing while villains rule over many towns.
The vigilante sets out to save the day and is soon joined by a foxy vixen assassin called Kitsune (Japanese for fox) and a minotaur-like dude called Drag.
You can play in cooperative mode with two other friends online or solo as you embark on your journey to fight the baddies and save the world.
Every hero is able to use attacks from different elements such as fire, wind and lightning.
Players can experiment, combining different elements to create a more powerful combo attack.
Executing fire and wind attacks together, for instance, unleashes a very powerful blast of fire which can damage multiple opponents caught in the blast radius.
In addition to the three main playable characters, you can recruit two additional allies you can activate to launch special attacks.
With Leo, you can unleash a devastating artillery attack with his powerful cannon but you have only a few seconds to quickly aim at the area to unleash the blast.
Using Snow the leopard sniper opens up a targeting crosshair which you can place on the enemy you want to finish off for a heavy attack.
It is still early days for this second Dusty game, but the early build already offers plenty of promise and a repeat of the trademark attractive 2-D graphics of this developer.
Happy Pet Story
Developer: Happy Labs Genre: Pet Simulation Availability: Now Price: Free-to-play (iOS and Android)
Happy Labs has a knack for making easy-to-play cutesy games that will appeal to children and young-at-heart adults.
Happy Pet Story is possibly its most ambitious game yet.
It lets you create your own pet, complete with choice of clothes, facial features, body types and headwear.
Your pet, or rather your character, joins other players at Happy Town and gets to mingle at the town cafe. You can complete quests assigned by the mayor and participate in a whole bunch of mini-games to earn gold.
This virtual currency can be used to buy new clothes and other cool stuff to make your pet look exactly the way you want it to.
To be honest, I am not a fan of this genre and I suspect dudes who like to mess around with bazookas and mechanised armies might not take to this game. But for the kids, Happy Pet Story will be a different proposition altogether.
Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?
Developer: Daylight Studios
Availability: Middle of the year
Price: To be announced (PC and Mac)
If you are looking for originality and something out of the ordinary, then this wacky game has it all.
Instead of controlling powerful heroes who will typically scour the lands for super powerful weapons, this game focuses on weaponsmiths.
You own a weapons shop and your goal is to hire the best smiths in the lands for the questing heroes, who are your customers. Every person in this game is a potato dressed to look human, hence the name of the game.
There are more than 200 weapons to forge, including daggers, rifles and cannons. Every weapon has several stats including attack power, speed and accuracy.
At first, you can hire only four smiths, each with varying skills in the different parts of the forging process. To truly create a weapon worth its weight in gold requires you to hire the best smiths in the land. But the best smiths demand high salaries and you must make sure you charm the highest-level heroes with the deepest pockets to buy your weapons of repute.
As you grow in stature and gold, you can upgrade your workshop to accommodate more smiths and deck out your shop with cool furniture and decor.
Holy Potatoes may look like a role-playing game, but it is in reality a simulation game in which you have to be proficient in managing your business.
The Last Vikings
Developer: Springloaded Genre: Action Adventure Availability: Next month Price: Free-to-play (iOS and Android)
From the creators of Tiny Dice Dungeon comes another original game with retro pixel-art graphics.
This time, you control a band of Vikings seeking to raid the towns of your enemies for riches to plunder.
The unique gameplay has you controlling a longboat which you must sail towards distant lands. A coloured object continuously moves across a slider bar and you must tap the bar when the object is at the designated zones to execute your action of choice.
Your left thumb needs to be placed on the "fire" button to shoot down flaming fireballs and vicious dragons sent by the enemy to take out your ship before you reach the town.
There are basically four actions: Move at normal speed, double speed, triple speed and reload cannons.
If you survive enemy fire and reach the first town, you can send in your Viking warriors to pillage, but you will also need to battle the local guards.
If you choose not to stop at the nearest town, you can keep sailing farther on to attack towns with more loot, but which are typically more heavily guarded.
Your longboat starts out rather short, but you can spend gold and materials to lengthen the boat to increase its durability and recruit more Vikings to win the ground battles.
Developer: Rotten Mage
Genre: Action platformer and tower defence
Availability: Later this year
Price: To be announced (PC, Mac and Linux)
The debut game of a new home-grown studio, Spacejacked is an action platformer that incorporates the elements of a tower defence game.
You control an overworked technician, called Dave, who has to protect his spaceship against a horde of invading aliens.
The spaceship is divided into different rooms and Dave has to go from one to another to set up gun turrets to take out the invaders. There are turrets that damage the enemies while others slow them down.
Dave may be required to jump around various platforms but the game is, at heart, a tower defence game in which you have to focus on building the right combo of turrets and place them at strategic locations to defeat the baddies from outer space.
As Dave goes about building the turrets, the aliens will also attack the spaceship's core.
Dave can rush over to repair the damaged core - he is a technician, after all - but that means losing time to build more turrets.
Complete with retro-style pixel art graphics and Midi-style music, this is a retro game that deserves to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It is currently on Steam Greenlight where it is awaiting more votes from the community before it can be released on Steam.
Head over to Steam Greenlight to show your support.
This article was first published on Apr 1, 2015.
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