This is the first in what will be a reoccurring article by Forrest T., Gratis Gamer. Here is Gratis Gamer for the Week of 7-16-2012, please enjoy:
Hello and welcome to the first edition of Gratis Gamer, your one-stop column for the best in free (or decidedly cheap) gaming. Here I will offer up reviews of the best games your depressingly bone dry bank accounts can endure. Make sure to check back at Angry Bananas for new cheap game reviews whenever I have the time away from my own low income job, to entertain and enlighten you poor bastards. Well, on with the show…
Developer: One Man Left Studios
Outwitters is the sophomore effort from indie team One Man Left Studios, previously known for the well-received Tilt To Live, also on iOS, as well as Android. While I cannot speak to their previous effort, Outwitters is a superb turn-based strategy affair with a charming, colorful presentation and surprisingly simple and streamlined gameplay. From the outset, you are given control of the default “Scallywag” faction, a pirate team of marine based life forms, and tasked with destroying the opposing faction’s base. To achieve this end, you must utilize your five unique units (Runner, Soldier, Medic, Sniper and Heavy, along with a sixth unit which is specialized to your specific faction) to navigate the game board and overcome your enemy. Each unit has a certain range of movement/attack available to them, which you quickly learn is absolutely essential to master, in order to emerge victorious.
While there is no single player campaign contained in Outwitters, the player matching and leaderboard-style “League Play” provides more than enough incentive to continue playing round after round. My only complaint with the game, however, stems from its “Player vs. Player” nature. Unlike other titles, such as Words With Friends or Draw Something, where waiting on another player’s move is part of the fun, I have found that many of the random players I have started a game with take a single turn, never to be heard from again. Currently, there is a 4 day waiting period until the other player forfeits the game from inactivity; I believe that Outwitters would benefit from an optional game mode, in which each player must make a move within 30 minutes or lose the match.
Regardless of the minor complaints I have, Outwitters is definitely more than worth a look, especially given the nonexistent price point. The art style and animation is vibrant and whimsical, the gameplay is rock-solid and the love that these developers have for their craft is palpable. If you do happen to find yourself a fan of the game and with some disposable income, the other factions cost a premium of a couple bucks, though, smartly, the developers allow you to pay a one-time fee of a measly $3 to acquire not only the other factions currently available, but any they will release in the future.
Final Verdict: B+
You Don’t Know Jack (Facebook Edition)
Platform: Browser (Facebook)
Developer: Jellyvision Games
Full disclosure: I have been a gigantic You Don’t Know Jack (YDKJ) fan since I was but a wee child. I have been playing these games ever since I got my grubby little hands on a copy of the original PC title at a nearby Funcoland (yes, kids, there were retail stores other than GameStop where people bought video games back in the day). I grew up playing them mainly with my mother, who (thanks to this new edition) I now know is approximately 75% dumber than I am. All of which brings me to why this latest iteration of YDKJ might just be the best version that’s ever existed.
To the uninitiated, YDKJ is a game show style trivia game, in which the player is tasked with answering questions presented in a usually crass and always unique style by a host who will often chastise the player for their ignorance. YDKJ Facebook brings back host Cookie Masterson to abuse your noggin in a free game every day, and for the first time in series history, will sometimes ask you questions pertaining to world events that have occurred within the last several days. It has been streamlined for the gamer on the go (as it is currently being brought to iOS and Android); the rounds are now only a quick four questions long, followed, as always, by the lightning round known as the “Jack Attack” (in which players must quickly buzz in when two matching items appear on screen).
What is so novel about this new version of YDKJ (aside from the “current events” appeal) is the fact that it records every move in every game you play, allowing your friends to play against you in real time, even when you are not currently playing. You might have wondered how I knew that my mother is currently 75% dumber than I am. This is due to the fact that she has played several games in which I was shown as a contestant and she has managed to perform much more poorly than I had (despite her being much more intelligent that I am). A “Friends” tab displays which of your Facebook friends are playing the game and how many games they have technically played “against” you, also displaying how many games in which they have beaten you and vise-versa, culminating in a meter which shows how much “smarter” or “dumber” they are than you.
Bottom line, if you like trivia and you have a Facebook profile, you have absolutely no reason not to start playing this game. Yes, there are some premium “point booster” items to purchase, though I don’t recommend them, as any win you might obtain will feel tarnished with the taint of pseudo-cheating. Also up for purchase are credits towards extra games per day, which, if you just can’t get enough YDKJ are more than worth the few dollars they cost.
Final Verdict: A