APP OF THE DAY: Solarian Tactics review (iPhone)
Turn-based role playing games aren't particularly commonplace on mobile devices - at least there haven't been that many releases in the genre of late. If you're after a move-by-move title to play on the go then Solarian Tactics's quirky mix of bobble-headed characters - akin to the British Gas advert's characters - and squad-based tactical shoot 'em, slash 'em combat offers its own brand of highs.
Solarian Tactics (Turn Based RPG)
Any role player worth its salt takes an investment of time. At first Solarian Tactics feels a bit like playing a chess board with some added guns - it takes time to click and pull you in, but give it time and it can.
Tactics is a squad-based tactical game at its core. Fans of LostStar Tactics and similar titles will be familiar with the concept: You command characters around a grid-based arena with the common goal of defeating attacking enemies.
Each level has a certain number of enemies with specific weapons - some short range, some long, others special - as well as objects that can be used to channel or block enemies' paths.
You can tap individual enemies to see how tough they are, work out the best plan of action and then go in for the attack. Kill them all before they get the better of your squad and it's happy days, and on to the next level. This can start to feel rather repetitive in the early stages, but it's all about earning from these initial levels in order to augment your team into a tougher, leaner and more productive troop.
That's when the game begins to gel together: Once you have enough characters - which in itself takes time to gather - and increased chances of, say, two moves in a turn, or increased odds of deflecting surrounding characters from attacks, and so forth, everything feels that much more developed. That's the very essence of a turn-based role player, it just takes a little time to achieve that sort of depth.
However the so-called depth here is more a puddle than a lake. There are limitations to the single-screen levels, the power-ups and the amount of time that you'll want to play in one sitting. But that suits the mobile platform well, which is enough to keep you coming back for more battles to progress onward.
The straightforward storyline is peppered with different characters which range from semi-comical to stereotypically tough, each adding its own flavour to the pot. There's some attractive artwork and styled characters too, but we'd like to see more-dynamic and engaging animation rather than than one-directional approach that's been employed.
Solarian Tactics's £1.99 asking price is far from a lot, but in a world of 69p apps we think it's the biggest bridge connecting this quirkly game from a wider audience. It won't suit all that's for sure, but fans of this style of game will get just enough kicks for it to be worth it.