Gods Will Be Watching is a difficult game. So difficult in fact, that it was patched after release to add in several easier game modes. This was good news to me, so I bought the game and tried the first of the new modes, Puzzle Mode. I failed several times and gave up. Then came Puzzle Mode Lite. I failed several times at this mode and gave up. Then came Narrative Mode, the easiest mode by far, a mode specifically designed to remove most obstacles in the game so that a player can experience the story with little frustration. I was finally able to beat some levels, but not without some hardship. People still died. I still failed to be a good leader, and it irked me throughout. But after finishing the game, I realize now that that’s the entire point of Gods Will Be Watching.
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In any puzzle-like game the hints or helpful bonuses must doled out on a timer or players are likely to abuse the system. In mobile games, the hints are usually placed behind 30 second advertisements, using our natural hatred of advertising as a safeguard against abuse. It’s a natural fit.
Even a natural fit like this can be ruined by overzealousness, though. Too many ads punish a player who’s already stuck and frustrated. Yet as with everything in life, there’s a way to do it wrong and a way to do it right. It all comes down to presentation and pacing.
I like mobile games. There, I said it.
I play a lot of games on my iPhone, some of which I’ve paid for and some of which are free because they feature ads. I actually don’t mind the ads, and this seems to put me in a very small minority. At least, it seems like what feels like a very small minority based on the vitriol that I see and that I hear online whenever “ads” of any kind are mentioned. I don’t get the general hate (I can stand to look up from my phone for 30 seconds and acknowledge the world around me before going back to ignoring it). Though, as with all things, there are both pleasant experiences online along with nuisances. Skiing Yeti Mountain is one of the former, a free iOS game supported by ads that actually made me smile when it tried to sell me stuff.
During Bethesda’s press conference at the beginning of E3, the company announced a free mobile game that would be available later that very day: Fallout Shelter. Set in the Fallout universe, you oversee one of the vaults meant to save the remnants of humanity from nuclear winter.
It’s a “builder” mobile game. Collect resources, collect people, collect money, and use them all in the right way to create a bigger and more complex shelter. I don’t have too much experience with these kinds of mobile games, but I did get very into Tiny Tower for several months. Both games have a similar structure, but they’re driven by very different design philosophies. Philosophies that, I think, highlight the difference between a “casual” and a “hardcore” game. Or to use less loaded terms, the difference between a typical mobile and a typical console or PC game. It all comes down to fear.