In all honesty, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The last month and a half has seen the United States hit by winter storm after winter storm throughout the Northeast. Heavy rainfall has fallen throughout northern California, prompting Yosemite to close due to a mudslide warning. And despite being a third of the way into April as we publish this article, we’re still feeling the cold of winter. Despite Daylight Saving time now being in full swing and the season of Spring having arrived nearly three weeks ago, it seems like we’ll be stuck inside for at least another week or two before the sunshine truly begins to shine on us.
For that reason alone, you might be wanting to stay inside throughout the rest of April, and hey, we can’t really blame you. If you’re looking for some new apps and games for the final days of this last burst of winter, we have you covered. This month we have six new apps for you to try out, including a brand-new pixel art shooter that feels great on touchscreens, a port from a popular PC release that reached Android before iOS, a new entry to the podcast-playing field, the release of a critically-acclaimed iOS game on Android, a brand new launcher designed for phones of all power levels, and finally, a brand new augmented reality app from Google made to change the world around you.
While this month doesn’t feature as many brand-new applications as March, we still have all eight of our new apps from March listed below, plus the six brand-new ones we’ve added this month. Whether you’re looking for a brand new game or just to try out some new apps, we have a lot of additions for you this month that are as exciting as anything else we’ve seen in 2018. It’s a good month for games, so forget the cold, stay inside, and wait for all of this to blow over. These are the best apps and games for April 2018.
Developed by WinterSpring Games and published on both PC and Android by Black Shell Media, Card Quest is a lite-deck-building, resource management dungeon crawler with an 8-bit retro style that looks fantastic on modern Android devices. Similar to games like The Binding of Isaac, Card Quest uses roguelike elements but combines them with card-based gameplay you might see from games on PC like Slay the Spire. The game starts with you choosing a class to play as inside the game. You’re offered four selections: Rogue, Wizard, Hunter, and Fighter, each with their own specific traits, abilities, and cards, and offering three subclasses for more customization in-game. The visuals are the game are clearly designed around PC-based RPGs of the late 80s and early 90s, and frankly, the entire package looks fantastic.
Once you’ve selected you class, you can start building your deck, examining cards and choosing which to use and which to put away. You build your character using this content, choosing a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, a subclass, and any armor, bags, or trinkets you may have to equip. You can view the cards in your deck by pressing and holding on each card, and it’s important to know what’s in your deck before you’re going into battle. Like any other card-based game, there’s a tutorial option inside Card Quest that we suggest you use to get a handle on how the game functions at its core.
Inside the game, you’ll begin making your way around the dungeon, running into enemies that appear at the top of your screen (in some ways, it feels similar to Darkest Dungeon). On the right side of the screen is your health and attack power, which can raise or lower depending on which cards you use. Your cards are found at the bottom of the display, and attacking your enemies is as simple as dragging the cards up from your hand to your target. Sometimes you’ll face multiple enemies at once instead of one large enemy, in which you can select which enemy you want to attack with your cards. If we have one complaint about the visual design of the game, it’s that dragging the cards shows a blue transparent arrow that doesn’t match the visual aesthetic of the rest of the game.
Each of the cards have their own specific powers, whether is be to deal out straight damage, to regain power (denoted with a lightning bolt), to dodge attacks from your enemies, or anything else. Learning to fight your way through each dungeon in order to win naturally involves learning how to take advantage of the powers given to users by these powers and taking advantage of how each power works. Early battles are pretty easy to skate through, but the farther in a match you make it, the more you’ll need to pay attention to what you’re doing in the game or face failure. At $4.99, the Android version of Card Quest is half the price of the same game on PC. It’s well-built, looks great, and is a blast to play for 20 minutes or two hours straight. If you have the $5 to drop on a mobile game, picking up Card Quest is a no-brainer.
First, we should note that Florence is not a game for those who prefer their games action-oriented, or don’t care for plot-heavy video games. Florencecomes closer to TellTale’s episodic adventures or, perhaps more fittingly, games like Gone Home and Annapurna’s own Edith Finch. Hardcore gamers might call the game a new entry in the “walking simulator” genre, but indeed, you don’t actually do all that much walking here. Instead, Florence plays like a cross between a living, moving graphic novel and a WarioWare entry. The first chapter of the game, “Adult Life,” puts on full display what you should expect from the game, introducing players to the titular character and following her throughout a full day of her life.
As you play the game, you’ll be asked to perform minor tasks on your phone screen to continue the narrative. For example, when the story begins, Florence is being awakened by her alarm clock. You tap on the clock to silence the alarm, and the story jumps fifteen minutes into the future, where the alarm resumes its feature after finishing its sleep mode. The game moves to a new panel, and you’re greeted by Florence in front of her bathroom mirror about to brush her teeth. Using the toothbrush displayed in a box on the screen, you move the toothbrush around the display to make a meter fill as you progressively brush Florence’s teeth. When the meter is full, the story progresses to show her on the way to work, where she likes or retweets content on a social network.
As this continues, you’ll hear soft, piano-laden music in the background of the game. The game’s progression changes every chapter, and the chapters are short enough to be played within a few minutes at most. While chapter one has you mostly selecting options in the bottom portion of your display, chapter two presents the opening moments in a far more standard comic book style before flashing back to Florence’s past to paint a portrait of both her mother and her, along with their relationship and why Florence has ended up where she is. The game presents you, playing as seven-year-old Florence, with the opportunity to create some crafts. When Florence’s mother arrives, she pushes her daughter to perform math problems instead, and as the player, you too will have to complete some basic addition and subtraction.
The final chapter of the first act of the game switches to landscape mode, forcing your phone to rotate in the process, and introduces the main hook of the story, when Florence sees a cello player in the park, following his music notes through the air. Act II picks up when Florence and the cello player, Krish, finally meet for the first time, and the rest of the game explores their relationship, Florence’s own life goals and feelings, and so much more. It would be a disservice to the game to include future plot points beyond the basic setup for the game however, because this really is something that isn’t justified by words and photos alone.
In fact, words don’t factor into the game much at all, with the story mostly told through animation and drawings and displaying as little dialogue as possible throughout the entire title. The game is best experienced with headphones on, to take advantage of some of the music the game has to offer. Overall, Florenceisn’t something designed for someone looking for a game to waste time playing in the line at the supermarket. The story is about the length of an hour-long television show without commercial interruptions, and even played at a relaxed rate shouldn’t take more than a full hour of your time. Still, for just a couple dollars, it’s worth experiencing this interactive graphic novel tell a story about love and creative minds. Florence is affecting, touching, and a gorgeous story worth your time.
Along with that basic feature, you have a few options for your lines and drawings. You can control the size of the line in your image, with three different sizes of lines available for use. This allows you to change the look of your drawing, though the three sizes are all pretty similar overall. Also, the lack of the ability to add color to your lines is questionable. Once you do paint something on the image on your display, you can remove lines you accidentally drew, and you can start over by tapping on the trashcan in the corner of the display. The record button in the bottom portion of the display allows you to start creating your work of art, though the lack of photo option is pretty disappointing overall. Hitting record takes a 10-second snapshot of whatever you’re aiming the camera towards, but you can’t create anything longer, so say goodbye to the idea of using Just a Line to create a music video or short film.
The app works well for what it is, but it’s definitely more of a proof of concept than a real app meant for photography. The photo quality on our test Pixel 2 XL definitely seems to be lower than usual within the app, despite being made by Google. No telling if phones with lesser cameras than something like a Pixel 2 will experience a drop in quality. One thing that is clear: this app will not work on every phone on the market today. Google is slowly pushing support out for more phones, but if you don’t have one of these devices:
- Pixel or Pixel 2 (and XL models)
- Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S8/+, S9/+
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- LG V30 and V30+
- Asus Zenfone AR
- OnePlus 5 (not 5T, as of writing)
If you don’t have one of those devices, you’re out of luck when it comes to running Just a Line, or any of the other experiments and applications that have been slowly rolling out over the past several couple months. Overall, Just a Line is a really neat experiment from Google, something to show off what ARCore might be capable of in the feature. We’d love to see more features rolled out to the app, or even better, to see Google take this content and spin it into something resembling the options given to users on Snapchat (text options, colors, and more). If you have a supported device though, definitely check this out.