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iOS/Android Review: Amber Route

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Universal
Current Price: $1.99
Developer/Publisher: Mobile Wings
Version: 1.0
Size: 137 MB
Multiplayer: Yes. Local and Online
AI: Yes
Itunes link: Amber Route
Google Play link:
Free version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.mobilewings...

Normal version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.mobilewings...






The Good:
- Interesting theme and art.
- Fun take on an existing genre.

The Bad:
- Could use a better tutorial.
- Polish is needed in a few areas.
- iPhone interface is very small.

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Gameplay:
The card playing concepts developed in Two Towers and other similar iOS titles have been used again in Amber Route which adds a race aspect. You play cards to build up your caravan but also must focus on reaching the end of your journey and slowing your opponents.

In Amber Route you control a caravan delivering amber from the coast in a quasi-fantasy medieval world. Your caravan always has a certain number of escorts and amber they are carrying. If you ever lose all of your amber, you will be eliminated from the game. The board is split into a series of regions which you are traveling through with names such as forest, city, sacred spot, etc. The main gameplay is done with cards which can help your caravan move, stop your opponent, give you more amber, or provide you with one of three resources used to purchase cards. The resource types are meat, runes, and gold that are used for different types of cards. With 20 of any resource you can buy a deity card of that type which can help you greatly or sometimes be a total dud. Cards in your hand can have different effects based on where you are on the board, for example giving you more meat if you play it while in the forest. Some versions of the game features a winning condition, meaning you must have a certain amount of amber or escorts to win once you reach the end. The player to reach the end first while meeting the victory condition or the last player with amber is the winner.

As far as I can tell this is an original iOS board game. It does share elements with existing games, but I find the added mechanics add a lot more fun and go beyond the genre. It is very luck based as you can just get terrible cards. However, I find it to be more about the journey and can ignore the more sporadic elements.

Implementation:
After my less than stellar experience with Kingpin, I was hesitant to take on a review of Amber Route. It is not that I hate giving negative reviews, it is just that I try to make most of my posts here constructive and so I felt slamming this developer twice in a row would not be helpful to anyone. Much to my surprise, while not perfect, Amber Route is a very complete and interesting iOS experience. It takes the best elements of past games and combines them in a new and intriguing way.

The art style of the app is great, just as with Kingpin. They have taken some time to make everything look thematic, even if the theme is bizarre. The card designs are clear and everything is usually readable (iPhone can be more of a challenge). The art is so forefront in this app that you are forced to watch an intro video on each launch. There really needs to be a way to skip this. Overall however the quasi-medieval art is great to look at and the interface is clear and easy to use.

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Amber Route is not a complex game as most of the rules are on the cards. The game features a writtten tutorial which does include pictures as well as interface instructions. It was enough for me to grasp the game, but a more formal tutorial could be welcome. The gameplay itself is quite random, as your card draw determines a lot, however, I did feel like I had choices that mattered. Even the choices didn’t matter that much, they were interesting and really made it feel like a journey.

There are several ways to play Amber Route ranging from single player to multiplayer. The single players options feature a campaign as well as just standard games. The campaign is a great way to learn new concepts as things are introduced somewhat incrementally. The online play in this app is using game center. I have not found an abundance of players online so far, but hope some of you will be joining me. It at least appears to be actually searching, much more info than with Kingpin.


Conclusion:
Amber Route is an interesting game with many gameplay options to explore. It does lack polish and could use more clarity in its online functions. The design works better on iPad than iPhone (it is essentially a shrunk down iPad, so only a fraction of the screen is used). I really enjoyed playing Amber Route despite its quirks and will have it in my collection for a while to come.

Rating: 3/5 A fun game with an app that needs polish.

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Subscribe sub options Fri Mar 1, 2013 12:33 pm
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