Are city builders getting too stale and boring? Does anybody still tend to their farms that they used to visit while waiting in line at the grocery store? It seems like if you've played any kind of mobile simulator or city builder, you've played them all. But then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is still room for innovation among simulation games for mobile platforms.
Developer Crazy Bit tries to shake the "same old, same old" notion that we usually feel with simulation games by introducing Lost Chapters HD, an easy to play tap-to-collect scavenger hunt that grants the player control over five initial explorers on a mysterious island. The idea is simple: explore the island, gain experience, and collect shiny artifacts for your camp. The mission is simple enough, the mechanics are familiar, and the character narrative adds a nice touch; but the real question is: Can Lost Chapters HD keep the player entertained and coming back for more?
Lost Chapters' game play mixes a unique style of quest giving and resource collecting to uncover the stories and mysteries of an unexplored island. Along your journey you will encounter monsters, scavenge through nearly every bush, excavate the artifact rich soil, and even mingle with the natives. The game is driven by three basic resources: food, water, and wood. Quests call players to collect and utilize these resources to progress through the island and build a more and more advanced camp. Every move made by the player uses small amounts of these resources, so players must manage them wisely.
While adding more advanced buildings to the camp is one of the more fulfilling aspects of Lost Chapters, often the time it takes to collect resources to move on to the next quest or build the next camp building feels a little unbalanced. I don't mind having to wait for resources to regenerate, but the amount of resources gained from the time spent both in and outside of the game seems a little low. Crazy Bit's answer to this stagnate situation is to offer the player both free and purchasable in-game gems, which you can then use to buy more resources. The free gems come with catch, which is to share and invite friends from social sites like Facebook to play Lost Chapters. While this does help move things along in the right direction, players who aren't willing to participate in the social sharing will have to suffer through the long resource regenerating wait times.
While the game play has its ups and downs, the presentation value of Lost Chapters is nothing for Crazy Bit to be ashamed of. The simple animation style works well in the world of Lost Chapters HD - both for the environment and characters. The colors are bright and interesting and the characters are likeable and possess personality. The user interface is easy to understand and menus are full of information to help you on your way. Overall, I never got lost or confused with Lost Chapters, I just wanted to do and see more, faster.
The Good: Lost Chapters HD uses a familiar, tap-to-play play style and mixes in fun characters, good looking animation, and an element of exploration to uncover a beautiful island filled with collectables and stories.
The Bad: While resource regeneration is a key part of the city builder/simulation model, it feels unbalanced when compared to the progression of the story and exploration of the different islands of Lost Chapters HD.
The Verdict: Overall, Lost Chapters HD was able to hold my attention long enough to make me want to uncover all the different collectables and stories on the mysterious island. Unfortunately, the resource regeneration issues seemed to keep me from getting into any sort of good groove with the game and inhibited my progression. Crazy Bit has implemented some great ideas and fun mechanics within Lost Chapters HD, and with a couple of tweaks in future updates we could see a very fun game.
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