Earlier this week, Shawn Trautman posted a question he’d received on Discovergames from an indie strategy game developer. The title is for iPad only, and Shaun doesn’t have access to one, so I though I’d post my thoughts on the game.
Strategic Leap is a checkers or chess-like game for the iPad in which the pieces have restricted movement and capturing abilities, and the player has a bank of spells that allow him or her to add or remove spaces to the board, access power-ups for increased scoring, and a plethora of other gameplay enhancements. The result is a lively and interesting take on an age old board game premise.
Let’s start with the icon. The HD tag seems unnecessary when the only option is for iPad. Sure, it may denote retina, but at this point, retina support is expected. Secondly, the icon frame will be a problem when iOS 7 hits, though I’m sure the developer is looking out for that bit already. Characteristically, the icon communicates the game’s personality well.
Next up is the tutorial. At first, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of items in the tutorial; however, the process is much quicker and more intuitive than it first appears. All the while, the tutorial text injects a light and fun voice into the proceedings, urging you along and congratulating you on completing the tutorial tasks.
When it’s time to actually play the game, there are three modes: puzzle, campaign, and multiplayer. I wasn’t able to check out multiplayer at this point, though it seems fairly straightforward. Based on the actions available in the tutorial, I began with puzzle mode.
Once inside the puzzle mode, the game presents yet another tutorial, this one about sliding pieces and scoring. The lesson was just short enough to avoid frustrating me with its string of friendly educational levels. Then the game really begins. Sure enough, the first section is easily completed, and easily mastered with three-star ratings on the first handful of levels. But just about the time I started to feel confident, the difficulty ramps up. Each task is still easily completed, but the simple three-star wins take a deal of figuring to achieve. It was a pleasant ramp-up that felt natural and challenging, rather than abrupt or punishing.
In the campaign the player is confronted with an opponent, complete with avatar artwork and silly character description. The bio’s serve to reinforce the game’s lighthearted tone. The levity is a welcome piece in the face of so many puzzlers that resort to trance techno laser lights and thumping soundtracks.
After the opponent selection, it’s off to battle. I selected Homer. He seemed an easy enough target. Sure enough, after tapping on his info card, I was presented with yet another tutorial. And, just as before, the instruction was simple and quick. On to Homer.
At this point, the game’s many variables finally came into focus. After a number of rounds dealing with Homer, I felt like I had a handle on the systems. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as I tend to go with games of this type. For puzzle fans, there’s quite a lot more to dig into with Strategic Leap. And for a group if friends, the multiplayer mode is ideal.
Best of all, the game is free, and blessedly free of any advertisements, up-sells, or in-game currency. If you have an iPad and any inclination toward puzzle games, it’s worth a look on the iTunes Store.