Who says you can’t play deep games on iOS? I just tried out “King of Dragon Pass”, and it fits nearly all of my prerequisites for being a great iOS game.
Basically, you play the leader of a clan in the titular Dragon Pass. The entire game plays out as a strange combination Civilization and a choose-your-own-adventure book. Gameplay involves you keeping an eye on your food levels and ensuring your clan is fortified and all sorts of simulation-esque aspects, with random interruptions where you are asked to make some sort of critical decision. This can range from enemy villagers trying to RAID YOUR HARD EARNED CATTLE to one of your farmers having an illicit affair, with you being the judge as to whether or not she should be forced to marry her original groom. Decisions you make can have ramifications both immediate and long-term (the girl becomes pregnant, etc). Those are two of the more pedestrian decisions; I don’t want to spoil the crazy ones!
Of course, in true Civilization style, you have advisors who provide you with advice on every decision, although your advisors are inherently just citizens in your clan; one of my advisors slew all the heirs of another clan just because he can (I chose to compose a poem in their honour, which was deemed an insufficient response, and they declared war on me). They can die or be killed, you can replace them with advisors who fit your worldview, whatever.
Now, while I make all these Civilization comparisons, it’s not a simulation, and you don’t need to micro-manage. There’s no “city” screen, no looking at what tiles are near your clan, etc. You have just one city, and building within it is limited to defensive structures and shrines. At it’s heart, King of Dragon Pass is a diplomacy-and-war centric game, a true role-playing game where you take on the role of this clan leader and must make appropriate decisions. Being the leader of a warlike clan and making peace offerings will not curry you much favour.
If you can’t tell, I’m totally enthralled with this game, even though I still don’t completely understand everything available to me. But that’s OK; it has a manual, but I’m enjoying just figuring it all out. But in addition to being a great game, this is an awesome iOS game, because it scratches a few specific itches I had:
- It has absolutely zero “active gameplay moments”, requiring precise and rapid input. Thus, I can play this game while relaxing, while on the bus, whatever. If the phone rings, or Fringe comes back up on the TV, or if someone jostles me on the bus, I just lock my phone. I don’t have to worry about “being in the middle of a fight!”, or mis-tracing a line and blowing up a plane, or whatever.
- The game is full of amazing little touches, both funny and heartfelt. One of my advisors passed away, with the note “His grandchildren are stricken with grief”, which was surprisingly sad. Then another advisor died, with the last words of “Bless my clan and curse the elves”
- It’s deep. Like, crazy deep. I really have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s pretty awesome.
- It’s also a great iPad game. It’s not Universal, so playing it on the iPad gives you the option to either play with it in it’s original iPhone size or blow it up. It looks great blown up.
It’s ten dollars in the App Store, and if you’re looking for a deep roleplaying game without having to worry about grinding, building a party, or combat (but want to go to war!), I can’t recommend King of Dragon Pass enough. I’m told this game is a classic revived, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a great new game too!