Autumn Dynasty for iPad and iPhone review
Last month we reviewed the first iOS adaptation of the hugely successful Total War historical strategy games, which rather strangely didn't prove to be much like Total War. Autumn Dynasty is nothing to do with Total War, but has an awful lot more in common with it than Total War Battles did.
Set in feudal Japan, it's a tale of a ruling warlord fending off rebels by recruiting and carefully deploying large armies. A distinctive, pseudo-hand drawn art style depicts squads of swordsmen, archers and horse riders as calligraphic ink-people - the simplicty not demanding too much of your iPhone or iPad but enabling large headcounts and an elegant look.
The controls aren't quite so slick unfortunately. Despite a gesture system - draw a lazy loop around your men to select multiple units, then waft them in the direction you want them to head, or towards the enemies you want them to attack. Easy! If only the game didn't have a tendency to deselect everything if you don't tap just so, which can be infuriating when you need to very quickly manouvre archers into cover or have horsemen flank approaching swordsmen before the enemy's upon you.
It's a surprisingly difficult game, and that's because it's a true strategy game rather than the shallow grinds we so often see on this platform. The over-fussy controls hold it back from the greatness it deserves, but give it time and you will adapt to them.
A thoughtful, distinctive and pleasingly non-boring take on historical strategy gaming, which has been entirely built with touchscreen controls in mind. It needs a bit of fine tuning in the interface and difficulty departments, but it's something fresh and attractive amidst hordes of copycat tower defence games.