7/10 Technically competent if lacking presentation
Steam for PC — $14.99
Apple/Google Play — $9.99
This week, I’m reviewing several different board game apps. These reviews are primarily looking at the quality of the app and content. Previous reviews:
Aeon’s End is another I’ve not played in person. It hadn’t really appealed to me and I’m the most likely to enjoy it in my group. The original release in particular was rather ugly. But when the app was on sale for about $2, how could I not try it out? The tutorial is good, but it teaches you some basics then lets you keep playing, interrupting when you come across a new thing it needs to teach. It’s not as good as Lords of Waterdeep’s tutorial, but it’s not bad. You have quite a bit of control over what options to choose when starting a full game. And they at least tried to include extra bells and whistles with some underwhelming color changes for the characters/monsters and minor background options. At least expansions are available, each adding a lot of content. Important note, there is no online multiplayer at this time, but there is local pass & play and screen sharing on Steam.
The layout is a bit cluttered, trying to fit everything on screen at once, but still has a regrettable amount of wasted space. The UI and layout look like temporary placeholders, not those of a finished product. This app is available on devices, and it’s clear they didn’t want to make a new UI just for desktop. The cards are reduced in size with icons that mostly visualize what cards do with a tooltip that explains in detail. You have to right-click a card to see the original card with full text. And there’s other information that’s hidden away in tooltips or trays that have to be opened, not all of which are clear they can be opened. In general, it’s a mostly functional but rather dry presentation that lacks flair and creativity with some awkward interactions. Though, when the above boss summons little bugs, they scurry around the screen, and when you kill them, the ones around the screen pop. It’s a nice touch, but the UI could have used a bit more work first.
The app was Kickstarted, so to some extent, I can forgive the shortcomings which were likely a result of a limited budget (which is why there’s no online functionality). Aeon’s End is fun, and though I have some hangups both for the game and the app, the quickness of sessions and replayability help make up for the shortcomings. And the expansions have a lot to offer if I ever grow tired of the base game. It might be a tough recommendation at full price, at least on Steam, unless you’re a big fan of the tabletop version.