[Review] Romance of Rome – Alliteration Hell
The iOS platform is filled with a plethora of games, but one genre stands out among the rest. Puzzle games have quickly become the most successful genre in the app store but because of that there are thousands of games; but which are actually worth playing? Romance of Rome fights to stand out among it’s fellow puzzle games by using its story line as a catalyst to drive the gameplay.
Right off the bat the interface is slightly unconventional. The game is played in landscape mode but the default location is 90° to the right versus 90° to the left which is the default for most games. However you can change the orientation to which ever way you prefer, but every time I open the game I cringe slightly. When you begin, you name your character and then dive right into the story mode.
In Romance of Rome you play a character who is traveling to Rome and has to solve puzzles along the way to get there. In between stages there is a comic strip that helps the story unfold. At first glance the text seems really small and I tried to pinch to zoom and it would act unreliably and not hold the zoom, and I was rather confused. Then I realized that I needed to tap to zoom, which again is slightly unconventional but not a big deal. However I should also mention that the corner does say ‘Tap To Zoom’. Also, during the comic strip (as well as any dialogue) there is narration that is spoken along with the text, but I noticed that sometimes the narration wouldn’t coincide with the text and that quickly became very frustrating so I continued playing with the sound off.
When you get into the core of the game it is modeled as an ‘I Spy’ type of puzzle game where you search an image for different objects. Here is another place where the game felt counterintuitive. While searching through an image you can zoom in, but to do so you must pinch-to-zoom instead of the tap-to-zoom that you did during the comic.
Putting that all aside, the game play is really fun. The story line is entertaining enough to keep me playing through the levels. As far as the game play is concerned, my only gripe is that sometimes the objects are too hard to find. For example:
Here we are looking for the second item. It can be found in the top left under the ‘Menu’ button. Half of it is in the vase and the lighting is quite different. This might not seem to bad, but keep in mind I’m zoomed in as much as possible.
Here we are looking for the porcupine and it could be found inside the rope on the bottom left. Again zoomed in as much as possible.
In the final example we are looking for the second item, which is a bottle, and it can be found inside the wheel barrel full of grain. I would say that this one has less than 50% of the bottle exposed. Some extreme puzzle players might welcome this challenge, but I can see how this would be frustrating for other players (especially because these items were in the first hand full of stages). You also may notice that there is a ‘Hint’ button that you can use once and then after a few seconds you can use it again. This comes in handy when finding these trickier items. In regards to the zoom the pictures could be higher quality to make best use of the retina display. The image looks fine before it is zoomed in but once you zoom in it becomes very pixelated.
Once you have uncovered all the items in the given location your character is ready to move on to the next stage. But wait! Before doing so you are required to go to the market and upgrade your players wardrobe and accessories. This part of the game play seems rather silly and quite unnecessary, but this is what it looks like as your player upgrades:
Outside the gameplay, Romance of Rome has ‘fast app switching’ which is always appreciated, it feels as though not enough developers are adding that API to their apps. Also included are Facebook integration and game center support. You can keep track of the achievements that you’ve earned on game center and you can post on Facebook whenever you earn achievements.
Overall, Romance of Rome has it’s kinks, but all of which can be worked with an update or two. As far as the game play is concerned, it is very enjoyable and challenging enough to keep the more intense puzzle gamers entertained, and thanks to the ‘hint’ button, it keeps it in the reach of more novice players. Romance of Rome is available through the app store for $4.99 [iTunes link]