Mobile real-time strategy games don't get much better than Autumn Dynasty, a user-friendly and visually-stimulating gem from Bulkypix that makes a wonderful companion for weary travelers looking to kick back and kill several hours. It's a bit pricier than most App Store fare, but considering the game's overall quality, you should have no qualms parting with five bucks.
The first thing that jumps out are the visuals, which were designed to resemble an ancient Chinese painting. Everything has a slick hand-drawn feel, from the forests, mountains and plains to the scrolls depicting various characters laid out in black ink. Units feature minimal detail, as you cannot zoom in too closely, but given the overall style of Autumn Dynasty, this makes sense.
In addition, the game's a lot of fun to play. Throughout the course of the adventure, you'll take control of a variety of units, including swordsmen, pikemen and archers. Directing these highly-trained warriors couldn't be simpler, as you tap a particular group and sketch an arrow in the direction you'd like them to go, or encircle a whole bunch at once. This helps to involve the player in the painting, making them feel like they're contributing brush strokes to each map.
That said, you can't frantically draw lines everywhere and assume victory, since the computer is more than capable of squashing you, and doing so quickly. Bad guys often appear from everywhere, forcing you to allocate resources and eventually get spread so thin, you simply won't be able to add units fast enough.
Of course, there's more to this experience than simply watching tiny guys battle it out. The environments definitely come into play, as you're able to ambush enemies by disappearing into the forest. What's more, you're free to spend resources to build structures that'll aid the war effort, like watchtowers occupied by archers, farms that generate gold and camps to increase the maximum unit limit. You'll even boost your army's abilities over time through research. Meanwhile, the game's plot (a civil war and the need to squash a rebel uprising) remains entertaining, with memorable characters and well-written dialogue.
Beyond that, Skirmish provides a break from the narrative-driven campaign, but if you really want to test your skills, head to multiplayer, where you can compete head-to-head against other players online or using Bluetooth; there's even voice chat. Definitely thrilled to see this make the cut.
Is there anything wrong with Autumn Dynasty? Well, a save system would help break up the monotony of longer missions, and it would be cool to view a group's combined health to avoid sending them to the slaughter, but those are minor issues when compared to the overwhelming number of positives. Whether or not this is the best mobile RTS on the App Store is up for debate, but one thing's certain, it's quite excellent all the same.
[Editor's Note: Autumn Dynasty is $4.99 for a limited time.]
Review code provided by Bulkypix.
What's Hot: Hand-painted art style with complimentary brush stroke controls, attention-grabbing plot, online and offline multiplayer, voice chat, just a ton of soldiers fighting at once.
What's Not: Needs a save system, would like to see a group's combined health.