Travelling the high seas has always been dangerous. In modern days we still get pirates boarding, and plundering innocent ships. In Stoneship set in a archipelagos filled with pirate ships, small ports and mythological creatures of the deep you have to guide your crew to safety. Stoneship is a unique mixture consisting of part exploration puzzle with a hint of strategy, and part tap shooter.
The main part is the map where you get to clear tiles from the map revealing more water, islands, shipwrecked sailors, enemy ships and sea monsters. Finding ports is important to gather defenders, and once you find ports you can tap them to increase their influence. This is seen as coloured rings, and the more ports you connect the more power you get. Land exploration is also important to find more weapons in temples, and other buildings. There is a limit to the amount of moves you can make, and this is where the strategy comes in. It is also where memorization serves you well, as replaying a level can help you become more efficient in finding important ports and weapons. Rings on the water tells you that the enemy is near, and you can initiate the battle right away if you want to. It is a risky business, and it is better to let the enemy invade you.
Battle is a simple tap the fire buttons affair, and frankly it spoils the experience to a great extent for me. Fire shows up at certain points around the ship or port you defend with. Tap the buttons, and get a rhythm going until you or the enemy runs out of life. Knowing when, and why you or the enemy scores critical hits is impossible. It is also not known to the player what attack power, and defence the enemy has. In the end it is just a matter of tapping to see who wins. A roll of the dice would have been just as fair as the battle scene to determine the outcome.
I am having a hard time getting past the strange combination of slow exploration to get the best possible army gathered with frantic tapping battles. It feels like if you had to tap pawns in chess as quickly as possible to win once you had a good opening going. It is a shame since the strategy of exploration is really fun.
The presentation is like a taken out of a pirate cartoon. Well made, and highly polished ships and sea monsters wage war. All aspects of the game feel coherent out of a graphical point of view. There is also a suitable soundtrack to the game, and nice sound effects for the battles.
You have to spend quite a lot of time with the game to beat all the maps in story mode, and the twenty challenges available. There is coveted medals to attain for the maps, and getting all gold is really hard. As you progress you unlock new first mates that affect the game quite a lot.
Stoneship can be recommended if you are looking for a light-hearted, polished strategy game that can be quite fun. That is if you don’t mind that luck and unknown factors ultimately decides your fate instead of your exploratory and strategic skills.
Seller: Cyan Worlds Inc.
Tested on an iPhone 4.