Game Review: Musket Smoke (Snowpunch, 2014)
Genre: Games, Turn-based strategy
Roll in industry: Casual
Target Demographic: 4+
Monetization: Free app, in-game purchases
Musket Smoke is a nice and solid turn-based strategy game. The troops are nicely asymmetric with pikemen (good at hand-to-hand melee and forming squares), muskets (can range out three hexes), calvary (fast, good at charges and overruns), and cannons (long range, but susceptible to melee attacks).
Your cold-hard-cash can be used to remove between game ads, extra maps, and the three game human-opponent limit. This is fair and very reasonable.
The touch screen interface is intuitive. Touch a unit, and your options for movement and attack are laid out for you. Touch the empty hex and you move. Touch an enemy, and you attack.
In addition to the nice-touch (smile) you are visually given all the information you need for each unit. The damage you shall inflict is indicated for each enemy so you can choose what to slaughter.
Musket Smoke feels like the good-old-fashioned war games I grew up with in the 1970s. You must take into consideration line-of-sight (LOS). Units have zones-of-control (ZOC) and it costs extra to travel through or break away from a ZOC. Two opposing units can also be engaged in a melee and cannot withdraw without a penalty. Units have moral issues, also, and can be routed on the field of battle. They even go as far as to have hexes covered in gore (see the red hexes in the image). Only those units with good moral will fight well from such a hex. Others, fight poorly when standing in their brother’s intestines.
And, even more good-old-fashioned war game-esque is the fact that if you click on help, you are presented with a very detailed 32 page manual. Deliciously good-old-fashioned war game-esque and the kind of thing I grew up with and loved… but I wonder how this level of complexity plays with the modern human? Something is to be said for a user interface and rules system that is more intuitive than complex. Or, if complex, hide that complexity by automation, hiding, or adding the complexity later as you progress. For example, the moral of your troops and the gore-hexes could be a configurable feature or one that is only used in the campaign modes.
But, nice. Musket Smoke is the type of computer game I wanted to create in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, for me and for the world, I was busy with Uni and working for a Large Multinational Corporation (LMC) at the time.
Snowpunch. (2014). Musket Smoke (iOS) [Video game]. USA: Snowpunch.