Neuroshima Hex might sound like the latest protagonist from a pulp fantasy novel, but tabletop roleplaying aficionados may recognise the name as something much more substantial. This little gem takes its cues from the popular wargame to deliver a deep yet engaging tactical experience.
Neuroshima is set in a post apocalyptic wasteland where several powerful factions vie for control. Moloch's machine armies and the last remnants of humanity battle over resources and land, whilst mutants and depraved hedonistic raiders forcibly attempt to further their own agendas. However, the 'Hex' suffix should instantly inform you that this app isn't based on roleplaying mechanics. Rather, it's a functional adaptation of the board game version.
Once you've chosen a faction, battle commences on a small grid that's comprised of a number of hexagons. Each player first places their HQ on the board and subsequently takes turns randomly randomly drawing tiles from a virtual bag. It's then a case of working out where best to place them.
Unit tiles need to be directly deployed onto the board, along with modules that can apply a range of modifiers to surrounding troops in specific directions (including improved attack strength or health). Direct action tiles, on the other hand, can be played immediately, including the option to initiate attacks. Each tile is marked with ticks and indicators that demonstrate the type and direction of their effects, meaning that clever placement is the key to victory.
Battles take place using an initiative-based system that compares unit strength and speed alongside any active modifiers, and the game ends once the tile supply is exhausted or an HQ is destroyed. Naturally, the victor is determined by the state of their headquarters building. Quick rounds make for an experience that's much more action-packed than you'd first believe.
If this all sounds a little confusing, you're in good company. Fans of the tabletop version or board games such as Carcassonne will be able to get stuck in straight away, but most people will need to learn the rules from the short training video and good old fashioned trial and error. Mugging up on this PDF guide will also pay dividends.
This steep learning curve eventually serves to make the experience much more satisfying than most Apps (providing a major rush once you've mastered the subtle nuances of combat), but you should be aware that the majority of players will need to invest a lot of time into getting a handle on the mechanics. Go in with your eyes open.
The presentation does a fine job of making the potentially dull subject matter as visually interesting as possible. Bright colours and a pin-sharp user interface blend substance and style; providing a little eye candy without compromising ease of use and accessibility to key icons. iPhone 4 owners will also be able to indulge in Retina optimisation.
Still not convinced? Fair enough. But be aware that you can try out the free Lite Version on the App Store.
- Deep strategic gameplay
- Surprisingly capable visuals
- Infinite replayability
- Steep learning curve
- Insufficient tutorials
- Niche appeal
Summary: Neuroshima Hex is a deep and satisfying board game that doesn't scrimp on presentation. Like the best apps, it can be played for minutes or hours at a time... though bear in mind that practice makes perfect.
Developer: Big Daddy's Creations
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Price: £2.99 - App Store