Every time a new free-to-play game clamors for coin, gamers bemoan the lack of more traditional mobile fare — quality premium titles packed with compelling content at a fair fixed price. That's exactly Tales From Deep Space. You just have to own a Kindle Fire to enjoy it.
I've been a fan of Amazon hardware for a couple years now. I've owned a normal Kindle for reading books. I've got a Fire TV for watching videos and playing Android games. When the original Kindle Fire launched I was first in line (well, probably not first and it was sold online, but you get the idea.)
My only issue with the Kindle platform has been the Amazon App Store, a carefully cultivated assortment of games that flies in the face of Google Play, the traditional Android app market. But the more I used Fire products, the more I realised that the Amazon App Store's walled garden approach worked. While Google Play reviews are inevitably filled with complaints about incompatible devices, if you purchase a game on the Amazon App Store, it will work on your device.
Amazon Game Studios plans on filling the Amazon App Store with the sorts of games traditional gamers want to play. While the studio's first game, 2012's Air Patriots, was a multiplatform affair, lately they have been teaming up with some big indie developers to create top-quality games solely focused on the Amazon Fire environment. Tales From Deep Space is one of those games.
Developed by Amazon Game Studios and Elite: Dangerous creator Frontier Developments, Tales From Deep Space actually shares more in common with the latter's under-appreciated platforming series, Lost Winds.
E, one of the game's two playable characters, could very well be a distant relative of Lost Winds' young hero Toku. A travelling salesman by trade, E gets his luggage mixed up with CASI, a combat assured secure inventory drone, on the Big Moon space station. At the same time, the station's servile Meek population stage an uprising. E and CASI must work together to recover the lost luggage and unravel the secret behind the Meek revolt.
Dire circumstances to be sure, but Tales From Deep Space keeps the tone light, with delightful cartoon graphics and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. Lost Winds was lauded for its unique visuals, and Tales carries the same excellent pedigree.
The pair travel the station, solving puzzles, collecting collectibles and taking on the meek in simple combat as they move from task to task. Navigating the corridors and platforms of Big Moon is a matter of tracing a line from one of the characters in the desired direction — if there are jumps to be made or boxes to climb, E and Casi handle that on their own.
Most puzzles involve splitting up the team in traditional co-op platformer fashion — one takes the high road, unlocking doors and activating elevators for the character taking the low road. Some obstacles requiring more thinking through than others, but on the whole the challenge level hovers around moderate.
Tales From Deep Space is a delightful puzzle platforming adventure that would be right at home as a downloadable console title or a quirky Steam offering. It just happens to be a Kindle Fire exclusive.
In the past I've been hesitant to talk about Amazon-exclusive games. Hell, I had to make a new app review icon for this article, because I'd never seriously considered the Fire serious contender to traditional Android tablets and iPads. That's starting to change.
In a recent interview, vice president of Amazon Games Mike Frazzini told me they wanted to create traditional game experiences for the Fire platform. Rich adventures that deliver hours of gameplay for a premium price. If Tales From Deep Space is indicative of what's coming, we're going to need more Kindle Fires.
Tales From Deep Space
- Genre: Platforming Puzzle Adventure
- Developer: Frontier Developments, Amazon Game Studios
- Platform: Kindle Fire, Fire HDX
- Price: $US6.99
- Verdict: A wonderful console-quality platforming adventure in a somewhat strange place.
While we're at it, how about a show of hands — how many of you actually own a device capable of playing Tales From Deep Space?