As always, the world of gadgets and gaming rushes ever onward, eyes steadfast on a bright, LED-lit future. So it’s fascinating to stand at the gates of yet another postmillennial year, a time when so much of the future IS now, and take note of the fact that some of the most hotly anticipated mobile gaming apps—who knew this would even be a thing 10 years ago?—are rooted firmly in the things that make up the very foundations of the gaming world at large. Three of our favorite new and upcoming gaming apps hone in on storytelling and connecting the pieces of established franchise narratives, new and old.
Spartacus: Battle for Nuceria
This trans-media experience is so much more than just a gaming app—though it certainly incorporates that. Utilizing video, interactive web browsing, real-time intel updates and objective dispatches and mobile check-ins, Battle For Nuceria puts users on the front lines of the battle between Spartacus’ army and their Roman enemies, providing an interactive narrative link between the previous season of Spartacus and the upcoming final season, Spartacus: War of the Damned.
The Hypogeum app is a real first for this kind of experience: using form-recognizing technology, the Hypogeum allows gamers to find and scan “rebel marks” left in 20 random locations all around the internet. Meanwhile, the Tractus, a custom-made browser add-on, lets users hack any website and leave behind their own mark that can only be seen by other Rebel soldiers. A quick scan of the markings with the Hypogeum app earns the user points, bringing them closer to completing the mission and unlocking rewards like unseen footage, making-of content and even the chance to win props from the set or a trip to Rome.
The latest mission, the last before the new season premieres, tasks Rebel soldiers with locating Spartacus: War of the Damned content on the internet and using the Hypogeum to report back to the Rebel Army so they can prepare for the bloody battle ahead. The reward this time—and it’s a bit of a biggy—is an early screening of the first episode of the new season. Pretty cool incentive to get in on an already interesting premise.
Final Fantasy: All The Bravest
The latest entry in the king of gaming franchises arrives on digital doorsteps tomorrow. Teased for weeks with little more than an eight-bit-looking website to go on, Square Enix has slowly started unrolling Final Fantasy: All The Bravest around the world. Pulling together characters, bosses and music from the entire franchise, All The Bravest takes the user back to a simpler time in gaming, but brings in new elements to keep the experience fresh. With the integration of touchscreen technology and Active Time Battles, gamers able to put their reflexes and strategic prowess to the test. With characters only able to attack at certain time intervals, waiting a period between moves forces the user into a turn-based battle experience unlike any before. It's available today on all Apple iOS devices.
Assassin’s Creed: Utopia
Assassin's Creed: Utopia takes gamers to a time before even AC3—itself a sort of origin story linking the present day-based franchise to the American Revolution—and allows them to create colonies on the newly discovered Americas and watch as 150 years, and battles with competing colonies, take their toll. In a way, Utopia takes the best elements of Farmville—building communities, harvesting resources—and classic entries to the Final Fantasy series—role-based combat—and wraps it all into one, century-spanning mobile gaming app that attempts to explain how the Assassins helped shape American history, and prefigures the plot of Assassin's Creed III, though there are no links between the two games in terms of gameplay. While release details are scant—it was originally intended to be launched in tandem with AC3—anticipation is high, and early reviews have us waiting in bated breath for something pretty special that will be available on Android and Apple iOS devices.