iTuesday Review: SotA – Stele of the Ancients for iPhone and iPad

SotA is a unique puzzle game for iOS devices. The game is played by matching four characters in a row by swapping tiles. There are light gray and dark gray tiles featuring images of ancient mystical spirits. Any tiles can be swapped as long as they are the same color.

SoTA features a few different ways to play the game. In Classic 1, new tiles fall as you eliminate them. It’s basically just a see how many points you can get game; it doesn’t really bring a lot of excitement to the table. In Classic 2 new tiles do not fall as you eliminate them. This version of the game is more challenging (with the exception of the first round where all the tiles are the same color), as you have to think about what consequences eliminating certain tiles will have. This mode is about eliminating all the tiles. In Classic 3, new tiles fall and your goal is to eliminate a certain amount of each character. There is also a puzzle mode where you have to move tiles in order to form faces of the different mystical spirits and the round is completed when you put all the faces together. The last mode is called boss attack, but I’ll get back to that later.

Puzzle Mode: The first round of each mode features all tiles of the same color

All the solo forms of game play are okay, but where the game really shines is during mulit-player.  SotA allows you to challenge other players via Game Center. The multiplater mode is a lot of fun and what will keep you coming back to the game. Admittedly, multiplater was pretty confusing at first. I wish the game had included some sort of tutorial for it. I played against a friend, while at the same time iChatting with him so we could discuss what was happening.  Eventually we were able to sort (almost) everything out. Here is how it works: At the beginning of the match you each choose a character. Each character has a different special ability. There are currently eight different characters to choose from but according to the developer’s press release they are planning to update the game with eight more characters.

The Multiplayer character selection screen

When you are playing the game and you match four in a row it sends a spirit over to the other player. The spirit will put a curse on one of the player’s tiles. If you achieve a combo, the spirit will be bigger and effect more tiles. There are a couple different curses. For example, one of them makes the tiles inactive. When a tile is inactive you can’t move it and it won’t count when connecting four. Another curse will make the tile glow purple so you cant tell if its gray or dark gray. One thing that we couldn’t quite figure out is how the game decides what curse is sent. It seemed like each game it just decided at random and it didn’t depend on what character either of us picked. Once you send a curse over you can watch at the bottom of the screen as it heads to your opponent. If it encounters a spirit the opponent has sent to you they will fight it out, with the bigger curse winning.


You’ll notice at the bottom of the screen shot that my opponent and I were both sending curses to each-other

It took at least five matches for us to figure out what the point of the different characters were. It seemed like no matter what character we picked the same thing would be happening on both of our screens. Here’s what we eventually discovered. Your character is used when you click on the icon for your character (or if you used the connect with Facebook feature by clicking on your profile pic). There is a timer to how often you can click your character. I’m not positive but I think the timer may differ from character to character. You can also click on your opponent’s icon to see their screen, which could help you decide when to use your special ability.

I also should note that as of right now I have yet been able to play multiplater mode with a random opponent. The game is a small indie game with not a lot of players yet. So if you want to play multiplayer you may need to talk a friend into buying the game as well.

I mentioned that there was also a “Boss Attack” mode. This is similar to multiplayer. The only differences are you play against a computer and there is no character selection/special abilities. It’s still a good time but lacks some of the excitement the multiplayer mode brings.

The game is available for $.99 in the App Store. It’s a great price for the game, especially if you can find a friend to play with.

Final Rating: 7.8/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: iPhone 4 (the game is also available for iPad)
Approximate Time to Completion: Each mode is good for a couple hours
Price Bought at: N/A review copy provided by Erawppa Technology
Current Price: $.99
Recommend Purchase Price: $.99

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