Review: Reiner Knizia's Keltis Oracle
Keltis Oracle (universal app), by TribeFlame
• A fun, interesting take on a board game
• Multiplayer or single player
• In depth tutorial included
• Multiplayer is only on the same device
A few weeks ago I reviewed an interesting “board game” called Ra. It was designed by Reiner Knizia, so I decided to see what other games he had in the app store. One of the first ones I tried as Keltis Oracle. It is a universal app, currently $4.99 (although in the past it has been as much as $9.99). Even though it is a universal app, I have only played it on my iPad so far, so I am not reviewing the iPhone version of the game.
With Keltis Oracle, the object of the game is to move your tokens towards the center of the spiral, picking up points along the way. It is based on a similar game (called Lost Cities in the USA). There is some strategy involved, but not so complex that you can’t just pick it up and play a quick game.
As you move your tokens, collecting points and other “prizes” (such as wishing stones and mirrors), you strategically choose your movement stones (like rune stones) and move your tokens for maximum benefit. Depending on the final outcome of location and prizes that you have picked up, you can build up extra points along the way. The game play and rules are fairly detailed, so I am not going to explain them here. However, there is a nice animated tutorial included in the app, as well as a detailed list of rules (which can be pulled up during the game itself). If you are anything like that, it might take you a few games to figure it all out.
The game is available for up to four players. You can have anywhere from one to four “real” players, and up to three computer players. The computer players can be given an easy, medium, or hard rating (although I haven’t played enough yet to see much of a difference between the computer players. Unfortunately, there is no option for wifi/Bluetooth multiplayer, so I you are limited to playing on the same iPad.
The design of the game goes for overall minimalism. Rather than have buttons for settings, pause, and menu, when you are playing the only thing you see if the game board. To pull up the menu, simply double tap in the middle of the game board (and as I said previously, you can then also pull up the rules – a useful feature for people who are just starting out playing the game). On the main screen, you have buttons for play, resume, tutorial, rules, and about. At first I was confused because there were not settings buttons (to use multiplayer) but you can adjust the players and skill levels using the four icons in the corners (changing from not active to human player to various computer skill levels). It turns out this is written very clearly in the middle of the screen, but in my hurry I skipped reading it.
All in all, this is a fun and challenging game, especially when you are playing against other people. I wish there was a wifi/Bluetooth multiplayer option, but the computer can still be a challenging opponent. For $4.99, this can be a fun game to play, although I would try to make sure you have someone who might want to play with you. Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.