To cut to the chase, Year Walk is one of the best games we've ever played on mobile. It's based on the tradition of Arsgang,
Year Walking, in which a person may go for a ritual walk, a vision quest of
sorts, in the dark of the night to see what the year ahead will bring. Thrown
into a forest without tutorial, you have to collect clues and solve puzzles in
what is some seriously clever and creative gameplay for an incredible twist
ending. Don't forget to pick up the free companion app.
Kickstarter-funded Knock-Knock, its creators say, is less a
game and more of a meditative experience, but we're not 100 percent convinced
that it's as restful as that implies. You take the role of a cantankerous
person known only as the Lodger, living alone in a creaky house in the woods.
Every night, mystery visitors knock on the door -- and every night begins a
game of hide and seek, where the aim is to stay away from them until dawn,
flitting from room to room to avoid encountering one and going insane. It's
tremendously good, creepy, survival horror fun.
If it's depth you want, Out There is it. It tells the tale
of an astronaut who wakes from cryosleep to find that he's no longer in orbit
around Earth -- in fact, he has no idea where he is, and has only unreliable
alien technology as a guide home. You have to carefully manoeuvre through
dangerous situations and manage resources as you navigate the stars -- because
if your astronaut dies, it's game over. And all the while, you have no way of
knowing if what you seek is truly the way home.
Devine Lu Linvega, better known as Aliceffekt, doesn't make
games for the faint of heart: each one is an exercise in going somewhere
completely new. In Oquonie, you have to navigate the strange, labyrinthine
spaces, where everyone speaks a strange language of symbols, trying to unlock
enough information to find the way forward. It's a puzzle in every sense of the
word -- deeply confusing, deeply clever and deeply engrossing.
Following on from the Year Walk companion app, Simogo's
latest project is an interactive text adventure — but quite unlike any you
might have played before. Taking what it learned from Year Walk, the developer
has created some puzzles that really force you to think outside the box — text
that flows around corners, clues hidden within the narrative, within illustrations,
within audio, within illustrations, all forcing you to turn your preconceptions
upside down to solve them. Simogo was already on a winning streak from its very
first game, but now it's really hitting its stride.
launched in 2010, was the first mobile game (that we know of) that removed
visuals from the equation. Instead, you had to navigate using your ears (and a
set of headphones), dead and seeking a lost loved one in the underworld. The
sequel follows a similar plot, with updated audio technology, and it's a
singularly eerie gaming experience. "There is no game called Papa Sangre.
You are dead."
If you were stuck on an alien world, you'd be well and truly
lost. You wouldn't know the language, the customs, even what was safe to eat
and drink. Independent developer Devine Lu Linvega, aka Aliceffekt, wanted to
create this feeling of helplessness, of complete mystery and, in turn, of
discovery and accomplishment. His point-and-click adventure Hiversaires is a
deeply atmospheric wonder — think of a more cryptic Year Walk. Without words,
without tutorials, you're placed in a strange world to find, for yourself, the
Aliens are scary, too — particularly the
undead-human-turned-into-something-grotesque kind found in Dead Space. In this
atmospheric game, written specifically for iOS, you can play through the story
or enter a heart-thumping survival mode, where you face off against waves of
Creepy point-and-click game NothingElse, by the creator of
Imscared: A Pixelated Nightmare, follows Phillip, a young boy with a troubled
family who just wants to escape into a good book for a while. However, he finds
himself instead descending into a weird, surreal sort of nightmare, trying to
find his way out. For a relatively short eight-bit game, it certainly doesn't
skimp on the creepy -- creator Ivan Zanotti is a master of minimalist horror.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft is arguably the finest horror
writer to date. This gorgeously illustrated card game sees you acting as
supernatural investigators in the Lovecraft universe, trying to prevent a
full-scale Cthulhu-vasion after the theft of the Necronomicon from the
Imagine a point-and-click horror mystery combined with the
intuitive combat system of Infinity Blade, in an eerily beautiful urban
fairy-tale setting, and you might begin to understand Dark Meadow. The story
begins when you awaken, amnesiac, in a hospital, and the only way you can
escape is to find and destroy the witch who holds you in thrall.
Our love for The Room could have been because of the
beautiful game design, the spooky-but-not-terrifying ambience and the
mysterious storyline. Those things are all awesome, but they're just the
delicious icing on the gameplay cake.
The Room is a puzzle-box game that sees you exploring in 3D
a series of chests, boxes and cabinets that are scrawled with arcane symbols
and scratching, and filled with clockworks and cryptic notes. You have to
figure out how to open various hidden compartments, fix broken mechanical
features to solve the box, collect the story clues and move on to the next box.
It can be really tricky — but the marvellous thing is that it's never
frustrating, with gentle clues that you can read (or ignore) to nudge you in
the right direction — and we found ourselves, with each successful solution,
feeling that excited "a-ha!" moment, accompanied by a warm
satisfaction that had us gleefully returning for more. Combined with the
tactile experience of touch-based gaming, and minus the pressures of points and
achievements, it's a title that's actually exciting to play.
You're a crow flying over the land. As you explore each
level, you find fragments of story — one voice telling you to seek and curse
the land's guardians, so that it can take their power for itself, and another
petitioning you to show mercy and not be taken in by the temptation to do harm.
When you find the guardians, you must fight, using attacks and blocks, all the
while dodging their attacks; and at each level's final boss, you have a choice:
will you inflict the curse, or show mercy? The smooth, one-touch controls are
wonderfully responsive, the gameplay is intuitive and the story is both
intriguing and thoughtful. It's stunningly beautiful and superbly built.
This real-time strategy game for iPad is just beautiful.
With artwork inspired by Edward Gorey (and done well, too), it plonks you in
the middle of zombie battles. You fight your contestants by sending your
Frankenstein's monster-esque undead against theirs — which you create by
solving match puzzles. Differently coloured blocks create different units. It's
the kind of gameplay at which developer Three Rings excels.
This is the kind of idea that's so preposterous that it just
has to work. From the team behind the gorgeous Deathfall (you can definitely
see the similarity in art style), the premise of Pizza Vs. Skeletons is that
the dead are rising, and you, as a puissant pizza pie of prodigious
proportions, must roll back and forth over the growing hordes to squash them
flatter than flat. This is achieved by tilting your iDevice from side to side.
If you ever played the game Project Zero (known as Fatal
Frame in the US), the terrifying atmosphere of Kowa-Oto will be a very familiar
one. The only other media that gave us this level of terror was possibly
Project Zero -- or The Ring.
Limbo was the first side-scrolling platformer to tap into
the spooky black-and-white aesthetic, and it's every bit as spooky as it looks.
Waking up on the edge of hell, you have to navigate a small boy through
nightmarish chiaroscuro landscapes filled with horrific monsters and traps by
solving physical puzzles. It took a long time to arrive on mobile; now it's
here, and it's glorious.
Indigo Lake combines first-person combat, puzzle solving and
the supernatural in a deeply impressive open-world adventure. It's possibly the
first mobile game of its kind to include cars that you can get in and drive,
but it may also just give you the willies. A spate of suicides at Indigo Lake
has led to a paranormal investigation, but when your friend goes missing, it's
up to you, equipped with a hand gun and "smart glasses", to find him
-- and lay to rest any restless spirits you encounter along the way.
You won't find any jump-scares here -- A Dark Room's
strangeness is based solely in the narrative. It starts off, as the name
suggests, in a dark room, and the tale unfolds in text and ASCII-style
graphics. You awaken with no knowledge of who, or where, you are, and have no
choice but to make the best of your circumstances. As you start to build a
village, though, it becomes apparent that who or what you are doesn't quite fit
in -- and isn't necessarily as benevolent as first appears.
The game was originally released by developer Amirali Rajan
on iOS, but he made the project open source, whereupon developer Ariyalion
ported it to Android with a new story under the name A Silent Wood.
Every night when Alice dreams, she goes to a fantastical
world. There, her fears are made manifest -- and the player must guide her
through, solving puzzles and meeting the strange dwellers to help her face and
overcome her fears. Inspired by the music of Spanish band Vetusta Morla, it's
paced at the player's speed — beautifully hand-drawn in ink, pencil and
watercolours, it's an experience about exploration and discovery rather than
We're not really sure what the story is in DeathFall, but
it's a pleasure to play. You're a skull that's falling; by tilting the device,
you can control the skull's direction, guiding it to collect tokens of the
"snaps and snails" variety as you go. These account for your score,
and the more you collect in a row, the better you'll do. When you reach the
bottom of each level, you collect a body part. It's not particularly deep, but
the gorgeousness of the graphics makes it mesmerising.
The Graveyard is one of the strangest games we've come
across on the App Store. In fact, we're not sure that we can even call it a
"game" as such, but it would be hard to know what else to call it. In
it, you accompany an elderly lady on a trip to the cemetery. She potters
around, has a bit of a sit down, then leaves; but every time she visits,
there's a chance that she will die -- kind of morbid, in a memento mori sort of