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Christmas Gift Guide

You Must Build a Boat

Looper

That Level Again 2

Transistor

Her Story

Fallout Shelter

Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon

Door Kickers

FireWhip

Hitman: Sniper

Dungeoneers Quest

Alphabear

Bonza National Geographic

Outside World

Furdemption

Lego Batman: Beyond Gotham

Portal Pinball

Out last month for Android

Like its predecessor 10000000, You Must Build a Boat isn't what I'd call pretty. But otherwise it's pretty danged close to a perfect mobile game experience. It mixes a tile-matching casual game with a dungeon crawler to excellent effect.

The premise is that you need to, well, build a boat, by collecting supplies and monsters to serve as crew. Each run, you have to try and last as long as you can by sliding rows and columns to match attacks, shields, keys and other items to help you face the perils.

The gameplay is kept keen with quests to upgrade your gear and boat, with the end goal to complete your boat and get out -- just as the goal in 10000000 was to reach the 10,000,000 points needed for freedom.

Trailer

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £1.99 (Android); $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29 (iOS)

Caption by / Photo by EightyEight Games

Looper is a gorgeous endless runner experience. Two lines travel through a tunnel, the object of the game being to keep the lines from touching narrow walls and moving obstacles.

Holding down on the screen, the lines twist tightly, spiralling around each other. Lifting your finger from the screen, they part and travel separately. It's very simple, very smooth, and very lovely to look at.

Trailer

Platforms: Android

Price: Free

Caption by / Photo by Danny Cruz

Platform puzzlers don't often get as interesting as That Level Again. Like many 2D platformers, the aim is to get to the end of the level. In TLA and TLA2, this involves finding the key and getting through the door.

The twist? It's the same room you have to escape, over and over, using the cryptic clues the game gives you to find a new way out.

It's as fiendishly clever as it is challenging.

Trailer

Platforms: Android

Price: Free

Caption by / Photo by IamTagir

The second game by Bastion's developer Supergiant is filled with beautiful pathos. In Transistor, you control Red, the voiceless chanteuse, carrying a mysterious sword. The sword, called the Transistor, contains both her voice and the soul of the man whose corpse Red discovers at the start of the game.

The city is being overtaken by a robotic faction known as the Process, breaking the city -- and its residents -- down into blocks. The gameplay is a nicely designed turn-based RPG, but it's the unfolding mystery and the noir-like narrator that will keep you coming back for more.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $9.99 | AU$12.99 | £7.99

Caption by / Photo by Supergiant Games

It's not easy to to make an interactive movie that works. That fact alone makes Her Story something of a curiosity -- borrowing from, but not aping, ideas from the interactive movie.

It takes place at a console. You are a police officer (presumably), going through police interview videos of a particular person, trying to piece together a murder. All the videos are available, but you have to find them by using keywords, which you need to carefully listen to what the interviewee is saying to find.

Some tapes contain no clues, but some tapes are vital, and all help you piece together who she is, and what happened the night Simon was killed.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99

Caption by / Photo by Sam Barlow

Bethesda's surprise E3 announcement is an interesting little entry into the village management sim field.

Aside from its setting in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout, Fallout Shelter deviates from the formula in that it does not use timers that prevent you from playing unless you pay to refill them. The game, in fact, can be played without paying a cent, building a vault and carefully balancing the resources and workers as you expand.

There is one purchasable item in the game: Lunch Boxes that offer you a lucky dip of items, currency and new Dwellers to speed things along. It's an interesting choice that proves that a casual game doesn't have to seize every opportunity to treat its audience like a series of walking wallet in order to work.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

Caption by / Photo by Bethesda

Games Workshop chose wisely for its first real attempt at a version of the tabletop Warhammer strategy game for iOS. Slitherine has pedigree -- it's the developer behind acclaimed the acclaimed Frontline world war strategy games, Battle Academy, Panzer Corps and others.

Slitherine knows what it's doing, and Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon is a rich, deeply engaging and beautifully crafted RTS Warhammer experience.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $19.99 | AU$24.99 | £14.99

Caption by / Photo by Slitherine

Door Kickers is a different kind of entry into the strategy market: a top-down tactical game that puts you in charge of a SWAT team trying to solve hostage situations, raid gang headquarters, act as bodyguards, escort dangerous prisoners and defuse explosives.

You need to choose your troops and equipment, then carefully plan your missions, making adjustments in real-time on the fly as situations evolve.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99

Caption by / Photo by KillHouse Games

FireWhip has a really simple premise, but it's hard to get the hang of. You spin the fire whip in the middle of the screen by tracing circles with your finger, with a rapid swipe-and-release to crack the whip.

Once you get that down, you have to learn how to crack it in a specific direction. The phrase "easy to learn, hard to master" has become a massive mobile gaming cliche, but boy howdy does it ever apply here. And yet that very difficulty delivers deep satisfaction when you manage to pull it off -- helped by an in-game gif-maker that lets you record and share your most spectacular moments.

Trailer

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: $0.99 | AU$1.29 | £0.78 (Android); $0.99 | AU$1.29 | £0.79 (iOS)

Caption by / Photo by Trichotomy Games

Between Hitman: Go and now Hitman: Sniper, Square Enix is killing it (pun intended) when it comes to adapting the Hitman franchise for mobile platforms.

Hitman: Sniper sees you, unsurprisingly, taking the role of a sniper. The game is a series of contracts -- you have to locate the target and take them out quickly and cleanly, with bonus points awarded for headshots, additional kills and not holding your breath (the scope sways ever so slightly as the sniper breathes). You can then use the money you earn to buy new weapons and upgrade them.

There's only one area, which means as you progress through the game, the missions can become more difficult as you learn the layout, offering new challenges to the missions. Overall, it does exactly what it says on the tin, and does it superbly.

Trailer

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: $4.99 | AU$7.97 | £3.99 (Android); $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99 (iOS)

Caption by / Photo by Square Enix

If Legend of Grimrock was a little outside your mobile game budget, or if you're looking for more of the same kind of thing, Dungeoneers Quest is an excellent choice. The party-based, first-person, grid-based dungeon crawler offers up some excellent old-school, monster-slaying fun in the style of Wizardry and Dungeon Master.

Platforms: iOS | Windows Phone

Price: $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29 (iOS); $2.99 | AU$2.69 | £2.29 (WP)

Caption by / Photo by Ryan Monney

You might remember Spry fox from Triple Town. Alphabear is similar, an adorable casual game involving bears, but this time it's all about making words. From a selection of letter squares on the gameboard, you have to make words. The letters you use then turn into bears, and rectangular areas merge to become giant bears. Letters have turn timers, after which they become unmoveable blocks -- so the idea is to make words from them before they get to that point -- and completing harder levels unlocks bears with special abilities to help you get higher scores.

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: Free

Caption by / Photo by Spry Fox

Most crossword games are over when the crossword is filled in. Bonza starts with the crossword filled in. Each puzzle is then broken into pieces, and you solve it by working backwards from a central theme, putting the words back together. This special National Geographic edition of the game offers a whole passel of all-new Bonza puzzles to solve, and it's entirely based around nature themes.

Trailer

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: Free

Caption by / Photo by Minimega

Outside World isn't exactly shy about its influences. It's stylistically heavily inspired by Monument Valley, but to call it a clone would be unfair. While it has a similar visual appeal, and while its gameplay depends on solving a puzzle to exit each stage, Outside World is a very different beast.

You control two characters, the corporeal Kyrsten and the spectral Jaynie, lost in a strange world and trying to find a way home. You need to use both characters to solve increasingly difficult logic puzzles to open doors and escape. It's actually rather a lovely experience, with a feel somewhere between cute and spooky.

Platforms: Android

Price: $0.99 | AU$1.25 | £0.77

Caption by / Photo by Little Thingie

A poor wee bunny has become trapped in hell. In this top-down puzzler, you need to guide the bunny through 100 levels of traps, hazards and pits of lava to collect the feathers that will allow it to fly free.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29

Caption by / Photo by RareSloth

There was Lego Batman. Then Lego Batman was joined by his superpals in Lego Batman 2.

Lego Batman: Beyond Gotham takes our batty hero and the Justice League up, up and away into space to deal with bad guys from beyond the stars.

Trailer

Platforms: iOS

Price: $4.99 | AU$6.49 | £3.99 (iOS)

Caption by / Photo by Warner Bros

Pinball isn't all Zen Studios does, but it does pinball a lot, and it does it brilliantly. If you haven't played it before and want to try it out, the dev has a free app available (Android | iOS).

This particular version, well, it's Portal themed -- which means GLaDOS being a passive-aggressive jerk, Chell, Wheatley, Aperture and a really fun pinball experience.

Trailer

Platforms: Android | iOS

Price: $1.99 | AU$2.50 | £1.57 (Android); $1.99 | AU$2.49 | £1.49 (iOS)

Caption by / Photo by Zen Studios

Waiting for a particular game that got an iOS release a while ago?

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions ($4.99 | AU$6.47 | £3.82)

Warhammer Quest ($2.49 | AU$3.49 | £1.99)

Heroes & Castles 2 ($1.99 | AU$2.53 | £1.54)

Lifeline ($0.99 | AU$1.29 | £0.76)

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions ($13.99 | AU$14.70 | £10.49)

Vainglory (Free)

Caption by / Photo by Super Evil Megacorp
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