Simogo's The Sailor's Dream is more like a folded story than
a game, the conclusion of the informal trilogy started with Year Walk and continued
with Device 6. It's a gentle exploration of a marine dreamscape, a series of
buildings you wander, finding pockets of text to unravel the
sailor's story in a non-linear fashion.
Year Walk and Device 6, it's not laden with puzzles, although there are a few
secrets to figure out. The idea behind it is to explore, discover and enjoy.
Freddy Fazbear's has reopened, the animatronics dismantled
and rebuilt, and yet something
is still awry.
They're still walking around at night, and once
again, you have to work the night shift. This time, though, things are a little
different: there are no doors keeping the control room safe. Instead, you're
handed a Freddy Fazbear head to wear in order to fool the animatronics, but
wearing it greatly reduces visibility and access to your items. It's definitely on the cruel and
unusual side of jump-scare horror.
Words can't possibly do Framed justice: it really is one of
the more unusual concepts we have seen in some time. The entire game takes
place without words; it's laid out as a silent noir comic, with our
protagonists avoiding being spotted by law while double-crossing each other. Gameplay is not action-based, but context-based:
you have to examine each page, shifting the panels around to make sure that
events occur in the order that sees our hero escape clean, getting the jump on
police or sneaking past. Although it may sound
good, that's nothing compared to how magnificent it is to experience. And yes,
a pair of headphones is an absolute must.
It's going to be pretty difficult for any mobile golfing
game to supplant Wonderputt
in our hearts, but NimbleBit's Golfinity is running pretty close. The game is
low-stress and no-penalty, with a series of minimalist mini-golf levels. You do, of course,
have a par for each hole, but you can take as many shots as you need, with the end result being a game that's simple, intuitive, relaxing and
enjoyable. Golfinity is also both free and ad-free, and, while we're not
entirely sure we're down with devs not getting paid for their work, we're sure
players will love it.
Vigil RPG isn't, we confess, the prettiest game
we've ever seen -- but that is all part of its charm. It's taken the concept of
the RPG and stripped it down to pretty bare elements -- moving around a fantasy
world, killing monsters (starting, of course, with the ubiquitous rat),
collecting loot and upgrading gear -- and turned it into an 8-bit game. The
system is quite beautiful in its simplicity, with touchscreen buttons that
allow you one action per turn; the challenge lies in analysing each foe's subtle
attack patterns, then choosing the action that allows you to deal the most
damage while taking the least. It's quite tough, too, for that retro
XCOM: Enemy Unknown for mobile was a spectacular port of a superb game, so we were
initially delighted to see standalone expansion XCOM: Enemy Within hit iTunes
and Google Play. Those feelings became a little mixed when we realised that EW
was a replacement for EU, which was removed from both app stores -- perhaps to
stop new players from purchasing both games, since EW has more or less the same
plot and core gameplay of EU.
What EW brings new to the table are new subplots -- which
are pretty cool -- and new items, upgrades, abilities, units and enemies.
spine of the EW is the same as EU, its body is different enough that it almost feels
like a whole new game.
Between The Incident and Blackbar,
Neven Mrgan has distinguished himself as a writer to watch -- and his latest
collaboration with Matt Comi, a throwback to old-school exploration/puzzle
games in the style of LucasArts, is something of a gem. It follows the crew of
a space exploration mission in 1976, crash-landed on the seemingly uninhabited
planet of Kepler-16 and having to unravel the mystery of just why it seems
so strangely familiar. The puzzles and combat can take a little getting used
to, but the love that has gone into the art, music and story is a delight.
An entire game based around gear puzzles: that's A
Mechanical Story. There's actually something charmingly zen about it, as you
take the role of Mr Mechanic trying to build a robot friend. Each level
consists of placing gears and other parts in the correct place in order to make
the machine run smoothly. There's not a lot more going on than that, but the puzzles
are so cleverly designed -- forcing you to think ahead, step-by-step, to figure
out what goes where and what it will do -- to distinguish it from the
When it comes to tower defense, Kingdom Rush is one of the
finest franchises around. Origins offers a prequel, with a new playable race --
the elves -- new towers, new enemies and new legendary heroes to upgrade.
If you ever wanted a touchscreen MOBA, Vainglory is it, no
question. Aside from some absolutely stunning, top-notch graphics, it offers
some genuinely riveting competitive gameplay, with 20-minute, 3x3 online
matches. The controls have been optimised for a touchscreen in order to offer a
PC-level MOBA experience on the iPad, and it's free to play. Although it's a
first game from a new startup, its team includes Riot and Blizzard veterans,
and it's as highly polished and thoughtfully designed as you might expect.
Every now and again, an arcade title comes out that is just beautifully
put together. One More Line has a simple premise, but everything about it is a brilliant
example of elegant game design. You control a little icon, flying along a
track, trailing a three colour-changing lines behind. Along the track are circles
-- which will cause you to explode if you crash into them. However, by holding
down on the screen, you can latch onto them, swinging around to latch on to the
next at high speeds. And when you crash and burn -- which you will -- you're left with the lovely loops of
your journey and that magnificent feeling that you'll beat your high score if
you just have one more try.
Sunburn! is kind of like Lemmings in space. We
say "kind of", because while you are, indeed, collecting your peeps
to reach an objective on a series of levels, that's more or less where the
similarity ends. Your spaceship has been struck by a comet, and it's the end
for you and your crew. You can die, drifting in space... or you can take the
Sunburn! route, which means gathering up your lost crew members and hurtling
into the sun to die together. Each level sees you dealing a number of elements;
oxygen, which depletes while you jump; your jetpack; the gravity of planets;
obstacles such as meteors; hazards such as gravity wells and comets; and making
sure no one gets left behind. It's actually rather sweet, in a morbid sort of
Sometimes things just need a bit of a tweak. Although there
are plenty of official Frogger options from Konami available for mobile,
they've all just been a little bit disappointing, really. Crossy Road takes the
basic premise of Frogger and adds
"endless" into the mix. Alongside some rather adorable voxel art and a whole bunch of unlockable, road- (and river-, and railway track-)
crossing animals. And, if you don't move fast enough, you get eaten up by a
giant bird of prey. It's mixed things up enough to give the gameplay a fresh,
competitive new feel -- and something to keep coming back for.
It's a little peculiar that Stranger's Wrath hit the iPad
before Abe's Oddysee, but hey; Oddworld is Oddworld, and it's pretty impressive to see a
2005 Xbox title arriving on the mobile platform, no matter how you slice it.
Stranger's Wrath is like Red Dead Redemption, before RDR was a thing: a sort-of
open-world western, bounty-hunting game
where you play a grim cowboy doing what's right. The port isn't perfect and the
controls are a little fiddly, but it's definitely playable, and it looks
To coincide with the launch of the physical board game based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher developer
CD Projekt RED also launched digital editions on PC, iOS and Android. Players
can take on the role of one of four characters from the game: Geralt, Triss
Merigold, Dandelion and Yarpen Zigrin, each with their own abilities to develop
and their own dice mechanics for a different game every time you play, whether
against friends or AI. Each character has their own story arc and objectives,
fighting monsters and solving problems -- but at the end of the game, there can
only be one winner.
Barcelona-based digital gamebook developer Cubus looks
to be a pretty ripe contender in the space. Necklace of Skulls is an adaptation
of the 1993 interactive novel by bestselling author Dave Morris -- with new features,
including absolutely stunning animated art by Xavier Mula -- especially for the digital edition. You become Evening Star in a
Mayan adventure -- a warrior, huntress, wayfarer or sorceress -- who swears to
take revenge on the demon-wizard Necklace of Skulls, killer of your brother. Also,
wear some headphones -- the sound design is great.
Satis-Factory is a little bit like Plague Inc -- if that
kind of strategic gameplay floats your boat -- a little bit like Pandemic and a
little bit like Risk. Aliens have invaded the Earth to manufacture a toxic
compound they call Satis -- and you're tasked with eliminating both the Satis
and the aliens. Each turn, the player gets to roll the dice, allowing them to
gather resources, then use them to combat the aliens and the spread of Satis.
The best part, though, is that it can be played cooperatively with up to four
players -- and it's compatible with the Google Chromecast.