ERS Game Studios' hidden-object adventure series PuppetShow turns five years old this year, proving that there's nothing people love more than sentient puppets with soulless eyes and hungry plastic mouths, so good job, you weirdos. PuppetShow: Lightning Strikes is the latest, taking place in Paris in 1888, and you've been called in to assist when local women begin vanishing during lightning storms, and anyone struck by lightning turns into a living puppet. Despite this, since puppets are already a big part of this alternate-steampunky-France, down to the creepy mechanical newsboys and creepier ice cream vendors (we all float down here), nobody thinks to suspect them right up until one shows up and tries to steal a piece of evidence. Seems the victims might all have something in common, and love ain't always sweet. As you travel the city solving puzzles, you'll uncover evidence you'll need to sort with the help of your new psychic friend who really wants her magical doll back (I swear I'm not making this up), deal with a cranky fellow who possesses the bizarre ability to bring inanimate objects to life, and more.
Like Sentry Knight and Elona Shooter, HighUp Studio's Viking Valor is a defensive shooter, one that, specifically, revolves around blasting vikings in the face with cannons. See, some king stole a gem from your people, and to get it back, you have to kaboom your way through vikings, viking tanks, viking sorcerers, viking bombs, viking... bats?... and, well, you get the idea. In each level you'll face waves of enemies, and all you have to do is aim and shoot with the mouse. In addition to dropping cash you can spend on placing traps to hurt or hinder, your foes also net you experience points, and every time you level up you gain points you can spend on upgrading your weaponry and spells. Oh, didn't I mention? As you level up, you unlock various spells you can activate with [Z], [X], and [C]... each has a cool-down timer, however, so don't go using them willy-nilly. If an enemy reaches and manages to damage your ship, don't panic! Just make sure you pick up the boards occasionally dropped, since they can repair the ship's hull. Of course, you still want to avoid damage as much as possible, since you're awarded stars for each stage depending on how much damage you took, and those stars are used to unlock new traps and upgrades for them.
Balls is not, as you might think, a game made by Bobby Singer, but rather Robamimi's latest escape game in which you must find four balls in order to get out. It sounds simple, but the reality is anything but. Just click around to interact when the cursor changes, and use the arrows at the edges of the screen to move around. The changing cursor, while helpful, is nothing new, but the game also includes an option to display colour names when you mouse over certain items whose colour is relevant to solving puzzles, making the game much more playable for people who have difficulty distinguishing colours in general. There's also a hint function, but don't expect it to do much more than gesture vaguely in the right direction. But hey, that's all you'll need, right?
Tell me if this has happened to you before: while on a camping trip with friends, roasting marshmallows into crispy gooey bliss, innocently toying with bottle rockets near the campfire, an extraterrestrial aircraft zooms over and zaps you into space. No? Then, you may have missed out on one of... No, not one of, but only the most exciting interstellar odyssey of your life. That is, if Bik: A Space Adventure is any testimony on the subject. And he should be, given this is exactly what happens to Bik as the titular character in Zotnip's marvelously fun classic scifi point-and-click adventure, playable on your iOS and Android mobile device or on your computer as a download. But in case you begin to doubt Bik's perspective on the subject, there will be opportunities to walk in Ammut, Tatenen and Talandra's gravity boots for a change of pace and scenery, exploring alien environments and solving the story-driven puzzles encountered along the way. While the pursuit of fun and extracurricular recreation is a perfectly valid reason to travel the galaxies, there are bigger bots to fry: join forces with the good guys as they escape Umarian abductors and Houns mobsters while stopping an evil corporation from exploiting a peaceful farming planet—the universal battle of good versus evil all in resplendent 2D pixel art.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad Air. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.
Quad Cop is... a weird game. It's a physics puzzle where you play a square sheriff wrangling square baddies by trying to knock them off the screen, while also collecting all three stars on every level because a physics game without collecting stars these days summons the physics police. That's not the weird part. The weird part is that on each level you have a limited amount of food to feed to your cop, which affects him in different ways. Tacos make you burp, peas (beans?) make you fart and temporarily fly, and chilies make you let out a burst of heat. Just click one of the food items in the upper left corner, then click on a sheriff to feed the food to him. All of this impacts you and your surroundings in various ways, so for example, feeding a taco to a sheriff on an incline could mean the resulting fart gives him enough momentum to go sliding down and good grief is that actually a line I just typed? Is that even a taco? It could be a bánh mì. I don't know what's happening anymore.
Doublespeak Games' A Dark Room was a smash-hit for a lot of good reasons, being an amazingly deep and epic simulation that revealed itself a bit at a time to patient players, and even eventually got a mobile port from Amirali Rajan. So when fans like myself are surprised by an iOS prequel like The Ensign, the reaction is, predictably, ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh, but also hmmmm, because unlike the original game, The Ensign is actually a roguelike adventure. When your commanding officer gives up, you refuse to, and with only a few sups of water and scraps of food you set out into a hostile world to try to find and activate your ship. All you can do is follow your compass. The catch is that when you die, and you will die, a time paradox occurs and sends you back to the start of the game. At first it may appear like you're just beating your head against a brick wall, but as you try and try again, you'll begin to notice subtle changes in yourself and the world around you, though the world map will be randomized...
Behold! Nothing up my sleeves... abracaplatformer... there is your card, my friend!... just, uh... suspended over that pit of sawblades and spikes... hmmm, Blaine makes this look so easy. In Tinsleeves' The Great Magician's Curse: Magicians 2, you play a magician who is not only trapped in a puzzling world of dangers and switches, you're dogged by magical dopplegangers who copy every move you make. Don't worry, they're not dangerous... quite the opposite, in fact, since you can use them to accomplish tasks for you! Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump. But the kicker is that only the main magic maestro can go through the exit and collect the card in each level, and a single hit will destroy any of your magicians. Since they all move at once, you'll need to figure out how to manipulate the copies to open doors for you without endangering your magician... something that becomes even harder since most switches only stay pressed if someone remains holding them down, and deadly barriers may require a sacrifice before they open.
What three free escape games do we have in store for you this Weekday Escape? Well, that's a question worth exploring in more detail, so I'll give you some key facts and see if you can guess without peeking. The first is from a designer who makes perfect use of minimalism, hiding clues in the decor, and is well-known to us here at JIG, although the brief offerings have sometimes escaped our notice. Next, these guys, always green and poised to escape, sure do get in an awful lot of trouble but they're also sure to bring the laughs—as long as we can find them. Lastly, this game series, more new to our escaping crew, has clever puzzles and quirky drawings to extend the hidden buttons fun...
In Jay Armstrong and Jimp's action-packed platform shooter The Last Dinosaurs, the dinos aren't extinct... they're just hiding in sewers from the evil feline army, naturally. Clever girl. As Russ, a dinosaur who looks like Reptar and was probably trained by John Woo or Danny Butterman, you'll amass a team of heroes and go on arena-based missions from your secret underground hideout... missions which typically involve bouncing all over the place and firing guns into the air while going ARRRRR to take out all the enemies before they can do the same to you. The controls can be changed by going into the menu, clicking a control key icon, and then hitting the key on your keyboard you want to rebind that action to, though the default is [arrows] to move and jump, [C] to fire, and the down [arrow] to pick up anything. Coins from fallen foes can be spent between missions on upgrading everything from your special abilities and weapons to the strengths of your companions. Your teammates will move and attack on their own, and if they die, they're down for the count unless you've unlocked the limited revive ability. Healing items and any additional unlocked weapons will spawn periodically through openings in the floor, but your enemies can pick them up too! You can't replay missions, but you can earn more cash by playing "challenge mode" maps from the main menu.
A mysterious knock on the door, a mysterious package on the stoop, you just know this isn't going to end well for whomever finds the parcel, don't you? Indeed, in Witches' Legacy: The Ties that Bind, EleFun's latest adventure hybrid, that package heralds the beginning of yet another fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil involving witches, witch hunters, and a ton of hidden-object finding and puzzle solving. It is the day before your adopted daughter (who is a good witch) Lynn's wedding to former witch hunter Edward when suddenly, displaying the brains and judgment of a concussed lemming, Edward decides to walk right into what is obviously a trap to find out what happened when he was a child and his family was killed.
Ever wonder about light? Most of us know the basics: it's super fast, it's got something to do with rainbows, and it's dangerous to drive or cook bacon without it. Well, the folks at Foumart Games want to teach you a thing or two about this mysterious force that illuminates our world, and lucky for us they've created an extremely addictive puzzle game with which to spread the gospel. Quantum of Light isn't a strict educational game, more a brainteaser that rewards you with some cool textbook facts. Gameplay revolves around rotating square tiles a 2D grid to better reflect the streams of photons towards the crystals at the end. The game tosses some creative obstacles in your path like black light streams that cancel out your photons, so patience and intuition are a must. It's great fun watching the colorful patterns take shape as you guide your light streams towards the crystals, and seriously, who doesn't like to learn?
In SpryFox's gorgeous indie roguelike strategic puzzle adventure Road Not Taken, you're lost alone in the snow-swept woods and beset by evil spirits until you discover a strange staff with a blue flame that allows you to levitate objects around you at the cost of your own energy. You're rescued by a fisherman who takes you to a tiny, remote village where, it turns out, that staff just so happens to be the symbol of a Ranger's office. Your duties? Well, for the most part, you're tasked with finding and rescuing the children who get lost in the forest each year while picking the berries that the town exports. But the woods are deep, dark, cold, and ever-changing, and it's not just the malicious entities, freezing temperatures, and wildlife you'll need to watch out for. Combining randomized puzzles and a subtle yet engrossing narrative with a clever crafting mechanic that allows you to create an amazing amount of new things by combining objects and animals around you, Road Not Taken is a smart and oh-so-gorgeous game that will keep you coming back for more.
As the Wikipedias tell us, major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It is believed to currently affect approximately 298 million people as of 2010, which is 4.3% of the global population. As you probably know, a famous entertainer who just about everybody wished well has recently committed suicide. Many who've never experienced the disorder are trying to understand why, and just as many who live with it try to explain but find it difficult to elucidate beyond a list of symptoms and desperate urging for those who suffer, to get help, even though they know from experience that it's not that simple, and the stories they share may only trigger more pain. Into this maelstrom comes the wide release of Depression Quest on Steam, or play it online in your browser. It's a twine interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression, developed by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler, and its hard to tell if its come at exactly the right or exactly the wrong time. Either way, though, it's well worth your time.
Players should be warned that the narrative deals frankly with depictions of people in painful mental states. Those with conditions that might be triggered should take caution. Anyone with thoughts of suicide or self-harm or feel that they may be at risk should seek help immediately: You Are Not Alone.
Puzzle phenomenon 2048 spawned a lot of copies and imitators, which, depending on your point of view, is sort of ironic since 2048 is itself more-than-heavily-inspired-by Threes! 2048 Bricks offers a slightly different spin on things by keeping the basic concept and adding in a twist. Or... stack. See, each level has five stacks, with each stack having a certain number of blocks on it, and each block has its own value. Click a stack to pick up the top-most block, and then another stack to drop it, though you can only stack blocks on those with numbers of equal or lesser value. By stacking a block on top of one that matches its current value, the two will combine into a new block that represents the combined total of the old ones, so stacking two fours will net you a single eight. The goal is to figure out how to reach a single block with a total of 2048, which usually isn't hard, but doing so in as few moves as possible is another story.
Smart Pen is one of those puzzle games that is essentially a browser-based version of iOS game Blek by another developer, which definitely puts it in "clone" category. The controls couldn't be easier. Simply draw a line or shape and watch the pattern repeat in the air. Your lines will bounce off the sides and keep repeating but the upper and lower borders are off limits, and then there are the black holes you must avoid. The goal is to send your magic marker through each colored circle on the screen, requiring no small amount of imagination and artistic flair. The pen is smart, sure enough, but it can take some time to reprogram your brain enough to understand just how your lines will behave once you set them free in the vacuum. This is how mouse-only browser gaming is supposed to feel, requiring forethought, a sure hand, and a boatload of patience when things get tricky.