It's elemental, my dear Whoever! (Is it Alonso? Please let it be Alonso.) This week, the Vault is overflowing with water, flames, and tiny bearded frozen men. But there's no need to panic, since that's perfectly normal... ish! At least, it is when we're looking at some of our favourite games that bend the powers of the natural world. It's designed for those of us who used to lie awake at night throughout primary school, wishing we had the ability to harness the wind so we could drop buckets of deadly hobo spiders on stupid Jimmy Jones for stealing our favourite Pog slammer during recess even though the teacher said she couldn't prove he'd done it even though you know he totally did. I mean... so I hear, anyway.
- Ice Breaker - While they'll never replace Erik, Baleog and Olaf in my heart, there's just something about the grim looking little bearded vikings in Nitrome's physics puzzle series that's hard not to love. In each game, your goal is to swipe the screen with your mouse and carve away the frozen vikings from the ice they're trapped in so they drop safely to the boat waiting below, presumably where they are revived with gentle cooed reassurances and warm fuzzy blankets in the viking way. Nitrome's games are always gorgeous, but Ice Breaker packs a particular charm with its simple gameplay and cartoonish style that makes it hard to put down, especially when it fits so perfectly inside any sized break you might have. Plus, with the upcoming iOS edition, you'll find better visuals, bosses, adventure, and more. There's no time like the present to get (re) acquainted with these grumpy little marauders and remind yourself why Nitrome is so good at what they do.
- FireBoy and WaterGirl: The Forest Temple - Oslo Albet's puzzle platforming series has been wooing fans since 2009, despite the fact that it requires some serious individual dexterity for each hand. You control FireBoy and WaterGirl individually but also simultaneously, with different keys on the keyboard used for each character. The goal is to get them both safely to the exit in each level by helping them work together to overcome the different hurdles in their way, and keeping them out of dangerous elements that oppose them. The series boasts some seriously clever (and devious!) design, but despite the challenge never winds up feeling unfair. It delivers a brisk, good-looking little adventure that adds just enough new wrinkles as you play to keep you interested without overloading its core concept. The result is a game that sizzles more than it fizzles, and will keep your fingers and your brain fit.
- The Pretender: Part One - Everyone loves a magic show! You know, right up until your soul is painfully torn from your body and hurled into another dimension. Launching Pad Games' puzzle platforming series about a Victorian stage magician who bites off more than he can chew has long been a favourite of mine. Your goal is to find your way back to our world, rescuing the souls of your audience along the way, who were scattered throughout elemental realms when your tricks misfired after a magical book you find turns out to be sorely out of your league. Each stage allows you to transform into different elemental creatures with various abilities, such as allowing you to float or burn through things, and you have to harness these abilities in specific order to best proceed. The game has an elegant simplicity to its style that makes it easy on the eyes, and its clever concept stays neat and tidy throughout rather than overburdening you with piles of powers that might have cluttered things up.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!