March 2013 Archives


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (19)

Indiana Stone: The Brave and the Boulder

KinetikaiYou know the old cliché of the adventurer being chased by the giant boulder? It's a trope that has appeared in numerous movies and games, but we never get to see things from the boulder's point of view. Well, that's all about to change! Indiana Stone: The Brave and the Boulder is an arcade-styled action game from Twinsky Games in which you play the larger, rounder, rockier half of the oft-imitated duo. Your mission is to crush the unnamed (but curiously familiar) archaeologist who has stolen your precious golden idol with the intent of locking it up in a stuffy museum.

Indiana Stone: The Brave and the BoulderEach stage takes place in an endless, trap-filled corridor, and it's up to you to catch up to the thieving rotter and give him what-for. The controls are simple: Tilt your device to move left or right, and tap the screen to jump. Hitting obstacles slows you down — too many hits and it's game over. Luckily, there are red hoops which increase your speed and give you a quick boost. Even better, you can run over creatures to fill up your POW meter, which allows you to briefly speed up and smash through obstacles. Best of all, if you hit five creatures of the same type in a row, you automatically get a Super POW, which turns your boulder gigantic and guarantees the destruction of the brown-hatted one.

Indiana Stone is charming and oodles of fun. Besides the entertaining role reversal, the game sports delightfully blocky graphics and more rock puns than The Flintstones, if such a thing is even possible. There are several "unlockaboulders," such as a disco ball and an eyeball rock (called the iStone), as well as other bonuses and secrets that give the game a real nice amount of replay value.

While the gameplay and graphics are simplistic, Indiana Stone is a game that will leave you with a smile on your face. Taking on the role — or should I say roll — of a vengeful boulder is simply too much fun to pass up. A well-crafted sendup of both Indiana Jones and the infinite runner genre, Indiana Stone: The Brave an the Boulder is a rock-solid (Get it? Because it's about rocks!) addition to your iOS device.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 2. 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.


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (138 votes)
| Comments (24) | Views (102)

A False Saint, An Honest Rogue

JohnBA False Saint, An Honest Rogue, and one very cold adventurer. Created by Jeremiah Reid for the Seven Day Roguelike (7DRL) competition, this unusual game mixes survival and roguelike elements in a strange and often confusing way. But that's why we like it! You're out in the cold, you're freezing, you're starving, and you have to survive. Sounds fairly ordinary until you factor in the fact that you're going a bit mad from the chill, and many things you think you see don't make much sense at all. There's just one thing on your mind: go west.

A False Saint, An Honest RogueMove around the screen using the [arrow] keys (note that [left] and [right] turn you instead of sliding you to the side) and click menu/inventory elements to investigate or use them. You know you're supposed to be going west, but it's not like you've got a GPS handy. Instead, use the sun and shadows to pick your way through the landscape as best you can. When you see an item simply step across it to pick it up. You have to stay warm and stay fed, and you can also sleep when it's nighttime, which can be useful for prolonging your life. Whatever you do, don't freeze before the in-game week is up. And be prepared for some strange events!

A False Saint, An Honest Rogue is confusing at first. It's also confusing at second and third, too. But there's a good experience there for those who sit with it for more than a few minutes. It strikes a fantastic balance between roguelike and survival sim, forcing you to manage item weights, keys and the like along with constantly focusing on staying alive and warm. No more spoilers in this review, go check the game out and see how delightfully disorienting it can be!

Play A False Saint, An Honest Rogue


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (128)

Phenomenon: Meteorite

StarchildDaniel is turning 25. Anyone else might have been happy with a cake and a raucous boys' night out, but our Daniel is different. He takes a boat to a remote island to search for his parents and have an adventure of a lifetime. And if he should gain a superpower or two along the way, even better! Phenomenon: Meteorite by Puzzle Lab is an intriguing hidden-object adventure which takes you to a world of magic and mystery, exploration and revelations, as you help a young man uncover his true identity.

Phenomenon: MeteoriteLeft in the care of a foster family as a chubby-cheeked little boy, Daniel couldn't understand why his parents had to run away nor what grave danger they were in. The only clue they left was was a note instructing him to find them when he is old enough. So now he sets sail for Meteorite Island, where he starts unraveling his parents' past.

A few centuries ago, a meteorite hit Earth and split into four pieces, each representing an element. The pieces are now kept on the island and give its inhabitants magical powers. Daniel also has them and, in the course of the game, he must unlock them gradually and learn how to use them. At the same time, he tries to find out what happened to his parents, and discovers that the truth is much more complex than it seems. Click around to gather clues, talk to people, and solve puzzles, and maybe even eventually master the elements.

Phenomenon: MeteoriteAnalysis: Phenonenon: Meteorite looks exactly the way you'd want a hidden-object game to look. The environments are perfectly detailed, landscapes lush and colourful, and the atmosphere so mild and inviting that you wish you could stroll around the island, instead of letting Daniel have that pleasure for himself. There is an admirably large number or scenes, and you will have to hop from one to another a great deal, but this never feels like a chore. The story might be a tad confusing at the beginning, as there is a lot of information to take in, and you only get snippets of the island's history and the significance of the meteorites... towards the end, it falls into place, and the bonus level hints at a sequel (hooray!). It's easy to root for the protagonist because he's so dreamy and has that lovely hair and... Ahem, I mean, it's easy to root for Daniel because you can identify with him. His reactions to the plot often express what you might be thinking, and at times you can almost see him raise his eyebrow quizzically before a particularly obscure puzzle.

The mechanics of the game are standard for the genre, with a few refreshing changes. The hidden-object scenes offer a word association mini-game that helps you discover hard-to-find items, a welcome change from the simple click on the Hint button. Each room contains a clock, which serves as a Time Portal, allowing you to travel back in time and see the room the way it used to look, so you get two scenes for the price of one. There is no penalty for random clicking, but only a scoundrel would take advantage of that, right? Right? The puzzles are imaginative without being too difficult and are carefully incorporated into the plot. And if you haven't had enough puzzles after finishing the story, you can play a heap of hidden-object and word games that comes with the collector's edition.

Phenomenon: Meteorite is just the kind of relaxing, satisfying pastime one likes to indulge in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Without a trace of darkness or heaviness, it gives you a chance to plunge into a bright and exciting fantasy world. It will keep you there for about five hours, including the bonus level, unless you spend an unusually long time gazing lovingly at Daniel during the cutscenes. If escapism is what you're after, do try the demo and prepare to get hooked. Just don't finish the game too quickly, because the sequel isn't coming very soon... Sigh.

Phenomenon: Meteorite is available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, two kinds of mini-games, concept art, wallpapers and a strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version


Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (35)

Astroloco: Worst Contact

SatoriWe all have things we'd like to be able to go back and do over again. That first encounter with your soul mate. The entire TMZ network. And how much better could the early 90s have been if we could only do them over?! Hungry Planet Games has given us a chance to relive some of those days with Astroloco: Worst Contact, a space-themed comedy adventure with an unmistakably 90s feel, right out of the shrink-wrap!

Astroloco: Worst ContactYou start the game as Ronald, the janitor at Gilbert Station. It's a perfectly normal train station. In space. When Dirk McScoundrel, CEO of competing Badger Station, resorts to an underhanded ploy to buy the place out it's up to you to fend off both a pirate attack and an alien fleet out for revenge. Occasionally you'll also find yourself playing as Arianne Beckett, daring space-train engineer and pretty handy with a laser pistol too. Together with your train's AI Ralph you'll be negotiating first contact with aliens, space-train-battling with pirates to safeguard a convoy, and exploring the depths of a distant planet (not to mention a clown-infested outhouse).

All this is done using a standard retro point-and-click adventure interface from The Nineties, so there's no having to fiddle with trying to find just the right word—or even manage an inventory system! If you have an item you can use, you do so automatically. For much of the game, there's also an inbuilt hint system; if you get stuck on a quest just visit the office of Mr. Burrows, CEO of Gilbert Station and resident train and video game enthusiast, for a hint. Unlike most games of the era there's no pointless trekking about through screens of Nowheresville to get to your destination either, as you can teleport instantaneously to nearly any location.

Astroloco: Worst ContactAnalysis: Fans of British comedy won't want to give Astroloco a miss. Between the hilarious dialogue and the voice acting throughout, characters have their own distinct personalities and the game feels a little like playing an early season episode of Red Dwarf. The absurd settings and nonlinear puzzle solutions contribute to this, but you won't spend hours poring over them. It's just challenging enough to keep you interested, getting you from cutscene to cutscene, while the game's real charm lies in its dialogue and plot. This is a strong point of Hungry Planet, who won awards in Ludum Dare's Humor category for both Subatomic and Plan M. Expect to find send-ups to many of today's internet memes showing up here and there as well, but it's just as nice to find the game doesn't rely on them.

Throughout much of the game you'll be able to swap freely between playing Ronald and Arianne, enabling you to shift between quests if you'd like to do something else while giving another more thought. The game ends too soon, feeling a bit light, but with a story in three acts and a bunch of mini-games and Achievements to unlock, there's actually plenty of great content to be had. It's true what they say: Time flies when you're having fun!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


  • Currently 3.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.3/5 (62 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (64)

Cosmo Gravity

MeaghanWhy are there murderous aliens in my space station? Also, lasers, buzzsaws, and is that...ice? Easy answer is because Pavel Galchenko created a puzzle platformer by the name of Cosmo Gravity where you play a plucky astronaut trying to get the heck out of his overrun space station at all costs. To get around each level you'll use your [arrow] keys or [WASD] if you prefer, and from there you have to make use of the fans and buttons strewn about to turn off lasers or change gravity. You have no weapons but you do have the aid of zero gravity to make your jumps go further. The goal is to get the little key card, get all three gems, and get out the door before something terrible befalls you.

Cosmo GravityOkay, downside? Will Smith doesn't make a cameo at all which is ridiculous, I know. Kidding aside, your greatest ally and weakness comes in the form of the zero gravity. Before jumping you need to plan your moves because there are fickle buttons that must be pressed, the saws result in a rather grisly demise, patches of ice are waiting for you to get overly confident and not pay attention, then ZAP! You're fried astronaut served up with some couscous for the aliens. Luckily, the difficulty is satisfying and the game with its bewitching protagonist is something that is a delectable treat for any fan of platform games.

Play Cosmo Gravity


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (120 votes)
| Comments (34) | Views (19,575)

The Crooked Man

AliceDavid Hoover has been going through a tough time lately. His fianceé left him, his ailing mother can't remember who he is, and when his friends think he's not listening, they bicker over the difficulties they've faced in trying to help him out. To make things worse, there's been a series of strange happenings in his new apartment. It quickly becomes clear that something happened here, and now the place is very, very haunted. Maybe David just wants to get a good night's sleep, maybe this provides him with some sick new sense of purpose, but either way, he's off to track down the previous tenant and solve the mystery. Thus begins The Crooked Man, a free indie horror adventure game made by Uri and translated by Vgperson, who brought Ib and The Witch's House to the English-speaking side of the internet.

The Crooked ManTake control of David as his investigation leads him to new places, exploring and solving puzzles along the way. You'll run into other people, all searching for something, just like him. How do you help them? Is it just a coincidence that everyone you meet carries a very familiar sort of hurt, or is there something more sinister afoot? But people aren't the most pressing concern—the Crooked Man is ready to rip you to pieces at a moment's notice, and you'd better be ready. It's very easy to die or get a sudden bad ending, so it's a welcome relief that the game allows you to save (almost) anywhere.

Analysis: The Crooked Man turned out to be a surprisingly solid game. The characters and environments are mostly the standard RPG toolkit pixel fare; fortunately here they serve as proof that the right developer can create a cohesive, unsettling atmosphere with those types of resources. Certain events are illustrated, which looks great and brings out a dirty, gritty feel that really emphasizes the story's essential... crookedness. The sound isn't especially notable, but it's nice enough and usually appropriate. But, the best part of The Crooked Man is probably its big, detailed levels. No complaints about games that need to flesh out their concepts here—each location is expansive enough to feel plausibly real, and stuffed with just the right amount of puzzles (which themselves are, while not extremely difficult, fun and consistently well-done). For those who like horror, Uri's world is a treat to explore. There aren't many jump scares or cheap ways to die, but it's still so deliciously eerie, almost reminiscent of early Silent Hill in pixels. Besides the Crooked Man himself, the people, the places, and even the protagonist are just a little bit off in the best kind of way.

The Crooked ManFailure, depression, what it means when your life doesn't measure up to your own expectations... The Crooked Man explores some uncomfortable subject matter, but does so thoughtfully. There's nothing wrong with the trend of using wide-eyed young girls in frilly outfits as horror game protagonists, but The Crooked Man does something more original for the genre by casting the player as an adult that, for adult reasons, it can feel vulnerable to play. He's been through a lot, and maybe he hasn't come out from those experiences entirely unbroken. Many of you have probably felt like David at some point. He's the kind of player character that's difficult to trust, the kind that leaves you preparing yourself for the inevitable twist where he's not only a failure, but but a monster himself. It's not easy to be David, and though the best ending resolves on a high note, The Crooked Man as a whole is very aware of this. There have been games solely about these unhappy places in life, and those games have their place, but it's also nice to see these topics worked so well into a greater story.

The Crooked ManSome players, however, might find the happy ending too happy. The Crooked Man will take you to some deeply dark places in David's life, and perhaps such a unilaterally positive outcome doesn't do those dark places justice. Hope at the bottom of Pandora's Box is one thing, but sunshine and rainbows are really another. And speaking of endings: hope you find the best one satisfying, because that's the only one with a sense of closure that you're going to get. The others, all bad ends, are reached instantly by a single wrong choice at various points in the game. While it solves the problem some games have where you need to replay something with little replay value again and again just to see all the endings, it also makes the bad ends feel a bit shallow and random. Points for rethinking that tired structure, but perhaps a compromise between the two extremes would have been best?

The Crooked Man has a few other problems, too-- the combat is better than most attempts to fit non-turn-based combat into a game made with an RPG toolkit, but it's still a little shaky. Sometimes the excellent atmosphere is broken by a line of awkward dialogue or a truly silly name (why would a little boy go by "Fluffy"?) But even with its flaws, The Crooked Man is still a smart, well-made game that stands up well among others of its type. It paved its own way instead of following the crowd, and hopefully other developers can take that and learn from it. The Crooked Man is creepy, memorable, and original, with great locations and characters it's easy to care about. If you're a fan of horror games, this one comes highly recommended.

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (147)

PuppetShow: Destiny Undone

DoraIf you were a kid with an overactive imagination, you already knew puppets, and most dolls, were bad news. Tiny porcelain mouths, unblinking glass eyes, an empty interior to hold all the souls they suck from sleeping children... well, you get the idea. So an entire town centered around puppets and dolls sounds more than a little creepy, and it's not entirely unfounded given Joyville's history. When one little girl comes home to find her father, the master puppeteer, missing and a spider-like dollhead scuttling out the door, she contacts you to help find him. Predictably, as always whenever malicious monocled mechanical spider-puppets are involved, things quickly get more complicated and more dangerous than you suspect. ERS Game Studios delivers another gorgeous mechanical marvel of hidden-object adventuring with PuppetShow: Destiny Undone.

PuppetShow: Destiny UndoneEven without the puppet infatuation, Joyville is one weird town. There are so many special locks, puzzles, and other tricks on every corner that you'd be forgiven for thinking it was designed by the Umbrella Corporation. Fortunately, there are also clues everywhere, and just clicking around will let you gather them as you explore, along with items you'll need to solve puzzles. As you play, don't neglect your map! Not only will it show you places where you can still achieve something to help you advance, it allows you to hop to anywhere you've just visited with a click.

But keep your eyes open. Not everything here is as it seems, and the very girl who wanted your help suddenly seems to want nothing more than to hamper you at every turn. And then there's the mysterious old woman who showed up in town just days before the girl's father went missing and doesn't seem to appreciate your interest in her alibi. If I were you, I'd just arrest everyone, but I guess that's why you're the detective and I'm not, so you should probably get investigating. After all, you also get your own little puppet spider head helper at one point, and since I cannot stress to you enough how freaky that is, you'll want to be prepared for anything.

PuppetShow: Destiny UndoneAnalysis: Destiny Undone might just be the most lavish entry into the PuppetShow series yet, with areas packed with detail and high quality artwork combined with CGI. It's also tidier, with your inventory tucked discretely off to the side of the screen so it doesn't continually get in your way like in some other games, though the constant "FWAAAAASH!" flourish sound-effect whenever you open it quickly gets old. The series has been going on for a whopping four years now, and though Destiny Undone definitely reuses some settings and characters, it still feels like a new adventure. It's filled with more action, more characters, and delivers a more cinematic experience that feels like it balances its adventure gameplay with hidden-object hunting more evenly than before. And, okay, your puppet companion is still creepy, but even I have to admit that watching it try and fail to get certain items for you is funny and a nice touch.

Though Destiny Undone doesn't really offer a lot of surprises or innovation, it does provide a remarkably engrossing experience. Despite some back-tracking and repetition, the game's over-arching mystery is intriguing and the constant new clues, developments, and cutscenes never leave you alone for long enough that you feel like you're just clicking aimlessly back and forth. There are a few random extraneous gameplay additions, like being able to find patterns and sew tiny hats from them for your puppet helper, which is... uh, a thing you can do. Still, with its high coat of polish and engaging story and events, PuppetShow: Destiny Undone might just be one of the most gleefully engaging and entertaining hidden-object adventures to come around in a long time. It's the perfect choice if you're looking for something that piles on the drama, but also revels in a sort of goofy, cheesy charm. If you're a fan of the series, or hidden-object adventures in general, you'll definitely want to at least try the demo for this one. Though not particularly difficult, at around four hours minus the bonus chapter in the Collector's Edition it's a satisfying length, and sets the bar high for any installments that might come after.

Currently only the Collector's Edition is available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (237)

Fetch

JohnBFetch is the story of a boy, his dog, and a bunch of arcade games living in a futuristic sci-fi world where robots and mega-corporations rule. A point-and-click adventure at its heart, Fetch is littered with so much gorgeous artwork and creative elements that its world springs to life, making it feel almost like a free-to-roam sandbox game.

FetchTap the screen to walk around the world or to interact with objects and bits of scenery. A great number of things are placed simply to be toyed with, like knocking signs around, popping bubbles, or nudging debris on the ground. Not everything is just window dressing, though, and you'll need to work with plenty of puzzles by flipping switches, lowering ladders and the like. You'll run across dogs that need to be rescued as well as collars to collect, achievements to get, and arcade games to play, all while attempting to rescue your dog and figure out why this Embark company is kidnapping so many puppies!

Fetch throws a lot of great ideas into a single pot, which would normally spell doom for a casual mobile game. That certain'y isn't the case here, of course, as the experience is nearly flawless from beginning to end. The production values are also extremely high, which really isn't a surprise considering the game was developed by Big Fish Games. Even with its dystopian setting, Fetch is a completely captivating game that keeps you in a constant state of craving to see what the next puzzle will bring!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (2258 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (1,424)

FireBoy and WaterGirl 4: In the Crystal Temple

DoraThis time around, Oslo Albet wants you thinking with portals. In the latest installment of the finger-twisting puzzle-platform series, FireBoy and WaterGirl 4: In the Crystal Temple, our two polarised protagonists are once again trapped in a labyrinthine structure packed with treasure and peril. They'll need to work together to find their way safely through each level, with FireBoy nabbing the red gems and WaterGirl the blue, but there's a catch that has nothing to do with false baked confections. Figuring out how to get to each exit usually isn't that difficult, and getting each gem not much more so. But trying to do all that in a hurry? You'll need to think fast and form a truce between both hands if you want to succeed here.

FireBoy and WaterGirl 4: In the Crystal TempleSee, as in the previous games, you control WaterGirl with [WASD] and FireBoy with the [arrow] keys, and you need to keep them away from their opposing elements. WaterGirl, for example, shouldn't take a lava bath, though FireBoy can wade through it fine, and both heroes want to avoid the green acid. If either of them dies, you have to start the level all over again. This time, however, you find yourself in a temple where there are portals everywhere. Each portal sits in a gem frame and links to the other identical frame elsewhere on the level, but some portals have different destinations depending on which side you enter, so remember that the white glow links to white, and the black to black, as long as the gem colours correspond. Some need to be activated by pressing buttons or flipping switches, and you can even push objects through them.

Play all the Fireboy and Watergirl games:
Fireboy and Watergirl: The Forest TempleFireboy and Watergirl 2: The Light TempleFireboy and Watergirl 3: The Ice TempleFireboy and Watergirl 4: The Crystal Temple

A big part of the series' appeal has always been how deceptively easy just getting to the goal in each level is. Since your speed impacts your overall ranking just as much as getting all the jewels, it quickly becomes apparent that while the game can be enjoyed by just about anyone, it'll take a player with fast reflexes and the ability to move both hands independently to bring home the gold. It's this challenging twist that's made the series as well-loved and sneakily difficult as it is, and the addition of portals adds a new layer without muddying up the formula. The white and black glow around portals, however, is sort of hard to see as thin as it is, and players who are colour-blind may have trouble telling some of the colour-coded buttons and platforms apart without trial and error. The initial batch of stages feel almost more geared towards speed than puzzles, though the farther you go, the better the game becomes at striking that balance between dexterity and cleverness. The result is a game that's accessible to everyone, but also a challenge in the best possible way. FireBoy and WaterGirl 4: The Crystal Temple is more of that tasty blend of brains and reflexes you've come to love that somehow manages to keep its sizzle and fizzle going in the best possible way.

Play FireBoy and WaterGirl 4: The Crystal Temple


| Comments (8) | Views (22)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraThe tracking device I implanted into his neck while he was sleeping tells me our very own Steve is back from the Penny Arcade Expo and packing a ton of previews and interviews he's preparing for you because he loves you way more than I do. Which is A LIE, because he does not sneak into your house to tenderly croon to you and stroke your luscious hair late at night while you're asleep. And now, to distract you from that, have a bunch of previews and news!

News and Previews

IbCome And Play With Ib, Forever and Ever If you love free indie horror adventures but haven't yet played Kouri's fantastically creepy Ib, you're seriously missing out. It's the story of a little girl who becomes trapped in an art gallery that turns into something monstrous, and must find a way out with the help of two strangers. And if you have played it... get ready to be really, really excited, because the latest version has finally been translated, and this update isn't just about squashing bugs... it adds substantial new content like a new dungeon and more endings! As if you needed another reason to re-experience Ib, but this one's a doozy, so turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and clear your schedule for the evening.

Broken AgeDouble the Heroes, Double the Adventure Double Fine broke records and essentially ignited the video game funding craze when their Kickstarter campaign for a proposed classic point-and-click adventure was a massive success, and now we're finally seeing the fruit of all that labour and cash. Broken Age, planned for PC, Mac, and Linux, will tell the tale of two protagonists living paralell lives... a young girl chosen by her village to be a sacrifice, and a young boy on a space station all by himself save the computer that cares for him. Though other details are scarce, you can pre-order for Beta access, and enjoy the game's stunning and otherworldly teaser trailer right now!

Papo and YoFamily is Complicated Minority's Papo & Yo, a platforming puzzle adventure originally only available for consoles, is finally PC-bound with a planned release on April 14th on Steam. The game is one that will hit very close to home for some people. Quico is a young boy who is best friends with an enormous beast named Monster who he loves more than anything... but Monster's addiction to poisonous frogs that turn him into a rampaging danger to everything around him makes him a threat to the very person who loves him the most. What's interesting, however, and more than a little heartbreaking is that all of this is a dreamworld metaphor for Quico's home life, with his abusive and alcoholic father being represented by Monster... someone he loves and wants to help, but also fears. It's a powerful topic handled in a startlingly artistic way, and one than can (and already has) resonated with a lot of people in an unexpected fashion.

Knights of Pen and Paper +1Roll For Desktop... Success! We were more than a little fond of the iOS and Android meta-RPG Knights of Pen and Paper from Behold Studios, which was, essentially, a game about playing a bunch of guys also playing a tabletop fantasy game, which you were... also playing! If you don't have a mobile device, however, you're not being left out, as the game is finally coming to PC, Mac, and Linux very soon in the Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition! But this isn't just a simple port, oh no. In addition to a ton of improvements, it'll have even more content to enjoy. No word yet on whether mobile players will also get a new version, but in the meantime, I know something you can watch to get in the mood.

The King's League OdysseyAre Alan Tudyk and Paul Bettany in This One? Kurechii Studios always does work that's not only fun but gorgeous to boot, and we really enjoyed the simply yet addictive sim-strategy hybrid The King's League, so we're even more excited to know we'll be getting our hands on the sequel very soon! Due next month, The King's League: Odyssey puts you in the role of a knight fighting to earn a place in an esteemed order. With the gameplay you know and love of the original but a bunch of new improvements, like an updated art style, and even some new additions, like sieges, factions, and more special characters, this one is coming after your free time in a big way. Check out the official site for some tasty screenshots and the official trailer!

Legend of Grimrock 2Well That's... Certainly a Change Almost Human's classic dungeon-crawling RPG adventure Legend of Grimrock was a massive hit with fans of its clever first-person puzzle action as you lead a group of prisoners trying to escape from a massive, deadly dungeon. Which means you spent a lot of time grubbing around deep underground. Which means this first screenshot of the hotly anticipated sequel should be a bit of a stunner, since it features a rather stunning wide open outdoor landscape. Uh... wow. We're moving up in the world, literally, and it looks like it's going to be beautiful.

Kickstarter/IndieGoGo Projects

Planet ExplorersVisit Exotic Locales, Interesting Creatures, And Be Eaten By Them! Pathea Games wants to send you to infinity and beyond, where you'll probably be promptly stepped upon by a giant alien, in their upcoming sandbox RPG sim Planet Explorers. Planned for PC, Mac, and Linux, you play one of the few survivors of a colony ship that crash-lands on a hostile planet, where you're forced to not only try to stay alive by yourself, but also build a new home as you explore. With multiple modes to play how you want, as well as multiplayer so you can colonize with a buddy, this open-world adventure looks like it could have everything you need to be transported to another world for a good long time.

Power Jam: Roller DerbyDerby Rules If you don't go to roller derby tournaments, you're seriously missing out, and if you're like me and always wanted to compete yourself but, y'know, can't even stand up on skates, you might be interested in Iglu Media and Billy Goat Entertainment's Power Jam: Roller Derby. Planned for PC, Mac, and Linux as well as mobile devices, the strategy/simulation hybrid will both allow you to develop, customise, and train your own squad and compete against other players, while commanding and directing your team during bouts. What's neat is that the developers are working with actual players and referees to deliver the most authentic experience possible, and if you love sports games but you're sick of the same ol' same ol', this will definitely be one worth checking out.

BLEAKGray Skies Are NOT Gonna Clear Up Most games are about escapism to a certain extent, so how bad does your life have to be to want to escape into the universe of Tenwall Creative's upcoming platforming adventure BLEAK? Planned for PC, Mac, and Linux, the game is set in an oppressive, dark fantasy world where at birth your arm is amputated, replaced with a pickaxe, and you're sent off as slave labour until you die for your vicious overlords... and considering the hostile landscape and acid oceans, escape doesn't really seem likely. That is, unless you're smart, fast, and brave enough. You'll be able to play as one of three characters and set off on a journey to try to survive in a completely original world full of unusual new races, each with their own unique language. If you've been looking for an adventure that's "something different", this one definitely qualifies, and looks very promising indeed.

Miscellaneous

Kickstarter Gone WrongThat Probably Did Not Go As Planned When nine-year-old Kenzie Wilson's Kickstarter for funding to be sent to a camp to learn how to make video games took off, she was probably pretty excited. Unfortunately, when the campaign went viral and they skyrocketed past their modest $829.00USD goal, things started getting ugly when the internet took a closer look and demanded to know not only where all the extra money would be going, but why Kenzie even needed a Kickstarter to begin with since her mother, Susan, is hardly hurting for cash. In this editorial by Kotaku, they delve deep into the internet's latest lynch mob and discover the ugly side of people once more. While it's true this seems like an ill-planned idea, albeit one probably not intended to be deceitful, sending threats and abuse at a little girl and her mother is probably not the best way to make your voice heard and be seen as a logical, helpful human being. C'mon son.

Game Development in Ghana: Leti ArtsAnd You Thought There Were No Pioneers Left You might not have all heard of them yet, but Leti Games are sort of a big deal... not just because they make games, of course, but because right now they are the first and only game studio in Ghana. Video game development is something a lot of people tend to take for granted and not think that much about, especially in certain parts of the world with more privileges than others, but in West Africa, Leti Games is in the unique position of having a harder time than others to establish themselves and train their work force, but also to essentially create an entire new industry in their country. It's a reminder that things are different the world over in ways you might not normally think about, but wherever you go, creativity and passion are paving the way.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (763)

Nimble Quest

JohnBThe latest release from Pocket Planes developer NimbleBit, Nimble Quest drops the simulation formula in favor of a good old fashioned arcade game. And we're not kidding when we say "old fashioned". Nimble Quest is essentially the 40 year old game of Snake with a layer of RPG elements and free to play features draped on top. It's a very different experience than, say, Tiny Tower, but it's got that same level of simple charm we've come to expect from the studio.

Nimble QuestNimble Quest places your party of as many as 15 characters in a long chain of adventurers who follow their leader without fail. Everyone marches around the arena automatically, you just swipe to change direction and avoid running into anything. Combat takes place when your characters are in range of an enemy. Melee attackers need to brush close by foes to get their swipes in, but ranged characters who shoot arrows, fireballs or bombs can attack from afar. Either way, you have to be very careful to approach enemies from the right direction, as they're moving around in snaking patterns, too, and will often change direction and crash right into you.

Enemies have strengths, weaknesses and special powers, such as heavily armored soldiers or spiders that slow you down with bits of gooey webbing. Defeated enemies often leave behind heroes you can recruit or drop items you can use, such as magnets, shields, bombs, ice blocks, health potions and more. Grab everything you can, as death in Nimble Quest sends you back to the very first stage and wipes your party clear of adventurers. Yikes.

Nimble QuestYou'll deal with two forms of currency in Nimble Quest: gems and tokens. Gems are dropped by enemies and used to upgrade both individual items and different characters. Tokens can be spent to replay levels when you die, allowing you to avoid the inevitable cursing when you lose your progress because you smacked into a wall. They can also be spent to add heroes or buffs to your party at the beginning of a level. You can find tokens during regular play, but they're fairly rare and are spent much faster than earned.

Analysis: Nimble Quest seems like quite a departure for NimbleBit, but the studio has a track record of releasing games from several different genres. The most recent efforts have been simulations of one form or another, but there have been puzzle games, word games, arcade games, and even a racing game in the studio's past, so this little hybrid isn't that surprising. Nimble Quest quite effectively blends two well-known game types into something unique, and it's nice to see the instant gratification of an arcade game with long-term character development keeping you engaged for the duration.

Nimble QuestReady for the bad news? Nimble Quest steps its toe over the line of fairness when it comes to implementing in-app purchases. It's not greedy by any means, and the fact that we mention it at all is more of a testament to NimbleBit's great track record with well-balanced microtransactions. Here, IAPs feel like a punishment. You made a mistake, your finger slipped, and you died. If you want to keep playing, pay some tokens. If you've already died on this stage the price dramatically increases. Don't have enough? Either buy some from the store or go back to level one with almost nothing to show for your effort. Even adding heroes or equipping buffs costs tokens, stopping short any effort you might make to give yourself a boost so you can survive longer next round. Progress in the game game feels like it's dependent upon spending tokens, and since the rate at which you find them in the game is so low, an imbalance is created that can quickly lead to frustration. It subsides somewhat as you continue to play, but it's palpably present from the beginning.

Apart from the IAP issues and the moderate awkwardness that can come from playing a game of reflexes with a touch screen, Nimble Quest manages to turn itself into a great game, especially later on when your party turns into an enormous chain of adventurers. It won't capture your attention as thoroughly as Pocket Planes, but it's a good one to keep around for quick pick up and play sessions.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (93 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (83)

Escape from the Concrete Maze 2

elleThe walls are a drab cement grey, but at least the sky is blue and no sign of rain in the near future. That may be little recompense when you're discombobulated and all turned about, trying to Escape from the Concrete Maze 2, which must be why Hottategoya thoughtfully provided three nifty little puzzles for you to play with. It's not enough to find your way once through this maze—if you ever want to leave, you have some clues to sort out, safes to open and a door to unlock first.

Escape from the Concrete Maze 2Such a floor design puts an extra layer of challenge on what would otherwise be a simple escape game. To navigate, move to another room by clicking a doorway or turn 90° in either direction by clicking the sides of the screen. You can do a full 360 in four clicks although one wall often looks much like the next and making spatial sense of what you see is all part of the overarching puzzle, thus you might want to break out your amateur cartographer kit to see how it all fits. The cursor doesn't change but the few things to click on or pick up are easily found against the stark surroundings.

Beyond navigational complexities that put extra work into clue gathering, the codes you need to solve are actually quite straight-forward. Instead, going back-and-forth and getting turned around is what truly disguises the puzzle solutions, in a way somewhat similar to Tesshi-e's Escape from the Same Room 2. If that game gave you trouble, you'll be no greater fan of this one: it's more convoluted yet much less charming. If you long for that concrete feeling of accomplishment when you find your way out, though, then Escape from the Concrete Maze 2 is indeed amazing fun (it had to be said!)

Play Escape from the Concrete Maze 2


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (29 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (1,017)

Ninja Village

JohnBNinjas have to have a place to live, just like the rest of us. They also have to have jobs and food and money and footpaths and cherry trees to look at. Fortunately, the simple life of a farmer ninja doesn't preclude raids on nearby towns, which is precisely why Kairosoft's mobile simulation game Ninja Village is so fantastic.

Ninja VillageNinja Village is split between two tasks: managing your village, and raiding neighboring towns. You'll spend most of your time sculpting the layout of your home by drawing paths to walk on, designating houses for newcomers to live in, setting farm plots and building shops or other amenities. It's all about making money so you can raise a larger army, conquer more territory, and outfit your fighters with the best tech medieval Japan has to offer.

From time to time you'll receive a tip that a piece of land is ripe for a raid, at which point you'll assemble a team of archers and melee warriors and dash into battle. You don't do much during these epic fights other than sit back and watch, but it's a grand sight to watch tiny pixel ninjas clobbering each other. Spend plenty of time working with your battle gear and training ninjas, otherwise you'll be the one on the run, especially later in the game when the clan wars get really serious.

Ninja Village is surprisingly simple for a Kairosoft game, featuring far fewer things to manage than we've grown accustomed to. The net effect is a game that's less involved than Game Dev Story or The Pyraplex, which is a slight letdown on one hand, but great news for casual players who just want a light taste of what a Kairosoft game can offer. The price tag is a little steep for a mobile game, and at the time of writing there's no lite version to try out, which will prove to be a barrier for many. But if you want a good, casual remix of a normally complex genre, you can't go wrong with Ninja Village.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 4. 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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (41 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (3,485)

Slender: The Arrival

DoraWhen you arrive at your friend Kate's house, all alone in the middle of nowhere, you find the building empty, though not without signs of a struggle. And other kinds of signs too... the sort you find scrawled on the wall that makes you question your childhood friend's sanity. Kate, it seems, has apparently been dealing with some unsettling things... hallucinations, strange sightings in the woods... all just the result of an unstable mind, of course. Unless... they have something to do with that event both of you experienced in your childhood but had repressed until only recently. Parsec Productions, Blue Isle Studios, and Marble Hornets present Slender: The Arrival, a full-fledged indie horror action-adventure that expands on the concept of the original Slender game. Call the cops? Nah, it's cool. Just grab that flashlight and head off into the darkened woods where you heard the scream all alone. It's a great idea, and I'll have your Darwin Award all polished up for you when you get back.

Slender: The ArrivalUse [WASD] to move, and hold [left shift] to run. The game is presented in a first-person view, and the mouse will let you look around, as well as aim your flashlight when you pick one up and turn it on (or off!) with [F]. Right-clicking with your flashlight turned on will cause you to focus the beam, which can temporarily stun certain enemies. If an item highlights when you mouse over it, that means you can click to interact. Many objects in your environment also have contextual actions, such as, say, clicking and holding on a window, then pushing the mouse up to lift it. Notes and papers you gather can be viewed from your scrapbook by hitting [ESC] and selecting the option from the menu. The game is broken up into stages, featuring some more typical adventure gameplay that forces you to search for keys and the like, but also hunt for items in locations that shift each time you play... along with the lay of the land itself. You can't save your game, but the stages are relatively short and stay unlocked once you've accessed them. So, you know, no big deal if you're ripped to shreds and your body is never found somewhere dank and dark because you can just start over again, right? Right!

Analysis: The mythos surrounding Slenderman (created by Eric "Victor Surge" Knudsen, with rights licensed to the team developing this game) is fear of the unknown at its most basic... something hunting you that you can't understand or escape. Slender: The Arrival plays on this expertly. The atmosphere is so heavy, so ominous, that it sucks you in regardless of what you know of the mythology behind it. Graphically, The Arrival is a huge improvement over the original, and the lush use of colour, lighting, and environmental design creates a world that pulls you in from the get-go. You dread every corner, every closed door, and the oppressive mood will have you jumping at every shadow... including your own. Its masterful use of ambient sound brings every locale to life and infuses it all with a sense of palpable dread. I was a particular fan of the way your footsteps echoed in the heavy silence of an abandoned building in the second stage as the noise of forest life faded away, and by "was a fan of" I mean of course "I whimpered and hated every second of it and cursed the name of all involved".

Slender: The ArrivalOf course, setting and style will only get you so far. The gameplay itself is both simple and has its frustrating moments, mainly since mouse-guided contextual movement has always been sort of awkward. The frenetic chase sequences and "find X amount of Y" objectives for the stages means this definitely isn't one for fans of more laid-back horror, or for those who would have preferred more overall variety to the gameplay. Figuring out the mechanics of each assailant takes some experimentation, which is sort of hard to do when you're stumbling around panicked and blind in big maps that change each time you die.

It is, in a word, harrowing, and something that's easy to put yourself into. You're not a space marine or a super soldier. You're not even armed. You're an ordinary person, lost and alone, being hunted by something unknowable. The titular menace is significantly more aggressive and feels like a more active hunter, relentlessly pursuing you through the dark no matter where you go. The appearances and accompanying video distortion are even harsher and more violent than ever before, and the new menace in later chapters is just as terrifying. This is a game that goes from slow and sinister to frantic and snarling in the span of a fingersnap, and you'll need to be fast to survive. And a fan of jump scares, naturally.

Since the story is relegated mainly to the letters and other notes you can find scattered throughout the game, the narrative definitely takes a back seat to the action. Unless you really make a point of scouring every inch of your surroundings, it's easy to miss that one vital scrap of paper that sheds more light into what's happening. Slender: The Arrival is an atmospheric and engrossing experience, though not a particularly long one, and something most players will probably charge through in a single sitting. Considering the random gameplay, however, it's replayable in the same way its predecessor was, and if you liked that, you can be certain you'll love this one. Expanding on the mystery without losing any of the important mystique, it's a gorgeous nightmare than fans will love to get wrapped up in for as long as it lasts.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version
Get the full version (GOG.com)
Download the original freeware version (Slender: The Eight Pages)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version
Download the original freeware version (Slender: The Eight Pages)


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (43 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (287)

Host Master Deux

DoraThe show must go on, unless of course there's a big burly dude waiting to break your fingers. Though he learned from his previous mistakes and arrived to host the Game Developer's Conference prepared, Double Fine's Tim Schafer never expected to have to prove he really is, y'know, Tim Schafer, to a giant of a security guard who won't let him onstage. In the adventure game Host Master Deux: Quest for Identity, created by Benedikt Hummel and Marius Fietzek, Tim's got to track down everything he needs to convince the burly gatekeeper he's the one and only. He'll need a Schafer-like beard, more Schafer-ly attire, and some classic Schafer-esque jokes, but rounding all of that up is going to be anything but straightforward. Or sane.

Host Master DeuxUse the [arrow] keys to move and jump, and tap [spacebar] to interact, with the [1-5] number keys used to select dialogue options. You can only carry one item at a time, and hitting [spacebar] will cause you to try to use it, or you can use the down [arrow] to drop it at your feet to be picked up again whenever you like with the same key.

Though drastically different in style from 2009's misadventure, Quest for Identity is definitely no less funny, albeit in a more surreal way. The art and animation are adorable, with a funky and fitting (though somewhat repetitive) soundtrack by Major Bueno. While all of the puzzles are weird, they also make a strange sort of sense within the game's quirky world concept, so experimenting and paying attention to your surroundings will get you pretty far. It's on the short side even with a few different endings, but despite a little tediousness from trooping back and forth with only one item at a time, it's still a fantastic, gleefully giggly adventure to brighten your day.

Play Host Master Deux: Quest for Identity


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (263 votes)
| Comments (18) | Views (530)

Weekday Escape

elleIf any escape game designer could win the pageant of all that is suave and savvy, Mygames888 has an early lead on that tiara and satin sash. Adding to a repertoire of games that curtsy toward the surreal just enough to transform what would be an ordinary find-your-way-out-of-this-room exercise into an extraordinary romp in escapism, Mygames888's Kids Room sashays before the judging panel with a smartly cohesive design, a talented array of puzzles and looking as velvety smooth as frosting on a raspberry layer cake.

Kids RoomOh, pfft! Do I exaggerate? Because of a neatly intuitive interface, you can see for yourself with just a point-and-click on anything you think is worth a second look, picking up items as you go, at times needing special tools to do so. Once an item's in your possession, doubleclick it to see it in closer detail. While the non-changing cursor is not an impediment, because no pixel is so obscure you wouldn't think to check on it, the arrows at the side of the screen are much more obvious than needed. As long as you're curious about seeing every angle the game will allow you to view, you won't miss needed clues. Then, just put items to creative use and solve a few standard puzzles and the gap between you and the exit will steadily close.

Making your way through Kids Room does occasionally require your inference abilities as not all hints are overt, and you could easily find yourself stuck, opening and closing things while scratching your head. Evidence that guides your investigations in a fruitful direction tends toward subtlety, so you'll fare well without a walkthrough by doing some mental calculations and thinking beyond the more obvious logic riddles and codes—or just sheer luck. Although it's a bit of a let down that you can't play with everything on the desk or jump on the bed, and the near silence and lack of narrative can feel disconcerting, the worst thing about Kids Room may simply be the amount of back and forth you might end up doing. Your recent time spent toying with little keys, submerged in a watery basement or admiring Audi A8s will have inured you to the tactics found here. It's a playful pageantry, though, as Kids Room shines in its own coy, humble way...right up until you walk out the door, basking in success like the debonair escaper that you are.

Play Kids Room


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (32 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (106)

Nameless: The Hackers

SuzanneThe 2010s are shaping up to be the decade of the Internet renegade, yet for those of us without the technical savvy necessary to participate in virtually sticking it to the man, BoxCat LLC offers us a tempting and significantly more legal alternative with Nameless: The Hackers, a mobile RPG with a lot of virtual bite.

Nameless: The HackersAn opening cutscene introduces you Cody and Jayden (yes, really), two good-guy hackers that get conscripted in the battle against R.E.A.C.H., a nefarious organization seeking a device with the power to manipulate minds. No 1337 skillz required here—an interface specifically designed for touch screens makes selecting attacks and improving skills a breeze. Tap on the world map to pick up missions, both randomly-generated bounties and story-advancing battles and events. Tap again to select one of many real-life hacking techniques to fling at your opponents and deplete their health. Defeated enemies drop cards that enhance your stats and, in a cool touch, also provide supplementary information about the history of hacking. If you're feeling lucky you can gamble money for a chance of gaining even better boosts. Later boss battles will test your mastery (and frequently your patience) with their seemingly unlimited resources of energy and health, so upgrade wisely.

Although Nameless uses the same turn-based battle mechanics as countless other games, its breezy dialogue and anime-inflected visuals combine with a story referencing the rise of hacktivist association Anonymous to make a refreshing and compelling experience. RPGs proliferate on the App Store, yet the contemporary setting and novel cyber trappings of Nameless: The Hackers stand out like a n00b in the depths of 4chan—in a good way, that is. Go on, put on your Guy Fawkes mask. The Nameless are legion, and they are waiting for you.

We have a bunch of Nameless: The Hackers promo codes to give away thanks to the developer, BoxCat LLC. Just post a comment about why you want one and we'll select winners at random. Rules: (1) You must use a Casual Gameplay account to post your comment (we'll need your email address to contact you with); (2) You must be at least 13 years of age to enter. (3) Only one submission per participant, please. (4) Offer void where prohibited.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPhone 4S. 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.


  • Currently 2.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.6/5 (97 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (34)

24killers

DoraJust in case seven killers wasn't enough for you, Todd Luke serves up 24killers in his funky yet simple puzzle game made for the 7 Day Roguelike Challenge. Seems someone in this monstrous gathering wants you dead, and everyone knows who but you. Move throughout the midst of them with the [arrow] keys, and use [Z] to switch between question and kill modes. Bump into someone to question them and they'll drop a clue as to who your stalker is, but be careful, as if you aren't in kill mode, brushing up against your would-be assailant will be instantly fatal. Don't worry if you turn the wrong person into a smear on the floor, though... this is a laid-back sort of place that will allow you to kill two innocent folks before taking action, which is a far cry from the last club I was at, tell you that much. I said I was sorry.

24killers24killers is sort of what you'd get if Suda51 or maybe cactus had originally designed Guess Who and been completely delirious the whole time. Sam English's soundtrack is a perfect fit for the surreal imagery, making a decidedly unique atmosphere to go along with its strange concept. The downside is that replay value is essentially limited to how entertained you are by that same concept over and over, and the reward for finding your killer is the same as getting whacked yourself... press [R] to restart. It's a clever idea that feels like it needed a bit more to make it as substantially impressive as the monsters partying it up inside, but one with such a unique style that we'd love to see it expanded upon in the future.

Play 24killers


  • Currently 3.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.3/5 (41 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (84)

Barbarium

Kinetikai Barbarium, created by Hypnohustler, is a retro action platformer set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With your sword and lasergun combo — really, the best combo there is — you set off to rescue babes, drink beer and restore a little order to this crazy world. [WAD] moves and jumps, while [L] blasts with your laser, [D] readies your shield, and [K] swings your sword. Keep an eye out for meat to replenish your health, save people to save your progress, and keep your score high to get more information from those you come across whose dialogue displays in red. If you can't get to certain areas, you might need to come back after you thrash a boss or two, and if you lose all your meat, you'll have to restart at the last person you saved.

BarbariumThis game definitely hearkens back to Capcom's NES fare, back when they ruled the roost with titles such as Mega Man and DuckTales. The format may not be groundbreaking, but there's still plenty of humor, exploration and challenge (especially the numerous boss battles) to make your adventure enjoyable... especially since all of the graphics and sound drip with pixelated flair. If Mega Man by way of Mad Max sounds like your thing, Barbarium will certainly scratch your retro action itch.

Play Barbarium

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the free full version

LinuxWindows:
Get the free full version


| Comments (0) | Views (4)

The Vault

TrickyHello out there in JiG-land! It's Tricky here, ready to offer you a great deal on my new BuildAHumbleIndieRoyaleGalaStarsInABox Bundle XVII! Yes, after me whatever you want, you'll be able to play the following wonderful action, artistic, and arcade titles from the JayIsGames archives. Now some of you may say that these games are "already available for free in our browser" and "the intellectual property of their respective developers"... I really don't have a response for that. So, uh, have fun with this week's trip to the Vault!

  • Dog Fight 2: The Great WarDog Fight 2: The Great War - One of the most fun 2D fighter pilot games of all time, and definitely the best to be found in a browser window, Dogfight 2: The Great War, by Rock Solid Arcade, puts you behind the controls of a Triple Fokker and never lets the action let up for a second. Simple mechanics are the basis for an impressively varied and interesting selection of missions, with a difficulty curve that successfully crescendos to a final set of missions that makes you feel as if you wield the skill of a one-soldier air force. Finally blasting the one enemy ace who's managed to escape your cross-hairs all level is supremely satisfying, and the airborne chaos of battle has never been more fun.
  • A House In CaliforniaA House in California - A House in California, by Cardboard Computer, is the kind of piece of interactive art that really puts the "experiment" in "experimental". Players who approach it will need to try out all sorts of apparently illogical, even nonsensical, actions to progress through the pixelated story. However, the effect is not frustrating, but rather charming. Following a young boy as he travels through the memories of four neighbors, A House in California is a slow-paced, quiet work that evokes the best feelings of nostalgia in those who've played it. A House in California the gaming equivalent of a comfortable bed time story. Grab some milk and cookies, and try it out.
  • RedRed - Developer Case only ever released the first two entries of his planned set of color-themed arcade games, but at least both turned out to be totally and chromatically awesome. Red, in particular, a jazzy arcade mash-up of Missile Command and physics action, proved to be especially addictive. A bit like fending off a meteor attack with a Nerf gun, Red is a simple head-clearing experience that's perfect for relaxation on a break, while still intense enough to keep players shooting to ever higher scores.

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!


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (628)

Solitaire Blitz

KimberlyVenturing to the ocean floor has always been an intriguing thought. Tales of unusual creatures and buried treasure abound. Dive right in with Solitaire Blitz, a fast paced addictive card game from PopCap. It's not just solitaire on your iOS device, it's a race against the clock.

Solitaire BlitzIt's your job to empty the card stacks at the bottom of the screen within the time limit, which begins at 60 seconds. Cards are placed in numerical order, up or down, with aces high or low. Suit doesn't matter, just tap the card you'd like to play and swipe left or right to draw from the deck. If there is more than one place a card can go, the game automatically chooses the left-most spot. Watch for cards with keys on them to unlock more piles to give yourself more possible moves. As your stacks start to decline, you'll see time lines appear. Get all your stacks below the line, and twenty seconds will be added to the clock. And it's not just about the clock, either. You're also trying for a high score. You can compete against yourself for a personal best, or you can connect with your Facebook account and compete with your friends.

When you begin the game you start out with 25,000 silver and five lives. Silver is in-game currency used for purchasing boosts or additional lives. You use one life per game, and they slowly regenerate over time. Silver is earned each time you play as you discover treasures on the ocean floor. Treasures are valued anywhere from five silver up into the thousands if you are lucky enough to discover a rare one. Of course you can always spend real world cash to purchase more silver or lives, but with the high prices of the in-app purchases, you're probably better off earning as you play.

Solitaire BlitzIf you are trying for a high score, getting runs is the way to do it. For every ten cards in a row, a score multiplier is awarded. Boosts are a big help with this. In addition to adding time or cards to your deck (which also contribute to score at the end of a round), you can also have jokers or bombs that help you not break your streak. You are also awarded extra points for each game in a row you win, and another bonus if you don't attempt any illegal moves.

Analysis: Though obviously the game was designed for speed runs, it would be nice to have an option for a relaxed non-competitive game. The inclusion of lives, though great if you have a hard time limiting your play, seems like what it is: a cheap ploy to get you to spend money. An in-app purchase that would give you unlimited play would be a welcome addition.

PopCap games are known for their cute characters and charming atmosphere, and Solitaire Blitz is no exception. The worm's expression when you're about to run out of time is great, and you'll just want to cuddle up with all the creatures who are hiding under your cards. Except they'd be wet. Though I'm not usually one for social games, having weekly tournaments against your friends is a very compelling reason to play. It's fun to try for achievements, and the variety of deck art is impressive. Solitaire Blitz is another great addition to the PopCap lineup.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 2. 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.


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (94 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (127)

Code Fred: Survival Mode

TrickyThis is Fred. Fred is having a bad day. He's somehow gotten lost in the forest, and now, a dire wolf is chasing him. Fortunately, Fred's body is a complex system, prepared for both everyday survival and extraordinary circumstances. Would you like to help the biology of Fred's body react to an imminent mauling? Of course you would! And you will, in Code Fred: Survival Mode a collection of educational action minigames developed by Helpful Strangers for Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

Code Fred: Survival ModeFred will be faced with a number of deadly scenarios, and it's up to you to ensure his safety. Every time a problem occurs, an info-graphic will appear, containing both information about the human body's defense systems, but also directions for each new mouse-driven minigame. Admittedly, sometimes the instructions can be a little vague, requiring you to experiment a little to correctly clot that wound or reconnect those nerve-endings. However, since the failure animations are quite amusing, it's hard to mind. Code Fred: Survival Mode definitely has the trick-you-into-learning-by-making-it-fun sense that most science museums strive go for, though with a definite anarchic streak of dark humor. An installation of it would fit in perfectly at the MSI, right between the chick hatchery and the simulated coal mine. Those looking for an boost on their coffee break, and don't mind learning a few things (like how said boost may be the result of chemicals released by the adrenal gland, leading to clearer vision, a faster pulse, and increased energy during times of stress), should definitely go lend Fred a hand. And also, probably, a tourniquet.

Play Code Fred: Survival Mode


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (95 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (360)

The Price

AliceWhat if you had to kill to save an innocent life? Could you commit terrible crimes for a noble cause, and still come out a good person in the end? What if it was for love? Is a happy ending even possible after you've thrown away your humanity? The Price, an artsy point-and-click story by Flip-N-Tale, asks these questions... and the answers it provides might not be very happy ones.

The PriceSet in the American South during the time of slavery, the game opens with the tale of a field laborer who's fallen in love with the baron's daughter. When they're caught together, she takes a bullet defending him and he's left with no choice but to run. If he becomes one with an evil spirit and reaps three wicked souls, he can save her — though the hard part isn't killing, it's staying in control. Explore three different levels, clicking the highlighted objects to progress, and solving puzzles to reach your intended victim. Will the spirit break free, or will you be able to remember why you're doing this in the first place?

The world of The Price is never a pleasant place to be, but it's gorgeous. It looks more like a painting than a game, and the environments are so rich and detailed that you can practically feel the breeze outside or choke on the dust in the mines. Each character is beautifully and uniquely animated, even the ones who don't show up for very long. The music is generally on the simpler side, but does a great job setting the mood and grounding the visuals to the setting and plot. And while the story isn't perfect (the justice the protagonist metes out should be important, but the matter is barely touched) it's still pretty good. This game is dark and miserable and bloody and tragic, and even when the protagonist has hope in thinking of his lover, it's hard to believe that things will work out for him. The sudden ending hits like a sledgehammer in a way that's horrible and perfect at the same time. There are monsters in this story, but no perfect people... yet every sympathetic character gets to speak their case, and the game is much better for it.

The PriceHowever, this isn't a game for everyone. The violence and slavery will alienate some players, and not everyone will agree on whether that subject matter was well-handled. The gameplay doesn't come off very strong when compared to the other elements, either. Some of the mechanics are tricky and very abruptly introduced, and the more positive ending was difficult to find-- in other words, the developer does show promise, but this is a game to play for the art and story. But if you're interested in beautiful visuals and an unsettling story with a folktale-like feel, you might want to see what happens when you pay The Price.

Play The Price


| Comments (1) | Views (22)

Mobile Monday

JohnBSo many new games! It's like, why can't the future be here now? Or, why can't the games I'm bored with be not here while the exciting games I don't have be here? And why can't a normal day at the office be more like a video game?!

nonocraft-p.gifYesyes to Nono - Here's a game you know you want. From Beardshaker Games, NonoCraft takes the NonoSparks picross formula we heart so much and turns it into a history-altering crafting/puzzle experience. Drs. Pix and Pox are remaking classic tales (with your help), the former wants to be as accurate as possible, while the latter is all about the mischief. Solve nonogram puzzles to progress the story, then decide which version you want to continue with: faithful adaptation, or mixed-up monstrosity. Combined with Beardshaker's usual dose of gorgeous artwork and we're ready to play, please! Look for NonoCraft later this year on multiple mobile (and non-mobile) platforms.

tilt2-p.gifKeep on tiltin' - More good news! Tilt to Live developer One Man Left has announced a sequel to the wild arcade game to be released by the end of the year. Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous keeps the "avoid stuff as best you can while desperately hoping for a power-up" formula but adds more weapons, better visuals, a new scoring system, and, gasp, the color red!

unmechanical-p.gifUnmechanical goes mobile - Talwa Games' physics-heavy action puzzle game Unmechanical released in late 2012 to some very happy nods of approval. Now the game has worked its way to iOS devices, making a tidy home for itself on the mobile touch screen. Control a round robot flying through an underground factory, trying to find a way back to the surface. It looks like something unsettling happened here not too long ago, judging from the rockslides and blocked passages and all. But you don't have time to hover and ponder, you just want to get out. And as you soon discover, you're not exactly alone down here.

pixelpeople-p.gifPixel People getting more pixels and more people - An update to the massively awesome mobile simulation game Pixel People is coming soon, adding over 50 new jobs, nine new genes, and 40 new missions to complete. That's... that's a lot of stuff! Pixel People puts you in charge of rebuilding a starbound utopia from clones and cash. As the mayor of this newfound floating paradise, you'll be responsible both for building your town as you see fit and managing the incoming clones by splicing them with DNA you have on hand to create different types of people with different jobs.


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (667)

Monster Loves You!

DoraMonster Loves You! It's not just the latest title from Dejobaan Games, it's the truth, and this fanged-yet-fuzzy indie story-based choose-your-own-adventure style simulation is icky, weird, funny, and even sweet in the best possible ways. You are a monster growing up in the village of Omen, resentful and maybe even a little afraid of the Humans who killed your parents and continue to grow closer and closer to your home. Whether you grow up to be feared and reviled or loved and respected by either community is entirely up to you as your actions shape the world around you. Or you could just devote your time to gobbling frogs, becoming a neurosurgeon, and eating lichen. It's up to you. (iOS release coming soon!)

Monster Loves You!The game is sort of like a text adventure meets visual novel, presenting you with a myriad of choices to choose from in each situation that have an impact on your tender monster psyche and livelihood. Your monstrous life is divided up into stages, from puny morsel swimming in a vat of goop, to respectable adult monsterhood, and beyond. Each stage has a set amount of days to it, as shown in the upper left corner, and each action/adventure you decide to undertake costs you one day. Since you can't save and reload games to undo bad decisions, only being able to continue where you left off or reset your progress, think carefully about the things you do. You never know whether you might be biting off more than you can chew, or if a good chomping might actually just be what the situation calls for!

At the bottom of the screen at your attributes, from bravery to kindness, and the choices you make can cause these to go up or down depending on the outcome. They're important, since certain choices are only available if any given attribute is especially high, but also in unlocking certain paths and endings! Equally as important, however, is Respect, a statistic that will rise or fall depending on how you act and impacts not only how other monsters treat you and if they listen to you, but also whether you can continue on to become an Elder. Once you do, then you'll finally be able to influence Human and monster society through your actions. If you fail to gain enough respect to become an Elder, well, there's always next time, and your rotting body will return to the pit from where its slime will spawn the next generation of monsters. It's like the circle of life, really. A great big, disgusting, fluid-filled circle of life.

Monster Loves You!Analysis: If it weren't for a whole lot of talk of twisting heads of, chowing down on corpses, and other wholesome activities, Monster Loves You! would be about the perfect casual text adventure for any age, but while it might be a bit too icky for some parents, the rest of us will probably find it just right. Though more than a little confusing at first blush, the more you play the more the story reveals a surprisingly rich world, with intriguing monster customs and scenarios you'll never see coming. Though some players with top-hats and monocles might find the light-hearted tone and lack of real gameplay depth, it's an excellent choice for just sinking into whenever you have spare time. It feels like a simplified choice of games title, focusing on whimsical world-building and player amusement more than any real concrete plot.

The fact that you get no descriptive text or real indication of what an adventure is before you choose it is annoying, however, especially since many icons are reused. The endings also tend to feel a little abrupt after all the work you might put into developing a monster, and some more defined characters might have added a thread of consistency throughout to care about. Despite that, however, Monster Loves You! is the sort of vibrant, surprisingly engaging adventure that's hard to put down, with all the natural cadence of a good fairytale. What will you make of your life? Will you become the sort of terror little kids have nightmares about, something even Red Riding Hood's Big Bad Wolf fears? Or will you unite Human and monsterkind together in harmony... or maybe become a skilled neurosurgeon in Human society, forever forced to conceal your true identity? The choices are yours, and they've rarely been so breezily fun and enjoyable.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Steam)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (449)

Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches

KyhStraight from Nitreal Games comes a spring-rific take on the building time management genre in Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches. Play as a young college graduate intent on helping her grandparents keep their villa from the clutches of the local evil entrepreneur. (How they've come to owe him $1,000,000, you're never quite sure.) As Jill, you've got a hearty green thumb and an eye for detail, which is just what the town needs. Water logged pathways, overgrown weeds, burglars and ravens! Nothing can stop you from fighting back, not to mentioned how great it is to just spruce up your grandparent's abode with the extra money you earn. Can you do it? Can you save them from being evicted and living out the rest of their lives in a cardboard box?!

Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to RichesGardens Inc. has the same mechanics as similar games, like the Roads of Rome series. Direct Jill and the other workers by clicking on tasks, which will be completed in the order they were assigned. Keep in mind accessibility, such as islands which have a limit to how many boats can dock there. Hovering over a task will show you the list of resources needed to complete it, though if you're in a hurry, simply clicking the task anyway will display a discreet message letting you know what resource you're missing. As variety in the gameplay, between levels you're offered a little extra treat of rebuilding your grandparents' villa practically one brick at a time. Just more incentive to not just go for the gold, but the secret 'better than developer's record' prize! (Hint: it's more coins.)

Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to RichesAnalysis: Nitreal Games has done a fantastic job creating an experience that will delight fans of the time management/simulation genre. The graphics are colorful and pleasing, just as you would expect from a gardening game. The addition of being able to renovate the villa is not only a satisfying sidequest of sorts, but is also great incentive to go back and earn a gold time for all the levels... just in case your natural compulsiveness didn't already have you doing this. Not to mention that along with the usual list of tasks to complete, there is also a puzzle goal which, if you can decipher, will earn you extra coins. This makes the selection of plants all the more exciting!

As great of a first showing as Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches is for Nitreal Games, it is still a first showing, so there are a few issues. The hotspots for some of the items can be hard to determine(ahem, flock of seagulls... err, ravens) or get on the first try, as is the case with tasks that are not stationary. And the storyline, while not terrible, is boring and uninspired. These are, honestly, rather minor quibbles and certainly not something to hold you back from playing a game that can offer a whole afternoon's distraction. Maybe it's time you played in some dirt... without actually getting dirty or having that annoying sun in your eyes!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


  • Currently 3.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.2/5 (103 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (121)

Hidden Hills

elleCan you, without exceeding the click limit, search out and collect all 125 objects camouflaged among these Hidden Hills? Do that fast as you can and not only will you feel like an awesomesauced super searcher, you'll brag the highest score. If your fingers are already more fidgety than poised over bubble wrap in contemplation of it, then this pure hidden object game from EvilLemon is designed just for you. The saturated springtime hues and fanciful scenery is easy on the eyes although it isn't as simplistic as it sounds—the design's quite clever and keen eyesight with a smidgen of strategy is required because you must complete your first set to earn more clicks and continue. So have patience and be willing strain your eyes to catch all objects; some are easily seen, others surreptitiously blend in while changing cursor wards off chagrin. Yet the artwork is so pretty, taking the time to just lazily gaze is equally enjoyable. Seeking a light, quick and relaxing means to while away a few minutes? Then...

Play Hidden Hills


(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (17)

Bobbing

KinetikaiBobbing is a fast-paced, finger-twitching, reflex-hounding action platformer from Little Bobby Games. You play as a little eskimo creature whose only ambition in life is to run endlessly through a circular labyrinth filled with twists, traps and lots and lots of fire.

BobbingEach of Bobbing's 100 classic stages task you with one goal: reach the end in one piece, which is easier said than done. Your only controls are in the form of two massive buttons at the lower corners of the screen. The left button reverses gravity, while the right changes your character's color from blue to pink and back, allowing you to pass through colored walls and floors.

The level design is a work of evil genius. Passing each stage requires a heavy dose of both quick wits and quick reflexes, with portals, bumpers and barriers all adding complications that turn Bobbing into a puzzle-like experience. The challenge ramps up fairly quickly (did we mention lots of fire?) but luckily, an easy mode exists if you're not quite ready for the brutality of classic mode.

Bobbing is certainly a game that does a lot with a few basic mechanics. Unfortunately, besides collecting all of the bonus widgets on each level, there isn't much in terms of replay value beyond the built-in stages. (Although the game promises new "Endless" and "Hardcore" modes to be implemented in the future.) However, the slick, simple graphics, high-energy soundtrack and superb level design make this title well worth playing. Just be sure to avoid the fire!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 2. 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.


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (60)

The Secret Order: Masked Intent

GrinnypBeing a member of a secret society is not the easiest gig, let me tell you. When they're not being accused of harboring Jack the Ripper or fending off a demon invasion, some secret societies appear to be dealing with the ever-present threat of one of their own suddenly going all Dirty Harry on them in a personal quest for power or vengeance or whatever comes to mind. Do cool robes, snazzy secret handshakes, and a kicking snack bar make up for all the trouble? Well, the latest adventure hybrid from Sunward Games, The Secret Order: Masked Intent... doesn't really aim to answer those questions. Sorry.

grinnyp_secretordermaskedintent_screenshot1.pngThe story begins with one member of the Order of the Griffins deciding right in the middle of his super-secret initiation ceremony to betray them. Fortunately one of the unlucky members of the inner circle manages to call his daughter Sarah and leave a message before he meets his messy fate. Sarah must then hurry and find some sort of mystical, magical counter-balance to the enchanted mask that the bad guy, evilly named Nathan, is using to wipe out the order and maybe take over the world. Pretty soon she's uncovering a 17th century sailing ship that can also travel through time and she's off to find some way to defeat Nathan before he can unleash his badness upon what is left of the Order of the Griffins. Pretty standard Friday night stuff then, really.

The Secret Order: Masked Intent plays like a point-and-click adventure with some fun mini-games and puzzles as well as the standard hidden object scenes present in most of today's hybrids. If you don't like finding lists of objects, though, each scene can convert into an amusing game of Mahjong instead. Aiding in your quest is a map, found in your handy notebook, which lets you see where things need to be done as well as providing instant transportation. A refilling hint timer is useful within the main adventure as well as the hidden object scenes, and doubles as a skip feature for the mini-games. Using these items and your wits, can you retrieve the magical scepter needed to counter Nathan's grab for power?

grinnyp_secretordermaskedintent_screenshot2.pngAnalysis: The Secret Order: Masked Intent is pretty spectacular in all aspects, visuals, music, animations, and gameplay. The developers have decided to present a game with a suspenseful story featuring some interesting characters and solid puzzles in a nice balance that provides a lot of entertainment. Even in a market overcrowded with stunning graphics The Secret Order: Masked Intent stands out with its vibrant, sharp, three dimensional scenes, to say nothing of the better-than-average voice acting which brings the animated characters to life. Of special note are the great cut-scene animations, mini-movies which keep the story moving and are an enjoyable treat to break up the adventuring.

Of course, it's not quite perfect. The hit-detection areas for hovering the cursor or actually clicking on an object can be a tad tight, and of course attempting to navigate backwards while the inventory is up can cause chaos as both zones occupy pretty much the same real estate. These are minor flaws that don't dampen an otherwise entertaining experience.

Great care has gone into the design of this gem of an adventure game and it shows everywhere in the details. The ability to turn the hidden object scenes into another minigame is a nice touch, as are three modes of play to match a variety of skill levels, and a hefty amount of gameplay whether in the regular or collector's edition of the game. For an exciting adventure sprinkled with some pretty tight puzzles The Secret Order: Masked Intent is definitely the way to go.

Note: The Secret Order: Masked Intent is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes wallpapers, animations, concept art, music, two types of extra gameplay, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Order the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Order the full version


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (135)

Hallowed Legends: Ship of Bones

DoraAlright, so maybe your plane crashed on an island, but it wasn't really your fault since the weather forecast didn't say anything about flaming ghostly skulls. Then again, I'm fairly certain I've never seen a nature special about talking ravens who wear cute spectacles either unless Attenborough has been holding out on us. But you're dealing with both, and stranded on your own in a hostile land under a curse by the malicious specter of the woman in white, you'll need bravery, wits, and a whole lotta clickin' to survive and put a stop to the ancient evil once and for all in Hallowed Legends: Ship of Bones, another engaging, beautifully done hidden-object adventure from magic makers Elephant Games.

Hallowed Legends: Ship of BonesAs you explore the island, you'll come across a lot of puzzles to solve and items that'll be of use, so it's lucky you can cram all that into your pockets. (Seriously, do they issue Bags of Holding to all adventure protagonists these days?) Most of the hidden-object scenes you'll encounter are filled with little puzzles of their own, asking you to figure out how to properly combine things or get past obstacles to strike off everything on your list. You've also got a handy map, which not only shows everywhere you've been, but will allow you to travel to locations at a click and highlights places where you can still get something done. But that's not the only tool at your disposal. Your raven friend can be used to retrieve things from high places, and even cooler, eventually you'll gain a magical book that can be used to burn away the woman in white's ice when you track down all the runes it gives you.

Hallowed Legends: Ship of BonesAnalysis: Elephant Games is far and away one of the best developers working on this genre of games, and here yet again they prove it's possible to blend creepiness with adventure and excitement in a way that makes it enjoyable for... well, pretty much anyone. Is it goofy at times? Sure, but that's part of its campy charm, and the beautiful hand-painted design of most of the environments actually goes quite well with the live actors who carry along the cutscenes. Since the story is told through those rather than piles of notes and diary entries, as is the norm for most hidden-object adventures, the game winds up playing almost like an interactive movie in places. It takes a while to really get rolling, with the first bit bogged down with a lot of back-and-forth before you get to the titular (awesome) ship and find out more about the legend behind it all... all while trying to avoid getting savaged to death by a frozen hound, of course.

It's not perfect, though. Gameplay is fairly straightforward and not all that challenging, unless you count the finicky click detection a few items have in hidden-object scenes. Happily, while most of the object puzzles are simple "use item X on dude Y" scenarios, some of the puzzles require a bit of thought and brainwork, and the game strikes a satisfying balance so you won't be bombarded with hidden-object scenes either. The result is an experience that won't post much difficulty no matter what setting you have it on, but will entertain you every step of the way. It won't hold many surprises, but it's impossible not to appreciate the spectacle of it all and get pulled in by the beautiful design and imagination weaving it all together. It's a stunning adventure to wrap yourself up with for the evening. The tone never becomes all that dark or gruesome, but is still eerie enough to snag players who aren't all sunshine and puppy rainbows, and will appeal to fans of cinematic action with magical mystery that never lets up.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (30 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (368)

The Plan

trinnThe Plan is a short experimental game that tells the story of a helpless, little fly at the bottom of a vast forest. Navigate with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys and, well, that's it. A side project by Krillbite Studio as they work on Among the Sleep, it's a simple idea at its surface — buzz about between branches and soak in the serene environment. Scripted events like a wayward breeze as well as other, more physical, obstacles occasionally interrupt your progress, but are fitting enough with the overall concept that they don't disrupt the flow of the gameplay.

The PlanDespite the constricting invisible walls and a playthrough length around ten minutes at a leisurely pace, The Plan evokes a much greater sense of scale. Most surprising is how introspective, atmospheric, and emotionally charged it is, given its focus on a creature we often associate with poop. Initially, it appears to lack direction and a clear goal, but don't let those first few moments of aimless wandering discourage you. It's called The Plan for good reason, and discovering why leads to a whole new depth of interpretation. I won't spoil things with over-explanation, but I will tell you the two most important words you must know to fully experience this world: fly up. Fly up to witness the evolving skyscape, fly up to boldly go where no fly has gone before, fly up to find what fate has planned for you.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the free full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the free full version


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (83 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (340)

Strike Force Heroes 2

TrickyThe Strike Force Heroes thought they had seen the last of the GlobeX corporation. Weren't they completely destroyed by Alpha Team? But a series of random attacks has shaken them of that comforting illusion. From space stations hundreds of miles above the Earth, to the marketplaces of third world cities where people go to disappear, to the Heroes' own base, nothing seems beyond GlobeX's reach. If they're going to push, then you'd better bet the Heroes are going to push back. Maybe that scientist GlobeX is so intent on killing can provide some answers... Strike Force Heroes 2, by Sky9 Games, is the action arena shooter sequel that's everything the fans of the original could have hoped for.

Strike Force Heroes 2Your soldier moves, jumps and crouches with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, and aims and shoots with the mouse. You can choose before four different classes to play as, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and special weapons: Engineer, Mercenary, General, Juggernaut, and Sniper. You can set your two starting weapons in the Soldiers menu, and switch between them in battle with [q]. Successful enemy kills with a class will gain experience for each class, unlocking new weapons and abilities. In particular, there are "kill-streak" abilities, activated with [ctrl] or [E], after killing a sequence of enemies without dying. In a new mechanic, Reloading, Kill-Streak Ability Activation, or Weapon Switching can be assigned to right-clicking. Ammo and Health Packs are scattered around each level for replenish your stocks. Each level in campaign mode has various win conditions, be it a certain number of individual or team kills, capturing the enemies flag, or working as a team to face off against a single boss. Lock and load!

Analysis: Creating a sequel for a successful game can be a difficult proposition. Especially in the action-shooter genre, there is the concern that gameplay must be a recognizable continuation, without seeming repetitive, but containing enough new content to justify its existence, without alienating fans of the original. Strike Force Heroes 2 deftly approaches this problem by focusing on expanding the feel of the game's world. The development team has clearly focused on their strengths. As impressive as the selection of arenas were in its predecessor, here they are even better, with urban, futuristic settings that teem with life. The stand-out is a shoot out in a beautiful Japanese-style mansion that quickly gets totally wrecked with bullet-shells and bodies. The new character classes, weapons and level modifiers also add to the experience, and little touches of experimentation like a power-up slot machine will keep things fresh, and players old and new happy.

Strike Force Heroes 2The negatives of Strike Force Heroes 2 come off as a little structural in nature, since, in all honesty, they seem to pop-up over and over again in the genre: the AI teammates whose behavior suggests they didn't do too well on their ASVABs, maps that seem blatantly favorable to one class or another, huge CPU-requirements, and a campaign mode plot that's largely a retread with a sci-fi element tacked on. And, by that we mean, clones are involved, because clones are always involved. It is perhaps unfair to take Strike Force Heroes 2 specifically to task for these issues. Still, it makes you wonder if anyone noticed during testing that, say, if 25 kills are required to pass a level, then the player is probably going to have to be responsible for at least 23 of those and spend most of their time hoping their AI comrades aren't charging themselves into the spike-pit too often.

Still, when Strike Force Heroes 2 does many more things right than wrong, and when it is good, it is very, very good. The game ends on a pretty large cliffhanger, which we can only hope portends further installments. For now, though, Strike Force Heroes 2's mass of content should keep all fans of furious action satisfyingly glued to their keyboards for at least a fortnight, or until they unlock the Sheep Cannon, whatever comes last.

Play Strike Force Heroes 2


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (64)

Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral Estate

DoraA young woman named Dayona calls you to her sprawling Mediterranean estate. She's got a problem with things going bump in the night and she thinks maybe, just maybe, it might be related to the crypt built into her foyer that constantly emits eerie howling, beams of light, and sickly green faces while making the whole room shake. Bless her little heart. Of course, I can't make fun of her too much, since your bright idea when you find the shaking, moaning, be-demoned coffin causing a ruckus down there is to immediately open it, letting loose the ancient evil inside that carries Dayona off and sparks the start of an ancient prophecy. Way to go, Inspector Gadget. Sam and Dean you ain't, but maybe you can set things straight in Orneon's campy-cool hidden-object adventure Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral Estate.

Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral EstateAlright, so, okay... hindsight's 20/20, and maybe cracking open that shuddering evil sarcophagi wasn't such a great idea, but the important thing is you've got the skills to set things right. Just click around to gather items, solve puzzles, and root through hidden-object scenes. Coincidentally, some of those hidden-object scenes will have you put items back where they belong, rather than take them away.

Turns out Dayona's family tree might have a few bad apples in it, to the tune of one great uncle actually being magically imprisoned by the rest of the family, which as interventions go, is pretty hardcore. Now that he's out, the whole world is in danger as the eclipse approaches, and the evil taint begins to warp reality around you. As it happens, however, these changes to your environment only persist as long as each area is dark, so by turning sources of illumination on and off, you can shift the world at will... handy since the light and dark sides of each area have different items you need and puzzles to solve.

Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral EstateAnalysis: Mystery of the Ancestral Estate is sort of an odd duck. On the one hand, despite visuals not being as sharp as they could, the environment design and overall artwork is gorgeous, and the warped demonic atmosphere sets it apart from other games that would have you slog through boring, standard houses. It's sort of like every other hidden-object game is Tamriel, and you just went through an Oblivion Gate, if you'll forgive the incredibly nerdy reference. On the other hand, the game is also lacking a bit of polish. Despite some voice acting that's... actually really, really good, none of the characters have animated mouths, leaving them just sort of staring at you while they wobble and apparently communicate telekinetically. The writing also feels like it suffers from a wooden translation, which is a shame, because the story of an eccentric, brilliant family that goes too far is actually a really intriguing one. It's creepy without being outright scary, and the emphasis on lore and magic makes this one players of virtually any taste can enjoy.

The only real flaw to be found with the gameplay is repetition, both in the game's constant back-and-forth and some repeated hidden-object scenes. It doesn't really start to take off until after you do away with the harpy standing guard to the rest of the estate, whereafter it stops being quite so formulaic. Enchanted topiaries, hidden mechanisms, magic spells... even puzzles that force you to use your brain. It's lengthy to boot, with each substantial chapter packed with puzzles and objectives. Players who prefer a bit more engaging storyline and flash will want to try the demo before they buy, but Secrets of the Dark: Mystery of the Ancestral Estate is a meaty game with the sort of fantasy-inspired atmosphere that's not too dark or too light. And here's a free tip you won't find on the Home and Garden Network... if someone tries to sell you a house with its very own glowing demon hate-coffin, maybe keep looking at other rentals... no matter how many cute coffee shops are within walking distance.

Currently only the Collector's Edition is available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (999 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (4,431)

Scene of the Crime: Dream of Murder

DoraA detective's best weapon is their finger. You can level it at someone in an accusatory fashion. You can use it to tip up the brim of your fedora whenever the situation calls for extra suaveness. And of course, most importantly, you'll use it to point-and-click your way through Pastel Games' latest murder mystery adventure, Scene of the Crime: Dream of Murder. When a body is found in the trunk of a car that crashed off the highway, you and your finger are called in to solve the case. Whodunnit and why? You'll need your eyes, your wits, and a magical board in your office that does all the hard work of tying evidence together for you to find out!

Play all of the Scene of the Crime games:
The Scene of the CrimeThe Scene of the Crime: Golden DollThe Scene of the Crime: Dream of Murder

Scene of the Crime: Dream of MurderWhen your cursor changes to show you can interact with something, just click! Inventory items can be used by selecting them at the bottom of the screen, and then clicking wherever you want to implement them. Largely, you'll be using your keen detective instincts to find all the evidence in each area before you proceed, and your map will allow you to hop to new locations as they're unlocked. Dream of Murder's main flaw, however, finding all of those interactive zones is a chore and not as visually intuitive as it could be. It's also a shame that the game connects all the evidence for you, instead of doing it yourself. These flaws won't keep you from enjoying the game, however, and with gorgeous artwork and a more involved story than the previous games, it's a fine way to keep your keen detective mind sharp for the next case... especially considering there's a whole lot left unexplored at the end of this one.

Play Scene of the Crime: Dream of Murder


  • Currently 3.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.3/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (11)

Deep Space Dash

KimberlyAfter spending years in stasis sleep in deep space, you awaken only to find your trusty ship has turned on you. Come to think of it, maybe it was your fault for forgetting to turn off the security system when you woke up. The important thing is you're now facing what HAL would have done if he'd had bullets and lasers. In Deep Space Dash, you must keep yourself from being evaporated, 60 seconds at a time. In this unique blend of frantic avoidance meets bullet hell by Scimitar Games, use your keyboard to avoid the many different projectiles headed your way. [Arrows] or [WASD] move your character, while the [spacebar] performs your special dash move. Not only does the dash get you away from things quickly, it also grants you temporary immunity to damage.

Deep Space DashDashing is not the only thing that helps you survive. Power-ups randomly appear on the playing field, which clear the board, or slow down bullets among other things. You'll also want to collect power cores. Once you have enough, you'll be able to visit the store to purchase or upgrade helmets, which do things like give you extra health and shorter dash recharge times. The biggest flaw in the game is not being able to visit the store between deaths unless you back all the way out to the main menu. Whether you're a novice or an expert, there is a difficulty level for you. Deep Space Dash manages to provide a fast paced enjoyable game, balancing the difficulty with upgrades very well. There are also plenty of achievements to try for which will keep you coming back for more even if you manage to pass extreme mode.

Play Deep Space Dash


| Comments (4) | Views (10)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraThe secret of life and death. Trolls in love. Home defense taken to the extreme. And a piping hot cup of your favourite coffee to boot. You wouldn't expect all that in your browser all at once, but, well, surprise! Plus, I think we can all agree that the Doctor would probably approve of this week's news too.

News and Previews

TransistorBut Will It Have A Narration? Digital magicians Supergiant Games are currently best known for their stunning, evocative action RPG Bastion, and now two years later it looks like they're gearing up to floor us yet again. Transistor, planned for a release in 2014 (no platforms yet decided), is another action-RPG, but this one set in a sci-fi dystopian world where a young girl gains control of a powerful weapon after she's attacked and nearly killed with it, and you'll have to fight against everyone who wants to take it with her as she tracks down all of its former owners and tries to discover what's happening in the city. The trailer is as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as you'd expect, with more of the team's fantastic music, and some creature design that wouldn't look out of place in Atlus's Persona series. Watch for more details on this one, because you're going to want to play it.

FezWe Play Fez Now. Fez is Cool. PC gamers, rejoice! If you're like me and don't own an XBOX, all you could do was lay facedown in a pool of your own sadness while others were enjoying Polytron's XBLA exclusive Fez, the puzzle platforming adventure that took the gaming world by storm. Well, be sad no longer, because this May 1st Fez is coming to Steam! This is fantastic news and time to do your best Dr Zoidberg impression in celebration while you wait.

SoundodgerSounds Like... Michael Molinari OneMrBean) has been responsible for some of our communitie's favourite creative games, so if you know him at all you should be intrigued to hear about his latest project, Soundodger. It sounds sort of like what you'd get if you took a "bullet hell" shooter, then took all the bullets out. Each level is a song, choreographed to let shapes and patterns fill up the screen, and you need to dodge them all. I'd say it sounds relaxing, if not for the fact that the trailer, which is about as funky cool as it's possible to get, makes it look more than a little challenging... and hypnotic! No word yet on whether it'll be a pay title, though if anyone deserves to get paid for his creative work it's definitely this guy, and you can keep your eyes peeled for a release for PC, Mac, and Browser.

Witch/KnightIt Could Be Witches, Some Evil(?) Witches... NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and takes place in November, but you might not be familiar with NaNoRenO, ((Inter)National Renai Game Writing Month) where daring developers create visual novels in March. Mink, along with Ristorante Amore's AuroCyanide, is working on an intriguing sounding title called Witch/Knight, and if you're a fan of fantasy and introspection, this might be one for you to watch out for. It's about a knight named Bethlyn who's been trying to track down the Goddess of Rebirth to convince her to bring someone back to life, but may have bitten off more than she anticipated. It's planned for release on April 1st, and considering it's being done in a month you can probably expect it to be on the short side, but it looks absolutely stunning and is something visual novel fans will want to keep their eye on.

Ithaka of the CloudsLands of Dream, Here We Come Pack your bags, because later this year Jonas Kyratzes is sending you on another doubtless incredible adventure. Thanks to players like you, Ithaka of the Clouds has been successfully funded, and we couldn't be happier. The game will follow two trolls in love as they journey across Kyratzes' iconic Lands of Dream in search of the legendary city of Ithaka, and if you know Kyratzes' work at all, you know you can expect this to be another of the sort of intelligent, emotionally driven game we wish there were more of. Congratulations, Jonas, and we can't wait to see it!

XING: The Land BeyondTwo for Two And speaking of successful Kickstarter projects, spare some more applause for White Lotus Interactive's XING: The Land Beyond. We've talked about this first-person puzzle adventure before, but now you can rest easy knowing it's going to be a reality since they've successfully reached their Kickstarter goal with more than a week left in the project, though you can still donate if you'd like to fund some additional environments in the game. Having been fortunate enough to try the demo, without spoiling anything I can tell you that XING is the sort of achingly beautiful and impressively atmospheric adventure game that we could do with more of, and one fans of lush exploratory puzzle gameplay would do well to keep their eyes out for.

The Castle DoctrineHome Improvement... and Warfare Reecer6 has brought Jason Rohrer's upcoming multiplayer defense game The Castle Doctrine to our attention, and it looks like a doozy. Within the game, you're tasked with building a safe yet deadly home filled with traps and other defenses that will not only keep you and your family safe from invaders and burglars, but also allow your family to move about without getting killed by their own defenses. The catch is that all the burglars are other players, and you're a burglar as well, allowing you to try to steal from other players' compounds... if you can get past their defenses. It's currently only in Alpha, though if you purchase it now you can play it as it is and get free updates, so make sure to check it out, and hopefully a demo of some sort will be forthcoming for players who want to try before they buy.

Kickstarter/IndieGoGo Projects

Bloom: MemoriesLike Mother, Like Son For some people, stories about paternal love and sacrifice can be intensely personal and emotional, and if you're one of those people, you might want to check out the Kickstarter for Studio Fawn's upcoming action/RPG Bloom: Memories. It's about a woman who's an "abomination", a person becoming twisted by the corruption invading the land, and winds up giving birth to a son like her, with whom she'll set out on this adventure. The idea is that both characters share pain that the other endures, and each has special abilities that can help the other as you play. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and if you love otherworldly fantasy, you'll definitely want to add this one to your list.

Barista BlastTake THAT Starbucks! The time management/simulation supercombo is one that's hard to pull off just right, but Danny Vink's Kickstarter for his upcoming game Barista Blast shows he might just know what's up. Planned for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android (yay, equality!), the game tasks you with running a coffee shop with a realistic environment, where you actually have to craft the specific, specialised drinks the customers order on top of keeping a clean, tightly-run shop. It looks cute and fun as all get-out, and asking the player to craft the orders themselves is, as proven by the Papa's Series, a great way to keep the player involved. Look for this one to release later this year!

Ninmu NanmuNot Starring Robin Williams Getting people to listen to new thoughts and ideas they don't typically entertain can be hard, and John Colburn wants to take a crack at it with his IndieGoGo campaign for his upcoming action-adventure Ninmu Nanmu. The game follows our hero, a guy living in the near future, who winds up accidentally exposed to an alchemical experiment that swaps his gender... and tosses him into a conflict between two secret societies. Lots of stories tend to use gender swapping as a punchline or fetish, but Ninmu Nanmu wants to try to make you think beyond all that as the protagonist suddenly is faced with what's inside him(her)self and deciding what he(she) wants out of life. Ninmu Nanmu is already a webcomic (that isn't suitable for children), and John does have some experience making games, so this one has a lot of potential.

Miscellaneous

Bundle in a BoxThis Is Way Better Than The Lonely Island's Idea Like indie games? Like paying what you want? Then be sure to check out the latest sale over at Bundle In A Box! Billed as "The Cerebral Bundle", it features five games for a minimum price of $1.99USD, plus four more if you beat the current average price paid. Amoung the offerings are RPG adventure Phantasmaburbia, and the first chapter of the Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller series. This is a fantastic deal with some seriously stellar items all around, and since proceeds not only support charity but also the Indie Dev Grant, it's a great way to ensure there are even more amazing indie titles down the line.

Sweatshop PulledNO THOUGHT FOR YOU Back in 2011, we reviewed Littleloud's weirdly charming and unsettling management simulation Sweatshop, which tasked you with running a factory overseas responsible for pumping out the sort of things people around the world consume without a thought for how they were produced. It stood out for its style and unique way of bringing awareness to an issue too few people really think about. It recently made its way to iOS, but has now been removed from the App store under 16.1 - "Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected." While it's true that the content in the game is objectionable, it's also true that that's sort of the whole point of it, and this isn't the first time Apple has put its foot down over a game that tackles uncomfortable issues. Fortunately, you can still play the free browser version, and we can only hope in the future that Apple considers the difference between "offensive and crude", and "eye-opening and thoughtful".

EA and FreemiumCaveat Emptor Games that incorporate microtransactions are one thing, but free-to-play or "freemium" is quickly becoming a dirty word in the gaming community. Of course, not that you'd know that going by industry giant EA's numbers for its latest iOS game, Real Racing 3, despite heavy criticism for its aggressive monetization. As CNet says, EA believes this is proof players not only accept but embrace freemium games, and it's hard to deny that the numbers appear to be in their favour. Of course, as any gamer will tell you, there's a difference between a microtransaction and holding your customer upside down and shaking them until all the quarters fall out, and there has definitely been a disappointing trend with many mobile games tending towards the latter. As it relates to the indie market, Vlambeer offers this opinion on mobile developers and what they should charge their players.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (125 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (470)

Dolly House Escape

elleDoll houses are magical in how they light up imagination and make us feel like tiny explorers in a tidy, diminutive world. By not only including a doll house, but letting us open up, explore and play inside it, TomaTea has waved a wand of wonder over their newest escape-the-room game, Dolly House Escape so that every step feels more special, even as you grapple with some of TomaTea's most enigmatic puzzles.

Dolly House Escape (TomaTea)When you begin play, explore the room for signs and symbols that will lead you to the dollhouse key. TomaTea's signature glowing cursor and "I have no clue how to solve this" messaging are much appreciated guideposts in this mini adventure. You can highlight to use an item or click its "?" icon to examine it more closely. Needed information is often secreted away or so well coded that you'll have to think more deeply to solve some codes until you open the door and go outside to play. Although this isn't a four walled room, and so you won't need to turn or move about as much as zoom in or zoom out of areas, details abound in niches, cubbies and alcoves. It's enough to revive the unfettered curiosity of childhood dreams, so take your time and sink into this inviting place, settle down for a cup of tea, and play house!

Play Dolly House Escape


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (139 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (402)

Searching for the Elephant

elleBear and elephant are tea time friends and roommates. In the darkness of one night, elephant goes missing. So out into the wide, whimsical world, bear goes Searching for the Elephant, encountering and wordlessly interacting with numerous winsome characters in their own predicaments. So do you, as you manipulate elements, decode codes, utilize found objects and generally be a great help to everyone—moving bear along and gaining a big grin in return. Searching for the Elephant is a point-and-click puzzle adventure from Astep, Bidyod, and Nexter, brought to weird and wonderful life by the artistry of marvelmate and the swanky tunes of vhava.

Searching for the ElephantYour goal in every stage boils down to fixing whatever needs righting, removing whatever is impeding bear from going further, just by pointing and clicking when or where needed. Oftentimes you'll need to acquire and utilize objects which stay in your paws until they're used (because bears have no pockets!) These goals are remarkably well-communicated, even without any narrative or text, through imagery and symbolism. A changing cursor as well as a "?" icon also help clarify interactive areas and objectives although logic is not lacking here.

Considering this is a Flash game, it's a nice discovery to realize your Searching for the Elephant won't end after only a few stages and, because it automatically saves your progress, if you can't set aside an unrushed 15-20 minutes to play, everyone will still be where you left them upon your return. Each scene has an effervescence that comes from the charcoals sketch art and upbeat story that makes this a very engaging experience, and that gives a lot of motivation to work through the minigames even when they're sometimes rather unappealing in their banality. In fact, for some of us, Searching for the Elephant loses points for including the off-sync dials and sliding blocks puzzles.

If there are any disappointments, though, they are more than offset by an adventurer fulfilling length, an effusive Machinarium vibe and, in fellow JIGite Trinn's words, "the Yann Tiersen-esque musette." Full of content, charm and a sweet warm your heart and give out a chuckle ending, Searching for the Elephant is truly a happy find.

Play Searching for the Elephant


(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (29)

Totems

JohnBTotems puts a simpler spin on the classic Risk (or Galcon Fusion) style of strategy game. Handing you a fistful of animal totems and placing you on a map, it's your job to outwit your opponent as you take turns dropping pieces on the board, claiming territories and fighting for control over the largest chunk of land.

TotemsA map fills most of the screen, with various animal totems lining up in a row at the bottom. Drag and drop pieces onto the map to claim chunks of land. Occupied territory displays the color of the player that captured it along with the type of animal used in the process. When a new totem is placed, like animals will capture like, meaning you can score whole swaths of lion land, for example, if you put a lion token next to sections previously captured by a lion.

The strategy in Totems comes out of careful placement of your totem types, making sure not to use your allotment of a certain animal lest you find yourself in a bind. Whoever has the most land at the end of the round wins. You can set up multiplayer games locally, with friends, or online with random players, and each time you begin a game you get to pick your opponents and the map you play. It's all very straightforward and easy to get into.

The gameplay in Totems is less numbers-heavy than Risk, focusing on animal types and turn priority instead of raw manpower. This makes the experience a little more luck-oriented than tactical, but it also lightens things up for a nice casual feel. Good computer AI, gorgeous artwork and sound effects, and lots of multiplayer options make this a great choice for a solid mobile strategy game!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (148 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (97)

More Which?

elleSee these two circles? One isn't empty but one is. Which is it? You've been asked this question before but that doesn't mean you're all out of answers. After all, there are many more ways to contemplate the differences, sometimes obvious, other times subtle, between two seemingly like spheres. That's why there is More Which?, a pleasantly uncomplicated puzzle from Yoshio Ishii of Nekogames. It's just challenging enough, requiring occasional lateral leaps or outside knowledge, to provide a full feeling of satisfaction when you make it through 20 levels with a perfect score. It's nice to be appreciated and it feels to good to be told "Good." And all you need to do is take a brief breather to click and point out which is which.

Play More Which?


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (51 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (83)

Liquid 2

HopefulNebula Have you ever played with oil and water in a bottle? The oil sits on top of the water until you turn it over and get a lot of little droplets that float up and combine with each other again. That's the basic mechanic behind Liquid 2, a physics puzzle by OneGoodGame.

Liquid 2The controls are simple: use the [A] and [D] keys or the [left] and [right] arrows to rotate the playing field and get as many droplets of liquid into the goal area as possible. 20 drops is the minimum to pass each level, but you earn more stars for getting more liquid to the finish. Later levels introduce obstacles that evaporate any droplets that touch them, keys that unlock the exit, arrows that redirect the liquid, and inverted gravity. The walls in World 3 are even invisible — until the liquid touches it, or you trigger a paint geyser that exposes the nearby barriers.

The game isn't perfect; in particular, the camera focuses on the largest concentration of droplets, which can make getting that last little drop nearly impossible if your liquid's been split up a lot. It would be nice to be able to control the camera, or at least zoom out to view the whole playing area. Overall, though, there are just enough levels to be challenging and fun without becoming boring.

Just be careful pouring salad dressing after you play this.

Play Liquid 2


  • Currently 3.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.4/5 (74 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (156)

Find the Escape Men 50: In the Ninja House Volume 2

GrinnypSo you want to be a ninja? You've gotten the cool clothes, the headbands, the shuriken, the blow-darts, the green escape men...you didn't know that green escape men were a vital part of the ninja accouterments? Well they are if you want to graduate, or at least escape from the ninja house in No1Game's latest escape men finding thriller, Find the Escape Men 50: In the Ninja House (Volume 2) This Time It's Personal!

grinnyp_findescapemen50_screenshot.pngYes, a sequel to Find the Escape Men in the Ninja House has been spawned, since you didn't really make it all the way out the first time around. You must not only find the difficult to spot escape men (practicing their mad ninja stealth skillz in the surrounding scenery), you must actually fight them, and they aren't pushovers. Or, at least, the 3rd graders aren't pushovers. The 2nd grader certainly is, although it's nice of him to offer to help you along once you kick his scrawny...butt. Navigation is by the usual bars at the sides, top, and bottoms of the screen, so that you can explore the house (actually a Ninja School) and fight your way to ninja-hood, or something like that. Along the way you will find the usual ten escape men, but in some rather unusual ways. Basically you're looking at the usual combination of puzzle solving and use of found objects.

Find the Escape Men 50: In the Ninja House (Volume 2) is quite the departure from the usual find the escape men games. Shame, though, that there's no changing cursor in this larger than usual playing field, which leads to some pixel hunting. The space is larger, there's a lot more use of found objects, and the escape men ninjas can be quite the potty mouths as they attempt to trash-talk their way to beating you to the ninja punch, as it were. For those who don't just want to spot the little green escape men in the scenery but who want to beat the living daylights out of them as well, well, here's the escape for you. Just don't be freaked when you find God in the pond.

Play Find the Escape Men 50: In the Ninja House Volume 2


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (131)

Ascent of Kings

JohnBThe king is dead. Dibs on his crown! Ascent of Kings is a platform adventure game by Nostatic Software that sends you on an epic quest to become the next king. Your brothers are out to do the same, but because nobody thinks you've got the guts to do it, you have something to prove! The road from your home to the Shrine of Kings is a twisted and treacherous path, but there are a few handy items you'll encounter along the way that help you traverse the land.

Ascent of KingsOn-screen controls allow you to move around the world, climb vines, jump, swim, and interact with objects. As you hop through the hilly landscape, you'll bump into a few enemies you'll have to outwit along with plenty of obstacles, most of which can be overcome by using one of the game's hidden items. Can't reach the button to open the door? Maybe a slingshot would help! Vines to slippery? Gloves, young lad, gloves!

As with most touch screen platform games, the chief drawback to Ascent of Kings are the controls. Virtual d-pads just aren't a perfect replacement for physical buttons. Fortunately this isn't a game of absolute precision, so it doesn't kill the experience by any means. And if you die, you only lose a few seconds of progress, so frustration is cut down to an absolute minimum.

Even without physical buttons, Ascent of Kings is an enjoyable adventure that feels like a simplified, cheerier version of Knytt Stories. There's a big world to explore with plenty of minor shrines to find, items to uncover, and fun bonuses to stumble across!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (56 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (92)

Super Stock Take

ArtbegottiThey say if you put a billion monkeys in front of a billion typewriters, one types out the programming for a brand new Nitrome game! The rest are then divvied up by how ActionScript-y their typings looked and given other tasks in the office. However, the monkey who solves puzzles the best doesn't get a promotion, but is instead relegated to the stockroom, pushing boxes around all day and fetching items for the corporate bigwigs. Super Stock Take is an accurate profile of that monkey's life, showing the blend of sliding block puzzles and platformers that a monkey's gotta go through, all to earn a wage of peanuts.

Super Stock TakeYour apt ape can move around using the [arrow] keys, but for maximum monkey efficiency, remember that you can pick up boxes with the [down] key and throw them with [spacebar]... and be sure to lift with your knees! When you're picking up a box sitting on the ground, you're restricted to facing the direction of the stack, but if you can jump and lift some blocks from underneath, you can change direction at will. Keep in mind that if you knock a box off an edge, it will fall with gravity, but in a rigid rectangular sense (meaning you're not going to get boxes spinning as they fall), so expect impossible bridges and ridiculous towers to be a part of your solution as you scramble to grab a sour turnip. Put on your hard hat and get to work, there's lots of puzzling to be done!

Play Super Stock Take


| Comments (1) | Views (3)

The Vault

TrickyI have some exciting news to share. Or rather, exciting news for Tricky fans. Both of you. (Hi, Mom!) I've been offered the opportunity by our benevolent JiG overlords to be the regular writer of our weekly Vault feature! Hopefully, before I become inevitably corrupted from this first taste of real power, we'll be able to, together, rediscover both massive hits and hidden gems from our archives. So let's get started, with puzzles, adventure, and action in this week's JayIsGames Vault!

  • Poco ParcoPoco Parco - While the Grow concept is, of course, well and truly the provenance of Eyezmaze, one of the best tributes to the style, Poco Parco, was released in 2007 by Gung Ho Games. As you may expect, the goal is to click buttons in the correct order, and watch as charming animations evolve into a sprawling colorful world. Since the effects of the buttons in Poco Parco are not as immediately obvious as in other's of its ilk, careful observation will be required to suss out the solution. However, trying and re-trying is half the fun of these sorts of games, and since Poco Parco is filled to the brink with hidden bonuses, clickables, and easter eggs, it succeeds as being as much of a marvelous webtoy as a clever puzzle.
  • The DayThe Day - When a game says it has two endings, usually it means that three seconds from the end you probably will probably be making a decision, like either shooting that guy who burned down your village or, instead, giving him a hug. I have to believe, though, that no other two-pathed game diverges quite so much as The Day, a 2010 adventure from the master of experimental gaming, Gregory Weir. Discovering and interpreting the events of the plot for yourself is the work's great joy, but suffice to say, it might be the only work that successfully integrates both children's card games and dystopian political intrigue as major thematic elements. (...okay, there's Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's, but still.) It inspired much interesting discussion, both on the reviewer discussion list and in its comment section, and anything that provocative is worth playing indeed.
  • Tower of GreedTower of Greed - Tower of Greed, by Epic Shadow, is frenetic fun, certainly. Racing up a tower, collecting treasure, bopping enemies, and avoiding spikes, always keeping pace with the deadly void creeping up from the bottom of the screen to swallow you: it would fit in perfectly alongside any row of retro arcade cabinets. However, it does add one layer that makes it truly nail-biting: gambling. Oh sure, all you are wagering are achievements and a high score, but the risk keeps things interesting. You can leave the tower, missing out on all the good stuff you know is just a couple floors away. You can choose to keep going, knowing that one mistimed jump will force you to start again from the bottom. But like a slot machine, Tower of Greed's simple, attractive presentation will keep you playing. It's a good thing it doesn't require any quarters though. My pockets would be empty in minutes.

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!


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (23 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (395)

Super Stickman Golf 2

JohnBGolf is, well, not traditionally the most exciting sport in the world. The clothing alone should tip you off to that fact. That's why everyone should play Noodlecake Games' Super Stickman Golf 2 instead. The basic goal is the same: knock a little white ball into a hole somewhere on the green. Getting from start to finish means traversing some of the most impossibly mixed-up terrain ever seen. Laser beams, teleporters and sticky surfaces should have been part of golf from day one.

Super Stickman Golf 2Tap left or right on the on-screen arrows to aim your shot. When you're ready to roll, tap "go" to start the power meter, then tap it again to take your swing. Knock the ball as close to the flag as you can using as few shots as possible. A hole in one would be great, but usually you'll have to take smaller shots to work your way through sand traps, twisted hillocks, rotating platforms covered in sticky goo, and insane shortcut areas. If things get too hazardous (golf pun, that is), you can always unleash a power-up to give you a little nudge in the right direction.

By collecting or purchasing golf bux you can head to the game's microtransactions shop to nab bonuses like simultaneous multiplayer matches, an XP doubler, or enter the hat lottery. Nothing vital to the game's enjoyment, but when considered along with the included same-device multiplayer mode and several dozen achievements, they really help round out the extra offerings.

Super Stickman Golf 2 is a finely-tuned machine of golfing greatness. The physics couldn't be more spot-on, so when you end up missing an important shot, you won't even be able to trick yourself into thinking it was the game's fault. It's a challenging experience, but one with plenty of content that will keep you engaged for a very long time.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 3.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.2/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (25)

Iromeku

elleAt first, it's rather easy. You have a game panel of a few colored squares and, using color affecting tiles, your objective is to change your panel to match that of the target. Then it gets progressively more difficult. Josh Tamugaia's Iromeku is not a simple math exercise, it is a simple idea puzzle in which you'll need as much logic as trial-and-error to use and layer all the tiles in the precise arrangement to create an "iromeku" success.

IromekuWhile there is an apparent algorithm involved, one that's easily figured out through experimentation in the beginning, the solutions become significantly more elusive halfway through the 20 puzzle levels. A color guide helps but does not reduce the challenge while an assortment of atmospheric, electro-symphonic tunes keeps the experience just chill enough to lose a lunch break to.

Play Iromeku


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (57)

Orangre Gravity 2: Level Pack

DoraTommycred serves up another batch of vitamin C-infused, gravity-warping physics puzzling with Orange Gravity 2: Level Pack, which is, as you may cleverly have deduced, a pack of levels for Orange Gravity 2. Your happy smiling orange avatar needs to get all the fruit on each level and then reach the exit without falling offscreen or touching hazards like sopikes. Of course, being an orange and lacking arms or legs, it can't get around on its own, so it needs to be tethered to objects to move around safely, some of which can impact your orange's gravity in different ways, or move it in different fashions.

Orange Gravity 2: Level PackJust click and swipe to cut through the tether, and the orange will attach itself to whatever it can as it passes by in the direction its facing, reversing direction according to the directional arrow on any attached object. Follow the onscreen mouse motions diagrammed around each object to figure out what each one does and how you can use it to your advantage. Since the game sort of assumes you're familiar with the controls and concepts already, the levels become tricky fairly quickly. The puzzle stages are by far the most enjoyable, forcing you to think through what are often sneakily simple looking layouts and pay close attention to what everything does. In a way, the game might almost be better without the hazards at all, since the challenge from the puzzle aspects is more than sufficient, and frankly more satisfying than carefully and slowly edging your fruit past a row of spikes. If you've already played Orange Gravity 2, you won't see anything new here, but it will provide more thoughtful challenges for a quick break of gaming that'll keep you from getting scurvy to boot.

Play Orange Gravity 2: Level Pack


| Comments (2) | Views (11)

Mobile Monday

JohnBGeeky times call for geeky games, and this edition of Mobile Monday shows no shortage of said stylings. We've got a gorgeous point-and-click puzzle game, a math-driven roguelike, and a so-very-retro puzzle hybrid crossing from iOS to Android. We'd love to quote Maximus from that old gem of a film Gladiator about being entertained, but that'd be a bit expected, wouldn't it?

hiver-p.gifHiversaires is the new Myst - Currently in development for iOS devices, Hiversaires is the kind of game that will make your brain start drooling. It's a first person point and click puzzle game that looks a bit like Myst meets Kairo. The world is filled with abstract symbols and crazy puzzles, all of which seem to be conspiring to make you feel like you couldn't solve your way out of a USA Today crossword. Very little information has been released about the intriguing title, but the devlog suggests an April release, which isn't too far away. Until then: stare at the screenshots and dream!

numberlux-p.gifRoguelike + math = Number Lux - Mixing an RPG shell with a game of tile-swapping number crunching is a fantastic idea. Cody Diefenthalter thought so, too, which is why Number Lux is currently in development for iOS devices. The teaser video shows off some roguelike battles with number tiles lined up on the bottom of the screen. An enemy approaches with a target number displayed, and you have to arrange digits and operators below to produce the desired result. Great old school look to the graphics, and the ultra-geek inside of us all love the idea of using math to defeat zombies.

1000-p.gif10000000 for Android, Linux - Well, have you scored 10,000,000 yet? If not, mobile developer Eighty Eight Games is happy to provide a few more ways to reach the mythically large score. Previously available for iOS, Windows and Mac, the puzzle/RPG 10000000 is now available for Android and Linux. Simply swap tiles to defeat enemies, unlock doors, and earn materials to fix up your dilapidated castle. Our full review has a more detailed account of what you can expect. Spoiler: lots of awesomeness.

littlethings-p.gifFree App of the Week: Little Things Forever! - Each week on the iTunes App Store, Apple drops a single release down to the tasty price of "free". This week, that freebie is Little Things Forever, one of our favorite casual item-finding games of all time. Created by KlickTock, each level in Little Things Forever starts out with a picture, and that picture turns into a collection of smaller objects. You can zoom and scroll your way around the screen as you see fit, doing whatever it takes to find the items listed at the top of the screen. So much fun, and so much free, too!


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (269)

European Mystery: Scent of Desire

DoraIt's murder most foul, but also most unusual. There have been a rash of deaths lately, as young women have been found not only dead on the streets of Paris, but completely dehydrated to boot. It's enough to bring you, one of the world's most renowned detectives. out of an early retirement, especially when the father of a missing young woman contacts you out of desperation. And in Blam! Games' stunning new hidden-object adventure thriller, European Mystery: Scent of Desire, you're turning out to have quite the nose for danger indeed.

European Mystery: Scent of DesireWith a cholera epidemic raging, the streets are already in a panic, and the police have their hands full. It's essentially the perfect time for a good old fashioned madman to try to get away with murder, but that's what you're here to stop. Click around to gather clues, solve puzzles, and tackle hidden-object scenes. Of course, what's a proper investigation without a little alchemy? Perfume, that is. Early on you'll gain access to a special portable machine that can be used to extract powerful scents that you can then combine and mix to your little heart's content.

Don't get too distracted mixing up your sure-to-be-a-winner Eau de Corpse, though, since you still have a mystery to solve and someone seems pretty intent on making sure you fail. You've got a masked man after you, someone whose sharpshooting abilities are even deadlier combined with some diabolical chemical knowhow that's allowed him to set off devastating chain reactions or even toss lethal stink bombs. Will he prove to be more than a match for you?... well, uh. Probably not since you're the protagonist, but hey, still. Exciting!

European Mystery: Scent of DesireAnalysis: Scent of Desire is one of those games that, if it were a mysterious stranger glimpsed across a crowded room, your heart just might go pitty-pat. With its rich colour palette and beautiful animation, this game is a serious looker, though maybe not as crisp as it could be, and easy to just sit back and lose yourself in. Apart from some awkward looking CGI characters, that is. The environments are lush and a pleasure to explore, and hunting down scents in each one to mix up various perfumes and potions is a clever touch. Most players will probably figure out who the culprit is if they're paying even partial attention to the story after about a half hour, but by muddying the motives and methods of what he's doing, it still manages to keep you intrigued. Come on, the guy is essentially a goofy costume away from being a Batman villain... how can you not love an antagonist like that?

Though the gameplay holds few surprises for anyone who's played a game of this type before, it also holds few flaws. Hidden-object scenes are beautifully illustrated, though while there aren't many of them those that exist tend to be repeated. You'll spend a lot of time going back and forth over Paris, but with plenty of cutscenes and events to keep you occupied, it's not nearly the annoyance it could be. At over four hours for your average playthrough and an hour or more for the bonus content, depending on your chosen level of difficulty, European Mystery: Scent of Desire is one of those beautiful games that's simply satisfying to play. Try the demo before you buy, but fans of mysteries and thrillers will drink in the gorgeous Parisian style with pleasure. Just... don't try this at home. I'm pretty sure "I want to extract its scent to make a lovely perfume" won't really go over well with police when found loitering over a freshly killed corpse.

Currently only the Collector's Edition is available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (7)

Dojo Danger

JohnBDojo Danger from Kihon is the kind of game you can't wait to be good at. One part strategy and one part arcade physics, the setup is a bit reminiscent of the SQUIDS series, putting you in control of a group of heroes who can be shot around the screen in order to defeat the bad guys. This time around, though, you get to play as a band of ninjas ridding the world of a zombie invasion by smacking into them and knocking them into spike traps!

Dojo DangerThe simple aim and fling gameplay of Dojo Danger means you'll be able to pick it up and start having fun right away. Your team of ninjas take turns making their moves before the enemy team makes their own moves. Tap and drag an active member to set direction and velocity, then release and watch them fly. It's a bit like a hands-on version of a billiards game, though instead of colored balls and safe little pockets it's just killer ninjas and dead zombies left and right.

Spicing things up beyond the normal fling-based gameplay, Dojo Danger features a massive variety of power-ups ( called boosters) you can unlock or purchase via the in-game store. Everything from healing powers to force fields and sniper-like laser aiming can be equipped and used during battle, and learning when to unleash these items is key to scoring victory and completing some of the more difficult mission challenges.

Dojo DangerAnalysis: Dojo Danger doesn't mess around when it comes to content. The game features over 100 levels, 30 unique characters to unlock, local multiplayer with a set of dedicated maps, 20 different power-ups, and plenty of things to buy in the shop. You even get to play as the zombies in the second campaign, exacting a bit of revenge on those do-gooding ninja folk.

Strategy is a big part of the Dojo experience, making the game much more than a blind arcade romp with gigantic eyeballs bouncing around. You have to think about how to attack, where to move, which power-ups to use, which parts of the environment to break and which to use as shielding. It's surprisingly difficult, but just the sort of difficulty that encourages you to keep playing until you get good at it.

The interface in Dojo Danger leaves a bit to be desired, as most of the menu screens and inventory areas feel like a clustered mess of icons and information. It's overwhelming at first, but once you get into the finer details of the game, you'll actually put some of these extras to use. Don't be frightened by scary mystery icons!

A nice premise with balanced gameplay that walks the line between crazy action and thoughtful tactics. Dojo Danger is filled with content and has a lot of replay value, making it an easy escape from the humdrum of your average workday.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (155 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (403)

Escape from the Quiet Room

SonicLoverIt's been almost three months since we've heard from Tesshi-e. They're like an old friend, always welcome when they turn up after a long time, prepared with yet another room to lock you into... look, we have some eccentric friends, okay? Anyway, Tesshi-e has come back with Escape from the Quiet Room. The setup's a tried-and-true one, and one many can sympathize with: the protagonist is worn out from days of work, and is invited by a friend to a quiet room. Obviously, said room turns out to be locked, and you've got to solve one puzzle after another to escape from it.

Escape from the Quiet RoomBefore you start, make sure you set the text to English by clicking the button at the bottom of the screen that says Language. Just click around to navigate, interact, and pick up items. This room is a quaint one, with the furniture, walls, and floor all made of wood (presumably the incentive for escape is fear of splinters!), a beautiful view of the night sky, and a cuckoo clock. Even the familiar Tesshi-e fixings are there, such as the Mr. Hippo, the picture with the sensitive corners, and the optional Happy Coin.

As usual, the Quiet Room is a masterpiece of escape, with soothing guitar music, photorealistic graphics, and puzzles that make sense if you think about them just right. There are some slightly more obscure puzzles than usual, and there's one point where you have to click something you can't quite see (which makes the non-changing cursor slightly more frustrating than usual), but those are easily overlooked when everything else is done so well. Come, escape the chaos of your day for a little while.

Play Escape from the Quiet Room


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (216)

Legend of Dungeon

JohnBLegend of Dungeon is a hybrid game from RobotLovesKitty that takes a roguelike and fuses it with a sidescrolling beat-em-up. While that may sound like mixing peanuts, cayenne peppers and bubblegum, the end result manages to take the best from both genres and leave you happily content adventuring through your dangerous but loot filled dungeon world. Just don't get too angry when you realize death in this game is permanent.

Legend of DungeonThere's a treasure deep down in the catacombs. Most agree it's on level 26, but there's only one way to find out for sure: send in a motorized drone! Actually, that won't work at all, so instead it's time for an old fashioned adventure. Get your character, starter sword in hand, and head out of the tavern to start your journey. Controls allow for weapon attacks, item uses, and short jumps to climb on top of blocks, but otherwise it's all about waiting for the right moment before making your move.

The roguelike part of Legend of Dungeon gives you loot, gold and experience for defeating enemies, allowing you to level-up so you'll have a slightly higher chance of staying alive. You'll find several traps and puzzles strewn across the dungeon floors, many of which require patience and persistence to solve, just like any RPG. The more action-oriented part of the game sends swarms of bats and skeletons and other baddies at you on every floor, along with pools of lava and shifting platforms that threaten to end your day. It's no easy task to stay alive in Legend of Dungeon, and fighting your way to the 26th floor is going to feel like an impossible challenge.

Legend of DungeonAnalysis: Legend of Dungeon isn't for the faint at heart. By that we mean you're going to have to do some work and endure multiple failures in order to slug your way to the end. You have to learn to play aggressively but intelligently at the same time, no fair running in with swords swinging. Your rewards are few but they feel like a gift from the gods when they arrive. And if you happen to have a couple of friends around, the local co-op mode is definitely worth playing!

You can't go talking about Legend of Dungeon without mentioning that gorgeous dynamic lighting. Way better than a simple dark and dreary dungeon, the floors are lit from a number of different sources (including your very own lamp!), creating moving shadows and genuinely creepy settings. That alone justifies the 2.5D perspective, and seeing the game in motion is a real treat.

At the time of writing, Legend of Dungeon is technically in beta. It's available to purchase, however, and the RobotLovesKitty is promising a demo in the near future. After its successful Kickstarter fund and all the attention surrounding its development, it's nice to see the game is every bit as fun, challenging and addictive as as we had hoped. Each playthrough is different from the last, and new items and enemies seem to crop up when you least expect them. It's an adventure in every sense of the word!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (388)

Block Fortress

JohnBBlock Fortress is Minecraft meets tower defense meets first person shooter, all squeezed down into a mobile game. Build a base in the middle of a blocky wilderness, place turrets and towers and power supplies to fortify your position, then send in the waves of enemies. Once combat begins, you shift from building mode to combat mode, taking a gun into battle and watching over your fort by blasting enemies by hand. It's incredibly exciting and also deeply rooted in upgrades and tactics, making it the sort of game you can play for months without truly mastering.

Block FortressBlock Fortress divides gameplay into two sections: building and fighting. You start with the former, placing your fort somewhere on the map (preferably on high ground near a mine) with a simple tap of the screen. Then, search through your active inventory for a few basic tower units such as a machine turret, plasma cannon, mine shaft or power supply. Drop a turret by tapping the menu bar followed by the location on the screen. Towers need to be powered in order to function, so make sure you have a supply close enough to provide.

When combat begins, you take to the field to both defend your base and to carry out any repairs. Move by sliding your thumb on the bottom left corner of the screen, and look/fire by sliding your other thumb on the bottom right corner of the screen. Tap and place blocks the same way you would in building mode, but keep in mind you take damage while out on the field, so keep construction down to a minimum. Enemies are surprisingly smart in Block Fortress, going right for your weak spots and keeping their distance when able. It's intense, but if you survive, you'll walk away with some extra gold to upgrade your defenses, and maybe some new equipment, too!

Block FortressAnalysis: Block Fortress is an intricate game, packed with features, upgrades, tools and nuances that would take weeks to pin down. In addition to 16 defense units, you also have about 30 wall blocks and support towers you can place, each with their own cost, range, strengths and weaknesses. Forming a good strategy to survive each wave will take a lot more than pure luck. And as soon as you realize you can use wall blocks to build structures brick by brick, a world of possibilities suddenly opens up before you. Minecraft meets tower defense, indeed.

Block Fortress provides several modes of play that allow for a good variety of experiences. The standard campaign mode offers a progression-based game where you build and defend across multiple waves of attackers. Sandbox mode gives you infinite resources and full control over enemies. Quickstart stocks you with minerals and challenges you to stay alive as long as you can. There's even an extremely robust crafting menu where you can modify the game's items to have different qualities and abilities.

Here's the main drawback of Block Fortress: it doesn't belong on a mobile device. Most players still need some convincing that a first person action game can be successfully carried out with awkward touch screen controls, and Block Fortress is no exception. Half the game is played out with you staring down your enemies from behind a gun, and it's incredibly cumbersome to walk around the landscape without tactile feedback beneath your fingers. To top it off, the interface for the building portion of the game is unusual, making you long for the comfort of a gamepad or mouse/keyboard combination.

There's a steep learning curve and the controls are less than perfect, but just behind those obstacles is an extraordinarily deep and satisfying defense game.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (367)

Azada: Elementa

GrinnypDreams can be pretty weird, especially if they are of a handsome guy telling you that a magic book told him you were the one chosen to save a magic land from his evil uncle... Wait just a minute! Handsome guy? Magic Book? Fabled Land? Evil Uncle? Yep, that can only mean one thing, that the latest Azada adventure has finally arrived! Created by ERS games, Azada: Elementa is the newest entry in the chronicles of Azada.

grinnyp_azadaelementa_screenshot1.pngSo the evil Uncle, Panoptes, has taken over the land of Azada, defeating the elemental mages who keep nature balanced. Wait, seriously, again? You know, maybe Azada should look into getting some better guardians than Titus or those mages who keep letting the evil Uncle take over, necessitating yet another rescue from yet another chosen one. Just saying. At any rate, Panoptes is exploiting the resources of Azada both there and in the real world and it is up to you to journey to the magical lands of Azada and rescue the elemental mages and set things right. Because, you know, nephew Titus has proven time and time again that he is useless when it comes to stuff like this.

Each game in the Azada series is different than the one before, and Azada: Elementa is no exception. While Azada was a series of puzzles strung together with a bare-bones story, Azada: Ancient Magic was a series of mini adventures, and Azada: En Libro was a fully realized point-and-click adventure, Azada: Elementa goes the hybrid route, combining the adventuring and puzzle solving with classic hidden object scenes. Navigate your way between the worlds with the help of your handy notebook, a hint feature, a lovely navigable map, and the changing cursor to guide you along the way. Items that are found laying around (or won from hidden object scenes) fall into a bottom-loading inventory that can drop down to stay out of the way when not needed.

grinnyp_azadaelementa_screenshot2.pngHints as to what to do come in a variety of styles, from glints of light to a refilling hint timer to Titus sticking his nose in from time to time. Scattered throughout the scenery are also bits of paper which tell a story to explain why Panoptes, while doing everything he can to hinder your quest, occasionally pops up to lend a hand. Panoptes' dual personality is yet another riddle to solve while attempting to rescue the enchanted land of Azada (again).

Analysis: Azada: Elementa is probably going to be the most controversial of the series for two reasons: First, BigFishGames (the original creator) has farmed out the design to ERS, and they have taken a pure puzzle game and turned it into an adventure/hidden object hybrid. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but fans of the original games may be disappointed with the change.

grinnyp_azadaelementa_screenshot3.pngERS makes pretty good games, and the quality is on display everywhere in Azada: Elementa. Luscious graphics, soothing music, nice incidental sounds. The hidden object scenes are interactive and pretty fun. Where the game really shines are the puzzles and mini-games, which once again straddle a vast array of gameplay up to and including a marble-popping match-3 and a fun rip-off of minesweeper. For those fans of the earlier games there is still a lot of puzzle fun to be had. There are three modes of play to match a wide variety of adventuring skills, and a host of amusing little extras like your companion animal whom you can name and customize with not only body parts but purchaseable clothing.

There are a few flaws, however, which can detract from your enjoyment of the game. There are some translation problems here and there with the dialogue and a couple of the list items in the hidden object scenes. The map will constantly ask you if you really want to move to a new location, which gets old pretty quick (yes, I really want to go there!). The clickable area at the bottom of the screen to move backward is perilously close to the inventory and you can often find yourself hitting one when you meant to hit the other. And the little companion animal, while cute, doesn't seem to do much other than look cute.

Despite the minor flaws Azada: Elementa is still an entertaining addition to both the Azada series and the adventure hybrid ouevre. Pretty to look at and with a great depth of gameplay (especially in the puzzles), you are looking at hours of entertainment for the whole family. Enjoy journeying to the land of Azada once again, but really, find that annoying evil Uncle and do something permanent with him. Please.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, concept art, music, screensavers, videos, extra gameplay, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Order the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Order the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3/5 (51 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (27)

Hell on Duty

DoraThe underworld stinks. And I mean that literally, since its demonic residents don't bother taking baths. It's gotten so bad that other demons had to build a giant cannon to fire them into a boiler to get de-stunk, and in Rocanten's quirky physics puzzler Hell on Duty, you're at the controls! Just aim and fire with the mouse, trying to knock each stinky denizen into the waiting bubbling cauldron below them. The stars and points you get at the end of each level depend on how many shots you had to use, as well as any bonuses you were able to pick up. As you go, you'll unlock more ragdolls to function as ammo, and some have special abilities to get the job done, like Freddy being able to cling to wood.

Hell on DutyPhysics puzzles are a dime a dozen, but Rocanten's is anything but hellish. (Ba-dum-tish.) The quirky premise helps, sure, but more to the point, the game makes clever use of its level design to force you to put your unique ammo to well-thought-out use in order to win. Some of the ammo takes a little getting used to, like mastering the quick clicks needed to aim Wart Dater, and the game rather sneakily adds moving your cannon as a puzzle element into certain levels as well. Add to that teleporters, broilers, rolling balls, and a whole lot more, and Hell on Duty is actually a remarkably robust little game at sixty levels that don't wear out their welcome before they're over. Though some levels occasional demand precise accuracy and the physics occasionally don't feel like they're paying attention, the goofily endearing design, piles of new puzzle elements, and a sense of ghoulish charm to the whole thing makes this one worth a spin.

Play Hell on Duty


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (26)

Last Train to Timbuktu

JohnBLast Train to Timbuktu is a puzzle game by Green Eyed Games that plays like a sliding block puzzle fused with a Rubik's cube. A grid of tiles sits before you, each decorated with some grass, maybe a bit of water or some bushes, and a section of track. Simply shift the grid around so the track pieces line up, allowing the train to get from Point A to Point B unimpeded!

Last Train to TimbuktuClick and drag any space on the grid to shift that column or row wherever you like. Track pieces can't cross water, but otherwise you aren't limited in what moves you make. Depending on which mode you play, you might have a car to race against, a move limit, or a ticking timer in the corner of the screen. There's also the stress-free practice mode when you just want to move some tiles around without any pressure.

Last Train to Timbuktu packs five levels of difficulty, allowing you to increase or decrease board size and jumbledness depending on how much of a challenge you're in the mood for. The base rules are always the same, it's just a matter of scale, no weird power-ups or crazy mini-games dropping in unannounced. While that may not be the norm for a modern game, Last Train to Timbuktu is of the old school variety, providing a distilled experience with lots of challenge and plenty of replayability. No gimmicks necessary!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (46 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (85)

Adrift

JohnBAdrift is a stylish logic puzzle game from Tack Mobile. It follows the gameplay outline of classic browser games such as Hyper Frame and 3D Logic II, eliminating the rotating cube in favor of a fixed isometric viewpoint, simple touch controls, and a sweet-as-candy visual presentation. Don't think that just because you only have three sides of a cube to worry about that things are going to be any easier to solve, however!

AdriftAdrift tasks you with one straightforward goal: connect each star-marked tile with its same-colored pair. Tap and drag from any block to start tracing a path across the cube. You can pick up and continue a line with whenever you like, but note that Adrift keeps track of how many turns you use to solve each puzzle, and if you stop drawing it counts as a turn. Don't want to ruin your awesome track record, do you?

Adrift comes with a few tutorial levels along with 45 puzzles proper, starting with simple 3x3 fields and building up to monstrous 6x6 fields with half a dozen or more colors to connect. A pack of 90 levels is available as an in-app purchase, and more are promised soon. As it stands, Adrift will provide quite a lot of challenging logic puzzles to solve, all framed within a lovely presentation that's very easy on the eyes. And if you're feeling a bit competitive, it even features online challenges so you can battle with other players to see who's the fastest puzzle solver around!

There's also a short HTML5 browser demo so you can get a feel for what the mobile version delivers.

Play Adrift (demo)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (81 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (499)

Give Up

TrickyThe death course lies before you. You can't remember how many times you've completed it. Every time through, it gets a little harder, and the voice keeps mocking you. It would be the easiest thing in the world to Give Up... but also the most difficult too. Give Up is a high-difficulty action-platformer by jmtb02 and Tasselfoot, that, little by little, attempts to drive you to surrender, though a quite entertaining one. Make no mistake. It is tough, but it is fair. The incremental challenges at its core are inherently seductive, as if the game is constantly saying "Well, you were able to get by that slightly-easier challenge... what's stopping you now?"

Give UpControls are standard: the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move, jump and double-jump. The goal is to get from the entrance door to the exit door. But, every time you do, a new obstacle is added: first the spikes, then the cannons, then the falling platforms, the lasers, the missiles, the saw-blades, the pneumatic smashers. There are forty levels in all. Oh, and one more feature: that giant, shiny, blue, candy-like button labeled "Give Up", just waiting at the bottom of the screen,oh so ready to be clicked. Of course, Give Up should appeal most to that strain of gamer who loves the thrill of balancing hundreds of failures against the thrill of a sudden success. Still, even those who lack that streak of masochism should enjoy humor of the developers, most akin to the darker strain found in the Exit Path games. Most won't make to the end without succumbing to the temptation to Give Up, but nearly everyone should give it a try.

Play Give Up


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (58 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (126)

3 Cats Little Red Riding Hood

MeaghanQuestion of the day: How can you possibly make cats more cute and appealing to a desensitized internet crowd? You put them in the story of Little Red Riding Hood and you turn it into a crafty room escape game. That's right, Choko-Chai has put those darling little kittens in 3 Cats Little Red Riding Hood and they're trapped in the room with the big bad wolf. Click arrows to move around the room, and your cursor will change when you hover over something you can interact with. Clicking on the cat in the bottom corner of your screen will bring out the helpful felines when you run into a task you can't complete on your own.

3 Cats Little Red Riding HoodYou'll find the tools of your escape hidden around the area, but puzzles are in your way as well. Undeniably cute is the first thought that pops to mind when looking at this game but it's more than a gateway to a cat addiction. The puzzles require an observant eye but don't demand an abstract train of thought and the length of play is a highly appreciated change from the usual modest escapes. You don't need to be a cat fancier to delight in this light hearted escape... though as an added bonus there are more cats as a reward if you get out.

Play 3 Cats Little Red Riding Hood


| Comments (2) | Views (8)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWelcome to your Friday! Don't give up yet, the weekend's almost here! How about some things to get you through the day... like rapping combined with one of the most iconic JRPGs of all time? A Mac demo of an upcoming nightmare fuel generator? Or maybe a sale on some of the best point-and-click adventures around?

News and Previews

Slender: The ArrivalTime to Terrorize Some Apples We're less than two weeks away from the launch of Slender: The Arrival, a full indie adventure game expanding on the gameplay of Parsec Productions' Slender and with a chilling new story aided by Marble Hornets. Time is running out to pre-order for 50% off, a price of $5.00USD that also nets you the playable beta... which is now finally also available for Mac users! The beta is essentially a single level and a recreation of the gameplay and area found in Slender, showcasing the gorgeous new visuals and terrifying new mechanics, but the full game will be so much more. Head on over to the official site to learn more, and whatever you do, don't look or it takes you.

MinecraftThat Red Dust Just Got Even More Useful Players everywhere have fallen in love with Minecraft, the first-person sandbox game that allows you to craft, create, and shape the entire world around you by gathering materials and fighting monsters, alone or with a friend. Now, with the release of version 1.5, the game has even more to offer... specifically, new functionality added to Redstone, the complex crafting ingredient that allows clever players to make fully automated machines, traps, and more within the game. This is a fairly huge update, and the team has said that after this they plan on focusing less on new content and more on bug fixing, which may mean we're moving towards the time when Minecraft stops updating and is finally "complete"... but hopefully not before we get dragons!

Wadjet Eye Groupee BundleGhosts, Robots, and Conspiracy, Oh My! I shouldn't need to tell you that veteran indie developer Wadjet Eye Games is amazing, but, well... they are. Everything they create is basically golden, and with this special sale through Groupees, you can own the very best stellar point-and-click adventures they've made for a ridiculously low price. From the thrilling conspiracies in Resonance, to the psychic mysteries of the Blackwell series and more, these are all exceptionally high-quality titles with fantastic stories you'll love. There's just one day left to snag this one, and net yourself a whole lot of hours of quality entertainment in the process.

Amnesia: A Machine for PigsThe Bacon You Know and Love Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a terrifying adventure game that staggered players with masterful use of horror, and we've been excited for its upcoming sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, ever since. The game was originally planned for a Halloween release in 2012 but was rather abruptly postponed until the second quarter of 2013. Interestingly, Frictional reveals the reason, stating that they had originally saw the game as a much shorter foray into the game's universe, but the new developers, thechineseroom of Dear Esther fame, had other ideas. Now, in an interview with the fine folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Dan Pincheck talks about how the game is going to be much more like The Dark Descent than they had originally planned. Which is, y'know. Sort of good news for those of us who were excited about a sequel because we liked the whole concept and gameplay of the original game. Stay tuned and get your nightmares primed!

Kickstarter/IndieGoGo Projects

Odd PlanetNothing Ever Goes Wrong in a Shadowy Landscape If you love puzzles and exploration, you'll definitely want to check out the IndieGoGo campaign for the stunning 2-D side-scrolling game OddPlanet. Your job is to guide a lost little girl safely through a hostile alien environment, solving puzzles along the way. It may sound and look sort of familiar, but the game wants to focus more on telling a story through an interactive world with challenging puzzles instead of killing monsters. It looks absolutely lovely, and fans of atmospheric new worlds should be sure to check this one out.

OmegaHungry Like the Wolf Steve Stanley has an eye for the sort of open-ending adventure gameplay players tend to love, and hopes that by sprinkling in a whole lot of platforming, exploration, and player choice you'll want to get on board with the Kickstarter for Omega. You play a lone wolf in a world that's slowly being eaten away by corruption, journeying to the top of a distant mountain to visit a legendary oracle. You'll be able to get there, well, any way you want really, as the game gives you a goal and then lets you decide how you want to get there and explore the world along the way. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and fans of atmospheric exploration will want to do themselves a favour and keep their eye on it for sure.

Miscellaneous

Chrono JiggaHey, You Got Your Rap in My Iconic JRPG! Chrono Trigger is widely considered one of the best RPGs of all time for a reason (... maybe because it is), but generally when you think about this fantastic classic you don't think of Jay-Z. Until now, anyway. Chrono Jigga is a free remix of MP3s by 2 Mello that combines tracks from the game's beautiful soundtrack with songs by Jay Z. It sounds weird, and, well... it kind of is, but some of the tracks actually go surprisingly well together if you can contain your nerd rage long enough to listen to them. It's at least worth a listen for fans... though probably not for children.

Ron Gilbert Leaves DoubleFineIt's Not Your Fault, and They Both Still Love You Just As Much Well, they say nothing gold can stay, and with Ron Gilbert saying goodbye to DoubleFine, that certainly seems to be the case. After polishing up their last game together, the wonderful puzzle platformer The Cave, the partnership has come to an amicable end. While they clearly made beautiful music together, you can definitely expect these two titans of gaming to continue to make even more great titles on their own.

Boy Scouts Game Design Merit BadgeAnother American Passtime Kids can create, and now that the Boy Scouts have finally released a brand new merit badge for Game Design, they'll have even more incentive to do so! You earn it by creating an actual game in one of four categories... Electronic, Outdoor/Athletic, Tabletop, or Pen-and-Paper/Role-Playing Games. Following the necessary steps, of course. It's great to see gaming finally being looked at more commonly as something less than a thing immature shut-ins do, and it's even better to see it done in a way that encourages children to create and learn. Bravo, Boy Scouts... now let's keep working on those other important issues like equality too, huh?

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (150 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (316)

Avant Garde

elleIn 19th century Paris, the art scene is resplendent with potential. Edgy, innovative new movements bump up and push against the established art salons and academy precepts for acceptable artwork. It's an exciting time to be an artist and, luckily, you are part of it! Rub elbows with Monet and Picasso and participate in the Avant-Garde, improve yourself as an artist and learn more about art history in this narrative simulation/RPG by Lucas Molina, which is currently playable in its alpha version.

Avant-GardeAfter spreading your initial 10 skill points among knowledge in expression, form, color and other artistic aspects, head over to the Atelier to continue practicing and increase your skills. Various subject matters will improve your proficiency in different areas, so select which pieces to create with that in mind. Once you've chosen subject and medium, read the box in the lower corner and, if you're satisfied with the experience it will give, its potential for bringing in income, and its materials cost, click "create." Each action advances time one month and, once a year, you'll be invited to submit a work to the salon for judging, so be sure to save your best for this occasion.

With much practice, money management and strategy, you'll advance from making grotesque and rejected pieces to masterpieces that win gold at the Salon. Winning work is worth more upon selling it, but you can sell anything you create to spend on new materials such as oil paints and canvas, or to take lessons at the Academy. The true Avant-Garde learning, though, takes place at the cafe, where you can chat it up—or drink absinthe—with other artists who, when they're feeling amiable, will teach you their creative secrets in mythological art, impressionism, and so on.

If Avant-Garde feels like missed opportunities, it's because, at the time of this review, it is unfinished, its design still in progress. The potential for so much more keeps Avant-Garde engaging even as you look forward to Molina's completed project. In the meantime, this satisfyingly creative simulation/RPG already has much to entertain and elucidate both the gamer and artist in you.

Play Avant-Garde


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (86)

Ridiculous Fishing

JohnBFishing isn't exactly the wackiest sport. Tag it as Ridiculous Fishing, though, and suddenly everybody expects a certain level of, oh, ridiculousness. From Super Crate Box creator Vlambeer along with Greg Wohlwend of Mikengreg and Zach Gage of SpellTower fame, Ridiculous Fishing is a wholly upgraded version of the browser game Radical Fishing released in 2011. The premise? Fishing taken to a ridiculous level.

Ridiculous FishingRidiculous Fishing takes place in three phases: drop/avoid, reel in/catch, and shoot everything with a gun. Sitting comfortably in your polygon boat, simply tap the screen to drop the lure into the water. As it sinks, tilt your device to avoid fish so you can continue to dive. The deeper you get the rarer and more valuable the fish become. If you run into a little piscis it will nab the line, initiating phase two of Ridiculous Fishing: actual fishing! You automatically start reeling in at this point, but now you tilt the device to run into fish, gathering as many as you can on your way to the surface.

Here's where things get ridiculous. The minute your haul reaches the top of the water, the fish fly into the air. Then you pull out a gun and start shooting them. Tap or drag the screen to blast away, working those bullets to cut the gills off of everything you dragged up from below. Some fish fly higher than others, and some are tougher to obliterate. Either way, you're shooting fish, and it's 15 seconds of absolute mayhem.

The less ridiculous but more addictive part of Ridiculous Fishing gathers your earned cash and sends you to the upgrades shop. There, you can purchase longer lines, better guns, unique tech pieces that give your lure a fighting chance, and maybe a spiffy hat or two. You need to upgrade equipment in order to reach deeper parts of the water and to survive some of the more aggressive creatures and environments out there.

Ridiculous FishingAnalysis: Ridiculous Fishing is the perfect formula of gather, upgrade, gather, repeat. Not only does it keep you hooked (you knew there'd be a fishing pun somewhere, didn't you?) from moment to moment, but the variety of upgrades serves as incentive to keep you interested in the long term. Moving on to new fishin' holes is a simple matter of nabbing a certain number of unique fish species, giving you yet another goal to aim for as you quest for total fishing domination.

Along with the actual gameplay, Ridiculous Fishing includes a few just-for-fun extras that are pretty entertaining. Byrdr is the best, serving as an in-game Twitter-like experience where characters react to events and talk back and forth using short messages. It's always great to see that little wooden tablet shake with unread content. The Fish-O-Pedia is also packed with humor, describing each critter you catch like a Pokedex written by Jack Handey.

The process of repeating the same basic actions can get a little stale if you sit with the game for hours on end, but that just means it's time to take a break and come back in half an hour when you're ready to fish again. The loading screens seem a bit frequent, but they're short and don't cause too much trouble.

It doesn't matter if you love or hate fishing, love or hate things that are ridiculous, Ridiculous Fishing is the kind of game you'll enjoy. The kind of game everyone will enjoy.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (456 votes)
| Comments (24) | Views (797)

The Grey Rainbow

DoraColour and magic are intertwined in Black Olive Games' point-and-click adventure The Grey Rainbow. When a disaffected detective from our world is pulled into a colourful fantasy realm to help combat the grey that has been leeching all colour and life from the land, he finds a place teeming with life, wonder, and mystery only he can save. When a golden glow covers the tip of your cursor, just click to interact, and click any arrows you see to navigate around the area. Early on, you'll gain access to a map you can use to travel around the world, and any items you pick up will be stored in your inventory at the bottom of the screen. Even more helpful, however, is the book you'll receive that can give you hints about your objectives with just a click, and since your progress is autosaved at the start of each chapter (marked by cutscenes), you can come back to the game whenever you like.

The Grey RainbowIf you're looking for a text-heavy adventure filled with all the magic and whimsical feel of a fairy-tale, look no further. The Grey Rainbow isn't particularly difficult, but its light-hearted tone and engrossing story makes it the perfect, warm fare to enjoy an afternoon with, though a few instances of suggestive dialogue and mild profanity sadly means this might not be one for all ages. Despite a few minor typos or spelling errors, The Grey Rainbow is a lovingly crafted reminder about what's important in life told through an often silly but always heartfelt narrative. It's the sort of game that wants to make you smile and succeeds more often than not, and sometimes that's just the sort of magic you need to get you through your day.

You can download a PDF of the complete story here.

Play The Grey Rainbow


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (112 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (123)

Ladder

MeaghanIn a room with no windows, no air ducts, and no communication system to demand release how in the world are you supposed to escape? If you're in Ladder, a short and sweet room escape game by Tateita, the key to freedom is a handy dandy ladder...and an actual key.

LadderHover over the left or right edge of the screen to decide which direction you want to turn and interact with the environment by clicking on the things you want to examine further (or for inventory items click "about item").

Luckily, if you're a fan of straight forward escapes, this is the right game for you. Sure, the cursor doesn't change to accommodate lazy searching but the game also doesn't require any frantic internet searches to decipher esoteric references. While the interior design is unabashedly subdued this game is remarkably enjoyable and gratifying.

Play Ladder


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (94 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (136)

Stranger Than Fiction

TrickyMoon Logic Enterprises has discovered an imposing tower on a planet once thought barren and lifeless. They have recovered several stone tablets, apparently the scriptures of a lost civilization. While the excavation is still ongoing, it is up to you, a professor of xenolinguistics, to translate the text. Doing so just may unlock the mysteries of those who once inhabited it. Stuart Madafiglio presents Stranger Than Fiction, a cryptogram puzzle-based rumination on life, the universe and everything. In each puzzle, you will be presented with an untranslated passage from the alien mythology. Reconstruct the alphabet by pressing two letters in sequence on the keyboard, to switch their places, or click them on the alphabet listing at the bottom of the screen. Once each section is translated, a new one will be unlocked, 28 puzzles in all.

Stranger Than FictionStranger Than Fiction's challenges are rather on the easy side, admittedly, but the process of decoding and decrypting has a thematic unity with the parable at the heart of the story. The pacing is near-perfect, with each solution providing just enough intrigue to keep players pushing forward, while the puzzle-pondering provides the bit of reflection time that the prose deserves. The little touches, like how the final, correct alphabet for each passage will spell out words relating to it, show the amount of thought that went into the game's production, and largely, it pays off. While gameplay may have limited appeal outside of cryptogram fans, and any work with theological themes can't help but be a little provocative (even if it is alien theology), as a whole, Stranger Than Fiction presents a meditative, original, and quietly satisfying peek into another world.

Play Stranger Than Fiction


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (90 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (292)

Weekday Escape

elleDuring Detarou's stint in Jayisgame's escape game scene, we've witnessed many zany performances which raised more than a hair or two with their boundary-pushing antics. So it's absolutely fitting that Detarou would stage this latest brain teaser here, in Barbershop Escape. Strange is the style of the day and the only thing usual about it is the goal: find the way out by collecting clues, decoding codes, and solving the puzzles that bar the exit.

Barbershop Escape (Detarou)A changing cursor will alert you to interactive areas and places to zoom in while arrows on the edges of the screen indicate where and when you can turn. Point and click through each scene this way, paying close attention to every detail. Barbershop Escape is on the difficult side, with abstruse puzzles that might leave you tearing your hair in confusion. Avoid that frustration by thorough exploration before attempting an apparent solution that turns out to be no solution at all. Remember, even if a Detarou game seems to have no propriety, it's never without logic and sufficient, at times recycled, clues. Right-brained thinkers have the advantage here as well.

Navigation here could have you feeling like a robot, often turning at sharp angles rather than more direct routes to your destination. This could be a complaint for those who like simpler layouts but is a delight for those fans who enjoy moving around a diverse and large space. Once again there are three endings to discover: normal, perfect and bad. Get cozy with the SAVE button and stay on guard lest capricious pandas catch you with your guile down. Those furry black-and-white pranksters have some fresh tactics to try out on you. Outsmarting them and safely escaping is just one of many reasons why playing Barbershop Escape is so satisfying.

Play Barbershop Escape

Game not loading? Try this alternative link.


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (34 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (52)

Zombie Minesweeper

JohnBMinesweeper is the kind of game everyone's played at least once in their life. Or 57 times simply because, hey, it's there. When you combine zombies and the very familiar logic puzzle you get Zombie Minesweeper, a game from Frogtoss Games that is exactly what it sounds like: minesweeper with zombies chasing after you. Your job is to carefully move across the minefield, planting flags to mark dangerous tiles while you aim for the detonator at the end. Reach it and it won't be your brains splattered across the place.

Zombie MinesweeperTap the grid to move the main character forward. When she gets close to squares they'll reveal numbers, those vital little things that tell you just how many kabooms are nearby. You can deduce which squares most likely contain mines and plant a flag there, marking it as a no-no square. But keep moving, as plenty of zombies burrow up from the ground and give chase. Fortunately you've got more than just speed as your weapon and can pick up items like timed bombs or a shotgun to help deal with your undead pals.

Instead of sitting and staring at the screen, trying to determine which tile to uncover next, Zombie Minesweeper puts some pressure on you to keep moving forward. It's an interesting twist on the very familiar formula, but it's extremely well-balanced and never feels too much like an action game or too much like plain old minesweeper. The power-ups are a nice touch as well, rounding out the experience and making it one of the best efforts to combine logic puzzles and shotguns we've ever seen! Check out the browser version for eight demo levels that show off speed- and puzzle-oriented set-ups, then grab one of the mobile games for the full experience.

Play Zombie Minesweeper (demo)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (65 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (55)

Within

elleExplore and overcome obstacles in an undefined space of reflection and doubt in Within, Nicolas Lesec's puzzle platform game that begins with a simple concept then layers on the challenges. Using [WAD] or [arrow] keys to move, and [E] to interact with elements, you're tasked with manipulating gravity, deactivating laser beams and following off stage routes until you reach the red door. Go through to another, very similar scenario containing more questions or regret-tinged remarks.

WithinIf the moody introspection and melancholic music were replaced with something more witty and jazzy, it'd better fit the acrobatic feats of timing and spatial reasoning, yet the puzzles are quite enjoyable and the difficulty ramp is well balanced. The sudden ending did leave me wondering what all this effort was about. Perhaps that's the point. If the payoff you're looking for is a clean design to please your eyes and something to entertain your agility and brain power, plunge into Within and enjoy your fifteen minutes of puzzle platformer gratification.

Play Within


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (37 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (28)

Cat Walk Once

TrickyYou're a kitty! That's so cute! But you're trapped in a not-so-cute kitty dungeon, and you'll have to do your kitty-best to escape with your kitty-cuteness intact in Niliter Games' puzzle platformer, Cat Walk Once. Though most of the game's hint text is in Japanese, it's easy to pick up on the mechanics. Move with the [arrow] keys, and jump with [Z], or from a standstill in various directions with [WASD] for precision. When you walk into an arrow, the gravity will change, but the directions will remain consistent no matter which way your kitty is currently falling.

Cat Walk OnceEach level contains blue blocks, and when you step on each, it will activate, turning it yellow. After you step off of the block, it will turn red and become deadly to the touch. Activate all the blue blocks and the level is complete. Watch out for spikes, and blocks which will appear and disappear when a button is jumped on. Later levels will have you choose where your kitty starts, adding another layer of strategy. If you find yourself stuck. hit [R] to restart. Though the language barrier is a shame, Cat Walk Once has the retro charm and clever level design of the most classic Gameboy puzzlers, and it's something that will definitely be played much more than once.

Play Cat Walk Once


| Comments (1) | Views (7)

The Vault

DoraHere's something you'll never in a thousand years have considered... boring games are boring. It's true that there's a time and a place for a laugh, but when you really need one, games that truly level creatively in their own hilarity as the point of it all can be hard to find... unless you crack open the Vault, of course!

  • Llama AdventureLlama Adventure - Kuzco wasn't such a fan of it, but I think you make llama look good, personally. jmtb02 serves up this delightfully bizarre and hilarious text game that asks you to solve a puzzle in each room... and insists you're a llama to boot. If it sounds weird... well, that's because it is, but wonderfully so, and the sort of effortlessly whimsical cleverness (with a twist!) most games just have to wish they could pull off.
  • Defend Your HonorDefend Your Honor - Tower defense games are a lot of things, but you don't typically think of them as being all that funny... unless we're talking about Anthony Lavelle's silly and engaging little gem. Riffing off classic RPG tropes and concepts, you begin the game as a bored young elf whose parents boot him out of their basement so he has no recourse but to get a Golden Walrus... and then things get strange. Though perhaps lighter in depth than other titles in the genre, its gleefully goofy concept and snappy dialogue makes this one the perfect choice to pass the time with a laugh or dozen.
  • Stealing the DiamondStealing the Diamond - Puffballs United puts a wacky spin on the choose-your-own-adventure style of gameplay as you control an ambitious stick figure looking to fatten his pockets with some very flashy bling. Trilby he ain't, so you'll have to make his choices for him... and more often than not it results in hilarious failure, illustrated by some very funny cutscenes. It's the sort of thing that's mainly just trying to make you laugh as hard and as often as possible, and even if you do a lot more watching than playing, you'll love every second of it.

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!


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (16)

Monster Meltdown

MeaghanAs the saying goes, there's no use crying over spilled milk. Or in Yuri's case, a toppled bucket of water that has unleashed monsters that inhabit the lab where he works. The only real option available in Monster Meltdown, a new puzzle platform game from Ambient Studios, is to put on a spiffy suit that will allow him to teleport around the lab and find those creatures as quickly as possible.

Monster MeltdownTeleport by pressing on the spot you wish to jump to, or tap on a monster to switch places with them. Not only do you need to avoid lasers and poisonous gas, but in order to get a perfect three star score you will need to complete the level, have the monsters collect all the medals, and finish without going over the teleport usage limit. In other words, it ain't easy!

Quirky and humorous, Monster Meltdown is a game that is easy to get addicted to and one that performs well above expectations. The teleportation device responds quickly, the challenges for each level are reasonable but still complex and will require a moment or two of quiet consideration, and the art is silly but well-done. The hardest part of the game is getting enough stars to unlock the higher levels, but with a steady hand, patience, and good coordination it's possible to get a perfect score. This game is hard to set aside and will be the most enjoyable mental workout you can get without ever having to leave the comfort of your bed.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (120 votes)
| Comments (26) | Views (2,299)

Cursed Treasure 2

DoraWho said it wasn't good to be bad? With one sweet hoard of gems, being a Dark Lord seems like a pretty swank deal to me. Of course, the downside is that the good guys won't leave you alone, and in IriySoft's tower-defense time-stealer Cursed Treasure 2, they've got a few new tricks up their sleeves. Unfortunately for them, so do you. With a sleek new look and all the strategic gameplay that dominated your free time of the original, it's time to kiss your productivity goodbye and embrace the dark side. Don't worry. You didn't need all those friends, family, and reliable income anyway.

Cursed Treasure 2As before, the object of each stage is to keep all the gems located in your inconspicuous skull fortress of doom safe by eliminating the heroes that appear in waves before they can cart the gems away. To do this, you build towers... Orcs, Undead, and Demon towers all have their own unique abilities and need to be built on specific terrain. Provided you have the cash, of course. As they take down foes, they can eventually be levelled up, and after a few levels, you can even choose a specific route for that tower to follow, each of which brings its own new strengths to the table. As the Dark Lord, you can use Mana, which regenerates automatically, to cast various spells to turn the tide of battle in your favour or even alter the terrain. The level ends when you wipe out all heroes or they steal all your fabulous jewels, and between stages you can spend any infernal tokens you earned on upgrades to make your life easier.

Cursed Treasure 2This time around, however, you'll notice there are also enemy buildings to consider. Some, like mines and mana wells, can be captured at your liesure by casting the Cut Out spell on them three times, and will grant you gold or mana bonuses periodically. Others, however, are more... pesky. Towns, for instance, will generate additional heroes that can attack you, so you'll want to take them out sooner rather than later so as not to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, slain enemies have a chance to drop not only extra coin and mana bottles, but powerful magical scrolls that, when clicked on, will deploy a variety of helpful magical spells to negatively impact any enemy soldiers in the vicinity. Not that it's going to be a walk in the corpse-strewn park, since the various foes of each region will also bring you impressive boss battles, where the leaders will be able to walk off with your entire cache at once if you can't stop them in time.

Cursed Treasure 2 is, in almost every conceivably way, a massive improvement over the original that keeps all the elements you loved and polishes them up to a mirror sheen. The new visual design is great, colourful and animatedly quirky, and the impressive variety of enemies to go up against, each with their own new abilities, will keep you on your toes. The levels tend to be both long and challenging, though while you'll probably do a bit of grinding to earn upgrades, you'll typically find that an impossible battle can be made much easier simply by rethinking tower placement. The addition of buildings on the battlefield do add an additional layer of strategy, but more often than not wind up forcing you to just spam the Cut Out spell as quickly as possible. It's appropriate that the whole point of the game is protecting gems since Cursed Treasure is one of the brightest gems in the genre's crown. It's both clever and challenging, but immediately engaging and open to players of an experience level, and more often than not, will keep you coming back for more.

Play Cursed Treasure 2


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (301 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (1,503)

Epic Battle Fantasy 4

DoraYou've come a long long way, baby, and kupo707's wildly popular tongue-in-cheek RPG series is finally back for more in Epic Battle Fantasy 4. After the events of the last game, our heroes have sort of turned into... jerks. Believing that saving the world means they basically have a right to anything in it, they've wandered about the land taking whatever they feel like from people, which... goes over about as well as you'd expect. Meanwhile, in a totally unrelated set of circumstances, young forest dweller Anna is shocked and upset to find her people's priceless, important gem has been stolen and sets out to discover who could have done such a thing. You see where this is going, right? But are our former heroes really to blame? Packed with more challenging battles that require real strategy, a gorgeously polished design, and one weird adventure with the signature risque cheek and goofy charm you've come to expect, this is the series biggest and beefiest offering to date.

Epic Battle Fantasy 4Everything in the game can be controlled with the mouse, clicking to move, select, and interact, or you can enable old fashioned keyboard controls under the options. On the main map, you can wander around freely, chatting with characters to gain information or quests, and of course continue the time-honoured tradition of rooting through other people's personal belongings for treasure. You can see enemies on the map, and interacting with them will initiate battle, which is turn-based, so take your time and think out your strategies. Like any RPG, leveling up and buying better equipment is important, but will only get you so far. Epic Battle Fantasy 4 wants you to pay attention to a variety of factors, like specific strengths and weaknesses, turning battles into more strategic affairs than you might expect. Since you can save manually outside of fights whenever you like, you'll want to take advantage of that. As you take down enemies, you'll also gain ingredients you can use to upgrade your characters' arms and armor by clicking the "Forge" icon, so keep an eye on your supplies! Each battle earns you Ability Points your characters share as a pool that you can spend on upgrading each person's abilities and spells, or learning new ones too.

Epic Battle Fantasy 4Though still definitely a bit immature in places, Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is... somewhat more restrained than its predecessors. It leans more towards depth of combat than depth of story, and fans of strategy over grinding will relish the amount of factors that can come into play to make an impossible fight merely a difficult one. It's not drastically different from the older games visually, but gosh it's all shiny and polished! Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is one of those games where you can really feel all the effort that's gone into it, even if you haven't played the other titles, and the result is a game that sets a high standard for Flash titles. While you can play the entire game for free, there is an optional pack available for purchase with real cash (around $10.00USD) that not only adds additional items and skills but unlocks new quests available in "New Game Plus" mode. If you don't like cheesecake, some immature humour, or RPGs that put their focus more on combat than anything else, you might want to take this one with a grain of salt. For fans, however, and players looking for something rich in colour and quirk with more strategy than you typically expect from a turn-based RPG, this is one great treat. Kupo707 is a developer with talent and passion to burn, and Epic Battle Fantasy 4 is weirder and wonderful-er than ever before.

Play Epic Battle Fantasy 4

Thanks to Cyberjar88, Evan, Jo, Mic132, and Jode for sending this one in!


| Comments (0) | Views (11)

Mobile Monday

JohnBTime to get some thieving in! And we're not just talking about games that feature thieving. It's also games being given away for free, which is sort of thievery. Not really, but it sounds a little more exciting when you think about it that way.

third-p.gifStealing paintings and our hearts - Moonshot Games is working on something very, very good. Third Eye Crime is an upcoming stealth puzzle game for iPad starring a telepathic art thief. Sneak in, grab the goods, and sneak out, but beware the shadowy master criminal Caravaggio who is constantly on your tail. Most of the gameplay details are still under wraps at this time, but we know the team has some great twists on the genre in the works, and the noir-style artwork looks gorgeous!

grinnyp_vf2_screenshot2.pngVirtual Families 2 gets pets - Last Day of Work continues to update its lovely mobile sim release Virtual Families 2. This time around, in addition to a few not-as-exciting bug fixes, we finally get to have pets in our virtual homes! Quite separate from the pets are also a handful of new toys for kids, giving you plenty of reasons to pick the game up and get hooked all over again.

angry-p.gif
Free App of the Week: Angry Birds HD! - Each week on the iTunes App Store, Apple drops a single release down to the tasty price of "free". This week, that freebie is the original Angry Birds HD. No Star Wars or Rio or Space, just the good old basics. In case you somehow missed out on the entire phenomenon, you owe it to yourself to snag it right now. Or at least sometime before Friday!


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (21 votes)
| Comments (11) | Views (323)

Melodisle

TrickyYou are in the middle of the sea. There is a locked door in the tree above you. You have to get it open. You don't have many tools, but you can run and you can jump and, most importantly, you have a mouth and you must sing! Melodisle, a puzzle platformer by Andrew Gleeson, is a pixelated game of tones and melodies. Unlike most music games, rhythm is barely involved. Rather you must use your character's voice to affect the environment in a multitude of clever ways.

MelodisleMove your character with the [arrow] keys to scout the islands, jumping with [Z]. When you come across machinery to manipulate, you will do so by holding [X] and using the [arrow] keys. However, the central mechanic of the game is tonal: pressing [A]-[S]-[D]-[F]-[Q]-[W]-[E]-[R] will sound the respective pitches of a do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do scale. In different locations, these different pitches will cause various things to occur. In general, though, your goal is to collect the eight colored magic eighth notes that will form a... sigh key which will unlock the exit door.

While Melodisle may look like a musical adaptation of Fez, that's hardly its only influence: people who've spend time with a certain green ocarina-wielding lad may be at a bit of advantage in some parts. Generally though, the game's emphasis on exploration and experimentation brings to mind nothing more than Myst, with its soothing atmosphere and puzzles that draw you in before you realize just how complex they've gotten. Then again, Melodisle also has Myst's lack of explicit direction, which means while many of the puzzles will make you feel pleased with yourself for figuring them out, there might be one or two that leave you vexed for not being able to read the author's mind. However, Melodisle is probably too compact to leave players seriously frustrated for long. It presents an impressive amount of creativity in a small package, and would be an impressive presentation by any author, let alone a professed newbie to game design. Players with an ear for the experimental will find it a charming delight. Now if we could just figure the right way to pronounce the title... (Until I hear a compelling argument otherwise, I'm going with "Melo-dizzle").

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (94)

Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

ArtbegottiRun, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm A PICKLE. Whatever you are, don't stop running in Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, the next chapter in the BIT.TRIP saga by Gaijin Games. Each level in this rhythm-based platformer is designed to give your fingers and brain a good workout as you dodge every foe with rapid precision, all while soaking in an outlandishly chipper atmosphere.

Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm AlienLike other perpetual running games, your goal is to travel from point A to point B while dodging obstacles C through Z (pronounced "zed"). What other running games don't give you is such a huge list of actions to perform en route! Jump over low obstacles, duck under high ones, and do both to squeeze through tight gaps. Use springboards to jump to higher platforms and split pathways. Perform a flying kick to bust through barricades, or block beats with your shield. If you bonk into any obstacle, you fly back to the start, so try to keep up with the rhythm. Above all else, don't forget to dance like there's no tomorrow!

There are plenty of gold bars scattered across the levels to be picked up by your sprightly runner which can unlock extra levels on the map. Collecting all of the gold in a level entitles you to a shot at the bonus target (literally) for a higher level ranking and bonus points. If you can find the alternate pathways in a level (try following the red or blue arrows when you meet a fork in the road), you can unlock hidden treasures and extra levels, as well as new characters and retro Runner minigames! Don't forget to beat the key vault levels which activate the keys on certain levels, allowing you to unlock those less-trodden paths.

Analysis: I should confess at this point that I didn't care too much for Runner2's predecessor, BIT.TRIP RUNNER. The levels that required precise button inputs for the better portion of three minutes straight (again, one misstep sends you allllllll the way back to the beginning, so what should be a short level adds up to a half hour quickly) were too difficult for me to handle. Runner2 generously fixes these issues, not only with the ability to easily switch the difficulty level at the level select screen (you're encouraged to try all three difficulty settings for a Triple Perfect+! ranking), but also with the addition of optional checkpoints mid-level; run through them for a free safe haven for future screw-ups, or jump over them for a huge score bonus, at the risk of flying back to the beginning from a mistake.

AntichamberOne of the hardest instincts to overcome when playing this game is to perform every action precisely on the beat. Unlike other rhythm games where you've got to stomp on the arrow right when it lines up with the target zone, Runner2 asks you to hit the jump button just before the obstacle you're leaping over and duck just before the low bridge. This slightly awkward syncopation is tricky to get the hang of (and seems to increase in difficulty proportionately to how many years you've been in marching bands), but it can conquered if you remember to play the game with what you're seeing, rather than hearing. If you're still having problems conquering a level, try muting the sound so you're playing by sight alone.

On the other hand, muting the audio deprives you of a fantastic soundtrack that is instantly catchy without being irritating. With each red plus picked up on the run, the background music shifts into a new mode with different instruments and rhythms. Even though much of the soundtrack is a handful of variations on a theme, it doesn't tire quickly, and is intelligently tuned to reflect the current state of play.

Couple the spectacular audio with the whimsical spectacle of a world "at the apex of light and matter" and you get a brilliant world that radiates silliness and rainbows from every inch of highway, quite a step up from the giant-pixel-based graphics of the first Runner game. The vibrant world can sometimes take away from the gameplay experience, such as certain enemies that tend to blend with the background if you don't know to look out for them. If your graphics card isn't up to snuff, you might also experience some jerkiness, which makes timing precise actions trickier than they need to be (I found that switching to a windowed mode instead of fullscreen greatly reduces this problem). Regardless of these issues, Runner2 is a great gaming experience chock-full of fast-paced action that will make your daily jog after work seem a lot duller than before. Grab a rainbow and go for the gold!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (via Steam)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version (via Steam)

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version (via Steam)


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (285 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (13,851)

Grow Maze

TrickyOh, man. You've just woken up to find yourself in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. Don't worry, though... This dungeon was designed by Eyezmaze, and that means survival depends more on your skill at combining items, rather than slashing orcs. Still, only the toppest-notch puzzle solvers have even a chance of escaping the Grow Maze. Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move forward, and turn left, right or around, as you explore the dungeon. Click the items and machinery you see to pick them up, or manipulate them to affect the doors and layout of the maze. Collect hearts to purchase useful items at Tontie's store. Certain puzzles will require specific items in your inventory. These will then be used in classic Grow puzzles, where items must be clicked in the proper sequence to max out their levels in the usual way. Steer your way to the upper right corner of the map, and sweet freedom is yours!

Play all the Grow games:
Grow (ver. 3)Grow RPGGrow CubeGrow OrnamentGrow (ver. 2)Grow Nano Vol. 0Grow (ver. 1)Grow Nano Vol. 2Grow IslandGrow Nano Vol. 3Grow TowerGrow (ver. 3) RemakeGrow ValleyGrow CannonGrow Nano 4Grow Maze

The kind of three-dimensional navigation here is unfamiliar territory for the Grow series, and even with the helpful map players may have difficulty orienting themselves. However, as always, success will come in figuring out the proper order to perform your actions, and experimentation is very much rewarded. Combine that with Eyezmaze's trademark colorful characters and quirky animations, and Grow Maze becomes a wonderful place to get lost in, indeed.

Play Grow Maze


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (457)

Dungeon Plunder

JohnBDungeon Plunder is one of those mobile games whose name says it all. Created by Dominic Duchesne, this randomly generated roguelike ditches most of the story and gives you precisely what you want in an RPG: looting, equipment, stuff to fight, and experience to gain. The best part is that combat is handled not with a menu system but with a good old fashioned slot machine!

Dungeon PlunderAn evil wizard is slowly freezing the world using the power of a magical orb. You're out to put a stop to that, but there's a whole lot of opposition standing in your way. Dungeon Plunder randomizes the world each time you start, so even though the basic premise is the same, the quests and enemies will always be different. Start out by choosing one of three classes: wizard, warrior, or rogue. Each one requires a slightly different strategy when it comes to combat, such as the wizard using potions to increase mana or the warrior buffing up his defenses with ease. They're all fairly well balanced, so it just comes down to a matter of preference.

Once you have a character, let the roguelike-ing begin! Move around the isometric world one space at a time by tapping on your device's screen. Shops, dungeon entrances, missions, chests and enemies populate the overworld, and all you have to do to interact with them is to walk right up and say hi. Inventory is automatically handled but can still be accessed from an on-screen button, and things like artifacts and relics will also be uncovered during the course of play.

Dungeon PlunderCombat is where you'll have the most fun, and it's amazing how much depth you can create using a simple five window slot machine. Tap the spin button to start the tumblers tumbling. They stop on one of several icons, each representing a different action your character will take. Tap on the windows to lock an icon in place, then spin again to randomize the remaining windows. The goal is to get as many matches as you can, thus increasing the damage you deal, the health you recover, the special ability you charge, etc. Your opponent deals damage each turn, so keep your defenses high and play a smart game of slots so you can come out on top. If you die, you lose the character (and your progress) forever!

Analysis: With its old school graphics and traditional roguelike gameplay, Dungeon Plunder certainly looks like it's out to capture some nostalgic players. As soon as you try out the slot machine combat, though, you realize it's just as friendly to the modern casual player as it is anyone else. It's very easy to pick up and start adventuring, as the only real obstacle is remembering what each of the slot machine icons do when matched. But hey, that's what checking the help menu three times in a row is for!

Perhaps the only downside to Dungeon Plunder is its insistence upon sticking to the permadeath feature usually found in roguelikes. This can really hurt your momentum if you make a misstep late in the game and have to start over from the beginning. It would be nice to have a more traditional campaign of progression as an option alongside permadeath mode for additional replayability.

If you don't mind being a bit careful, Dungeon Plunder is an amazingly addictive role playing experience. It's got just enough loot gathering and equipment hunting to keep you searching for more, and the slot machine battle system never gets old!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (55 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (8,474)

The Royal Trap

DoraMadeleine and Oscar have been best friends for years, and it's becoming increasingly apparent Oscar's feelings for Madeleine may run deeper. The problem with that is Oscar is actually Prince Oscar of Ocendawyr, and Madeline is... well, she's just Maddie Valois, the young woman who has been his companion, maidservant, advisor and agent ever since they were both small children and she got him out of trouble. Besides, now Oscar's reaching adulthood and has to start courting a bride from one of the neighbouring kingdoms, and Maddie's final duty is ensuring he finds himself a wife... even if that means her own future becomes more uncertain. But when Oscar is suddenly accused of a crime he didn't commit, Maddie must trust her instincts and put her skills to the test to clear his name... and uncover even deeper treacheries in the process. In The Royal Trap, a fantastic indie visual novel adventure by Hanako Games, as Madeleine Valois you'll have to help her navigate a political minefield, uncover treachery and danger, and discover whether she has to choose between her duty and her heart... or if there's somehow the two can coexist. Provided, of course, she can stay alive long enough.

The Royal TrapAs the game opens, Madeleine and Oscar have arrived in the kingdom of Gwellinor to allow Oscar a chance to woo its newly eligible princess. As Oscar heads off to attend a royal ball along with several other attending princes competing for attention, he asks Madeleine to read a letter he's left for her in his room... and anyone who's seen a romance novel within their lives knows what's in it. But regardless of how you decide she feels about it, the night's festivities are brought to a screeching halt when Oscar is accused of a crime and it falls to Maddie to prove his innocence... and of course double-crosses are rarely straight-forward, so once one matter has been settled another more complicated one arises. Just click the dialogue choice you like the most when it's presented to you, and right-click at any time to open a menu to allow you to save or load your game. The whole thing is mostly linear up until chapter 5.b, which will present you with a selection almost immediately that will shape certain parts of the rest of the game depending on earlier choices.

The Royal TrapAnalysis: While at least two of the eligible bachelors fall into the tiresome old "class-A jerk with a secret soft side" category, everyone is well-developed and intriguing, so chances are you'll find someone you'll want to know more about. Especially Gaston. Gaston is magnificent. Look at that sucker. I'm not even kidding either, since behind that exterior of sparkly anime tropes is a remarkably likable, human, well-developed character. It's worth mentioning, however, that at a certain point the game essentially asks you who you're interested in and locks you into that choice. This can be actually a bit misleading, since several of those options actually lead you towards other characters, even other genders, you won't expect. You may even get railroaded into another default option if you didn't choose appropriate responses earlier in the game. In a way, though, this fits with a recurring theme or two within the game... that of people not being who they seem, and of opening your eyes to opportunities. Just keep your mind and heart open, and the experience will be much more rewarding.

Even if you're not interested in romance, however, The Royal Trap still has a lot to offer. The core focus is actually on the mystery surrounding the crime Oscar is accused of, which quickly spirals out into an even more convoluted mess of drama and intrigue the more you play. Nothing is as straightforward as it seems, and the narrative is great at layering mysteries on mysteries in a way that grabs you and keeps you wanting more. A lot of visual novels that include romance options tend to make their heroines a bit vague in the personality department to allow players to project, but Madeleine might be one of the best heroines to grace a game in a long time, regardless of type or genre. She's strong, determined, and intelligent, but also funny, warm, and loyal to a fault. To that end she's... actually somewhat of a Mary Sue, at least in regards to how competent she is compared to everyone else, but it's still incredibly difficult not to like her and want her to succeed. It's also beautifully drawn, though there is a distracting difference in art style between various characters.

The Royal TrapOf course, The Royal Trap is a visual novel, not a visual novel simulation, and if your sole interaction being limited to choosing an option between pages and pages of text you have no say in doesn't sound like your cuppa, the game may not be for you. While it's nice that you can always tell what your decisions will get you in terms of where the story will head next, it's a bit disappointing that there aren't more of them more frequently, at least not until chapter five onward. It can often feel like the choices you make seem trivial alongside the action and excitement that unfolds without much prompting from you, and it would have been nice to have given the player a few more options to feel engaged.

A single playthrough of the game probably won't take much players longer than two hours or so, depending on how fast you read, but The Royal Trap's strength is in its replay value. Not merely in hunting down all the endings to its many romances, but also in filling in all the pieces of its multilayered mystery. Each path will really only give you a few bits rather than the full story, and some have entire sequences you'll never see that will drastically change how you look at the story itself and other characters. Some of the romances are definitely more developed than others, and you shouldn't expect a fairy-tale ending with all of them. The Royal Trap is a incredibly well-written tale bolstered by a cast of fun and fully-developed characters that are a pleasure to get to know. If you prefer your visual novels with other gameplay aspects beyond simple choice-and-click, this one might be restrictive. But if you appreciate a ripping good tale, you'll definitely want to try out the demo for this one, since it comes highly recommended.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Download the demo
Get the full version


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (20)

Rexzilla

JohnBRexzilla is a retro-styled platform game created by Orz Laboratory. Starring a kid in a dinosaur costume and featuring space travel, evil aliens, strange environments, and gumballs, it captures a bit of childlike wonder as you jump and stomp your way across 50 levels of action.

RexzillaLate one night, Rex scoots off to bed only to be awoken a few hours later. Heading out to his balcony, he spots a pair of aliens absconding into the darkness, gloating about all the gumballs they've taken from Rex. Well, he's not going to take an insult such as that! Donning his dinosaur suit, which turns Rex into 50% human, 50% dinosaur, and 100% awesome, he heads out into the night and leaps into space, following the evil aliens to put a stop to their plans.

Rexzilla puts all the basic basic walking, jumping and firing skills at your disposal. In addition to making it to the teleporter exit in each stage, you'll also pick up gumballs to activate the exit as well as supply Rex with a little firepower. Rex can hop on most enemies to defeat them, but you'll spend most of your time keeping the little 'saur out of danger by being quick on your feet. Rexzilla is very much the type of platformer that emphasizes speed, accuracy and the occasional puzzle situation over raw combat.

RexzillaAnalysis: There's something innocently appealing about a game starring a boy in a dinosaur costume. Rexzilla is a simple sort of game that doesn't try to throw a bunch of features into the pot just so it can list them bullet point-style in a press release. Instead, what we have here is a very pristine and retro-feeling platform game with an above average level of challenge and an above average level of charm.

Working your way through the increasingly complex levels to pick up gumballs takes a bit of finesse. Alien enemies are everywhere, no matter which of the game's five environments you're in, and you don't always have a handy way to deal with them. Avoidance and often pure lock are your best tools. How else would you expect a kid to save the galaxy?

Rexzilla is a straightforward but satisfying game. It keeps surprising you with new things every few levels, such as disappearing blocks or battles with giant bosses. The artwork and music are imaginative, and the whole experience is engaging from beginning to end.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(2 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (53)

Grim Facade: Cost of Jealousy

DoraYou have to really hate someone to stab them to death, and then follow that up by making them explode too. So when her husband Hugo is brutally murdered in just that fashion, Gabriela Sanchez calls on you to solve the crime. You arrive at the stately house with your plucky assistant Jimmy Olsen Aidan in tow, determined to get to the bottom of things before dinner, but with a town full of secrets, puzzles, and suspects, this probably isn't going to be an open-and-shut case. Grim Facade: Cost of Jealousy is the latest hidden-object adventure from ERS Game Studios, filled with mystery, murder, mayhem, and the best line ever to be delivered in a game with straight-faced sincerity. "This is an inappropriate place for a koala."

Grim Facade: Cost of JealousyClick around to gather clues, useful items, and solve puzzles. The game offers a variety of hidden-object scenes from the familiar list-based designs, to hunting by silhouette, isolated item puzzles, and more. Being a detective, you'll keep track of all the evidence you find against the suspects you encounter in your journal, and believe me when I say it seems like everyone has a motive. As you might expect, it even seems like everyone's out to get you, too. Toppling statues, getting shot at, pacifying swarms of angry bees... fortunately, these are all things a detective is required to be good at, and you've got it covered. Even, it seems, charming animals into helping you, since dearly-departed Hugo's plucky fennec fox keeps showing up when you least expect it to show you the way. Which is approximately 100% more than what your assistant ever does. Thank you, Aidan, as an honest-to-goodness psychic detective I sure am glad I have you here to tell me that the thing I just saw happened. Super helpful. What am I paying you again?

Grim Facade: Cost of JealousyAnalysis: The Grim Facade series can always be counted on to deliver some of the best satisfyingly elaborate mysteries around, full of twists, turns, and double-crosses, and Cost of Jealousy is definitely all about drama. Everyone's a potential killer, and the animated cutscenes and plot-twists fly thick and fast throughout. Chances are you'll be sick of flamenco music before you're more than halfway through, but it's definitely a gorgeous game (if a little washed out colour wise) that is great to explore. It's even sort of unintentionally hilarious as it turns you into the worst detective ever, using evidence important to the case to wipe up some dust and then tossing it away. Just pretend you're role playing as Mr Bean.

While there's nothing to the gameplay you won't have seen before if you've played nearly any other hidden-object adventure title, Grim Facade: Cost of Jealousy delivers another high-quality mystery packed with all the polish and style you've come to expect. Seasoned players may find it a bit too easy even on harder difficulty settings, with objects frequently found right beside the puzzle you need them to solve. With its evenly spaced hidden-object scenes, however, deliciously over-dramatic plot, and repeated attempts on your life, it makes for a well-balanced evening's entertainment... if not a particularly lengthy one at around three to four hours for a playthrough. Give the demo a try and settle in for murder.

A Collector's Edition is also available. It contains a bonus chapter, art gallery, strategy guide, and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Also available: Collector's Edition


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (534)

DOOORS 2

elleBeing trapped in a room with nothing to free yourself but your own brain power is enough of a quandary; it becomes the surreal stuffing of an inflated bad dream when, upon exiting one door, you discover not freedom but yet another door. But this scenario, quintessentially appropriate in 58 Works' DOOORS 2, has exactly what fans of the 100 doors style of mobile room escape games appreciate the most: ongoing, increasingly challenging gameplay that's easy to pick up and just play!

DOOORS 2Following the exact format that 58 Works made popular in DOOORS, the sequel asks you to do one thing—open the door. Initially, it's as simple as it sounds yet, as you progress through the stages (there are 40 at the time of writing), puzzle success requires more lateral thinking as well as agility and dexterity. You'll need to tap, pinch and slide, uncovering and using helpful objects, putting together hints to master a code or tilting your mobile device just so until the door is unlocked and ready to pass through.

There are times DOOORS 2's puzzles seem standard and rote, in a subgenre that has perhaps reached its peak in variations on theme, yet it does have a smattering of unique presentations and some refreshing effects. Plus the design is exceedingly high quality, just as you'd expect from the developer responsible for such escaping favorites as Garou and Kalaquli. Most levels are rarely difficult to solve although the game is not without challenge. There's one stage in particular requiring acrobatic feats with your device that might leave you frustrated. If you do wind up stuck and uncertain how to progress, observation coupled with experimentation should eventually provide the answer. Most of all, DOOORS 2 serves its purpose very well, opening the door to short or long bursts of puzzling amusement on the go.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPhone 4S. 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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (102 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (619)

Cyclomaniacs Epic

DoraI guess when SHIELD's busy you take what you got, and when the supervillain Haddock escapes, what you got is the weird and wacky crew of turboNUKE's latest racing stunt game Cyclomaniacs Epic! Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to brake, accelerate, and keep your balance as you race others to the finish line across each stage, performing stunts to earn a higher score. As you win races, you'll unlock more tracks to run and characters to play on, including coins to spend on upgrades for your ride.

Cyclomaniacs EpicThough hardly much different from the last games, Cyclomaniacs Epic continues to prove that you definitely don't need realism to have a good time racing. The design is as gorgeous and colourful as ever, though many tracks don't have a lot to differentiate them apart from the scenery. What's great is the added level of difficulty and challenge the various stunts bring to the table, allowing casual players to enjoy playing the game straight through with no trouble, while achievement-nabbers will really need to master the controls and their groove to take home first on every level. With a whole host of upgrades and unlockables, this one isn't a bike ride in the park, but it's definitely a whole lot more entertaining.

Play Cyclomaniacs Epic


  • Currently 2.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.9/5 (51 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (13)

Renga Samurai

KimberlyAs you finish your lessons you must prove to your mentor once and for all that you have the mental acuity to truly be a Samurai. In Renga Samurai, a puzzle game by Josh Tam and Jess the Dragoon, your goal is to chop the brick on each stage into pieces that will fit entirely into the shape beside it. The catch is you have a limited number cuts to achieve this, so remember you can move pieces to cut more than one at once. Click the shape to move it, and click the very top or very left of the screen to perform a cut. You've got a little wiggle room in what the game will accept, so don't worry about being accurate to the millimeter. With a good look and sound on top of a clean interface and solid difficulty, this is a great way to prove your mind is as sharp as your sword.

Play Renga Samurai


| Comments (2) | Views (10)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraIf you're reading this somewhere buried under a sheet of snow and ice, we hope you're safe and toasty warm! There's nothing like a little zombie apocalypse to chase away those winter woes, and follow that up with a companion game to one of the most celebrated indie adventure games of all time and you've got a lot to look forward to!

News and Previews

The Walking DeadThe Apocalypse Is Coming Again TellTale's gritty, emotional powerhouse of a zombie adventure series The Walking Dead is shambling in our direction once again, with a new season slated for release this Fall. Obviously this is great news for fans, and more than enough time for you to start harassing the people who have only watched the show or read the comics to pick up a keyboard or controller and play this amazing game already. Details thus far as to the direction the next season will take are slim to none, although the developers have stated they enjoy both telling their own story and getting close to the TV show whenever possible. Look for more information to crop up soon!

Avadon 2: The CorruptionAvadon Needs You If you're a fan of story-driven strategy RPGs at all, you're probably always excited to hear veteran magic-maker Spiderweb Software is working on something, and considering how much we loved 2011's Avadon: The Black Fortress, news of a sequel set to hit later this year should have you bouncing around like a madman. As part two in a planned trilogy, Avadon 2: The Corruption continues the story of the Black Fortress, though things are far less in control than they were in the beginning. Though you won't need to have finished or even played the original to enjoy its sequel, a big part of the pleasure found in playing a Spiderweb Software game comes from seeing the world grow and develop over time, and you can bet there's going to be a massive amount of new places to explore this time too. Start getting excited for later this year, when it releases for PC, Mac, and iPad in the fall!

A Bird StoryShut Up And Take My Feels! I'm not saying you're a bad person if you haven't played Freebird Games' stunning indie adventure To the Moon, but you're definitely missing out. And you definitely won't understand why those of us who have played it should be so excited for A Bird Story, due out later this year. While not the direct sequel we've been anxiously waiting for, A Bird Story will tell the tale of the man who will become Eva and Neil's next patient almost entirely without dialogue, and you can bet given the developer's talent for evocative stories and design it's going to be packed with meaning and emotion. Though planned to be short, we can be sure it's still going to be sweet, and we can't wait to get our hands on it.

Mane 6Friendship is Miraculous Don't stick a fork in them, they're not done yet. While the talented folks behind the planned fighting game "Fighting is Magic" based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic were forced to come to a heartbreaking halt after Hasbro sent them a cease-and-desist, all is not lost. Lauren Faust, the talented woman behind the immensely popular current incarnation of My Little Pony (as well as The Power Puff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) has officially joined the group. Now, she's working with the team to create and develop the game they always wanted... but with entirely new characters and settings to enable it to be distributed freely without fear of legal repercussion. It's still unfortunate that all the hard work this talented team put into their increasingly amazing looking My Little Pony game essentially has to be scrapped, but thanks to Ms Faust, they're on their way to keeping their dreams alive. More details to come!

Kickstarter/IndieGoGo Projects

Torment: Tides of NumeneraBut Will it Have a Pervy Floating Skull Sidekick? Planescape: Torment is one of the great antediluvians of Western RPGs and has basically achieved legendary status since its 1999 release for its masterful writing, compelling story, and deep gameplay. So, surprise! Sequel time!... sort of! Torment: Tides of Numerena is billing itself as the "spiritual successor" to Planescape: Torment, set in an entirely new world from the tabletop RPG. Intended to be a single-player isometric RPG for PC and Mac that continues its inspiration's tradition of deep, complex narrative and gameplay, developers InXile even have a sound endorsement from Planescape: Torment's Chris Avellone to boot. If that sounds like magic waiting to happen for you, head on over to the official Kickstarter to learn more!

The Adventures of DashYou Snooze, You... Win? Robotoki wants to put you to sleep in a good way with their Kickstarter for The Adventures of Dash, a unique game with a unique hero planned for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. See, nine-year-old Dash has Narcolepsy, but that's not stopping him from having more adventures than most game protagonists could ever dream of... mainly because he's dreaming them himself. As you explore in the real world, the characters you interact with and puzzles you solve will unlock new dreams for Dash, and each has its own drastically unique gameplay, setting, and even artistic style. It sounds like one seriously ambitious game, but also one with a ton of potential, and you'll definitely want to sneak on over to the Kickstarter to learn more!


Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!


(3 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (26)

Knitted Deer

JohnBHere's something you don't see every day: an endless runner made on a sweater. Well, not really, but everything in Knitted Deer is an actual knitted pattern, which suddenly makes pixel graphics seem less retro than before. Jump and shoot your way through the yarney landscape as you avoid just about everything you run into, the only exception being knitted coins and knitted power-ups!

Knitted DeerYou know how to play an endless runner, right? Our heroic deer runs on his own, all you have to do is tap the screen to jump/double jump or to fire your weapon to take out enemies. Touching anything other than flat ground or the tops of platforms will kill you in an instant, sending you straight to knitted hell where you have to fight for your life. Do well enough and you might just end up in heaven, which is probably a better goal to aim for.

The gameplay in Knitted Deer can be a tad frustrating, especially since the slightest toe-touch on a wall splats you into red yarn. The system of collecting coins to buy better weapons doesn't seem fully implemented, almost as if it were tacked on just because it's on the checklist of things to have in a modern iOS game. The interface can be a bit odd, too, owing to the nature of the visuals, and the game doesn't scale well on a full sized iPad. Despite these issues, however, Knitted Deer gets some serious points for its unique art style, which is probably why you wanted to check it out in the first place!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (37 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (17)

Splitman 2

TrickyIf I were a Splitman... (Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum). All day long I'd... Well, I'd probably use rotating saws to divide myself into multiple copies and make my way through a puzzle platforming world. Or rather, that's what happens in Splitman 2, the sequel to the well received original from Keybol. Move Splitman Prime with the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, trying to make it to the exit gate at the end of each level. Whenever a Splitman jumps into a spinning saw blade it will split them in two, then shut down. These clones will follow the movements of the original Splitman as close as they're able, giving you a boost to areas you couldn't otherwise reach and allowing you to push heavy objects. Also, in a pinch, their corpses make good stepping stones on top of deadly electrified spikes.

Splitman 2There are 24 regular levels, though six more unlocked if you collect the keycards scattered throughout the game. Later levels will include such wrinkles force fields and black saw-blades that spawn reverse-gravity clones. Though the pixel art of the original is missed, as is the villain's snarky dialogue, Splitman 2 keeps the clever level design that made the original so popular. The game does seem to lag a bit when numerous clones are on screen, which is a definite flaw, but closing the other browser windows seems a small price to pay for addictive action.

Play Splitman 2


  • Currently 3.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.5/5 (68 votes)
| Comments (19) | Views (93)

Duck Quest

MeaghanYou would think ducks, with their aerodynamic abilities, would be immune to the menace that is a strong gust of wind. Alas, four little ducklings and their mother are about to learn the hard way in Duck Quest, a pleasant adventure game by Waffle Friday Studios, that a breeze is nothing to mess with. As Mother Duck, move with the [arrow] keys. The park is a wide open space so you'll have to search all over and interact with obstacles by pressing [E] and to peruse your inventory click on your [W] key then hit [enter] if you wish to use that item, or want to finish dialogue. During the hunt quacking with [Q] while standing still will reveal if one of your ducklings is in your area.

Duck QuestThere's a healthy dose of walking in this adorable game and unfortunately Mother Duck is a lethargic waddler so be prepared for a slow pace during your adventure. Still, there's nothing wrong with a calm jaunt through the park, even if it is only in a game. The story is sweet, light hearted, and long enough to keep you entertained while going about your day and something that can be shared with even the littlest of your household for a nice bonding experience. In short, it's a quacktacular.

Play Duck Quest

Thanks to Delilah for sending this one in!


(0 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (10)

Sling It!

JohnBFrom Dumb and Fat Games, creator of Phantasmaburbia, Sling It! (a sequel to Pollushot) is a quick-fire arcade game perfectly suited for satisfying your urge to break things while ridding the world of smoke-belching machines. It uses a simple-style difficulty progression that throws enemy after enemy in your face, challenging you to chip their metallic bodies apart and use the debris as a weapon. A bit of poetic justice, maybe?

Sling It!The controls can be toggled between single and double finger style, the latter of which may seem strange but works extremely well on tablets. Simply grab a bit of ammo in your slingshot, pull back, aim, and fire. The goal is to destroy as many enemies as you can while not getting hit by their various spikes, shots, shrapnel, and other crushinating machinations. One part avoidance, another part seek and destroy.

There's something innately satisfying about Sling It!. In addition to the fine set-up described above, you'll also encounter power-ups, different shot types, and around 40 different achievements. Best of all, the enemies are quite creative and give you a good reflexive and critical thinking challenge. It's not quite a flat-out destruction fest, just close enough for it to be a guilty pleasure!

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (118 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (386)

Late for Date

DoraYou're late! You're late! For a very important date!... literally! In TomaTea's Late for Date, your obsession with elaborate locks and intricate puzzles for your home has spiraled out of control until now you're literally trapped inside and unable to escape for your date... well, not without actually solving all the obstacles in your way, of course. Just click to interact when you see the glow at the tip of your cursor, and click the bars at the edges of the screen to turn around when you mouse over them. TomaTea continues its tradition of marrying simple but lush, relaxing atmosphere and clever puzzles that require both thinking and observation to solve. I'd call it the perfect, mellow way to relax, but then again... you are late and theoretically standing someone up, so you should probably get a move on!

Play Late for Date

Thanks to Nicop for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (90 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (258)

Plexus: Together Till The End

TrickyWe at JayIsGames have made it abundantly clear that we loves us some Plexus jigsaws. Their signature combination of wonderfully whimsical art and unique shapes for their pieces, make for puzzles truly a joy to solve. In fact, the only thing that could be better is more... and that's just what you get in Plexus: Together Till The End, where four times the puzzles make for four times the fun! Click to select pieces and drag them around for placement. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to rotate pieces once selected, or to nudge them up or down. Completing each puzzle unlocks the next one in the quartet and, in a nice touch, each forms part of a simple continual story of a group of kids getting lost and found at sea.

Together to the EndTogether To The End makes the most of its expanded ambitions, with some cute animations and intermission screens between each puzzle. The puzzles themselves are equal parts entertainingly frustrating and frustratingly entertaining, which is just the way we like it. The pictures have a very pretty chalk-art feel this time around, though the lack of borders on the pieces can sometimes make the edges indistinct against the background. No matter. Word on the street is that Plexus created Together Till The End to get people excited about the developer's new iPad app, Plexus Puzzles. Well, it should more than accomplish that task, because jigsaw fans will definitely be sticking with this one till the end.

Play Plexus: Together Till The End


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (87 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (273)

Kuruma

GrinnypMany room escape games contain some pretty standard tropes: solve puzzles and pick up and use found items. There are very few designers, however, who take the next step and create items that are useable more than once. Even more rare is a designer who creates a room that uses an item several times. One of those rare creators is MyGames888, and this week we're featuring one of their older puzzles, Kuruma, an escape game that has the rarely used mechanic of using more than one item several times.

grinnyp_kuruma_screenshot.pngKuruma is very much like 3 Small Keys or 3 Doors in scope, a single, sparsely furnished room. There are items in the room that need to be used multiple times, as well as a few puzzles that need solving, in order to escape to the roof of this strange space where a full-size car is the only room furnishing. With only one small door to escape through, one wonders how the car got there in the first place, although it's probably best not to ask.

Although Kuruma is pretty basic escaping, a minimal inventory, no music, a few sound effects, and no save feature, there is still a lot of entertainment to be found in what is basically a five-minute escape game. The lack of a changing cursor to indicate hot spots is also a minor ding, but not terribly important overall as the place is pretty minimally inhabited by some wall puzzles and that shiny new car, making for not a lot of pixel hunting. Although the few cerebral puzzles are quite fun, it is in the multiple uses of found objects where mygames888's design really shines, creating a quick and fun experience perfect for a break, be it mid-day or mid-week.

Play Kuruma


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (50)

Penumbear

JohnBCreated by a studio called, of all things, Taco Graveyard, Penumbear combines light-based puzzles and a platform adventure game into a very good-looking mobile experience. Playing as the aforementioned bear, you find yourself awakened by a color-changing firefly who leads you out of the dark castle where you dwell. Getting from dank cellar to sunny field is going to be quite a feat, though, but luckily you have a very special ability involving lights!

PenumbearControl Penumbear with the on-screen arrows and jump with the big circle on the right. Surrounding the jump button are four smaller circles that light up when you're near a light source. Tapping an active circle sends your firefly companion out to toggle the light source near that circle. Penumbear treats the line where light meets dark as a solid entity, meaning you can walk across great gaps simply by flipping a light switch!

Throughout Penumbear's journey you'll encounter locked doors, crawling enemies, dangerous tendril spike things, and bonus bears you can collect. It's all set in a wonderfully charming world perfectly suitable for an animated stuff bear to walk around in. The concept of light as a solid part of the game is intriguing, and it takes a bit of time to get used to. But with over 100 levels to explore and plenty of great puzzles to solve, Penumbear is one adventure you'll be eager to challenge yourself with.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 2.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.9/5 (72 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (41)

Lazerman

TrickySuper Fighting Robot! Lazerman! Or, at least he was a super fighting robot, before those scientists separated him from his body. Now Lazerman is a "randomly destructive robot head" more than anything. However, if he bounces his head around the lab and grab all the boxes of parts, Lazerman is sure he can throw a torso and a couple of limbs together. And if the bouncing happens to eviscerate everything it its lasery path, well, that's a risk this robot is willing to take. Lazerman is a frenetic physics action title from NSBrotherhood that'll have your noggin careening all over the place.

Click once to launch yourself, and click and hold for a steady stream of acceleration. You're looking to really wreck the place, especially to get to the five boxes of parts to collect to complete each level. Smash a lot of stuff quickly, and the combo will launch you into turbo mode. Scientists will go down easy, but those guards, lasers, and bosses will sap your health, but by clicking the change icon or hitting the [spacebar], you'll transform into a floating orb of light. Orbs aren't good with smashing, but they are immune to damage. After 25 levels, you should finally find some body to be with.

Lazerman has you crashing around like a bull in a china-shop, and that's hard to not enjoy. Sometimes the action can be a little too fast to allow for much strategy, but when the brute-force approach is so fun, who can mind? The Itchy and Scratchy level cartoon violence is a bit of a surprise, but above all Lazerman gives a good dose of visceral thrills and just may prove to be a breakout hit for NSBrotherhood's growing body of work.

Play Lazerman


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (288 votes)
| Comments (50) | Views (4,452)

A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond

TrickyYou wake up disoriented, unsure of where you are. There is a screen telling you a story, but you aren't sure if you can trust it. It's time to ask some questions. A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond is an experimental adventure game from ScriptWelder that has you trying to get information from a source not too eager to give anything away. The interface of A Small Talk is text-based, and you communicate by inputting questions and statements to get responses. On the right, though, is a view of the room you are in, and your observations will be key to coaxing the answers of your situation out.

A Small Talk is a short but intelligent sci-fi yarn that uses its imposed limitations to incredibly atmospheric effect. It has a lot twists packed in very quickly, which makes the pacing seem a little rushed, but there's a thematic coherence behind it that makes it all come together in a satisfying way. A Small Talk's parser is quite up to the task of telling its story, though as the game is currently in late-beta, there are still some words and commands it should recognize that it does not. Still, as the author has been quite open to feedback, the game has seen an impressive response from the browser gaming community in suggesting ways to make the parser ever more comprehensive. So go ahead and have A Small Talk At The Back of Beyond. Just don't believe everything you hear.

Note: As mentioned above, A Small Talk At The Back of Beyond is in late beta. Should you have suggestions for logical questions for which the game's parser does not give a satisfactory response, please post your feedback in the comments.

Play A Small Talk At The Back Of Beyond


| Comments (0) | Views (11)

The Vault

DoraShip too puny? Upgrade! Sword too blunt? Upgrade! Chicken not able to headbutt? You guessed it! Upgrades have been around in games practically forever, and while some games don't think that highly of them, if done right, they can add quite a bit of spice to your play! You know, as opposed to being a cheap way to pad game length by forcing you to grind and grind and grind until you can progress rather than relying on your own skill as a player! Here are three games that implement upgrades in different ways, from simple enhancement to core concept!

  • Reachin' PichinReachin' Pichin - Launch games, by design, are essentially all about upgrades, so you need to have something else going for you for your players to put up with the grind. Luckily, Kurechii kept that in mind and this game about an adorable lab experiment struggling to learn how to fly through space just like its creators always wanted is both adorable and addictive. Instead of just clicking "launch" and crossing your fingers, you have to hop and climb Doodle Jump style to nab resources to spend on improvements. Simple, beautifully designed, and a whole lot of fun, it's proof that launch games can still be lovely and clever without a whole lot of extra clunky mechanics.
  • CycloManiacsCycloManiacs - robotJAM and LongAnimals combined forces to create this gloriously ridiculous game of stunt racing bicycles, and if you've ever wanted to play as Elvis painfully face-planting on the surface of the moon in someone else's fiery wake, this is definitely the game for you. Racing against a whole host of bizarre characters, winning nets you cash you can spend on improving your ride, and as you unlock even more people to play as, you'll start to realise this is exactly the sort of goofy fun browser games were made for.
  • Dale and Peakot (Full)Dale and Peakot (Full) - Juicy Beast knows fowl friends are important, so this action-packed puzzle platformer makes sure to saddle you with the best one. Throughout a series of classically designed platforming levels, you play as the shotgun toting farmer Dale who sets out to rescue his stolen chickens with the help of his feather-brained chicken sidekick Peakot. As Dale, you hop, blast, and run over enemies and platforms, while you also control Peakot, who you can send flying to hit switches, stun enemies, and more, and even eventually upgrade through the use of secret items you can find hidden around. Though the controls take some getting used to, it's a wonderfully old-school experience with a great sense of style and charm.

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!


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (328)

Vampire's Fall

Reader ReviewWhen I first ran across Vampire's Fall from Krime Media, I was on a quest for a new mobile RPGany new mobile RPG—because, I admit it, I have an addiction. I really only downloaded the game because it was free, and for the first few rounds I wasn't really hooked. But then I started noticing the details. And trust me, there are a lot of details.

Vampire's Fall is, in many ways the perfect mobile RPG, with a rich community experience as well as satisfying solo play. You begin in the dark, just awakening, unsure of who you are. You have a choice to be a blood or death vampire (which provides certain attack differences), and to be either male or female (although apparently someone forgot to tell the writer there was a choice, so the dialogue assumes you are male). Once you're good to go, Vampire's Fall sets you free in a world of menu-based upgrades, item management, and of course, plenty of combat!

Vampire's FallVampire's Fall doesn't hold your hand. At all. But that's what makes the game worth experiencing. The single player adventure is maybe 10-12 hours of play, but then it opens you up to the community which can provide even more opportunity for advancement through PvP matches. And it's worth doing that, as well, as a couple of side quests can't be completed without some serious leveling up. Best of all, as you glean armor and weapons from your foes (who drop really good stuff!) or buy it in the stores, your tiny little character actually dresses in the new loot!

What makes Vampire's Fall the most fun to play, however, is the randomization of certain attacks, including your chance to miss, dodge, or even receive Might attacks. That, combined with a somewhat obtuse map and sometimes opaque Quest inventory ("Go kill the trolls at the rocks to the west"...but wait, everything to the west looks like rocks!) reminds me of my junior high days playing Rogue on the library's Compaq 64. While there are no dungeons, there is still an element of adventure.

All in all, Vampire's Fall will tickle your turn-based-RPG bone, if you have one, and is set up in such a way that you can easily pick it up for a few minutes or a few hours. It's definitely worth a play.

Cheers to Dsrtrosy for the review!

Found a sweet game you think deserves some attention? Write a review, send it in, and we might feature your article!

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 4. 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.


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (543 votes)
| Comments (21) | Views (242)

simian.interface

DoraTom Davies wants to prove that you can make anything terrifying just by changing your perspective with the incredibly moody FPS-Man, a simple yet clever twist on one very old classic. Use the [WASD] keys to navigate through the halls, munching down dots using the minimap to navigate, but beware... you're not alone. It really is amazing how just putting the game into a first-person perspective and some masterfully chosen audio has turned the cheery arcade experience we all know and love into something dripping with such sinister atmosphere... especially since it's still the same game. The best horror is the kind that makes you look at things you thought you knew in entirely different ways, and at that FPS-Man definitely succeeds even if it lacks any real bells and whistles or innovation beyond its initial gimmick to really keep you playing. A sly, smart concept executed very well, FPS-Man is a wonderful bit of creative thinking that proves how you look at things makes all the difference in the world.

Play FPS-Man


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (93 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (293)

Highgrounds

coryMy great-grandfather, or at least the man I pretend was my great-grandfather when it's convenient or hilarious, was the great General George S. Patton, Jr. He was a man who knew his strategy, especially when that strategy involved advancing, attacking or conquering anything remotely resembling Axis territory. The Seventh and Third United States Armies wouldn't have been the same without him. Today I try to live up to his legacy by being the best video game strategist I can be. In Highgrounds, a turn-based defense/strategy game from Spry Fox and Heart Shaped Games, I embody Patton at his greatest by sending hordes of angry wolfmen and golems to do battle with ghosts, skeletons, bandits and other creatures that probably dislike America. Sure, I probably won't go down in history for my endeavors, but I get the feeling it's also a little bit safer than World War II.

HighgroundsHighgrounds is essentially a collectible card game rendered as a strategy game. You've got armies consisting of up to 28 units which you pit against other armies in an attempt to take down your opponent's city before they do the same to you. There are two things to keep your eye on... your gold, which is generated each round and used to buy more units, and your population, which determines how many units you can actually have. At the start of the round, you will be given a selection of various soldiers, and mousing over them will give you a rundown of their power and any special abilities. Just drag the one you want to the field to select it and click the crossed swords icon to start the round. The side with the most attack power, as tallied by the numbers next to the little swords above each unit's head, "wins" the round and deals damage to their opponent's base, and the first one to knock out all of the other's hit points wins.

Note that to save progress and actually challenge other players in matches, you need to register for a free account. Doing so will also allow you to edit your army, buy new units, and even change which city you use, which can impact your gold per round and other factors. If you feel like spending real money, that's the only way to get the Gems needed to buy "Booster Packs" of new units. You may find, however, that the units you earned through simply playing were able to hold their own against the computer opponents without much issue. Naturally, when it comes to other players you're dealing with both the units they have available to build armies and the strategies they employ, so your results may vary. In general, though, when you buy units you're paying for variety moreso than power. Building new armies that focus on different abilities is engrossing and the main reason to buy Gems is the chance to play around with more esoteric units, such as units that "generate" resources by taking them from the opponent or units that get stronger when combined with others. There's quite a few scenario battles where you fight against a computer opponent, but many players will find that the real game lies in battling other humans online. Options are available to create matches against random or specific players at your discretion.

HighgroundsAnalysis: The difficulty curve in the single-player game stays fairly constant. I didn't encounter any situations where I ran into a brick wall, though there were certainly matches I lost through poor strategy, bad luck or both. Again, when you're playing against humans it's difficult to say what the game's difficulty will be like. One high point of PvP matches is that Highgrounds takes full advantage of its turn-based nature and allows for asynchronous play like you might see in Words with Friends or similar games. You can make moves at your leisure and check back when you get the time to see if your opponent has done the same.

Highgrounds has a unique visual style that looks a bit like the claymation films of yesteryear. Most, though not all, units have unique appearances that make them easy to identify at a glance. Sound effects and animation are fairly simple, which makes it easy to keep track of what's going on during a match. Strategists and fans of collectible card games alike are bound to enjoy Highgrounds. Unlike many games that employ a similar model, microtransactions don't spoil the fun. Instead, players who try the game and like what they see have the option of paying for more without being forced to break out their wallets in order to enjoy themselves. It makes for a fantastic lunch break sort of game where you can play when you get time.

Play Highgrounds


| Comments (0) | Views (4)

Mobile Monday

JohnBMobile games, assemble! Form of... other kind of mobile game! From HD updates to cross-platform shifts, there's no end to the migration mobile games can make. But, really, whatever. As long as we get the goods!

retreat-p.gifTake a Puzzle Retreat on Android - The Voxel Agents' gorgeous puzzle game has been released on Android! Over 50 puzzles are included in the free download, with five add-on packs available as an in-app purchase. That brings the total hours of challenge/fun you'll have to... a big number! There are just two rules in Puzzle Retreat: fill in the gaps, and use all of the blocks. Tap an ice block and slide your finger to push it/them in any direction. Blocks slide over previously filled spaces until they land in an empty slot, and multiple blocks fall out like a series of dominos. Check out our Puzzle Retreat review for more info!

pangolin-p.gifPangolin goes HD - The undeniably gorgeous Pangolin from Feed Tank has finally been released in an iPad-friendly HD version, and at the risk of using the same word twice in a single sentence, it's gorgeous! It even won Best Mobile Arcade Game in our yearly awards! Pangolin bridges the gap between a physics game and a puzzle game, allowing you to indirectly control a bouncing orange critter by creating temporary trampoline platforms, guiding the little guy through stages filled with bumpers, tunnels, portals and more. It's almost like a game of vertical mini-golf. Except better! Check out our Pangolin review for the full scoop!

gravity-p.gifGravity Duck gets heavy - It's been a few years since we've seen WoblyWare's pixel platformer Gravity Duck. But there's no time like the present when it comes to either ducks. Or gravity! Control the happy little guy who can swap gravity's pull with a quick tap on the screen, always working his way towards the golden egg. If you hurtle yourself into a spinning yellow gravity well, the gravity shifts 90 degrees based on which way the well is rotating. Spikes, smashing blocks, caterpillars, spitting flowers and shooting fire flies later make appearances, attempting to poof you into non-existence, so, you know, don't do that! Naturally, we featured Gravity Duck back when it was released as a browser game, so check there for some neat thoughts on the subject!


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (477 votes)
| Comments (26) | Views (467)

simian.interface

DoraVested Interest's puzzle game simian.interface is a simple concept that... gets a bit weird. As a monkey undergoing testing, your job is to move the mouse to align shapes and complete patterns. It starts simply enough by filling one square with another, but as the levels progress, you'll have to rely more and more by figuring out what you need to do as different colours and patterns come into play. The game is not, unfortunately, for the colour-blind, or maybe even the colour-sensitive, since it relies on determining some fairly close pastel hues in places. Some players will also dismiss it outright after just a few levels for its simplistic startup. But stick with it and you'll find a strange, surreal, and oddly engaging little puzzler that manages to do quite a bit with its premise, and definitely more than you'd expect at first contact. It's just the sort of clever little puzzler coffee breaks and procrastination were made for, and it does it with style and charm to boot.

Play simian.interface


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (63 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (9,225)

The Silent Age

JohnBThe Silent Age: Episode One from House on Fire is built like a classic point-and-click adventure game. It goes to extreme lengths to keep everything as crisp and minimalist as possible, reducing the controls to quick taps and pouring on massive amounts of attention-getting atmospheric details using just a few sound effects and some subtle gradients. But it's that stark simplicity that makes The Silent Age such a fetching game, one that will have you eagerly awaiting future installments!

The Silent AgeIt's the early 1970s and Joe has a pretty crummy job as a janitor in a large, faceless government building. One day the management calls him in for a talk. It looks like Joe is getting a promotion! And by promotion we mean Joe will now be cleaning the sub-basement laboratories in addition to his normal duties. New keycard in hand, Joe heads down the elevator, only to discover drops of blood and a dying man who claims to be from the future. Promotion, indeed.

All you need to do to investigate Joe's world is tap on anything of interest. Joe walks on his own and will even run if you do a quick double tap. Inventory items and conversations are all handled in a similar manner, so you don't have to worry about picking the appropriate action verbs to get things done. Just tap and go! Joe's super-useful instantaneous time travel device lets him swap back and forth between time periods with a tap of the screen. Most of the game's puzzles revolve around switching time periods, interacting with items or grabbing something important, then switching back and putting those discoveries to good use.

The Silent AgeAnalysis: The Silent Age is a beautiful game. Not in the "OMG how did they make those graphics?!!" sort of way. This is the kind of beauty that comes from delicious artwork, phenomenal sound design, and fantastic writing all coming together to set an unbeatably intriguing atmosphere. Helping the unassuming hero Joe prevent a mass extinction simply by being an average guy couldn't be more riveting!

The Silent Age isn't a fast-paced game, but it isn't overly wordy, either. It's filled with a surprising amount of empty space. Even when lots of things are on the screen the game still feels empty. It's not that there isn't enough to interact with or that the environments are underpopulated, it's just The Silent Age making sure you feel confused and alone, just like Joe. The pacing is quite good, and as the game suggests when starting up, the experience is even better with headphones.

The Silent Age: Episode One is, as you could probably tell, only the first part of the story. Episode two is currently in the works, though at the time of writing no release date has been announced. There's enough content to fall for in the first episode, and the experience will keep you occupied for a good hour or so. It's a bit like Kentucky Route Zero in overall design and emotional impact, which is definitely a positive thing. Basically, The Silent Age is really really good. One of those rare releases that's more of an experience than the simple label of "adventure game" could ever hope to convey.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (64)

King Cashing 2

DoraSo, good news! You're not dead anymore. Oh, but bad news... you're a shambling undead monstrosity with a thirst for brains... and sweet, sweet moolah! King Cashing 2 for iOS by Productions Mulitmage is a bizarre, glorious hybrid of slot-machine and RPG where you control a King and an army, where both just happen to be zombies. See, in the original King Cashing, you were your typical flesh and blood noble king out to quest and get rewards, but now you've risen from the grave thanks to some meddling agents, and you figure, hey, times may have changed, but kings still have to conquer... even if they are all, uh. Rotting and junk. So you'll journey across the land through a series of quirky graphic novels, doing battle via the reels to earn coins, level up, and add to your army and your arsenal with everything from sexy (um... ) zombie cyborgs to vicious attack pigeons. And yes, it might be weird, but it's also kind of glorious.

King Cashing 2In concept, the game is simple. You duke it out against enemies by playing slots, and you only deal damage against their hit-points if either your warriors (first reel) or weapons (second reel) line up with one of your opponents on the third reel. If they do, the damage you do can increase depending on whether you've got a zombie paired up with a weapon, and even double if that weapon is actually that zombie's preferred attack of choice. You can hit the big red button to stop all the reels at once, or hit the smaller one beneath each individual reel to stop them one at a time. Of course, you can't spin forever, since that would be too easy. Spins cost three cherries, and if you run out of those, you'll have to quit the battle. The penalty for doing so is essentially that battles cost cash to engage in, and if you fail, not only do you not get any swank treasure or experience points, you also lose the money spent to fight. Fortunately, as you level up you can apply skill points to your units to increase their base power, and even spend your hard-earned gold on things like more zombies, better weapons, and bonuses.

The style of King Cashing 2 is so drastically different from its predecessor that it seems like a joke, but if it is, it's a darn good one. The tongue-in-cheek design and premise seems like a perfect fit for the strange gameplay concept, and the sort of wonderfully weird thing that makes for such perfect casual mobile gaming. What's sort of wonderful on its own is that the concept behind the game sprung from the developer playing Kairosoft's immensely addictive Game Dev Story, when they were presented in-game with the option of making a slot/RPG game and wanted to see what that sort of title would look like in real life. Turns out? Pretty great. There will be quite a lot of grinding for levels and gold, and despite having certain enemies be weaker or stronger against various units there may not be enough strategy to keep some players involved beyond the sheer wackiness of first infatuation. But it's still a fantastically clever game that executes its simple premise exceptionally well, and does so with a great sense of style and ghoulish charm. If you like your games unique and on the strange side, King Cashing 2 is a gorgeous, wacky way to pass the time and conquer the world.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad (1st Gen.). 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.


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (3) | Views (1,686)

Richard & Alice

DoraOne day the weather went haywire. In some places, it started snowing and never stopped. In other parts of the world, the heat became unbearable until the land was reduced to scorched, barren earth. As the years pass by, society begins to fall apart more and more, people turning on each other when the government stops caring. But in a part of the world where the cold has taken over, Richard & Alice are both warm. Fed. Safe. Prisoners. Because Richard is a deserter. And Alice is a murderer. But it's never that cut and dry, is it? And in this indie point-and-click adventure from Denby/Raze, you'll learn the things people are willing to do to protect themselves and the people they love... and question whether you'd be capable of doing the same. Though mostly linear and extremely story-focused, it's a brilliantly atmospheric and well-written study of character, humanity, morality, and forgiveness. You, uh. Probably shouldn't play this one if you're already depressed.

Richard & AliceAs the story begins, Richards has been alone on his cell block for quite some time now, with just a TV that shows re-runs and a computer he can use to submit support tickets to his unseen captors for company. That changes the day Alice arrives, dazed and confused, in the cell across the hall, and thus begins a tentative friendship as they begin to tell each other about themselves to pass the time. Click to cause whatever character you're controlling to walk to that spot, or on an object or person to interact, and dialogue choices to choose them... giving a little thought when you do so since the game features multiple endings. Right-click to just look at something without taking any action. Items you gather will appear in your inventory along the right side of the screen, and you can use them by clicking first on the object of your choice, then wherever you'd like to use it in the screen. Though the game autosaves for you from time to time, you can click the little tab towards the upper-right side of the screen to save manually whenever you have control of a character.

Analysis: Richard & Alice is one of those games you should allocate a quiet evening for and settle in for the long haul. It's a slow, ominous sort of game that focuses on drawing you in with a thoughtful narrative that fills you in on the details of its world piece by piece as you play. It does, however, have a bit of a problem with characters tending to occasionally go all "HELLO PLAYER I AM DELIVERING EXPOSITION FOR YOUR BENEFIT NOW" in a way that's far more obviously "tell" than "show". Despite that, however, it succeeds at crafting an atmosphere seething with tension, fear, and uncertainty. The visuals are... simplistic in a way that both works for and against the game at times. On one hand, you don't need a lot of flash to tell a compelling story and the harsh bleakness of the environments you'll explore works well with the chosen design. On the other, scenes of anguish or emotional horror are somewhat robbed of their impact due to the lack of voice acting to make up for the completely expressionless character sprites.

Richard & AliceThough initially Alice's son Barney butts right up against the edge of being too twee and precocious, as the story goes on the play between the two of them becomes not just more natural, but by far one of the most important, touching, and emotionally wrenching aspects of the game. Our titular protagonists are both engaging and realistic. They don't feel like heroes or villains... they feel like people, like anyone you might meet, and it goes a long way towards both making you feel connected to them and the strange, desperate world they're stuck in. Post-apocalyptic-y scenarios are often too dramatic in scale so that it can be difficult to really put yourself in the story, but Richard & Alice doesn't have that problem at all. It's a harsh, bleak story to be sure, full of people doing things you'd hope you never have to, or even be capable of, but Richard & Alice manages to present it with a strange blend of both brutal honesty and unexpected tenderness.

The puzzles are mostly logical, and when they aren't, tend to be so contained you'll usually figure out what you need to do simply because you only have a few options. One of the biggest annoyances in the game, however, comes with how painfully slowly characters move, which makes covering big distances over and over a pain. This compounds when you do get stuck on a puzzle, where having the trudge back and forth to see what you might have missed and try items on everything only adds to the sting. In a way, many of the puzzles come across as feeling a bit like an afterthought there to pad the length of the game... Richard & Alice's strength lies in its exceptionally well told story, and at times you can literally feel that come to a screeching halt just to solve the single overly-elaborate (and convenient) puzzle you need to proceed. It feels out of place alongside the methodical, thoughtful construction of the narrative and chances are you'll wish there was either more to it, or that the game had been presented as, say, a visual novel instead and given itself over solely to its storytelling.

Richard & Alice is one of those adventure games that's best suited for players who value story above all else and don't mind mostly strict linearity. It's on the short side, with a single playthrough clocking in at around three to four hours, though chances are you'll want to give it at least one more play to explore other choices and find other endings. Light on actual gameplay but beautifully written in a way that balances the monstrous sides of humanity with the sublime (and showcases how the two can often be intertwined), Richard & Alice is a great story that shows we can expect even greater things from its developers in the future, and definitely a demo story fans should get on board with checking out.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version (GOG.com)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (6) | Views (26)

The Button Affair

DoraIf someone has something you don't, that's a good enough reason to take it, right? Apparently so when you're too-suave-for-his-own-good Enzo Gabriel, who breaks into the lair of business tycoon Victor Meirelles to steal the other man's Button Gem for Enzo's own collection. And hey, Enzo's both deadly and light on his feet, so he should be able to evade the guards, booby traps, lasers, and other security measures with no trouble at all... you know, provided he can keep his hands to himself where femme fatales are concerned. The Button Affair is a free indie game of action and timing as you control Enzo's flight through Victor's headquarters. Enzo runs automatically, but you can use the right [arrow] to speed up, and the up and down [arrows] to jump or roll to dodge obstacles. If you're hit, Enzo will die in spectacular spy fashion, but he'll just get booted back to the last checkpoint you successfully activated, and since the hazards are always the same, you know what to expect.

The Button AffairStylish, snarky, and silly, The Button Affair is the perfect blend of cinematic spy camp and coffee-break sized action. Each chapter tells another snippet of the story in Enzo's increasingly personal duel with Victor, and the game's design is simply gorgeous. It's sort of impressive how expressive characters are with just their body language, considering they have no faces. It doesn't have a whole lot of replay value, and you'll need some quick reflexes and timing to conquer some chapters. But even if you're not normally a fan of this style of gameplay, The Button Affair is well worth experiencing for its beautiful design and execution. The creators are offering the game for free, but asking people who download and enjoy it consider donating a dollar or two to SpecialEffect, a charity dedicated to helping disabled gamers. So not only is it rad, it's rad for a good cause. The Button Affair is a simple idea to be sure, but typically executed very well and with charm to burn. Just be careful and keep your eyes open, since each chapter is a zone filled with... I don't know... danger. Hm. I wonder what you'd call something like that...

WindowsWindows:
Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the free full version


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (26 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (600)

Driftmoon

DoraBeing shoved down a well and given a concussion by your own mother is not a great start to a day. Climbing out and finding everyone else in the village has been turned to stone? Even worse. But in a way, these are actually good things, because it's the way Instant Kingdom's epic indie action RPG Driftmoon kicks off. A whopping seven years in the making and boasting an integrated mod creation and download system, it's a light-hearted fantasy adventure with swash-buckling hermit crabs, ancient magical MacGuffins, murderous disembodied hands named Mitten, heroic fireflies, and much, much more. Driftmoon's gleeful embrace of adventure and cheery fairytale excitement will make this a compulsively playable, relaxing RPG experience for almost anyone.

DriftmoonPresented in top-down view, the game is controlled primarily with the mouse and a series of hotkeys for special abilities. The game will give you a handy tutorial on the finer points as you encounter them, but the basics are... well, basic for most action-RPGs. Click to move or interact, and hold down the mouse button to keep walking towards it. You can also click and drag to pull certain objects around the area, looking for hidden items or creating barricades. [TAB] opens your inventory, where you can equip items with a click or review your notes, or even check your crafting ingredients. You can only craft something if you have the blueprints and the proper items, but don't neglect it, since it's far cheaper than buying healing items! The red half of the globe at the bottom of the screen represents your health, while blue denotes mana, and you'll want to keep an eye on both of them during combat. Defeating enemies and completing quests or otherwise making progress earns you experience towards leveling up, whereupon you can distribute some stat points and choose a skill to take. Handily, once you gain access to a map, you can hit [M] to view it and click on any spot in any area you've already visited to be instantly teleported there!

As it happens, it seems a strange stone with potent magical properties might have been the cause of the misfortune. Together with your childhood friend Word, the only other person to avoid petrification, you'll have to trace the story of the stone back through history and tango with one seriously nasty ancient evil. You'll need to not only gather a party of helpful heroes, each with their own quirks, but also track down all the horcruxes gems hidden throughout the land before you can truly destroy your enemy for once and for all.

DriftmoonAnalysis: Driftmoon may remind some players of Torchlight to an extent, but the similarities are mostly mechanical on a superficial basis. If you have to have a comparison, Driftmoon is actually closer to the sweet product of a torrid summertime romance between Divine Divinity and early Ultima games, striking a balance between epic RPG fantasy adventure and a merrily whimsical sense of humour reminiscent of Piers Anthony's Xanth series. The character customisation is actually on the light side, with only a handful of basic skills to learn, the emphasis has to fall on the story and exploration Driftmoon has to offer... which, thankfully, it has in spades. Surprisingly considering how hard it tries, the writing is actually funny more often than not. Explosive barrels claim to be beautiful maidens in disguise as they chase you to try to lure you into damage distance. Rudolph is a barbarian whose magical glowing nose (that you can wear!) alerts him to enemies. It's true that this gleeful goofiness won't be for everyone, especially since it occasionally butts heads with more serious events in the game, but players looking for something immediately engaging and light in tone will find a lot to love here.

While Driftmoon might not be as aesthetically enhanced as some other games, its colourful design holds a cartoonish appeal that helps with the fairytale vibe the game seems to be trying to embrace. Fans of more fast-paced action-RPGs might find this one a little low in the challenge department if you pay attention to your surroundings, but there's actually a surprising amount of thought and variety put into both your foes and the way you can tackle them. Less pleasing is the somewhat clunky interface and dopey companion AI. I was also a little disappointed that the game forces you to play as male when there's very little gender-dependent material in the game (and most of that purely superficial) so it seems like it would have been a relatively simple cosmetic change to allow players to play as they prefer. But then again, I suppose this could be seen as an opportunity to tell the story of an adventurous boy named Jane, who could always be found in his bunk if needed.

With its sense of humour, rich imagination, and simple casual gameplay, Driftmoon is a breath of fresh air. It could actually be considered the perfect entry-level action-RPG to anyone new to the genre, but that would imply that it doesn't have anything to offer diehard fans and that's simply not the case. It's a refreshingly vibrant game with secrets to uncover, puns to groan at, monsters to topple, and gameplay that can be picked ip and mastered by anybody. The mod creation tools are even simple and yet powerful enough, with clear labelling and drag-and-drop placement, that you can create (and play!) even more adventures with just a little experimentation. Driftmoon is a ray of sunshine in the form of an action-RPG indie gem that boasts one impressive adventure and boundless potential. With witty writing, memorable characters, and a big emphasis on the sort of tale that feels like it could have come from a zanier Narnia, this is one indie game any fan should make sure to check out.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version (GOG.com)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


  • Currently 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (103 votes)
| Comments (15) | Views (64)

Ms. Vision By Proxy

DoraWhat's scarier than an alien that steals your eyesight? How about knowing that they apparently breed? Vision By Proxy: Second Edition gets all tarted up for more mildly disturbing puzzle platforming in Ms. Vision By Proxy, where you play a small chubby alien with a darling pink bow and the ability to steal the vision of the people she meets. Walk with [WASD] and use the [1-4] number keys to swap between any eyeballs you have. The idea is that each character looks at the world in a different way, and changing views also changes the landscape around you accordingly, allowing you to get past obstacles you previously couldn't. You have to do this because our pink heroine's giant eye is too sensitive for Earth, which is why her viewpoint is all fuzzy, and she needs to track down a specific item in each level to build... well, you'll see. Ms. Vision By Proxy doesn't have too many new tricks in her bag, but with more of the clever gameplay you enjoyed before and some beautiful new points of view to explore, she's just as fun as before.

Play Ms. Vision By Proxy


  • Currently 3.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.7/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (29)

Shadow Snake 3

TrickyEver since he placed 6th in the Jade Emperor's Great Race, the Snake gets to Zodiac-party the heck out of every twelfth year. And if 2013 is the Year of the Snake, well, then there's absolutely no reason why it can't be the year of the Shadow Snake 3, the new browser arcade game from PlayPanic, also as a free download for iOS and Android. Click and hold the mouse to direct your snake around the play area. Collecting all the sun pieces will open the portal to the next level. Avoid the dark matter critters that will chomp away at your health. Collect green nature energy and auras to recharge your health and protect you from hits, and collect fire orbs and bombs to send waves of flame at the baddies. Completing each level will give you points to use on upgrades. Once a level is completed you can replay it on "hard" and "insane" modes for more spendable points. There are four temples of seven levels to complete.

The basic gameplay of Snake is as familiar as it is hard to mess up, but Shadow Snake 3 does a great job in its interpretation. The visuals and music do a great job of evoking the naturalistic feel the developers intended, even if they do seem a little incongruous once the difficulty kicks up in later levels. The Confucian quotes at the start of each level are a little much, but hey, we could all use a little more ren in our lives. In short, Shadow Snake 3 servers up a little mystery, a little mysticism, and soothingingly satisfying snake gameplay.

Play Shadow Snake 3


| Comments (4) | Views (9)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraFrom strategy to adventure to puzzles we've got you covered! And by "we" I of course mean the developers who actually do all the hard work and effort, myself existing solely to caper along behind them for your amusement. With everything from deliciously engineered empires to a real life escape scenario, Link Dump Friday is ready for your perusal!

News and Previews

Blackwell EpiphanyGiving Terror the Thumbs Up Fans of things that go bump in the night, rejoice! After narrowly missing the mark last time, the upcoming indie horror adventure Huntsman: The Orphanage has finally been Greenlit by the Steam community! The game has had a wild ride, originally beginning life as a Slenderman game before being radically re-imagined by its team of creative developers, and if you love horror that's big on actual fear and mood instead of blood and violence then you should definitely be excited to check this one out. The Huntsman can't wait to meet you either!

Don't StarveNow With Extra Madness! Klei Entertainment's gorgeous indie survival adventure Don't Starve just keeps getting better. Focusing on learning the rules of and surviving in a hostile and surreal environment after you're teleported into it by a demon with only the clothes on your back, it's a difficult but rewarding game that's by turns both freaky and hilarious. As it inches towards its official full release date of late March, it continues to get substantial content updates, such as the recent "A Winter's Tale", "Insanity", and "Progress" packs that make it even bigger and better than before. If you love survival simulations but always wanted one with a twist, be sure to check this one out... especially since buying now at the discounted price nets you TWO copies, so you can give one to a friend!

Mew-Genics!Pussycat, Pussycat We Love You "A cross between The Sims and Pokemon with a sprinkling of Animal Crossing and a dash of Tamagotchi". Never before has one phrase made so many hearts leap with giddy anticipation... especially considering that the person who said it was Edmund McMillen, finally describing at length his upcoming and long-teased game Mew-Genics! The game is, essentially, about cats, in a "simulated cat lady environment", where you're trying to create the best kitties by taking in strays and the like to breed for the best traits... apparently to win top prize at cat shows. It's more than that, of course, with a heavy emphasis on behavioral conditioning, pet care, and genetic manipulation as detailed by the moderately horrifying yet intriguing gameplay tale contained in the announcement post. While there's no specific release date yet, you can look for it later this year on PC, iOS, and Android, so start stocking up on scratching posts now.

The Banner Saga: FactionsButt Heads, For Free While we wait for the single-player campaign for Stoic Studio's upcoming stunning indie RPG/strategy game The Banner Saga, you can get a little taste for what it's all about now on Steam. The Banner Saga: Factions is a completely free-to-play multiplayer game for PC/Mac about leading a house of Vikings to glory. It looks absolutely, jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and if you're a fan of turn-based strategy you'll want to fire up Steam and give this one a try pronto!

Leap DayFlans Are More Fun With Friends Leap Day is a fabulously addictive free browser multiplayer engineering logic puzzle game masquerading as an adorable strategic simulation where you build a kingdom of loyal Flans to save the land from frigid darkness. This most recent update adds the ability to invite specific friends to play games with you, which will doubtless come in handy when you're trying to secretly evaluate which of your friends and family will be suitable to help you rebuild your post-apocalyptic utopia. If you haven't already played it, you really need to give it a try, because this is one of the smartest, cutest, funnest-est games around, and there need to be more "free to play" titles like it.

Kickstarter/IndieGoGo Projects

XING: The Land BeyondThe Sweet Thereafter Puzzle adventure games have been around forever, captivating people around the globe. Now White Lotus Interactive wants to throw their hat into the ring with XING: The Land Beyond, conjuring up impressions of Myst and Dear Esther in the process. It's a first person experience as you travel through the afterlife, using powers to manipulate the environment around you to help you proceed. Interestingly, XING (which I'm having fun pronouncing as "Zing!" and "Ex-ing") says it will have no dialogue, no subtitles, no narrative whatsoever beyond some "poetry and cryptic inscriptions", which means this might be one of those games where the meaning is what you make of it. Head on over to its official Kickstarter to learn more!

Back to BedA Dream is a Puzzle Your Mind Makes Dreams are weird, and Bedtime Gaming wants to take that to the next level with Back to Bed, a 3D puzzle game for iPad/PC/Mac/Android/Linux/OYUA about manipulating bizarre environments to help a sleepwalker get safely back home. Bob has narcolepsy and a habit of falling asleep in dangerous places, but his subconscious, Subob, played by you, can help protect him both in dreams and the real world. It's a clever concept and makes for a gorgeously gonzo little game, as you can see by playing the free browser demo! While the demo is just twelve levels, the new version is planned for thirty, with stages taking place in both dreams and reality. This could be the wonderfully quirky little puzzler you've been looking for, so be sure to check it out.

Miscellaneous

Escape from the Mysterious RoomIn Real Life, There Are No Changing Cursors Ever wanted to see how you would do in an escape-the-room scenario in real life, only without being trapped by a murderous madman and winding up a Lifetime Original Movie? Well, thanks to Escape from the Mysterious Room, you can! A real-life escape game set up in San Francisco's Japantown and put together by SCRAP, you and ten other people will be put into a locked room full of devious puzzles and clues you'll need to use your deductive reasoning to solve. It's not free, with tickets $33.00USD at the door, but kids six and under are free when accompanied by an adult, so this sounds like something the whole family could enjoy.

Do you know an upcoming indie project or some community gaming related news you think deserves some attention? Send me an e-mail with LINK DUMP FRIDAY in the subject line at dora AT casualgameplay DOT com with the info, and we'll judge it with the all-seeing glare of our own self-importance for inclusion in a future Link Dump Friday article!

Recent Comments

 

Display 5 more comments
Limit to the last 5 comments

Casual game of the week

Nancy Drew: The Silent Spy

Your Favorite Games edit

add
Save links to your favorite games here. Use the Favorites editor.

Monthly Archives

Legal notice

All games mentioned or hosted and images appearing on JayIsGames are Copyright their respective owner(s).

All other content is Copyright ©2003-2014 JayIsGames.com. All Rights Reserved.


Visit our great partner: maxcdn!