November 2013 Archives


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (367)

The Consuming Shadow

Dora[Warning: People with certain sensitivities be advised that this game contains an option to commit suicide.]

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw draws inspiration for everything from indie hit Faster Than Light and cult classic Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem for his roguelike survival horror adventure game The Consuming Shadow. Currently playable for free in Beta, the game stars you as humanity's last hope to perform a ritual to banish an ancient god whose shadow is slowly consuming the world... but the catch is, you're not sure which god it is, and banishing the wrong one would be disastrous. The only option you have is to drive from town to town, investigating rumors, taking odd jobs, and clearing out places the evil has infested, but the clock is literally ticking. Every action you take takes time, and with only 72 hours remaining before the world is swallowed by darkness, you don't have a lot of it. You'll need to work fast, but balance your health and even your sanity, as you search a landscape ravaged by desperate, terrified people and dark forces. Oh, and did we mention? The game is randomized every time you play, so don't expect to quit after a run of bad luck and have everything be all hunky-dory because you think you know where everything is, you filthy cheater.

The Consuming ShadowA lot of the basic gameplay plays out something like a choose-your-own-adventure text game. From your car's trusty GPS, you'll select and travel to destinations, and in towns you'll have a handful of options to choose from, like getting medical attention, finding people to sell you supplies, or looking for work. A town marked with red is a potentially hostile place with a dungeon to explore, location that's green is somewhere safe(ish) you can find goods and services in, and an orange location is a place you have an objective in. All manner of random events can pop up, and how you decide to deal with them can have unexpected outcomes. A family member might text with an encouraging message or whatever funds they can spare... but they also might insist you're delusion and plead for you to seek help. All you can do is keep hunting for clues by examining everything you can and searching everywhere, but if you fail, don't worry. Based on whatever you accomplished before you died, the game will grant you experience points, and whenever you level up, you're granted upgrade tokens you can spend on improving everything from your maximum health and sanity to your initially abysmal ammo capacity for your next playthroughs.

Your ultimate goal is to both figure out the components of the ritual needed to banish the god invading the world, as well as which of three unspeakable entities that god is. Both the god responsible, and their colour and runes, change on each playthrough. In dungeons, towns that have been overcome by the shadow, you can find a variety of clues. It might be a rune scrawled on the wall whose meaning and target might help you contextually figure out the relationships between the deities or what they stand for, or it might be a scrap of journal or ancient text that more bluntly spells out a portion of the information you need. Your notes and spellbook will keep track of these more obvious clues for you, but you might want to jot down the colours and meanings of the runes you find on your own. When you have the ritual and the god, or at least think you have enough to make an educated guess, you'll need to head to Stonehenge and fight your way through it to cast the spell.

The Consuming ShadowWhen you enter a "dungeon", the game switches to a side-scrolling view where you can use [WASD] to move around, or click the onscreen arrows to do so too. These are the dangerous places where you'll have to deal with monsters, and if you didn't stock up on ammo you'll learn how hazardous kicking a crawling flesh beast to death is. You can leave a room without killing the monsters in it, but your mental health will take a hit. Sanity can be your biggest enemy as it decreases from certain events, and low sanity might lead your character to struggle in general, and even consider taking their own life rather than battle with literal demons. Still, if you want to try casting spells, during dungeon exploration click on the circle of runes, select in order the runes you wish to use, and then click the play screen to cast. While some spells can have beneficial abilities, all of them cost you some sanity to cast, and discovering a spell as part of a dungeon's treasure is safer than experimenting with runes and hoping to stumble across something.

Analysis: The Consuming Shadow is one of those games whose difficulty primarily comes from its randomised roguelike elements, since it's impossible to predict how something is going to go for you. That twitchy guy who wants a ride could turn out to be a needy soul who will repay your kindness, or he could steal your car and dump you bruised on the side of the road, and you won't know unless you take the chance. Frustrating? Sure, but it's also tense and realistic, aside from being a staple of the genre, and helps create an atmosphere of paranoia and self doubt. Considering you spend so much time staring at the road, it's a remarkably creepy game, and one that relies on suggestion to scare more than anything else. Yahtzee has always excelled at crafting frightening worlds and scenarios with just a few lines, and The Consuming Shadow is no exception.

The Consuming ShadowAt first blush, gameplay seems a little clunky when you're exploring and fighting in dungeons. It takes a bit to nail the timing when firing so you don't waste bullets, which you definitely don't want since melee is... awkward... and even then combat still feels more like a chore than anything else. After a while it all starts to feel a bit repetitive. There are never really any surprises to be had in the dungeons once you've played a bit, and at the moment there's only a handful of random text options for any given situation, so you'll start to see repeats before long. Perhaps most tedious of all is the suicide function, which just starts to get annoying rather than tense as it starts to crop up with increasing frequency and no difference throughout and loses the weight it might otherwise carry as a result.

Of course, the game is still in Beta, and Yahtzee is currently looking for feedback on how to improve and expand it. Being able to see where a job location is in relation to you before you accept it would be handy so you don't need to memorize the map. Likewise, letting you plot a course through several different towns to a destination that's farther away would cut down on tedious clicking and menu re-navigation. Mostly, however, it just feels as if the dungeons need to be fleshed out with more elements to make them more interesting... puzzles, random occurrences, quick time events... uh, maybe not that last one.

In spite of its early state, however, The Consuming Shadow is still an engrossing and engaging horror game that manages to be far more unsettling than most. The decision to leave the monsters in silhouette is incredibly effective, moreso than if they had been fully illuminated, and the range of disgusting to downright terrifying (such as the "special" monsters) is handled well. The text and mood effectively craft an atmosphere of loneliness and desperation as you drive through the dark and hostile countryside, and assembling the ritual components as well as sussing out the contextual clues makes you feel like a proper clever hero when you figure things out. And the unexpected ally at the MoO? Great touch for fans of Yahtzee's earlier work. Though it clearly has a ways to go before its done, for its flaws The Consuming Shadow manages to be an arresting and unique experience you'll want to keep coming back to, and one we can't wait to see more of in the future.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version (Beta)

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


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (6) | Views (6,202)

A Dark Room (Mobile)

GrinnypThe fire is dead. The room is cold. Awake. Head Throbbing. Vision Blurry. With those fateful words the adventure/simulation webtoy phenomenon known as A Dark Room burst upon the scene. Now the stark text adventure makes the leap to your mobile device, thanks to Amir Rajan (given blessing by doublespeak games to port, with a new alternate storyline for a particular character, some tweaks to the trading post, and faster pacing along with other goodies the mention of which might spoil the surprise for those who didn't become immediately addicted to the rich yet creepy appeal of the original. As in the original, A Dark Room for iOS and Android begins...well, as implied, in a dark room. All you can do initially is feed the fire, but as the game runs, events will begin to happen, and soon you'll find yourself with a wealth of choices that change and expand over time to flesh out the gameplay in unexpected ways.

The gameplay differences in the mobile version interface are minor, mostly separating out the various locations rather than keeping everything on one main screen as in the browser version. The constant swiping back and forth can get a little tiring as the action proceeds with more haste than the first time around, eliminating a lot of the lag time. The one cool feature is the fire itself, as your screen will grey down if it goes unattended too long, going from white to grey and eventually back to black, a nifty reminder. The addicting gameplay makes a good match for mobile devices, freeing the player from sitting in front of a browser tab for too many hours, afraid to shut the tab for fear of losing progress. No worries here as the game autosaves frequently and does not run in "real-time", i.e. when the app is shut off. For experienced players or beginners, this is a must play!

Check out our review of the original, still free browser version of A Dark Room!


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (89 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (208)

Lost Outpost

DoraYou remember how, at the start of the sci-fi horror shooter Outpost:Haven, you and your fellow manly space marine decided to split up upon docking at the extremely dangerous and dead-in-the-water alien-riddled space station? What do you think that other guy was doing the whole time? I always figured he'd holed up in the captain's quarters, drinking replicated Earl Grey tea (hot) and playing the flute while you did all the hard work, but apparently not. In the sequel from Squize, Lost Outpost, you'll find out Jameson (that's you!) was doing his share of the legwork. And the gunwork. And the oh no what was that sound noooooowork. You'll even get to continue Lee's story following his crash landing on the nearby planet after escaping from Haven. Gosh I sure hope this place also isn't infested with angry things that want to wear my face as a party hat!

Lost OutpostLost Outpost offers a few different control choices, though the default is your basic [WASD] for movement, while you aim and shoot with the mouse. [R] reloads your weapon, and you can hold [Q] to open a sub-menu to allow you to swap between any of the other boomsticks you have available. As you kill enemies, you'll gain experience and rank up, which unlocks new things to purchase from the shop terminals with the cash you find laying everywhere. (Why is it the first thing these aliens did was to make it rain?) From these terminals, you can also upgrade the weapons you own, or buy basic ammo and other supplies. Both Lee and Jameson share upgrades and weapons, so whatever you buy for one, the other gets as well. On each level, you've got three lives, and when those run out, you'll be forced to restart the current stage, because everyone loves a lives system these days. So, assuming you don't want to die, you'll want to move fast when dealing with enemies, using the environment against them to obstruct their path, and nabbing any ammo or health pickups you find. If you're having difficulty, consider playing some of the optional side-missions for extra experience.

If you've played the original, then a lot of Lost Outpost is going to feel very familiar to you. Most of the mechanical changes are relatively minor, at least as relates to significantly altering the experience, which is both a good and a bad thing, if only because it keeps the core gameplay we enjoyed intact but also feels a little samey throughout as a result. The unlockable armor is a nice addition, if not one that particularly stands out. The game actually feels more cinematic this time around, with flashier scenes and sequences, and getting to play as Lee planet-side provides an interesting variation... at least until it boots you into another location that looks nearly identical to Haven itself. It does feel like the surface stages rely a bit too much on endlessly spawning enemies, which gets both tedious and frustrating as it breaks the otherwise tense atmosphere the rest of the game is so great at crafting. As long as I'm complaining, I'll also say that it would have been nice if the map would mark off completed portions of multi-part objectives instead of leaving them all active so you can lose track of which ones you've completed.

Regardless, it's clear a lot of work has gone into this quasi-sequel, and if you don't mind the feeling of deja vu, Lost Outpost is another freaky, alien-ridden adventure you'll likely enjoy. Some of the jump-scares, which tend to be of the "WHAT WAS THAT NOISEoh, it was just a cat/ta chair/Michael Bubl" variety, are wonderfully effective, and though the visual design overall potentially tends towards almost a little too dark, the detail is great. Lost Outpost is a solid level-based shooter with a distinct style and atmosphere that's well worth checking out.

Play Lost Outpost


| Comments (0) | Views (29)

Weekend Download

JohnBSaving the world from zombies? Yeah, we've done that (but we never mind doing it again). Saving the world (including cats, they're in the world, too) from fires? Bring it on!

firepointFire Point (Windows, free) - All right, let's be heroic! Life as a fire fighter is tough, but boy do you get to do some brave things. Like rescuing cats from trees, putting out fires at close range, and carrying humans down flaming steps. Fire Point is a sidescrolling game that lets you live out these moments with stunning simplicity, placing you in a series of situations where you have to rescue occupants of burning buildings slowly, carefully, and methodically. It's a frightfully entertaining game. Go on, be a hero.

continuephillyContinue? Philly Under Fire (Windows, free) - So, you fancy NES-style sidescrolling shooters like Contra? This is totally your thing! Created by Lazy Brain Games, pick one of three characters and head into the dystopian world for some good old fashioned arcade action. Gun upgrades to collect, enemies to shoot, bosses to take out, and an awesome chiptune soundtrack to soak in. What could go wrong? Well, you could die, that's wrong. But who cares?!

eletteElette (Windows, free) - Zombie hordes are attacking. But don't worry, you've got a bow and arrow! Sitting in your tower, click to fire and take out the undead, whether they come by land, air, or air in a hot air balloon. You'll eventually get pushed back to the next line of defense, at which point you get to upgrade some part of your tower or archers. The action itself can feel a bit thin, as you pretty much just click the whole time, but the game somehow keeps you glued to the screen from area to area. Plus, the cutscenes are pretty nice!


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (73 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (52)

Golden Scarabaeus

DoraGolden Scarabaeus by BestPhysicsGames is the sort of endearingly weird little physics puzzle that only gets stranger as you play. The object of the game is to collect all the golden scarabs on each level using the little square minions at your disposal, and the catch is that each of them has a different ability when you click on them. Some can float, others can roll, or jump, and some minions will also react to certain objects in the environment differently... they might be able to smash through blocks, and all can be attracted (or repelled!) by lasers you can turn on and off with a click. To get them safely around hazards and have them reach each scarab, you'll need to figure out the proper orders to hit switches, move blocks, and more.

Golden ScarabaeusGolden Scarabaeus makes for a solid little snack of entertainment largely due to how it provides variety without drowning you in it the way other games might. The combination of different minion effects and the way they work with their environment allows for just enough interconnecting elements to make you think a little on each stage instead of having to keep track of a pile of different variables. Of course, it's still a fairly simple game with a relatively low difficulty level, but the regular pace at which it keeps introducing different things to its stages keeps things fresh. Clean visuals, intuitive gameplay, and forgiving physics makes this one an accessible, goofy treat for whatever time you have.

Play Golden Scarabaeus


(4 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (116)

Papa Pear Saga

JohnBPapa Pear Saga is a dangerously addictive combination of Peggle and Candy Crush Saga. Created by King, Papa Pear Saga was previously a Facebook game but has made the leap to mobile devices. The iOS/Android release will absolutely ruin your productivity, as all you'll want to do is play level after level of this pachinko-style arcade game.

Papa Pear SagaJust like Peggle, you're given a cannon at the top of the screen with the simple goal of eliminating pegs by firing balls at them. In this case, you're shooting papa pears as bits of fruit, chaining hits together to earn score multipliers. To beat a level you have to meet certain goals, the most common of which are "clear so many bits from the screen" or "knock out the acorns". Later you'll have to pull off more complicated tricks, which is when the game really gets its hooks in you.

Papa Pear Saga's set-up is very straightforward, but it's all the extras that make the game really shine. Power-ups and boosters can be used to do things as innocuous as multiply your score or as dramatic as explode pieces of the screen. Always handy for getting you out of a tight spot! The freemium aspects of Papa Pear Saga are very nicely done. There's no pressure to spend money, but you can if you just can't make it past a certain level. Part of what keeps bringing you back for more is figuring out how to push past obstacles without resorting to an IAP, turning the purchases themselves into a sort of meta game. Nicely done, King. Nicely done.

What Papa Pear Saga lacks in raw innovation it makes up for in playability and pure addictiveness. The sugary sweet visuals with smiling trees and happy pear buckets are just icing on the cake. Grab it now and let it start eating your free time away!

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.


| Comments (12) | Views (31)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraIf you guys are out getting in fisticuffs with people at Best Buy or Walmart for Black Friday deals instead of sitting snug at home playing games, I am going to be so disappointed. Unless you're getting me ponies. Then I understand completely.

  • The Narrow PathThe Narrow Path - (Potential Trigger Warning) This stylish but creepy real-time strategy game by Beavl took home top prize in the official The Walking Dead All Out War Game Jam, which is pretty darned slick. Crafted in just two weeks, you control a madman who's happy the zombie apocalypse is in full swing and fully intends to repopulate the world with his two unwilling female captives, but first he has to get rid of all the remaining humans and zombies, which is done by building his own army of dangerous critters from the components both enemies leave behind. Despite its unsavory premise and a somewhat clunky UI, it's an interesting gameplay concept that'll take you a while to get the hang of. Unless you already have experience harvesting flesh and grafting it to stolen cell phones. In which case, please stop reading this because you're freaking me out.
  • DiggyDiggy - Vogd's cute but familiar little game sort of feels like Motherload as seen by Despicable Me's Minions, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. With your massive drill, you'll blast (I know I said it was a drill, but you blast with it, so shush) your way down through the earth until your energy runs out, picking up gems and other valuables to sell for upgrades to improve your tools and help you get deeper. It's cute as all get-out even if it doesn't feel like anything we haven't seen before, and come on... you totally want to find out how a sentient "wandering truffle" is going to keep the lava from getting you, don't you? Is this like South Park's "stop, drop, and cover" in the face of volcano?
  • The Spandex ParableThe Spandex Parable - The narrator for this very silly, short little platform game knows it doesn't look that great, but he assures you it's for good reason... mainly because there is the single best animated sex scene ever done in a game as a reward upon completion, and that's what the developers spent all their money on... allegedly. This was originally crafted for the first Molyjam, and as a silly parody of The Stanley Parable, it's entertaining while it lasts thanks to some excellent comedic narration... especially if you go for its TRUE ending. What... you didn't think a little badonkadonk was the whole goal, did you?
  • Legendary EscapeLegendary Escape - I like any excuse to use the word legendary, ideally in my best Thor voice while flipping over a table. (A very small, light table. I have weak arm strength.) Abroy serves up this multi-stage escape game that gradually gets more difficult as you go through a series of rooms, but still probably won't pose too much of a challenge for you seasoned "lock myself in a room for funsies" weirdos. You'll hunt for clues, use items, solve puzzles, the whole shebang, and you'll discover what the fire extinguisher I chose to use as the icon is for! Is it for fending off an alien home invasion? Does it contain an elaborate chemical compound you'll need to re-freeze the neanderthal you found while digging your background pool?!... nah, it's just another puzzle clue... probably.

(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (2) | Views (147)

Icycle: On Thin Ice

JohnBIcycle: On Thin Ice from Wonderputt creator Reece Millidge of Damp Gnat, is a sequel to the original Icycle browser game. You're put in control of a chap named Dennis riding his cycle across the frozen landscape, chasing after the lovely lady of his dreams. This takes him across all sorts of bizarre locations, from shifting caverns to the interior of his own dreams. It's a physics adventure made with the sort of unrestrained creativity that used to dominate the casual gaming market. Playing Icycle: On Thin Ice is like being a kid again, only so much better.

Icycle: On Thin IceThree virtual buttons are all you'll need to ride your bike across the snow: left and right arrows plus a jump button that doubles as "float" when you're equipped with an umbrella. The game plays on momentum and well-timed jumps, but it's not necessarily about precision or realistic physics. This is an arcade platformer, and your main goal is to make it to the exit while collecting as many floating ice cubes as you can. Always easier said than done, especially when the landscape breaks and shifts, tunnels are like wormholes, and you'll change size on a number of occasions.

Rounding out the gameplay is the icebox, an in-game shop that features handfuls of items you can buy in exchange for ice cubes. Purchases range from the useful floating umbrellas and ice vacuums to cosmetic hats and sweaters. You can also save up to buy cube doublers, extra lives and level skips. A rudimentary in-app purchase system lets you refill cubes for cash, but it by no means dominates the shop or the game.

Icycle: On Thin IceAnalysis: A sense of whimsy permeates every aspect of the Icycle's design, from level layouts to power-ups, artwork, even the menu screens. Calling stages playable illustrations isn't far from the truth. Mastering Icycle is a matter of playing each level multiple times, learning how things shift, where to jump, how to fall, and what to avoid. Basic pattern memorization, but it's a whole lot of fun getting to that point.

In the department of Shortcomings and Things That Could Be Improved, Icycle has one mark on its otherwise pristine exterior: the controls. You're limited to backwards and forwards movement along with a jump button, which is simple enough in concept. Since the game encourages perfection, though, you'll run into a number of situations where grabbing those out of reach ice cubes isn't a matter of skill, it's blind luck. You don't have precise enough control over where the cycle goes to warrant a collect 'em all-style adventure, which can lead to some mild frustration until you get the hang of things.

With one scar on its checklist of features, Icycle: On Thin Ice presents a fantastic and imaginative adventure that's ripe with challenge and humor. There are dozens of levels to play through, coupled with 80 missions to complete as well as the special unlockable original Icycle game. Plenty to keep you shivering for hours on end.

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 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (72 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (1,780)

Goodgame Empire

DoraGoodgame Empire (free registration required), by Goodgame Studios, is the sort of casual strategy simulation meant for players looking for something to pick up for a few minutes at a time and a way to antagonize other players through good ol' fashioned siege-ery. You're given your own castle and surrounding kingdom you're in charge of building from the ground up, and it's up to you to keep your resources high so you both have enough wood and stone to build new structures and defenses with, and enough food to feed the growing army you'll be training. You'll need cash too, of course, which means building houses for people you can collect taxes from to come live in. Why, what do you need an army for, you ask? Well, you could just use it to defend yourself from and attack bandit hideouts, or you could sally forth under your new banner and sack some rubes, yo!

Goodgame EmpireGoodgame Empire is structured like a Facebook game, in a way. You'll be given tasks and objectives by the various members of your kingdom, and completing them grants you rewards as well as expands your castle and the things you can create. Everything takes time, however, so you'll either have to wait for an objective or order to be completed (which can be anywhere from seconds to hours of real time), or spend rubies to finish the task instantly. Rubies are granted as you level up from experience gained completing tasks or found as treasure, or you can spend real money through microtransactions if you're impatient, though it isn't necessary to play the game. Though it seems simple initially, running your kingdom quickly becomes more complex as you have to expand your land, develop and assign you defenses, recruit and train different types of warriors, and more. Fortunately, the game's helpful advisors will walk you through everything every step of the way.

Goodgame EmpireGoodgame Empire walks the line carefully between casual and simple, with gameplay that's less challenging than it is simply involving. The time-based construction and objectives won't be for everyone, since it means you both can't really play for long stretches at a time, and you're forced to check back frequently to make sure everything is in good working order. At the same time, however, unlike a lot of games with similar gameplay models, Goodgame Empire not only offers you a lot to do and has a surprisingly high quality design, it doesn't nag you to spend money on it, or feels like it's trying to force you to do so by ridiculously padding the costs of things in game. While it's true to get the most out of it without paying you'll want to be playing frequently and for a long time, there's a surprising amount of things to do and see to keep you doing so. Random encounters with highwaymen you can bribe or battle, research trees, regular treasure discoveries and rewards, artifacts to forge, new kingdoms to travel to, and more ensure that there's a lot to do.

Though you are protected from being attacked by other players for seven real time days once you start playing, it's sort of disappointing that you can't choose to play only single-player if you aren't interested in competitive play, even if it were made a permanent choice. The game itself doesn't really have much of a story beyond "get bigger, smash everyone else!", but its beautifully drawn with colourful style. Chances are you'll find it still gets a little repetitive, especially with a lot of its content locked until you reach staggeringly high levels, there's still a massive amount of content to be had, and what feels like an impressive focus on quality. If you're looking for an engaging casual simulation that fits into your spare time with enough to keep you busy for a long time, Goodgame Empire is definitely work checking out.

Play Goodgame Empire


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (45 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (1,734)

Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival

DoraThere's some "strange phenomena" allegedly happening around a familiar abandoned carnival, but even though you're a member of the Mystery Case Files detectives, you're convinced it's just a bunch of kids stirring up trouble... right up until you find yourself trapped by a malevolent curse, that is. Now you and the rest of the carnival's performers are doomed unless you can find a way to save everyone and thwart the dark power du jour in the hidden-object adventure Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival by Elephant Games. With twelve cursed souls to save, including your own, and piles of confounding puzzles, some freaky and creepy jump scares, and a cat that actually does what it's told, it's a worthy successor to the series.

Mystery Case Files: Fate's CarnivalThough the game basically plays like your standard pointy-clicky, hidden-object-seeky title, it does a lot to both streamline the experience and engage you. You've got your magic map to traipse around the fairgrounds simply by clicking on any location you've visited, your magic sassy cat to retrieve items you can't reach, your five levels of difficulty you can switch between at any time... oh, and there's also some weird little extras, like collecting magically shifting playing cards to unlock a Solitaire game, and the ability to find cash to buy items for your cat, if that's what you're into. All of the carnival workers, who you should recognise, are snared in lethal yet oddly poetic traps, and the fairgrounds themselves are dangerously run down and laden with all sorts of puzzles left behind by the madman who seems to have caused all of this and has one serious grudge. Who could he be... and could he have more to do with your past than it seems?

Mystery Case Files: Fate's CarnivalAnalysis: Having veteran awesome-crafters Elephant Games take over the series is a bit of a surprise, but they've definitely done an outstanding job. Mystery Case Files is a series that has undergone some dramatic changes in basic design and style, some more successful than others, and Fate's Carnival feels like a return to classic form both in aesthetics and gameplay. No more real actors (you'll be in my heart, Cooter), this game features gorgeous artwork from top to bottom, and rich, stunning environmental design. Even more welcome are the sort of complex, Rube Goldberg-esque puzzles we haven't seen from the series in a long time, and a greater reliance on adventuring over hidden-object scenes. There's a bit less of a focus on storytelling this time around, and the game doesn't do much to fill you in on who all these returning characters are or what they're talking about if you haven't played Madame Fate... but you'll be going far beyond the carnival as it is, anyway, as the game changes things up just when you think you've explored everywhere you can.

Mystery Case Files: Fate's Carnival is one stunner of a game, with a satisfying length and engaging gameplay. It isn't, however, particularly difficult. The puzzles are all fairly logical and item uses are obvious, and the more tricky mechanical puzzles have their solutions spelled out in the notebook you require, which makes me wistful for Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove's fiendishly sneaky hidden clues and solutions. The biggest challenge can be that the game is occasionally finicky when it comes to accepting clicks to interact with or use/pick-up items, something that gets especially frustrating in the Rube Goldberg-sy challenges. Still, Fate's Carnival feels devoted to its gameplay rather than its cinema in a way that the series hasn't in a long time, and the result is worth the wait. It's filled with twist and turns that bring the entire series together in an unexpected way. If you've given up on the series because of the changes its undergone over the years, do yourself a favour and check out the demo for this one. And if you've never played but are looking for an adventure that's big, weird, and gorgeous in equal measure, check out the demo too. Highly recommended.

Note: 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 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (154 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (27)

Catchy Orbit

Starchild Catchy Orbit is one of those one-button puzzle games which are quite simple and yet strangely addictive. Maybe it's because it makes things go boom. In space. With giant globes of apocalypse. In other words, your task is to press the [spacebar] or click anywhere on the screen to launch one or more balls into other balls (planets?) and try to get a chain reaction going. The number of destroyed balls determines how many stars you'll get, and you'll need at least one to pass a level.

Catchy Orbit The game starts easily enough, so you can work on your timing and get it just right before the difficulty increases. At the beginning, you can only launch normal balls, and later you'll get three other types, which means you'll have to adjust your tactics for maximum impact. It's never very hard to finish a level, but getting all three stars requires some skill, especially when you have to destroy rocks as well as balls in order to proceed. Some levels change their layout every time you restart them, which means zero frustration if you get stuck the first time, but it also means you can't replay the exact same level if you're of a stubborn disposition and intent on beating it. But this is a minor complaint; overall, Catchy Orbit is a polished game with very nice mechanics, clear visuals and cool music. Add to that a few nice achievements, and you've got yourself an explosion-filled, addictive little time stealer.

Play Catchy Orbit


  • Currently 2.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.9/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (36)

Dramatic Execution

TrickyYou can't even remember if you're guilty of what they say you did. But you were once a hero, and a hero deserves as glorious a death as you can hope for in the cold black of space. The laser prison planet looms large, and so does the never-ending stream of those wishing to break in and out. You will make your last stand an honorable one, in Dramatic Execution, a Unity scifi shooter by Abdullah Konash.

Dramatic Execution Turn and accelerate your ship with the [arrow] keys, firing with the [spacebar]. You have a fuel gauge, which will replenish itself whenever you cease accelerating, and a health bar which refills when you are not shooting. You will lose health whenever you attempt to leave the force-field of the prison planet, while its gravity will draw you ever closer to it. This, however, will let you pull off some impressive maneuvers. Stay alive for as long as you can. With Spacewar-like physics combined with Asteroids-like rapid-fire shooting, Dramatic Execution should prove a treat for those looking for old-school arcade fun and challenge. Make no mistake: the learning curve is steep and the enemies unforgiving. However, once players get the hang of the tricks of the engine (like shooting backwards while gravity slingshots you around), they're sure to become a true drama-addict.

Play Dramatic Execution


| Comments (0) | Views (6)

The Vault

TrickyHappy almost-Thanksgiving! I'll tell ya what I'm thankful for: I'm thankful for action games, I'm thankful for adventure games, I'm thankful for strategy games, and I'm thankful I get to dive into the archive each week in order to share them with you in the JayIsGames Vault. I'd also say I'm thankful for my editor, Dora, but going by my Canadian holiday calendar, I think I was supposed to do that in Mid-October and missed my chance. You'll have that.

[I'm transplanted. Your turkey is mine! -D.]

  • FlightFlight - When I was young, I had a dream based around the thought that if I could just run fast enough, I could follow the sun as it went around the entire world, never letting it go down on me, such concerns as "oceans" being beneath my consideration. Even if Juan Sebasti�n Elcano got there first, circumnavigation is a powerfully intriguing concept, and one wielded expertly by Krin Juangbhanich in his 2010 launch game Flight. Flying a paper airplane from country to country, cross plains, forest, jungles, desert, and tundra, every so often stopping to peek in with an installment of a bizarre but affecting little story of how the message carried by the plane is interpreted, re-interpreted and misinterpreted. A fun little game that's sure to make any holiday travel you're doing this week that much easier.
  • Cat Astro PhiCat Astro Phi - Long car rides to grandma's house always meant one thing for me: incredibly low-resolution handheld gaming! So in that spirit, let me present one of the greatest Nintendo games that never was, Photon Storm's 2010 retro-adventure game has all the elements: SciFi asteroid blasting action, acidic mud, a bleepity-bloopity soundtrack, and an adowable widdle kitty to rescue. Chock full of obscure references and clever secrets, Cat Astro Phi will have you shooting, exploring, collecting, puzzling, and hacking across three vibrantly two-tone alien worlds. All without the trauma of running out of AAA batteries on your transparent-purple Game Boy Pocket!
  • CoBaCoLiCoBaCoLi - If our readers will permit me one final indulgence of Turkey Day nostalgia, one of the greatest things about young Tricky's Thanksgiving experience was the bumper pool table at his grandparents house, and specifically the games he would play with Poppy while mom and Grammy were actually doing all the culinary heavy lifting. Thus this time of year makes me oddly wistful for the computation of billiard balls and the computation of two dimensional ricochet physics, and Tonypa's 2008 ode to trick shots, CoBaCoLi is a perfect indulgence. A game with a soothing presentation both trippy and elegant, the difficult-but-not-frustrating challenge of sending colored balls into the correct colored lines makes CoBaCoLi as good as tryptophan for winding players down into a long winter's nap.

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 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (114 votes)
| Comments (35) | Views (561)

The Dark Rumor

Dora"The Dark Rumor" sounds like a really tawdry romance novel title, something with a lot of heaving and red sateen on the cover, but it's actually an escape game by Gotmail, and that's fine too. In it, you play a contender for the all-time Darwin Awards who really wants to buy a house whose owner will only sell it to you if you can uncover the truth about all the bodies that are rumoured to keep showing up there. Yes, it seems you think buying a house locally known as the freaking Cannibal House is an awesome idea, and you're very surprised when the door slams shut behind you and locks you inside. Click around to hunt for clues to solve the puzzles you'll encounter (remember to examine your items closeup!), and maybe rethink your life choices a little.

The Dark RumorThough The Dark Rumour features a lot of puzzle solving that relies on combining and interpreting clues and codes scattered around, the most difficult part for some is going to be the lack of a changing cursor to denote interactive areas, since the fact that not every such spot has any real visual indicator means you'll have to click around everything to find them all. Some people would say this adds to the difficulty, but arguably The Dark Room is hard enough without needing to strip out a more user-friendly UI. The puzzles are actually very clever, but require a lot of figuring out how clues fit together and what they apply to rather than just where to use a key or other item. (Although oddly, the game refers to one item as a "screwdriver" when it's clearly a turnkey.) It makes for a quite stylish game, but one whose gameplay design won't appeal to everyone, which is a shame since its tricky clue combination and more cerebral puzzle design is actually quite refreshing. Don't let the morbid premise fool you... there's nothing scary or gory about The Dark Rumor, and the ending is actually quite sweet. If you love a challenge, despite its missteps in design The Dark Rumor is a surprisingly lovely game that's worth checking out.

Play The Dark Rumor

Thanks to Chiktionary for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (109 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (169)

Blade Rush

DoraBlade Rush is a challenging platformer with "stealth" elements by Darren Briden, and the reason I put that word into quotes is because while the game involves trying not to be spotted as you navigate levels filled with enemies that will instantly shoot you to death if they spot you, you kill those enemies by smashing into them at rocket speed like a Tasmanian Devil. Using either [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, just run and jump (and wall-jump) around levels, using the green sphere around you as a visual guide to let you know when you can hit [K] to hurtle yourself onto him and render him a bloody smear with the sheer force of impact. Which, you know. Whatever works. Finish stages as quickly as possible to get better rankings, and avoid being seen! If an enemy is alerted, they'll kill you in a single shot... and as you play, you'll find even more hazards to watch out for.

Blade RushBlade Rush is sort of unexpectedly hilarious and fun, and I say "unexpectedly" because at first blush it's a very sparse and simple game. The visuals are itty-bitty and grey, and the level design doesn't offer a whole lot of variation, aesthetic or otherwise, consisting mostly of different configurations of platforms and hazards floating around. Where it starts to shine is once it takes the training wheels off, and you realise you can start triggering attacks in midair and quick succession, zipping around like a tiny murder-rocket, and using that velocity to carry you over otherwise insurmountable gaps and around obstacles. The trick is figuring out the best order to eliminate foes to do so. It eliminates what initially looks like is going to be a lot of wall-jumping and landing on miniscule platforms... though there is admittedly still quite a bit of that to be had at times. It's sort of a simplified, less cinematic Vox Populi, Vox Dei. Though it lacks a lot of variation and might be still too fiddly for some players, Blade Rush is still a clever little game with a lot of minimalistic style that would be great to see expanded in some way in the future.

Play Blade Rush


| Comments (2) | Views (13)

Mobile Monday

JohnBGames, bundles of games, and devices that grant you access to more games. If we've done the math correctly, that's about four games (margin of error is +/-100).

shapejam-p.gifShape Jam (iOS/Android, free) - Mmm, delicious puzzle games that hurt the brain. Shape Jam plays on your brain's filtering and pattern recognition abilities in a very simple but challenging way. You're given groups of colored shapes, each of which has a number of smaller shapes displayed on the inside. Your job is to find the matches, which can be a number of different combinations. For example, three shapes of the same color, same number of smaller shapes, and unique smaller shapes counts as a match. Two of one color is a no-go, no matter how you mix them up. It's a very challenging concept in a brain teaser sort of way, and definitely one to check out if you enjoy good logic puzzles.

bundles.gifAndroid game bundles! - It's rare to see indie bundles containing games for mobile devices, but right now there are at least two good ones available on ye interwebs. The Humble Mobile Bundle 3 and ikoid are each offering a handful of Android games for a pay-what-you-want and set minimal price respectively. Get games like Kingdom Rush, rymdkapsel, They Need to Be Fed, Ridiculous Fishing and several more, all for small price tags well below the standard rate. Now go get some gaming done before the bundles close!

diceplus.gifDICE+ makes dice rolling digital - Adding a little physicality to digital games, DICE+ is a Bluetooth-connected accessory designed for iOS and Android devices that allows you to roll a die in the real world and see the results in a game. There are about a dozen compatible titles released or in the works, ranging from simple board games to more creative ventures, and all of them operate using the dice rolling device along with simple screen touches. It's a great way to get family members in on some tablet gaming action, and because everybody knows how to roll dice, even non-techies have a place at this digital table. DICE+ may have limited use since it requires a physical accessory and local players, but once you assemble the parts it ends up being quite a bit of fun. Especially when you win! Read more about DICE+ on the official website.


  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (58 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (17)

Madville

Tricky"Hey buddy! Want to know how I got in here? No. It's not because I'm crazy. Or just because I'm crazy, rather. I mean, who knows what sane is any more? Anyways, it all started this one day where alien monsters from outer space deployed upon our unsuspecting planet, and I was the only one prepared to blast them into their component smithereens... Wait, no, don't fall asleep!" Madville, an arena shooter/brawler by Umut Dervis, shows that when the world has gone mad, a little insanity can only be an advantage. Move with the [arrow] keys and aim your weapon and fire it at the alien monsters using the mouse. You start out melee-ing with a short-range punching boxing-glove gun, but dead alien monsters drop weapons to be picked up with [spacebar], along with coins to spend on upgrades between levels, various power-ups, and, of course, the mystery box which, when picked up, will activate one of a number of random effects. And we do mean random.

MadvilleDefeat all four waves in all fifteen levels and, well, you'll see how you got here to begin with. Games with one-man armies facing off against wave after wave of snarling monsters are nothing new, but Madville gives the concept a shot in the arm with its focus on close-range combat, a large variety of creepy monsters to mash, and cut-scenes eager to poke fun at the tropes of the genre. (What the heck is a "research point" anyways?) Some of the game mechanics aren't perfect: it would have been better to allow an automatic armor and weapons pick-up, rather than having to hit the [spacebar] each time. That seems so incredibly minor to mention, but it'll likely be the cause of more deaths in the game than anything else. Still, overall, the Madville experience is as balanced as the protagonist isn't. U MAD?

Play Madville


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (91)

Haunted Halls: Nightmare Dwellers

DoraI tend to write my reviews as I play the game, getting down opinions and observations while they're fresh and altering them as needed as I go along. Which puts me in a weird position with ERS Game Studios' hidden-object adventure Haunted Halls: Nightmare Dwellers because my notes are just "??" and "??????" It's not necessarily the plot that's crazy. You've been called to investigate the theft of a crystal skull rumoured to belong to Morpheus, God of Dreams, only to find that the skulls power has begun to warp the area and turn dreams into reality while grappling with a tentacled madman. As most of us know, however, dreams don't typically make a lot of sense, and so you wind up having to deal with things like brains in bonnets, fashion-conscious flamingos, tea-sets that prance around on fingers, and armadillo safes. You know, like you do.

Haunted Halls: Nightmare DwellersNightmare Dwellers' gameplay is, for the most part, a straightforward affair with hidden-object scenes and gathering up an entire episode of Hoarder's worth of junk to solve puzzles. What's nice is that the game's difficulty is fully customiseable... you can choose to have no hints but enable the puzzle skip function, whether you want objects illuminated, even how long you want the recharge time on hints and skips to be. Some hidden-object scenes are self-contained puzzles, using the items you're tasked to find by silhouette one after the other until you get the object you really need. The problem is that the item uses in those scenes, which are themselves repetitive, are often weirdly illogical in a way that has nothing to do with the game's dream-like atmosphere. Use perfume to clean a dirty mirror? Oh, of course. The game's other unique mechanic are magic goggles that allow you to translate mystical messages by deciphering symbol puzzles, but since those puzzles never really change and the messages don't actually tell you anything that you wouldn't be doing anyway just by playing the game, it feels a little gimmicky and pointless.

Haunted Halls: Nightmare Dwellers is so over the top that it almost feels like it's trying to do everything at once. Heck, you can even play match-3 games instead of hidden-object scenes if you prefer. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, since it feels like Nightmare Dwellers is trying exceptionally hard to be creative... and it is, mostly, with vibrant and imaginative design that constantly surprises you as you play, and all the plot twists you could possibly want on top of its high production values. It's more comedically weird than it is scary, and the bizarre content means you'll definitely want to try the demo first, even if you've played and liked the other games in the series since the tone is so drastically different. A lot of players will likely finish the main game in under four hours, with around another hour for the bonus chapter in the Collector's Edition. Haunted Halls: Nightmare Dwellers is definitely an eccentric game that won't be for everyone, but it you love the weird and embrace the crazy, this is a polished, well-made game you should check out.

Note: 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 3.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.9/5 (52 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (18)

Transmyter

Starchild Pigeons can be a mean bunch. They ruin your best Sunday clothes, they fly at you in a flurry of feathers and, worst of all, they flap around in space and smash into your spaceship. Or at least that's what happened to Ezzy, a dapper little alien from the sweet new puzzler, Transmyter. After he crash-landed on what seems to be Earth, he saw his girlfriend being dragged away by a shower-cap-wearing villain. But never fear, Ezzy has a superpower up his sleeve: he can shape-shift into almost anything. You can move him with [A] and [D] or the [arrow] buttons, click on various objects to have Ezzy transform into them, and click again anywhere to bring him back to his alien form.

Ezzy can only transform into objects that are highlighted when you mouse over them, and a timer will tell you how long you have until he changes back. Some puzzles really take advantage of your limited time, as well as the fact that the alien moves slowly, so plan ahead. You are allowed to turn into lots of various items on each screen, most of which won't get you anywhere, but it's certainly fun to experiment. The puzzles are intuitive enough, and the levels are short, so the solution usually comes quite naturally. With such an original premise and solid mechanics, Transmyter could have been a much bigger game. Still, bite-sized as it is, it manages to cram a good amount of fun and quirky humour into its little levels as well as provide a satisfying ending, so we can only hope for more to come.

Play Transmyter


| Comments (2) | Views (117)

Weekend Download

JohnBThat's it. Stay calm. It's just a handful of free games to keep you entertained for the weekend. It's not like someone's going to run at you with a knife in the kitchen or a ninja will leap out at you from behind a tree.

calmtimeCalm Time (Windows, free) - A collaboration between indie game creators known for their horror titles, including Ivan Zanotti, creator of Imscared: A Pixelated Nightmare, Calm Time is anything but what the name suggests. This 3D horror game sets a somber mood and starts with an innocent house party that soon turns into something bloody and disturbing. Calm Time turns you into a killer, whether you want to or not, and sends you throughout the mansion hunting down guests one by one, all while trying to stay calm. A surprisingly chilling experience.

allthekingsmenAll the King's Men (Windows, free) - Created by Kyle Pulver, this short defense-style arcade game is all about protecting the dude in the nice hat. The king walks along the path while ninjas and archers spring out from the trees. By taking control of soldiers and controlling them as one big group, you can head off attacks and keep the king safe while he goes on his stroll through the meadow. Three levels of difficulty, one level of kingly stupidity.

artibeusArtibeus (Windows, free) - You're a fruit bat, and boy do you love to eat fruit. Grab all of the yummies on each screen, speeding your fine self up with each nom. Lots of bad things float around in this castle, including eyeballs, skulls, and stabby swords. But you can avoid them with your bat-like reflexes, and a few power-ups give you a boost, too. A simple but extraordinarily enjoyable arcade game.


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (62 votes)
| Comments (47) | Views (9,610)

Alice mare

DoraTranslated by vgperson, Miwabisha's Alice mare blends subtle horror with surreal adventuring to tell the story of Allen, a young orphan with no memories who lives in a building with an eccentric "teacher" and a group of strange children. An impromptu decision to investigate a noise from upstairs his first night in sets in motion a bizarre journey into a twisted set of wonderland dreamworlds both he and the other children seem to have no hope of escaping. Use the [arrow] keys to move, [spacebar] to select choice and interact, and hit [ESC] to open the menu where you can save your game whenever you like. The game has seven possible endings, but in some cases, it's possible to bring your adventure to an early end by making some lethal choices, so save frequently and in different spots... and maybe pay attention to the warnings the game tries to give you! Please note that after going through the door behind the closet in the room where you meet a certain hooded character for the first time, though the screen will stay black, the game is not bugged... simply try walking forward to make the lights come on!

Alice mareThere's a lot to like about Alice mare's, with its twisted and imaginative take on fairytales and detailed character design. Though the heavily symbolic environments and dialogue might at times make it hard to interpret what's happening, the different worlds and tales attributed to each child are compelling enough to make you want to see it through. Revealed in notebook scraps and abstract drawings, their stories are both unsettling and sad. While some of the puzzles are more clever than others, however, none of them really feel like they have anything to do with the story or game at all and wind up serving as nothing more than busywork. Alice mare's biggest issue is that it doesn't give a lot of direction, and some of the requirements for advancement are vague at best, making it easy to miss a lot of things... especially the nine special items you have to find to unlock a certain ending. Other issues are more related to simple user-friendliness, like the way the highlight for selected choices almost perfectly matches the text window's background, making it difficult to keep track of what choice you're selecting.

As a result, Alice mare is a game that's still intriguing and imaginative enough to play, but one that could have done with a little more polish to streamline its gameplay. Like "Teacher" himself, Alice mare is a little eccentric, and will need a patient player with an appreciation for metaphor and weirdness to truly enjoy it.

WindowsWindows:
Get 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 (2) | Views (68)

Whispered Secrets: Into the Beyond

DoraI'll tell you that planning a wedding is hard work enough without having to worry about some mad scientist stink-poisoning your future mother-in-law. I guess that's the price you pay when you decide to get hitched to some hotshot celebrity scientist with enemies, though, and in GrandMA Studios' hidden-object adventure game Whispered Secrets: Into the Beyond, as the bride-to-be Clarice you'll have to save more than your reputation with your future mother. It turns out the fate of more than one world hangs in the balance, and your beau had more than his share of secrets and jealous competitors. You'll have to venture beyond the ordinary into another realm that lives alongside our own and stop a madman with incredible powers at his disposal. No biggie, right?

Whispered Secrets: Into the BeyondWhispered Secrets: Into the Beyond plays about as you'd expect for the genre, tracking down items and solving puzzles as you explore, though it does allow you to complete hidden-object scenes by playing match-3 games if you prefer. The game is packed with little extras, like achievements, and hunting down beady-eyed "Observers" in each area... which is surprisingly fun since they're often cleverly hidden and well animated. The biggest issue with the game might be that it suffers from a bit too much busywork, like forcing you to hunt down an item to be able to ring a bell before the police station will let you inside, which seems like a questionable business model when your business is being accessible to people who need help. Busywork is admittedly sort of a staple of the genre, but when its implemented in a way that futzes with basic logic to the point where it jars the player out of the experience, it's a lot more annoying. That said, the game definitely gives you a lot to do, and for some the endless parade of items to find and puzzles to solve (as well as creepy critters to spot) will be exactly what they're looking for.

Initially, the pace is very slow going, and if you prefer more action you might be put off by how long it takes anything to really happen. But though Whispered Secrets: Into the Beyond is slow going, if you prefer your games rich in imagination and science-fiction fantasy, you'll enjoy sinking into it. The developer's name (GrandMA Studios) might be pretty apt here, since the game's entire design is warm and inviting with gorgeous artwork and a streamlined UI. It's the perfect choice for casual players looking for something, well, casual, beautifully illustrated and engaging without being too demanding. The sort of game that basically demands to be enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee and a blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Whispered Secrets: Into the Beyond doesn't take risks with its gameplay or break new ground, but it's a solidly enjoyable game that provides a fun experience whose mysticism and adventure provides a welcome respite from the drama-heavy titles you usually encounter.

Note: 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 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (406 votes)
| Comments (32) | Views (4,119)

Kingdom Rush Frontiers

JohnB11/22/13: Now available to play in your browser!

Kingdom Rush has returned! Ironhide Game Studio has released an official sequel to the tower defense game that stole our free time (and social lives) back in 2011. Kingdom Rush Frontiers is built on the same basic defense skeleton that made the first game so spectacular, only now there's more of it! It's Kingdom Rush, and you know it's going to be amazing, so get to playing! (Now available for Android as well!)

Kingdom Rush FrontiersFor those of you who might need a little convincing, here are the basic brush strokes that comprise this beautiful masterpiece of a game. Kingdom Rush Frontiers puts you in control of placing towers on a field to stop invading enemies. Each one has a different strength and weakness to work with, such as archer towers firing fast but being weak to heavily armored enemies or artillery towers doing great damage at the cost of firing slower than pouring molasses up a hill. The key to success is organizing the towers so they effectively cover the path, then upgrading as you see fit. It's a familiar set-up for sure, but Ironhide managed to balance the gameplay so well that it's practically impossible not to get hooked from the get-go.

In addition to towers you also have a few special powers you can unleash which are both fun and functional! Reinforcements can be deployed with a few taps of the screen, dropping a couple of fighters out to skirmish with the bad guys. You also have more impressive magical abilities that can quite literally rain destruction from the sky. Heroes are key units that can be commanded to attack throughout the battlefield. They also have skills that can be upgraded through unique skill trees, adding a nice RPG-like touch to the whole experience.

Kingdom Rush FrontiersAnalysis: If we haven't convinced you by now that Kingdom Rush games are good games, we're not sure what else we can do. Not only was it voted Best Browser Defense or Strategy Game in our Best of 2011 feature, it also walked away with Game of the Year, topping every game we featured in all genres and all platforms for the entire year. So, yeah, Kingdom Rush good. And Kingdom Rush Frontiers good, too!

So much is new in Kingdom Rush Frontiers, and it's all incorporated without upsetting the balanced gameplay introduced in the original. New levels are kind of a given, and the settings range from caves to deserts to grasslands to jungles. Eight new special towers have been introduced, allowing you to attack foes with necromancers, assassins, or earthquakes. There are 40 foes to dispatch as well as nine new heroes like Cronan the Beastmaster and Sha'Tra the Alien Predator to dispatch them with. All of that is in addition to 70 achievements, unlockable weapons, and as Ironhide covertly promised, giant sandworms and a black dragon that will burn your enemies to a crisp.

When a sequel comes along to something as big as Kingdom Rush, you can't help but be interested. Kingdom Rush Frontiers doesn't mess with the basic formula, but it adds so many new things that it does feel like a true sequel. It's perfection in a defense game, plain and simple!

Play Kingdom Rush Frontiers

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 (85 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (609)

Dokotonaku

DoraIf it's strange and mildly unsettling, then Detarou is probably the culprit, and we mean that in the fondest way possible. In the escape game Dokotonaku, you're trapped behind a giant wall, but at least you're outside! Surrounded by men doing questionable exercises with marshmallow peeps... a guy who won't stop picking his nose... a whole bunch of hip thrusting... and... hmmm. Well, uh. To each their own, I guess. Just click around to interact, finding items and clues to help you solve puzzles and escape. Don't forget to examine some items in your inventory. Since there are ways to fail, remember to save!

DokotanakuThough it features the typical Detarou blend of clever contextual clues and sneaky yet (... mostly... ) logical puzzles, Dokotonaku might be the most, ehhh, relentlessly suggestive Detarou title to date, almost startlingly so. Some of you will be fine with that, and that's cool. Others may not be, and that's cool too. It's just something you should know, since there's a lack of subtlety this time around that potentially ups the creep factor for some people. The puzzles and gameplay themselves will require a lot of exploration and experimentation usual, with clues that need interpretation and even to be reapplied to other puzzles. If strange doesn't scare you, you'll find Dokotonaku a surreal cerebral workout to get your freak on with.

Play Dokotonaku

Game not loading? Try this alternate link.


| Comments (12) | Views (19)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraOne more day, you guys. One more day. Aaa. Aaaaaa. Aaaaaaaah!... what? Oh, whatever. Have some games and stuff. Aaaaa!

  • Chicks Hide and Seek 13Chicks Hide and Seek 13 - How wondrous must your life be that your day revolves not around paying bills or housework, but on playing hide and seek all day with tiny baby chicks? On a cuteness scale of one to ten, this one is an oh em geeeeee you guys for sure. Yuuri's latest is a bit on the easy side as you click around and try to find all the chicks hiding behind/under/blending into things, but a few clever puzzles balance things out to make for a sweet and tasty distraction to start your day with.
  • Bell Park, Youth DetectiveBell park, Youth Detective - It's not exactly difficult, but if you grew up with the stuff like me, Brendan Patrick Hennessey's silly, snarky interactive fiction title that effortlessly skewers and celebrates the "child detective" concept is well worth the read. When twelve-year-old Bell Park is called in to help solve a mystery, she quickly discovers she might be a bit over her head, and that the truth may be stranger than fiction. The ending is a little unsatisfying, but if you like 'em well written and funny, this one is worth the play.
  • Dino Run: Enter Planet DDino Run: Enter Planet D - Created by Pixeljam Games to promote their Dino Run 2 Kickstarter, this little arcade game puts a weird spin on the Dino Run you know and love when the end of the world starts to get a little crazy. As before, you're racing to outrun fiery doom, dodging obstacles and nomming up eggs and smaller dinos for DNA to spend on upgrades, but can you handle bizarre floating space blobs? How about flaming pterodactyls?
  • Doctor Who 50th Anniversary DoodleDoctor Who 50th Anniversary Doodle - Currently only playable at https://www.google.co.nz/, here's an adorable little point-and-click puzzle game for all you Whovians to celebrate the Doctor's 50th anniversary. Dodge Daleks and more as you travel through time hunting down letters with your favourite Doctor... uh, possibly Doctors if you wind up getting zapped. The whole thing is unbearably adorable, and should help tide you over until the special airs this Saturday, even if I think they should have just made Donna Saves Everyone: The Game.

  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (51)

Dang I'm Huge

ArtbegottiWhat's the first thing you'd say if you stepped through a portal and come out twice your current size? You might shout, "Ow I hit my knee on the ceiling," or "Oh dear, my clothes are too small to fit me." But for Guilherme Tws, the choice is simple: "Dang I'm Huge." In this Sokoban-esque puzzler made using PuzzleScript, you've got to cover the targets with the boxes using the size-changing portals and a dash of pushy wit.

Dang I'm HugeYour size is important when moving around using the [arrow] keys. When you're small, you can fit through narrow spaces, but you can only push one small block at a time. When you're huge, you can push up to two blocks at a time with each portion of your body, but you're too big to fit through some hallways. Stepping through the green portal (when you match the portal's size) transforms you to the other size, but the portal must be cleared before it can be used again. To clear a level, you must get a box onto every target (there may be leftover boxes when you're done), but you've got to be careful you don't block your own path along the way. With size on your side, can you tower above the eight tasks in this test of tenacity?

Play Dang I'm Huge


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (44 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (581)

A Boney Night

SonicLoverA beehive-haired witch. An oddly intellectual orc. A zombie apocalypse. A short and silly song about beer. They're all to be found in A Boney Night, a retro adventure game from Bernie of Origami Hero Games. You control a witch named Undra, who is woken up in the middle of the night by her mushroom messenger crying out an alert, and sets out to investigate. She is later joined by Kijo Itar, a runaway orc with an unpleasant past, and together they make it their mission to bring whatever ancient evil has awakened to an end. You will be helping them with your trusty computer mouse: click an action on the left (look at, interact with, talk to) to pick it, then click on a labeled object in the environment to tell Undra what to do. Objects and ideas pile up in the inventory at the bottom; you can scroll through it by clicking the arrows, then equip an item by clicking on it with the cursor (with no action attached) and use it on whatever you want to use it on. Of course, sometimes you just want to perform a standard action on an inventory item, which is fine, too. Impatient players can skip through dialogue by clicking, or hold [spacebar] to speed everything up.

A Boney NightA Boney Night bills itself as a callback to the golden age of adventure gaming, when the likes of Guybrush Threepwood and Roger Wilco were stuffing their bafflingly deep pockets with inventory items and using them in all kinds of crazy ways, and with the creative yet logical puzzles, occasional spots of humor, and general retro charm, this game definitely delivers. Of course, there are a few flaws here and there- for example, a set of hotkeys for the different actions would no doubt be appreciated- but the biggest one is that the game ends too quickly. It's not quite long enough to justify the save feature, and at least one plot lead is left unresolved in the end... a hint at a sequel perhaps? Nevertheless, the term "short but sweet" is definitely applicable to A Boney Night, so if you grew up in the 90's and are looking for a coffee-break-sized adventure to stir up your nostalgia, this witch might just cast a spell on you.

Play A Boney Night


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (432)

Strike Force Heroes: Extraction

JohnBStrike Force Heroes: Extraction from Sky9 Games continues the arcade shooting browser games on mobile devices, introducing rooftop running as a central mechanic lined with ample amounts of gun fire and upgrading. A creative "cover" mechanic sets it apart from the rest of the endless runners in the crowd, making it both a strong contender in the mobile race and a suitable follow-up to the Strike Force Heroes series, too!

Strike Force Heroes: ExtractionStrike Force Heroes: Extraction's controls have been boiled down to just the basics. Your character runs on his or her own, all you have to worry about is, well, not dying. Tap the left side of the screen to jump, holding there for higher and longer jumps. You can swipe down to stop running and take cover, allowing you to strategically bump off enemies in your path by tapping the right side of the screen. You can shoot while on the move, too, but beware that running into enemies slows you down and causes a bit of damage. You've got to keep an eye on your health, as running out of hearts is a bit more of an issue than running out of time.

Playable characters are one of the big selling points in Strike Force Heroes: Extraction. You have not one or two but 20 in all, each unlockable for a certain amount of in-game coinage. Characters come with flaws and perks, the latter of which are upgraded by performing different activities during play. For example, Cate is an ex-cat burglar with a stealth skill that is unlocked after killing 40 enemies while taking cover. Singe wears a fire proof suit and gets stronger the more explosions he survives. Not only does the character system encourage you to play the game in different ways, it also adds an enormous amount of replayability, especially when you consider the number of guns you can buy and upgrade.

Strike Force Heroes: ExtractionStrike Force Heroes: Extraction comes with three main modes of play: Campaign, Survival, and Free Run. The former is the meat of the game that sends you through stage after stage of running and gunning. Start here to experience the game's story across 30 different levels and unlock the other modes. When you're in the mood for a challenge, hop over to Survival to see how far you can run in a handful of special stages. Finally, Free Run lets you cut loose and simply hoof it. No guns, just runs!

Analysis: Strike Force Heroes: Extraction has long been a favorite shooter browser game. This mobile experience has been tweaked to better fit mobile devices, turning it into something closer to an endless running/shooter hybrid. It hasn't lost any of the action or strategy (or shooting!) in the transition, however, and you'll be pleasantly surprised just how captivated you are with the high-speed re-imagining of Strike Force.

For all its action, speed and upgrade goodness, Strike Force Heroes: Extraction does have a couple of weak spots. The cover mechanic, for example, isn't quite as precise as it should be. Swiping down on the screen seems simple enough, but when you're dashing along rooftops, your attention isn't exactly riveted on how far your finger moves across the screen. Sometimes you'll jump when you mean to swipe, which is frustrating when you're on a good run.

Despite some slightly blurry visuals that spin by at high speeds and an occasionally iffy combat mechanic, Strike Force Heroes: Extraction is easily one of the top arcade games on the mobile market. It has the ability to draw you in with quick stages that only take a few moments to play, but the longer you stick with it, the more characters you'll unlock, the more perks you'll get, the more weapons you'll use, and the more awesome the game becomes!

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 (133 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (648)

furiosity

JohnBNew from puzzle maestro Bart Bonte, furiosity is a puzzle game designed to challenge your ability to recognize patterns then turn around and put them to use. The screen is filled with a deceptively simple grid of colored squares. Your job is to toggle them to the target color. Should be easy, right? If you've ever played a Bart Bonte game, you know that figuring out how to solve the puzzle is just as challenging as actually solving it!

Here's our misleading casual game instruction of the day: tap a square to change its color. Really, it's more like "tap a square and something happens". Maybe a block across the grid changes color. Maybe half a dozen seemingly unrelated squares shift. Or maybe nothing happens and you have to tap again. The rules change for each of the 144 levels, meaning you never get to take a mental vacation.

This new incarnation of furiosity is a redesigned mobile version of the older browser game, below. For the full furious experience, check out the iOS, Android and Amazon versions.

Play furiosity (browser 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 (38 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (496)

Infectonator Hot Chase

DoraShaun says that contrary to what recent pop culture would have us believe, zombies are in fact quite slow, but apparently the undead horde you're controlling in Toge Productions' arcade game Infectonator Hot Chase never got that memo as they have quite a bit of pep in their step. To play, all you do is click and hold on the screen to make your zombie move vertically up the lanes, and release to make it drop back down. This allows you to chow down on any humans you come across, which nets you cash for upgrades and increases the size of your grisly horde, granting a temporary boost of speed, as well as helping you dodge hazards like cars and bullets. Once your health runs out, you'll be forced to start all over again, and health can only be regained by eating humans or other power-ups, which can transform you into powerful mutations temporarily.

Infectonator Hot ChaseMake no mistake... Infectonator Hot Chase is as grindy as it is cute, and for a game about a tidal wave of zombies chowing its way through humanity, it is very very cute with its pixellated style. It's designed to be played over and over, forcing you to grind cash for upgrades to make it farther, and it's a fine line between addictive and annoying when the costs are so high and you have to start all over from the beginning if you don't want to shell out money when you die. Still, there's a lot of power-ups and mutations to find to keep things fresh, and the simple gameplay is the sort of thing that echos the easy yet fun playability of arcade classics. Want to control the end of the world with just one finger? Infectonator Hot Chase is the breezy, goofy answer.

Play Infectonator Hot Chase


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (97 votes)
| Comments (32) | Views (317)

Kveendolnitza 2

elleLast time in this whimsically surreal and remarkably beautiful point-and-click adventure series, our stalwart hero Triton found the legendary magic of the ancients and passed through a space-time hole. But this has deformed the neighboring universe, disrupting phases of the moon and other important bits. Now, in Jacek Szleszyński's Kveendolnitza 2, will Triton be able to use the kveendolnitza to restore the old order? Eh. Who knows? Why don't you give the little fellow a hand: explore the world around you, search strange surroundings to uncover useful objects and use them in the correct order, solving riddles and other puzzles, and you'll find the answer at the end.

Kveendolnitza 2Played mainly by hovering your cursor around the intricately detailed landscape, looking for when it changes to a pointing finger (for selecting items) or footprints (for moving). The caveat is, you can only use certain items or move some places after completing the proper tasks. This trial-and-error creates a leisurely progress as you're toying with and testing reactions or, for the life of Triton, looking for an active spot and trying to make it work. You don't have pockets, so items you pick up will float glowing on the same setting as where you need to use them. Gameplay is very similar to Haluz, Samorost, and Hapland but you'll find more mini-game-style tasks here, some requiring dexterity, careful listening or sharp eyes. In fact, much of your success, both in the main game and the optional quest for jjgsaw pieces, will depend on your ability to spot shapes at just the time they're usable.

This sequel earns its 2.0 markings with snazzier graphics and harder puzzles, but certain flaws are more apparent, too. Rules of protocol tend to seem arbitrary, so it feels like there's more pixel hunts. Additionally, there are a couple aspects to the gameplay that feel unfair and this can be alienating to otherwise endeared fans. Those flaws won't entirely spoil enjoyment, though, if much of your enjoyment comes from exploring the amusingly gorgeous artwork, which is so well-rendered you can zoom your browser to full scale and it still looks good. All I can say is I want it framed on my wall or perhaps on a t-shirt so that everyone will stop me on the street and say, "I love your shirt!" That's how it feels to play Kveendolnitza 2 and dig into the artwork. Not a fan of this kind of art or of seeking out tiny objects in an elaborately detailed scene? Take a peek at least; see if you can change your opinion after playing a bit. If those two parts don't put you off, Kveendolnitza 2 is not to be missed. It's a lovely addition to the series and it will make you look forward to the next.

EDIT: the game has been revised, including significant changes to some puzzles. The above review refers to an earlier version of the game.

Play Kveendolnitza 2


  • Currently 3.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.6/5 (47 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (24)

Good Daddy 2

DoraI'm not entirely sure what's going on in Yuri Sanachev and Nikita Madebeykin's physics puzzle game Good Daddy 2. I mean, I know it's about a father trying to get his son safely from place to place, but it also seems to take place in some lethal post-apocalyptic future where all humans are shape-changing square creatures and the landscape is a terrifying array of pitfalls, live voltage, and toxic fumes. Use the left and right [arrows] or [A] and [D] to move Daddy, and hit [spacebar] to make Junior start to move and then stop again. The goal is to make Daddy block lethal hazards for Junior to pass over safely, and by hitting [1], [2], and [3] you can change Daddy's shape, even into a round balloon that allows you to float around. If you get stuck, just hit [R] to restart, and have Junior head for the open door to complete the level. If you're well and truly stuck, you can spend stars you've collected to skip a stage on the pause menu!

Good Daddy 2Weird? Absolutely, but it's a clever concept that's executed well apart from a few bumps. The physics can feel unnecessarily fiddly at times, so a box that falls from the exact same place at the press of a button won't fall the exact same way every time, which can potentially force you to restart a level if it doesn't land the way the game needs it to. What's nice, however, is how complex the levels quickly get, a blend of timing and figuring out the correct path to take and order to do so. The intricacy is a nice challenge, though even with the new elements like lasers and fans and more, it still feels like they could have done with a bit more variation to the stages to keep things fresher throughout considering how many levels there are. But if you're looking for a physics puzzle that's a challenge, and with a clever concept to boot, Good Daddy 2 definitely fits the bill.

Play Good Daddy 2


  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.3/5 (82 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (193)

Strand

KimberlyBeen needing a puzzle fix? Strand by Edward Staley is a wonderful and original addition to the puzzle genre. Click on a circle to start a line, then click again on the destination circle to create a strand. The the circles need to share a color, and strands can't touch one another. The number within each circle is how many connections each hub needs in order to solve the puzzle. Click and drag over a line to make it disappear, or click the reset button at the top to completely start over.

StrandStrand gradually adds difficulty to become challenging without being overwhelming, especially with option to skip a puzzle if you get stuck. While you start with just the basics, there are soon multiple colors, walls in your way, and pegs to wind around. The browser demo, with a respectable 25 levels, will leave you wanting even more puzzles to solve. If you've got an iOS device, the free download version offers 50 levels, with the option to purchase additional level packs. With a streamlined look and intuitive gameplay, Strand is a game any puzzle fan should check out.

Play Strand

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.


| Comments (1) | Views (14)

The Vault

TrickyThe past couple of weeks have seen some major controversy erupt in the next-gen console wars, with fans accusing news sites of downplaying how the XBox One plays at a 720p resolution, with the Playstation 4 playing at the perhaps-negligibly-superior 1080p. Well, I'm happy to announce that we, the makers of the TRICKYA game console have scooped our competitors again, as I am now allowed to reveal that the TRICKYA will totally allow you to play games in 1085p! And that's like, 5p more! So how about that, huh? Checkmate! Anyways, for all you stuck in the blurry confines of your browser window, this week the JayIsGames Vault offers physics, platforming, and point-and-clicks for your playing pleasure. Hopefully you won't have to squint too much to see them.

  • FraggerFragger - Fragger, a 2009 physics puzzler by Harold Brenes, is the epitome of the "throw grenades at stuff to make it go boom" subgenre. However it earns that distinction by making the gameplay more strategic rather than mindless. Oh certainly, there's a lot of exploding bodies and crates and whatnot, which is always a good time, but just as entertaining are the sections where a single well-placed blast causes a chain reaction of mayhem of Rube Goldberg-ian proportions. Plus, you get bonus points for clonking your target in the with a grenade before it explodes! More games need to give points for adding insult to injury.
  • Mirror's Edge 2DMirror's Edge 2D - Like absolutely anyone could have guessed, the free-flowing platforming Brad Borne made famous in his Fancy Pants series mixes with the parkour action of EA's Mirror's Edge like chocolate and peanut-butter. The Best of Casual Gaming Action/Arcade Award winner of 2008, Mirrors Edge 2D almost makes living in an oppressive governmental dystopia look a little too enjoyable, what with all the sliding under tables and easy leaping from extended-crane-arm-to-building-roofs herein. With Mirror's Edge 2 on the way, we can only hope that there will be a Mirror's Edge 2 2D (or 2D 2), too.
  • Reincarnation: A Demon's Day OutReincarnation: A Demon's Day Out - With 13 total installments, starting with this 2008 release, Chris Gianelloni's Reincarnation series of point-and-click adventures is one of the most prolific in the world of browser gaming. Unrepentantly dark and gleefully inappropriate in its humor, the games never fail to bring forth the uncomfortable laughter and Vile the Demon, the imp tasked in each game with capturing escaped sinful souls and returning them to hell, looks, sounds, and acts so terribly that you just gotta love the guy. While the formula was getting a little frayed by the end as the developers made a final publicity push for their successful 2012 Download-Version KickStarter, the sheer quality in the quantity makes the games a must-play for those who won't be worried if their browser smells like brimstone for a bit after.

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 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (100 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (161)

Monkey GO Happy Elevators

DoraPencil Kids' point-and-click puzzle game Monkey GO Happy Elevators, the newest in the Monkey GO Happy games, seems cute and harmless, but I believe harbours a dark secret. See, the object is to click around and try to solve puzzles to find toys for all the little monkeys in each level, gathering items you drag from your inventory to help along the way, and using the elevator buttons to swap between floors. But, okay, look... doesn't it strike you odd the way your monkey is trapped here, shivering and sobbing, while the cadre of other little monkeys look on impassively, even... coldly? You're trapped in there, forced to find things to amuse them, and even when you do, even when you succeed and you dance and caper, your monkey's face remains a trembling, terrified false smile because you know you'll have to carry out that tiny simian swarm's bidding again on the next stage... and what if you fail? There are so many of them, and their tiny jaws are so strong...

... okay, yes, I'm kidding. (... mostly... ) Monkey GO Happy Elevators is another fine installment in the point-and-click puzzle series, though it is extremely short. It's not exactly what you'd call challenging either, since despite a nice amount of contextual puzzle clues, the levels are typically so small and sparse that clues are immediately obvious. Still, if you're looking for a coffee-break style game that will leave you with time to spare, Monkey GO Happy Elevators is cute, simple, and clicky. Even if it does seem like the premise to a Stephen King story set on Planet of the Apes.

Play Monkey GO Happy Elevators


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (107 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (576)

Escape from Pesimari

elleAdmit it. You've always admired Mr. Birdy wall art and hippo decanters from afar, but all this time held secret doubts on whether you could pull off "the look" in your own home. Hmm. Well, maybe just a happy coin mug? Do your shopping where Tesshi-e shops: Pesimari, a whims-quirky sundry shop, where an assortment of miscellany can be purchased. Actually getting out the door with your purchase is another matter altogether—to Escape from Pesimari, a plenitude of clever devices and tricks need to be dealt with before you can finish up your shopping and grab a bite to eat.

Escape from PesimariThis is Tesshi-e's 92nd escape-the-room game and we're all the richer for it. If you've played the other 91, then you already know how this goes. Point-and-click navigation and interaction, a handy inventory sidebar, and superbly responsive interface makes for pleasant gameplay. Although the cursor is unchanging, it's not difficult to find interactive areas and, mostly, the challenge is a good mix of challenging and logically obvious. If you find yourself stumped, it's either because you walked away from an item before realizing the information it contains or you're trying to decipher letters in boxes (hint: you might have just bit into a red herring). The well-crafted puzzles alone make this a worthwhile venture, but it's also enjoyable to explore this setting, with its pleasing aesthetics, and even more fun when you discover a clue or device because they're so creatively rendered. Because of that ineffable charisma that makes a Mild Escape what it is, you'll leave with a smile and maybe even an extra happy coin for your wallet.

Play Escape from Pesimari

Thanks to Cyberjar88 and Celli for sending this one in!


| Comments (0) | Views (27)

Mobile Monday

JohnBUnleash the cavemen! They've got to get to the arcade if they want to live. Don't worry, though, as that horn they found by the ocean will help them get there. S...somehow...

isleofbxnesIsle of Bxnes (Android, iPhone) - A beautiful action RPG with an especially pleasing selling point: hand-drawn caveman pixel art! Build up your village as you divvy up resources and plan attacks on neighboring tribes, all while fighting off prehistoric beasts, cannibals, and probably angry fire gods, as well. Each level is randomized, promising new challenges each time you play, and when you die, your offspring inherit some of your stats, continuing the game across generations. There's a lot of variety in this challenging game, and there's not a single hint of in-app purchases! (Android, iPhone 4S+)

oceanhorn-p.gifOceanhorn (iPhone 4S+, iPod Touch 5th gen+, iPad 2+) - Want the flavor and fun of The Legend of Zelda on your iOS device? Oceanhorn might just be the ticket. This colorful action adventure game takes the best elements from the famous series — sword slicing, block pushing, enemy felling, bomb tossing, and so on — and wraps it up in a shining pocket-sized package. It's a beautiful game that plays really well with virtual controls, but sadly, don't expect any sort of innovation in the puzzle or gameplay departments. It's straight-up action adventuring for those slow days when you aren't looking for a serious brain challenge.

tilt2-p.gifTilt to Live 2: Redonkulous (iPhone 4S+, iPod Touch 5th gen+, iPad 2+) - The only thing redonkulous about this sequel is— wait, you know what? Let's not go there, ok? Let's just... not. Where we will go, however, is to this highly contagious arcade follow-up to Tilt to Live, a fast-paced tilting avoidance game that ups the ante on every level. Two game modes, brand new weapons, high score flaunting, boss encounters, and more moving objects than you can shake your iOS thing at. A fantastic sequel, plain and simple!


  • Currently 3.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.4/5 (35 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (57)

Alien Splatter

TrickyIt is 20XX! Aliens have invaded Earth! You are the only one who can stop them! So you'd better go stop them! A nostalgic retro run-and-gun platform shooter by Sinclair Strange that hearkens to the 8-bit era, Alien Splatter will have players proving that as dudes, they are more assuredly bad enough. Though they can be changed in the option menu, the default control scheme has you moving with the [arrow keys], jumping with [s] and firing your (initially puny) weapon with [a]. Blast all enemies in your path, pushing forward through the "blocks" in each level leading up to the level boss battles. There are various weapons to collect, from shurikens, to flamethrowers, to the all-mighty spread-shot, along with the usual variety of health and ammo pickups. Get through all 30 areas over six levels, and you'll unlock a special even harder-corer bonus world.

Alien SplatterAlien Splatter is a perfect recreation of the NES spirit, with the lifeblood of Contra and Ninja Gaiden flowing through its veins. Its claims of punishing difficulty may be protesting a bit too much (apart from the bottomless pits and limited lives, aspects of the 8-bit experience that always felt more "cheap" than "challenging"), though the difficulty spike in the train level means its no pushover. All in all, Alien Splatter is a quality homage by a developer who clearly loves the genre, and will strike a nostalgic chord in any player with a pixelated heart.

Play Alien Splatter


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (523)

Redshirt

DoraDespite the fact that I can't play a flute and I don't enjoy Earl Grey, I like to call my husband "Number One" a lot, but one thing I'd never call him is Redshirt, since according to the laws of the universe, that's basically a death sentence. So it might not seem like a great omen that that's both the title of this indie science-fiction sim from Positech Games and The Tiniest Shark and the title of the position you start out in on the great big space station you work on. But hey, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, as long as you aren't vaporized, imploded, or dissolved into goo on an away mission.

RedshirtGameplay takes place entirely through"Spacebook", the starship's social media network that all employees use, and revolves around both making the right connections and relationships with the rest of the staff, as well as grow your character enough to rise through the ranks of the various jobs on staff. You start off on the very bottom rung of the ladder, and if you want to make something more of yourself, you have to not only increase your skills by taking part in various activities, but get to know the right people. You can check out all the various jobs, as well as their requirements, by opening the career panel and hovering over a job to help you plan ahead. Of course, some things you can't plan for, like the mandatory away missions that are often fatal (and depressing) for your fellow team members... or the mysterious countdown timer nobody seems to want to talk about...

Since the game takes place entirely within social media, everything you do from posting song lyrics, to complaining about work, tagging friends, and much, much more impacts your relationship with other people. Each person has their own different likes and dislikes, and their own relationships with other people as well, which is something you'll want to keep an eye on to make sure you're not making anyone jealous or inviting two people who hate each other over for drinks. Events, which cost Creds earned from work, can be anything from using the Virtuo-Augmento-Deck to a seminar or just a night out for dinner, give you various benefits and skill increases while also changing your relationships with whoever you invited... provided everyone gets along and is interested in whatever activity you set up. Don't worry, it's not a one-way street... once you start making friends, they'll start chatting you up and inviting you out too! Each day you'll have a certain number of actions available to you, and once those are spent, you'll either have to spend Creds for more, or sleep until tomorrow.

RedshirtAnalysis: Though initially Redshirt seems like a terrifyingly labyrinthine interface of menus, submenus, and sub-submenus that would make, say, simply figuring out how to raise a certain skill a nightmare, a lot has been done to streamline the process. Simply clicking on a skill, for instance, will tell you not only all the jobs it's required for, but all the events that can raise it... and allow you to click on that event and instantly be taken then instead of navigating to it through the events menu. It makes for a game that plays a lot more smoothly than it looks at first glance once you learn the shortcuts. Still, the game is unique and distinct enough that not having a demo seems like a mistake.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you'll most likely grow to hate away missions since the sheer amount of unavoidable deaths that happen on them will immediately tank your character's mood. You'll get bonus pay for them, and there's always the chance you can get promoted to a new position if the old occupant dies, but they're still just largely a huge annoyance. What's interesting, however, is that while I complained that in the beta version NPCs largely felt interchangeable and dull, in this full release that seems to have changed. Characters are still randomly generated, but they still manage to wind up feeling distinct from one another thanks to a wider pool of dialogue possibilities and the tendency to stick to certain tones that develop a personality. It's surprising the way you'll wind up developing opinions about and attachments to people... so just cross your fingers that your new bestie doesn't wind up on an away mission.

Redshirt itself has a remarkable personality, and is chock full of references to everything from Star Trek to Gordon Ramsay, and the way it manages to sneak these in cleverly does a lot to endear. Even though it's easy to pick up whenever you have time, it's addictive, with the sort of "one more day" style gameplay that makes it hard to step away from. Especially when you consider the replay value from the randomised events and characters. Fans of space operas and life simulations will want to check this one out even if its not for everyone, since Redshirt's creativity and charm makes it stand out from the pack.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Direct)
Get the full version (Steam)
Get the full version (GOG.com)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version (Direct)
Get the full version (Steam)
Get the full version (GOG.com)


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (98 votes)
| Comments (45) | Views (2,721)

Leaf Me Alone (Expanded)

TrickyThough, of course, the ideal for games submitted to game jams such as Ludum Dare is that they be complete, satisfying works in themselves, some ideas just beg to be expanded upon. Leaf Me Alone, a charming, minimalist, metroidvania platformer by Mark Foster and David Fenn, was one such concept, and now the two have released Leaf Me Alone (Expanded) a work built on the structure of the retro original, that greatly broadens the scope of both gameplay and the quirky world in which it takes place. As before you'll be moving your-and-my-favorite brown-blobby seed guy with the [arrow] keys, jumping with [Z], picking up and throwing items with [X], and using [C] to summon... well, you'll see. The emphasis here is, of course, on exploration, but throughout you'll come into contact with another traveler who seems quite similar to you, and puzzling out his deal will have you traipsing the entire world and every season in it.

Leaf Me Alone (Expanded)Half a remake, half a sequel, the expanded edition of Leaf Me Alone is the Metal Gear Solid to the original's Metal Gear. The mechanics, setting, and some of the puzzles will be instantly familiar, but the developers have definitely managed the balance of adding nuance and intricacy (not to mention a host of secrets references and Easter eggs!) without sacrificing the natural minimalism at its core. Comparisons to Fez and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker are obvious, but this muted organic world, filled with fascinating creatures that may not ever notice you, calls to mind the world of Samorost if created by a deity who enjoyed low-rez platformers to pointer-and-clickers. Like most Metroidvanias, it could use a few more gentle nudges in the early stage (especially since it's sometimes difficult to tell if a jump you keep barely missing is supposed to be one you're not supposed to be making yet), but overall this is the refined experience any fan of the original could have hoped for. With its gorgeous pixel art and subtly enchanting soundtrack, and Leaf Me Alone is poetry for the senses, and definitely shows how games made on a dare, in a jam, can flourish into something tall and astounding.

Play Leaf Me Alone (Expanded)


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (92)

Symmetrain

JohnBSymmetrain isn't quite like anything you've played. It shares a bit of flavor with an endless runner and a spot the difference game, but when you combine those features you get something that doesn't neatly fit into either category. Instead, you find yourself comparing pieces of the countryside as you look for inconsistencies in the scenery. Created by the studio behind About Love, Hate and the other ones as well as Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers, Symmetrain is simple, creative, unique, and surprisingly captivating.

SymmetrainA train glides slowly up the track in the center of the screen. Apart from being able to pull the emergency brake, however, you're not really concerned with what the train is doing. The scenery on the left and right sides of the track should be mirror images of each other. So, when you spot something that doesn't match up, give it a tap. Collect points for correct taps, eventually unlocking new trains and traveling to new destinations, each illustrated with Black Pants Studio's phenomenal artwork that's worth the price of admission on its own.

This "on rails" spot the difference gaming is all there is to Symmetrain. No coins, no in-app purchases, no crazy power-ups or stupid gimmicks to mess with. Just simple, relaxing object tapping. It's amazing how something this straightforward can be so entertaining. Symmetrain serves as a strong reminder that there are still great ways to spin old ideas into brand new gaming experience. All it takes is a slightly new perspective.

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.


| Comments (3) | Views (65)

Weekend Download

JohnBTime travel (not really), doppelgangers and scary worm-shadow monsters dominate this edition of Weekend Download. We promise they won't band together and sit beside your bed at night.Don't turn the lights on, just in case.

alteregoAlter Ego: DreamWalker (Windows/Linux, Android, free) - A nice little puzzle platform game that glows like neon in the dark! Created by RetroSouls, Alter Ego puts you in control of a character and his mirror, the latter of which is impervious to death-bringing things like enemies. Your job is to collect all of the hopping pixels and make it to the exit, and the only way to do this is by swapping places with your shadow buddy with the pressing of a button. Simple idea, but it's executed quite well and has a great cheery vibe to it! Also available for Windows Phone, though that version isn't free.

timestoneTime Stone (Windows, free) - Who doesn't like a little free adventure? Time Stone is a short point and click comedy game that puts you in the robes of Elle, a wizard's apprentice who gets trapped in a room by an evil warlock. Puzzle your way out of the place by following the highly logical solution sequences, all while wondering what sort of weird kinky stuff that warlock is secretly into. Great for some laughs, and quite well-made to boot. Mild content warning, so keep the kids out of the room just to be on the safe side.

metrojdvaniaMetrojdvania (Windows, free) - Created in 72 hours for a game jam, Metrojdvania shoves you in a dark house with a big scary monster chasing you from below. Your only option is to climb higher and higher, leaping from platforms and opening doors as quickly as you can. It has a fantastic sense of urgency to it, but don't be surprised if it's more offputting than any low-res game has a right to be.


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (47)

Myths of the World: Stolen Spring

Starchild Winter is coming, my sweet summer child... This, minus the bloodshed and the direwolves, neatly sums up the plot of Myths of the World: Stolen Spring, an icy cold hidden-object adventure by Eipix Entertainment. Set in the enchanting, yet fierce world of Slavic mythology, Stolen Spring tells the tale of Vesna, the goddess of spring and Morana, the goddess of winter, as they wage the everlasting war of snowy slumber and flowery rebirth.

Myths of the World: Stolen Spring One day, you find your village encrusted in ice and vow to stop Morana from spreading icicles everywhere. With Vesna's help, you will set out on a quest to bring back the birds and the bees... you hippie. Luck is on your side, though, because the Slavic winter looks pretty awesome. From cozy little cottages, to furry critters you'll get to save, to meeting the Slavic version of Santa, you could almost start thinking Morana has a point. Almost. On your way, you'll encounter a good number of standard item-hunting, hidden-object scenes and puzzles, all in pretty, lovingly made environments. It must be said that the puzzles might be too easy for most players, but they are still enjoyable. The hidden-object scenes come in two varieties and are a joy for those of us who prefer clarity and neatness to pixel-hunting, though you can still skip them and play match-3 instead. Stolen Spring has a few nice tricks up its sleeve: for example, you are given a magical brush which you will use to thaw frozen objects and scenes; you'll also have one of those adorable pet helpers, who can (adorably) gnaw on items to make something useful out of them. There is very little backtracking, as many items you find can be used in the same scene or shortly after, and the interactions are fairly logical and intuitive.

Myths of the World: Stolen Spring probably won't offer experienced players much of a challenge, but it certainly has enough charm to make it worthwhile. It steps bravely into a relatively little known mythology and spins a cohesive, pleasant story and, though it doesn't win any awards for ingenuity when it comes to gameplay, it is quite entertaining and almost Christmassy in its mostly serene depiction of winter. With about four hours of play time, Stolen Spring is the perfect game for a cold, late-autumn day and goes wonderfully with a cup of hot tea, preferably made in a Russian samovar.

Myths of the World: Stolen Spring is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, concept art, wallpapers 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 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (263 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (282)

Snail Bob 5: Love Story

Starchild Ah, l'amour et les escargots... Nothing more romantic than a slimy mollusc falling in love. Snail Bob has found his soul mate, who happens to be a very successful singer, and she's performing clear across the forest full of dangers and puzzles. But dear old Bob would do anything for love, and with a little help from his friends, he'll soon be walking on sunshine. I could do the entire review in song titles. Anyway, in Snail Bob 5: Love Story, Hunter Hamster's new point-and-click puzzler, you get to play Cupid's little helper and make sure Bob reaches his love by manipulating all sorts of buttons, platforms and other contraptions and finishing all twenty-five fun-packed levels. Bob moves on his own until you stop him, either by clicking on him or pressing the [spacebar], and you can control his speed and direction by clicking the two buttons in the upper right corner.

Snail Bob 5: Love Story Snail Bob 5: Love Story is certainly the most polished episode in the series so far. Everything is just on the right side of adorable, the mechanics work like a charm, and there are enough new elements to make this instalment clearly stand out from the ones before. The sweetest of these is the little ant in a top hat, who is polite enough to help Bob out by standing on some buttons. Every level still has three stars you can find, and this time round they seem even more fiendishly hidden than before. Uncovering them is a challenge in its own right, especially because they unlock mini-games, an all-new, all-cute side feature. With the amount of things to do in every stage, it was a good decision to keep everything on the same screen. This way you have the time to stop Bob at the beginning of the level, quickly survey all the options, plan your strategy and execute it. Or, if you're feeling extra brave, try to solve puzzles as Bob slides along. In any case, do give this game a try, because the Snail Bob series deserves it. It has managed to stay fresh, original and funny in that silly, snail way, and is sure to delight its fans all over again.

Play Snail Bob 5: Love Story


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (110 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (300)

FurtiveDao

kyhLooking for a cute, animal-filled physics puzzler? Deqaf Studio has you covered with their latest title, Furtive Dao... Looking for a physics puzzler full of martial arts and quicktime, precision moves? Deqaf Studio has you covered with their latest title, Furtive Dao. No, these aren't two different games. These two seemingly opposite descriptions are both encompassed in one, fun experience and all under a heartwarming storyline that will have you going awww!

FurtiveDaoControl the giving red panda with your mouse by clicking and holding to set a trajectory for him to take out a variety of enemies and collect coins and treasure chests. Over the 30 levels, you'll encounter more difficult situations and have to use more strategy to complete the level in the limited number of moves. Enemies that kill on sight, ones that shoot from a distance, platforms you can jump through, ones you can't, planks you can hang from... this game has them all! Get everything right, and you can spend the coins you earn in each level on helping to save a poor, dilapidated orphanage. Quickly, now, a building full of poor children are depending on you!

Play Furtive Dao


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (15) | Views (489)

Morphopolis

StarchildAs a child, you may have sometimes lain in the tall, summer grass, your eyes on the same level as the usually invisible world of little insects. Watching them move around to nature's strange rhythm is a lot like playing Morphopolis, a singular and thoroughly enchanting hidden object experience by Micro Macro Games. This time, however, you'll be taken into the concealed realms of a forest, to explore the secrets of its everyday life and help one brave bug metamorphose into ever more complex forms.

MorphopolisYour journey spans five chapters, each longer and more complex than the last. Your first task in each chapter is to find the protagonist, and move it by dragging it around, which is how you switch from screen to screen. Even though the scenes may seem overwhelmingly detailed, the critter's movements are actually quite linear, so you can't really get lost. The next step is finding the bug or plant for whom you'll be finding the hidden objects. This requires some clicking around, but after a while, it gets easier to pick out the right creatures without a lot of searching. When you find one of these, their icon will appear on the left of the screen, along with the icon and number of items to find. The items are usually strewn across multiple scenes, and finding all the items for one creature could open up new scenes, supply you with further objects or ask you to solve a puzzle. To give the items to the right creature, click on their icon, then on the creature in the scene. You can also double-click on your bug at times, making it interact with items.

MorphopolisAnalysis: Morphopolis is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and its aesthetic tends to speak for itself. For all its busy, intricate environments, it still presents an image of a serene, slowly moving world. The insects, scary and strange as they might seem to us, are depicted in all their frail beauty, and we are invited into their universe, full of colours, sounds and life. Gameplay takes a back seat to visuals, but it too blends perfectly with the overall idea: the player isn't there to alter the course of things, but mostly just to witness it and maybe help out a little. Looking for hidden objects in what feels like a living, breathing forest is a strangely relaxing endeavour, and the puzzles are pretty, fresh and appropriately casual.

The philosophy of design over mechanics does have its pitfalls, though. The menu is extremely minimalistic and doesn't offer the option to save during a chapter. Puzzles appear without instructions (but they are fairly easy to figure out) and, once started, there's no backing out of them. The insect protagonist moves very slowly, and could sometimes refuse to scuttle in the direction you're dragging it in, although this, strangely enough, feels sort of organic and natural. After all, bugs don't seem to make the best pets. But even with these imperfections, the overall impression is of a truly captivating insight into the minute workings of woodland life, reinforced with an unassuming, but lovely musical accompaniment.

Morphopolis is more than a game. It is a unique experience of delicate beauty, a feast for the eyes as well as for your puzzle-solving little grey cells. It is a rare and precious getaway into a mysterious, yet familiar universe, and, in its gentle way, it may well cure you of your fear of insects.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version


| Comments (5) | Views (98)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraMy Little Ponies, a psychedelic cat we haven't seen since 1996, a monster nobody else will acknowledge exists, and a dungeon filled with ammo and monsters? Hmmm... sure, why not? I can at least give you a little bit of browser goodness before you forget all about me and disappear into your shiny new Playstation 4.

  • Adventure Ponies 2Adventure Ponies 2 - A retro My Little Pony game might sound weird, but, well, when you think about it, ponies themselves are actually pretty retro too... they just weren't cool until very recently. In this cute but simple little platformer, you play as various ponies leaping, kicking, and cute-ing their way through a series of dangerous levels and duking it out with bosses, unlocking more ponies to play as along the way. Cute? For sure. But without Photo Finish, it does not have... DE MAGICKS!
  • Bubsy 3DBubsy 3D - A psychedelic platformer starring a cat from a series that hasn't seen a release since 1996?... okay, sure, why not? Created to celebrate Bubsy's 18th birthday and get kids to drop the controller and pick up art, apparently, this game is all about visiting an art museum because the magical talking frogs tell you to, picking up throbbing hearts and shiny balls along the way. Ain't even kidding. It's definitely weird, and I'm totally making my Fry face right now. Not sure if parody or fever dream.
  • The Whispering ThingThe Whispering Thing - [Warning: Descriptions of violence and suicide.] We haven't heard from Gregory Weir in a while, so this creepy Twine bit of interactive fiction is a bit of a surprise. It seems like a simple horror game about a woman who sees a creature nobody else will acknowledge, but deals with far more mundane themes many of us have struggled with. Though well-written and possessed of some clever uses of Twine's functions for some evocative imagery and emotion, the obscure conditions for "winning" combined with what feels like a very personal approach and coping mechanism means it won't be for everyone.
  • Demonic DungeonDemonic Dungeon - If you need your top-down shooter fix, look no further than this simple, cute game about a gun-toting hero who makes the unfortunate decision to wander around in a huge dungeon filled with all manner of meanness. Though fun, the slow difficulty curve and unfortunately bland area design makes it difficult to get into unless you're a true giant-cog gathering aficionado. ... I shouldn't joke. There are probably forums for that out there somewhere, and I support your life choices.

  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (39 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (3,041)

Risk of Rain

DoraI could probably accurately sum up my experiences with Hopoo Games's indie roguelike action RPG game Risk of Rain by adding the subtitle "the review of many ragequits" or maybe "why you gotta hurt me so bad?" After the cargo spaceship you were riding on is attacked and crash lands on a hostile alien planet, you find yourself the only survivor, and tasked with working your way through each dangerous area by scavenging what supplies you can from the debris (... as long as you can pay... ) and finding and activating the teleporter to take you to the next stage. The twist? You can't idly waste time grinding levels for as much as you want, since the longer you spend in game on a playthrough, the more difficult it gets, and trust me when I say there is very little out there that doesn't want to grind you into jam between its toes. Hope you like permadeath!

Risk of RainThe game's default controls are the [arrows] for climbing and movement, [spacebar] for jumping, and [Z], [X], [C], and [V] to activate your abilities. [Z] is typically your default attack and can be used over and over, but most other abilities will come with a cool down time between uses. The levels are completely randomised every time you play, so you have to scour every inch of them looking for the teleporter. Once activated, you'll have to survive for ninety seconds, which is easier said than done since activating it also summons a big angry boss monster to deal with, and when time's up, you still have to clear all the enemies from the area before moving on to the next stage. Fortunately, levels and items carry over between stages, though remaining cash is converted into experience points... as long as you don't die, in which case you'll have to start all over from the beginning.

Destroying monsters, of which there are many, many, many kinds, nets you two very valuable things... experience points and cash. Experience points are self-explanatory, working towards upping your level and thus your damage and health. Cash, however, is just as important, since most of the cargo cases and chests littering the planet must be paid to be opened. You'll find all sorts of things, from powerful weapons, to items that grant you passive skills or bonuses, even drones that will help you fight. Death might be the end, but you'll also unlock even more item drops and entirely new characters with their own special abilities to play as, too.

Risk of RainAnalysis: By stripping away your ability to hang around mining levels, Risk of Rain forces you to move fast and adapt. If you wait too long, you'll find yourself swarmed by powerful enemies, but if you don't gain enough levels, you won't be ready to take on the portal boss. It's a delicate balance to try to get right, and thankfully the game has a demo for you to try since it won't be for everyone. It's nonstop action with a deliberately grueling difficulty curve, and it feels like an uphill battle every step of the way. Like all roguelikes, the element of randomness can either work for or against you, and here it's primarily down to the items you find. The right assortment of equipment can turn the tides enormously in your favour, and most players will quickly develop a preference after some experimentation. What might be more interesting is how drastically different the style of play can be between unlockable characters simply because of the few abilities they come with.

The overall stage design is admittedly sort of bland, tending to consist solely of platforms and strings/ladders to climb. This actually can wind up getting tedious if you have to spend a lot of time crawling around a level looking for the portal or just trying to get around. Of course, if you have time to stand around complaining about the lack of environmental bells and whistles, you're not doing it right, and besides... there's a certain eerie beauty to a lot of the alien enemy designs. You'll get a lot of chances to admire them, too, since the game's idea of upping the difficulty is not only to spawn stronger enemy types, but to start barfing them at you in staggering numbers, usually while you're already running away from a giant electrocuting jellyfish boss monster. Though the actual game itself offers next to nothing in the way of a story, the descriptions of creatures you can find in Monster Logs paint a picture of a fascinating world.

As hectic and vicious as Risk of Rain can be, however, it actually feels quite streamlined. It's designed to force you to keep moving, and the way dropped experience and cash will automatically be drawn to you no matter where you are means you never really have to slow down. It's not just about frantically running away from everything while spraying bullets behind you, since a lot of the bosses and lesser enemies require some strategy to take out quickly and efficiently with minimal damage. If you enjoy a challenge, roguelike action, tons of unlockable items and characters, and a retro aesthetic, Risk of Rain is definitely worth checking out... and the co-op play option allows you to tackle it with a friend, too.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version
Get the full version (Steam)
Download the demo

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


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (73 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (210)

Plexus: Set the Stage

elleIn the mood for more jigsaw puzzle action? The show's in town and if you want to go, you first need to Set the Stage here in Plexus' second entry in its circus series. How do you play? Just as they say, it's "Easy!" Point and click to select and move a piece around the board, using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to rotate it, until you can snap it into place with its match. Continue on this way, matching up pieces until the picture is complete. But while the interface is intuitive and easy enough, actually rummaging through the uniquely-shaped cutouts and distinguishing how each piece relates to the others takes some concentration and sharp eyes. That's where the fun comes in and, along with Plexus' whimsical characters, it provides the extra twist needed to keep all eyes on stage.

Play Set the Stage


  • Currently 4.7/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.7/5 (946 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (498)

Home Sheep Home 2: Lost in Space

DoraAardman is back with more of that sheep-on-sheep action you love!... wait, that came out wrong! Uh, what I meant to say was, Shaun and his fleecy family are back for more physics-based puzzle platforming in Home Sheep Home 2: Lost in Space. (Why is this not called "Sheep... in... SPAAAAAAAACE!"?!) Our three little sheep from the previous games get an unexpected surprise when they try to disrupt their master's television signal, and to get back home, they'll need to work together to overcome the obstacles each level to get all three to the exit safely. All sheep move and jump with [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, but to solve each level, you need to swap between them by clicking their portraits or using [1], [2], and [3] since not all sheep are identical. Heavyweight Shirley can't jump as high, but she can push big objects, for example, while tiny Timmy is much faster and can fight into small places even if he can't weigh down switches.

Home Sheep Home 2: Lost in SpaceSome physics puzzle games can often feel like you can simply ignore the intended solution and brute force your way to success, but the Home Sheep Home games have always carefully crafted their levels to ensure you really need to think, and Lost in Space is no different. The new objects like teleporters that can swap two things, and, yes, having to think with Portals that maintain your momentum as they zap you around, add a nice layer of fresh challenge to things. Like Lost Underground, the visual design for the backgrounds is sadly sort of dull, and you still sort of hope for environments as quirky and charming as Shaun himself. Still, Home Sheep Home 2: Lost in Space is every bit as fun and clever as its predecessors, with new mechanics and stages that will make you think. It's a great example of a series that knows how to keep things fresh and interesting with each installment without losing what fans love about it in the process.

Play Home Sheep Home 2: Lost in Space


  • Currently 4.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.8/5 (974 votes)
| Comments (22) | Views (1,957)

Crystal Story 2

DoraQuirky characters, dungeon-crawling RPG strategy, a sense of humour... Emmanuel Salva Cruz's Crystal Story was a surprise hit, voted Best RPG of 2011 by the community. So a sequel? Yes, please! Crystal Story 2 takes place a long time after the events of the original game have turned to legend, and begins with a boy falling from the sky wrapped in a comet. Which, you know, isn't something you see every day. Almost every day, but not every day. This is our hero, who, as it happens, is also a dragon if the scales and tail didn't clue you in, and he's been sent to see the Oracle on a mission of utmost importance!... but, uh, doesn't really have any idea what an Oracle is. Before he knows it, he's fallen in with a "treasure hunter" who promises to help him, but his journey is just getting started.

Crystal Story 2Crystal Story 2 offers a lot of control options... you can use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move around, or you can just click on the map to walk to that location. If you touch an enemy onscreen, you'll enter into a fight, and any other enemy that was onscreen at the time will join in! Battle is more of a Chrono Trigger/early Final Fantasy affair this time around, with characters taking turns attacking when their icon reaches the top of the meter at the left of the screen. This time around, there are no experience points and levels, and instead your characters grow stronger by equipping various items that change their stats, or by spending SP earned from battle. Each character has their own set of skill paths, and unlocking new abilities and upgrades by spending SP will not only teach them new things, but can increase their stats as well. Once you acquire all upgrades in a given path, you'll be allowed to unlock another class of your choosing, which offers more upgrades and skills of its own!

Where Crystal Story was sort of a mission-based dungeon-crawler, the sequel feels a lot more like a traditional RPG, and not just in the scope of its story. You'll wander a world map and visit different locations, though towns are still subject to the original game's menu-based interaction to shop, sleep, and slime. By visiting a certain familiar place, you can pick up various sidequests to earn a bit of extra bank and items. Additionally, you can use Alchemy to create new weapons and items by combining others, or spend scrap metal on upgrading the equipment you already have. True heroes recycle, after all!

Crystal Story 2Analysis: Without getting too "back in my day" on you, I've been playing RPGs since Zelda began, and every once in a while I look at RPGs like this, available online, for free, to anyone with an internet connection, and my mind sort of boggles a little. Though it may be a little rough around the edges, Crystal Story is still a formidable game in its own right, with animated cutscenes, voice acting that's actually very well done, and a familiar but enjoyable story with a light-hearted sense of humour. The game's strength lies in its characters and its combat, since wandering around "dungeons" tends to be boring simply because the maps and environmental art are very bland. Seen one identical square room with static backgrounds and borders, seen 'em all, and you'll definitely see way more than one.

Though it might look like a lot has changed, most of the differences between the original and the sequel are actually fairly cosmetic. You are, after all, just swapping out EXP grinding for SP grinding that accomplishes the same things, and for the most part characters don't have a skill tree so much as a linear skill root, though it does occasionally offer a choice between upgrades. That's not necessarily a criticism, mind, just an observation that there's not quite the need for panic in the streets that a more substantial mechanic overhaul might have called for. The "hacking" minigame to unlock treasure chests is a little obnoxious, largely because it feels gimmicky and unnecessary. One of the more welcome changes is a greater focus on character interaction and dialogue, which goes a long way to flesh out the world and your party simply by including more talky-talky.

Crystal Story 2 is, at its core, a combat-focused, light-hearted RPG that may not provided the emotional character development or shocking plot-twists some RPG fans demand, but it still heavy on charm and fun. It's an endearing as it is addictive for fans of dungeon-crawling. The love and effort gone into crafting it is clear, and the result is a frequently funny adventure with expressive artwork and a lot of quirks and surprises. There's also an HD version coming soon to buy, with additional content, cleaner graphics, and offline play, and if you want to thank the developer for two fantastic, hefty free RPGs, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for it. As you might guess, our hero's journey winds up with the fate of the world in the balance, but with an unlikely group of people to back him up, a slime you can doll up in outfits and call into battle, and much more, the threat of the end of the world was rarely so much fun.

Play Crystal Story 2


  • Currently 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (118 votes)
| Comments (23) | Views (546)

Rose Temple

elleWhen you first enter the Rose Temple, TomaTea's distinctive style of pastel artwork and harmonious design might lull you into a quiet state of serenity. The pinkest pink roses and cornflower blue sky might make you think you're in another world and a timeless season altogether. But after poking around a bit, you realize that it isn't a peaceful benevolence that has dropped you into this locked room, but a clever mind tinged with deviousness—if you ever want to escape this place, you'll have to match wits against the designer's tricky devices to collect five roses and retrieve the door's lever.

Rose TempleA glow-tip cursor aids your explorations as you point and click, seeking out objects to pick up as well as interactive areas. To use an item, just highlight its square, or click the tiny "i" in your inventory to examine it in detail. For the most part, every puzzle is soundly logical though made more challenging by multiple clues and less-than-blatant presentation. TomaTea eschews the familiar tile arrangement puzzle for a pipe connecting minigame that can be frustrating, but in a good way. Just as vexing, yet perhaps not as good, is an unassumingly ordinary area that just happens to be interactive. If you can't forgive the challenge of a pixel hunt, the enjoyment of solving a well-crafted puzzle should sooth sore feelings and soon lead the way to freedom, with a glimpse of beautiful roses for your reward.

Play Rose Temple


(14 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (5) | Views (18)

Harry Likes Plums

JohnBHarry Likes Plums, and you're gonna make sure he gets some. The mobile physics puzzle game from Tim Leslie takes a page from the Fantastic Contraption design book and creates a lighthearted building game where you fashion gadgets out of rods, coins and rolling buttons, all in the name of getting Harry to those massive, juicy plums!

Harry Likes PlumsAt one end of the screen is a plum approximately a billion times the size of Harry. Our little hero begins in a small construction area where you can tap to place things like rods, bottle tops and buttons, each basic components of a functioning machine. Build simple carts to move Harry across gaps, or fashion a ramp to tote him up an incline. Your only limit is your creativity, but each component has a cost, and if you want a good score, it's best to keep the spending to a minimum.

You can't dive into Harry Likes Plums without thinking about Fantastic Contraption. The game even credits Colin Northway's release as inspiration. With Harry, though, you'll find a more streamlined experience that's much better suited for casual play. Nothing is overwhelming in this game, and puzzles are delicately tuned to provide you with challenge without sending up the frustration meter. It's delightful, and the artwork, music, setting and construction are all there to keep you smiling and solving puzzles.

It's quite a challenge to work out some of these puzzles using the few parts at your disposal. Be clever and be choosy and you'll quickly become best of friends with Harry. Just don't expect him to share any of his plums with you.

Play Harry Likes Plums (browser)

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 (72 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (984)

Once Upon a Life

DoraFlashChaz and Marsh Games's platform/puzzle-y game Once Upon a Life had me a little leery at first, with its melancholy plinky-plonky title music and the premise of playing an old man named Harry collecting memories of his life in the form of snapshots. Oh no, I thought, I don't know if I'm ready for another emotional devastation from the elderly. I'm still not over Up. But it turns out I didn't need to worry, because while it might be a little bittersweet at times, and yes it might make you tear up a bit, Once Upon a Life is all silly and cute and happy, and more like a celebration than anything else... and with a lot more surprises than you'd ever expect.

Once Upon a LifeUsing the [arrow] keys or [WAD], you move and jump through levels, trying to find and gather all three photographs, though occasionally the game will ask you to find other items instead. Double-jumping activates your jetpack (keep an eye on your fuel!) and hitting [S] will cause Harry to attack, which is how he manipulates switches and other items in the environment. The game starts off very easy and takes a long time to really do anything, which means it's going to lose some players before it even begins. When the game does start changing things up, however, it does so in some drastically unexpected ways, and gradually becomes more of a challenge as well.

Once Upon a Life occasionally suffers from being a little unclear... not just in the lack of direction in some stages that can be unintuitive, but in the way you can't tell by sight alone what objects you can land on or manipulate, and which are just scenery. (The worst offender for both issues being "Inuit Camp".) It's hard to really go into the specifics about the gameplay without spoiling the surprises, but suffice it to say that a lot of new elements and even minigames come and go, and some of them are more welcome than others since not all fit with the style of game or theme it's going for. Still, it's impossible not to admire the sheer amount of variety and creativity on display as the game progresses, all rendered in a simple yet expressive and vibrant style. Harry's end of level narration can get surprisingly emotional, and the earnestness of it is well done. Despite its flaws, Once Upon a Life is an unexpected treat in a lot of ways, and well worth sticking through the initial handful of levels to see what life has in store.

Play Once Upon a Life


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (1900 votes)
| Comments (19) | Views (4,271)

The Very Organized Thief

HopefulNebula Dark clothing? Check. Flashlight? Check. Someone else's house? Check. Checklist? Check. Gold bar? ...Working on it. Even if you don't find it, you're still The Very Organized Thief in this game be Redefinition Games. In this stealth/puzzle you play a burglar in the night, and you have a randomized list of things to take. Use [WASD] to move around, and the mouse to look around. [Q] pulls up your handy list, [E] toggles your flashlight, the left [shift] key lets you run, and [spacebar] interacts with objects. If an object is the item you're looking for, the mouse-over text will read "take (item)". Just don't dawdle too long. You never know when someone might interrupt. Remember to be stealthy and escape through the front door!

The Very Organized ThiefThe physics of The Very Organized Thief could use some refinement: even once you have the hang of moving around, you'll find yourself knocking over things you never meant to touch. The quality of the game easily surpasses its minor flaws, though, especially since it was created in a little over seven days. The developers have even expressed interest in possibly expanding on this in the future. If you like vaguely creepy atmospheric sound, you'll want to play this while wearing headphones in a dark room. The randomization of the list is another touch that gives the game replay value, as are little details like the office key that's in a different place each time and the stacks of cash that are hidden throughout the game. Now if only you could avoid that one creaky floorboard in real life...

Play The Very Organized Thief


| Comments (0) | Views (15)

The Vault

TrickyIt's 11/12/13! Make a wish! (Unless you're in one of those little-endian dating-system type countries, where I think you have to wait a month for your wish). Now, of course, if you tells us what the wish was, it won't come true... but if it happened to be a selection of quality games from the JiG archives, than The Vault has you covered, with action, puzzles, and adventure. If it was for a pony... well, there's only so much we can do.

  • Moby Dick: The Video GameMoby Dick: The Video Game - History has shown that in the never-ending struggled between self-destructively obsessed sea-farers and albino sperm whales, it's smart to stay on the side of the physeters and this 2010 arcade survival game from La Ventanita Studio and Mostro Games shows why: munching and crunching is a heck of a lot more fun than losing limbs. Wreaking nautical destruction makes for quite the good time, and Moby Dick: The Video Game's mechanics combine with just enough of a strategic element to keep the player constantly engaged. Call me entertained!
  • Loops of ZenLoops of Zen - Sometimes when you're looking to kick back and unwind, the simplest games can be the most rewarding. Loops of Zen, a 2008 puzzle work by Netwalk may be merely a gussied up Pipe Mania, but there's just something about its presentation and minimalist aesthetic that makes you feel like you've slipped into a warm bath. A game to play when you're in the mood to contemplate the universe, Loops of Zen will help to untie all the knots the stresses of the world have left in your brain, even as it throws you for a loop.
  • Moonster SafeMoonster Safe - Though Pencil Kids have gained their point-and-click fame with monkeys and ninjas, for my money the internet has enough of those, and not nearly enough of cuddly monsters who live on the moon. 2010's Moonster Safe has those to spare. We probably won't see cuddly plushies of them any time soon, but releasing them from captivity has the developer's trademark blend of colorful animation and gentle puzzling that'll appeal to children and adults alike.

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!


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (70)

Rayman Fiesta Run

JohnBArmless and kneeless, Rayman is still a surprisingly good sprinter. The release of Rayman Fiesta Run, a direct follow-up to Rayman Jungle Run, puts our star in a series of worlds littered with coins, lums and traps, all waiting to be conquered with a series of well-timed jumps. An endless runner at its core, Rayman Fiesta Run has all the markings of an addictive platform game, complete with scores to perfect, secrets to uncover, and loads of gorgeous artwork to drink in.

Rayman Fiesta RunRayman runs on his own, all you have to do is tap the screen to jump. Carrying this even further, you can leap off of walls, swing from vines and ropes, and even avoid massive boss enemies with quick hops, all in the name of grabbing as many coins and shiny lums as you can. The more you score the more levels you'll unlock, granting you access to 75 stages across four new worlds and bringing you closer to some fantastic new special abilities.

Rayman Fiesta Run is a solid action game, there's no denying that. It runs at a good speed that's at once manageable but also thrilling, throwing obstacles in your path that move at just the right angle so you can utilize them for an exciting sequence of leaps. Just making it to the end of the stage isn't enough, though. You'll want to go back and master each world, collecting all of the lums and seeing every sight there is to see. Rayman Fiesta Run is the kind of beautiful, well-tuned game that inspires you to keep playing for weeks on end. Fiesta 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.


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (421)

Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat

DoraBecause she has never heard of foreshadowing, your sister Renée is right in the middle of telling you how a bunch of young women her own age have vanished along this very road. Before you can tell her to shut up before the plot hears her, your caravan is attacked and overturned, and Renée is gone, kidnapped by a stranger in a top hat and an eerie cat. Now, in Blue Tea Games's hidden-object adventure Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat, to save your sister and countless other young women, you'll have to stop a magical madman whose grief has twisted him into a monster who holds sway over the word of warped nursery rhymes you live in. Though the game plays more or less identically to every other title in the genre out there, revolving around solving puzzles, rummaging through hidden-object scenes, and rubbing various items on scenery to progress, where it stands out is its sheer scope and quality.

Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked CatIt isn't simply that the game is gorgeous, although it definitely is with its incredible art and imaginative character and environmental design, it's that it's engaging and challenging too. The lavishly themed puzzles drip with as much detail as the scenery, offering more thought than simply "use this item here", and it's packed with characters, cutscenes, and story to keep you entertained as you play. If you're weird like myself, it's also unintentionally hilarious at times, such as when it informs you that you need "something that causes a burning sensation" to drive a monster away, or creates a puzzle around Chainsaw Suit's Lunesta butterfly. The game is, unfortunately, not without its missteps, and some are more of an annoyance than others. Back-tracking happens a lot, though thankfully your magical map can take you to any location in a snap, and the game has an annoying habit of getting rid of an item after you use it, only to force you to hunt down something else to perform a frustratingly similar function shortly thereafter.

Happily for people who don't like to be crushed under piles of junk, hidden-object scenes are relatively infrequent, and the gameplay focus is squarely on the adventuring/puzzle-solving aspect. While Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat doesn't ever really innovate, it does constantly feel like it's striving to keep the bar high the entire time, which is rare in a genre where games can often feel cookie-cutter and lackluster. The "bonus chapter" in the Collector's Edition is actually a separate story rather than a missing piece of the main storyline, which is a welcome surprise. Most players will probably find it a solid four hour experience or so for the main game, and be entertained the entire time. The storyline and setting might be a little weird and convoluted, but that's part of the charm, and if you're looking for a hidden-object adventure with that rare combination of chills, fairy-tale magic, and adventure, this is one game whose demo you should definitely check out.

Note: 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 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (128 votes)
| Comments (20) | Views (631)

Inarin

elleIn Shinto, the Inari is a fox: spirit of harvests, fertility, rice, agriculture, industry and worldly success. In Robamimi's latest escape-the-room game Inarin, your own success depends on both finding and deciphering the clues to solve puzzles, and following the implied directives toward enlightenment—of the escaping kind that is.

InarinLike all Robamimi escapes, Inarin is played by pointing and clicking, taking a cue from the changing cursor as to what areas are interactive or not. What isn't already intuitive is well-explained within the interface and any time you get lost, needing a nudge toward your next goal, the HINT button will dish out just a small bit of information to help you decide where to go next. For the most part, everything is superbly logical and those hints aren't needed as long you carefully observe the environment, working out the solutions as presented. Yet those not familiar with Japanese lettering might struggle a bit because the letters on a certain puzzle are not an exact replicate of those in the clue. In that case, you can either experiment a bit with the possibilities or just look to HINT for a more approximate representation. Albeit, style wins out over substance, and Robamimi's beautiful, photorealistic fantasy setting makes for an enchanting escape break.

EDIT: the author has revised this game to make it more accessible to English speakers.

Play Inarin


  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (73 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (337)

The Scorpion Box

Starchild One turtle, one scorpion, six ways to die. You've agreed to take care of your girlfriend's pet turtle Romeo. The problem is that your prankster friend Luc put a scorpion in with Romeo, because who doesn't like venomous clawed little creatures of doom? The aptly named point-and-click game, The Scorpion Box, is thus about extricating your reptile friend from its current predicament, as well as finding as many alternative outcomes as possible.

The Scorpion Box You can only interact with objects with hover text, and if you do, you'll quickly find a motley assortment of items in your inventory. It might take a little guessing to figure out how to use them correctly, but ultimately the game does exhibit a fair bit of logic. There are four ways of saving the turtle and three ways of disposing of the scorpion, and six examples of you making a bad decision and getting yourself killed. Some of these are quite straightforward, and others trigger silly mini-games, but they are mostly short, sweet and funny. The Scorpion Box feels more like an entertaining experiment than a full-blown adventure, so it won't take up a lot of your time or try to be convoluted or difficult. Of course, it's almost impossible to leave it without discovering all the endings, but if you have to find out all the ways you can be killed by a dangerous animal, it's certainly best to do it in the safe environment of a cool point-and-click game.

Play The Scorpion Box


| Comments (5) | Views (19)

Mobile Monday

JohnBSome familiar faces in this week's Mobile Monday, including a new game from the creator of Tetris! Kairosoft also kicks out a brand new title, though one could argue with the word "new" in this sentence. And if you need a little more sorcery in your life, inkle studios has got you covered!

pocketharvestPocket Harvest picks your pocket - A new Kairosoft (Game Dev Story, Pocket League Story 2) game hit Android devices recently, turning the ever-addicting simulation formula to the world of farming. There's a slight problem with Pocket Harvest, however: it's just like every other Kairosoft game. No innovation, no real change-ups, just a farm sim with lots of things to upgrade. If you're new to the Kairosoft line, you won't even notice. But after a few dozen games utilizing an almost identical formula, we're thinking it's time to change things up a little more.

sorcery2Sorcery! 2 casts its spell - A sequel to the original Sorcery!, this new piece of interactive fiction from inkle studios continues the story with all-new branches to explore, battles to engage in, and worlds to experience. The creative choice-based narrative in Sorcery! 2 features a lot of fantastic, immersive writing, and inkle's software provides a bit of speed to make sure you do a little more than just read. A fantastic follow-up to an already fantastic game.

dwiceDwice, a new game from the creator of Tetris - Things are good when Alexey Pajitnov releases a new game. Dwice is a speed-based arcade/puzzle game that challenges you to match up shapes by dragging them together on the screen. Build combos, unlock new shapes, and work fast before they reach the bottom and destroy the city! The only caveat is that Dwice commits a mortal sin with its in-app purchases. Part of the game has been effectively ripped out and locked away behind a paywall. If you want multi-touch controls you'll have to pay extra for them, which seems a bit silly (and/or insulting). Even with one finger, though, Dwice is a lot of fun, and definitely worth a try.


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (410)

Coloratura

kyhYou are an alien creature. Not strongly bonded to the physical world, you spend much of your existence happily singing with the universe, emitting a blissful white aura. Unfortunately, the blind, foolish humans have interrupted your connection. In Lynnea Glasser's entry in the 2013 Interactive Fiction Competition, Coloratura, you'll have to affect and manipulate the confused Blind Ones to return to your resting place of peace.

ColoraturaColoratura is played much like other interactive fiction titles by typing in a command and hitting [enter]. When at a loss, you can type "help" for assistance or even "hint" for help with whatever puzzle you're tackling. Where this game deviates from traditional interactive fiction mechanics is your ability to 'color' people at times to affect their mood. The list of colors available can be accessed at anytime with the "colors" command (or "colours", even). Additionally, there's no inventory to deal with, unlike the author's previous interactive fiction game, Divis Mortis, leaving you with no option but to find other ways of manipulating the world around you.

There is more to this survival title than just stopping the humans from keeping you from anything but total bliss. The story, as it unfolds, will not only having you feel for the gender-neutral protagonist, but will also have your 'aura' toward the humans changing from revolted orange to fond blue. While Coloratura has a story those familiar with interactive fiction fans will likely enjoy, those new to the genre should keep an open mind considering the non-traditional gameplay. With total game time around two hours, Glasser's latest story weaving is a colorful, emotional ride for a well spent afternoon staring at words.

Play Coloratura

Download Coloratura (Mac/Windows/Linux, 1.3MB, free)

To play the download version of this game, you'll need both the game file and an interpreter. Download Coloratura followed by an interpreter for your OS: Gargoyle for Windows, Zoom for Macintosh and Unix.


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (0) | Views (173)

Haunted Hotel: Eclipse

DoraThe weirdest thing that has ever happened to me in a hotel was getting up one night to get a soda from the vending machine outside only to find the people across the hall eating the remains of the room service order we'd left out for housekeeping to pick up. Weird, awkward, and a case for no eye contact? Sure, but it's not "the forces of light and darkness are having an eternal battle for the fate of the world down the hall" weird, but that's the case in Elephant Games's hidden-object adventure Haunted Hotel: Eclipse. You and your detective friend James, who has the amazing ability to show up and take credit for every single discovery and plot advancement you make, find yourselves called to a hotel that seems to have dissolved into some sort of freakish battleground, and the maid insists all the guests are monsters. The supernatural isn't something a two-star review on Yelp will fix, though you probably still won't want to look at the sheets under a black light.

Haunted Hotel: EclipseThe best phrase to describe Haunted Hotel: Eclipse is "solid, and enjoyable". Though it continues Elephant Games's tradition of beautiful design and quality, the gameplay is very standard. You click around, gather a motley assortment of inventory items like the world's craziest kleptomaniac, solve puzzles, and hunt around in hidden-object scenes. The game actually winds up being extremely easy. You'll always know where you need to use items, usually because most of them are found pretty close to where their associated "puzzle" is and solutions are happily quite logical. On the other hand, you do get to keep and re-use a lot of items, instead of being forced to find another each time you need to accomplish a similar task, and you also get some magical creatures that can do your bidding. Maybe I'd take Fluttershy more seriously if her butterflies were magical eternally burning fire entities.

While Haunted Hotel: Eclipse doesn't break any new ground, however, with its supernatural storyline, stunning environments, and constant magical developments and scenes, it's never dull. It's a flashy game, despite a perplexing lack of music in many places and some seriously wooden limb animation, and at around three to four hours of average play time, a satisfying length for players looking for something more magical than scary. As long as you don't mind the clashes of infernal forces, the lack of free wi-fi, and the puzzle locks you have to solve every time you want to get into your room/the study/the toilet, Haunted Hotel: Eclipse is worth a visit.

Note: A Collector's Edition is also available for PC and Mac. 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 (114 votes)
| Comments (12) | Views (380)

unReal 2

GrinnypSometimes a really good room escape designer comes along and reminds us that we have yet to exhaust the infinite possibilities of the locked one-room escape. What's even nicer is if they come back and do it again, like Factory.112, who have unleashed another master-class of escaping a white, nearly featureless room in unReal 2. As with unReal, unReal 2 contains a plethora of perplexing point-and-click puzzles packed into a pale, padlocked place. Um, but with much less alliteration. The hushed, near-empty space contains navigation arrows, a changing cursor, and little else to help you on your way, leaving you to depend on your problem solving capabilities. Factory.112 has packed this amazing little game with clues that have multiple uses and puzzles that have multiple solutions, once again creating a pulse-pounding practical paradigm of puzzle-solving pleasure. Stop looking at me like that and just go play!

Play unReal 2


(19 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (9) | Views (1,106)

Desperate Love Feast

Dora[Please note that this game received its rating due to gore, violence, cannibalism, a passing mention of a sexual assault, and several scenes of animal cruelty which may be upsetting to certain players.]

Desperate Love Feast, a freeware indie horror adventure game by Akira Takaba (and translated by Hiroko), is about what happens when love and obsession are dialed up to eleven. Takuma awakens in a basement somewhere, with writing on the wall inviting him to come play. He quickly realises this has everything to do with the brutal murder of his family several years ago by someone he thought was a friend, but will he find answers and justice, or is there no way to escape from someone who loves you more than anything? Use the [arrow] keys to move and the [spacebar] to interact, while [ESC] opens the menu where you can save your game any time you like. There are five different endings to uncover, and some of them will end the game sooner than others, so make sure you save in different slots and think carefully about what you decide to do.

Desperate Love FeastTakuma will usually prompt you to use the correct item whenever you need to, making him approximately 100% more useful than your average adventure game protagonist. Unfortunately, this also makes the game 100% easier than your average adventure game, with most of the challenge coming from figuring out how to get the game's "true" (still insane) ending. Most of that winds down to backtracking over and over, which isn't anywhere near as intuitive as the first half of the game. Still, it's short at less than an hour for your average playthrough, and extremely creepy even though the plot's supernatural elements could have used some better development. If you're looking for an unsettling horror story with a few supernatural twists you can complete in a single sitting, Desperate Love Feast is worth checking out... and hopefully we see both more from the developer (who still has several untranslated horror games), and a sequel, in the future.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.1/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.1/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (483)

Valdis Story: Abyssal City

DoraUsually when your ship sinks right in the middle of a titanic battle, it's game over, but in EndlessFluff Games' indie metroidvania action RPG Valdis Story: Abyssal City, it's just the beginning. Instead of drowning, you find yourself in a vast underwater city whose inhabitants want nothing to do with you, but since the demonic army you were battling is down here now too, along with angelic forces who don't care who gets caught in the crossfire, it looks like this is your fight as well whether anyone likes it or not. Play as either Wyatt or Reina (and more heroes to come!) each with their own unique weapons, skills, and abilities as you search for your missing crew and a way to end the war between two equally deadly factions in this gorgeous adventure.

Valdis Story: Abyssal CityLike any metroidvania worth its salt, Valdis Story offers a sprawling environment for you to climb and leap all over, filled with secrets, unlockables, and upgrades you'll discover to open up even more of the map to you later on in the game. Your hero can use both melee and magic, and developing your own combat style by choosing on where to focus (or if you want to blend the two) is easy to do. You'll earn a variety of souls from defeating powerful creatures that you can equip to unlock their magical abilities in a variety of combinations. This, incidentally, is not a game for the button masher. As you play, you'll come across a wide variety of enemies that require skill and thought to defeat, or even just to get past their defenses. As you defeat enemies, you'll not only get stronger and earn points to spend on skills and attributes, but you'll find materials you can use to craft new items. When you find crew members, some of them can even be summoned for help during battle!

Valdis Story: Abyssal CityAnalysis: Somewhere, in a perfect world, there is DLC where you can muzzle hero Wyatt's sullen, infinitely hateable mug, but even if you're playing Captain Miserable there, Valdis Story is still an absolutely stunning game. The distinctive art style coupled with the dedication to rich colours makes it a joy to behold without ever actually becoming too cluttered, so its pixels are always crisp and the action is always clear. Some areas sport more interesting design than others, with a lot of interior maps tending to fall into dull, flat corridors and rooms, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The story winds up feeling like it's secondary, or even third-ary, to everything else, largely because unless you read the game's lengthy backstory from the "lore" screen, you'll have no idea what's going on for a long time. Not that you need to, really, since the game is less about talking and more about being a punching, back-flipping, sword-swinging, magic-flinging hero.

Though primarily combat oriented, Valdis Story has a heavy emphasis on platforming that I could have done without, which I know is a weird thing to say about a metroidvania title, but there are just so many itty bitty platforms to cross and wall-jumping sequences where enemies are hacking at your ankles or vomiting projectiles. Although the controls are largely pretty responsive, the heartbeat-brief pauses that happen from flourish animations when finishing attacks or spell casting are enough to get you face smashed in by an enemy, or even miss a precious second off of the timer you just activated. This is somewhat exacerbated by the fact that you'll learn a lot more experimenting with the controls and skills on your own than you will through the instructive in-game text, which offers explanations that do little to enlighten or instruct beyond the very basics, and can actually wind up being confusing. Swapping around spells feels unnecessarily clunky and even a little unintuitive at the beginning, with different options available for each directional casting button for every sphere. There's also so much screen space you may really lament the lack of an onscreen mini-map, which would have been a simple addition that could have streamlined the whole experience since so many areas look alike.

Valdis Story: Abyssal CityThat said, however, there's still a lot to recommend about Valdis Story, and its gameplay and combat are engaging and fast-paced. This game loves its boss battles, all of which are unique and exciting and challenging to boot, with a welcome option to immediately retry if you fail instead of getting booted back to the last save point. Once you get a handle on how your character controls and the way their abilities work, you'll fall into a natural rhythm in combat, chaining together massive combos and juggling multiple foes at once. Each map is packed with places you'll have to come back to when you learn new abilities or gain new items to gain access to more treasure, making it a dream come true for completionists.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City isn't perfect, but few games are, and despite its flaws, it's still a lot of fun and something fans of classic metroidvania action will want to check out. It's easy to pick up, if someone difficult to master, but the gorgeous visuals and engaging action make this one worth the effort if you enjoy the genre.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (239 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (109)

Jim Loves Mary 2

Starchild There's more love in the air and fewer in-laws in Jim Loves Mary 2, the new puzzle platformer episode in the life of this adorable couple. Jim and Mary have had enough of Mary's pitchfork-wielding family and are heading for the forest. Just like in the original game, you'll control both of them, Jim with [WASD] and Mary with the [arrow] keys. By working together, they can solve the puzzles that keep them apart, collecting hearts along the way. Love conquers all and that sort of thing.

Jim Loves Mary 2 To add another aspect to the puzzly gameplay, Jim can jump higher than Mary, but she can crawl underneath low ceilings. They usually start out on opposite sides of the screen and can help each other by pressing various buttons, pushing boxes and pulling levers. Collecting hearts matters even more than before, since they act as hit points – this time around there are more enemies, and no one likes having to restart a level because Jim got killed by a vicious tree. Jim Loves Mary 2 has kept the visual appeal of its predecessor. The cute bobblehead characters and vibrant colours have become Flazm's signature features, and they work very well with the lovebird theme. On the other hand, the gameplay is improved: it's still not exactly difficult, but it's more elaborate and therefore more fulfilling. It's certainly worth your while if you're looking for a cheerful, casual, star-crossed-lovers-helping experience.

Play Jim Loves Mary 2


| Comments (0) | Views (30)

Weekend Download

JohnBWhere will you be after the future happens? Probably wandering around like a vagabond, zapping enemies and hoping you don't get eaten. Serendipitously.

pfvPost-future Vagabond (Windows/Mac, free) - From Michael Brough, creator of 868-HACK and a handful of other games, Post-future Vagabond is a unique mixture of puzzle, roguelike and arcade game. Starting with a simple beam weapon, collect ammo and deploy it judiciously to crack open blocks and stun enemies for a few turns. Your goal is to survive and make it to the next room, but if you've played a Michael Brough game before, you know that's never as easy as it sounds.

goomyitteyGet Out of My Way I'm Trying to Eat You (Windows, free) - A short, crisp platform game that's all about trickery and insane leaps of faith. You play a small box that gets eaten by things a lot. As you jump around each of the 40 levels, you'll avoid spikes, leap through edges of the screen, and propel yourself upward with twitchy movements, all in the hopes of reaching the exit cube. A very simple experience, but it's just crazy enough to work!

serendipitySERENDIPITY (Windows, free) - Surreal, abstract, possibly confusing, but captivatingly beautiful. These words go well with SERENDIPITY, an unusual puzzle game based on the idea of discovering valuable things you aren't necessarily looking for. Controlling your glowing cursor, simply click on nearby objects that are highlighted. When the two collide, things will happen, but you're never entirely sure what. It's a very calming experience that encourages you to let go and forget about goals and winning and all that usual gaming stuff.


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (650)

Desktop Dungeons

DoraOriginally featured as freeware in 2010, QCFDesign's indie roguelike Desktop Dungeons can occasionally feel like it's holding you down and making you slap yourself in the face, laughing, "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" I know that sounds like a strange endorsement, but, well, it's true. Part turn-based RPG strategy, part resource management simulation, and part puzzle, it's a deliberately difficult game with a sense of humour about everything, especially when it comes to killing you as often as possible.

Desktop DungeonsIt's like this. The main game is a series of maps where you'll be tasked with a specific objective. You'll pick your hero and class, and start at level one. (Heroes do not carry over between stages.) Each scenario is, ideally, only around ten to twenty minutes long and designed for coffee-break type play. You just click around to move and on enemies to attack. Don't worry, a monster will usually only attack you when you strike them. As icky as it sounds, you regain health (and mana!) by picking up blood from defeating (most) enemies and uncovering new territory, and as you level up, you'll get stronger. Throughout the dungeon, you'll find helpful things like squares that permanently increase your stats, better equipment, and even spells. What's more, by dragging items to the Conversion bar, which acts as a sort of offering to the Gods, you'll be granted Conversion Points that count towards conferring you various bonuses.

Completing a map grants sweet, sweet loot based on the treasure you found, which is, in turn, spent on your kingdom. Oh, didn't I say? You have a kingdom. Well, eventually. At the start of the game, you take control of a group of bruised and battered humans who are the only remaining survivors of an attack on their caravan, and are asked, over the course of the game, building your tiny settlement into a thriving kingdom. Spending gold on new structures and defenses in turn unlocks more quests (maps), and, as you go, new hero races and classes to play as. You'll even eventually be able to take bonus items into dungeons with you... for a fee, of course.

Desktop DungeonsAs you'd expect from a roguelike, death is permanent, and the odds are always stacked against you. When you die, you'll have to restart the entire map, and you'll find it completely randomized when you do. Additionally, once you've unlocked the Explorer's Guild, you'll gain access to puzzle dungeons, which aren't randomised and require careful thought and a specific strategy/solution to defeat. Complete all puzzles in a pack, and you'll win valuable rewards, but perhaps more importantly, also learn a lot of tips and tricks you might not pick up on your own that can be helpful during harder dungeons. Oh, and don't worry about running out of maps... with the random adventure feature, you can happily quest forever and ever.

Analysis: A lot, even most, of roguelikes are hard, but not all of them are smart, and Desktop Dungeons is definitely both. Though the game still randomises its dungeons and enemies, it still feels like everything is being left up to you. Even if you're not playing a puzzle stage, the way regeneration is handled forces you to think strategically and pick your battles and your bath instead of blindly swinging and hoping for the best... though that will definitely happen from time to time too. By not allowing heroes to carry over between maps, you're always forced to start fresh with each challenge, and since certain maps and challenges can only be completed by specific classes or races, you never really get too "stuck" on a particular hero type you feel comfortable with. All of the possible classes and races have their own benefits and feel useful for a variety of situations, making them worth experimenting with. Each time you think you've found everything, you'll unlock another race, another class, more spells, gods to worship... and all of them have their place and are useful.

Desktop DungeonsIt's an accessible game, and yet there's a remarkable amount of depth to everything from the way spells can be used, to the way you can gain extra experience points, and so on. Playing through the puzzle stages to learn what's under the hood is essential. The engaging charm that comes from the writing and visual style will entice more people to give it a shot, it's still a very challenging game from the get-go. It's extremely easy to paint yourself into a corner in a dungeon, so to speak, and wind up against impossible odds. This can be particularly painful if you make a stupid decision by accident, say, using a health potion when you didn't mean to, or clicking the significantly powerful monster instead of the much weaker one beside it, since there's no undo button. That being said, Desktop Dungeons always feels like victory is within your grasp if you just think creatively enough, rather than just being about who's carrying the bigger stick.

Desktop Dungeons is one of those games I bought for myself initially without even planning to review it. It's not that I didn't think it would deserve one, it's that normally I look at every game I see with a potential review as the end goal, and this was the first in a long time I had simply looked at and thought, "Gotta get me some of that." Though the maps are designed to be small and quick, if Desktop Dungeons gets its hooks into you, there is no way in Hades you're putting this down after ten minutes. If you enjoy planning and the constant threat of death, Desktop Dungeons is probably for you. And even if that doesn't sound like fun, well... give it a try. (Though the freeware Beta version is drastically different from the finished product.) You might be surprised. Highly recommended.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version
Get the full version (Steam)
Download the demo (early beta)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version
Get the full version (Steam)
Download the demo (early beta)


  • Currently 4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4/5 (83 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (55)

Blitzy Blitz

DoraPlaying Wingon Studios's arcade shooter Blitzy Blitz is sort of weird, because it feels exactly like the sort of thing my friends and I would have made up to play in the backyard when I was five. Atop a tiny horse that makes adorable clippy-cloppy sounds when you move, you fend off a massive air raid of enemy ships and troops using everything from a flame thrower to a massive laser beam. Silly and over the top? Sure, but that's sort of the whole point. Just use [WASD] to move, and the mouse to aim and fire, with either the [1], [2], and [3] or [Q] and [E] keys to cycle between weapons. (Watch each weapon's meter so it doesn't overheat!) Between stages, you'll spend the crystals you earn defeating enemies and talent points on valuable upgrades! Think carefully before you spend rubies, as you can only have one of each level of upgrade per tier for each weapon, and the choice is permanent.

Blitzy BlitzI've never liked the phrase "guilty pleasure" since it sort of implies you shouldn't like something for an arbitrary reason, so let's call Blitzy Blitz a glorious simple pleasure instead. Not as catchy, but apt, as from the game's goofy and deliberately campy premise and presentation to the increasingly hectic action, it's just fun. There are, of course, some frustrating bits... after the initial opening scene, the action feels almost painfully slow to ramp up, and being able to reset your talent points but not the weapon upgrades seems like an odd choice. More dynamic and unique boss battles would have gone a long way towards combating the feeling of repetition, but Blitzy Blitz is still an unexpectedly charming and happily bloodless shooter game that piles on the action. Even if there is still only room for one tiny pony in my heart.

Play Blitzy Blitz


  • Currently 4.5/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.5/5 (216 votes)
| Comments (2) | Views (337)

Drawfender

KimberlyIt seems the goal of many villains is to take over the world. In Drawfender, the villain just wants to stop the good guy from, well, doing good. In this drawing physics game, from Eugene Karataev, the same developer who brought us the Wake Up The Box series, it's your job to defend the philanthropist from the evil assassins, so he can continue his charity work around the world.

DrawfenderEach level will have a cannon or other type of gun pointed at our hero. Some have a delay, indicated by a countdown clock, but others fire instantly. Click to set a point in the grid, then drag and click again to make a line. Click the reset button on the bottom of the screen to start over. You can draw any kind of polygon you can dream up within the grid, and on some levels you'll have to get creative. Once you finish your drawing, the level snaps into action as you watch to see if you've managed to protect your charge. Drawfender sneaks in a few gameplay changes without explaining how they work, but a little trial and error is all it takes to discover the new mechanic and continue on your way. While the game starts out fairly simple, it quickly requires you to stop and do a bit of thinking before you draw. Good luck, and perhaps if you manage to save his life enough times, the philanthropist will see fit to bestow some of his charity on you.

Play Drawfender


| Comments (5) | Views (10)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraGames, and stuff, I guess? There's one where you click a thing, and one where you eat some dudes, and... things. I can't write anything funny for this description because the guy who bagged my groceries this morning called me both "old school" and "ma'am" in the same breath when he saw my Snorlax earrings, and now I have to go sit on the porch, yell at clouds, and eat hard candies while knitting a quilt.

  • Halloween 2013Halloween 2013 - Okay, so Halloween is over, but just consider Inush's adorable little point-and-click puzzle game for the Slowbros amongst us. Click around to solve puzzles and try to find something to give the trick-or-treater at your door. There are two different endings, but the only real challenge will be overcoming the minor language barrier that will probably cause some difficulty figuring out what one specific item is supposed to be. Seems like a lot of trouble to me when you could just set out a bowl of acorns or cheese slices or whatever it is kids like these days.
  • Prehistoric SharkPrehistoric Shark - Sharknado? What-ever. Mausland has been doing the "massive preposterous shark-tastrophe" for years now. This latest gory arcade game sends you back to an age where dinosaurs walked the earth and Dean Koontz was still a good writer, and then just tells you to flip out and destroy everything. There are actually a surprising amount of things to chow down on this time around, ranging from giant wasps to be dragged underwater to drown and massive dinos you'll need to get an enormous leap at to take out. It's repetitive, but it calls to the psychopathic improbable menace in all of us.
  • Soul JobSoul Job - Ludobox puts an infernal spin on a simple game that tasks you with sorting out which furnace arriving souls should go to... heaven or Chili's? With its quirky premise and Akira Toriyama-esque art style, it's a neat idea, though chances are it's both far too repetitive and hard on the wrists as you frantically click and drag to play for long. Do you think this is how Castiel does it? No wonder he looks so serious all the time.
  • The Hunting LodgeThe Hunting Lodge - Hulk Handsome's creepy Twine horror game is basically a Darwin test, since anyone's first reaction to finding blood on the floor of a dark place should be to turn and leave. Alas, you're here looking for your brother Thomas, who nobody has seen in weeks, and soon find yourself trapped inside and stalked by a malevolent force as you try to set things right. The biggest challenge is trying to map a layout of the lodge in your head as you play, since the game doesn't offer it for you, but if you're looking for a neat twist on a monster story with menace, this is worth checking out.

  • Currently 3.8/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.8/5 (33 votes)
| Comments (6) | Views (504)

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

JohnBStar Wars: Tiny Death Star is what happens when LucasArts and NimbleBit conspire to steal all of your time. A casual simulation game at its core, Tiny Death Star is essentially a Star Wars-themed Tiny Tower with a handful of new features and some tweaks to the basic gameplay. Despite having an overzealous in-app purchasing system (don't panic when you see the prices in there), it still manages to hold onto that "just one more minute" style of gameplay that will occupy your brain even when you're not playing.

Star Wars: Tiny Death StarThe core of Star Wars: Tiny Death Star focuses on building the Death Star one level at a time. The Emperor and Lord Vader chatter back and forth on occasion, giving you missions to complete in exchange for small rewards, but otherwise it's just you and a tower of shops to manage. Build over half a dozen types of floors, ranging from retail to food, residential and service-oriented businesses. After waiting out the real-time clock, give residents jobs in these shops, tapping each one to start researching a product to put up for sale. Once that real-time clock has expired, go back, stock the shelves, then wait while the Death Star's inhabitants come in and spend their hard-earned cash. Repeat until your mobile device is obsolete and your Death Star tower reaches infinity.

New in Star Wars: Tiny Death Star is the addition of underground levels. These evil floors serve as research facilities for Imperial workers. Commerce doesn't go on on minus levels, but you'll tackle some more important things such as, oh, crushing the Rebel scum with raw Imperial might.

Star Wars: Tiny Death StarAnalysis: Tiny Tower with Star Wars characters and settings? That came out of nowhere! We're certainly not complaining, though, as building the Death Star is something we've wanted to concern ourselves with ever since that scene in Clerks graced movie theaters. It's a strangely natural fit combining it with NimbleBit's Tiny Tower property, and seeing all those cute Gunguns and Toydarians and whatnot patiently riding the elevator as you take them to the cantina is totally worth it. The writing and references are a little on the hokey side, which fits the theme but sort of makes it feel like a Robot Chicken parody of Star Wars. Still: don't care, Star Wars Tiny Tower.

The original Tiny Tower had a simple microtransaction system where you could spend some cash to grab a few bux, useful for speeding up stocking, selling, construction and the like as well as buying faster elevators. All of that stuff is still the case with Star Wars: Tiny Death Star, but with the new features bux are spent much faster than before. The result is a more, shall we say, full featured in-app purchase store. You can play the patience game and fill your Imperial Bux on your own, but that takes a lot of time and keeps you from seeing most of the new features the game has in store. It's a bit of a letdown, but it doesn't spoil the core of the game, fortunately.

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star takes a tiny step over the line when it comes to microtransaction-fueled features vs. honest gameplay additions, but it doesn't throw its entire self over to the Dark Side. Instead, we're left with a game that still has the heart and soul of Tiny Tower, comes with a tasty Star Wars flavoring on top, but contains the occasional sour grape that is a ridiculous in-app purchase. It'll sting to see the prices in the store, but this is still Star Wars meets Tiny Tower, so you really won't mind.

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 4.4/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.4/5 (54 votes)
| Comments (57) | Views (4,370)

Megami Quest

DoraShinmage's Megami Quest is a Cookie Clicker-esque webtoy with a JRPG twist. Able to run by itself in another tab or window, the game centers around creating a party of characters that slowly get stronger as they generate EXP by the second and level up. Each character has a strength rating relative to its level, and each area you visit requires a certain strength rating to complete, which in turn opens up new areas to conquer. Initially, you won't be able to do much, and the heroes you can pay to summon will be less than inspiring, but as you visit new areas, you'll unlock more powerful summoning spells, items, and even be able to upgrade your existing roster.

Simple? You bet. Megami Quest is a considerably more passive experience than other "idle" games, with a focus primarily on discovering all the possible items and party members, which is mostly a random affair. The biggest challenge will be "grinding" for high strength ratings, since some stages limit the number of heroes you can take (forcing you to "rest" the others) while still demanding a high strength rating to conquer. Most of the locations and character names (apart from our titular "goddess") appear to be taken from Norse mythology, and it feels like Megami Quest has a lot of potential to beef up its content with a story of some sort behind it. Still, it's cute and an interesting spin on the increasingly popular "idle" webtoy genre, and if you need something to run in another tab, you could do far worse than a growing cavalcade of legendary heroes.

Play Megami Quest


  • Currently 4.6/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.6/5 (40 votes)
| Comments (9) | Views (63)

Cake Monsters

Starchild Well, it turns out that monsters like cake, which means that you can stop looking under your bed at night and instead start guarding your fridge. But if they're as adorable as the ones in Cake Monsters, you might just let them have a slice or two. In this retro puzzler, colourful monsters want to eat the cake with a corresponding colour. To move the monsters, press the [arrow] keys, and use [Z] to undo your moves.

The first few levels are (must resist puns) rather easy. Blue monster eats blue cake, done, moving on. Soon enough, though, you learn that monsters can merge and their colours combine, so a blue and a yellow monster turn into one green one; also, if you mix tree or more colours, you invariably get brown. This will come in handy when cakes start getting more sneaky and require more careful planning. Of course, a big shout-out goes to the undo button, which lets you undo as many moves as you like, therefore removing any frustration and letting you enjoy your puzzles in peace. Cake Monsters is a bite-sized (Turkish?) delight of a game, but still tricky enough to keep you challenged. Chomp away!

Play Cake Monsters


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (255)

Lumen

DoraLumen, by Thousand Cranes Studio, is a freeware indie action adventure that's smack-your-grandma gorgeous, though not without some hiccups. You control a little girl who awakes in a bizarre, surreal warped fantasy nightmare land who has no choice but to follow the voice leading her deeper within the dream. With the help of a camera that can let her see the invisible and manipulate objects, she sets off to jump, sneak, and puzzle her way through four different areas of dreamland. The camera will allow her to take pictures that can manipulate certain objects in her environment, and its flash can reveal hidden secrets and platforms to make her way forward. Just be wary of enemies... when our heroine's jammies go from calming blue to five-alarm-red, you'll need to run and hide when sneaking fails you. Fortunately, the game has frequent checkpoints, and after a Capcom-esque YOU DIED screen, you'll be booted back to the last one you passed to try again.

LumenLumen is an absolute stunner of a game, a sort of visual cross between American McGee's Alice and Coraline. The rich, creative environmental and character design and the beautiful colours that make them up, makes this the sort of game you could spend a long time gawping at like a tourist. On the other hand, consisting of only two real levels and a rather abrupt ending stage, Lumen winds up feeling more like a demo than a complete game, especially since its camera concept doesn't get explored, or really even explained why its there, as much as it could. I would love to have seen the camera mechanic used in more creative ways, and more often, in lieu of the tedious stealth and platforming sequences that make up the lion's share of the second stage.

Still, Lumen is an absolutely beautiful, if far too brief game, and well worth the short time it'll take you to play, though hopefully it gets revisited, and expanded, at some point in the future by its clearly talented team.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 2.9/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 2.9/5 (43 votes)
| Comments (55) | Views (103)

Onamis 7

DoraWhat better way to spend your time than trapped within cold, uncaring machinery and no escape in sight? That's Onamis' idea of a good time, anyway, which is why we find ourselves contending with the point-and-click puzzles of Onamis 7. When the cursor changes as you move it around the screen, that means you can click to interact, swapping viewpoints or picking up items, which will be used automatically whenever you click on the correct place for them. There's a lot to like about Onamis 7, particularly its sleek, clean design and sparse atmosphere, and mostly logical puzzles that rely heavily on scouring every screen for clues, though the emphasis on pattern recollection might be a bit much.

On the other hand, however, its dedication to presenting a clean user interface by not even displaying your inventory can be frustrating if you forget what you have on hand, and the complete lack of feedback (and itty-bitty visual clues for some interactive zones) can leave you feeling like you're fumbling around without accomplishing anything if you get stuck. The game advises you to keep a pen and paper on hand to keep track of your own inventory and clues, which is an appealing old-school challenge for some and an annoyance for others. If you like your escape games light-hearted, colourful, and simple, Onamis 7 might not be for you, but if you're looking for a challenge by design, polish off your monocle because you just might appreciate this one.

Play Onamis 7

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


| Comments (0) | Views (9)

The Vault

TrickyHey guys. I know that most of you are out remembering, remembering the fifth of November...ing, but that doesn't mean that you can forget your weekly trip to the JiG archives. We've got puzzle, adventure, and simulation games in this edition of The Vault, and I see no reason why they should ever be forgot.

  • ReMazeReMaze - Recent months have seen a nice resurgence of sokoban and sliding block puzzle games, so it seemed like a good time to feature this fun puzzler from the 3rd Casual Gaming Design Competition. 2007's ReMaze, by Felix Reidl, got an honorable mention in a strong field, and even now is one of the highest rated CGDC entries. It's a simple game of moving blocks into place on multiple screens, but its utterly addictive, especially once those evil red squares make an appearance. Play it, and prepare to be ReMazed!
  • Host Master and the Conquest of HumorHost Master and the Conquest of Humor - Double Fine's Host Master and the Conquest of Humor is many things: an inspired goof on the Lucas Arts brand of point-and-click adventures, an elegantly constructed example of how one-room games need not be bound to the escape genre, and a total dad-joke-a-thon. While a general knowledge of the state of gaming circa 2009 might help you get a few of the more esoteric shout-outs, but let's face it: any game with both a "turn on" command, and a developer willing to throw in a snarky response for each and every item in the game... well that kind of comedy is universal.
  • OiligarchyOiligarchy - Today is not all about gunpowder treason, of course. It's the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and that means it's Election Day in the US. Of course, being a non-even year, it's mainly going to be selectmen and school levies up for judgment, but I'll take any excuse to share a good ol' fashioned propagandic political game to really get the blood boiling. Oiligarchy, a 2008 simulation from Paolo Pedercini and la Molleindustria will definitely do that. Oiligarchy's message about the manipulation and intrigue in the world petroleum markets may be delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but the chance to play as the gaming equivalent of a Captain Planet villain is too fun an opportunity to pass up, even as you turn mother earth into a desiccated husk. Let's see Lemonade Stand let you do that!

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!


(6 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (6) | Views (880)

The Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape

JohnBThe Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape! is a first person room escape game created by the Stormglass team. It pulls the genre out of its stationary roots and offers a full 3D experience that lets you walk around and investigate each chamber as you please. The puzzles will be familiar, but the interface adds a nice level of realism to the normally static experience.

The Stormglass Protocol: Room EscapeThere are 16 locked doors keeping you inside the Vindiqo Research Laboratory, each one leading to a room with more insidious puzzles to solve. Using the on-screen arrows you can walk around each area, tapping to pick up items and swiping the screen to look around. Inventory objects can be dragged out of place and dropped onto the screen. If you get stuck, a rudimentary hint system points you in the right direction. Apart from that, you're left to your own devices to figure out what needs to be solved and how to solve it!

The actual rooms in The Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape! aren't quite as interactive as you first expect. This is mostly a result of big budget 3D games giving us complete freedom to pick up any object we see, throw it across the room, then watch it shatter. With Stormglass, your interactions are streamlined to things directly involving each level's puzzle. It's slightly frustrating at first, but you'll thank the designers later on once things get more difficult.

The Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape! wins a lot of points for its 3D sci-fi setting as a unique approach to point-and-click escape gaming. Figuring out how to solve a puzzle is just as fun as actually solving it, and since your point of view isn't on rails, there's a much greater sense of discovery. The puzzles themselves are fairly standard, but that never detracts from the atmosphere set by the narration, artwork, and bountiful number of environments you'll get to walk through.

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 (20 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (955)

Nachtigal

DoraIndie dark otome visual novel Nachtigal, by Cyanide Tea, follows Miranda Namatgira, a college student whose Belgium vacation takes a turn for the surreal when she gets lost late one night and stumbles across a castle deep in the woods. Instead of help, however, she finds two vampires who are stuck minding the sprawling estate while the rest of the family is away. Lacking the authority to simply kill her on their own, and unwilling to let her go now that she knows their location, they decide their best solution is simply to keep her prisoner until the rest of the vampires return in two weeks, and Miranda's only hope of survival is to keep putting her best foot forward. Available both as a free download (enter "0" in the payment field) and a "pay what you want" title, Nachtigal offers two possible male/female romances and six endings... some of which are a bit more "happily ever after than others".

NachtigalMiranda's two jailers are Lord Adrian, an unpredictable but exuberant vampire who hasn't gotten out a whole lot within the last century or so, and Luca, Adrian's taciturn servant and guardian who also seems to serve as the vampiric manifestation of Grumpy Cat. Your decisions and interactions with these two over the next two weeks will determine which of the game's six endings Miranda winds up with, so don't be afraid to hit [S] to save your game whenever you like. Despite its subject matter, Nachtigal is actually a surprisingly cheerful game in tone, thanks largely to Miranda's perhaps unreasonably easy acceptance of both her situation and the existence of vampires in general... though admittedly a game where the protagonist spent her time gibbering and sobbing in terror wouldn't exactly captivate. While Luca tends to come across as a more familiar brooding male lead, Adrian actually winds up being extremely entertaining. He doesn't know a lot about humans, and spends most of his time being intrigued, horrified, and baffled by both basic biology and Miranda herself.

As gorgeous and funny as Nachtigal is, however, it is very short. It's not a visual novel simulation game, so sometimes days will pass completely without event or merely after one short conversation. Considering you only have two weeks, that makes it hard to form anything beyond a superficial connection to the characters, which is unfortunate given the quasi-romantic subplots. Despite the goofy tone the story takes a lot of the time, we are technically playing Stockholm Syndrome: The Game, and several of the scenes are potentially upsetting rather than sensual taking that into consideration. It can make Miranda's cavalier attitude all the more hard to take in that case, and for some people, means Nachtigal might have benefited from a longer length and more choice to flesh out its characters and its consequences in ways that balanced its subject matter, or gave more impact to the plot twists.

How romantic Nachtigal is, is largely a matter of personal opinion and how much you're willing to overlook or take at face value. Despite my criticisms of the subtext and tone, however, it's still a game I enjoyed playing and one I wanted to immediately go back through and find the rest of the endings. It feels like there's a lot more potential to flesh out both the world and its characters in another game, particularly the rest of the Nachtigal family. An average play will probably only take most people around a half hour or so, but if you're looking for an unusual take on a vampire romance, Nachtigal is definitely worth checking out.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version


  • Currently 3.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 3.2/5 (53 votes)
| Comments (14) | Views (56)

Bait and Switch

Starchild It ain't over till it's over. Or, in the case of a worm on the end of a fishing line, it ain't over as long as you've got your gun. No worm is getting swallowed in Bait and Switch, a better-than-fishing-sims shooter by Piponga. In order to survive wave after wave of aquatic predators, use your mouse to aim and shoot, and [Z], [X], and [C] for special abilities. Bait and Switch is certainly not an avoidance game – you're dropped in the middle of the screen on your little hook, and you can only aim left or right, but you can't move, and when a particularly numerous wave of hungry fish is bearing down on you, let me tell you, it's scary.

Bait and SwitchGood thing you can buy upgrades! Apart from the standard weapon and health bar upgrades, there are special powers that you can use when the going gets tough. These slow the fish down or deal damage over time and take a few seconds to recharge, so use them wisely. They can be a real life-saver when your weapon is reloading, since (unfortunately) there is no manual reload option. If you die, you don't get to keep the money you managed to earn in that level, which might be a stumbling block, but a change in the upgrades strategy usually gets you over the hump. As far as quirky shooters go, Bait and Switch is an entertaining little diversion, cute and kickass at the same time. Just remember, next time you go fishing, if your worm is carrying a tiny semi-automatic, back away slowly and buy your fish at a supermarket.

Play Bait and Switch


| Comments (0) | Views (10)

Mobile Monday

JohnBThis week in mobile stuff: games! A couple of ports and a smattering of information about our next official Game To Get Addicted To, Tiny Death Star!

ittledew-p.gifIttle Dew goes mobile - It took a few months, but Ludosity's action adventure game Ittle Dew has finally worked its way to Android and iOS! The game stars the titular heroine Ittle Dew, a brash, barefoot, adventure-seeking young lass who likes to hit things, and her snarky flying magical fox companion, Tippsie. When Ittle finds herself shipwrecked on a strange island, all she cares about is finding as much adventure and excitement as possible, and fortunately for her, this place has it in spades. It's a gorgeous, silly, engrossing game that's filled with subtle nods to the gaming greats of yore without ever losing its own style.

bittriprun-p.gifBit.Trip.Run. iOS. - Gaijin Games has done something that, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense: ported the rhythm-based platformer Bit.Trip Runner 2 to mobile devices. Originally a PC downloadable release, Runner 2 refines the colorful, insanity-driven running formula that is the series' trademark. The port trims everything around the edges and introduces touch controls, making it a very natural fit for portable devices.

deathstar-p.gifTiny Death Star makes a quick pass - The Tiny Tower meets Star Wars sim was announced just a few weeks ago by Disney, and since then the game has launched in a little place called Australia. Impressions so far have been positive, praising the game's sense of humor that spans the entirety of the Star Wars universe. A worldwide release is still slated for "soon", so the wait shouldn't be more than a couple of weeks.


  • Currently 4.2/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Rating: 4.2/5 (54 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (195)

Nothing to Hide

DoraIt's just a seven level early prototype, but if you've always wanted to help a game grow, Nutcase Nightmare's moody and morbid puzzle game Nothing to Hide is your chance, and an intriguing one at that. Think of it as a sort of anti-avoidance game, as you use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys (holding [shift] to run) to guide a girl through a series of dark mazes. The catch? You must always be within view of at least one creepy surveillance camera at all times, and if you're caught in the dark, well, the penalties are... severe. After all, what do you have to hide from? If you're not doing anything wrong, why would you want to be out of sight?

Though still very early in development, Nothing to Hide shows a lot of promise. There's something incredibly creepy about its design, and the absence of sound apart from a few simple sound effects adds rather than detracts to an atmosphere of menace. The security mechanic is a clever one, especially once the game starts allowing you to carry and place cameras of your own. Camera angles can, unfortunately, be very fiddly to nail, and the power-strips aren't easily distinguished in dark areas. Still, Nothing to Hide is the sort of game that, when finished, polished, and expanded on, could be a lot of fun... especially with a story and more variation. Play through the seven short levels and then fill out the short questionnaire below it to help the developer make it the best it can be!


Play Nothing to Hide


(5 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (1) | Views (211)

Stack Rabbit

JohnBFrom Disney Mobile, the team behind Where's My Water?, Where's My Mickey? and related spin-offs, Stack Rabbit is an isometric puzzle game that's so adorable it just might melt your face off. Playing as a blocky rabbit searching for food, your job is to steal veggies while avoiding the not-so-watchful eye of Max the guard dog. It's an extraordinarily simple premise that's executed with a lot of style and flair, just the way we like our mobile games!

Stack RabbitSwipe the screen to hop across the grid-based garden. Each leap that puts you in contact with a ripe veggie places it on your head. Stack three or more of the same vegetable and they create a match, vanishing to storage and causing the other crops in the garden to grow. Match veggie types in the order and quantity shown on the side of the screen to progress to the next level. You can even deploy power-ups to give you a little bit of an edge, if you need it.

In-app purchases are part of the Stack Rabbit ecosystem, but Disney Mobile seems to be trying out a different pricing structure for this release. Instead of dozens of small purchase options, you have a handful of expensive things to buy, such as power-ups, extra rounds, and storage space increases. There are small purchases you can make during the game, such as continuing a level after failing, which feels like overkill, but it's easy enough to skip over and start the stage again. Stack Rabbit comes with a lot of free content (65 levels, to be exact), and buying things is completely optional.

Beautiful graphics, simple gameplay you'll fall for right away, and a gentle difficulty curve that keeps a perfect balance between puzzle and speed. Stack Rabbit is one easy game to love, even with the heavy-handed in-app purchasing model.

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 (97 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (1,148)

I Saw Her Too, With Lasers

DoraPerson meets girl meets grisly end... it's a tale as old as time, or at least as old as krangGAMES's zombie love story I Saw Her Standing There. It was a puzzle game about eternal devotion, misplaced affection, and the rending of flesh and stuff, and now with the sequel, I Saw Her Too, With Lasers, you get to carry on the legacy from a new perspective. Namely, as a scientist who is trying to find a way to cure our two zombified lovers who only want to be together... using the powers of lasers, holograms, and more to unite them in a peeling, squishy, smelly embrace. Still a better love story than... nah, that joke's old. Accurate, but old!

I Saw Her Too, With LasersYour goal in each level is to guide your two zombie test subjects to reach one another by clicking the icons to activate various mechanisms around your lab. Lightning bolts activate and deactivate laser blockades and platforms, for instance, while holograms of delicious humans can be turned on to lure them around. Once close enough to each other, they'll automatically be drawn together, so all you have to do is make sure the coast is clear. Since the cure is all the way in the back of the lab because of... reasons, I guess, you need to work your two lovebirds through increasingly complex setups that get more and more dangerous to them. Just hit [R] to restart if you get stuck and would rather not send one zombie to an untimely redemise to reload the level.

Sound different from the original? Absolutely, and for some players perhaps too different. Instead of platforming, I Saw Her Too relies on timing and manipulation of your surroundings rather than giving you direct control of a character. It's challenging in a very different way, though its snarky sense of humour and clever premise remains happily intact. While the various mechanics are actually fairly clever and require a satisfying amount of planning to get around, scrambling to click on a bunch of icons strewn around the scene isn't everyone's idea of a good time, and having different hotkeys for each one might have made for a more streamlined experience... if perhaps a bit too much easier. The complexity of each level ramps up fairly quickly, though it usually feels like the difficulty is solely down to timing rather than actually figuring out what the proper course of action is. As most of gamers come with a genetic allergy to change, I Saw Her Too, With Lasers might be a bit much to swallow if you preferred the platforming elements of the original. But taken purely on its own merits, it's still a cheeky, smart twist on a puzzle game with some crafty challenges and a great sense of humour. It might be a little itchy... but it's definitely still tasty.

Play I Saw Her Too, With Lasers


| Comments (3) | Views (28)

Weekend Download

JohnBSet aside some time this weekend for a few games that might make you think! No promises, though...

examanteEx Amante (Windows/Mac, free) - A short, crisp narrative adventure masquerading as a first person exploration game. Navigate the snowy pathways as you come across dialogue options ripped straight from an SMS conversation between two quarreling people. Make your decision, then march through the cold and await your response. The events are a bit restrictive, so don't expect the full CYOA experience, but the emotional impact is still there.

pathofshadowsPath of Shadows (Windows, free) - A student project by a team at IDEC - Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Path of Shadows is an atmospheric stealth game with gorgeous cel-shaded artwork and a creative storyline to boot. You play a reincarnated soul who can sneak through the shadows, teleport across short distances, and perform other ninja-like feats of pseudo-magic. As you work your way across the landscape, avoid the light and keep to the darkness so your powers stay filled, but watch out for soldiers. They'll end you with a single swipe of their blade.

aarusawakeningAaru's Awakening (Windows, demo) - An early teaser for the gorgeous platformer set to release in early 2014, Aaru's Awakening already looks and plays like a winner. The artwork was inspired by animated films from the '70s and is drawn by hand, right down to every background, every moving frame, and every layout. The goal is to create a dreamy sort of experience that stays with you long after you play. Mission accomplished so far, and this demo is only an alpha release! The learning curve is a bit steep, but this is an early version of the game, after all. Play it and enjoy!


(16 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
| Comments (12) | Views (482)

Lilly Looking Through

elleLilly and Row are playing outside, doing things kids do, when something mysterious comes along, leading them on a journey through a surreal world. The mystery and magic increase when Lilly finds an usual pair of goggles that...well, bring an astonishing way of looking at her situation. Lilly Looking Through is an animated adventure by Geeta Games that will enchant your eyes and evoke your sense of wonder. You get to share in Lilly's fascination and curiosity, and innocently earnest explorations, solving playful puzzles to carry on this expedition into the fantastical.

Lilly Looking ThroughGameplay is intuitively point-and-click: a changeable cursor will help guide your actions as you seek out ways to move Lilly to the exit of each stage and onward to the next. Although the environments are lush, with multiple layers that shift as you click and drag the screen to and fro, there is no navigation outside of certain active areas where you can send Lilly, provided obstacles have been overcome.

Outside of the goggles, you have no inventory to bother with, either. If Lilly is near an item and it is currently usable on screen, you'll be able to pick it up and it will glow when placed over its action spot. If you are at a loss what to do next, clicking the "?" button will highlight currently active areas but it will not overtly indicate what you should do next. This eliminates pixel hunts while leaving the work of figuring out the task-based riddles squarely on your shoulders. In that way, there are a good number of challenges to work through. Geeta Games recommends collaboration in these cases, as the game is meant to be enjoyed by all ages, although solo players with any amount of adventure gaming know-how will do just as well. There's ten chapters total, some equal in length to those in the demo, some a bit longer or shorter, which makes Lilly Looking Through roughly 4-5 hours to complete, depending on how readily you can work out solutions. Save points at the beginning of each chapter mean you should try to make it through the end of a chapter before leaving the game for the break.

Lilly Looking ThroughAnalysis: The goggles create a neat turn of perspectives, making puzzles playful as well as challenging. These task-based puzzles are built into the environment and are very Myst-like, so it's no surprise that Geeta Games' Steve Hoogendyk worked for Cyan, the creators of Myst and Riven. A Hayao Miyazaki influence is also discernible. It's in the beauty of the architecture and natural settings, the casting of an unabashed young girl as the lead protagonist, and the overall sense of wonder that is evoked in us players, both as participants and audience. While Lilly's own quest is far from identical to Spirited Away, that the designers were inspired by some of their favorite animated films is readily recognizable. In fact, a large team collaborated in the making of Lilly Looking Through, and when looking at the seamless integration of gorgeous artwork, sweeping music, environmental sounds and personality-laden character sprites, it's truly something to remark upon. The Geeta Games team's love and enthusiasm for their creation is etched in every detail.

Lilly Looking ThroughThe cinematic aspect can make gameplay slow moving in that you're not participating during animated sequences. The player has more of a passive role, or it at least it sometimes feels that you're an onlooker with the omniscient power to intervene, pulling a few strings here and here and pushing a button over there...then observing what happens. You'll need to wait as actions are completed, sometimes backtracking and rethinking your steps in order to ponder out the solution, so if you're not a patient game player, you might be hopping on your heels. Puzzles build on each other so there's a solid interior logic on how everything is completed, although it does tend toward repetitiveness more often than not. Even so, since hands-on puzzle solving is an integral part of Lilly Looking Through, your immersion is a given. I found it immensely satisfying to play but the ending left me questioning and hoping for something more. Whether a sequel is planned, though, Hoogendyk said it depends on Lilly Looking Through's sales.

More of this beautiful game would certainly be welcome! So if anything in the above review grabbed your attention, get Lilly Looking Through—you won't regret it. If there are disappointments in it to be had, they are amply overshadowed by the wealth of jaw-dropping sights, amusing character interactions and the fun of puzzle adventuring. This is a game that lavishes you through the entire experience with beautiful sights and a charming story; it is as much about adventuring into fantastic places and beholding the wonder of your surroundings as completing puzzles and reaching the end.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Get the full version (via GOG)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version
Get the full version (via GOG)

LinuxLinux:
Download the demo
Get the full version


| Comments (15) | Views (45)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWith chain-reaction shooting action, one final Halloween escape hurrah, a point-and-click puzzle about funky bunnies, and a lesson in fitting in delivered through puzzle form, this week's Link Dump Friday is a little eclectic, but that's how we like it!

  • Easy Joe 2Easy Joe 2 - The sequel to 2010's point-and-click puzzle game Easy Joe is just as swanky and weird as the original, which is to say very. All you have to do is figure out the right order in which to click things to proceed, doing important things like playing volleyball, disrupting showers, and accidentally destroying churches. As before, Easy Joe 2 is very easy even if it's significantly longer, but when you consider it essentially launched this style of simple puzzle adventure and take in its smooth jazz and neon visuals, daddy-o, you'll probably forgive it.
  • Shapes 'N' MatesShapes 'N' Mates - Developed in just 48 hours, Major Bueno's quirky puzzle game will take a lot less time to finish, but is definitely worth it for the chuckle or ten you'll get as you try to rearrange sentient shapes to unlock a treasure... perhaps the most important treasure of all. There's a twist, of course, but the real stars are the strange cast of characters you're working with, and the game's unique style shines even if it is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair.
  • Magic Halloween EscapeMagic Halloween Escape - Since this article technically goes up on November 1st, Halloween is over, but since I'm writing it on October 31st... have one last seasonal huzzah! Esklavos provides this little escape game for tender lumplings everywhere in which you must help a huntsman find his brother and escape from a... uh... menacing witch. With a weird vibe and otherworldly atmosphere, the game's biggest problem is a lack of feedback for its puzzles that makes figuring out what you're looking at or trying to do a bit of a challenge.
  • 10 More Bullets10 More Bullets - The whole point of shooters is spraying things with bullets, so Michel Gerard deciding to give you a measly ten of them for the entirety of the game seems like a weird choice. The catch, however, is figuring out how to cause the most damage by triggering chain reactions and earning power-ups and gold to buy upgrades. It's actually a clever concept, though perhaps hampered by the fact that the only objective is to increase your score, which gets a bit old after a while.

Recent Comments

 

Display 5 more comments
Limit to the last 5 comments

Casual game of the week

Fear for Sale: The 13 Keys

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!