January 2014 Archives


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Rating: 4.4/5 (50 votes)
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Broken Age - Act 1

DoraNote: Currently, only the first act of Broken Age is available. Act two will be provided as a free download for you later this year when you buy the game. This review is based on Act One.

As gorgeous, surreal, and darkly whimsical as a storybook come to life, the first act of Double Fine's point-and-click adventure game Broken Age captivates. If you feel like there are an overabundance of video-game funding projects these days, you can blame Broken Age for that, since its original Kickstarter funding two years ago was such a staggering success that studios, fledgling and veteran alike, couldn't help but sit up and take notice. The initial funding goal was four hundred thousand dollars, not a small amount in itself, but by campaign end the game had taken in over three and a quarter million dollars, so to say expectations are high is a bit of an understatement. I have raised expectations when I pay more than two dollars for a cup of coffee. So does the game live up to those standards? Well... sh'yeah. Mostly.

Broken Age - Act 1The controls should be familiar to anyone who's played a point-and-click game before. Just click to interact, and click the arrow in the bottom left corner to open your inventory, which will allow you to drag objects from it onto anything onscreen to try to use them. From the inventory menu, you can also click the character portrait on the far right, which will let you swap between the two main characters. [ESC] opens the menu, where you can manually save your game or change the options. Throughout the game, you'll play as two characters. Vella is a young girl expected to perform a dubious honor for her village, along with a batch of other eligible young maidens, and all the cakes and pies in the world can't hide the rotten truth. Shay lives aboard a space station where the only other residents are devoted automatons that treat him like a child, and though each day blends into the next, he discovers he might have more choice than he thought if he can force a change. They've never met, and neither even has any idea the other exists, but they are both about to shake up their worlds in a big way.

Broken Age - Act 1Analysis: Broken Age is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful and cinematic adventures to come along in a long time. The game is devoted to its storytelling as a visual art, and everything from its expressive character designs to its backgrounds, both in and out of the many cutscenes, are a wonder to behold. Of course, the stellar voice acting doesn't hurt either, and Broken Age features everyone from Elijah Wood and Masa Moyo to Wil Wheaton and Jack Black. The world building is initially on the whole rather light, and it can feel like the game is sort of just shuttling you from one strange scenario to another. Cloud cult? Fish maidens? Overly clingy AI system? Warriors turned bakers? It's all very interesting, but none of it really seems to have much to do with anything as a whole until late in the game. It makes Broken Age a very character driven experience, and considering how much the cast shines with personality, that ain't a bad thing.

Broken Age - Act 1The writing is, as you'd expect from Double Fine, absolutely top-notch and funny far more often than not, though there is a fair amount of adult or crude innuendo. Where a lot of games focus on self-sacrifice, Broken Age deals with standing up for yourself rather than just doing what's expected of you, of knowing that caring about other people doesn't mean just taking things as they happen. Being brave enough to look for other options even when someone tells you there are none... or even just thinking about yourself and what you want for a change. Despite these interwoven themes, however, you'll still spend a lot of time wondering how, exactly, Vella and Shay's adventures come together, since their settings are so vastly different and they aren't even aware of one another. As mentioned, it feels like there's very little actual world building going on, so while you have a sense of the characters and the story they're trying to tell, you don't really get much of a feel for where all this is taking place apart from merely "somewhere weird". Broken Age had a chance to create an entirely new universe that felt distinctive and whole and unique, and it didn't really do that, largely because the lore is sort of shoved off to one side and the characters and their cultures seem to have little to do with one another in a way that would have brought the setting to life as much as the characters within it.

Broken Age - Act 1Broken Age's gameplay is as traditional as you can get for a point-and-click game, which means you're going to do a lot of clicking things on other things to see if they make new things or open other things for you to do. Though the logic can seem a little weird, as most adventure games do, Broken Age actually feels a little on the easy side simply because of the way it's structured. Options and items tend to be limited enough for most of the game that you'll run into the correct solution eventually, but the game is also fairly good at dropping little hints as to what everything does or everyone needs. Some item combinations or uses are weird, sure, but so is the whole setting, and once your brain starts working within that context you'll find yourself moving along at a rapid pace. It's not unenjoyable by any means, but it's also not anything I ever really found myself challenged by, and I found myself wishing for more substantial or challenging puzzles to really engage my brain the way the story and characters did. It's a strange complaint to make since Broken Age was originally funded as a "classic point and click adventure", and yet Broken Age is significantly easier and more straight-forward than the lion's share of classic point-and-clicks, to the part where it more closely resembles a modern adventure game such as, say, The Walking Dead in execution.

None of that means Broken Age is a bad game. Quite the opposite. As you'd expect from Double Fine, it's stunning, funny, thoughtful, and engaging in all the right places. Playing through the entire thing at a leisurely pace took me close to four hours, and while I firmly believe that for me personally the quality is worth the price of admission, for others the game's $25.00USD price tag coupled with the comparative brevity might give them pause, at least until the second act is released later this year. That's a personal decision you'll have to make for yourself. What I can tell you is that, quibbles aside, Broken Age is an absolutely masterfully crafted cinematic experience that's as well written as it is beautiful to look at, and for as long as it lasted, I didn't want to pull myself away from it. Time will tell how the final act ties everything together later this year, but in the meantime, Broken Age still captivates and delights.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Steam)

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

LinuxLinux:
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Download on the AppstoreBroken Age: Act 1 (iPad)


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Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf

GrinnypThe first day of work at a new place is always nerve wracking, especially when you, an expert on native American symbols, are heading to the Center for Native Cultures when suddenly symbols and your amulet begin glowing. At the same time, the local mushrooms are suddenly the size of Buicks, and there's a ghostly Indian maid asking you for help, and there's a glowing spirit wolf wandering around... yeah, this is not your normal first day of employment, is it? No, it is in fact the opening of Eipix Entertainment's beautiful new adventure hybrid, Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf.

grinnyp_mythsoftheworldspiritwolf_screenshot1.pngPoint and click your way through as you attempt to solve the mystery of the glowing symbols, amongst other things, in a world packed full of adventuring, mini-gaming, and hidden object finding. Alongside the expected mix of gaming there are extra quests like finding sun runes in every scene. In fact, along with the usual picking up everything not nailed down you will find yourself building and using your now glowing amulet to unlock symbols, using your trusty binoculars to find far-off clues, and solving a ton of puzzles and mini-games. To help you along the way are the usual changing cursor, a useful map that allows you to instantly travel from place to place, and the obligatory notebook to keep track of clues.

grinnyp_mythsoftheworldspiritwolf_screenshot2.pngEvery inch of Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf is packed with gameplay. Each hidden object scene features not just simple "find this object" gameplay, but a multitude of "combine these objects" sub-quests. And for those who disdain hidden object finding, the choice to instead play a rousing marble popper game is a joy. An amazing amount of effort appears to have been poured into every aspect of the gameplay, from the visuals to the music and sound, creating a game that looks as good as it plays and plays as good as it looks. If Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf has one downside, it is the co-opting of every practically every cliché of Native American culture that ever existed. Despite this insensitivity, Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf takes hidden object adventuring to new heights with its stunning look and marvelous gameplay. The ability to customize the difficulty levels only enhances what is already amazing adventuring fun. Crank up the Duran Duran and get playing!

Note: Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes wallpapers, music, animations, concept art, extra gameplay (including both a new adventure and the ability to replay each and every hidden object scene and mini-game), and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Order the full version

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


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (33 votes)
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Winnose

TrickyIt doesn't look like it's going to be a good day. The great winnowing has split the world in two, your flower's petals have fallen off, and your other half is missing. If you find it though, maybe you'll be able to return things to how they were, and the world can finally chill. Winnose is a surreal puzzle game by Todd Luke and Calum Bowen. Any other description more specific than that would be nothing more than base speculation. Move with the [arrow keys], timing your movements to reach the exit of each screen. The world changes from orange to green and back again, whenever you step into a portal.

WinnoseThere are other creatures in this world too. When the world is orange, there will be those who will clomp you over in their pattern of movement without a second's thought. When the world is green, there will be those who follow you and snatch you to who-knows-where. When the world isn't, though, they will stay where they are. And then there are mindless brains that now only move when someone is resting on the buttons that control them. Fortunately, when you meet up with your other half, it'll be able to help you out by mirroring your movements. Reunite, and you'll fly off into space and time to stop the winnowing before it began. If the above description seems like a vague recollection of a feverish dream, that's mainly because so does Winnose. However, it's the good kind of trippy: the kind that gamers in the mood for something different or odd actively seek out. If there are deep levels of artistic meaning to Winnose, then this reviewer is afraid he's missing out. But don't worry: you'll be more than content to swim around on the surface with an enjoyable game that takes place in a setting as goofy as it is unique.

Play Winnose


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis week on Link Dump Friday, some kids with some serious firepower, a farm where love and profits are just a click away, a whole lot of sky-bound bullets and bosses, and a prime example of why you should never get between a pony and her cake.

  • Frantic SkyFrantic Sky - Survive as long as you can against waves of enemies and increasingly badder bosses in Crionuke Games' arcade shooter, nabbing coins to spend on upgrades for your initially paltry plane. Be warned... not only does the game make the dangerous mistake of not using Danger Zone as a soundtrack, but once you die, you'll have to start all over from the beginning! (Though you'll keep your upgrades, mercifully.)
  • Idle FarmerIdle Farmer - Junjo delivers a simple sim game that almost plays itself as you hover over your initially itty-bitty farmland to grow and sell crops that can be spent on upgrades. Part clicktoy, part ultra-ultra-ultra-lite Harvest Moon, it's super cute, but don't expect much depth even when you get a wife, since her entire function is just to help you farm... which I suppose is fair since you literally spend every waking moment in the fields anyway!
  • Tiny DefenderTiny Defender - Normally I'd tell you to pick on someone your own size, but the pint-size powerhouses in Smallfarm's defense shooter don't need any protection! Unlock new heroes and upgrades as you hold the line against metal giants and more, and even rescue fellow tiny citizens to enable them to help you in your battles, but stay on your toes since enemies can attack you as well as the wall you're defending.
  • Celestia's Cake Golf Adventure in SpaceCelestia's Cake Golf Adventure in Space - futzi01 has done a few My Little Pony games already, but this one might be the weirdest if you aren't up on your pony fan jokes. When Princess Celestia's beloved cake winds up in pieces in orbit, she takes up a rather unusual golf club to use the gravitational pull of the planets to collect it all in this familiar but silly physics game.

  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (29 votes)
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Octodad

JohnBWhat started as a crazy student project has grown into a crazy indie game. Octodad: Dadliest Catch by Young Horses continues the mad premise first showcased in the 2010 tech demo, adding a storyline and a handful of new environments to stumble around in. What should be a series of ordinary tasks end up being wacky hijinks in the world of Octodad. Think of it as QWOP in a 3D world and you've got a good idea for just how unhinged this game can be.

OctodadIt all starts at the wedding. Octodad and his lovely non-octo bride are about to tie the knot, but Octodad is late, as usual. Getting down the aisle wouldn't be a problem if you had a skeletal structure to support your jelly-like body. But you're Octodad, you'll have to make do with squishy tentacles stuffed inside a suit. Control each leg independently, flopping them forward one at a time as you move forward...ish. Your arm works in much the same way, allowing you to pick up and manipulate items with a high level of perceived precision. Don't make too much of a mess while people are watching, though, or they'll get suspicious. Can't let them find out what you really are, can you?

Things get "serious" when the family visits the aquarium, a place no octopus would ever want to go. Sharks, octopus cookbooks, biologists that can spot a fish no matter how snazzy their suit is. Just about this time Octodad's nemesis (a chef, naturally) starts stirring up trouble, making it even more difficult to get things done like an ordinary dad.

OctodadAnalysis: Octodad: Dadliest Catch feels like one of those heartwarming sitcoms from the early '90s (or mid-'50s). He's an octopus, you see, but nobody really notices. He's just trying to fit in, but the world wasn't built for someone of his species. This provides a nice contrast with the flopping walking style you'll be doing a lot of, and it's balanced to a point where the game doesn't turn into a constant exercise in stealth. Yes, you want to fit in, but that doesn't stop you from whacking people with random objects or tumbling around on banana peels.

Most of Octodad's tasks amount to fetch-style chores, which feels a bit samey after awhile. There are only so many things you can do with the wobbly limbs premise, but squishing through shelves and solving the various mini-games stays intriguing longer than you might think. The artwork, storyline and fantastic sense of humor keep you interested even when the missions begin to fumble. No matter how you cut it, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a great piece of fun. And when you start to finally get the hang of things, try co-op mode with your friends. We dare you.

WindowsWindows:
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Mac OS XMac OS X:
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LinuxLinux:
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(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Dawn of the Plow

JohnBFinally, a game that accurately portrays the plight of the snow plow driver! Dan FitzGerald's Dawn of the Plow is an arcade game that's all about clearing piles of snow out of the road so cars can make it home safe and sound. It's as simple as bumping into the drifts while careening around the board, but no goofing off or you'll be fired. Seriously, you will.

Dawn of the PlowDawn of the Plow takes place on an isometric board and utilizes simple swipe controls. Tap the screen to make 90 degree turns, use the horn button to warn other cars of your impending plowage, and swipe up or down to increase and decrease your speed respectively. Once you get the hang of it you'll be clearing piles of snow like a pro.

The trick to Dawn of the Plow is to keep your approval rating as high as you can. You do this by ensuring cars don't have to wait for your services, and that you don't actually crash into them. A few power-ups help you at opportune times, but other than that it's just you and piles of the white stuff, ready to be cleared! A simple, satisfying game with a difficulty curve that is guaranteed to keep you plowing for hours.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version

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 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (20 votes)
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Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness

KimberlyIf you think living in a magical land of candy is all about gumdrop bridges and lollipop lanes, think again. Sure, you might be able to bathe in chocolate when ever you want and have cupcakes for dinner, but all is not well. In Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness, a Twine text adventure by Michael Brough, something dark is lurking. There is certain doom in the air. Until you show up, that is. Start off by selecting one of three character types. Each type has different special abilities which are made clear fairly early in the adventure. After reading each screen, select the action you want to take with a click.

There are several different areas to explore, each with their own quirky monsters to destroy and quests to finish. Instead of hit points, you possess a rechargeable sugar shield. If an enemy hits you when your shield is fully depleted, you fail at your quest and have to start the entire story over. Luckily there are plenty of tasty items you can eat that help you replenish your shield. Candy Quest 3, created for Candy Jam, never takes itself too seriously, which makes it a pleasure to read. It also gives the distinct impression that there's more than meets the eye in this world, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending... yes, that's the way it's supposed to look and function. The battles take a surprising amount of strategy... having the right selection of candy in your arsenal can make the difference between the sweet life or a bitter death. An interactive map would make navigating easier than all the backtracking that happens, though the portals you can create do help a bit. Whether you are fighting a terrifying haunted grasshopper, or a sinister goblin, only you can repel the doom... one percentage point at a time.

Play Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (45 votes)
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Crazy Digger 2

TrickyPipkin Games' little red chomper guy is back for another round of Boulder Dash-like arcade fun, in Crazy Digger 2! Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to guide the digger around each of the 25 levels, with the goal of eating all the gems. You are able chomp through the green dirt and push around blue rocks in pursuit of your goal, but be warned: while the digger is not affected by gravity, a rock or gem will roll on curved surfaces, and without any support, it will start plummeting to the bottom of the screen. That can lead to a painful squishing or a cracking of gems, so watch out! There are enemies to avoid as well, including new spinning ones which will follow a path along the ever-changing wall layout. However, they are also vulnerable to squishing... though dropping a gem on them will crack the gem, ending the level. New to this installment are Locked Crystals, which must be unlocked with a collision with a wall or other object, before being collectible.

Crazy Digger 2Call it shallow, but the grating music of the original Crazy Digger made us little uncertain about how the game would be received. At the very least, Crazy Digger 2 upgrades the soundtrack from "obnoxious" to "cloying", which is as good a start as any. However, the rest of the experience has been kicked up a notch as well: the puzzles are a good deal cleverer, while being much fairer with enemy placement, meaning fewer lost lives as the result of not being fast enough on the keys. This, along with the new inclusion of a level editor and new levels being shared on the game's main website, marks Crazy Digger 2 as the kind of sequel that even those who skipped the original will totally dig.

Play Crazy Digger 2


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (94 votes)
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Flappy Bird

JohnBMobile devices have long been home to quick arcade games built around mechanics so simple you practically know how to play before even downloading the thing. Mastering those mechanics is where the fun is at, and games from Doodle Jump to Angry Birds have carved out ample space for themselves building on these core ideas.

Flappy BirdEnter Flappy Bird, a super simple avoidance arcade game that has suddenly exploded in popularity on both Android and iOS devices. A cute pixel bird flaps its wings as you touch the screen, moving higher with each tap. Pipes with randomly generated gaps scroll by, and all you have to do is keep the flappy bird away from anything solid.

The intense difficulty is one of the things that makes Flappy Bird so captivating. It's not easy passing even one pipe gap, let alone a handful in a row. There are no power-ups, mini-games or other diversions to keep you distracted, it's just pure, raw, intense tapping. Play until you get the timing right, then keep playing to beat the high scores. The slightest collision ends your game, so be careful, and try not to throw your phone in frustration.

The trick to mastering Flappy Bird is to come up with a good rhythm. The bird has a lead belly and sinks faster than you expect, cutting reaction times to their minimum. Stay calm and keep the rhythm going. Don't focus on the pipes, just keep your eyes on the bird and don't deviate from your tapping pattern. Another strategy is to stay high, drop when a pipe comes near and rapidly tap to ascend through the gap. Cheats and hacks aren't worth it, just stick to the plan and you'll get double digit scores in no time.

Update: This game is no longer available to download. Previously tagged as: android, arcade, avoidance, free, game, gearsstudios, highdifficulty, ios, ipad, iphone, mobile, rating-g, tablet


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (38 votes)
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TRIHAYWBFRFYH

elleThe wind sounds a lonely howl over the expansive fields of sunset-tinged grains, hemmed in by rocky foothills of the distant mountains and densely wooded areas. A heavy presence, hovering in the sky above, waits. So what can you do? Run! You have just twenty minutes—the rapture is here and you will be forcibly removed from your home. Otherwise known as TRIHAYWBFRFYH, this Connor Sherlock creation is both perfectly titled and inadequately described. Use [WASD] to move and your mouse to look around in a narrative adventure where the main objective seems centered on reaching various locations before you are raptured. Or, doing nothing besides running around in panic until you are raptured. Or, merely gazing at the breathtaking scenery and calmly wandering about until you are raptured. The point here being "until you are raptured."

TRIHAYWBFRFYHTRIHAYWBFRFYH is strong on atmosphere, and very immersive, although so much of it is just trudging through the vast landscape, trying to get from one spot to the next. That is both a source of frustration and potential boredom as well as an impetus for heightened tension and a growing need/want to know more. Yet curiosity is rewarded by discovery as you experience every piece of the characters' lives,with each voice actor wonderfully adept at turning familiar stories into their own personal narratives. As a result, the overall experience is more easily compared to an audio-visual book than an ordinary adventure game. That said, what you get out of it depends much on gameplay: how well you can find—and run to—each story point. Unfortunately, it's easy to succumb to impatience, as the difference between using [shift] to run and not using it is negligible, given the vastness of the terrain. It's also hard to decide whether this would be more enjoyable without so much time spent running about or whether those long spaces of searching punctuated by a tidbit of story are necessary to build a game structure as well as evoke mood.

TRIHAYWBFRFYH is very beautiful—both simple in its presentation yet complexly affecting. Here, Unity mechanics are utilized to their greatest advantage. Navigation and movements are comfortable and realistic enough to avoid the nausea inducing disorientation found in some Unity-based games. I say this as someone who usually shies from said games, being horribly prone to motion sickness. One of the reasons to play TRIHAYWBFRFYH is for its example of how Unity, in the right hands, can be used to create a gorgeous, multidimensional environment that is a pleasure to explore. Yet, some of the drawbacks are there as well, such as an initially long load time and the awkward takeover of your browser (use [esc] to regain your system cursor). Still, while short of actual realism, the graphics do what they're meant to do: evoke a sense of being. Rapture is probably a surreal experience, after all. Whatever it is, though, it will be especially appealing to players whose favorite part of a game is exploration. Or anyone looking for an artistic presentation of literature. Or those who love a beautiful atmosphere. The point is, it's worth a play.

Play TRIHAYWBFRFYH

The soundtrack for this game is available on Connor Sherlock's Bandcamp page.


  • Currently 3.5/5
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Rating: 3.5/5 (65 votes)
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The Right Way

Starchild The Right Way is a sweet little puzzler about arguably the world's most useless robot. Sure, it's adorable with its red light and its, um, unblinking, soulless eyes, but it doesn't do much else than jump around. This is the 21st century, we were promised mechanical butlers, soldiers and fast food servers! Instead, you have to serve the little scrapheap by making a path for it in each of the twenty-four levels. The robot will move straight ahead along the tiles until it finds an obstacle, and then it will turn right. The goal is to guide it so that it reaches the exit, which is the blue circle on one of the tiles.

The Right Way The gameplay progresses at a leisurely pace, making sure you have the time to figure out each new element before moving on. At first, you'll get special blocks that will force the robot to make a turn. After that, you'll be introduced to directional arrows, moving walkways and, of course, blue and orange portals. The premise is simple enough, but the possibilities are endless, and the game could have easily had twice as many levels. The puzzles rely on spatial orientation, so those of us who have trouble telling left from right might find them a little confusing at first, but it only takes a few minutes to get accustomed to. The difficulty level is never so high as to be annoying, as the puzzles can be solved with a bit of trial-and error; it also helps to know that the game can be paused at any moment and the ever-valuable undo button is at your service. So there's really no excuse not to try The Right Way – it's charming, clever and it will acquaint you with the strange business of robot babysitting.

Play The Right Way

Weekday Escape

elleThere you are! I've been waiting all week to see you again. What a week, I have to say. I mean that in either a good way, or a not so good way, depending on what applies. But that's all behind us now, for the next three games, all that matters is that zen moment of intense puzzle concentration, shushing away all other thoughts, an escape from worldly concerns...

Gatamari Escape 20Gatamari Escape 20 - If you don't read Japanese, you might be put off by the start screen—white kanji letters starkly set against a plain black field. Just click the letter cluster in the bottom left and be pleasantly assuaged by its accessibility. Stuck inside a small, watercolor-hued room with an eclectic assortment of puzzles and two endings, you wonder what devious mind neatly arranged all this. Thankfully, logic and deduction overcome the potential language barrier, assuring freedom for the steadfast. By the way, I see you, "Let It Be" motto sign; I have your Japanese language relative on my sitting room wall.

Escape from the Strange HotelEscape from the Strange Hotel - Some may prefer Hilton, but when I get away from it all, I want to go to this specialty boutique hotel. Rather than bothering with inconveniences such as paying, I could earn my stay by deciphering codes and rummaging through rooms for puzzles. Per Hottategoya's usual oeuvre, you'll encounter plenty of similar doors, floors and rooms. Overcome the difficulty of navigating them all and escape is quite easy. Strange? Although these accommodations are a far cry from The Stanley Hotel, its eerie emptiness is indeed unsettling. Going up and down stairs and along hallways, sadly, doesn't count as a daily cardio workout.

Chick Hide and Seek 15Chick Hide and Seek 15 - If you're feeling frazzled and needing to chill, here's the perfect place to do it. Caught up in an igloo, play a game of seek and find until you've discovered all ten chicks. There's only a couple puzzles to solve so most your efforts will be put toward contemplating where these tiny cuties could be hidden and just where/how to click to get them to come out. Yuri's brood of downy yellow adorableness is apt to melt even the grouchiest frown. When you're busy saying "Awww," it's hard to care much about anything else.

We love escape games, and our readers love talking about them and sharing hints! How about you? If you think you've found a game that deserves to be featured, use this form to send it to us.


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (40 votes)
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Sacred Heroes

DoraLittle Giant World is normally known for adorable itty-bitty sim games, so Sacred Heroes, a (still adorable and itty-bitty) realtime strategy defense game is a bit of a surprise. In a world where an evil god has warped his followers into half-man, half-animal monsters to torture the land, you will lead a tribe of people constructing temples to raise the strength of a benevolent god trying to beat back the darkness. Enemies will swarm towards your temple in each stage, and you're given direct control over four different heroes to fight them off while the civilians build and repair. You'll direct your heroes around the battlefield by clicking on them, and then on where you want them to go, and you can even wield a little godlike power yourself by casting spells to aid them against enemies. It sounds simple, but with status effects, upgrades for all, items, special abilities, and more, you'll have your hands full.

Sacred HeroesThough it feels a little unwieldy at first, Sacred Heroes is a surprisingly addictive little game despite its rough edges. The main problem is that the game plays very slowly in the beginning, and the tutorial only touches on the bare basics, so you'll either have to experiment or wait for the tool tips to be unlocked as you play. It makes for an experience that unfortunately feels like a slow uphill climb in the beginning, which means some players won't click with it right away, or even at all. The inability to pause the game and issue orders, or change the default speed in any fashion, can mean things get hectic in a hurry when you're trying to cover all sides of attack and upgrade your heroes and drop spells and gather items and gold and trigger combo attacks.

None of that makes Sacred Heroes a bad game, just not quite as accessible or effortlessly enjoyable as it should be, which is a shame because if you've got the patience to learn the ropes, Sacred Heroes is a lot of fun. You can draw the paths of your lightning spells, the piles of upgrades and achievements offer a lot to work with, the status effects and special attacks add depth, and the boss battles add a bit of challenge. Plus, it's adorable as all get-out, with enemies such as Rock Hippo and Thundra Wolf, which, F.Y.I., is going to be the name of the new thrash metal band I just decided to start with my husband when he gets home from work later. Surprise, honey! Sacred Heroes is a game that still feels like it needs some polishing and tweaking, but still offers plenty of charm and challenge for the persistent and the patient.

Play Sacred Heroes


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (114 votes)
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Escape from Mr. K's Room 4

DoraIt's been almost three years since we last heard from Mr. K, a friend of ours who probably never gets his security deposit back because he immediately renovates each and every place he moves to into an elaborate concoction of puzzles and mechanisms for his friends to escape from. Thanks to Tesshi-e, he's finally back, and now it's time to Escape from Mr. K's Room 4, featuring hippos, dapper birds (of course), piano music, a great view, and even a relaxing beverage. Awwwww yisssss folks, now we're gaming with style. Remember to click the language button to choose English before you start the game if you can't read Japanese!

Escape from Mr. K's Room 4Like most Tesshi-e games, Escape from Mr. K's Room 4 lacks a changing cursor, so you'll have to click everywhere to find items and clues to escape. All items can be examined closely when you pick them up by highlighting them with a click and choosing "about item", and many of them need to be in order to discover even more clues and additional objects. Viewing objects up close is also the way you can combine things in your inventory, so if you want to try, examine an item, then click another one you're carrying and try to place it on the magnified view. You may also need to click and hold on certain things to reveal their hints! Tesshi-e's games have always married whimsy with logic in their design, and this latest is no exception as it packs a surprising amount of secrets, clues, and puzzles into a relatively small area. The angles can be a bit of an issue when it comes to manipulating your environment since there are so many sneakily hidden ways to approach things, but if you're a fan of Tesshi-e you already know to search every nook and cranny, sometimes more than once. Can you find the way out and the Happy Coin? This one might take a little arts and crafts to do so...

Play Escape from Mr. K's Room 4

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


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The Vault

TrickyKing, developer of popular "waiting around to get another life when you could just be playing Bejeweled" simulator Candy Crush Saga, is attempting to trademark the words "Candy" and "Saga" for games/merchandise. Now, while it must be admitted that 80% of mobile app stores now consist of games with titles like "Candy Rush Saga", "Candy Mush Saga", and the adults-only "Candy Tush Saga", suggesting that yeah, there might be some duplication going on, I'm personally hoping that Lord Licorice will ally with Grettir the Strong to form a legal dream for the inevitable (and tasty) protracted court battle. Anyways, while I go trademark the words "Vault" and "The", enjoy these wonderful adventure, arcade, and puzzle games from the JiG archives.

  • The Scene of the Crime: Golden DollThe Scene of the Crime: Golden Doll - The second in Pastel Games' Scene of the Crime series, and best, 2010's Golden Doll is a dark and beautiful piece of noir. Admittedly, some of the mechanics are a little off (why would you use fingerprint paper to take blood samples?), but the atmosphere is so thick and the art so evocative, that you won't care. Sometimes solving a murder is all grit and no glamour, but even a nameless girl in a derelict shack deserves a little justice, and you won't be able to stop till you've delivered.
  • Poom!Poom! - When all you have is a paddle and a ping-pong ball, then the whole world looks like a game of "see how many times you can bounce that ball on the paddle". And Poom! looks an awful lot like that game too! A 2005 simple idea work from GotUsed and the New York State University College at Buffalo, Poom! has a pretty steep difficulty curve, but it is undeniably addictive. Though it may take a dozen immediate failures at its bouncing gameplay, eventually you will stumble your way into the zone and the combos you score in that groove will be all the sweeter.
  • Hans Hans the Biking Viking:
Leaving Loki's LockupHans Hans the Biking Viking: Leaving Loki's Lockup - The web is filled with fully-formed animated series prospectuses that never quite made it. For every Adventure Time, plucked from internet meme-itude to rightful fame and fortune, there are a dozen Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls, Lakewood Plaza Turbo, or The Modifyers that are no less deserving. I wish I could say that having an awesome tie-in puzzle game improves a series' chances, but the fact that the Hans Hans the Biking Viking website hasn't been updated since 2009 kinda belies that claim. Oh well: NDi Media's Leaving Loki's Lock-Up game still features enough wonderful art, engaging characters, and clever teamwork platforming (since the Blizzard Act of 1992 requires all video game vikings to engage in teamwork platforming), that you'll be wish for what might have been.

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 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (189 votes)
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Monkey GO Happy Mayhem

DoraSome of the Monkey GO Happy games have been on the short side, but Pencilkids provides a great big chunk of point-and-click puzzle games delivered rapid-fire in Monkey GO Happy Mayhem. Solve thirty(... ish) levels and make your monkeys smile by clicking around to combine items and make some literal mayhem happen. I know nothing puts a smile on my face like massive property damage. Throw in a pile of ill-gotten toys and hat-dispensing slot machines and you have yourself a recipe for simian capers galore.

Monkey GO Happy MayhemWhile Monkey GO Happy Mayhem does have a lot of levels, you shouldn't expect the majority of them to last longer than a few seconds since the difficulty level is set very low and some stages simply consist of swapping out whatever hat you're wearing, or the toy your apathetic monkey children are knocking around. (And is it just me, or if you saw a shady looking building with "Touch a chicken" scrawled over it, would you be a little suspicious too?) Some of the puzzles do get more elaborate as you go along, however, requiring a bit more thought, and you can never accuse them of not providing enough variety at the very least. It'll still be over before you know it, but Monkey GO Happy Mayhem lives up to its name with a pile of puzzles, hats, toys, and more to get your day started off right. Which of course is to say... weird.

Play Monkey GO Happy Mayhem


  • Currently 3.6/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (53 votes)
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Find the Escape Men 80: Mountain Hut

elleYou're minding your own business, climbing up a snowy mountain, perhaps reliving your favorite scenes of A Sound of Music or Heidi, when along comes a snow storm to put a damper on things. Luckily, given the circumstances, you come across a hut where you can duck inside and escape the worst of weather. Checking it out, you see it's an unassuming enough place to hole up and might be rather dull except, even more fortunate for you, No1Game has picked this exact location for a game of Find the Escape-Men #80: Mountain Hut. So, look around a bit more closely, peeking in places you might not ordinarily look and solving a few puzzles, until you uncover ten of the titular little green dudes.

Much of the difficulty will come from figuring out just where to look because you'll get no clues from the unchanging cursor. Call it a pixel hunt if you will, but you should do fine if you're diligently thinking about and looking for every single surface and corner where an escape man could hide away, which—considering how small, flat and apparently sticky they are—is just about anywhere. As long as you're not afraid of some math, puzzles are straight-forward and the whole encounter turns out to be rather brief. Along with the fun of collecting hidden objects, the story brings it together to be a rather entertaining sojourn.

Play Find the Escape Men 80: Mountain Hut


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (110 votes)
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Dynetzzle

TrickyThis is a game site, right? So here are a few interesting facts about dice. A standard die, of course, is a cube with each of its six faces showing a different number of "pips" from one to six. Despite what certain Broadway musical logos would have you believe, the opposite faces of the die will always add up to seven. There are 11 different arrangements (or "nets") of six-connected squares that could be "folded" into such a cube. And one more tidbit: based from these rules Vishnu Vadakke Pariyarath has developed Dynetzzle, a simple puzzle game that pen-and-paper fans will find to be quite the bit of pair-o-dice.

DynetzzleUsing the mouse and following the above rules, click the white faces of the presented nets to fill in the correct numbers. Once all the numbers in a puzzle are correctly filled in, the next puzzle is unlocked. Puzzles will involve overlapping "nets", which are denoted by different colors. The concept behind Dynetzzle is quite strong... at the very least, it could definitely stand to be explored further than the mere ten puzzles included in this collection. It has the basic framework of Sudoku, but with a spatial awareness twist that forces you to think in three dimensions. So give it a roll!

Play Dynetzzle


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Mobile Monday

JohnBGet to demolishing things! In their own unique ways, the games in this edition of Mobile Monday are all about destruction. The destruction of alien bugs. The destruction of evil kitties. The destruction of... plums.

clobbr-p.gifClobbr all the things - Clobbr presents a very interesting take on the puzzle/mining genres. Your mouse friends want to escape the cave, but an orange kitty blocks the way. By sliding the rows of blocks you can arrange the puzzle tiles as you like, then give the mallet a swipe to send the rock rolling. Depending on the layout of the tiles, the stone travels in different directions, hopefully landing to scare away the cat and maybe grab some cheese along the way. A very brainy game that's simple to pick up but hard to master. The time limit can be a little frustrating, but otherwise it's cute, smart, and endlessly fun.

harry-p.gifHarry likes smaller plums - Squeezing himself down to iPhone size, the Fantastic Contraption-inspired Harry Likes Plums has finally made its way to smaller-than-iPad iOS devices. Blending precise puzzles, physics toys, and, well, plums, Harry has a unique way of charming you while keeping the challenge level surprisingly high. And that artwork? Delicious!

supersanctum-p.gifSanctum's tower defense goes mobile - Here's a bit of a surprise: the 3D first person shooter/tower defense game Sanctum has gone mobile. It's not the big bad daddy version, though, it's the streamlined SNES-style tower defense PC release from a few months back called Super Sanctum TD. Isometric gameplay puts a new slant on the TD setup, while the series' tower sets and perks system rounds out the experience quite nicely. It's a great play with a perfect balance between hardcore and casual styles.


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (27 votes)
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Drop Swap

ArtbegottiAccording to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Video Games (DSM-VG), it's a known fact that gems prefer to mingle in linear clusters of three or more, after which they cease to exist and exert a downward gravitation pull on other gems around them. However, they can't move around on their own, which is where you come in. In Drop Swap, a match-3 puzzle game by Aaron Steed, you mingle around a field of gems using the [arrow] keys. As your shadowy character walks into a gem, you swap places with it. Moving three gems in a row removes them just like any match-3 game, but you have to plan your moves carefully, because you get a limited number of steps to make a match!

Drop SwapClearing a match restores your full stock of moves, but running out of steps means you've failed the level and have to press [R] to restart. And unlike most other Puzzlescript games, there's no undo key, so every move matters. In each of Drop Swap's five levels, your goal is to either clear all of the marked gems (with a plus that unfortunately covers their colorblind markings) or drop a number of grey gems to the bottom row. The fourth level introduces skulls that instantly kill you if you're next to three in a row, but can be removed by dropping them to the bottom like a grey gem. Though there are only a handful of levels to play through, just enough concepts are introduced in those levels to make them strangely replayable. Drop Swap is a great example of a simple idea done very well.

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(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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In Fear I Trust

JohnBThe survival horror genre may be a touch overused in recent years, but In Fear I Trust knows how to take the psychologically unstable angle and leverage it into something interesting. You wake up in a prison cell with one thought on your mind: get out! But then you start seeing things, and soon you question what happened here as well as your part in the whole thing.

In Fear I TrustIn Fear I Trust uses swipes to control movement, item use, puzzles and everything in-between. Swipe to look around the screen, and double tap to move to a new location. You can opt for virtual joystick controls if you want something a bit more hands-on. You'll pick up items and use them to solve simple environmental puzzles one at a time. Nothing too complex, just a handful of logical riddles that make sure you explore your environment to its fullest.

For the all great ideas and masterful set pieces, In Fear I Trust does come with a few flaws. Most of these are technical in nature and can (and should) be fixed in future updates. During the course of playing, we managed to get stuck on solid objects, watched tutorial text repeat itself for no reason, played for stretches without sound, had the main menu refuse to show up, and several other non-trivial snafus. Most of these were easily remedied and didn't really cause any lost progress, but it makes the whole game feel unstable. And not in the atmosphere-enhancing psychological way.

In Fear I Trust is episodic, and this first installment includes two episodes, each with about 35 items to find in separate small environments. Good for a few hours of entertainment, and suitably horror-filled for moody late-night sessions. The bugs make it a little shaky at times, but it's still an impressive game worth checking out.

Note: In Fear I Trust is not compatible with iPad mini, iPhone 4 and iPod touch devices.

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
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Rating: 4.3/5 (105 votes)
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House of Wolves

DoraIn Louissi's real-time strategy simulation game House of Wolves, you're responsible for establishing and protecting your own bloodline by building a thriving settlement from humble beginnings that can stand against the forces of darkness. (Actually, it says, "his bloodline", but the joke's totally on them because I made this goatee out of black felt and totally snuck past the game's dude-dar, which is a radar to check for dudes.) Though you begin with only a single watchtower and one lone settler, the tutorial will walk you through the basics of building. Everything is done by ordering your people around, and you can click on them to open their menu for building or attacking, and then right-click anywhere to make them head to that location, selecting multiple people by dragging your cursor to form a box around them. Send settlers to gather resources like food and building materials, and train and recruit warriors and archers to defend your land from hostile forces.

House of WolvesLacking any sort of fast-forward option, House of Wolves is a game best suited for players that don't mind everything happening in due time. Much of your time will be spent waiting for things to be built, or for enough resources to be gathered/generated to build them, and since your interaction primarily consists of ordering people around, it can feel like a very slow-going time. The game is played on a 2D plane, restricting building to a straight line, so eventually you'll wind up with a sprawling territory that will be harder and harder to defend as the frequency and strength of enemy attacks increases. Balancing offensive with the defensive is tricky but a necessity if you want to gain access to the more powerful buildings and upgrades, so you'll need to make sure you don't spend too much time hiding within the safety of your soldiers as opposed to spreading out and exploring. House of Wolves, however, strikes a nice balance itself between simplicity and complexity to allow both casual players of the genre and diehard fans to find enough to like, especially with the difficulty options. It's a game meant for a bigger time investment than some browser titles, but Louissi's usual level of polish and style will make it worth it... provided you have the time to give.

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Weekend Download

JohnBThis edition of Weekend Download is out to mess with you. A serious art game. A game about clubbing baby seals. A game that might as well be made by a troll. Go ahead, download and play. Seriously. Go for it.

olsonOlson's Journey (Windows, free) - Olson's Journey is a tiny adventure game with three scenes and a single puzzle. Solve the puzzle, then see what happens. The game is so short you'll think you've been trolled. Then you'll realize there's Olson's Journey 2 and Olson's Journey 3, which makes the brevity a bit easier to swallow. The cardboard and paper set pieces also make it worth checking out!

fictionsFictions (Windows, pre-alpha) - A short pre-alpha build designed to showcase the in-dev project titled Somewhere, Fictions is a surreal first person exploration game that makes about as much sense as eating soup with chopsticks. The basic goal is to sneak up on people and possess them, allowing you to experience the game's world as a new character, seeing things through their eyes. It's very bit as much a piece of interactive art as a game.

inuitInuit (Windows/Mac, free) - Oh boy, call the political correctness police. Inuit is an arcade game that's all about clubbing seals. You can't actually kill them with your club, just, you know, knock them into things that will kill them. See how many seals you can vanquish in each level and how fast you can do it. Low-res pixel graphics make everything less controversial!


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (90 votes)
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CivClicker

KimberlyThe first thing to remember when starting a new civilization is that if you want anybody to do anything for you, you have to feed them. A lot. That and a roof over their heads, and you've got yourself the start of something. Adding to the ever-growing collection of web clicktoys comes CivClicker by Dave Holley. As an enterprising leader, it's your job to take nothing and build up a great civilization. The game is entirely mouse-driven. Simply click on the action you wish to take, and the population leaps to your command. They'll keep working for you even if you open a new tab in your browser. Playing more like a single player board game than others in the genre, CivClicker takes quite a bit more micromanaging. You have to adjust your resources carefully (using a system similar to that found in A Dark Room), in order to gain what you need to upgrade your town.

CivClickerThat's not to say there aren't more than a few surprises to tease out, and quite a few achievements to uncover, not to mention towns to raid, and deities to worship. You'll soon go from dealing with a single farmer living in a tent to hundreds of workers and soldiers living in mansions. While CivClicker keeps you engaged, it does feel a bit unpolished around the edges. It would be nice to know what you did to earn an achievement, for instance, or if purchased upgrades would disappear so the screen wouldn't become so cluttered. The game is being actively upgraded, however, so stay tuned for more content and improvements. In the meantime, there is still plenty of time to be wasted building and protecting your very own vast empire.




Play CivClicker

Thanks to Kevin for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (164 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (1,636)

Escape the Office

elle[01/24/14: Now available to play free in your browser!]

There's no story, no plot and no motive involved, unless you count the ongoing human narrative, the trials and tribulations of the workplace and the simple desire to get on the elevator and go home. Who needs a better reason to Escape the Office? Explore your surroundings, collect requisite tools for escaping and reach the best payday of all: that deep satisfaction earned when, your brain versus office equipment, you triumph. So forget about taking the copy machine out to an empty lot for a date with a sledgehammer.

Escape the OfficeCreated by Afro-Ninja, known for logical puzzles and intuitive designs, Escape the Office is quick, fun and easy to play as long as you keep a couple things in mind when you begin. First, after collecting a usable object by tapping it on screen, drag it from the inventory and release when your finger is over the area you want to use the object (not where the object is since it hovers above your finger like a memo). Next, when played on a mobile device, there is no changing cursor to help you find interactive areas. So give attention to small details and tap everywhere that might yield a good result (there's no penalty in trying, unless you're trying to beat the clock or tap timer). Speaking of that, while the game is free, if you're stuck or need extra focus to play, an in-app purchase will provide some hints as well as a list of challenges to meet.

The game's brevity, with only a handful of basic dilemmas and a couple codes to ponder out, leads to disappointment for only one reason: it's too enjoyable to want to end it so soon. Only the most incurable of workaholics would want to linger in the office longer than necessary, yet these neatly rendered visuals and perfectly casual puzzles make for a relaxing getaway. It's fair to hope that the elevator ride would open to a new room, with more hidden keys and even harder to hack passwords. Meanwhile, though, Escape the Office is a great way to momentarily avoid other, less fun duties cluttering your inbox.

Play Escape the Office

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 7. 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.


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis week... randomized dungeon delving with some seriously weird parties. An expedition to find a magic ruby and avoid food poisoning. A rubber ducky in a locked room, which totally isn't creepy at all. And some... unintentionally unsettling racing.

  • Dungeons and PartiesDungeons and Parties - Though not yet fully translated (and what is, is a little rough around the edges) or completed, this quirky little HTML5 RPG holds a surprising amount of depth if you've got the patience. You're in charge of randomly rolled parties of everything from rogue lizardmen to fairy clerics as they delve through dungeons to earn you treasure and gold to upgrade your abilities. Battles are "active time battles" in the style of Final Fantasy (the good ones) or Chrono Trigger, and you can either let your party handle things themselves, or use a surprising amount of abilities to help them defeat bosses and traps. Very old school, and very worth a revisit on our part later when it's complete.
  • Dakota Winchester's AdventuresDakota Winchester's Adventures - Sadly, the Winchester in Carmel Games' latest point-and-click adventure lacks either pie fetish or fabulous flowing locks, but hey, they can't all come with their own bewildered angel in a trench-coat. Search for a lost ruby that makes up part of a key needed to unlock a mystical box deep in the dungeon because of... reasons, I guess.
  • One DuckOne Duck - It's just you and a single rubber ducky in this bizarre little physics webtoy from NostraDamon, and all you can do is click to pick it up, and release to throw it. Say, do you suppose strange things might start to happen at specific numbers of duck bounces? It's a little light on content, though it was made for Ludum Dare, and there's something oddly therapeutic (and sinister) about all this squeaking. Rubber ducky, you're the one, you make enforced isolation so much fun... What do you think? After the ducky, will there be cake?
  • Heat Rush FutureHeat Rush Future - I didn't realize you could make racing freaky, but hey... learn something new every day. longanimals throws tracks upon upgrades upon tracks on you in this futuristic racer, where you can scream down eerie otherworldly highways with unidentifiable monoliths appearing at random intervals, and the unearthly howl of the void filling your ears and the creeping suspicion that if you were to look at your other competitors, you might bring unwelcome attention upon yourself from the coldness behind their racing helmets where exists only the soft, encompassing hush of static. Hey, I think we found a racing game for Clive Barker!

  • Currently 3.1/5
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Rating: 3.1/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (3) | Views (863)

Doodle Kingdom

JohnBAfter life, the universe and everything has been created, what's a doodling god to do? Make a kingdom of magic! New from JoyBits comes Doodle Kingdom, a follow-up to the Doodle God series that takes the puzzle-driven alchemy formula to a more fictional level. Instead of tooling around with fire, earth and water, you get to use magic to create a world of fantasy creatures, one element at a time!

Doodle KingdomThe basic goal behind Doodle Kingdom is the same as Doodle God: keep combining basic elements to form more complex ones. Tap a category on the left side of the screen, then tap one of the elements that appear. Do the same for the right side and the game will attempt to combine the two. If it works, you get a new element! The more elements there are the more combinations are available, meaning you'll do a lot of experimenting to see what odd things you can craft.

Microtransactions in Doodle Kingdom step a toe over the line of acceptability. The in-game currency is gems that can be spent on hints and unlockable features, most of which only last for 24 hours. You can refill these via an in-app purchase, and the shocking thing is there are packs that sell for an upwards of 100 USD. Call us mad, but that seems like overkill for a game that already carries a multi-dollar price tag. Persistence outflanks IAPs, so stick with it and you won't have to go broke to beat the game.

The presentation and interface in Doodle Kingdom are both superb, and it's great to see some extra creativity injected through the use of a fantasy setting. Later on, you even get to raise dragons, complete quests and engage in combat sequences! The JoyBits team has refined their skills over the course of the Doodle God games, and that experience shows in Doodle Kingdom. With over 115 elements to discover divided between 13 unique groups, you won't be in need of a good coffee break game any time soon.

Also available on Windows 8, Windows Phone, Mac App Store, BlackBerry.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (52 votes)
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LinkageDraw

kyhNo story, no cute characters, not even music. Masa's physics puzzler, Linkage Draw, keeps it simple, yet challenging. Like a child putting together blocks to match an overly simplistic blueprint, you are tasked with recreating a pattern using the set of pieces presented, both fixed and movable. It might not be rocket science, but it's sure to test your mental acuity. Through each of the 16 levels, you will be given two sets of pieces, the red locked pieces and the otherwise multicolored movable ones. You can connect the pieces together by dragging a black dot on one over the black dot of another. If you'd like to try another configuration, double-click a piece to unbind it from all other pieces.

linkagedrawYour ultimate goal is to trace the red line(s) on the level with the red dot on one or more of the pieces. How exactly to put the pieces together to do just that is where the challenge lies. It's not something that can easily be done in one sitting, so prepare to have yourself seeing red for awhile. A game lacking any flash or congratulations, you may need to just pat yourself on the back after completing each level... Or we could all get together in a semblance of the LAN parties of old and be there to pat each others' backs. No, no. Not creepy at all...

Play Linkage Draw


  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (36 votes)
| Comments (4) | Views (15)

Deadly Road Trip

Starchild Contrary to what the title suggests, Noname Lab's Deadly Road Trip isn't a game about a bunch of teenagers getting gruesomely murdered on a forgotten country road in Arizona. Instead, it's an arcade shooter about a bounty hunter/biker chasing down a seemingly infinite group of criminals. All you have to do is direct him with your mouse and click to shoo... or choose the autofire option. Your guy drives along a road, killing as many thugs as possible and collecting money and power-ups, until he runs out of fuel or gets totaled. At the end of each run, it's upgrade time. If that's not enough, there are also twenty-five missions to accomplish. The first impression you get from Deadly Road Trip is just how great it looks. Driving around at sunset on the beautifully rendered road, your bullets sparkling like fireflies, criminals blasted through the air in a perfect explosion... and all this is supported by flawless mechanics. But it's not exactly a walk in the park.

Deadly Road TripAt the beginning, you'll get a pretty lame motorbike with a gas tank the size of a lunch box and the endurance of a tricycle. Soon enough, though, you'll be able to upgrade it to something more reliable and the game will hit its stride. When you kill enemies, you'll be able to pick up more fuel and better weapons. The road is strewn with money and a wide range of power-ups, from nitro to rockets, making your runs more dynamic and certainly a lot more fun. Another interesting addition is the ability to jump from your vehicle to those of your enemies, which is a great way to continue a run if you're getting low on hit points. Deadly Road Trip is by no means short, and it's not meant to be beaten in one sitting. Having to restart from the same point every time does get repetitive after a while, but, somehow, that's the beauty of it – you'll have your fill, leave it for a while, then come back and start again with new missions and a determination to get even farther this time. Because sometimes you just want an explosion-filled, unlimited-ammo old school arcade game, and Deadly Road Trip is just that.

Play Deadly Road Trip


  • Currently 3.4/5
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Rating: 3.4/5 (27 votes)
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The Hunter

TrickyThe night is dark and full of terrors. You are one of them. You cannot see, but you can hear, and though they may hear you coming, they will not be able to stop you. Because he deserves it. Jord Farrell presents The Hunter, a unique top-down stealth-based horror action-adventure, originally developed as part of the "you only get one" themed Ludum Dare 28 competition, now expanded and refined for a final release. Move with [WASD], and hold [shift] to run. Every step you take sends out a wave of sound that will allow you to place the features of the darkness around you. However, these steps will also announce your presence to patrols, so time you moves wisely (and hide in cabinets!) or you'll have to restart. The ultimate goal of each level is to kill a specific target with a spear you can find and throw with the click of a mouse, though you may have to deal with other enemies as well. A missed spear makes quite a bit of noise, however, and you must retrieve it after every throw.

The Hunter A game of unrelenting tension, both in its mechanics and the sparse bits of plot slowly doled out, The Hunter will be one of the most intense games you've played in a long time, even if (or possibly because) it is unforgiving in its challenge. Reminiscent of You Must Escape, another game made for an earlier Ludum Dare competition, The Hunter is a bit more personal and a bit less visceral of a work. Even if the motives of the titular Hunter seem to be muddier the more you play, that just makes the experience all the more frightening.

Play The Hunter


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (97 votes)
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ClickPLAY Time 4

DoraNinjadoodle's point-and-click puzzle game series ClickPLAY Time is all about buttons and the clicking thereof, and ClickPLAY Time 4 is no different. The goal is to decipher each stage's puzzle, be it golfing with a giant whale or deciphering mismatched faces, and clicking the play button you're rewarded with for doing so. Some puzzles are less creative than others, such as codes or scrambles, so it's a bit of a shame that we get them several times instead of more imaginative point-and-click scenes, which is what the series does best. On the other hand, though the difficulty level is on the whole rather low, some stages provide an unexpected challenge simply by being less straight-forward than they appear. ClickPLAY Time 4 isn't exactly a meaty challenge, but with the series' customary snappy soundtrack and colourful presentation on top of a variety of puzzles, it offers a satisfying break of whimsical weirdness.

... And poop jokes, I guess.

Play ClickPLAY Time 4


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Weekday Escape

elleLadies and gentlemen, welcome to the (re-) launch of Weekday Escape, the greatest JIG feature of our time. Well, obviously, except for your features, Mr. Tricky, which are also...very good. And, all JIG crew, yours aren't...that bad, either. Anyway, what I mean is, welcome and thank you for coming to the launch of one of the top thirty JayIsGames features of our time. I hope you will enjoy it, and the bit of it that is a bit different than normal, as well. Every week this time, this space, we'll present escape games that are, we think you'll find, quite enjoyable. So, where to begin?*

Escape from the Room of Three BoxesEscape from the Room of Three Boxes - When introducing a game, it's a good idea to include thoughtful details. Yomino Kagura does just that with this titularly self-explanatory game. Here, obviously, open three boxes and then escape. The changing cursor compliments photo-realistic graphics and a clean design for an intuitive experience. Despite most the narrative being Japanese, the rest is so familiar, success will be quick for those fluent in puzzle.

Find the Escape-Men 79: The BoxerFind the Escape-Men 79: The Boxer - If you have trouble deciding, try making a list. Here's why this escape from No1 Game is a worthy play. Number one, in order to succeed, you must find ten little green men; the finding men bit is a very good start. Two, it has a humorous story and who doesn't like to laugh? Well, except the pixel hunt parts are rather poor since you must click places that are not too obvious. Two out of three is still nice, though.

Escape Game of Baseball BoyEscape Game of Baseball Boy 2014 - At times least expected, odd things turn up. Such as this Minoto creation, a top example. The navigational rules are not spelled out but apparently stealing bases is not allowed. Instead, solve a puzzle or two and then you can move on to the next view where a tad more help is given. While fully understanding Minoto's logic could be hard to do, if you're enjoying yourself, does it matter?

*P.S. After playing these games and sharing your thoughts here, please join our brainstorm: What is your ideal JayIsGames escape game?

Treasure Adventure World demo

JohnBSay goodbye to the next few hours of your day! A demo has just been released for Treasure Adventure World, Robit Studios' upcoming sequel to 2011's Treasure Adventure Game. The demo contains two large islands and a temple to explore, along with a handful of items to find and plenty of sailing.

Treasure Adventure World is a side-scrolling open-world metroidvania game that's set to do everything Treasure Adventure Game did, only with more of everything! Search for hidden artefacts, sail the choppy seas, fight foes and discover clues to your character's mysterious past, all in glorious HD widescreen with hi-res artwork. And from the teasers released so far, that's only the beginning!

Treasure Adventure World pre-orders are still open. No firm release date has been set, but the team thinks the end of the first quarter of 2014 is a safe bet.


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (68 votes)
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Tesla: War of Currents

DoraWhen science is at stake, you have to be willing to fight dirty, and Tesla and Edison are throwing everything from cannons to lasers and more at each other in the war for electrical dominance! NSBrotherhood's Tesla: War of Currents is sort of a reverse tower-defense realtime strategy game like Villainous. You're in charge of building robots to protect Tesla as he blasts his way through Edison's defenses, clicking the arrows along the way to direct his path and deploying repair zones to keep everyone hale and hearty. You can also earn a total of three stars for each level to spend on upgrades to improve both Tesla and your various robots, and during levels you can open the robot management screen to upgrade any bots you have for the duration of the level with cash.

Tesla: War of CurrentsAt a paltry fifteen levels, your time with Tesla will be over before you know it, but it's still worth the short investment. The game plays with the levels in various ways, from forcing you to carry fragile boxes in one stage that each take up a robot slot, to rescuing puppies, contacting Martians, and more. So, uh, yeah, not exactly meant as a canon retelling of the great Tesla/Edison rivalry. The downside is that is just sort of feels like the game needs something more, be it extra difficulty options a la GemCraft for each stage, or even just more visual variety, to really push it over the edge and keep you coming back for more. It's a compact little game that feels like it had the potential to be given more room to breathe and been better for it, but will still provide a short burst of surprisingly fast-paced strategic action as it stands. Heck, Tesla was dreamy enough already without adding puppy-rescuing and power armor to the mix anyway.

Play Tesla: War of Currents


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (37 votes)
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Pandesal Boy

DoraPandesal Boy by Khail C.S. and Josel Nicolas (and sponsored by Robin Ras) is an unexpectedly clever little puzzle platformer that starts with a very dangerous job that, naturally, winds up getting you cursed... delivering bread. Your goal is still to deliver the bread to your customer's house in each level, using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, but that was a lot simpler when the world wasn't floating in a void. Luckily, you've got a few new abilities up your sleeve, and to get around, you can click certain platforms to rotate them, or hit [S] while you click to turn them counter-clockwise. While only the grass platforms are safe, as new elemental tiles come into play, you can actually use even the hazardous ones to your advantage. Lava may be deadly, for example, but it can be used to light cannons, and cooled with the touch of an ice platform to let you safely pass. But that's just the beginning.

Pandesal BoyTo say Pandesal Boy has a lot of ideas is a bit of an understatement, as over the course of its 28 levels (and four bonus stages) you'll do everything including launching yourself from cannons on a projectile path, find yourself split into two boys who move simultaneously, dodging angry spirits, and more. It makes for a lot to handle, but also keeps the gameplay fresh and inventive, though there is so much that not all of it gets used often enough, or even to the full extent of its potential. Since reflexes come into play as often as brains, the timed scoring feels like a bit much even though you can ignore it if you choose, and the game is honestly a better puzzler than a platformer since moving and jumping feels a little stiff. The level crafting for some of the more thinky stages can be downright sneaky, and new things are still being introduced even late in the game in, uh, unusual ways. (Who knew a cosmic fart could come in so handy?) Pandesal Boy is an unexpected delight with a ton of creativity and a goofy sense of humour,

Play Pandesal Boy


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The Vault

Tricky Hopefully, by the time you see this our team of dedicated upgradeable-stickmen will have completed the move to our new servers. With comments once again enabled, we can all get back to discussing vital topics in casual gaming-slash-proper comma usage. And, most importantly of all, I can share some excellent shooter, action, and role-playing games from our archives in this week's Vault!

  • Orbital DecayOrbital Decay - So maybe you're not entirely sure what you're in the mood for. Maybe you want a little shooting. Maybe you want a little "strategery". Maybe you want a little defending. Maybe you want a donut. Well, Piron Games thought the same in 2009, and made Orbital Decay to help quash that indecision. (Except for the donut thing. You'll probably have to go to Tim Hortons or something for that.) It starts a little slow, but soon enemy ships will be swarming around you like Ender's Game on steroids. Those in the mood for a bit of sci-fi shooting that's a little bit more tactical, but with no fewer explosions, should definitely check it out.
  • Cactus McCoyCactus McCoy - Flipline Studios, with their Papa Series, deserves all the accolades they get for being the masters of the food creation simulations that they are. That said, when they branch out, they do it right, since Cactus McCoy (and its sequel) are most likely the best beat-em-ups you're ever going to find in a browser window. Furious action combined with bouncy platforming and an (almost) never-ending quest for secrets made an instant classic when it was released in 2011, and when it comes to bad guy punching fun, it has yet to be equaled.
  • Synopsis Quest DeluxeSynopsis Quest Deluxe - Want all the thrills and confoundment of a 50 hour JRPG, but don't have the 50 hours to spare? Well, then Skipmore has you covered in 2010's Synopsis Quest Deluxe! Enjoyably clunky in that retro kinda way, Synopsis Quest Deluxe will have you hit all the hallmarks of the 8-bit experience in a fraction of the time. You'll search suspicious looking pots! You'll deal with long-winded old kings! You'll face your rival on a cliff! You'll learn the truth about your missing mother! But more than anything, you'll play a really fun parody from a developer who clearly knows and loves the material they're sending up.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


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DoraHello, JayisGames! If you're seeing this message, then congratulations! You've made the long and arduous trek with us to our new server. It's intended to provide a faster and more reliable experience for our writers in the database we use to create our articles, as well as to hopefully provide an even faster experience for you. The new server move began this morning, and for some people, it's finally complete, though some regions (even including my own!) will still see the old server for a while.

In the meantime, we want to reach out to you and make sure all our bits and baubles are intact. Please use this page to report any new problems you're experiencing with the site, from logging in to leaving comments, and include any information that might help us nail down a fix, from (roughly) where in the world you are, to what type of browser you're using, and so on. If you receive any sort of error message, please be specific as to what it said! We thank you for your patience and understanding and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and will be up and running with new games and reviews for you as soon as we can verify the lion's share of the issues are ironed out!


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Mobile Monday

JohnBA little nostalgia to start your week? Mobile markets are prime real estate for ports and remakes of classic games new and old. Not only is portability a nice bonus, but oftentimes the reworked touch screen controls fit better than an old fashioned d-pad. Well, sometimes, anyway.

pixelroom-p.gifMake room for Pixel Room - From browser to iOS, Kotorinosu's Pixel Room is now portable! The game is an escape puzzler that's all about clarity. Pick up "items" and examine them in your inventory, use the arrows on the sides of the screen to change views, or tap on just about anything in the scene to interact with it. The closer you are to solving the stage, the clearer things will look!

droidarcade-p.gifDroid Arcade on iOS for free - Kittaro Games has released a follow-up of sorts to the stop-motion animated puzzle game Droidscape:Basilica. Droid Arcade is, as you probably guessed, an arcade game that focuses on speed and action. Same basic setup as the original game, only now instead of drawing lines and focusing on timing, you hop to it with real-time movement!

ffvi-p.gifFinal Fantasy VI on Android - Continuing Square-Enix's slow push to the mobile market, the classic SNES game that got everyone irrevocably hooked on the series is now available for Android devices. Final Fantasy VI is a careful remake of the original, featuring full touch screen controls and remade graphics that may or may not please your nostalgic eyeballs. The price tag is higher than most mobile games, but reports thus far indicate it's a solid re-release.


  • Currently 4.8/5
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Rating: 4.8/5 (20 votes)
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The Banner Saga

DoraEven the most positive person in the world would probably have difficulty interpreting the sun permanently halting in the sky as anything other than a bad sign. As Stoic's stunning indie RPG strategy game The Banner Saga begins, a new truce between the human kingdom and giant varl is being tested with both the immoveable day and the return of the massive armored creatures known as the dredge. Throughout the game, you'll play everyone from a varl tax collector to a widowed hunter and his daughter, and their stories will come together in unexpected ways depending on the choices you make throughout the course of the game. (Note that while the game is available through several digital stores, it is only playable through Steam.)

The Banner SagaThough the game attempts to have some simulation aspects at least as relates to making sure your army has enough food so that they don't wind up marching over the starved corpses of their fellow soldiers as they days progress (a sure downer), your army isn't as important as you might think. Occasionally, you'll encounter massive groups of enemy forces that you can have your unnamed soldiers deal with via a text option or two, but you can also choose to engage the enemy yourself with your main party for greater rewards. Since the game's turn-based combat is how you earn Renown, which is used for everything from buying supplies and items to promoting your party, there's rarely a situation where handling things yourself isn't a good idea in the long run. Especially since there's a finite amount of it, as there are a limited amount of predetermined battles in the game with no way to grind more.

The game's turn-based battles take place on a grid, using the party of heroes you've gathered so far, and whoever you've selected to take part. Strength acts not only as a determining factor in how much damage you deal, but also as your hit points. It makes defense all the more important, both in keeping you alive and knowing when to go after an enemy's shields instead of their throat, since if you reduce the stat significantly you can take down even towering foes with weaker characters. Willpower can even be spent to strengthen attacks or move farther on the battlefield. Each character belongs to a certain class that dictates the abilities they have, and after a certain number of kills, you can spend Renown to increase their rank and make them stronger.

The Banner SagaAnalysis: Because of its on-rails progression, The Banner Saga feeds you its world and characters bit by bit, just enough to keep you intrigued for the next piece. The lack of any sort of "lore" menu is sorely missed, since it would have both helped keep track of who's who and all the places mentioned, but also fleshed out the world a great deal. It puts the focus squarely on the characters and politics you deal with to carry the story, and largely, they succeed with flying colours. You'll make and lose both friends and enemies, and it's impossible not to feel both responsible and genuinely at a loss when someone dies as a result of your decisions. They have so much personality and can illustrate complex relationships and alliances with just a few lines. It's just a shame that the art doesn't always match what the text is describing. There are some scenes that would be better served emotionally by more dynamic, varied illustrations, even if just changing expressions. Come on, Ludin, you were just nearly beat to death... aren't you even a little roughed up?... no? Still want to look like you smelled a fart, huh? *sigh* Alright then.

The Banner SagaAs challenging as the combat can be, I actually found it far less stressful once I realized I wasn't dealing with the Fire Emblem-style perma-death for fallen characters I had honestly expected. Battles feel satisfyingly strategic, though the difference between "normal" and "easy" modes of difficulty is so vast you might as well have called the latter "baby's first turn-based strategy". Where you move your characters and how you choose to attack with them feels like it has real weight, and once you figure out how to make strength and defense work for you even when the odds seem to be against it, every character feels useful. On the other hand, the limited Renown in the game is odd, and having characters only level up according to killshots makes the game fiddly if you don't want to wind up with a slew of weaklings and two or three power-houses.

Rather than calling it an RPG, however, you might be closer to accuracy if you called it a visual-novel mixed with turn-based strategy. The Banner Saga is still a slow burn of a game with a heavy focus on combat, but sucks you in with its rich world of gradually unfolding mythology. It's about people as much as it is saving the world from giant evil monsters, and it's a case you'll grow to care about, especially since you decisions have real consequences down the line. An argument might lead to the death of a party member. Failing to punish a soldier acting out could put the entire army in danger. Conflicts big and small play out along the path you walk, and the result is a big, meaty game you'll slowly sink deeper into the more time you spend with it. The lack of a demo is a shame, since the game could definitely win some of the hearts of those who might still be on the fence, but The Banner Saga is an incredibly ambitious and satisfyingly challenging game with a grand scope and breathtaking presentation.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Steam)
Get the full version (Humble Store)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version
Get the full version (Humble Store)


  • Currently 3.6/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (56 votes)
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Above Average Guy

DoraChris Jeff and NCH Productions team up for the cavalcade of ridiculousness that is puzzle platformer Above Average Guy, a game where you find yourself abducted and forced to compete on the titular game show, an allegedly Japanese event involving pools of acid, walls of spikes, disappearing/reappearing platforms, and much, much more. Sort of a lethal version of the late (great) Unbeatable Banzuki meets America's Wipeout, only with more goofy headgear. Across 43 levels, use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to get to the exit, but a hop, skip and a jump will only get you so far. Sometimes you might have to type something to get by, while others will have you use your mouse to interact with the environment, and it's up to you to figure out when and how by experimenting... or clicking on the announcer for hints! Just don't lose all of your audience.

Above Average GuyWith its myriad of puzzle mechanics, Above Average Guy is a great idea... it just doesn't quite nail the landing. It's a better puzzle game than it is a platformer, with movement feeling almost overly responsive in some cases, and the levels that ask you to figure things out are far more interesting than the ones that are simply a matter of timing and reflexes. The rapid-fire level progression and each stage's size actually works in the game's favour, keeping things moving at a brisk pace, and the bizarro humour and bright artwork, combined with some of the more creative puzzles, make Above Average Guy stand out from the pack. It would be nice to see a sequel that was entirely devoted to some of the more "think outside the box"-y mechanics tried out here, but as it stands, Above Average Guy is still an inventive and weird little puzzler with some neat ideas that's worth a play despite its slip-ups.

Play Above Average Guy


(11 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain

Starchild Teaching is becoming more and more demanding these days, especially when one of your students manages to open a portal into a parallel world and you have to go chasing after him. Of course, it turns out that the parallel world has a power-hungry ruler who turns you into a monster and you are the only one who can break the curse and you're pretty sure you left the stove on at home... Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. In Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain, the new hidden-object adventure by Eipix Entertainment, you take on the role of the intrepid professor Burns, as she travels through a magical land and tries to save it from the clutches of the evil king Demario.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain At least the land is pretty stunning, so you're got that going for you. As you walk around, collecting stray objects and opening other people's cupboards and chests, you'll encounter one breathtaking landscape after another, not to mention the elegant architecture and, er, an ancient stone golem or two. Alas, you aren't here on a holiday. There's a kingdom to be saved, and between you and victory stands a mighty tyrant. The land relies on a balance of power, represented by two crystals; one is given to the ruler, the other to the Guardians, a council of mages. Since Demario has pulled a Macbeth and taken all the power for himself, you have to find a way to take his crystal away and restore the Guardians. And, if you have time, bring your student Jonathan back home, along with a lost puppy. You better get some overtime pay for this.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain doesn't stray too far from the familiar formula. There are items to find, puzzles to solve and stuff to interact with. Lots of elements follow standard patterns, but they are still enjoyable – the puzzles aren't terribly innovative, but they're certainly adequate. There's also the (seemingly compulsory) adorable sidekick, but how can you say no to an eager little puppy? However, it must be said that there are real attempts at refreshing the genre. For one thing, hidden-object scenes are varied, from text lists to silhouetted lists to riddles. Also, you are given a bow to use on items that are too high to reach, and the shooting system lends an almost arcade feel to the action sequences. The story is dynamic and has enough twists to fill an entire episode of a soap opera, but still manages to follow a coherent line. The Living Mountain might not be a game-changer, but it tries, and it delivers an average of four hours of magical entertainment.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain 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


(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky

DoraA Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky is the very long name of a very long RPG by Kasey Ozymy I have been trying to sort out how I feel about for a very long time. It's the story of two sisters, Ivy and Mint, who suddenly find themselves alone and forced to care for themselves in the barren, hostile world they live in. With Mint's poor health and little left to even scavenge, their only option seems to be a rope... one that, as the title suggests, hangs down from somewhere high in the sky above their heads. What they find up top turns their world upside down and changes everything they thought they knew about their family, and sets them on a dangerous adventure in an unfamiliar and forbidden land. Also, there are pig meat costumes, like you do.

A Very Long Rope to the Top of the SkyFor the most part, A Very Long Title I'm Not Typing Out Every Single Time is a fairly typical turn-based RPG. You'll explore, get in fights with random encounters, level up and grow stronger, buy new equipment, the whole shebang. While the combat might not ring any bells, it's at least well thought out enough to provide ways for characters to regenerate mana to offset how scarce in-dungeon save and healing points are. It is, in short, the type of game that exemplifies a lot of the classic elements of the "JRPG" genre, and you'll get the most out of it if you already love, or at least expect, grinding levels and random encounters. The main story (which is difficult to talk about without spoiling the big twist revealed early on) takes a while to really get going, mostly because Mint and Ivy keep getting sidetracked into helping people. Mint, despite her illness and eagerness to explore and learn, is very much a "everyone else comes first, THEN me" type of person, and Ivy is driven by a desire to simply see her sister happy. It makes them very likable and sympathetic heroines who deal with some complex themes along the way, from family to religion, but it does also mean you get spoon-fed morals every few hours as well. It takes away from the warm fuzzies or thoughtful introspection when either Mint or Ivy have to carefully and awkwardly state whatever it is you were supposed to learn from an encounter. Every time it happens, I want you to imagine it's playing that little Scrubs sad musical riff. Ba-da dum-dum-dum DUM bum-bum...

A Very Long Rope to the Top of the SkyPrimarily, however, it's the pacing that holds the game back in several places. We don't need to dodge the boulders twice. We don't need the doors-and-switches puzzle three times in a row. It's trying to provide a more cerebral experience to its dungeons than simply stabbing things, which is appreciated. But then those puzzles repeat, or you find yourself pushing through long dungeons without much visual interest or anything to do in them besides grind levels. Don't make me resent slogging through dungeons and drawn-out scenes... let me love you. Because if you stick with it, there is a lot to love about A Very Long Title With More Words Than Strictly Necessary. It calls itself character driven, and this is definitely true in the best possible way.

Even with its flaws, this is an extremely enjoyable and ambitious RPG with a clearly enormous amount of thought and effort behind it that deserves to be appreciated. While you can expect to do a lot of "Huh?" and "Bwuh?" in your first hour or so due to the way the world building is handled, the writing is exceptionally solid with a fine balance of humour and drama. The cast is immediately likable and expressive thanks in part to the way their portraits change to emote, and the world is mysterious yet relateable in a way that compels you forward to find out more about it. Area design is, unfortunately, on the whole rather uninteresting, but the game carries you through with the substantial meat of its gameplay. In addition to the main story and hefty amount of sidequests, you can craft items, raise pigs for an arena, develop a town, and more. The game promises over sixty hours of gameplay, which might seem a little generous depending on how you play and how much of a completionist you are, but will still keep you involved for a long, long time if it gets its hooks into you.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

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


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Rating: 3.5/5 (21 votes)
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backstabber

kyhYou have something to say? You say it to my face! Does this phrase scare you? Make you want to run away and not deal with the situation? Well, Dennis Ranke presents you with an alternative in his MiniLD (Ludum Dare's kinder, less stressful little brother) puzzle entry, backstabber. A nameless man with a mission, your only goal is to stab everyone else in the back. However, you're not the only one with a violent streak. Run across their line of sight, and they'll be putting you under that gravestone.

bstabberMove mister antagonist around with the [arrow] keys and take action with [X]. Oh so convenient in a Sokoban-like game, undo your last move with [Z] or use [R] to restart the whole level. With the pixelated look characteristic of PuzzleScript games, Ranke has created an interesting experience in the limited development time allowed him. Between-level text often gives information helpful to complete the increasingly difficult and complex levels, not to mention the little story it ends up telling. Intrigued? Well, challenge yourself and find out what would bring a man to become... a backstabber.

Play backstabber


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Weekend Download

JohnBGame time! Grab some mom-approved snacks (apple wedges? celery? raisins?) and beverages (water? ugh...) and settle in for a good time. We've got cyborgs and evil angels and crazy alien beaming games ready to keep you entertained!

env.gifEnv (Windows/Mac, free) - Crazy physics game time! Env is a brief first person survival game where your only goal is not to fall off the platform. Making your life difficult is a tractor beam-like apparatus sucking up blocks and suspending them in the air, exposing the dangerous water below. Grab food and tech cubes as you wander the environment trying not to trip over your own two feet. Surprisingly fun for such a simple concept.

vindicatorVindicator: Uprising (Windows/Mac/Linux, demo) - A single screen platform shooter that's all about shooting, hiding, and shooting some more. As a special agent for The Order, it's your job to fight the Angels who are out to conquer the Earth. Work your way through their hierarchy as you climb through level after level of twisted stages filled with enemies and obstacles. The current demo showcases three levels for the full game, which is expected to release later this year.

deadcyborgDead Cyborg (Windows/Mac/Linux, donationware) - A donation-driven first person adventure game that's free to download, Dead Cyborg drops you in a broken down post-apocalyptic world as a human who is trying to find out what's going on. Two episodes have been released, each one supplying about two hours of exploration, point-and-click gameplay, puzzle solving, and shockingly well-rendered environments, especially when you consider this is a one man project! Grab both episode one and episode two and start playing.


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Ferris Mueller's Day Off

GrinnypOne of your mules has taken a sick day, but instead of staying home and recovering from whatever vague illness he claims to have, he simply wanders around town, getting into lots of adventures while leaving you in the lurch. If this sounds suspiciously like the plot of a rather well-known 80s movie it is, but it is also the basis of Glitch Games' marvelous new comedic mobile adventure, Ferris Mueller's Day Off!

Ferris Mueller's Day OffInstead of resembling Matthew Broderick, Ferris is... well, he's a mule. A green mule. And he's missing. Rather than share in Ferris' adventures, you play the suave, handsome Mr. Rooney as he attempts to track down Ferris. The game takes advantage of mobile touch screen interfaces as you tap and swipe your way through the cartoony scenery, all while seeing how many gags, puns, and old movie references you can spot. Oh, and solve a few puzzles as well.

Glitch Games, the creators of the fabulous Forever Lost series of adventures, keeps their wonderful interface from those games with the suitcase which holds all of your inventory items and the incredibly handy in-game camera. That camera can take pictures of the scenery, with the photos then available in an "album" for you to peruse or scribble on, taking the place of a traditional notebook in which to register clues.

With Ferris Mueller's Day Off Glitch Games proves that they can do more than dark, brooding, psychological horror games. The crudely drawn, bright pastel backgrounds are a lovely backdrop for the cascade of frolics, japes, and larks which infest every corner of the adventure. The puzzles are multi-layered, wicked fun, and your enjoyment will increase depending upon your tolerance for puns. Take a sick day and enjoy the adventure! Niiiiiccccccceeeee.


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Rating: 3.3/5 (48 votes)
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Neon Doors 2

GrinnypDon't like trudging around to find things and solve puzzles? The lazy person's room escape is back with Abroy's Neon Doors 2, another 25 levels of door unlocking fun. The basics of this type of escape game are simple; try to unlock the door in front of you, which leads to... another locked door. While other games in the genre concentrate more on the physical aspects of trying to unlock a series of doors, Neon Doors 2 goes for much more visually abstract puzzles. Solving the puzzles helps you not only go through the door but, in some cases, find the darn thing. There is a lot of purely cerebral point-and-click fun to be had in this delightful and challenging sequel. For room escape fans who dislike a lot of moving around this is a dream come true.

Play Neon Doors 2


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraAGE TEST! Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarnik-y-doo, this Link Dump's for yooooooou... skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, and these games tooooo... play as a kitty cat or go underneath the sea, chop through a retro forest but don't die from a zombie! Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarink-y-do, this Link Dump's for yooooooou (I really mean it) this Link Dump's for yooooooou (because I wrote it) thiiiiiiiiiis Link Duuuuuump's foooooor yooooooou!

  • Lumber JohnLumber John - This arcade-y platform game is one I'd call retro, with a hand on your arm and a meaningful lift of my brows until you told me to "stop being weird". From its pixellated flannel to its classic hop and chop gameplay everything about this little game screams old school. Simply collect all the notes to open the door in each level. Nobody correct me if this isn't 100% what lumberjacks do. Leave me my adorable illusions.
  • Deep Sea Hunter 2Deep Sea Hunter 2 - Basically, it's The Life Aquatic, but with more wholesale slaughter of hostile sea life. Following coordinates around a map in this action game, you'll pilot your little submersible underwater to discover treasure and blow up enemies and bosses with missiles and upgrades. Presumably there is a hidden level where the Sea Shepherds come after you for your crimes, but can't stop bickering enough to actually do anything about it.
  • RoadZRoadZ - You emerge from a bar in Louissi's action-packed strategy game to discover people have gone over all bitey, and you've got red on you. That's right, zombies are to blame, and it's just enough time to pick up Mum before we head off to the pub for a pint and wait for all of this to blow over. Scavenge for supplies, hide in buildings, keep your crew alive, and SOMEONE MAKE ME A SHAUN OF THE DEAD GAME.
  • Catlateral DamageCatlateral Damage - Chris Chung knows you harbour secret destructive impulses, and now there's a way for you to act out as that most villainous of creatures... the cat. Specifically, the cat left alone for (literally!) two minutes in a room full of expensive things, just waiting to be knocked over. So get to it! It's cute, simple, and perfect for the fiendish feline in all of us. Ah, the cat. Nature's little jerkface.

  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (55 votes)
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DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4

TrickyBeethro Budkin has been going down, down, down, for a while now, clearing out all the critters and baddies in King Dugan's dungeon. But even a smitemaster like him has to be worried that he's reached the Deadly Rooms of Death within unlucky floor thirteen... not to mention unlucky floors fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. So lift your Really Big Sword, wipe the Living Tar off your boots, and get set to patiently-and-strategically charge into the newest browser installment of Caravel Games' turn-based puzzle-strategy games: DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4!

DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4Move Beethro with the [arrow] keys (though utilizing the diagonals of the number keypad is recommended if you have one), and swing the Really Big Sword clockwise or counterclockwise with the [W] and [Q] keys. Explore each level to find the exit, opening doors by triggering switches and killing various snakes, roaches, and the dreadful living tar. Each switch can be clicked with the mouse to reveal how it will affect the environment. With every move you make, the baddies will respond with a move of their own (and watch out for those diagonals!). Scrolls will reveal new information, stepping on a red x-tile will save your progress as a checkpoint, and [R] can be pressed to restart any room from the beginning. And trust me: you'll probably need it. We're plunging past the halfway point of the original game, and now every move and every swing of the sword counts more than ever. DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4 will chew you up and spit you out... and fans of the series wouldn't have it any other way,

Play DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite
Episode 4


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Rating: 4.5/5 (127 votes)
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Sometimes Sunny Hold

elleWelcome to Sometimes Sunny Hold, Haretoki's marvelous fun factory, where every surface is made of fun toys to play with and fun gadgets to explore! Yes, it is fun I tell you; please don't bang your head against the wall like that. Although there's no turning away from the comically complicated contraptions and delirious devices, things are not as devious as they seem. No matter how trapped you feel, no matter how futile your efforts to make sense of that hinge thingy, I'm not kidding you, escape is possible. After all, I wouldn't be here to tell you about it if it wasn't.

Sometimes Sunny HoldDespite looking complicated, the interface is pretty intuitive and will be old hat to anyone familiar with escape games. Just in case you're new to this: navigate by clicking the grey bar that appears at the edge of the screen to turn or back up. Clicking on certain objects will zoom you in for a better look or will grab them for your inventory. You can then use an inventory item by highlighting it or examine it in detail by double-clicking. Although there's only one ending, using the "save" feature will help you take a break to regain sanity. Finally, you'll be well-equipped for puzzle solving by combining certain items, correctly using others, and making inferences from the clues which are nestled into the room's fixtures and furnishing.

The static cursor adds to a couple instances that would be pixel hunts except Haretoki dropped hints here and there, alerting us to the hunt. Because the puzzle presentation is semi nonlinear, the greatest difficulty comes in the beginning until you tick off some puzzles from your checklist, lessening the slew of clues and narrowing the possibilities. Admittedly, not everyone will call this game his idea of fun. So maybe it seems designed by a third-grader on a Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs bender, and maybe Sometimes Sunny Hold sometimes seems illogical, but as odd and befuddling this place is on first beholding, there's near lyrical perfection in its creative logic and inventive construction. Cool stuff will unfold if you have the patience or mental tenacity to solve your way out. So don't hold back—let Haretoki's fantastical architecture work its wonkiness while you work your way to freedom.

Play Sometimes Sunny Hold

Thanks to John and Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


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Weekday Escape

Dora01/30/14: I am pleased to announced that Mateusz Skutnik will be creating our very first escape game within the next few months! :) We are still in the early planning stages, so please keep your suggestions coming.

Weekday Escape is making a comeback, but this week we want to get your input on something special. We know you guys like finding your way out of things. You lock yourselves in cat carriers and beach bungalows, balconies and dungeons, and many, many more, all the way back to the very first game of its kind featured here on the site, Viridian Room in 2004. There's just something about a locked door that gets you guys excited, and hey, we understand... even after that time we came back to the office after that long weekend and found you trapped in the JiG breakroom, trying desperately to cobble keys and puzzles out of FunYuns and instant coffee pods. I mean, it was weird... but we understand. (Whoever ate all my spinach Hot Pockets, though, you still owe me $2.76.)

Which leads us to this. We want to approach a developer to make an official JayisGames escape game, and we want you to tell us what you'd want to see in it! What sort of theme would you like.... scary or relaxing? Funny or weird? Maybe you want a story... or maybe you'd just rather be confronted with a devious mix of puzzles, no narrative needed? Do you want it hard as nails, or more of a comfortable ride? Maybe there's a certain type of puzzle you love... or just one you'd love to see set on fire. Either way, now is the time to let us know. We're looking to get feedback and suggestions on what you love (and hate!) to see in escape games, and what you think would make a JayisGames themed escape perfect. We'll take your ideas and suggestions (and give credit where credit is due, of course!) and approach a talented escape developer to craft it for us... maybe you even have your fingers crossed for it to be someone specific?

We're looking to make a JayisGames Escape with fans, for fans, so sound off in the comments and help us brainstorm the very best escape game we can!


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Rating: 4.2/5 (75 votes)
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Cat Ninja

DoraRichman Stewart's Cat Ninja is one of those weird high-difficulty action games that walks the line between too-cute-to-quit and "I WILL END YOU". As a cat on a quest to save the world by collecting crystals, you have your work cut out for you in a hostile realm full of lasers, land mines, spikes, sticky goo, and more... not to mention one of those trendy sassy narrators who mocks you when you fail. Initially, all you've got are your paws and claws for the basics... the [arrow] keys make you run and jump, with double-jump, wall-jumping, a mighty Mario-esque butt stomp to break glass and press switches, and a fast rolling ability triggered by holding the down [arrow]. All cats have tricks up their sleeves, however, and this feline is no different. How about a jetpack? Switches that rotate the level around you? Switches that flip your gravity? If you should die by some unfortunate means, you'll be booted back to the start of the level or the last checkpoint you passed. You can also restart a stage with [R], and in either case, you'll get to keep any crystals you picked up beforehand.

Cat NinjaCat Ninja is one of those games best suited for players who delight in difficulty and misdirection. From the way it mocks you when you die, threatens you when you pause the game, and deliberately tries to get you killed, it's clear the game itself is working against you, and only fast action will keep you alive. The one-hit KO will be a turn-off for some, as will the sparse level design, but the way each stage is carefully crafted to test your increasing confidence with new objects keeps things fresh for fans of the challenge. Unfortunately, there are aspects of movement and mechanics that seem a little imprecise... you need to be dead-on in your butt-aim to trigger red buttons, for instance, which can take some fiddle maneuvering, but even then it doesn't always seem to register the first time. You'll need real split-second timing to get around some obstacles, especially in later levels, and it can feel like your feline hero slides just a hair too much when you stop moving at times. But with an enormous amount of challenging new objects and deadly hazards to keep you on your toes and some punishing level design to take advantage of them, Cat Ninja is still an oddly addictive and clever addition to the genre well worth checking out.

Play Cat Ninja

Thanks to Matt for sending this one in!


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Rating: 3.9/5 (27 votes)
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Urquel: Black Dragon

TrickyYou are Victor the Tenacious, bravest, strongest, and most intelligentest knight in the whole kingdom. You have been tasked with rescuing the fair Princess Sonia from the Black Dragon Urquel. Oh yeah, and you've let your faithful squire tag along for the ride too. Seriously though, he's not much of a squire: always solving puzzles and combining inventory items rather than smashing things gallantly. But hey, maybe he'll learn something... just as soon as you get across this moat. Urquel: The Black Dragon is a humorous piece of interactive fiction, designed in Twine by the most excellent David T. Marchand.

As with most Twine works, in each section you will be presented with a piece of text and one or more options to click to advance the story. As per usual, you may save or load the game by copying or pasting the URL of the current page. As will quickly become apparent, however, the twist is that while the narrator of the story is Victor the Tenacious, you are in fact choosing the actions of his faithful squire, actually doing most of the work. This leads to a hilarious disconnect, when the two are separated, and especially when the squire is considering perhaps being not-so-faithful after all. A few out-of-place swear words and some translation errors from the original Spanish version make for occasional annoyances, but overall, Urquel: The Black Dragon is short-but-funny interactive yarn that fans of fantasy humor like Discworld or Help the Hero will definitely want to venture through.

Play Urquel: The Black Dragon


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The Vault

Tricky As many of our faithful JiG readers know, we're presently concerned with making ends meet. (And if you don't know this, please read Dora's take on the situation and make your thoughts heard!) One of the more intriguing ideas to me is offering premium content for those who have donated to the site, as this would give me a paid captive audience for the "Untranslated Japanese Doki Doki Game Thursday Excitement!" and "JiG Presents: Tricky... After Hours" features that have been percolating in my head for years. For now, though, I satisfy myself with sharing some of my favorite puzzle, interactive art, and strategy titles from the JayIsGames archives.

Also, because I don't say it nearly often enough: thank you to JiG readers everywhere. It meant a lot when Jay first told me that he thought I was worth paying to write things on the internet for him, and it means a lot knowing that there are those of you out there who think so too and want to help keep this site going.

All right, enough sentimentality! Here are the games!

  • BustabrainBustabrain - The folks at NinjaDoodle might be best known for their contributions to the field of one-button ClickPlay-ing, but Bustabrain, the 2010 point-and-click puzzle, is just as fun. The chill kind of Brain Age and WarioWare mish-mash that Nintendo really should have created by now, Bustabrain is a gentler kind of puzzle game, meant to tickle the brain cells, rather than tax them. NinjaDoodle has always been adept at the kinds of games that put players in a good mood, so why not take the time to crack a few codes, solve a few rebuses, and move a few too many matchsticks?
  • MitozaMitoza - Gal Mamalya might be best known for his contributions to the field of Bamba Snack Quest-ing, but his 2011's Mitoza, shows that he needs not the crutch of Israeli peanut-butter puffs to put together a supremely entertaining piece of interactive art. From a tiny seed grows mighty awesomeness in many facets, some cute, some humorous, some disconcerting, some downright bizarre, but always interesting enough that players will find it difficult to keep themselves from cycling through each and every permutation.
  • EvacuationEvacuation - Bennet Foddy might be best known for his contributions to the field of QWOP-ing, GIRP-ing and CLOP-ing, but Evacuation, a strategy game he developed with Ryan Chisholm in 2008, is just as entertaining. The concept behind this game of opening doors to keep astronauts safe and alien monsters hurtling into the blackness of space has a real classic feel to it, like it was a remake of an EGA classic from the early nineties, rather than a new work from the late aughties. It's a game that requires you to have both luck and logic on your side, and that makes for an addictive combination.

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!


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Rating: 4/5 (86 votes)
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Spanthera

Starchild These days, projectile puzzles are a dime a dozen. But does any of them have a lion prince protagonist? Does any of them dare to use pop culture references from 300 and The Lion King? I think not. In Spanthera, we get to meet prince Leonidas as he goes on a heroic quest to rid his land of intruders led by the lizard equivalent of king Xerxes. Unlike the real Leonidas, the lion version fights almost all alone, with the help of his mighty spear. The goal in each level is to kill all the lizards without hurting the civilians. Move the mouse to set the height and power, click to launch the spear, shut your eyes tight and hope for the best. The thing to remember is that the spear will kill lizards only if it hits their head, but lions are more fragile and will die no matter where the spear gets them. Also, the spear appears to be very sharp indeed, so there's no need to chuck it with a lot of force; instead, focus on precision.

Spanthera When making a projectile puzzle, it's tempting to introduce as many elements as possible in order to keep the gameplay fresh. Spanthera, on the other hand, opted for simplicity and cleanliness, and ended up with a charming result. None of the thirty levels feels cluttered or complicated, and yet there is enough challenge and variety to hold your attention. A moving platform here and a subtle portal element there can go a long way if used properly. It's also worth noting the great production, from the awesome classical level architecture, to the impressive voice acting and fittingly epic music. Spanthera is a little game with big ambitions and it certainly manages to raise the bar a bit higher for games of its genre.

Play Spanthera


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Rating: 3.6/5 (89 votes)
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Fading Light

DoraCA Studios' Fading Light is a puzzle platformer that is both clever and atmospheric, if more than a little on the short side. Using the [arrow] keys to move and jump, it's up to you to figure out how to guide our lonely protagonist through each level, with only the illumination of their lantern to see you through. The in-game narration will often give you clues as to how to proceed, since the way forward isn't always as clear as the landscape might try to make you think. I misinterpreted a comment at the start of the game as snarky rather than sincere and had expected Fading Light to be a parody, but nothing could be further from the truth, which isn't a bad thing. It's mostly a personal sort of story about the things personal sort of games tend to be about, but the message behind it is positive and heartfelt, if told in a somewhat ambling way.

Fading LightFading Light's biggest problem is that it's actually also a "trapped in molasses" simulation, which is the only reason I can think of for how stupendously slowly the main character moves and jumps. Maybe the glacial pace adds to the dreamy atmosphere, but it mainly just feels tedious, and even a 30% increase would have been a big relief. While a few odd "puzzle" choices can leave you feeling confused and stuck due to some repetition or limited feedback, Fading Light is still easier than not, and does some creative things with its level design to get its point across. Wildly original? Not quite. Sweet, optimistic, and occasionally pretty neat? Absolutely. Don't expect it to last very long, but Fading Light is still a lovely little flicker of an idea about baggage and moving on.

Play Fading Light


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Mobile Monday

JohnBThe devils made us do it! They were there, they were cursing, the pipes were hot and cold, something about hitting up a casino. We finally managed to distract with a well-placed murder investigation. Nothing like a friendly interrogation to kill the time, right?

faif.gifFaif gambles with combat - New on the Android marketplace, Faif is one part combat, one part puzzle, and one part gambling sim, if you can believe it. The game takes place on a grid filled with combat tiles. Your job is to tap a series of tiles, then watch as one of them is randomly chosen. Depending on which one is picked, you might attack your opponent for a few hits, gain some health, or do serious damage. The game is still in early stages of development, but the visual style and odd premise show a lot of promise.

deathoffthe-p.gifDeath off the Cuff lives on iOS - Simon Christiansen's murder mystery interactive fiction first saw life back in 2010 in our Interactive Fiction Competition. A few years later the game was polished up and released for Android devices. Now, it's out on iOS, too! There's been a murder at the Seafront Hotel. Luckily, you're the famous detective Antoine Saint Germain! There's just one little problem: everybody's gathered for the obligatory "one of the people in this room is a murderer" monologue, but you have no idea who did it. Death off the Cuff That's really only a minor obstacle, though, since people do love talking about themselves, and surely someone can give something away.

devils-p.gifDevilish puzzles - Devils does some interesting things with a few simple mechanics. A puzzle game at its core, your job is to destroy the Red and Blue devils standing on the pipes above. You do this by applying heat and cold via extended touches on the screen, slowly angering and eventually destroying demons of the opposite temperature. Upgrades and missing pipe segments throw a few curve balls later in the game, but it remains one of those titles you'll keep playing out of sheer curiosity.


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Rating: 4.8/5 (313 votes)
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Sentry Knight

DoraSentry Knight is a defensive shooter like Elona Shooter, only almost aggressively adorable... and significantly shorter. As a lone knight with a bow and arrow in a tower, your job is to hold the line on each stage against the cuddly-wuddly invading forces of darkness. Our hero automatically fires his bow wherever the cursor is, so just use the mouse to aim and he'll take care of the rest. Destroying enemies grants gold to spend on upgrades at the blacksmith, but also experience points towards leveling up, which earns points you can spend on a variety of skills, enhancements, and even devastating spells. You can go back and replay levels to grind for more levels and gold... and you'll probably need to. Sentry Knight's main drawback, in fact, is that it's so short, and that means it feels like the difficulty spikes significantly at level three instead of maintaining a steady slope. The game has such a substantial amount of skills at its disposal, with three hefty skill/spell trees, that it would have been nice to have more time to use and unlock them, rather than feel like you were being forced to grind so quickly.

Sentry KnightWith about twice as many levels, Sentry Knight would be absolutely stellar instead of grindy, but good. The design is absolutely fantastic, sporting a wide variety of enemies and abilities, and the gameplay is perfect for casual breaks. If it were spread out a bit more and a bit more forgiving, even if simply by allowing you to keep gold and experience if you die, or relying a bit less on swarming you with tons of smaller enemies around one massively powerful one. I like Sentry Knight. Maybe not as much as I could, but I do. It's charming, simple, and addictive. If you don't have the patience for grinding, you're going to have to sigh and bid a tearful farewell with waving hanky on the docks of What Might Have Been, but if you like a challenge and repeatedly shooting things in the face for gold, this one might just be for you.

Play Sentry Knight


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Rating: 3.8/5 (118 votes)
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Dojo of Death

DoraNico Tuason's Dojo of Death is best described as a simplified arcade high score spin on Hotline Miami's unforgiving one-hit mutual KO... with ninjas. The game takes place on a single screen, in a single room, with a single objective... take down as many of the endlessly spawning enemies as you can before they take you down. It's less "Fruit Ninja" and more "OH GOD THERE'S RED EVERYWHERE Ninja". The character follows your mouse, and clicking will cause them to strike forward in a line for a short distance, slicing up anyone in their path.

It's a great idea, at least as far as simple arcade action goes, but it does feel almost more like a prototype than a full game. There just isn't enough variety to go around, and it seems like a few more locations with some boss battles and more baddies would really make this one shine. There's a ton of potential here, and the stylish pixellated presentation combined with the addictive mechanics of the gameplay makes Dojo of Death fun while it lasts, and one that deserves to be revisited in the future.

Play Dojo of Death


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Rating: 4.1/5 (64 votes)
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Pixel Escape

TrickyNote:Those with epilepsy should exercise caution.

Once upon a time, in the pixelated-town of Pixeltown, three pixels were pixelly pixelling out their pixel-dreams of not being consumed by an advancing glitch wall of doom, when suddenly, from the left of the screen came every pixel's worst nightmare: an advancing glitch wall of doom! With no time to waste, as the glitch wall corrupted and destroyed everything in it's path, the pixels took off running, and, dare I say, jumping. Fortunately, the pixels have the player and the player's omniscient drawing pencil to give a leg up when they need it, as they make their Pixel Escape. Pixel Escape is a jump-and-run platform game by Jonny and Eugene, where you'll strive to ensure no pixel is left behind.

Pixel EscapeThe line of pixels will automatically run to the right, sequentially jumping whenever the player hits the [spacebar], trying to outrun the glitch wall of doom and make it to the exit portal in each level. Pitfalls and obstacles will slow the pixels down if not avoided, letting the glitch wall catch up to them, and elements such as spikes and lava will kill a pixel outright. New pixels can be picked up by running into them, and they will join the line. The player can also assist by drawing bridges with the mouse. The amount of ink in the pixel-pen is limited, but regenerates over time. Get through all twenty levels, and find a place the pixels can live in peace. Pixel Escape is a fun mix of the speed associated with endless platformers in the Canabalt, and the fun level design of games like the original Sonic the Hedgehog, where replaying levels to find optimal paths through was half the fun. The bouncy retro graphics and goofy humor make each level a joy, even as that unyielding (and supremely distracting) glitch wall seriously raises the heart beats-per-minute. Admittedly, the addition of the bridge drawing mechanic was probably one element too many,as timing ones jumps properly is challenge enough without more on the screen to take note of. But even if Pixel Escape is overwhelming to the senses at times, it'll be hard to stop playing till you've gotten every one of those darn things to safety.

Play Pixel Escape


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Weekend Download

JohnBA savage in a savage land, a broken colony of bees, and a game that reminds you how terrible you are at games. Such a wild emotional ride could only be the result of a Weekend Download!

baddreamgraveyardBad Dream: Graveyard (Windows, free) - A short point and click game with a dark setting and morbid undertones. Move the cursor around to interact with objects, picking up items and storing them in your inventory for later use. Click the arrows to walk to different screens. The puzzles are pretty basic, but you'll agree that the artwork and atmosphere are really what makes this game a winner.

theartofdyingThe Art of Dying (Windows, free) - Dying is pretty commonplace in the virtual gaming worlds we often visit. The Art of Dying is a challenging platform game with six levels, a super hard mode, and a complete level editor to boot. Your job is to work your way through each stage, jumping and slashing things as you try to stay alive. You'll fail, of course, but since you'll do it so spectacularly, you really won't mind!

savageshardSavage: The Shard of Gosen (Windows, free alpha) - One part action, one part exploration, and one part RPG, the alpha version of Savage paints a cruel world filled with violence where one man's only hope for survival is to fight back. Explore the land as you take on roaming enemies and nab upgrades and pieces of equipment, much like in the classic Zelda II. Savage is still early in its development and some really great things are planned for the future, but this demo proves it's already got a lot going for it!


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Rating: 3.7/5 (43 votes)
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Find the Escape-Men 78: Heavy Snow

DoraBaby it's cold outside... no, I mean like really really cold! In no1game's Find the Escape-Men 78: Heavy Snow, you might actually want to rethink the whole "escape the room" thing because it's snowing so hard that you've been literally entombed! Why don't you just stay in here with your Vash the Stampede poster and your empty fridge and your one channel and your blocked website and okay you know what, this place sucks. Let's click around to gather items, solve puzzles, and find a way out! You can click the question mark next to an item in your inventory to also get a close-up, which can let you manipulate certain objects in some cases. Like every game in this long-lived series, ten little green men are also hiding throughout your tiny apartment, and you'll need to find all of them to win.

Like the rest of the Escape-Men series, Heavy Snow is on the short side, but it's intended to be a short bite of comfort food rather than a whole meal. Some of the puzzles can require some rather fussy ordering that can make you think you're on the wrong track when you really just haven't followed along the game's precise checklist yet. More than anything it's cute, with a few clever item puzzles and a sense of humour about itself in general, and as long as you remember to look under and around everything you should conquer this one in no time at all. And then go back to bed, because snow is for suckas. And yes, having said that, I will surrender my Canada Card on the morrow.

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JayisGames, Ads, The Future, and You

DoraLast year, JayisGames.com celebrated its tenth anniversary. For a site that began as one person's personal blog to have turned into what it is today and survive that long, well... that's kind of amazing. But we're in trouble, because as adblockers become more and more common, it's getting harder and harder to make ends meet... and not take a loss. Please take the time to read this post about how we make our money, where it goes, why we have a problem, and why we want your help deciding what to do about it... (click the link to read more)


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Rating: 4/5 (49 votes)
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Dead Underground

KimberlyThe apocalypse has come in the form of hostile zombie takeover (no big surprise there, am I right?). A few survivors have taken to the subway tunnels in an effort to survive. Okay, the premise may not be so original, but that's the basis of the work in progress strategy game Dead Underground, from Smudged Cat Games.

Dead UndergroundThe characters available for you to control are on the left, who are also represented on the map by green dots. Click to choose a survivor, and the corresponding dot will turn red (or vice-versa). Right click or [shift] click to select a location for the survivor to travel to. You can pause the game anytime by pressing the [space bar], which allows you to freeze time while you send all the characters on their way. You start with one base camp, indicated by the glowing blue circle around the station. Whenever any characters are here, they heal up and perform research. You can control what to focus research on with the sliding scale in the bottom right of the screen. Choose between faster movement, creating napalm, and finding a cure. While a weapon and running are useful, keep in mind that you have to fully research the cure to win the game. Keep a character in a station for a long enough period of time, and she will start to set up another camp for healing and research.

Events are what drive the game, and they happen frequently. Blue events are helpful to you, as they are most often items for you to retrieve. Guns increase attack power, shoes increase movement speed, glasses increase research speed, and a cross turns a survivor into a healer. Sometimes another survivor is found and you'll need to send someone to rescue him. A green skull means a zombie infestation. Zombies start in one station and if you don't send your defenses in time, they slowly shamble down the tunnel until another station is infected, thus making them harder to contain. The more people you send, the faster they will be defeated, and while it's imperative to rid yourself of these attacks as soon as possible, keep an eye on the health of your survivors. If they all die, it's game over.

Though still under development, Dead Underground is a very enjoyable gaming experience. Hopefully we'll see improvements in the near future, such as different difficulty levels, or more specific ways to level up your characters. If you're feeling a need to save humanity today, Dead Underground is the perfect way to satisfy that craving.

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Link Dump Fridays

DoraSo I said to myself, "Self, what makes a Link Dump Friday?" And I said, "Why, energy and creativity and warmth and humour, of course." But I don't have any of that because it's been a looooong week, so have some man-on-squid violence, instant death, sonic screwdrivers, and artist enslavement instead.

  • Doctor Who: Brilliant GameDoctor Who: Brilliant Game - Doctor Who, Doctor Who, friendly time-and-space Doctor Who! Point-and-click, proof of concept, alpha by Alexis Foletto, and Caroline Vic, this isn't the theme song to Doctor Who BUT I do whatever I WANT, play this and pass time for new Doctor Whooooooo!... in the TAAAAAAAARDIS, through all timey-wimey, Donna was THEEEE best, and OW, okay, okay, I'll stop.
  • WalkersWalkers - Rebelde's "CLICK NOW DUMMY NOW NOW oh sorry not fast enough try again" game could also be called "Sliders" since that's unfortunately what the movement feels like, but it's still a cool concept. Your handsome blocky avatar has both a white and a black side, and neither can touch terrain of the opposite colour, so you've got to jump and dodge in the nick of time to avoid being obliterated, using ramps in the terrain to flip yourself over. Neat!
  • Painter's Guild (Alpha)Painter's Guild (Alpha) - Leonard who? Nobody yet! Lucas Molina knows even the greats have to start somewhere, and when it comes to history's most celebrated artists, that somewhere is your fledgeling guild, where you train them up and sell their paintings. It's your very own Renaissance sweatshop! Look for a full version with more artists and a sandbox mode later, and check it out on Greenlight.
  • Chicken ChaserChicken Chaser - Eran Shabi apparently had a vastly different experience raising chickens growing up than I did, since I remember a lot less "chasing down and rescuing the birds from an evil race of anthropomorphic squid by laying a severe beatdown" and a lot more running around the backyard pretending I was trying to reach a distant heart piece in a Zelda game. It's cute, simple, and excessively violent. Sort of like actual chickens.

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Joe Danger Infinity

JohnBLet's get dangerous! Fresh out the door from Hello Games, Joe Danger Infinity is a follow-up to the 2013 arcade game Joe Danger Touch. Holding the esteemed title of World's Most Determined Motorbike Stuntman, Joe finds himself shrunk down and racing through a series of tiny worlds packed with things to jump over, duck under, crash through and pick up. With a extra helping of collectibles to unlock, Joe Danger Infinity distills the formula presented by its predecessor into a still finer example of arcade racing bliss.

Joe Danger InfinityThe basics of Joe Danger Infinity are as such: get to the finish line in one piece! Joe rides his stunt bike from left to right and you control leaps, ducks, double jumps and more by simply tapping on the screen. On your way to the goal you'll try to collect every single coin, hit every jump at just the right time, and rustle up some of the bonus items that are floating around. It's a very simple concept that Hello Games expands upon across 100 levels of fast action and tense moves.

Beyond the basic motivation of unlocking new levels to race through, Joe Danger also features a scoring system that encourages repeated playthroughs as you aim for a perfect run. This includes gathering gumball tokens to play a dangerously addictive micro-game diversion, picking up letters to spell DANGER, and nabbing coins that float in mid air or are fired from cannons. You have to watch the whole screen, not just Joe, which creates this wonderful tension between keeping your eye on the prizes and making it to the finish line without crashing. Your reward, though, could be a new vehicle or one of the game's many unlockable playable characters!

Joe Danger Infinity is wild amounts of fun, there's just no other way to put it. It's obviously a labor a love, and the utter joy the development team put into the experience oozes out of every animation and every stunt loop. We thought Joe Danger Touch could have been the best arcade racer on the mobile market. Now that Joe Danger Infinity is here, we're going to amend that statement so the new release can sit in the spotlight it deserves.

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.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (78 votes)
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Twisted Adventures: Little Red Riding Hood

Starchild Ever thought that regular fairy tales aren't scary enough? We've all heard about the big bad wolf tricking a little girl and then swallowing her grandma, so that's old news. Which is why Cerebral Games went for a more Tim Burton-esque version, where the forest is full of thorns, huge spiders lurk in the dark and fluffy bunnies are locked in cages. Their Twisted Adventures: Little Red Riding Hood is a two parts spooky, one part sweet one-button puzzle platformer in which our young protagonist jumps around spinning globes in hopes of reaching her grandmother's house. To make Lil' Red Hoodie jump around, simply click when the arrow is pointing in the desired direction. The goal is to reach the farthest globe to the right, while collecting flowers, apples and bunnies. There are three apples to find and one fluffball to free in every level, and twelve levels in each of the three worlds (or five in the mobile version). To unlock the second and third world, you'll need a certain number of apples and rabbits.

Twisted Adventures: Little Red Riding HoodThe jump mechanics are good enough, though they can be surprising at times: the jumps sometimes feel a bit too short, and it's easy enough to misdirect the little girl, sending her straight into the abyss. Luckily, the first world doesn't introduce too many obstacles early on, so there is time to get the feel for the physics. The difficulty doesn't follow a curve, and it can almost seem like the levels are in a random order, but this doesn't take away from the game's appeal. Rather, the difficulty is often up to you and whether you're really determined to collect every single flower. But even if you happen to find the game too hard, you'll want to keep playing, because it's so utterly enchanting. The delicate, yet eerie visual design goes hand in hand with the music-box soundtrack and makes for a perfect environment for this type of gameplay. And this is only the first installment of what will hopefully be a full series, so we can expect to continue our critter-liberating journey through the woods. Freedom for the bunnies!

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Rating: 3.4/5 (27 votes)
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CUBICSPACE

ArtbegottiA long time ago, in a galaxy far away, some jerk dad cut off his son's hand. Elsewhere in the universe, spaceships of dice are getting ready for some star battles of their own. In CUBICSPACE, a dice-based game of strategy and chance by Adam Atomic (Canabalt, Gravity Hook), you've got to survive six levels of deadly dice determined to destroy your ship. In each level you'll find eight "foe" red dice, plus four "laser" blue dice and four "shield" green dice, but how you handle each roll of the dice will determine your fate.

CUBICSPACECUBICSPACE essentially plays like a dice-based version of the old card game War, where higher numbers beat out smaller numbers. Four of the sixteen dice will be randomly selected, rolled, and displayed above your ship. If you select a laser or shield die, it will be added to your ship's stockpile (maximum of six). When you select a foe die, you'll then have to choose whether your lasers or shields will take a hit from the foe. If you use your shields, the number on the foe's die will be deducted from it, but using your lasers fires your entire supply at once. If the foe die's value is greater than whatever defense you choose, you'll reduce the foe die's value by that amount, but you'll still have to finish it off by another means. If you get an unfavorable roll, your first move can be to click the orange die to reroll everything, selecting a new hand of four dice to face off against.

Surviving four salvos of four dice will move you to the next level, where the process repeats. The levels never get harder or easier, but without a strategy in mind, you might bleed yourself dry of resources before you realize it. Once you get the hang of the game, you might beat the game fairly easily, but there's still a challenge in getting a higher score. While playing, you also have the option of sacrificing three shields and three lasers at any time to give yourself a point, which acts as a multiplier at the end of the game, but you have to decide whether it's better to that or perhaps overstock on shields or lasers, which gives you a bonus reroll. Sadly, there's no online scoreboard for comparing your high scores with other players as of yet, but the quick and compelling nature of CUBICSPACE gives you plenty of motivation to keep trying to top yourself in astronomical combat.

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Ossuary

DoraFuture Proof Games (Gregory and Melissa Avery-Weir) serves up a singularly surreal and unsettling indie adventure with Ossuary, a game of sins, lies, truths, coins, and... cabbages? Thrown unceremoniously into the dark and unsettling realm the locals charmingly refer to as the Place of Bones, you find the Reliquary closed and guarded by four members of an Order, each of whom claims they know the real way to fix everything wrong with the world and want you to bring them the four different things hidden in nearby areas... for the good of all, of course. Words of great meaning, secrets keep hidden, places of power, treasures of worth and more, each guarded by unique and eccentric groups of people who are all caught up in their own motives and designs.

OssuaryMechanically, the game is pretty simple. You move with the [arrow] keys, talk or select options with [X], and open your menu with [C]. Everyone wants something in this strange new world, and if you ever want to find your way into the Reliquary, you're going to be the one to get it for them. Mostly, this involves trekking back and forth between characters when you're given a task, but you've got another tool at your disposal... sins, which you can be "corrupted" with by talking to various people who embody them, and thus enable you to corrupt others. A sin can be used from the [C] menu, and activating it inflicts that sin on whoever you're standing close to. Using Wrath, for instance, will infuse a character with rage, which can simply cause them to rant angrily and reveal their true feelings, or maybe spur them into an action that benefits you.

OssuaryAnalysis: To say that Ossuary is initially a disorienting experience is sort of understating it, but at the same time, it's also an immediately intriguing one. With its strange locals and stranger locales, Ossuary has a surreal, dreamlike feel to it, with the ambient sounds and overall look and feel adding to a sense of unease. You're not given much direction, so you're left to wander and explore on your own, which is, for the most part, part of the appeal of the game. The narrative weaves concepts like questioning authority, censorship, and more into the seemingly innocuous conversations you have with everyone, making you want to chase down and talk to everyone multiple times with each sin. On the other hand, some of the directions you're given to complete certain tasks can be frustratingly vague, and some obnoxious reflex-based events feel out of place in the game's otherwise slow and thoughtful atmosphere. Oh, were you enjoying driving warped spirits to distraction for your own ends by manipulating them with feelings and desires? Well CLICK NOW BEFORE YOU EXPLODE INTO RED CHUNKS oh sorry, too slow, try again. Admittedly, the game is very forgiving in letting you try until you succeed, but it still rankles.

Most of the gameplay is simply talking to people and exhausting all your dialogue options, which would be a smoother experience if choosing any one option in any given conversation didn't boot you out and force you to start the entire dialogue over again to choose something different, something that gets tedious when dealing with more than one text branch. Puzzles tend to primarily come down to figuring out what combination of sins to use on people, but there are also a few that require you to pay close attention to your surroundings to solve. It all makes for a strange sort of adventure game, one I felt alternatively captivated by, and needed to take a break from, but the lack of an in-game journal to help you remember who you've spoken to and what you're doing can make that harder than it should be. The game is based on Discordianism, which leaves it feeling sort of like Alice in Wonderland by way of V for Vendetta, and it leaves you feeling like you're scratching at the tip of an enormous iceberg with its own mythology and rules. It's best suited for players who like a narrative that's a challenge, who embrace exploration and discovery, and thankfully the standalone demo/prologue/companion piece The Hodge/Podge Transformer will give you a taste of what the full game is like. Ossuary is creepy and captivating in its own way if you love a good psychological/philosophical yarn, and well worth checking out.

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Rating: 4/5 (31 votes)
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Ossuary: The Hodge/Podge Transformer

DoraGregory and Melissa Avery-Weir of Future Proof Games bring us a surreal adventure game in Ossuary: The Hodge/Podge Transformer, a demo/prologue/standalone/I'm-still-confused/companion piece to their commercial indie title Ossuary. What's it about? Well, it's... it's, uh... well, here. You wake up in a locked room with a panicked fellow who's terrified of going outside and dealing with the people there, but everyone out there seems to exist just fine... even if they have strange ideas of what reality is, or how it works. They say there's been a Tilt, and you're there because you asked a question... but was it the wrong question, or the wrong answer? And what does that have to do with everything? Just use the [arrow] keys to move and [X] to interact and find out for yourself.

Ossuary: The Hodge/Podge TransformerAs creepy and weird as The Hodge/Podge Transformer is, it isn't, strictly speaking, a horror game. That would require it to be scary instead of merely unsettling or strange, and it's best taken as a philosophical, psychological adventure. Designed as a lead in to the full game, the gameplay here is mostly just... talking to people. It's extremely dialogue-heavy, and all you ever need to do is figure out what to say next, which isn't hard since picking the wrong choice just means you initiate your friendly chat again. There are a few simple logic puzzles, but the focus here is mostly on setting up the narrative, which can definitely take some doing to wrap your head around. Ossuary is based on Discordianism, and the cast of characters you'll meet all initially seem crazy as a result... but make a weird sort of sense in their own way once you start thinking about it. The Hodge/Podge Transformer is on the short side, but its text-heavy, initially baffling story is one that isn't for everyone, nor is it trying to be. It's mystifying, otherworldly, and not just a little creepy, and for some of us those are very good things indeed, so dip a toe into The Hodge/Podge Transformer and see if you want to keep on continuing through to the Ossuary.

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Rating: 3.8/5 (41 votes)
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Zombinsanity

DoraJimp and Jay Armstrong activate their Wonder Twin powers for Zombinsanity, which means this is one zombie game that's as adorable as it is hectic. You've just been awoken from cryogenic sleep to be informed that your space station is under attack, and you're the only one to fend off the apparently endless wave of zombie bats, blasters, doctors, chuckers, and much, much more. Use [WASD] to move and jump, and the mouse to aim and shoot, holding [E] to open your weapon selection wheel, and [spacebar] to interact with certain objects. You'll move from room to room in the station, fending off a wave of monsters in each one, and zombies will drop everything from ammo to cash to spend on new items when you kill them. If you're lucky, you can find survivors (or spend cash to clone them) that you can either assign to specific stations to generate power-ups, or just help mow down the oncoming horde. Just remember to keep moving, since when you die, it's permanent... you may keep your weapons and upgrades (not money), but you'll have to start over from the very beginning. Fortunately, you'll earn experience points based on how long you survived, and leveling up grants upgrade tokens to permanently increase your statistics.

ZombinsanityZombinsanity is one of those games where the key to success is never to stay still, since zombies only deal damage if their attack connects rather than if you touch them. The same holds true for your survivor friends, since assigning them to a stationary point basically feels like a death sentence since they won't move even if they have eight zombies attached to their arms and face. Survivors in general don't feel as useful as they could or should, largely because they don't react fast enough to move around and stay alive like you can, basically rendering them meat shields and little else. Likewise, the barriers just don't feel worth maintaining when pinging around the stage like a bat on a sugar rush will get you faster, safer results after an upgrade point into a weapon or two.

Still, while not everyone will like the perma-death and repetitive nature of the gameplay, there's something distinctly charming about its creative zombie design and simple run-and-gun arena shooter-ish action. It's all very pell-mell chaotic, and since all weapons share the same type of ammo apart from your infinite pistol, it feels very streamlined. It might not offer enough variety to keep you at it long term, but if you're looking for the rapid-fire blasting of an arena shooter with some randomised flair, Zombinsanity is worth the bite it'll take out of your break. Hopefully, it's something we see expanded on in the future, since with objectives and more variety, it could be a serious contender.

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Detective Grimoire: Secret of the Swamp

DoraWay back in 2007, when dinosaurs walked the land, Super Flash Bros proved murder can be fun (well, for us) when they released Detective Grimoire, a point-and-click mystery adventure. Now, nearly seven years later, our scruffy, sassy investigator is back for his strangest case yet in Detective Grimoire: Secret of the Swamp, available for iOS and Android in addition to PC, Mac, and Linux. This time he's investigating a murder at a strange tourist attraction called Boggy's Bog, deep in a swamp said to be home to a mysterious alien creature. Sounds like poppycock? Maybe. But whether truth is stranger than fiction, you can be sure to have a fantastic time with this gorgeous, funny adventure.

Detective Grimoire: Secret of the SwampDetective Grimoire plays like your standard adventure game. All you need to do is click to interact, and tap the walk icon in the bottom right corner to swap between movement and investigating. The game's default mode will highlight interactive areas with a flicker, and you can turn this on and off in the options. In the upper-right corner, you'll find your case notes, which keeps track of all the suspects you meet and clues you uncover... so make sure you click on anything that looks suspicious or out of place. Early on, you'll get a helpful map in the upper-left corner that can take you to any location you've already discovered with a single click.

Detective Grimoire: Secret of the SwampThough much of the game revolves around clicking around and solving puzzles, you'll do a fair amount of talking to and interrogating suspects, which involves asking questions and showing the clues you've found, and getting Grimoire's thoughts in order by connecting thoughts and ideas to make a helpful statement that could unlock more options. Each character, you'll quickly find, has something to hide, and by collecting information you can unlock a special challenge topic for them that can help you get to the truth. During challenges, you'll have to pick the correct choices based on information you've gathered to catch them in lies, or even just solve puzzles to find more clues.

Detective Grimoire: Secret of the SwampAnalysis: With its expressive characters and distinctive design, Detective Grimoire might be one of the most gorgeous and effortlessly charming adventure games in quite some time. The artwork is full of character, and the animations (both those in conversations and cutscenes) are fluidly done, all held up by some truly impressive voice acting all around. Grimoire at one point makes a joking Professor Layton reference, but really the game is much closer to the Phoenix Wright series with its investigative playstyle and eccentric characters. Much of the game is simply talking to people, going back and forth to shove new pieces of evidence and whatnot under their noses to see what they say, so the story is really the meat and potatoes of the entire experience. Fortunately, it's a story filled with twists and turns and a quirky cast... not to mention some of the most unique, lovely art I've seen in quite some time.

The downside? On the whole, the challenge level is set pretty low, and the whole thing will be over too soon for most players. Detective Grimoire has the sort of gorgeously immersive design and engaging writing that makes it extremely easy to sink into, and it feels like you're just really getting invested in everything and everyone before it's over. You'll never really feel like the game offers any real difficulty, and it would have been nice to really have to stretch our brains a little. A lot of the "puzzles" are so simple and easy they almost feel like afterthoughts. It makes for the sort of game you'll set an afternoon aside for, and its unique presentation and stunning production values make it stand head and shoulders above games that might be longer or harder. Though chances are you'll find it over too soon, you'll love the time you spend with this beautifully styled and charisma-packed adventure. Let's just hope we don't have to wait quite so long for the next one!

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  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (67 votes)
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Shop Empire 2

DoraToday, a shopping strip with a Dollar Store and a nail salon... tomorrow, the world! Literally, because in Little Giant World's adorable sim game Shop Empire 2, the only thing itty-bitty are the graphics as you work to build a consumer empire that spans the globe. In each country, you'll be able to build the mall of... well, not your dreams, since what puts money in your pockets is what the customer wants. Book stores, salons, pharmacies, groceries, even entertainment halls to hold exciting events and more can all be built if you have the cash... and the additional dough to hire the staff to run and maintain them. Just make sure you have the facilities you need to handle celebrity customers... and the staff to take down prowlers! Because apparently 80% of, like, any given country's populace turns to a life of crime when the lights go out. Seriously. People are jerks.

Shop Empire 2The game's tutorial assistant will walk you through the basics, but once you familiarize yourself with the game's menus, everything is pretty simple. Build things with the money you have, and keep your customers happy to earn more. Your store runs on a standard 24-hour schedule, with customers and most staff appearing during the day unless you tell them otherwise by changing their hours, and the shops closed at night... during which you'll want to make sure you have security employed to keep an eye out for shady burglars! If time is passing too slowly for you, you can use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to speed it up a few times. Both your staff and your shops can be upgraded to increase various stats and effectiveness, though while your stores can be upgrade anytime with enough cash, your staff needs to have their experience meter full before you can promote them. Complete all the missions for each country to unlock a new one to play in, and new things to build. You can even transfer funds between malls!

Shop Empire 2 feels a lot like Kairosoft's Mega Mall Story in the way you build and play, even down to the random celebrity shoppers with the goofy parody names. It's a gorgeous little game with its detailed environments, and there's something undeniably addictive about its simple yet charming approach to casual simulation. On the other hand, it does feel like it's missing something to keep it from getting repetitive after a while, with grinding through days for cash taking up the majority of the gameplay. (Fortunately, the game doesn't autopause, so if you're lazy or, say, need to write a review while you play, you can let it run in another tab or window while you do something else.) As a result, it's a cute, fun game, but potentially a bit too simple for some players, or even a bit too clunky with its multitude of menus and the way the tutorial glosses over some of the finer points you'll need to figure out for yourself. But with upgrades, new shops and new locations, and achievements galore, if Shop Empire 2 gets its hooks into you, you'll be feverishly sweating over your profits and dirty toilets for a long, long time. Uh... it's... more appealing than I just made that sound. Trust me.

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Rating: 3.9/5 (112 votes)
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Escape from the Strange Library

DoraHottategoya's Escape from the Strange Library is a sort of unintentionally creepy escape game as you navigate a series of silent, disorienting hallways and rooms that all look mostly alike, half expecting to encounter one of Mr King's Library Policemen or maybe even The Quiet Librarian whenever you turn around. Instead, however, all you'll find are puzzles (three to be exact) and some potentially mystifying navigation as you click your way around... though thoughtfully there is a map to be found that can help with the basics. You'll need three keys to find your way out, and though it feels like more could have been done with the setting and environment to integrate it into the puzzles in a more interesting or creative fashion, Escape from the Strange Library is still a nice light snack for escapery aficionados to start your day off right.

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The Vault

TrickyThe weather outside has insured that today is one of those days where I'll open the door, take a single tentative step, survey the situation, and decide "NOPE!" and retreat back inside to where there are things like fire places and casual games. So let's stay inside the cozy confines of The Vault with a few physics, interactive art, and puzzle games from the JayIsGames archives, until the outside decides to add a few colors other than snowy white to its palette.

  • SplitterSplitter - I must admit, if I were granted the power to cleave things in twain, merely by drawing my finger over it, I'd probably be misusing that power like nobody's business. It's a good thing, then, that Splitter, a 2008 physics puzzler from Eugene Karataev, exists only in the realm within my computer screen, no matter how top-notch the presentation, or how cool it is to see time reverse when you hit the reset button. It's the start of a wonderful series of Splitter games, and great way to whittle away the hours without actually whittling.
  • The End of UsThe End Of Us - No, this isn't the one about the guy and the girl and the zombies and "who are the real monsters?" This is the 2011 piece of interactive art by OneMrBean and Chelsea Howe about meteors laughing and crashing and playing together! Of course, any anthropomorphism is up to the player to decode, as The End of Us has no dialogue or explicit goals in its unique narrative. Some would probably say it's not a game at all. I don't care, though. It's lovely.
  • Warp ForestWarp Forest - Getting exactly the right mix of puzzle and action elements in a browser game can be as difficult as getting the right ratio of Nesquik to milk in your hot chocolate, but Arseniy Shklyaev has always managed it with aplomb. Case in point: 2006's Warp Forest. Like in many of Shklyaev's works, the joy comes from how a series of simple puzzling elements can come together to form amazing complex and satisfying challenges as you get deeper and deeper in the game. And, of course, how you are driving a laser car to fight explode dragons in a magical forest. Let's not discount 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!


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Hoplite

JohnBEver wanted a strategy game that was just complex enough to be interesting but straightforward enough to play on a coffee break? Hoplite has you covered. The casual strategy/roguelike game from Magma Fortress is built around turn-based movement on a hexagonal grid. Using just a few basic pieces of equipment, you'll venture through randomly generated worlds as you quest for epic loot ripped from the pages of Greek mythology. All without having to memorize an instruction manual beforehand!

A snappy tutorial introduces you to the basics of Hoplite in less than two minutes. Your goal for each level is to make it to the exit unscathed. You do this by attacking enemies using melee hits or a spear toss, shoving enemies back with your shield, and leaping over obstacles with your sandals. Everything has an energy limit set up, forcing you to conserve moves and play a careful game of cat and mouse with your foes. Do you go for the upgrade-granting altar, do you attack that wizard, or do you just hit the exit as quickly as you can? Take your time and think, this isn't a game about rash decisions!

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.


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Rating: 3.9/5 (37 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (148)

Civilizations Wars 2: Prime

DoraLook, strategy is serious business... unless we're talking about Cave of Wonders's adorable and goofy Civilizations Wars 2: Prime, another chapter of Civilizations Wars, only this time with 100% more giant frogs, aliens, magic, and... absconding with the buxom princesses to force her to marry you? Uh... Oh dear. Even if you didn't play the original game, chances are the gameplay mechanics will be fairly familiar to you since we've seen them done before. In each level, you begin with structures that slowly generate soldiers over time, represented by a number overhead each one, and when you click and drag from one building to another, half of those soldiers will go to the place you release the mouse on. If that place is an enemy controlled spot and the number of your invading soldiers is higher than that of the number of foes stationed there, you'll take the structure over, and it too will begin generating more soldiers for you. The goal in each stage is to rout all enemies from the map, and to help, you can cast a few devastating magic spells provided you have the crystals to power them. Simple, right?

Civilizations Wars 2: PrimeAs important to your numbers, however, are towers. Some towers might attack enemies that come near, and fire faster depending on how many soldiers you have stationed within. Other towers might actually upgrade every member of your army that passes through into a stronger unit. Additionally, depending on how well you do in a stage, you'll earn experience towards leveling up, which grants you points you can spend in everything from increasing your basic abilities to spells and more. You can even replay stages with higher difficulty or various handicaps such as no magic or super-powered enemies to increase the experience payout. The series has always been the sort of game that starts off a simple matter of swamping dudes with even more dudes than the other dude (if you'll permit me to get technical), but it can get easy to find yourself swarmed by angry rats and elephant riding warlords if you don't move and think quickly.

The opening cinematic should tell you right off that Civilizations Wars 2: Prime is considerably more tongue-in-cheek than the original game, complete with cute end-of-level animations, though visually it looks more or less the same once you're actually playing it. In fact, it more or less feels the same as well, which is a good thing if you love the series' casual approach to real-time strategy, but also potentially a bad thing if you like to see significant evolution between game installments to stave off that sense of "been there, done that". As it stands, it's still a colourful, quirky game with addictive pigpile style warfare and more of the gameplay fans loved.

Play Civilizations Wars 2: Prime


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Mobile Monday

JohnBSince everyone's already gone calender shopping for the new year (you remember printed calendars, right?), settle down and have a peek at some upcoming and newly released mobile games on the market.

lyne-p.gifLYNE goes mobile - The zen-style puzzle game LYNE from Thomas Bowker has crossed from the browser world over to iOS and Android! The simple but challenging release asks you to do one simple thing: connect shapes of the same color together by drawing lines between them. Lines can't cross, however, which creates some extremely tricky situations. A fantastic puzzle game that works extremely well on touch screens.

stealthinc.gifStealth by any other name - Not too long ago, a little indie game came to PC called Stealth Bastard. It was built around doing quick runs through shadowy, robot-infested, super-secure corridors and rooms without getting seen. Now the game has been retooled and released for iOS devices as Stealth Inc., featuring all of the gameplay and most of the features from the downloadable version packed into a tidy mobile app.

inexistence-p.gifInexistence will exist - Inspired by the likes of Castlevania, Metroid and Mega Man, the action platform RPG Inexistence is currently in development and will be heading to Android (and PC) in the summer of 2014. One quick glance at the screenshots and trailer should be all it takes to get your interest sufficiently drummed up. Kill enemies, gain experience, learn new abilities, use said abilities to access new parts of the world. Hard to go wrong with that classic metroidvania formula.


  • Currently 4.6/5
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Rating: 4.6/5 (38 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (169)

Treasure Maps

HopefulNebula Yarr, me hearties, it's time for a game about pirates! These aren't just your garden-variety scurvy dogs, either. The pirates of Treasure Maps love two things: logic puzzles and treasure chests. Treasure Maps is Twisted Mirror's sequel to Alberi, but with an improved interface, 350 more levels, and a charmingly piratical aesthetic. Like its predecessor, it combines sudoku and picross, only instead of planting trees, you're finding buried treasure on an island.

Treasure Maps You start with a grid divided into colored zones. Tap any square to mark it as empty, and tap again to mark it as containing treasure. There are only three rules about placing chests. One: Only one treasure chest in every colored zone. Two: Only one treasure per row or column. Three: No chest can be immediately adjacent to another, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. There are double levels where there are two chests per row, column, and zone, but they still can't touch each other. (No self-respecting pirate would bury two treasure chests right next to each other.) Although all of the puzzles can be solved using only logic, the button on the lower right of the screen allows you to make guesses without risking your progress.

Treasure Maps balances its elements quite well. The pirate-ness doesn't overwhelm the simplicity of the game itself, and the huge number of levels ensures you'll never encounter a bottleneck. Don't be alarmed by the presence of microtransactions, either: you get forty levels for free, and if you want to play more, you have the option to only buy levels that are the difficulty you want. All of these put together make a game that's challenging to play and fulfilling to solve. And in the end, isn't that the real treasure here? (Well, maybe the opportunity to make endless pirate jokes is. It's hard to tell.)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the LG Optimus L9. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (82 votes)
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The Great Bazooki

DoraFlash Chaz and Marsh Games serve up their own adorable, quirky spin on some Bloons-style projectile puzzles with The Great Bazooki, a balloon-bursting game where you play a flashy magician whose claim to fame is some truly stupendous card throwing. Your job is to impress your discerning clientele by popping all the balloons on each stage with a limited number of cards... just click to throw and use the projected path as a guide to help aim. As the stages get more elaborate (what's a magic show without whirling saw blades?), you'll have to teleport around the stage to get the best angle, as well as master your timing to see your cards don't get burnt, sliced, or otherwise destroyed before you have a chance to finish your show.

The Great BazookiDon't let the first few stages fool you. Though The Great Bazooki initially seems almost too Bloons-y, before long the game begins introducing a multitude of new magical elements to keep things fresh. How about magic teleporting hats, complete with pesky rabbits? Locked chests with floating keys? Fans, rings of fire, guillotines, and more? Whisk all that up with a gorgeously charming cartoon style and a silly sense of humour, and you have a simple yet fun game that brings a fresh new look and feel to a familiar concept. It's a shame the game loses the storytelling aspect for the most part after the beginning since it would have been the cherry on top. As it is, though it doesn't really shake up the formula it draws from enough to be groundbreaking, it is a fun challenge, and one with a lovely style to boot.

Play The Great Bazooki


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Weekend Download

JohnBGames, like chocolate glazed donuts, don't just appear in the world fully formed and ready to be devoured. They have to be crafted one ingredient at a time, working their way from concept to prototype to playable alpha and eventually full release. This week's games are all early versions of games that are still baking in the oven. Not that you actually bake donuts or games, but you get the picture.

Into the UnderduskInto the Underdusk (Windows, free) - Action platforming is at its best when blended with open-ended exploration. Into the Underdusk takes the Knytt style of gameplay and sends you on a quest to explore a stagnant land whose people have mysteriously vanished. Only one person remains, and he'll have to deal with all sorts of traps, creatures and jumping puzzles in order to find his lost amulet. A quiet and thoughtful game with plenty of room to grow.

Sewer KingSewer King (Windows, free) - An early alpha release, the Sewer King experience is similar to Spelunky in that you search randomly generated worlds in search of treasure. Grab stones and simple items to toss at enemies, build ladders to move around the map, and spend coins you've gathered for better equipment. It's a pretty basic game so far, but it's still in development and shows some promise. Besides, who doesn't want to explore a sewer for treasure?

Fantasy DungeonFantasy Dungeon (Windows, free) - Taking second place in the Trials of Oryx roguelike competition, Fantasy Dungeon works stretches of dungeon crawling into RPG-style turn-based battles, creating a very tense atmosphere. Pick your party, explore the environment, then engage in fights where you'll cast spells, steal magic, defend against attacks and just generally try to hold your ground against some very difficult foes.


  • Currently 3.5/5
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Rating: 3.5/5 (31 votes)
| Comments (7) | Views (1,417)

Farm Heroes Saga

DoraLove 'em or hate 'em, King.com has basically nailed the market for relentlessly addictive and simple mobile games with the likes of Candy Crush Saga and its (much less popular) brethren Pet Rescue Saga. Now they're back for more with their latest free match-3 game for iOS and Android, Farm Heroes Saga, and, yes, it's basically Candy Crush Saga but with an adorable farming theme, and, yes, it's saddled with its share of microtransactions... but is it less obnoxious than in other games? (Note that you can play Farm Heroes Saga online free at King.com in simplified format, though registration is required.)

Farm Heroes SagaIn each level, you're given a specific type and number of "cropsies" to collect by swapping adjacent ones to make matches of three or more. By matching cropsies, you can add multipliers to nearby ones to increase their value when they're captured. You have a limited number of turns to reach the requirements, and failing to do so before those run out means you can either pay the in-game currency to keep playing, or just retry at the cost of a life, which replenishes with one for every thirty minutes. Sound familiar? The game also comes with power-ups of varying usefulness, and other bonuses like extra turns... all of which you can buy more of, of course. See, those things cost gold, which can be purchased with real money, and other things cost the beans you're awarded for clearing levels based on your score. There are even special flower cropsies that must be made to bloom by matching multiple assortments next to them, and boss battles of a sort with Rancid Raccoon, where every match you make causes his health to decrease. So, yes, Farm Heroes Saga is still everything you love... or, y'know, hate depending on your perspective.

As gorgeous as it is with its colourful, cute visuals (ignoring the annoying gasps and coos of its characters), Farm Heroes Saga is very simple, but also very fun from a casual, "I'm waiting for the bus/an appointment/have some free time/should actually be working right now" perspective. It's still frustrating, of course, since it feels like success in levels is largely dependent on luck since their layouts and drops are randomised, so you may eventually run out of ways to play freely without having to wait several hours. Not that I don't think developers should be paid for their work... quite the contrary, since I'd be happy to plunk down a few bucks for the game if it had a flat price tag! But the sheer amount of timers and transactions detracts from the charm, which is a shame since Farm Heroes Saga has charm to burn. Vote with your wallet if you don't want to play, and keep an eye on your wallet if you do, but Farm Heroes Saga is a dangerously addictive if very simple arcade style puzzler than can be enjoyed at face value completely free... as long as you don't mind waiting for a few hours between bursts.

Play Farm Heroes Saga (Browser Version)

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the HTC One S. 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
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Rating: 4.3/5 (67 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (56)

Disposabot

TrickyStupid Dr. Nemisis, founder and CEO of Tyrant! Always abducting citizen-class robots like you, and forcing them to go through his anti-hero weapons testing rooms. At least he's a model of efficiency: that replicator of his will provide and endless supply of, well, you-s, no matter how many you-bodies litter the level. And you know? Those bodies look pretty jump-on-able and laser-blocking. And while he's promised to let you free after you get through all standard 21 rooms, he seems to have left the keys to his inner sanctum foolishly scattered about in tricky locations. If only you could just reach them... Disposabot is a puzzle platform by Unept where creative use of corpses is a requirement for completion.

DisposabotMove and jump with the [arrow] keys, making your way to each room's exit. Two types of weapons will impede your progress: explosions, which will drop your body to the ground (where it can be pushed), and freezers which will halt your motion in midair. These can come in the form of stationary bombs, pewing lasers, or flying trackers. After each death, a new body will be replicated at the start of the level, and if you've killed your way into a corner, the [R] key will restart the level and clear away all corpses. Though the central mechanism of Disposabot has been seen in games like SeppuKuties, here it is well implemented with cleverly designed levels. Another highlight is Dr. Nemesis, who fulfills the almost obligatory role of snarky test-chamber commentator with quips and shout-outs aplenty. Disposabot's protagonist may be disposable, but the game itself isn't, and it's just the kind of quirky platforming one could use to come back to life at the end of a long day.

Play Disposabot

Link Dump Fridays

DoraNew Year, same old Link Dump Friday! Defend a castle as a golem with a monstrous army, hack and slash your way through a fiery landscape from the creator of Zombotron, climb a tower with a fragile magical light as your only guide, and do your dog-gone best to impress a little girl and her mother as an agile and adorable puppy.

  • Fire CatcherFire Catcher - If this physics-based platformer feels familiar, it's probably because Ant Karlov has basically recreated playing their Zombotron games... only without any zombies or heavy weaponry. Hack and douse your way through destructible levels as a fireman with a big axe, but be warned that some of the level design actually allows you to become unable to proceed if you, you know, destroy some objects that the game allows you to, which seems like an area that could have used some polishing.
  • ShineShine - Created for the "You Only Get One" Ludum Dare competition, Adventure Islands puts you in the shoes of a sorceress climbing a tower with a very fragile ball of light you need to use to light your way. Though a little simple, and some may not light the avoidance aspects as much as the platforming, it looks great and is fun while it lasts.
  • Guard of the KingdomGuard of the Kingdom - Xewee and Pavel Frolov serve up a gorgeous but simplistic defense game that puts you in charge of a mighty golem laying down defenses in the form of various monsters that can be leveled up with coin to protect you from incoming... well, more monsters! Though comparatively a little shallow to other games in the genre, it's great for a quick burst of colourful gameplay.
  • Impressive DogImpressive Dog - Another game created for the "You Only Get One" themed Ludum Dare, MakeBabi.es delivers a heart-stoppingly adorable arcade game where you play an acrobatic pup in a pet-shop performing stunts to impress a little girl and her mother. Once you get the hang of the mechanics it can be a bit too easy to grind points with easy tricks, but d'awwwww wookit its widdle face!

  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (94 votes)
| Comments (13) | Views (153)

Entokoni R

DoraDaniel Benmergui's Ernesto - A Quick RPG is a simple and, as the title would suggest, pretty quick turnbased RPG that's also part puzzle game. The gist is that you are Ernesto, and you're descending into a dangerous (randomised!) jungle dungeon to take on the dungeon god four floors below, stocking up on all the treasure you can find along the way. The game itself is set up like a board with various icons representing enemies, items, and traps on a grid, and hovering over an icon will tell you what it is and what it does. To play, click on an entrance (any one will do), and pick a path by clicking on any adjacent icon. Ernesto's statistics are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and each enemy he slays nets him an experience point represented by a yellow bar that, when filled, levels him up and grants him an extra hit point in the form of a heart. When all those hearts are gone, it's game over, and you'll have to start over from the beginning, so make sure you nab healing kits whenever possible!

Ernesto - A Quick RPGThe game's main difficulty actually lies in how movement works. As you move through icons, you create a red path behind you, and while you can't cross over it if you work yourself into a corner, as long as you're not dead, you can click any icon you've passed over previously to "rewind" back to it... though of course you'll lose any items or experience you gained from the icons you would have walked over. As a result, winning the game is a matter of plotting the best possible course to the stairs to the next floor... how to grab all the treasure you can, as well as level up as much as you're able, without dying in the process. Though the game has a few neat ideas, such as disguises you can find to slip past certain enemies, crystal balls that reveal trapped caves, and whips that you can use to defeat snakes without getting poisoned, it's still fairly basic and simplistic in a way that makes it feel like it would be best served fleshed out into a larger game with more locations, enemies, and treasures. It has potential to be the sort of compulsively playable, decently thinky little game you fiddle with over and over whenever you have a chance, but as it stands, Ernesto - A Quick RPG is still a great idea that's fun while it lasts.

Play Ernesto - A Quick RPG


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Rating: 4.4/5 (20 votes)
| Comments (1) | Views (67)

Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey

TrickyMission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey (Note: Site registration is required to play.) is the third in the series of educational point-and-click adventure titles focusing on American History created by Electric Funstuff under the auspices of New York PBS Station Channel 13. The year is 1866. You are Little Fox, a twelve-year old member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. While still considered a youth by your family, with responsibilities to match, you will soon become a man, and a man must choose his destiny. The encroachment of United States military expeditions and the ever expanding network of railroads bringing more white "settlers" by the month means that dramatic changes are on the horizon, with battles that must be fought. But as the world changes, so does the Cheyenne. And so must you.

Controlled with the mouse, the emphasis of A Cheyenne Odyssey is less puzzle-solving than exploration, discovery, and conversation. The game's five chapters span from Little Fox's youth in 1866 (emphasizing the daily life of the Cheyenne), through major historical changes and events, leading up to Little Fox's participation in the Battle of the Greasy Grass in 1876. The game is fairly linear in the events that occur, as befitting its historical focus, but the choices you make will affect your values and skill statistics, opening up new options depending on what you choose to develop.

Mission US: A Cheyenne OdysseyLike most minority groups, Native American are generally under-served by their depictions in video games. However, Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey tackles an important period of history head-on, well-aware of its difficulty, and it's success in its depiction is to be lauded. The history presented in A Cheyenne Odyssey is neither white-washed nor simplified. It is one thing to agree in the abstract that the Cheyenne were justified in retaliating against acts of violence against their people. It is quite another thing to choose whether that means shooting the conductor of a train you just sabotaged while he is trying to flee. While naturally the struggles of the Cheyenne are the perspective through which the game is played, much more so than any US soldier or settler, the actions presented are authentic to history and the most important moral choices are left to the player: when to adapt, and when to fight. That said, these considerations go hand in hand with the day-to-day life of food, family, and tradition, and the exploration and develop of Little Fox as a person living in interesting times is the highlight of the game.

Where A Cheyenne Odyssey stumbles is in aesthetics. The background art and occasional bits of animation end up being quite evocative, even stunning at times, but it must be admitted that there are a whole lot of bland, unblinking talking heads having conversations in this game, and the voice-acting does not always match the quality of the writing. However, all in all, A Cheyenne Odyssey keeps up the high stands of education and fun that the previous chapters of the Mission US series promised, and while targeted towards a young audience, history buffs of all ages will find it a must-play.

Play Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey(browser)

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  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (86 votes)
| Comments (10) | Views (540)

Entokoni R

DoraIf your escape game looks a little... weird... there's a good chance Detarou is the culprit, but hey... that's the way we like it. Entokoni R follows the usual formula as you find yourself trapped in a puzzle-laden apartment full of people who seem to have a tenuous grasp on reality and social graces at best. To play, you just click around, using the bars that appear at the edges of the screen to change views, and remember to double-click any items you find in your inventory to check them close-up since clues can be hidden in unexpected places. There are three endings to find, so make sure you use the save function if you don't want to start over should an unfortunate fate befall you.

Entokoni RDetarou games are always best when they focus on clue interpretation and combination over item puzzles, and Entokoni R is no different. It does feel like some of the puzzle solutions are slightly less intuitive than we've seen from Detarou before, and since some clues may be spread across multiple screens you may want to write them down or copy-paste the image in a paint program for easier reference to figure them out. The potential gross-out factor is also a little toned down here... where previous Detarou games had bordered on over-the-top when it comes to, ehhhh, suggestiveness, Entokoni R is mostly just a little creepy and a lot strange, though there is a frog that's arguably a little risque, and a panda ending that's just... unnerving. (Though an unexpected cameo should make you laugh!) You'll need to pay close attention to your surroundings to escape Entokoni R, but you're up to the task... right?

Play Entokoni R

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Rating: 3.5/5 (61 votes)
| Comments (5) | Views (20)

Parallel Levels

DoraOne Good Game Studio's Parallel Levels is a challenging puzzle platformer with a twist. Namely, that you're always playing at least two levels at the same time... the last one you finished, and a new one with another character, and all blocky minions move simultaneously, so you have to time all your movements to get around the obstacles in both stages onscreen! Just use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move and jump and make for the door at the end of each level(s), making sure to grab any keys to unlock doors blocking your way, and nab stars to unlock more worlds. If any character touches a hazard, you'll have to restart!.

Parallel LevelsInitially, Parallel Levels is fairly easy thanks to the fact that you don't have to get all your characters to a level's exit at the same time. But as the stages increase in complexity and the number of block dudes you have to control goes up, the game quickly grows teeth. Different worlds bring different elements, like treadmill blocks that push you in different directions and collapsible bricks. So what's the problem? Touchy controls. Movement feels a little slidey, which makes the precision platforming and impalement avoidance more obnoxious than it needed to be. And speaking of obnoxious, why is there no level select for world stages? It's a shame, since Parallel Levels is such a cute idea and has such a great colourful design, though it could have done with its own set of sound effects instead of the Mario ones it appears to be using. If you're patient and have a light touch, it's still a fun and tricky experience, provided you can stave off a rage quit or three.

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