February 2014 Archives


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Rating: 4.4/5 (61 votes)
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The Sandman

DoraThe Sandman, a free horror game created by Uri (The Crooked Man) and translated by vgperson (Alice mare, Ib, and many more), is one of those games designed to make you lie awake at night, questioning every creak and unfamiliar sound. The story follows Sophie, a young girl trapped between the bullies at school and the loneliness at home. With her mother gone and her father usually away on business, Sophie spends most of her time by herself and claims it doesn't bother her... but there is the business of her increasing inability to sleep, and one night, as she lays awake in bed, she hears her clock stop. And as she ventures outside, she discovers that's not even the weirdest thing happening tonight by a long shot.

The SandmanThe controls here are pretty basic. Just use the [arrow] keys to move around, [spacebar] to interact or advance text, and [ESC] to open the inventory and save menu. A small sparkle will sometimes draw your attention to important items, such as the helpful map Sophie discovers early on, but you'll still want to investigate everything on your own to make sure you don't miss anything. Most items need to be used manually from your inventory when you get them. If you've played The Crooked Man, you'll probably recognize some names and places, since this is the second in what Uri calls her "Strange Men Series", but don't worry... if you haven't played The Crooked Man, The Sandman still stands on his own.

The SandmanAnalysis: Uri is one of those rare developers who just seems to get better and better with every release, and The Sandman stands head and shoulders above the rest in almost every way. The Sandman gives better subtle direction than its predecessors, cutting down on a lot of wandering especially with the help of the map, and the puzzles are a lot more creative and fun as well... mostly, apart from some annoying timed sequences and a few unintuitive areas. It'll even prompt you to save before some of the more difficult sequences, though chances are only the final area of the game will pose much trouble. Like all of Uri's games, The Sandman uses sound sparsely, but to tremendous effect, especially now with the inclusion of scant voice acting to up the tension and atmosphere in some scenes, and the art and area design is gorgeous too.

That said, The Sandman is definitely one odd duck. The tone can fluctuate wildly, and things just seem to get crazier the more you play. Most of that is due to the story, which twists and turns in some seriously weird ways as things get increasingly surreal. For some, that's going to be a bit of a disappointment since it actually feels like The Sandman might actually be the most light on horror (and jump scares!) compared to Uri's other games. The latter portion of the game is... different, to say the least, and extremely puzzle-heavy in a way that feels at odds with the more story-centric first half. Stick with it, however, and you'll discover some very clever plot points that take a unique look at mythology. The Sandman is definitely a strange little game, but it's one that's so strange it hooks you in to see how it ends, and with four endings and a bonus, it might not go the way you'd think. Despite not being what you might expect, it's still a creative game, by turns charming and creepy, and well worth a look.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

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


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (79 votes)
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Emit

KimberlyAlien technology. Can you ever trust it? After a flying saucer malfunction, you've crash landed on an unfamiliar planet. But instead of a quick "I come in peace" announcement, you pull out your gun and start shooting in EMIT, a frantic retro shooter by Stix and Coolboyman. Use [A] and [D] to move, and [W] to jump, dodging as many projectiles as possible, and aim and shoot with your mouse. The goal is to pass each stage while trying not to die... but if you are anything like me you'll die a lot. Thankfully you get as many lives as you need, though your score suffers for each death. There are also three checkpoints on each stage, so you don't have to completely start over when you bite it.

EmitWhile you start with an all around basic gun, you soon earn money to purchase something better with different abilities such as splash damage, or high rate of fire. You earn two stat points each time you level up, letting you upgrade your health, time it takes to reload your gun, or jumping power. Collect the powerups that appear on occasion when you make a kill, as they can really boost your chances of fighting through the next wave. Sometimes the controls are not as smooth as they could be, causing the occasional jerky jump, and a few enemies shoot bullets that blend in a little too well with the background. The pixel art and music are really great and do an excellent job of setting the mood of the game. EMIT gives a lot of variety between stages, with tons of different enemies to blast and environments to enjoy. So if you're a less-talk-more-pew-pew type of gamer, this is one's for you.

Play Emit


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Rating: 4/5 (33 votes)
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Disco Zoo

JohnBEver wanted your own zoo but were concerned it didn't have enough swanky funk style? NimbleBit, the creators of Pocket Planes, along with Milkbag Games (featuring Matt Rix of Trainyard fame) know that feeling all too well. Disco Zoo is a casual puzzle and simulation game that combines simple logic diversions with too-cute visuals that's perfect for mobile devices. Pick up and play, put it down and party.

Disco ZooDisco Zoo sends you out to rescue animals to keep safe behind your zoo's walls. You do this by playing a battleship-style game that takes place on a 5x5 grid. Tap a tile to reveal what's hidden beneath it. Usually it's a few coins or a whole lot of nothing, but there are animals under the grid pieces, too. They're arranged in unique patterns sort of like battleships. Uncover them all and you can add the animal to your zoo, which is good, because keeping cute furries is how you make money!

What keeps you coming back to Disco Zoo is the waking/sleeping feature. Animals take naps on a set schedule, and they won't wake up unless you tell them to. Sleeping animals aren't great for business, so you'll want to pop back as often as you can to maximize profits. Lots of animals sleeping at once? Try throwing a DISCO PARTY! Yeah, you'll like it. Everybody does.

The combination of quick animal rescuing scenes along with the simple zoo management sections is definitely a winning combination. Disco Zoo features coins and bux as currencies that are refillable via in-app purchase, but both are stabilized well enough to never make you feel forced to spend real world cash. It's a well-balanced and wholly addictive game, just right for your inner zookeeper/disco club owner!

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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Link Dump Fridays

DoraWhere else but on Link Dump Friday can you find explosions, angry pig monsters, finger-snapping wolves, and ethereal star battles? With arcade action, bizarre point-and-clicks, and mystical tower defense, we've got a little something for everyone.

  • Run Red RunRun Red Run - Little Red Riding Hood can't catch a break, and if she stops to have one, she's going to be bludgeoned with a giant carrot and then cooked in a pan while she plays the trombone, because it's awesome that's why. Anjo Pascual and Ray Sagun deliver a gorgeously animated and quirky arcade game that challenges you to last as long as possible as you click to make Red leap over attacks and obstacles, nabbing power-ups and more. Though on the repetitive side, Run Red Run packs quality and charm to burn, and we'd love to see a more fleshed out version.
  • Blockoomz 2Blockoomz 2 - Keybol knows that, as gamers, there's nothing we love more than blowing things up and booting things across the room, so why not make a game about it? Like the original game, the goal in this physics puzzler is to remove certain shapes from the field while making sure others don't fall off. Some unnecessarily fiddly stages and physics keeps it from being as casually fun as the original, but hey... maybe you like a challenge.
  • Secret of the Epic ItemSecret of the Epic Item - If you're looking for a very silly point-and-click puzzle game, kokos012 will deliver in this strange little game where a breakdown on a dark road leads to all sorts of unexpected adventure in a mysterious castle. Each screen is its own puzzle where you'll have to figure out what to click to overcome a challenge in order to proceed... just, uh, don't overthink things too much. Or expect it to make a lot of sense.
  • Stardust DefenseStardust Defense - Masamune Games delivers an absolutely gorgeous tower defense game... just don't expect to understand any of it if you can't speak Japanese! Fortunately, the basic controls are loosely translated, and if you're willing to experiment with what isn't, the gameplay is definitely casually engaging. Place defensive gems along paths to keep stars from getting through, unlocking new types and abilities as you go along. Is this the most lovely and zen-like defense game out there? It just might be!

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Rating: 3.7/5 (70 votes)
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Two Pipes 3

DoraThere... are... TWO... PIPES! And this is ReFall's platformer Two Pipes 3, which proves that stocky mustachioed oldster doesn't have the monopoly on plumbing. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, your job is to guide our goopy green booger of a hero to the other pipe at the end of each stage. It starts off simply. Too simply in fact. But stick with it. You'll also have to douse yourself in... uh... coloured... poofy powder?... that will make platforms and barriers of the same colour vanish. Saw blades initially seem like they might bring a sinister end to your squishy capering, but all they'll really do is instantly turn you into whatever colour they are... often dropping the floor right out from under you.

Two Pipes 3Two Pipes 3's biggest problems are its painfully easy early levels and the fact that it feels like it would have been a better puzzle game than a pure platformer. It plays fine, it just winds up coming down more to a case of reflexes and precise landings rather than really playing with its colour-swapping mechanic in a way that could really twist your brain around. As it stands, Two Pipes 3 is a fun and simple platformer that won't really grow any teeth until the last five levels or so. I thought about including the high difficulty tag, but I wasn't sure if it really needed it, or if that was just inviting "Oh hoh, but I think you will find this game is in actuality terribly easy madame. Worst. Reviewer. Ever." Two Pipes 3 is a good idea with fun, straight-forward gameplay that feels like with a little more meat on its bones, it could have really stood out, but it's still fun while it lasts... even if you might miss it if you blink.

Play Two Pipes 3


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Rating: 3.8/5 (94 votes)
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FlapBound

DoraYes, really. Haters gonna hate.

Chris Martin's entry into Flappy Jam, a good natured group of game developers making games to support and encourage the often maligned creator of Flappy Bird, is as goofy as it is a shameless and yet clever plug for nostalgic '90s gamers like myself. FlapBound (hit [spacebar] to skip the overly long title fade-in) is an arcade/Flappy Bird spin on cult classic RPG Earthbound... only without all that pesky plot and actual, well, RPG elements. Just click or hit [spacebar] repeatedly to make Nuss (not a typo) flap and try to make it through as many gaps between the obstacles onscreen as possible. Occasionally you'll encounter a mysterious pencil that can only be removed if you nab the eraser beforehand, but for the most part, it's click East, young Nuss. Simple? Well, yes, extremely, and for a lot of people that, more than Flappy Bird's Mario-esque design, was the main reason why they reviled it. But sometimes simple is fun, and by throwing in several unlockables, achieved by nabbing the floating presents at certain milestones, FlapBound provides an incentive beyond a high score to keep playing.

FlapBoundWhat makes FlapBound stand out as clever is the way in which it incorporates its source material into Flappy Bird's gameplay and overall design. Everything from the music to the graphical style is just slightly skewed to come close yet not quite exactly mimic Earthbound's iconic locations (though only the first stage really stands out visually), and the way the game over is even incorporated as the RPG's lost battle text is a nice touch as well. It's a creative homage to both influences, though chances are even if you're a fan of Earthbound, if you're not also a fan of Flappy Bird it'll be too repetitive too quickly. Simple little things, like the ability to play as different characters through the various well known stages (Paulu, Puu, and Juff, anyone?) would likely have added a lot more replay value without losing the simple one button gameplay. As it stands, FlapBound is still a silly and well implemented "clone" of one of the most well known and notorious games around.

Play FlapBound

Weekday Escape

elleHere at the Weekday Escape headquarters, I make it my mission to be all inclusive. My motto being (this week, at least) "There's a flavor for everyone." Who am I to judge if you want to put anchovies on your oatmeal or guacamole in your ice cream? I'm no Ted Allen. I can only offer a sampling trio of escapes that are worth a taste then leave it up to the brilliance of the JIG community to make it a cuisine. All straining metaphors aside, this week's games hold little in common with each other but, when put together, seem to balance out the palate.

Escape from the Room with the Diamond PictureEscape from the Room with the Diamond Picture - You only have to play a few times to see that Yomino Kagura knows how to take a changing cursor, a few kitschy boxes, a number of well-seasoned puzzles, and a rather plain room and cook them up into a satisfying escape game. Nothing too fancy or over the top—in fact, it gets a bit difficult to distinguish one from the other. When looking at the recipe, all the ingredients are logical, intuitive and cleanly-designed; it just needs a bit more spicing up. Those who can read Japanese lettering will have the added treat of helpful messaging and a narrative to round out the escaping experience.

Escape from the Japanese Style RoomEscape from the Japanese Style Room - Neat Escape has a long repertoire of shortish escape games to boast (34 to be exact) and Japanese Style Room, with just a sparse two puzzles and a few hot spot searches, is one of the most recent. Still, already there is a sequel; so it'd be nice to see them put together into a more substantial undertaking. The potential is there, which would better show after a bit of polishing, ridding the room of an unfortunate pixelus huntitis infestation and giving the somewhat dull aesthetics a face lift. Perhaps someone like TomaTea, who has interior design flair, would agree to a Trading Spaces arrangement? While it's understandable if the flaws make a discerning escape enthusiast wrinkle her nose, once you get past them, this manages to be satisfying all the same—especially if you happen to be craving shellfish.

Find the Escape-Men 87: PollinosisFind the Escape-Men 87: Pollinosis - You'd think that, if you have rooms filled with little green men, the least of your home owner concerns would be the pollen count outside. Still, what's less appetizing than a runny nose? Despite the opening narrative, when No1 Game uses allergy season to set the scene, it's anything but depressing. As you already know by the title, to succeed in this escape caper, find all ten escape-men in the room, either by cracking codes, uncovering their hiding spots, or solving their ailments. While there's hardly any surprises for those familiar with the Escape-Men menu of games, both the humorous story that holds it together and the addictive fun of filling your greenies count make this a delicious final course to your WE lunch break.

We love escape games, and our readers love talking about them and sharing hints! How about you? Let us know what you think, ask for hints or help out the other players with your clues and walkthroughs in the comments below.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (21 votes)
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Calculords

ArtbegottiWhen Earth is attacked by the evil HATE BIT, the Star Nerds gear up for action. Donning futuristic armor and military precision calculators, they protect the planet the only way they know how... the power of mathematics! In Seanbaby's tactical collectible card puzzle game, Calculords, your soldiers are summoned onto the battlefield by performing mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, and multiplication). Tap the numbers and operators at the bottom-right in order to transform a pair of numbers into another value. When your value matches the number on one of your combat units (in the bottom-left), select the number and the unit, and place it in one of the three lanes on top.

CalculordsTo win a battle, you need to move your units across the battlefield to attack your opponent's base directly. When your units march into your enemy's in the middle of the battleground, your units' attack points will be taken from your opponents' health points, and vice versa when the enemy attacks you. Red units are offensive units which specialize in attacking and doing damage. Green units are push units which are primarily defensive, but can also literally push your line attack forward (pushing enemies back into their base will kill them). Playing a purple card will activate a tactical maneuver that can give perks and abilities to your units or attack your opponent's units or base directly.

Since the numbers on the right disappear after you've used them, you usually won't have enough digits to summon all the units on the left in one shot, but here's where a bit of mathe-tactics can come into play. If you can use all of the digits in summoning at least one card into play, you'll earn a Calculord Bonus and receive an extra hand of digits to math about with. With this, you can often deploy all of your units in one turn, and that's incredibly helpful for defeating your opponent (as well as boosting your score).

CalculordsDefeating an enemy gives you two new cards from their deck, which you can add to your playing roster in the deck editor. How you set up your deck can affect how you play, since more powerful cards usually have higher summoning target numbers (like 54 or 72), or have odder numbers that don't multiply easily (17 or 62). If you have too many of these in your deck, you might have hands where you can't deploy all your units because you're spending digits too quickly. Unique packs of cards can also be purchased from the in-game store (and purchasing them lets them be included in defeated enemies' random drops as well).

New enemies are unlocked by reaching certain level rankings; this unfortunately means that you'll eventually have to grind a bit before you can play for new cards. But unlike other strategy games where skirmishes start with tiny units and build into giant tank battles, you can attack with your big 100-point laser on your first turn if you've got the luck and numerical know-how to do it. Even with devastating blows like that available at the turn of a card, the cards still feel balanced to make for an intriguing battle every time. Calculords is a smart and polished game that strikes a beautiful balance between tactical planning and nerdy numericalness.

An Android version of Calculords has been announced; no release date has been revealed yet.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPhone 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: 4.1/5 (88 votes)
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Color Instinct

Starchild Color Instinct, a physics puzzler by Lilley Design, looks innocent and simple when you first start it. You get to play with colourful bouncy balls and tiny little stars, and isn't it great to feel like you're in kindergarten again? But the game goes pretty quickly from "I can do this with my eyes closed" to asking your entire household to help you beat a level. The catch is that it seems so easy and straightforward that you can't afford to admit defeat, because if you do, you're the person who couldn't beat a bouncy ball game. To start your arduous journey, simply click to shoot the ball out of its pod and try to collect all the stars. You can only pick up a star with a ball of the same colour, and that's where the fun (or torture) begins.

Color Instinct It would be sort of unfair to say too much about the mechanics, because part of the game's charm lies in discovering them on your own. The basics go like this: if you shoot a ball into a coloured pod, the ball will change colour accordingly. If there are coloured walls or other objects, the ball will go through them if it's the same colour, or bounce off them if it's not. Not all pods are the same; some have limited uses, some shoot more than one ball, and some will let you pick the size of the ball. New elements are introduced right until the very end, and the learn-as-you-go process makes the puzzle solving harder.
Every level asks you to think a little differently, so there's often quite a bit of trial and error until you realise what you have to do. But that just makes beating levels that much more rewarding, and shouting "in your face, game!" oh so satisfying. Color Instinct will keep you busy, frustrated and wonderfully challenged throughout the twenty-seven levels (plus five bonus ones), and your brain will ultimately thank you for it. Plus, if you end up liking its cleverly nefarious modus operandi, you can always inflict more of the same on the world in the level editor.

Play Color Instinct


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Rating: 3.8/5 (66 votes)
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Goat Guardian

JohnBDeveloped by Head Fizz, Goat Guardian is a platform puzzle game that stars Steven and his pet goat, Steven Jr.! Steven Jr. likes to climb to dangerous places, so Steven has to run out and and rescue him. Each level features a tricky layout of falling platforms and other obstacles standing between you and your pal. Uncover the golden apple, send it to Steven Jr., then make it back to him in one piece. The tricky part is all the platforms fall once you touch them, meaning you have to plan your route very, very carefully.

Level design is king in Goat Guardian: compact and efficient but still challenging. Later stages introduce timed blocks, beetles that grant you temporary new abilities, arrow blocks that fire when touched, even giant birds that screech by, threatening to end your game. It's a well-made and attractive game with a good set of stages that are just the right balance of reflexes and puzzle solving. You can even skip through levels to complete them at your leisure, all while trying your best to go for a perfect score.

Play Goat Guardian


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Social Caterpillar

satoriWhen we're not putting in public appearances at glamorous new game premieres and attending the obligatory charity benefit galas, we here at JiG are striving to bring you the very best games the internet has to offer. It's not the fame, the fortune, or even the contractually-stipulated pixelated black chrysanthemums in our trailers that motivates us. It's our sincere love of games, and our desire to improve your day by sharing them with you. Once in a great while, a rare game comes along that is not only innovative and enjoyable to play, but manages to affect us on a more fundamental level. Social Caterpillar, a logic puzzle adventure from Twelve Tiles Games, accomplished just that and became an instant personal favorite.

Social CaterpillarSocial Caterpillar is a refreshingly original game about introversion, and goes about demonstrating what it's like by modelling the game's mechanics from it. Conversations with other characters take on the look and feel of an old-school RPG battle, but instead of attacking you're presented with some bizarre shape pattern or geometrical design and must use the [arrows] to navigate the conversation by choosing the appropriate shape or pattern in response. Get the series of logic puzzles for an NPC correct, and you'll earn experience points. For each one you flub, your energy level decreases until you end up back in your room to recover.

Rather tellingly, you replenish your energy by playing video games... something that will strike a chord in a lot of us. Even successful conversations draw your energy meter down a little, as does trudging further and further from the sanctity of your bedroom to cope with various social ordeals like getting along with the folks, meeting new people, getting by with foreigners who have entirely different social contexts, and maybe... just maybe... finding romance to give your life meaning and value. Success in that department is anything but guaranteed, and even if you succeed you'll need to manage a happy balance between personal space and intimacy. Will you live together, or in different houses? If you live together, what happens to using your bedroom as your retreat from the world? The game's creator, Lannie "Merlandese" Neely III, even thoughtfully provided a gender option feature for your in-game partner, to ensure that everyone would feel included here.

Social CaterpillarYou keep successfully navigating logic puzzles to complete conversations, and those bring you experience points to improve your level. With new levels come larger energy reserves, which allow you to interact with new and unfamiliar environments, as well as bonuses like little upgrades appearing in your room... just the thing to keep someone who loves their solo time happy. It's not just the Harvest Moon feel of your room, the Pokemon battle format of the conversations or the Nintendo look of the whole thing that make Social Caterpillar the success it is, it's also the little things. Spotting little caterpillars hiding in nearly every screen and interacting with them, or the cozy, nostalgic Level Up! animation you get every time you make a level, Social Caterpillar takes you back just like soft flannel feetie pajamas, day-glo colored breakfast cereals that should probably come with insulin packs, and Saturday morning cartoons. And from that comfortable, safe place it shows you what being an introvert is like.

If you have friends who are introverts and would like to understand what's going on with them, don't pass this up. Its low price tag means it would also make a very thoughtful gift for any introverted friends, and you can watch them brighten and come out of their shell with the realization that SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT. The game is DRM-free, is conservatively estimated at an hour long by the developer (only if you're preturnaturally good with logic puzzles, otherwise count on at least three) and comes with a no-questions-asked refund policy due to the lack of a demo. With a game this well-made and well-presented, we can't imagine many players taking them up on that in good conscience, unless logic puzzles and introversion aren't your thing. Now if you'll excuse me, I've... I've got something in my eye.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version


  • Currently 3.5/5
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Rating: 3.5/5 (28 votes)
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Threes: The Demake

JohnBThrees: The Demake is a clever simplification of Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend's iOS puzzle game Threes!. Created by Benjamin Davis, this demake contains the basic tile sliding/combining mechanics found in its big brother. The board is filled with white, red and blue tiles. Tapping the [arrow] keys lets you slide everything in that direction, smashing red/blue tiles and identical white tiles together to increase their face value, marked by darker blocks at the top. The goal is to keep combining tiles to create as many massive numbers as possible!

Instead of numbers and cute faces, Threes: The Demake is blocky pixel graphics with solid colors. It's still surprisingly faithful to the original, so if you're wondering what all the fuss over Threes! is about, let this be a bit of a teaser. And since it was made using PuzzleScript, you can dive in and hack the code yourself right from the website!

Play Threes: The Demake


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (21 votes)
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StoryShift

DoraLess actual game and more interactive art meets social experiment, Evil-Dog and SickDeathFiend's StoryShift (requires free account registry) bills itself as "community driven story-telling". It's filled with different stories and comics of all genres written by different writers, and the catch? You decide what comes next. Each story is ongoing, and provides several options as to how certain events could unfold, allowing readers with free accounts to vote on the next direction they think the story should take. Though the majority rules, the more you vote, the more influence you gain, making your votes more influential than others. Once a voting period ends, the author will update the story according to the decision the readers chose, and the process continues until the tale is told. You can choose to subscribe to specific stories so you get notified when they update, or even contact the developers if you're interested in taking part as a creator yourself!

IdleplexIt's a strange concept, and time will tell how well it works out, with perhaps the biggest pill to swallow being the concept of "voting influence" rather than allowing the numbers to speak for themselves. The fact that the options are restricted to those created by the authors themselves means that the chance for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mayhem as far as plot goes is relatively low, and it would be nice (though hard to implement) to see some sort of ability for readers to write and vote on their own ideas to really cement the community-driven atmosphere the thing is going for. Yes, then you'd have to deal with me demanding Lwaxana Troi replace every main character, or authors rioting because everyone is voting for their super serious noir mystery to suddenly take place in Equestria, but hey. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and then you have... a lot of crazy fun.

At the moment, StoryShift is rife with possibility, and offers a lot of different genres to try out. There's everything from classic fantasy adventure to creepy sci-fi horror, and so far the level of quality is set exceptionally high. Unfortunately, there's no content rating yet for individual stories, so if profanity and violence bother you, you'll have to tread carefully. The ability to leave comments on stories would also be a nice touch. If you like serialized stories, however, StoryShift is a great idea that has the potential to grow into something even bigger and better the more people get involved. The interface is clean and easy to use, the content is diverse and polished, and as long as things are updated, StoryShift could provide you a lot of entertainment for a long, long time.

Play StoryShift


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Rating: 4.1/5 (54 votes)
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Copy Shot

KimberlyAs happens to so many of us who sit innocently in front of a computer all day, the hero of Copy Shot gets abducted by aliens. What's a guy to do but break his bonds and use other-worldly technology to help him escape? Aizat Haibulin brings us this brain-teasing puzzler featuring a gun that can copy any item and temporarily paste it over another object. The goal of each level is to collect a key and reach the door. Collect the star for an extra challenge (and to make yourself feel smart). Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move, [C] to shoot the copy beam, and [V] to fire the paste beam. Pasting turns other objects into the last item you copied (indicated in the upper left corner) for five seconds. Hit [R] to restart if you find yourself in a bind.

Copy ShotYou'll have to do some out of the box thinking to figure out each level, especially because, with the exception of blocks with yellow and black stripes, you can copy and paste anything... including the door. Don't stand still on sold pasted blocks, as you'll be vaporized if you get stuck inside an item when it reverts, though objects you can normally pass through, such as ladders, are fine. Copy Shot offers a lot of flexibility in its gameplay. There is often more than one way to solve a level, which makes it appealing to a wide audience with different play styles. While the hero walks a bit on the slow side, the levels aren't large, so it's not really a hindrance. Sadly there are only 19 levels, but even though the game will leave you wanting more, the levels that are available are unique, clever, and definitely worth your time.

Play Copy Shot


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Rating: 4/5 (72 votes)
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Idleplex

DoraPopularized by games like Candy Box! and Cookie Clicker, the incremental/idle trend of games that play themselves has been going strong for nearly a year now, and don't you think it's about time John Cooney (jmtb02) threw his hat into the ring? After all, if you're looking for stylish charm, you usually don't need to look any farther, and Idleplex showcases every bit of the wonderfully weird and addictive gameplay you've come to expect from the developer... now in idle game format! Taking the form of a slew of off-kilter arcade minigames, your goal is to generate cash by playing to buy more "boards" (game windows) that will play alongside you, all of them packed with upgrade potential, until eventually you have the greatest goat mosaic of game windows of them all!... oh, didn't I mention? Goats play vital parts in most of the minigames you can play, from a Breakout clone to a simple shooter, but they aren't the only barnyard critter you can unlock... just the cheapest.

IdleplexIf all of that sounds weird, well... it is. Purposefully so. What do you expect from a game that offers poop mongering as an expensive and profitable activity? The game runs by itself whether you're actively mowing the lawn or clicking nuggets yourself, even in another window or tab, and chances are you'll want to let it do so since upgrades quickly become very pricey. Figuring out what boards are best worth your time and money is important to getting the most out of your cash flow, especially since not all of them are created (or scale) equal, even though you can buy multiples of all but two of them. While you'll have to do a bit of hands-on playing yourself to make the most of things in the beginning, Idleplex quickly becomes so adept at generating cash for you that you can just leave it alone for long periods of time, popping in to spend it on upgrades whenever you get a tidy chunk.

Compared to some other games in the genre, Idleplex does sort of lack a lot of long-term goals and discovery. Part of the fun of incremental games tends to be being continually surprised by the weird things you discover and unlock, and while Idleplex does have some of that, it might not have enough to keep every player enraptured. What it does have, however, is an absolutely fantastic presentation that's every bit as slick and colourful as you'd expect from a John Cooney game, the sort of thing that feels bouncy and goofy and energetic in the best possible way. It's strange, sure, but if you're a John Cooney fan, that's not just what you expect... it's what you want. Idleplex is an interesting addition to the genre, and one that's polished to a mirror sheen... I mean, you wouldn't want a game featuring a poop chute not to have the best possible graphics, right?

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  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (73 votes)
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changeType()

DoraNitrome's puzzle platformer changeType() doesn't understand why you'd follow the rules if you can just rewrite them. Using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys, you control a robotic little hero who can swap the properties of any two objects with the [spacebar] to help read the exit at the end of each level. Hit it once to capture an object within your horizontal line of sight, and again to swap properties with the next object you please. How can this help? Well, you can swap a block's properties with a spike to be able to safely pass over a previously deadly obstacle... but that's just one example. Virtually anything can be swapped with anything else, impacting all tiles of that same type, and a pink glow will highlight whatever will be affected by the capture whenever you look at something.

changeType()Though it starts out fairly straightforward, changeType() quickly gets trickier as the levels become more elaborate, and quick reflexes are just as important as puzzling out what you're meant to do. Experimenting with the way the properties of one object will impact another is a little trial-and-error, but also a lot of fun when you trigger unexpected reactions. You can swap every block or element within a level, and there's just enough variety to make figuring out what you need to get around danger both engaging and satisfying. That simple experimental joy can sometimes feel at odds with the more demanding platforming elements, making changeType() the sort of game that looks a lot friendlier to the platformer novice than it may actually be. With a gorgeous design, however, and a solid chunk of challenging levels, changeType() is a welcome and clever twist on the puzzle platforming genre.

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Link Dump Fridays

DoraGone but not forgotten, Flappy Bird lives on in countless clones and a set of games made for Flappy Jam as indie developers unite to put their own spin on the simple yet infuriatingly addictive concept. It's sort of like channeling Helga Pataki... bird, how I hate you, with your brutally difficult and simple gameplay and yet... how I love you. Literally hundreds of games have been created, so let's take a look at some of our favourites and see if we can't get you to ruin a few keyboards and your mouse, eh?

  • Flappy Space ProgramFlappy Space Program - One small flap for birds, one big headache for mankind. Lecortex throws physics and gravity into the mix as your goal is to see how many birds you can launch and keep orbiting your planet at a time... without having any of them collide on their flight path, or get too far away from the planet itself. Do you think "like launching explosive robotic birds" is going to replace "like herding cats" to describe how hard something is?
  • FLAPPYBALTFLAPPYBALT - Adam Atomic's Canabalt universe is a pretty miserable place to live in if you're not a fan of repeated painful death. His spin on the formula is a little more restrictive, as you control a bird flapping back and forth in a single screen filled with spikes that move up and down as you go from left to right. How long can you last? I don't mean your high score, I mean how long can you last before you hurl your computer out the window and fall on your knees in the rain Shawshank style screaming "ATOMIIIIIIIIIIIC!"
  • Flappy DogeFlappy Doge - A more straight-forward spin but by no means easy, RoarBoarGames delivers a meme-tastic endless arcade game that features everyone's favourite Shiba Inu. Well... almost everyone's. Just click to flap your... uh... whatever and dodge between the gaps as long as you can. You'll need split second timing, patience, and appreciation for the finer things in life, and probably some blood pressure medicine.
  • Happy BardHappy Bard - They say music soothes the savage beast, but that's only if you can get more than three cords off without exploding. Shyam Guthikonda sends you traipsing around the world (literally) as a bard spreading joy and music why trying not to hit anything. You'll unlock special hats the longer you last, because if you're going to keep restarting you might as well be stylish, and if you can survive 100 jumps, you'll get a shiny rainbow hat that you can use to dry your tears on as you nurse your mangled jumping finger.

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Oquonie

JohnBOquonie is one of those puzzle games that will befuddle you with its complex no-assistance design. Created by Hiversaires developer Aliceffekt and illustrated by Rekka Bellum, you must work your way through the innards of a twisty isometric megastructure as you "speak" to various characters to unlock "clues" that will apparently help you proceed. Or maybe you, as a player, are just going mad and the whole thing is really a flashlight app?

Tap or swipe the screen to move your character through the tilted world of Oquonie. Bump into things to interact with them, which includes opening doors and talking to the bizarre creatures that stand sentry. Your first several minutes of Oquonie will be, to put it mildly, as confusing as playing cricket with a curling broom in the dark. Patterns very slowly emerge, as do the puzzles, but the overall abstractness and maze-like construction never diminishes too much. It's a puzzle adventure game designed to delight as much as it is to baffle.

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


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (35 votes)
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Mummy Busters

TrickyWhen there's something strange, in your pyramid's elaborate system of carved hallways and airshafts, who ya gonna call? Mummy Busters! Actually, since the mummies seem to just be minding their own business before the player shows up in this puzzle platformer by Dharmasta AW, maybe it is we who are the something strange. Of course, if they just wanted us to leave, maybe the pharaohs shouldn't have included so many spike pits and poison gas rooms in their burial chamber. Just a thought. You must kill all the mummies in each level before proceeding on to the next, using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move and jump. While the pyramid is full of traps, most are as deadly to the mummies as they are to you... with the exception of the aforementioned poisoned gas. Removing your lungs and putting them in a canopic jar doesn't seem so silly now, does it? Clicking a mummy, or hitting the number key that appears above it, will switch your position with theirs.

Mummy BustersAs they tend to just shamble forwards, you can guide mummies into traps to kill them. There are darkened rooms and passages to be opened with levers, and some levels feature vulnerable humans who must also be protected by the mummies' deadly touch. Each of the twenty-five levels also has three stars positioned within, that must be grabbed to get a 100% rating. Though its visuals are a bit generic, Mummy Busters has a really classic feel to its gameplay, like it was a remake of some quality Lode Runner-era DOS puzzle game. Maybe it's not quite the 8th wonder of the world, but Mummy Busters introduces elements at just the right pace to keep things entertaining, and even if a few levels are frustrating in the timing skills required, it'll keep you walking-like-an-Egyptian back to it.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (107 votes)
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OFFS3T

satoriOFFS3T is a soothing, visually-pleasing puzzle game from mostwrongking. It brings you a series of images from around the world that have been distorted in some way. Perhaps a view has had square patches cut out and strewn around the screen like so many fallen leaves. Perhaps stripes are out of place, and you'll drag them to bring them into alignment. It could be anything really, and you'll be using your mouse to bring all the elements of the scene back into alignment. When you do the image will glitch stylishly for just a moment before resolving itself into a better view of the gorgeous image you've mended. The game will tell you what the picture is, a nature scene or beautiful natural formation, usually, and from where it was taken.

With the ambient music in the background as you click on shapes to make lovely colorful pictures resolve, the combined experience is very tranquil. It's not an intensely challenging experience, and the rhythmic clicking and mousing away is pleasantly therapeutic. This is ideal for a pleasant coffee break or just a peaceful moment away from everything. The game does record a score at the end, from which clicking on the hint feature removes ten points, but the point here isn't about making the Top Ten of online scorers. OFFS3T is a delightful interlude that reminds us that the pleasures in life are in the experience, rather than in the completion.

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(9 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Play to Cure: Genes in Space

HopefulNebulaCancer research isn't a topic that comes up very often in the world of gaming. No matter how good the technology is, it can be slow and tedious work. It's only natural that researchers would want to speed it up a bit. And if speeding it up also happens to involve shooting asteroids with lasers, so much the better. That's what Cancer Research UK thought when they teamed up with Guerilla Tea to create Play to Cure: Genes in Space. In the game, it is the year 2594, you work for Bifrost Industries, and your job is to collect as much of a mysterious substance called Element Alpha as you can.

Play to Cure: Genes in Space The most important step in harvesting Element Alpha is to plot your route. Tap on the Route Mapping screen to move the line that represents your course, making sure that the line goes through the points where the Element Alpha is thickest. Once you're satisfied with your course, tap "Play" and you'll get to fly along it. You can navigate either by tilting your device or holding your finger on the side of the screen you want to move toward (you can change this in the game's settings). Shoot asteroids by tapping the screen. Your ship targets them automatically, which is good because once you start hitting asteroid fields, you'll be too busy shooting to worry about where you're aiming. Once you reach the end of your course, you can trade in your Element Alpha for credits, which you can use to buy upgrades, so you can improve your ship so you can collect more Element Alpha, so you can buy more upgrades, so you can improve your ship...

Each field you plot a course through represents a real sample of a person's genes, and plotting your course through the thickest deposits helps show scientists where to look for the genetic abnormalities that can cause cancer. (More information on how the game helps fight cancer can be found Cancer Research UK's website.) While the game's shooter and collection elements definitely take the backseat to the course plotting, that doesn't stop the game from being well-crafted and engaging. The graphics are polished and there's no shortage of upgrades to strive for. The way the game is structured, it's easy to play one level while waiting in a long line or wondering where the heck your bus is. Playing Genes in Space, it's easy to forget that while you're destroying asteroids, you're also helping to save people's lives.

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.


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Rating: 4.8/5 (136 votes)
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The Last Door: Chapter 3

DoraThis game reviewed a O rating due to pixelated blood and gore, and mature themes and horror.

The Game Kitchen's point-and-click adventure horror game The Last Door: Chapter 3 begins with a bang and a lot of heavy breathing, as following the disturbing events of Chapter 2, our hero wakes up in a coffin and stumbles out from the dank underground cell to find himself in an unfamiliar city. Everyone thinks he's just another drunkard as he stumbles through the dirty streets, lost in confusion and memories, and he can't figure out where the ticket he found in his pocket has come from. When night falls, however, he has more things to worry about than callous indifference, and the streets get even darker and stranger. To play, just click when the cursor changes to interact, and click to highlight items in your inventory for use on the screen. One of the puzzles is audio-based, but since the game thoughtfully comes with a closed captioning option, you can complete it even if you have difficulty hearing. In fact, the game comes with a lot of options to make things easier for all players, so make sure you check the opening screen to see if any of it applies to you!

The Last Door: Chapter 3Chapter 3 feels a bit more tightly designed than its predecessor by being more adept at balancing narrative and gameplay, so you'll do a lot more exploring and puzzle-solving than having people yap at you. That's not to say the narrative is light here... if anything, this third installment provides a lot of interesting context to some characters and their relationships. It's just that the series also returns to more of the exploration and puzzle solving that the original leaned heavily on. None of it is what I'd call difficult, though it can be easy to miss things since the game's colour scheme is so dark in places as to make it hard to tell what you're looking at until you click on it. You're often given little direction when it comes to accomplishing tasks, so experimenting is a must... this is an adventure game, after all. You didn't think you were going to get out of it without rubbing that broken mask on everything from the paintings to that horse carcass to see if that was the key, did you?

As far as tone, however, Chapter 3 might be the strongest the series has offered, with an ethereal, otherworldly quality to the setting. It feels menacing, tense, and subtly wrong in a thousand unsettling little ways, and the jump scares (yes, again) are executed with more finesse. The sound design here is particularly excellent, which makes playing with it turned up a harrowing treat. The game ends on a big cliffhanger that sets a new record on the Creepy Meter, and the fourth and final installment of this first "season" will have a lot of work to do if it plans to answer most of our questions and provide any sort of closure. The Last Door: Chapter 3 is a superbly crafted adventure that's scary without resorting to a lot of gore and violence, so turn the lights down low and the volume up high, and let it raise the hair on the back of your neck.

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Thanks to Celli for sending this one in!

Though Chapter Four has been released, it's currently only available to people who donate towards funding the next season in the series, though it will be available freely in the summer of 2014. We will wait to cover each chapter until you can play it freely. "Enhanced" versions of each chapter containing sharper visuals and translation options are available on the site. More information is available here.


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Rating: 4.5/5 (112 votes)
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The Holidays are Over

GrinnypWhile the winter holidays like Christmas are a riot of brightness and warmth to offset the lengthiest night of the year, eventually the celebration is over and it becomes time to take down the decorations, extinguish the twinkling lights, and face the long, dark wait until spring. After the holidays is a contemplative interval, and a perfect setting for one of Tomatea's quiet, Zen-like room escapes. Isn't it nice that they've filled the void with their latest, The Holidays are Over?

The Holidays are OverClick your way around this calm, quiet room aided by the glow-top cursor that highlights areas of interest. A wide variety of interesting puzzles await the intrepid explorer and gives a quiet last hurrah and fare-thee-well to the season of lights. The Holidays are Over features logical puzzles and a fantastic control structure including an easy to use inventory and the ability to save your game and come back later. The glowing cursor eliminates most pixel hunting, and the only potential downside is the many color-based puzzles which may not be accessible to all. Entertaining whatever the time of year, The Holidays are Over is another exquisite escape from the fertile mind of Tomatea. Let's Celebrate!

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Thanks to Celli for sending this one in!

Weekday Escape

elleSometimes it's hard to know what makes a good escape game a good escape game. Always it's more satisfying when you can say with some certainty your freedom was well earned—that, armed with nothing but your wits and a few spare devices, you faced down your mental opponent and came out on top. But the rules should be fair, having sound reasoning and unbreakable logic behind their machinations. How well do the following three escapes stick to these rules? Each has its unique flair and style, but do they succeed?

Chocolate Mint RoomChocolate Mint Room - You probably recognize the sweet pastel aesthetics and upbeat chime as belonging to Yuri, who is better known around these parts for the Chick Hide and Seek series. While this particular escape is sans the adorable little peeps, the puzzle formulations and mechanics remain familiar. The most distinguishing aspect is the unique angle at which we face the room. Although the puzzles are easy enough once you've put together all the clues, finding those clues relies on a fair share of inference. After all is said and done, it feels as if its potential wasn't fully met. Maybe it's too easy, perhaps? As far as clever ways to open a door, though, this is one of the sweetest.

Escape from the Triangle MazeEscape from the Triangle Maze - There's no mistaking a Hottategoya design when in a room full of escape games. The surreal emptiness takes minimalism a step beyond ordinary. That's both an asset and a disadvantage as there are fewer means to hide clues and present puzzles. This particular escape will win no fans from the maze-hater crowd. But if I was an evil maniac bent on watching my victims attempt to escape their confines, I'd do as Hottategoya does: make full use of architectural design in my puzzle schemes. Because of the layout, some rules of navigation seem arbitrary but necessary. Was this an amusingly inventive trick? Or simply pure annoyance?

Escape from the Cat RoomEscape from the Cat Room - Cyan Mage's stylishly retro interface is convincing enough to spark a longing, the kind that leaves you digging through closets for your old GameBoy. While the nostalgia is immensely fun, and the cats are just too charming to not elicit smiles, the design's downsides can be irksome. Of the few puzzles, most are straight-forward and the greatest challenge comes from figuring out where to click or what object to employ. Then again, those weird items and rather strange puzzles are so typical of the tiny 8-bit graphics of old, it may warm your love of that golden era of gaming history. What is it, exactly, that makes retro so appealing?

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 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (48 votes)
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Find the Escape-Men 86: Secret House 5

DoraNo1Game's Find the Escape-Men series has been going on for a long, long time, but it rarely ventures into any sort of cohesive continuity or complexity. You're in a place. So are ten little green men. Find them, solve a simple puzzle or two, and bing-bam, you're out. So it was somewhat unexpected when Secret House 1 seemed to introduce a story where you fainted on the way home from work, and Secret House 2, 3, and 4 followed right along, building a story about... well, you'll have to play for yourself to see, mostly because it's a little strange. Now the final installment is here, and in Find the Escape-Men 86: Secret House 5 your last challenge might be one of the most complex. Just click around to interact and search, and since the cursor doesn't change, you'll want to try everything from every angle... even items in your inventory can be viewed up close with the question mark icon to manipulate or combine!

As mentioned, the Escape-Men games tend to be a little overly simple, so some of the more thinky puzzles in this one come as a welcome surprise. This entire mini-series spin-off has slowly scaled up in puzzle complexity, and this last installment feels like an appropriate cap on them all by providing some challenges that are at once both satisfyingly logical and even a little sneaky. The biggest issue is that it's still easy to miss hidden angles or views because there's no visual indication that something might be there until you click, so if you're stuck or missing something, you have to resort to clicking everywhere on everything. The ending is... uh... the ending... is... something else, which is about the only way I can really describe it other than "cute", "unexpected", "weird", and "what was that I don't even". Still, as odd as it is, Secret House has showcased some great design from a series that's often been overlooked for being too fast and easy, and provides a short, fun break-sized bit of escapery goodness. Hopefully we see more of these interconnected yarns and learn a bit more about the Escape-Men, and continue to see more of this level of gameplay from the developer.

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Rating: 4/5 (65 votes)
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Earth Taken 2

TrickyIn Earth Taken 2, Seething Swarm's action-platforming sequel, aliens have turned our planet into a foggy, noxious, post-apocalyptic wasteland, the government seems to be doing something ambiguously sinister, and you are a survivor, trying desperately to shoot through the hordes to some kind of safety... just like the original game. The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh? Move with the [arrow] keys and jump/double jump with [S] making your way to the objective or safe-house at the end of each level. Vehicles, exploding barrels, and other shootables like enemies can be taken care of by firing your gun or using your melee with [A], reloading when necessary with [R]. [Spacebar] enters doors, loots dead bodies, and interact with other characters. Supplies can be collected, including health-packs which can be traded in at outposts for upgrades, weapons, and ammo, or consumed with [E] for a quick recharge. The air in the environment is toxic, so make sure you have enough gas mask filters on hand to avoid the hit to your health. Take too much of the irradiated black rain, and you'll die, so use [X] to keep your levels steady using radiation pills on corpses. Found survivors will join you as allies, and will be quite useful in a fight.

Earth Taken 2Jocularity aside, Earth Taken 2, while cloning many elements of the original, also refines them and, while not a remake, ends up sort of being the game the original could and should have been. The survival horror elements are emphasized, making the gameplay a lot more focused. The world of Earth Taken 2, isn't dark, but it's frightening all the same, and gives a good balance of claustrophobic and agoraphobic terrors There are also a few more control schemes to choose from, and though far from the ideal of full remapability, they are well appreciated. So even if Earth Taken 2 is a bit of an "Earth Taken 1.5", it's the best Earth Taken 1.5 it could be, and should be appreciated by platformer fans looking for some sci-fi with a side of subtle scares.

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Rating: 4.3/5 (23 votes)
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Card City Nights

DoraCard City Nights, available for PC, Mac, Linux as well as Android (and soon iOS!), is sort of a weird duck, and I mean that in the best possible way. Created by Ludosity, it's a surreal adventure game spin on a card-collecting battling boardgame set in a funky city where everyone is obsessed with it. And by "everyone", I of course mean hat-wearing platypusses, sentient radishes, school children, and so forth. As the game begins, you've just moved into town, and everyone is excited at the rumour that the Card King is now accepting challengers for a million dollar prize... but you'll need eight one-of-a-kind legendary cards to even be able to take a shot. Unexpectedly strategy enough to captivate fans, it's also casual enough and slow but steady in its pacing to work as a great introduction to the genre for novice players, with an engagingly colourful design that makes it stand out from the pack. Or should I say... deck?! Gotta build 'em all!

Card City NightsThe core gameplay is naturally the card battling everyone is so entranced with, and it plays like a somewhat simplified Triple Triad. You and your opponent take turns placing cards on your boards, each trying to reduce the other's defense to zero. Cards are activated when you link three or more in a row by connecting the arrows on the edges together, and this triggers the dominant card attribute. (If you have multiple card types in equal amounts in your connection, you get to select the type you want to activate.) For example, linking at least two attack cards together would deal damage, while two or more defense cards would strengthen your defense value. For every card you play, you're dealt another from your deck, and while initially you start off with only a dew different types, as you play you'll unlock a lot more with special abilities. Some cards can revive a disabled one, for example, or count as two when you're linking them to another, or cards that will randomly spin at the start of each round.

When you're not battling, your time is spent exploring the city and talking to people. To what end? Why, more cards of course! There are booster packs to buy (with in-game currency... no in-app purchases whatsoever!), uncommon or rare cards to come across, and secrets to uncover, all of which amounts to, well... grinding. With 180 unique cards to collect, you might have to burn through a lot of battles or booster packs to find the specific cards you want, so it's a good thing battling seems to be all everyone ever wants to do. Deck management will wind up playing a big role as you progress, and with a minimum of twenty-five cards (up to forty total) to make a deck, and six decks to create total, customizing their setup can take a lot of your time. As a result, Card City Nights is a game best suited for players for whom the thrill of completion and careful strategy is their idea of a good time. This does mean that once you get a lot of cards, organizing decks can become tedious when the scrolling deck UI only displays twelve cards onscreen at a time.

Card City NightsThough at first blush Card City Nights seems like a gentler version of more complex card games, once you start building your deck you'll realize that there's more to it than it seems. Once you start getting into cards that move or ones that require other specific cards to activate powerful combinations, however, or even powerful cards that apply a penalty for using them, you'll realize there's more going on under the hood than it seems. Things don't start to get particularly challenging until after you win your first legendary card, so take your time to learn the ropes. As most matches are best two-of-three or more, they can take a long time if you don't put some thought into deck-building to take foes down quickly.

Card City Nights is the sort of game that feels like a perfect fit for mobile devices because the strategic gameplay and jazzy presentation makes you want to sink back in a comfy chair with it for hours. Don't expect much of a story despite the touted adventure aspect, or for the characters and cards referenced to make much sense to you if you haven't played more of Ludosity's games. But you also shouldn't expect that to get in your way of enjoying it. It's just so unapologetically silly that it's effortlessly charming, and as a result, makes for a simple yet rock-solid addition to the genre that's well worth a play.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Steam)

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

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version (Steam)


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Rating: 4.2/5 (95 votes)
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Cover Orange Journey Knights

TrickyCover Orange: Journey Knights is a game with one of the great word salad titles. Indeed, it's right up there with Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Alpha Black Zero Intrepid Protocol in the field of "maybe this name could use a little context". Of course, those familiar with Johnny-K's Cover Orange series of physics puzzles might figure this installment (featuring the talent of Vladimir Gusev) might involve covering anthropomorphic oranges from evil acid rain. Likewise, the opening cinematic pretty clearly shows said oranges going through some manner of time-warp to the middle ages, which explains the "knights" part. And the journey? Well, that's up to the player to experience for themselves.

Cover Orange Journey KnightsTo keep your oranges safe each level, you are given a number of wheels and blocks you drop from the top half of the screen by clicking, so as to push/cover your oranges or shift elements of the environment. Some levels now require you to place oranges in the same manner. Once you have placed the objects and oranges, the spike rain clouds will roll in. If just one hits an orange, the level ends and you must to try again. Extra level stars are awarded for placing objects quickly, and for clicking the hidden level star that is revealed once the spiked rain starts a fallin'. Some thought the last Cover Orange player pack was a little lacking, so happily this is a return to form. The puzzles involving placing the oranges yourself add a new and interesting wrinkle to the gameplay, and as strange as it is to mix some hidden-object-ing in with the physics-ing, hunting that extra star in each level does provide a nice distraction while waiting for that cloud to cross the screen. The 36 levels included have a nice learning curve, so both fans of the series and those encountering it for the first time should find it quite a-peeling.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (25 votes)
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Jazzpunk

kyhThis game received a rating of Y for infrequent profanity and robotic innuendo.

It is the year 1959B. Is too a real year. You know, in an alternate reality. You are Polyblank, spy extraordinaire, if James Bond crossed with Legoland can be called that. In Necrophone Games' first person comedy adventure game, Jazzpunk, you are tasked with a variety of missions from infiltrating the Soviet Consulate to doing something strange involving a mechanical pig. Each mission will take you into an unusual new world with an overabundance of objects to interact with. How are these missions connected? What is the big picture here? Is there one?

Jazzpunk2As with most first person titles, you'll look around with the mouse and move Polyblank with [WASD]. Additionally, you can jump with the [spacebar] and cycle through your inventory with [Q]. Your inventory is not handled like in traditional adventure games, where it becomes a large entity you puzzle through, but instead is only a couple of items at a time that you often use (with a click of the mouse) like weapons or other tools. Oh, like you've never wielded a framed picture before.

Analysis: Influenced by spoof comedies of the Leslie Nielsen era, Jazzpunk is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. Some may say not seriously at all, but if you're looking for anything resembling a straightforward adventure game, this may not be the title for you. On the other hand, if you're familiar with gaming related pop references of the 90's, Jazzpunk may well tickle your funny bone to a delightfully nostalgic level. It's jam packed with references from that time and, even if you don't get them all, the complete experience can still be entertaining.

Jazzpunk3The problems with Jazzpunk are issues that are inherent to its style. While it is technically an adventure game, the epic story often associated with the genre is not present. Each of the half a dozen or so mission areas could have been presented in a different order with little to no change to the experience. Additionally, as stated before, the target audience is rather specialized toward those who have played Quake or know what the Virtual Boy is. Familiarity with these items is not a prerequisite of the game, and there are plenty of other humorous encounters within, but rather would give you full appreciation of what the developers were trying to create.

For a two-man studio, Necrophone Games has put together a solid, quirky, possibly divisive title. And if you think a comedy adventure with Get Smart spy-flair is up your alley, then toss them your cash. The main game may only take two hours to play through, but with all the sidequests to complete, achievements to earn and crabs to converse with, there are several more hours worth of exploring in the surprisingly detailed environments.

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Rating: 3.5/5 (47 votes)
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That's My Moon 2: Phantom Menace

Starchild Well, the Moon is in trouble again. It would be nice if it could solve its own problems for once, but noooo, let the Earthlings handle it. So we'll roll up our sleeves once more and jump into the fray. In the new satellite-defending vertical shooter, That's My Moon 2: Phantom Menace, you are up against waves of powerful intruders. You can't leave the surface, so all you can do is shoot out of your spaceship and send your little drone out to pick up money and power-ups. Easy as moon pie!

That's My Moon 2: Phantom Menace As in the previous game, it's enough to point the cursor (the drone) in the right direction, and the spaceship will do the shooting for you. Unlike the previous game, you don't have to click to pick up money, which comes as a big relief. The various weapons don't come floating by in the middle of levels anymore. You can buy them as upgrades and choose among them by pressing the [spacebar], meaning you can change your enemy-blasting style mid-level. The enemy ships have been updated, which is to say that they are meaner and shoot a lot more lasers, so avoiding them is as much a part of the fight as firing at them. If you're careful enough, progression through the sixteen levels should be relatively smooth and grinding won't be necessary. That's My Moon 2 is a decent successor in that it is more fun than the original and comes with some important updates. However, don't expect big Star Wars references just because the game uses the name of an actual Star Wars film; this is about protecting the Moon. Because the Moon is very important. For some reason.

Play That's My Moon 2: Phantom Menace


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Rating: 3.5/5 (25 votes)
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Dark Parables: Jack and the Sky Kingdom

elleThe tales most people know are only partly true, fragments of the actual stories behind the myths. As the Fairy Tale Detective, your mission is not only to get to the bottom of the facts, but to save the world while you're at it. This time around, the mythical kingdom in the sky is breaking apart causing meteor-like pieces hurling toward earth and you must join with a grown-up boy on the beanstalk, yes that Jack, to rescue it in Blue Tea Games' gorgeous, action-packed hidden object adventureDark Parables: Jack and the Sky Kingdom.

Dark Parables: Jack and the Sky KingdomLike the others in the Dark Parables series, the story elements are strong, blending familiar plots and characters into an original, darker fairy tale. Here, Jack is like Indiana Jones but don't start thinking he'll being doing the heavy lifting in this adventure. It's all up to you to take on foe and friend alike, exploring lush environments for the objects and pieces needed to unlock new areas or fix broken ornaments. That's where most the enjoyment lies as the heart of the gameplay is finding and using items. How easy or difficult this turns out to be can be customized through three difficulty settings; at all levels, you can choose to turn on and off sparkles at any time. Even so, the challenge is somewhat inconsistent. Most of the task-based and item-use puzzles are beautiful but simple to complete, hidden objects are usually (although not always) easy to spot, while the minigames tend to be less frequent yet more involved. It is the hidden object search scenes that sets this series apart from others in the genre, though. Instead of a jumble of random objects, in Jack and the Sky Kingdom, as in all the Dark Parables games, elaborate and interesting artwork helps camouflage fragments of items. Once you find all the parts, they come together to create a single object that can be used somewhere else in the game, a bit like a magical crafting system.

Dark Parables: Jack and the Sky KingdomAlong with the main objectives, which are kept updated in the task menu and highlighted on the map, there are a number of side quests: collect twenty cursed objects just for the fun of it and also find the various parts to a parable to open the story in your journal. The map itself isn't much use, though, as it doesn't show areas with incomplete puzzles nor can it be used to jump to a new scene. Still, while there is a wide variety of locations and areas to discover, backtracking is kept to a minimum so the lively pace of the story is never dragged down. Just as you think the story is winding down, a new twist sends it on and things really get mesmerizing once you reach the Sky Kingdom. The fantasy-themed aesthetics are truly beautiful as well: there is no shortage of eye candy anywhere you look. It's easy to sigh the lack of higher definition graphics yet Blue Tea Games' design and artwork remains superbly high quality throughout and many of the details are near photo-realistic. An amazing amount of depth in the artwork and animations, along with a well written story and talented voice acting make playing Jack and the Sky Kingdom worthwhile and entertaining. It's sure to be a favorite among fans as well as those new to the series.

Currently only the Collector's Edition of this game is available. It contains bonus content not found in the standard edition: a bonus game, built-in strategy guide, 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:
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Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
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Rating: 4.3/5 (150 votes)
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Monkey GO Happy Adventure

elleEven monkeys heed the call to adventure every now and then, especially when an evil king steals their favorite toys, making them go very sad. The only way to stop the endless flow of tears is by embarking on a Monkey GO Happy Adventure to get the toys back. Following the changing cursor, click on the screen to interact with objects and characters as you explore the kingdom. After you find helpful items, drag them from your inventory onto necessary spots to solve puzzles, working your way into the castle and freeing the monkeys' playthings from the regent's well-guarded vault.

Monkey GO Happy AdventureThis latest installment of Pencil Kids' whimsical point-and-click puzzle series doesn't depart much from the formula but there are a couple notable differences. Rather than a series of individual scenes or a need limit the number of clicks, your goal is to complete the singular quest to find the toys as quickly as possible. A high score isn't the only reason you want to be fast: the sooner you rescue the toys, the quicker you'll turn weeping to joyful leaping. As long as you don't get squeamish over stinky spider poo, all this is a simple thing with rather straight-forward tasks and only two codes to hinder your progress. Fame, glory and a fortune? Maybe. Happy monkeys? Definitely.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (136 votes)
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Tainted Olive: Chapter 1

DoraBlack Olive Games' newest point-and-click adventure series begins with Tainted Olive: Chapter 1, where you take control of Silvian. Silvian's mood has been bleak lately and his luck only seems to go from bad to worse when he runs afoul of the local thieves guild, who, as it happens, don't take kindly to people trying to run out on their debts. A job posted by the local church to investigate the sudden silence at one of their heavily guarded orchards seems like a good idea, both in terms of cash and an excuse to get out of town for a while, but before he can leave, he has some unfinished business to attend to. To play, all you need to do is click to interact anywhere your cursor highlights with a white glow, and the map you gain early on will let you travel from place to place. Friend, this is one maudlin game, so hopefully you're in the mood for some bleakness and some sad doo-doo-doo music.

Tainted Olive: Chapter 1Though the story is extremely text-heavy, your actual choices are fairly limited and so are any actual puzzles. The game does some clever things with its puzzles, but they stutter somewhat from poor explanations or awkward interfaces. This first chapter of a planned six part series shoulders the burden of introducing us to a new world, one vastly different from The Grey Rainbow. A lot of it is interesting, like the Blood, the Five Hundred Year War, and the importance of olives, but not everyone will appreciate the jarring breaks to the story the narrative often takes to infodump it in your lap. If you can stand the bumps, however, Tainted Olive is a curiously engrossing game that feels like it has the potential to open up into an even more creative world. The risks it takes with its puzzle design might make it seem rough around the edges, but they stand out from the pack. Chapter 1 itself is on the short side, and don't expect to finish with more answers than questions, but the series shows a lot of promise, and later this year we'll see if it can continue the momentum.

Play Tainted Olive: Chapter 1


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Dungelot 2

JohnBDungelot, the casual dungeon exploration tap-fest from Red Winter Software, has finally spawned a sequel! Dungelot 2 bumps up the intensity, the complexity, the quality of the artwork and the number of attacks at your disposal, turning your simple romp through the dungeon into a more full-featured RPG experience.

Dungelot 2Playing Dungelot 2 is a lot like hanging a few dozen advent calendars on your wall. Tap tiles to uncover secrets they hide. Sometimes it'll be empty floor, other times coins, health points, spells, enemies or other surprises both good and bad. Foes block adjacent tiles and protect the key you must find to progress to the next level. By tapping and attacking enemies, you can defeat them one by one. Watch your own health level, though, and keep an eye on your other stats as well. Don't want to tap yourself into a nasty corner, do you?

Dungelot 2 adds a number of features that put a bit of a crowbar separation between it and its predecessor. The more positive additions include better artwork, more level variety, and a bigger number of spells and enemies to stumble across. The not-so-positive additions are an energy meter that limits your play time and an all-pervasive in-app purchasing system. You can still play Dungelot 2 like before, tapping your way through the levels and having a good time, but the gameplay was redesigned to allow freemium features to share the spotlight. It still has the soul of a Dungelot game, but the simple fun is in danger of being smothered by bog standard features found in just about every mobile game on the market today.

Note: Dungelot 2 has been temporarily removed from the marketplace for bug fixes and gameplay tweaks.

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.


(17 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mystery Trackers: Raincliff's Phantoms

DoraRaincliff is a town with a weird reputation, and when a budding reporter goes missing covering the myth of a family of invisible people, you get called in to find her. After all... you know the myth is both real, and dangerous. In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure Mystery Trackers: Raincliff's Phantoms, you'll return to the town that nearly killed you in the second game of the Mystery Trackers series, and it's as deadly and weird as ever. The town is anything but abandoned, and its strange inhabitants don't like you sticking your nose into their business again... after all, you did nearly blow the place up last time, but it still seems like they're up to something. They all appear to be afraid of someone in particular, and with all the axes, broken glass, and baseball bats aimed at your head, maybe you should worry too.

Mystery Trackers: Raincliff's PhantomsThough Raincliff's Phantoms plays like your typical hidden-object adventure as you hunt for items and solve puzzles using things you find, it does offer a few twists. The morphing collectible objects now have a use, keeping you warm if you're playing in Frost Mode for the secret bonus at the end of the game, and you'll also find videotapes to watch that will provide clues to hidden locations. Yes, you also have your intrepid little yap-yap dog to squeeze into small places and retrieve items for you, your magic hint-dealing toad, and that wonderful instant-travel map. Elephant Games has always designed user-friendly games, and with a bunch of difficulty settings on top of it all, Raincliff's Phantoms is no different. You'll find yourself doing a lot of back-tracking, yes, but the map and its helpful "DO STUFF HERE, DUMMY" icons makes it less of a chore. The gameplay itself will likely only offer any sort of challenge if you're playing on the hardest difficulty since the hints are too helpful. Adventure game logic will rear its head from time to time, but hey. You're playing a game where your sidekick is a magic frog. As a great woman once said, Captain Logic is not steering this tugboat.

In its own way, Raincliff's Phantoms is just as crazy as Mystery Trackers: Raincliff, which is a good thing, since as weird as it is, it's also creative and keeps you guessing, and at around four hours for an average play, not counting the additional bonus chapter in the Collector's Edition which has its own story, a solid length for some warped mystery solving. It's packed with cutscenes, plot twists, mild jumpscares, great atmosphere, and gorgeous art. It's more campy than serious by a long shot, so you should try the demo if that's a make-or-break situation for you, but Mystery Trackers: Raincliff's Phantoms delivers high-quality design and gameplay all around for a polished adventure that shows other games in the genre how it should be done.

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

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (68 votes)
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Nothing to Hide Demo

DoraPlease note that this game received its rating for mentions of child abuse and bloodless cartoon violence.

Last November, we looked at the prototype for Nutcase Nightmare's intriguing and sly "anti-stealth" puzzle game, which centered around guiding our heroine through a series of darkened mazes while always making sure she never roamed out of sight of the watchful eyes of the sentries. Now, Nothing to Hide is back with a demo, and some big changes. Our heroine now has a name, Poppy Gardner, and as the game begins she's running away from home. Not because the stifling security and ever-present all-seeing eyes are getting to her, but because she's worried her increasing inability to nail a smile on her face is going to hurt her father's Popularity Metrics in the upcoming un-secret ballot election. How will she handle being able to have her first ever private thought? Is she prepared to start thinking and acting for herself?

Nothing to Hide DemoTo play, use [WASD], the [arrow] keys, or click to move Poppy. The object is to get from one end of each level to the other, while always staying within the sight lines of at least one of the posted triangular security eyes. Their field of view is marked on the ground with moving horizontal lines, and eventually Poppy will be able to pick up and place them with the [spacebar] to move them around. Wander outside their view for longer than a second or two and you'll be plugged full of tranquilizer darts and sent back to try again. After all, only a criminal would ever want to be outside the view of the government at all times for any reason, right? If you have nothing to hide, why should you care if you're being watched? Creepy? Yes, and that's the point. Subtle? Not really, but it works.

The game deals with the concept of privacy, of course, and how far is too far when it comes to our increasingly claustrophobic and invasive surveillance in the US. Nothing to Hide might be perhaps an extreme representation of that, but it does illustrate how restrictive and oppressive that extreme is. Poppy is a nervous, twitching wreck from having every aspect of her life kept public, and the security system doesn't care that she's a law-abiding teenage girl... it's going to plug her full of darts like she's the biggest, meanest criminal around if she so much as puts a toe out of line, even accidentally and with no ill intent. The demo is a short eight levels, not including the opening and closing cutscenes, and does a solid job of introducing enough new elements such as the moving walkways and blue trigger eyes to keep you engaged. A few of those stages do feel extremely fiddly, however, with only a split second or hair-width for error, but if you get stuck, you can use the level select from the pause menu to skip ahead.

Nothing to Hide is also up for funding until March 12th, and with the developer considering the demo as "less than a tenth" of what the full game will be, it's got a long road ahead. The game is also open-source and un-copyrighted in a bold move to prove its title. Games that are willing to tackle serious issues are worth taking notice of, however, and with its fantastic atmosphere and unique design, Nothing to Hide's demo is definitely compelling and designed to make you think.

Play Nothing to Hide (Demo)


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Rating: 4.6/5 (82 votes)
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Plexus Valentines 2014

DoraWill you be our Valentine? We didn't get you candy or cards or stuffed animals. No, darlin', we know what you like, and we knew the best way to show our love for our readers was to say it with puzzles... Plexus puzzles! Plexus Valentine's Day 2014 is a short but sweet slice of jigsaw puzzle gaming with a twitterpated theme. As you may know, Plexus puzzles are like no other, and figuring out how all the different pieces fit together is harder than you might think since you're not aiming to make a visually cohesive scene per se... you're trying to fit parts together based on their edges to make one big shape.

Just click and drag pieces to move them around, and use the [arrow] keys once you've clicked on one to rotate it. If two pieces fit together and you've aligned them properly, they'll automatically snap into place. This lovey-dovey puzzle isn't as complex as others we've seen from Plexus, but rich watercolour-esque hues and charming imagery is a fine way to get your puzzle fix. Roses wilt and candy is made of wax and bug parts... why not show someone you truly care with a baffling jigsaw and kissing flutter-bies?

Play Plexus Valentine's Day 2014

Link Dump Fridays

DoraWith fairytale clicktoys, surreal and transcendent interactive art, rage inducing arcade avoidance games, and soothingly simple puzzle games, this Link Dump Friday might be the Frankenstein's monster of game compilations, but you can put away the pitchforks and the torches. It's just here to be loved. It doesn't want to eat the townsfolk. ... just... maybe... gnaw on 'em a little.

  • GatherXGatherX - For some reason, whenever my mother read me the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, she left out all the clicking. Probably because it would have taken her fifteen years to tell it otherwise. Adam Vierra, Diploms1, and MB throw their hats in the clicktoy pool with this resource-gathering spin on the classic fairytale where you must mine and fish in addition to taking whacks at the beanstalk in order to afford upgrades to work faster and more efficiently. Maybe the cow was the better deal... ?
  • GlimpseGlimpse - Can a game be both mellow and make you want to throw your computer off a bridge? If it's Hybrid Mind Studios' imminently stylish and simple avoidance game, then the answer is a teeth-gritting yes! Try to navigate yourself through a maze avoiding the walls that only appear when you click, which itself incurs a small penalty, so the object is to try to memorize the layout of the level to get through with your highscore intact. And your computer.
  • Shape Fold 2Shape Fold 2 - Bikas serves up some soothingly simple puzzling where all you have to do is click and drag hinged shapes to make them fit together according to the design. If you're looking for something low on difficulty but high on curiously cathartic atmosphere (what is that music? Am I drinking tea in Saturn Valley?), this is the game for you to set your day off on a calm note.
  • Scaling the SkyScaling the Sky - Created in just 48 hours, Michael Molinari, Chelsea Howe, and William Felkner's platform game/loveliness generator is as surreal as it is soothing with its dreamlike gameplay and visuals. You play a young girl who literally has her head (and everything else) in the clouds as she climbs higher and higher using rainbows and waterfalls. Simple? Sure. But more accurately, simply beautiful.

  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (59 votes)
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Labyrinth: Secrets of ShadowHaven

TrickyYesterday, the sun went out, and while we don't want to resort to stereotyping, it seems like that dark and ominous castle, whose ever-changing walls conceal magical orbs of evil power untold, fueled by the suffering of those trapped in a forever midnight, might have something to do with it. But fortunately, a hero, armed with naught but determination, guile, and the general advantages of being a cute, scampering, demon-thingy, will enter the castle, defeat its inhabitants, destroy the orbs, and, most likely, pick up some sweet upgrades along the way! It's Labyrinth: Secrets of ShadowHaven, a roguelike platformer by Nick Pasto and Luis Castanon.

Labyrinth: Secrets of ShadowhavenUse the [arrow] keys to move and climb about the randomly generated levels, using [A] to jump. Each level has a certain number of magic orbs that must be destroyed, either with your basic [S] attack or, if you've found one, the projectile weapons launched with [D]. Each level also contains enemies to kill and treasure chests/crates that contain various power-ups and upgrades. Destroying all the orbs will unlock the door to the level boss fight. It's styled as an endless game, where there's always another castle to fight and another land to rescue, with players competing for the higher score. For this conceit to work, there needs to be a large and attractive pool of locations, enemies, and power-ups to randomly draw from, and fortunately, the game has just that, making for a work just as enjoyable to play as it is to look at. Admittedly, the narrative is a little disappointing, with no real Amulet-Of-Yendor-style endgame to look forward to. Plus, the lack of saves is an annoying omission for the not-quite-so-hardcore gamers like myself. However, Labyrinth: Secrets of ShadowHaven's innate humor and likability sees it through, making for a tough-but-quite-rewarding crawl through its dungeons.

Play Labyrinth: Secrets of ShadowHaven


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Rating: 4.3/5 (48 votes)
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Horse Jump

JohnBHorse Jump is a simple logic-driven puzzle game created by RatoLibre1. It utilizes a board with colored and marked squares alongside matching tokens you can click to manipulate. Each piece moves like a knight in chess, that clever little L-shape that works so well in puzzle games. Touch each matching square on the screen to progress to the next level. Do it flawlessly and within the move limit to earn a perfect score!

Horse Jump does a fantastic job building the difficulty up over the course of the game. It teaches new tricks without hand-holding tutorial text, which is a big step closer to game design perfection in our book. Stylish and simple with a flawless interface, loads of harsh puzzles to complete, and a bonus level editor in case you run out of things to do. It's absolutely sublime!

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Rating: 4.3/5 (96 votes)
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Popping Ghosts

DoraAndriy Vinchkovskiy and Pavel Lagutin figure that these days Bill Murray is too busy making cameos to deal with slime, so these days people are gonna need someone new to call when they've got a ghost problem. Popping Ghosts is a physics-based match-3 game about gems, ghouls, and questionable exorcisms. You're a spunky, sword-wielding, motorcycle riding chick with a chained ghost because it's rad that's why. The gameplay itself is fairly simple. Stab three or more chained ghosts of the same colour to remove them from the field, and give you a little more time on the clock. Connected ghosts will be linked by a line so they're easy to spot, and while you can remove single ghosts if you wish, you'll take a small penalty. Popped ghosts become gems which can be filtered down to the bottom of the screen, and once you've gathered a certain amount, your surly spectral assistant will appear and clear a portion of the board for you. The conditions for victory vary from stage to stage, but the ticking clock rarely does. Some stages have special ghosts, such as those locked in cages that need to be destroyed by multiple bomb detonations, icy ghosts who will sneakily spread their freeze to others around them, and more. Ghosts may be jerks, but they are versatile.

Popping Ghosts All of this is about what you'd expect for your typical match-3 arcade game, but where the physics come in is where Popping Ghosts adds a bit of extra challenge. The ghosts fall and roll like actual balls around the screen, and with some stages incorporating water, physical obstacles, or even a continual waterfall of ghosts, making matches is harder than in a game where everything is stationary. The physics wind up working both for and against the game, since they provide a lot of interesting challenge and variety, but waiting for ghosts to settle and connect feels fiddly, especially since those connections can be broken by being jostled just a hair too far apart. Survival mode lets you play as long as you can last, and Zen mode allows you to play any level you've already unlocked without that pesky timer. Though you can play the entire game without it, if you connect through Facebook (thankfully there are no notifications or ads or ask for any payment whatsoever) you can participate in online high-score rankings.

All of this makes for a match-3 game more chaotic than most, and yet if you like a little action, it works. Who knew combining a ball pit with ghost busting was a thing? It's a colourful, cheeky little game that combines simple gameplay with just enough new mechanics introduced throughout to keep you on your toes without demanding a lot in return. It doesn't exactly do anything new, but it's the sort of casually engaging "one more level" arcade game that will fill up a break, the time between emails, or, uh, when you're supposed to be writing reviews. Its physics will make it an acquired taste for some, but Popping Ghosts is still a vibrant and addictive little arcade game that's a great fit for spare time.

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Weekday Escape

elleLook around you and consider what you see—everything and everybody has a story, a continuing saga of how they came to be where they are, where they're going next, and what happens when they get there. Not all are as interesting as some, and not all are obvious. Sometimes it's up to the observer to fill in the blanks. In the case of escape-the-room games, that's true more often than not. Why are you always getting yourself locked inside rooms? More than that: what agent of waggery keeps trapping you there?

Find the Escape-Men 82: Secret House 1 - A ManFind the Escape-Men 82: Secret House 1 - A Man - The start of an episodic adventure by No1Game places you center stage in a mystery. Fainting suddenly while on the way home from work, now you're in a strange basement room, unable to exit through the door. Short and very limited on puzzle power, the game remains gratifying in an OCD sort of way as you set out to collect all ten escape men and discover what will happen once you do. With the tenth guy in your possession, that's where the fun begins. "What's waiting for him beyond the door?" Continue to part two and you'll soon know...

Find the Escape-Men 83: Secret House 2 - Young LadyFind the Escape-Men 83: Secret House 2 - Young Lady - The next in No1Game's secret house series might be more satisfying than part 1 for those seeking greater challenge. Still, skill at puzzle solving is secondary to being observant enough to find the answers in plain sight—as well as those hidden behind a pixel hunt (which are many). Especially without textual clues, some solutions are not what could be called intuitive. It'll take more diligence and thorough pixel hunting to find all ten escape men this time around. You can only infer that you're now deeper inside the secret house, the door you came through now blocked by a heavy safe that nearly crushed your skull. "Who is that man, anyway?" Stay tuned until the next episode to find out.

Escape from the Room of Six StarsEscape from the Room of Six Stars - In this escape from Yomino Kagura, if you don't read Japanese, the story may not seem obvious to you. But it's easy enough to infer what's going on by the visuals alone. Probably you're a contestant in a reality show in which you must solve a series of clever puzzles in order to win your key to prizes. Or, something like that. Although the puzzles are nothing new in form or function, they're enjoyable because they get you thinking, giving pure enjoyment of puzzle solving for escape fans to relax with. There's no stretches in logic or weird item use, only finding and deciphering clues. A clean design eliminates pixel hunts, but be sure to examine everything closely to avoid missing necessary clues. Beware passing over important information in thinking it was already dealt with; outside of that, you should complete this chapter of your escape story in no time at all.

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.


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Rating: 3.7/5 (27 votes)
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Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla

JohnBWhat happens when the team behind Abobo's Big Adventure makes a new game? An old school action arcade game built around mad scientistry, gorillas, pogo sticks, and chainsaws is born! Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla stars a once-happy gorilla who is kidnapped by an evil corporation and subjected to harsh experiments. Naturally, that involves hacking off his limbs, replacing his legs with a pogo stick and his arms with chainsaws. Now that the gorilla has escaped, you get to guide him to freedom!

Bionic Chainsaw Pogo GorillaYou have a couple of attacks at your disposal in Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla: a short-range melee flail, a longer range chainsaw swing, and your pogo jump, which can be used to stomp foes Mario-style. You're turned loose in a series of medium-sized levels where you'll battle all kinds of wandering laboratory personnel and hybrid animal things, each one ready to end your little escape plan. As long as you can land the game's tricky jumps and avoid taking too much damage, you'll make it to the next stage intact, probably sporting a few new costume pieces as well!

As you might as expect from a game with a title like this, it's filled with fast action and bloody chainsawing deaths. Not for the faint of heart. It's a relatively simple but wholly enjoyable platformer, though, providing a stiff adrenaline shot that can easily take the place of your morning cup of coffee.

Play Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla


  • Currently 3.3/5
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Rating: 3.3/5 (27 votes)
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Electro Appliances

Starchild Don't you just want to give electricity a hug? It makes our computers run, it helps cook our food, and without it, we'd have to watch TV in the dark! But it will also kill you if you try to hug it, so the next best thing you can do is play with it in Electro Appliances, a neat physics puzzler. Every level contains a gadget or two that needs to be powered, and you're the person for the job. Just make a connection between a power source and the appliance and you're all set. If this sounds familiar to Let it Glow and its sequel, well, that's because it is. But though Electro Appliances offers little new of its own, it does polish up the concept and provide some engaging levels.

Electro Appliances In order to succeed, you'll have to move conductors which will transfer power from the source to the appliance (both stationary). All the elements have fields around them, indicated with dotted lines, and the fields must overlap for the circuit to work. Sometimes you'll also get a movable battery, but it will have to be fully charged before use. The levels are mostly made up of wooden parts, all of which disappear when clicked. Be careful, though, as you can easily remove a part needed to finish a level. The puzzles aren't necessarily arranged by difficulty, but it can be a relief to stumble upon an easy one after a string of head-scratchers. Electro Appliances is certainly well made, from its bright graphics to the peppy music. The mechanics don't disappoint, either; the laws of physics are dutifully obeyed and gravity works as it should. This is certainly a nice addition to the physics puzzle genre, and it will entertain you throughout its thirty-two levels. So put on your gloves and your goggles and get that radio working!

Play Electro Appliances


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (129 votes)
| Comments (18) | Views (8,204)

Grow Clay

JohnBScience! And lots of clay! The enormously satisfying Grow series of puzzle games created by Eyezmaze is expanding to the world of squishy laboratory experiments and giant robots. Grow Clay puts you in charge of the little yellow clay folk as you work on inventing new materials that can be used to fashion more technologically advanced things. Eventually you'll meet more scientists, build up the town, and maybe, just maybe conquer the world with your fantastical machine.

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

Grow Clay works in much the same way as other Grow games. There are four levels to complete, each with several icons representing different technologies you can place. The goal is to figure out the correct order to place them so each one levels up to the max at the end of the stage. Place the clay before the computer, for example, and nothing much happens. If the computer goes first, you're good to go! Trial and error is key, and Grow Clay is forgiving enough to let you repeat stages and skip the (admittedly charming) animations when you're in a hurry. There's even a secret ending to unlock!

Play Grow Clay


  • Currently 4.1/5
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Rating: 4.1/5 (461 votes)
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Mimou Escape 2

DoraSylviepouetpouet's adorable little black cat is in another bind in the escape game Mimou Escape 2, when it's accidentally tossed into a washing machine along with a load of laundry. Don't worry, it's not turned on... yet. It sounds like something some good old fashioned yowling might fix, but our Mimou has other plans... which is a good thing since this washing machine has some odd secrets and puzzles inside it that I'm fairly certain aren't standard features. Luckily, the people who live here are terrible about cleaning out their pockets, and if you're resourceful and don't mind getting a little wet, escape is within your reach.

Mimou Escape 2Just click to interact, using the bars at the edges of the screen to change your viewpoints, and clicking the big pink arrows when they appear will cause Mimou to scrabble and rotate the machine's barrel, potentially allowing access to new things. You can also combine items in your inventory by double-clicking to view something up close, and then highlighting whatever item you want to use and clicking the item you're viewing. Like Mimou Escape, this sequel is on the short side, heavy more on kitty MacGuyvering than the logical brainy puzzles some might prefer. Sylviepouetpouet's animation shines with personality and charm, however, and though it won't take you long or challenge much provided you remember to look at things from different angles, Mimou Escape 2 is an absolute pleasure to play.

Play Mimou Escape 2

Thanks to Nicosite for sending this one in!


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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The Castle Doctrine

satoriI'd like to take a moment with you to address a deeply tragic and completely serious epidemic in our society today. I'm referring of course to the problem of derivative game design concepts.Despite the overwhelming flurry of game titles about competitive burglary we've seen hitting the market recently, developer Jason Rohrer has brought us The Castle Doctrine, a massively multiplayer defense strategy game about home invasion most likely inspired by the same event in the Nefarious Olympics, just as we've seen from other developers with all the games about Team Hostage Mumbleypeg, Marathon Relay Shoplifting and of course Synchronized Nun Tripping.

The Castle DoctrineThe Castle Doctrine has you preparing an elaborate Rube Goldbergesque system of home defenses to protect your valuables — and your family I guess — from a home invasion. With a budget of $2,000, you'll be laying out a floorplan of components with everything from electrified floors to sensor pressure plates to huge snarling dogs that will hunt down intruders, to circuitry needed to make it all work. Lay out some walls to send the intruder down a deadly maze. Buy your wife a shotgun and put windows in strategic places to enable her to chase down the intruders. Put a pressure plate on the far side of a closed door, so that when the intruder comes it freaks out the cat, which goes off in the opposite direction and sets it off. If your planning was effective, all this could prompt the other players who've decided to break in to leave your house quietly and your valuables and loved ones in peace. Slightly better is to devise a way to fry them where they stand though, as you'll receive whatever cash they've got and they'll have to start over with a new house and character, to build their home defenses anew. Your design options are many and varied, and the ways you can combine them allow you to concoct some pretty cunning traps. A catalog of wonderful — and wonderfully deadly — surprises is only mouse click away, and the sky's the limit! Or rather, $2,000 is the limit.

The Castle DoctrineBut it doesn't have to be. Just as you rake in the cash of any intruders that were foolish enough to zig when they should have zagged, you have the ability to go around the neighborhood and break into other peoples' houses. (Kids, don't try this at home! Or perhaps, only try this at home. I... I just don't know anymore.) Provided you don't end up as a slightly tacky substance on somebody's electrified floor (gosh I hope those things are Teflon-coated) or as burglar tartare for their bruiser of an attack dog, you should be able to make it to their vault and use any cash or equipment you find to improve your own home defenses. You can even purchase equipment to make your break-ins easier — albeit at prices that pretty much guarantee a career in burglary will become necessary to keep up the habit. Tired of all those walls forcing you to go about someone's layout their way? Buy a one-shot handsaw and take out a chunk of their wall. Hesitant about what that closed door conceals? Buy a brick in advance and you can lob it through the door to open it. Big growly dogs aren't so much of a problem when you drop a slab of drugged meat after you. Don't let the fact that if it weren't for people raiding other peoples' homes none of this would have become necessary in the first place stop you. Someone is obviously making a bundle off the sale of all that elaborate home defense equipment, as well as all that break-in gear. So as long you're fine with being part of the whole burglary-industrial complex, go nuts!

Analysis: It's tempting at first to think of The Castle Doctrine as just another tower defense game, just as you'd find in a plethora of browser games, and wonder why someone would make a commercial version. After a little bit of play though, you begin to discover just how original and cunningly-developed it is. The developer got the inspiration for The Castle Doctrine as the result of a traumatic real-life experience, and has put quite a lot of thought into his work. For instance, the addition of in-game value attached to your character's wife in order to provide a reason in terms of game mechanics for players to provide for their safety. The later addition of the ability to buy a shotgun for your wife to wield, so that your family members aren't merely passive NPCs that dash toward the nearest path to the exit when players invade.

The Castle DoctrineWith its colorful but simple, pixelated look it would be easy to pass this one by with hardly a moment's thought, but we chose to feature The Castle Doctrine because for many players the value is quite definitely there. This is a tinker's delight, an engineer's fantasy. If you've ever spent an evening in Minecraft fine-tuning your redstone circuitry only to gasp when you noticed the sky outside your window getting brighter, this one's for you — and they don't come along very often. The game's elements provide for some highly-sophisticated trap mechanics, and it's fascinating to see what the player community has developed with the provided components... as well as the counter-strategies that have been devised by players taking the offensive role.

The net result is a living, growing system of development among a thriving online community of fans. Because strategies that are in vogue today will have become useless as counter-strategies emerge a few weeks from now, the game is never the same thing it once was. Since buying the game includes a permanent membership on its servers, the $15.99USD purchase price gives you lifetime access to a unique gaming environment, a community of in-game developers and a hobby that never has to end... and that's a lot to ask of anything for less than $20.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version


(18 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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My Kingdom for the Princess IV

GrinnypIt's tough to find a job in today's economy, isn't it? Especially if you specialize in something pretty obscure like, say, rescuing princesses. After all, most princesses can take care of themselves, so there's not a lot of call for rescuing these days. Once in a while, though, something untoward happens and you get the call to arms! Nevosoft is back with another exciting round of time management princess rescuing shenanigans in My Kingdom for the Princess IV, and the action is faster, more furious, and more rescuey, along with 50% more dragons!

grinnyp_mykingdomfortheprincessIV_screenshot.pngSome random prince named Arthur, but not the same Arthur from the first three games, has been tasked by his father to set up a princess rescuing service. Fortunately a few princesses get themselves in a jam and Arthur has a chance to grow the business. You control workers who pick up resources, clear roads, build bridges, and accomplish the tasks needed to clear a scene for travel to the next. Nevosoft has ramped up the gameplay by adding a new twist... multiples. Piles of resources are now real piles, each requiring more than one trip to pick up everything, and the same goes for obstacles. Remember those flying monsters that would hold up the game until you clicked them out of existence? Yep, multiples of them as well. Fortunately they've also added new buildings that can help shoot down the attacking dragonets. Did I mention the monsters are now all baby dragons?

grinnyp_mykingdomfortheprincessIV_screenshot2.pngThe scenery involved has changed as well, as Nevosoft has eschewed the traditional flat, two-dimensional maps in favor of floating, three-dimensional islands. A new dynamic causes the floating islands to "move" as the cursor moves, enhancing the 3D effect. The addition of multiples also changes strategies as labor becomes more vital than ever. The ability to "chain" your moves is an exceedingly welcome new twist as well. And, of course, it wouldn't be My Kingdom for the Princess if you weren't building a fantasy castle each time you complete a level in gold star time. My Kingdom for the Princess IV retains all of the fun of the first three games with the exciting new additions that keep the gameplay fresh. With five new terrains of ten levels each to explore, once again productivity levels all over the world are in danger as another highly addictive addition to the series arrives, causing players everywhere to mutter, "Just one more level..." Warning, here be dragons (and tons of fun)!

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Order the full version

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


  • Currently 2.9/5
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Rating: 2.9/5 (27 votes)
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Number Connect

TrickyNumber Connect, the HTML5 puzzle game by Jaime TreSensa, has three rules. First, you don't talk about Number Connect. Second, you do not talk about... Wait, no. The first rule is that you must connect all pairs matching numbers by drawing paths between them using the mouse. The second rule is that paths may not intersect. The third rule is that every square on the board must have a number or a path in it. And, one supposes, there's the unwritten rule about how Number Connect is essentially NumberLink under a different name. No matter: until Conceptis Light comes out with their version and we can compare, this is a fine implementation of the concept, with 100 free puzzles of varying difficulties and more level packs available for purchase. Admittedly, Number Connect could probably stand to have a smaller play window, considering I had to zoom out a bit to play comfortably on my average-sized laptop screen. Still, those familiar with the puzzle will enjoy Number Connect, and if it's your first night at Number Connect... we it's not like it's a rule that you have to connect numbers, but maybe you should try it out!

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Rating: 4/5 (63 votes)
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Harry Quantum 4: Doc Star

kyhHarry Quantum is a good detective: he's recovered TV tapes for a Mr. T wannabe, he's cleared the name of a wrongly accused wrestler, and he's captured evil aliens. But if he's so good, why hasn't he actually been paid yet? Well, in turboNuke's next installment in the popular point and click adventure series, Harry Quantum 4: Doc Star, Quantum continues to follow the promise of a large payout as he travels to the faraway land of Loch Bess. Always at your side is your trusty robot companion, Graeme. Well, not actually at your side. To be honest, he doesn't even offer to help, he just demands autographs from your client and his band, Corned Beef Owls. It might just be time to get rid of him.

risenClick around the room to interact with the various objects in each scene. While the cursor doesn't change over hotspots, hovering over the right areas will bring up a short description in the lower left. As with the previous title, Cheese Carnival, clicking on Harry will show you all the interactive objects at once. But don't think that will make the game any easier. While not completely throwing logic out the window, Doc Star certainly has its illogical moments (you want me to do what with this hat?). Still, turboNuke continues its cartoonish graphics and quirky sense of style with a title that should delight any fan of their previous works.

Play Harry Quantum 4: Doc Star


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Rating: 4.5/5 (32 votes)
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Pig Friends

elle"Pig, can you help?" Your porcine pal is trapped on the other side of the river and needs you. What do you do? Why, push around some blocks of course, stacking two to form a bridge, and cross over to be by her side. "Pig, I need you." Again? Trees, rocks, and other landscape limitations are making this friend-saving business a bit more difficult, but you can do it! After all, this is what Pig Friends do: they're there for each other. So around trees, over rivers, across flower-dabbled green pastures you continue on, solving the block sliding puzzles just to reach your friend in need.

Pig FriendsThis Hayden Scott-Baron Puzzlescript creation is both cute and clever, a casual puzzle game with just enough difficulty to engage the brain and a sweet story to warm the heart. Using the [arrow] keys to move, position pig behind a block opposite the direction you want to go, then continue that direction to push the block where you want it. Since you can only move a rock in this way, pre-planning is needed if you want to avoid backtracking. If you do overstep or fudge up, it's simple enough to rewind step-by-step with [U] or to return to the beginning of a level with [R]. If only life's problems were so easy to surmount! The controls are as responsive as they are smooth and quick. When you move, it feels like pig is gliding, which cuts some drudgery from the menial bits of block moving, letting you stay focused on the problem solving bits. The first few of the 40 levels are a breeze to complete, but soon they are more elaborate as new obstacles and layouts result in fewer directions to go without getting stuck in a corner.

There is a downside in how elaborate it can be: all the adjusting and rearranging, running around and moving boxes back and forth can make you feel like a particularly fussy warehouse worker. If that's not your sort of thing, the sometimes convoluted routes and seeming repetitiveness might get you down. In that case, you can always stand on a flower tile and press [X] to skip a level as often as you'd like. These puzzles are the perfect fit for players who enjoy arrangement puzzles, and the need to move each just so is what makes it enjoyably thinky. Besides, all that repeated effort is a great way of conveying the lengths one friend will go to help out another. Good friends are to be cherished and appreciated. We all need friends like pig friends.

Play Pig Friends


(8 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians

Starchild Boyfriends are a curious bunch. They play Counter Strike for days on end, forget to take out the trash and insist on looking despondent when you take them shopping. But at least your average boyfriend is unlikely to turn into a bear and attack you in the middle of a strange forest, which is exactly what happened to poor Elena. In Mariaglorum's new hidden-object adventure, Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians, a curse has descended upon Elena's hometown, together with a flock of especially nasty crows. It's up to Elena's aunt to save the day and rescue her niece's ursine beau.

Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians At first, it doesn't seem like the curse runs very deep. Your only opponent is a feather-cloaked weirdo who keeps making empty promises of destruction and misery. Unfortunately, soon enough it turns out he's just a lowly minion of the great sorceress Morrigan. To beat her, you'll have to channel the power of three ancient guardians through an amulet which is, of course, broken. As you track its pieces down one by one, you'll face monsters, deadly traps and a very grumpy bunch of carnivorous plants. There are lots of fun things to be done along the way, such as picking up items, solving puzzles and interacting with parts of the scenery. The various mini-games are plentiful and pop up where you least expect them, including the middle of hidden-object scenes. They might not always be very challenging, but they do provide a nice change of pace. The hidden-object scenes come in two varieties and they are quite clear and bright, so hunting for items is a pleasure.

Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians is a grandiose, well-structured game. The story, though elaborate, doesn't get lost in the multitude of scenes and locations. The magic amulet as the key to vanquishing an ancient evil isn't exactly a new idea, but it's developed with care into a compelling narrative. The stunning visuals help complete the experience with their vibrant colours, formidable architecture and a good number of cutscenes to add a touch of urgency. Every aspect of the game is polished and tailored to satisfy a hidden-object adventure connoisseur, and even if it's not altogether inventive, it will certainly entertain you for more than four hours.

Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, concept art, wallpapers and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

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


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (65 votes)
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Fractured 2

Starchild The recipe for GroZZleR's Fractured 2 goes as follows. Take one MC Escher, add a bunch of his little sister's drawings and blend them nicely until you have a handful of cheerful, but dizzyingly bizarre images. Then take your sharpest kitchen knife and chop them up. Finally, put it all into your blender and hit the "emo" button, adding a hearty dose of poetic narration and some slightly morose music. Just like the original game, Fractured 2 is an interesting puzzle platformer of the soulful kind, where your task is to traverse increasingly deconstructed levels. Use the [arrow] keys to move the little girl and help her reach the ghostly gentleman. Her father? Brother? Long lost Ken doll? It's not exactly clear, but it is touching to see her run into his arms, only to fall into the next level once again.

Fractured 2The story is deliberately vague, but there is a prevailing sense of loss, angst and disorientation, so the Escher-esque mechanics complement all this quite perfectly. You'll often have to take literal leaps of faith, jumping out of one level piece, hoping to land on a firm platform in the next one. With no particular objective in sight, the game can become a metaphor for all manner of situations in life where you are unsure of the right direction or losing sight of your goals. Depending on your sensibilities, the narration can seem a tad heavy-handed or melodramatic, but even if you can't identify with its message, there is no doubt that it accompanies the gameplay nicely. If Fractured 2 has a flaw, it is the fact that there is no level select, but your game will be saved when you quit. Also, as far as sequels go, this one isn't the most innovative, mostly repeating the same tricks used in the first installment, but it's a well executed exercise in expressing complex feelings through the (perhaps somewhat unlikely) medium of browser games.

Play Fractured 2


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Rating: 4.5/5 (73 votes)
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Risen

kyhThe Egyptian god, Ra, tries to rise again. Trapped in the underworld, his path takes him through a pyramid of chambers that will test his (and your) puzzle platforming skills. Developed by Mallowin and OttoMoto with music by Yaros Mjelsky, Risen has you controlling the aforementioned god on his way to the top. But you can't do it all on your own; at your side is... a ball of power that sits atop your head when not in use. How and when you use it will be the key to finishing each of the 30 perplexing levels... and more in the Risen: Level Pack!

risenMove Ra around with [WASD] and send his power ball flying with a click of the mouse. Once launched, clicking again will transport Ra to the ball's position while the [spacebar] will transport the ball back to him. These abilities are ever important in finding your way through the various barriers that exist throughout the pyramid. Can't walk through? Throw the ball. Can't throw the ball? Walk through. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. While there may not be action and excitement, the easy controls, clean physics and thoughtful puzzles provide a transcendent experience.

Play Risen

Need more of an Egyptological fix?

Play Risen: Level Pack

Link Dump Fridays

DoraA music video that tells a tale of... something. A brutally difficult and surreal day in the life of one man. Literal monster truck racing. A murder mystery, a break in... or something else? All of this in this week's Link Dump Friday!

  • What Happened Here?What Happened Here? - Strange Light Games serves up this very short and rough-around-the-edges but intriguing little experimental game. You wake up to find your apartment in shambles and you can't remember anything... but is it even your apartment? The choices you make as you examine things determines the outcome of the game, as the way you look at objects can be incriminating or mundane. A spotty English translation makes things a little awkward, but it's a clever idea that could do with being revisited and expanded on in the future.
  • Truck MonstersTruck Monsters - Hiiiiiiiiigh-way TO THE monster zone! turboNUKE serves up more of the physics-based racing they're known for in this colourful game packed with upgrades and fangs. Fans might find little to pull them away from the more elaborate Cyclomaniacs, but you try telling a giant T-Rex in a monster truck that you've "been there, done that" and talk to me when you've picked the treads out of your teeth.
  • Day XDay X - rottenmage's 48-hour entry for Global Game Jam draws inspiration from Terry Cavanagh's Don't Look Back to create a heavily symbolic action game where one wrong move means death. You play a man going about his "every day life", but in this case that means dodging lightning strikes, angry dogs, and... demons? Hmmm. Hmmmm, I say.
  • Pale MachinePale Machine - Music video meets interactive art in this surreal piece by Torah Horse and Ben Esposito about... well... stuff. As the song plays, it whisks you from scene to scene where you can tap keys to interact with things and otherwise make objects move, whether to the beat or just experimenting on your own. It's got a catchy tune and an imaginative loveliness to it (despite what could arguably be called some pretty suggestive imagery/abstract nakedness in one scene) that makes it worth a play and a raised eyebrow or two.

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Rating: 4.5/5 (22 votes)
| Comments (0) | Views (573)

Threes

JohnBSay hello to Threes!. It will say hello to you many, many times, and you'll be thrilled each time it does! The minimalistic puzzle game from the team behind Puzzlejuice, Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend (Solipskier, Hundreds, Ridiculous Fishing) is as stylish as Gary Cooper and as addictive as watching Gene Wilder sing Puttin' on the Ritz. The key difference is Threes! is brand new and available for iOS, whereas those other things, sadly, aren't.

ThreesPlaying Threes is a simple matter of sliding your finger around the screen. The board is composed of numbered tiles. Sliding the screen moves all tiles in that direction, pressing identical ones together to double their face value. The one and two tiles can only combine with each other, however. But they add up to three, which is the name of the game, so it makes sense! The goal is to keep combining tiles to create as many massive numbers as possible. As you can imagine, things get tricky almost as soon as you fire up the game.

Threes! is easy to learn, but it's one of those titles you'll spend hours trying to master. Just one more round, maybe you'll get a higher score next time? And if not, the time after that, for sure! Subtle strategies keep emerging the more familiar you become with the game's mechanics. Plenty of room to keep you engaged, and perfect for obsessing over for weeks on end.

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


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Rating: 4.6/5 (95 votes)
| Comments (37) | Views (1,626)

The Dangerous GEN-KAN

elleAh yeah, the thrill of living on the edge, that one wrong move that ends in eyes x'd out, toes up, kaput! There's nothing like knowing it can end any moment to really squeeze the best out of life. That's how it is in The Dangerous Gen Kan—thrills abound in a multiple of deadly triggers. There's really nowhere you can look in this room to avert your gaze from the face of danger. Can you escape alive and intact? Maybe...or maybe not. Meanwhile, make hay and enjoy discovering how often and in what ways you can, er, not survive. You know you can count on inventively creative Kotorinosu to have heaps of this said fun lined up for you.

The Dangerous GEN-KANTo join in the perilous festivities, all you really need to do is point and click. Stumble around enough and you're sure to light up the party with some explosive good times. But, when you tire of that, there is indeed a happy ending somewhere around here. To find it, gather clues, solve puzzles and be precise in your actions. When you come across a helpful object, it'll automatically join your inventory via a click; there, select the "?" symbol to examine each in more detail, working out if you can use, combine or otherwise manipulate these items for your benefit. The clean and simple design means no changing cursor is needed. There's no save option but no fear: you do get a here-let-me-put-you-back-where-you-were-all-new-and-safe retry after each "bad end." Still, the any wrong move can kill you gimmick means constant tension as you click everywhere. You must trial-and-error experiment if you want to discover a safe exit. I'd like to tell you just where that is, but then I'd have to kill you.

Play The Dangerous GEN-KAN


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (105 votes)
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Versus Ohrustenny Quest

TrickyFrom Red Medusa Productions, creators of the Versus flash animation series, and XPYC Team, creators of... potato chips (I think?), comes Versus Ohrustenny Quest. The small amounts of in-game text are in Russian, but the general story of this point-and-click adventure should be clear in seconds. A fair maiden has been kidnapped, and it's up to the Fourth Musketeer, who is actually a swordsman, to rescue her from her captors. And plug some snacks you'd probably have to import to ever get a chance at taste. But hey, we've seen quality foreign junk-food-based advergames before, and this one is definitely worth an impulse try.

Versus Ohrustenny QuestIn each of the five main scenes, click objects on the screen to make your way though the challenges of the castle and up to the maiden's tower. There are plenty of deaths and red herrings to click, but they tend to be amusing and restarting is a snap. While fans of Versus might recognize a few more inside jokes, Versus Ohrustenny Quest has gorgeous animations filled with life and creativity. Certainly some aspects are a little naughtier than you'd expect from most potato chip commercials (which is to say, those offended by stickpeople butts should pass), and it's a game that never lets the possibility of logical puzzle solving get in the way of a chance for an anvil falling on someone. Still, fans of Puffballs United's "X-ing the Y" series or physical comedy cartoons generally, should crack open a bag of Versus Ohrustenny Quest and see if they can't just eat one.

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Rating: 4.6/5 (87 votes)
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Glean 2

DoraZupergames isn't one to abandon their little robotic workers, and after after two years, Glean 2, the sequel to the original Motherload-sy mining sim game has arrived. As before, you control a plucky little robot as it scours the galaxy for valuable ores and minerals, converting them not only into repairs and fuel, but also craftable upgrades to improve your abilities and allow you to survive better in hostile environments. With new worlds to explore, a revamped user interface and overhauled crafting system, as well as the chance to get eaten by new and exciting creatures, Glean 2 improves on the clunkiness of the original while expanding on the content you loved. Don't worry, animal lovers, there's no canary in this mining game... if things get dangerous, you just explode in a fiery heap of semi-sentient shrapnel! Plus, now with 100% more Doctor Who reference. Yaaaaay!

Glean 2The tutorial will walk you through the basics, but it's actually fairly simple. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move and jump (and double-jump!), and hold [spacebar] to activate your drill, keeping an eye on your temperature so you don't overheat. To gather most items, you just need to drill into them and they'll be added to your inventory, where you can either cannibalize them for repairs and fuel, or carry them back to the surface to add to your stockpiles. From your ship, summoned topside with the [spacebar], you can travel to a variety of worlds, each with their own unique environments and alien life in addition to resources, or take advantage of the game's crafting system. By gathering specific quantities of each type of resource, or even finding treasure, you can create a variety of

While the original Glean was fun, it was also a little cumbersome due to the way it handled its menus and forced you to juggle multiple sizes for resource types in a way that felt just a little too tedious. Glean 2 has made a significant effort to improve, and for the most part, it works. Menus are cleaner, clearer, and items now only come in one size, so you aren't left scrounging for multiple different types. Glean 2 does, however, feel like it comes with a bit of trial-and-error, at least in regards to initially figuring out what's dangerous. Will that oddly shaped thing stuck in the rock bestow rares and riches, explode if you touch it? Only one way to find out! After the tutorial the game mostly rips off your floaties and boots you into the pool before kicking back with a mimosa like a bad babysitter to watch the fun, so don't expect too much hand-holding or direction.

For some people, however, that's the whole point, and with its streamlined interface Glean 2 is now a whole lot easier to sink into and explore. The new aquatic world is lovely, as is the aerial world, where the inability to drill upwards because of your propeller as you fly around adds a nice amount of challenge. Glean 2 is the sort of sequel we love to see, because it's one where it's clear that the developer had their ears open when players offered their feedback. It's not a fast game by any means, best suited to players who don't mind scouring everywhere for resources and upgrades, but it is both a lovely and oddly relaxing one.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (138 votes)
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Death Lab

DoraI admit that I initially cast a little side-eye at Vogd and Assaulter's physics projectile puzzler Death Lab, mainly because it sounded like Fragger by way of Ricochet Kills and Resident Evil, but though it feels similar to all those things, it also does enough to make itself feel unique and fun. As an unnamed soldier freed from an underground prison/evil laboratory by a faceless hacker, you have to escape the facility by using a variety of unusual weaponry to take out every enemy on each stage with a limited amount of ammo... don't worry, they're very polite, and they'll wait for you to do it. It's rarely a simple matter of plunking down headshots, however, and you'll have to use your environment to your advantage, from blasting apart acid baths to dissolve your foes, to burning and toppling destructible parts of your surroundings to do the job for you. With bullets, molotov cocktails, grenades, and a Tesla gun that can zap through several enemies at once, you certainly have the arsenal (and available upgrades!) for the job, but it ain't all about firepower.

Death LabWhat's neat about Death Lab is that skill and planning are more important than they initially seem. Headshots will instantly kill an enemy, instead of having to waste valuable bullets plugging away at their health, and many of the levels are unexpectedly thinky when it comes to solving them. Each stage also comes with optional missions ("Destroy all enemies in three shots while singing Smile, Smile, Smile"), though a stage's missions can often conflict with one another, forcing you to replay it to get both of them. Both that, and the high cost of upgrades, and even the existence of upgrades at all, wind up feeling like they're padding the length a bit. Still, despite that, and the slim margin for error in some cases, the surprising amount of variety to the levels and the enemies/objects and the challenging puzzle aspects makes Death Lab stand out from the pack of samey projectile physics puzzlers. It's worth checking out... even if its infuriatingly short soundtrack loop will have you muting it after three minutes.

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Weekday Escape

elleSo you've climbed to the top of my mountain and wish to ask me: "Mysterious elle, what is the secret to escape?" Ah gosh, I guess do have mad escape-the-room skills. But it was not always so. The ways of escaping are special secrets learned through concentration and practice; no sensei can impart mastery on a student whose heart is not... well, even from here I can see you rolling your eyes. Look, sometimes we all need a little extra help. That is why we are looking to you, the JIG community, to drop some serious escape knowledge on your fellow escapers in the form of walkthroughs.*

Booca in the Southern Island: Episode 3Booca in Southern Island: Episode 3 - In the third installment of Coconuts Park's episodic adventures of two adorable pigs, Booca can't sleep so her brother, Noib, sets about making chamomile tea. Your help is needed to gather the ingredients. It is as much about story as puzzles, so much so that if you skip the story parts you miss half the game. While the puzzles themselves are few and rather simple, a couple red herrings and a few untypical quirks in the interface might be just enough to throw an escaper off game.

Find the Escape-Men 81: Muscular ManFind the Escape-Men 81: Muscular Man - No1Game's little green fellows are small enough to hide in the most unlikely places. Can you blame them if they want to bulk up a bit? Getting six pack abs involves plenty of crunches and getting out of this gym involves some number crunching, too. Since a tough workout has sapped your strength and a 100kg steel door bars your exit, find all ten escape men and maybe they can give you a helping hand.

Candy Rooms 1: Carrot CasualCandy Rooms 1: Carrot Casual - Looking for short and sweet? This candycentric escape from FunkyLand asks you to find six candies of various types, some out in the open and easily picked up and a few requiring some puzzle solving. There's a pixel hunt for one and an untypical mechanic for getting another, otherwise it's a nearly straight shot out the door. While it might leave you wishing for a longer, more involved escape, it remains satisfying for its duration.

*Think you have the chops to write an escape walkthrough? Post your walkthrough in the comments below and the best one for each game will be designated the official walkthrough for this week's edition of Weekday Escape! Happy Escaping!


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Rating: 4.2/5 (192 votes)
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Teleporter Escape

HopefulNebula For some people, it isn't the destination but the journey that matters. Everyone else just wishes for a teleporter already. Teleporter Escape, an escape game from Cool Escapers, has something for both these groups. You find yourself staring at a locked door, and your goal is to find out what the heck is behind it. It's the machine to the right of the door that's really interesting, though, since you can use it to teleport to other rooms, all of which hold clues to unlocking the main door. Click on items to collect, move, or toggle them. Once an item is in your inventory you can drag it to any area on your screen to find out if it can interact with whatever area you're dragging it to. If you've made a good match, you don't even have to release the mouse button. You can move through many rooms by clicking to the extreme left or right of the screen.

Teleporter EscapeFrom the game's simple premise and graphics, it might seem like there's nothing special about Teleporter Escape, and to an extent this is true. You get a few dozen rooms, a red-handled screwdriver, some petty theft and vandalism, and finally an open door. It's the quality and complexity of the puzzles that makes Teleporter Escape shiny. This is one of those games where it helps to have some scrap paper and a pencil handy, as you'll be retracing your tracks quite often. There's quite an array of puzzles to solve, ranging from a number riddle to a tile-swapping puzzle to a crossword, and this can be either amazing or frustrating depending on your ability level and the quality of your mouse. The crossword puzzle in particular would be better with keyboard input. There's also no auto-save function, so it's a good idea to only start the game when you have time to spend. That said, Teleporter Escape is a set of linked challenges that's well worth your time if you like finding your way out of places.

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Rating: 4.2/5 (25 votes)
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Mow Problems

KimberlyIt's funny how when you are absolutely sick of the cold even a chore that's done in the sun can sound appealing. Mark Diehr gets you thinking about grass and how to cut it in his puzzle game Mow Problems. And since we've already determined that mowing can be fun, let's get down to how to play. Use the [arrow] keys to move, and take note that you can't move backwards. The object of the game is to mow the lawn without getting any clippings in the pools. Whenever the mower moves over a spot, cut grass (indicated by the number of light green lines on a square) will always fly out to the right of the mower. If you pile up three lines of clippings, it's too much for your mower to handle and that square will be blocked. Sometimes there's a way around the mound, but if there's too many clippings on top of a square of grass, you won't be able to push your mower over it. Thankfully you can hit [U] or [Z] to undo as many moves as you want, or [R] to reset the level. In later levels there are goats hungry for grass who enjoy helping you out, though you do have to nudge them in the right direction.

Mow ProblemsThere's no limit on the number of moves you can make, which is good considering I'm pretty sure I single-handedly caused global warming pushing that lawn mower around. New gameplay elements are added at a good pace to keep things interesting. The levels vary in difficulty, with some requiring a lot more thought than others, but overall it presents a challenge without becoming overwhelming. Mow Problems is a great little puzzle game with which to whittle away some time while exercising your brain. Oh, and pssst... Here's a little advice for next time you're trying to avoid getting grass in your pool. Bag it.

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The Vault

TrickyConfession time! During the second half of the Super Bowl, I totally stopped paying attention because I started playing Windosill and then Jet Set Radio on my laptop. I'm thinking that turned out to be a smarter bet than most people in Vegas made that day. You can make some good moves of your own too, with this selection of strategy, sports, and point-and-click titles from the JiG Vault!

  • VillainousVillainous - I love me some tower defense, but I have to admit that I do feel a certain sympathy for those mooks, sent knowingly in waves to their inevitable arrow impalement. But what about that first minion that actually manages to breach the castle walls and set off the looting? Does Goblin #379/600 feel like he's having the greatest day of his life? I might be thinking about these things a little too much, which is probably why I'm so charmed by the 2011 strategy game, Villainous. Cellar Door Games (of recent Rogue's Legacy fame) has a particular skill for making fun games out of a switched perspective in storytelling and this "Tower Attack" is no different. With an army of darkness ready to walk down winding paths at your command, and 20 villages to pillage, those limited-range fortifications don't stand a chance. It's good to be bad!
  • Mini-PuttMini-Putt - Much flashier golf games have since been seen on the interwebs, but PsychoGoldfish's Mini-Putt, released all the way back in 2001, and covered on this site in 2004, definitely deserves credit for getting there first, and getting it right. Mini-Putt doesn't have a gravity-bending, decoration-crammed course to play. That almost makes me like it more, though, calling to mind my high school Friday-night excursions to the local putt-putt palace with the batting cages and the neon-blue water hazard with an unidentifiable smell. But I digress: even 13 years later, Mini-Putt is a golf game well above (under?) par, and even on a computer screen, a hole-in-one feels like quite the accomplishment.
  • Galves AdventureGalves Adventure - An Eyezmaze classic, 2007's Galves Adventure was originally created to celebrate the birth of a friend's child. Hopefully, the kid has hit enough developmental milestones to be cognizant of the awesomeness on display here. One of the more difficult of the Eyezmaze canon, filled with red herrings, multiple endings, a GrowGame-inside-a-game and a final boss battle where a baby punches a lion. Tough as it may be, the trademark quirky creativity will make players push through the frustration, and I assure you the rewards are worth it.

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


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Rating: 3.2/5 (23 votes)
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OUTt

DoraMike Inel's surprisingly action-focused puzzle platformer OUTt is sort of a weird little game. It looks like something you might see Michael "OneMrBean" Molinari make, but something about the gameplay puts me more in mind of early 90s classic Another World. Using the [arrow] keys and following the onscreen prompts, you control one of a pair of spindly humanoid creatures who are separated after the ground gives out beneath them. Waking up on the floor of what appears to be some sort of strange underground complex, you discover a place filled with pitfalls, barriers, mechanical creatures and more. And you? You're just one fragile little person, and a single hit or long fall will kill you and force you to restart nearby. Luckily, you'll discover this old place has some technology you can turn to your own benefit, like the ability to create mirrored clones that can pass through objects yet still manipulate switches, and even swap gravity to rotate the world around you. Be warned that if you exit this game while playing, you will be forced to start all over again from the beginning when next you load!

OUTtWhen I'm writing reviews, I tend to write and keep notes simultaneously as I play to keep all of my impressions and points fresh in my mind. For example, if you look at my notes for OUTt, you'll see the word slow written several times with a varying degree of angry pressure and underlined in red. OUTt is a subtly beautiful and strangely captivating little game, but its sluggish movement and controls are the proverbial monkey on its back. Executing a running jump is awkward, and trying to quickly line up a leap onto a ledge above before an enemy spots you is even more so. It's a shame because OUTt is a seriously neat experience once the world opens up a bit. It's still on the short side compared to some puzzle platformers, and experimenting with the way your powers can be used to open a way forward is challenging but not unfairly so. Expect to do a lot of backtracking, and it does feel like it would have been better with a heavier emphasis on its puzzle aspects rather than the running and jumping, or even just a map to keep track of where you are since everything looks the same. Not everyone will have the patience for it, but a surprisingly tense and ultimately touching latter portion of the game will reward the persistent.

Despite its flaws, however, and the fact that, yes, it's an older game, OUTt is still worth playing. Not just because its gorgeous in an understated way, although it totally is, but because it provides a workout both for your brain and your fingers in a clever way.

Play OUTt


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Rating: 4.1/5 (49 votes)
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Swapster

DoraMeetreen Games' Swapster is a physics puzzle game whose premise might ring a bell. The goal is to remove all the nasty shapes and keep the good ones, which is a concept that has been done before several times, but there's a twist. Your incredibly under-qualified and is that security badge written in crayon can I see some other form of ID please scientist, who caused this mess when he accidentally spilled some radioactive goop on his sentient shapes, has a teleportation ray gun you can use to swap the positions of any two objects. How can this help? Well, aside from potentially plonking a scowling shape down on a slope that could send them sliding off the screen, it also activates explosive cubes, which will trigger on a swap and blast anything nearby away from it. Make no mistake, as physics puzzles go Swapster is still a fairly simple one, but one that offers a lot of charm and polish. In fact, by forgoing a lot of bells and whistles or piling on new elements, Swapster actually feels like a cleaner and smarter little game.

SwapsterLevels are tidily designed so that figuring out a solution feels like strategy rather than guesswork or relying on finicky physics, making swaps on the fly to utilize momentum or balance in just a few moves rather than triggering elaborate chain reactions the way some other games in the genre prefer. Of course, this does mean that Swapster can sometimes feel repetitive given the relatively small scope and lack of complexity in its stages. It's the sort of game you enjoy your time with, but probably won't spare much thought for after you're done, which is a bit of a shame given how nice it is to find a game that's simply well constructed in almost every way. The difficulty curve is satisfying and accessible, though some of the levels that require more timing and reflexes feel a bit at odd with the slower, thinky pace of the rest. Still, with its great presentation and clever level design, Swapster is well worth a play, and a reminder that you don't need a whole lot of extraneous elements to be engaging, intelligent, and fun.

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Mobile Monday

JohnBTime to add a little color to your life. Both literally and figuratively! Colorful games with colorful characters and possibly even direct coloring gameplay additions dominate this edition of Mobile Monday.

runmanpronto.gifRunMan Pronto (Android) - You were just thinking "when can I play a new RunMan game?", weren't you? Tom Sennett's star-shaped hero of sprinting has returned in a quick-fire arcade game for Android devices. The premise is very simple: swipe to run faster up the screen, tilting to avoid objects coming your way. Jump over more difficult obstacles. See how fast you can get to the pie at the end!

colortale.gifColor Tale coming soon - Created by early childhood educators in collaboration with game developers, composers, poets and artists, Color Tale is an interactive coloring book fused with a light casual game. Tap the color buttons and paint each part of the scene to match the picture. Its primary goal is to teach kids to mix colors, so adults might find it a bit lacking. But it's creative, colorful (obviously), and filled with great visuals that make the fairy tale world come to life. Heading to iOS devices in February, at which point you can stop buying crayons!

glorkian-p.gifPixelJam's Glorkian Warrior is on the way - Humans, take note: Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork is coming to iOS. PixelJam's arcade shooter has been in the works for a few years, but the team has announced the release is just a few months away. Combining retro-style visuals (created by comic book artist James Kochalka) and plenty of action, Glorkian Warrior is all about defending an asteroid from an endless onslaught of invaders from space. As you might expect from the studio that brought us Dino Run SE, there are plenty of surprises waiting to be found. Get pumped for Glorkian now so you don't miss out on all the fun.


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Rating: 3.8/5 (36 votes)
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The Labyrinth of Keys

SonicLoverCalling it The Labyrinth of Keys is a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps it would better be called "The Labyrinth of One Key". After all, you only get one key, and you've got to use it wisely if you want to have any hope of escaping in Matthew Rodriguez's action-puzzle-platform game of the same name. The phrase "you only get one" seems to be popping up a lot in the gaming scene recently. You'd think there was a contest centered around it or something. Although Rodriguez didn't finish The Labyrinth of Keys within Ludum Dare's 72-hour deadline, it's a good thing he stuck around to do so, because the game is quite fantastic.

The Labyrinth of KeysUse the [arrow] keys to move around, and [X] to jump. Although you don't want to unlock any doors prematurely, it's worth carrying around your only key at all times, because only then can you peek into the many books scattered around the wrapping five-by-five grid of rooms, and many (not all, but many) of the books provide critical hints about which one of the dozens of locked doors leads to escape. Touch a flying lock and your key gets stolen from you, forcing you to tap [W] to warp back to the room you started in, where it will be waiting for you again. Certain traps and gimmicks throughout the maze will be reset every time you pick up the key. Once you think you know which door leads to freedom, stand in front of it and unlock it with [K]... but botch your choice and the key will be gone forever, and with it your only chance at getting out. You can also reset the game completely with [R], toggle the music with [M], adjust the volume with [+] and [-], and toggle all the sound with [0].

The "sinister march" mood of the music composed by Khananaphone somehow fits, and the maze design by ZeroTron is top-notch. The little puzzles throughout the Labyrinth are clever, to say nothing of the fact that figuring out which door is correct is one big logic puzzle. The hints and solution are randomized every time, too, which adds a level of replayability to the game. Struggling players may find the list of hints and the labyrinth map useful, although it's quite possible to beat the game without them. Of course, the game lacks polish in a few areas. The control scheme lacks a level of customization, and the graphics can be a little confusing. Ultimately, the game is perfect for those fond of action-puzzle-platformers with logic puzzles blended in... a niche that I personally am proud to be a part of!

Play The Labyrinth of Keys (640x480)

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Rating: 4.6/5 (165 votes)
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Words

elleEarth. Music. Honey. In this room, these are some of the words you will find. These random words might seem unrelated but they have this much in common: they're stars in Robamimi's latest escape-the-room creation, Words. The trick, you'll find, is figuring out the ways in which these words do relate and how they will be your clue-wielding friends throughout your puzzle solving ventures. Make the right connections and you'll solve your way out the door.

WordsMost the time, you'll need to point-and-click around the room, studying the furnishings and objects therein from every angle possible, but there is one instance in which a keyboard will be needed to input a code. Robamimi's user friendly interface of changing cursor on a clean design works well with a "HINT" button to avoid excessive frustrations. The hints themselves are semi-riddles, so it might be fun to peek at them even if you're someone who likes to solve escapes sans aide. The presence of almost-too-easy puzzles makes the more challenging ciphers deceptively abstruse, as if the designer is playing good cop/bad cop with us. Yet, along with the serenely pretty background music and artistically photo-realistic graphics, this is just another reason why Words is clever and fun, well worth the work to solve.

Play Words

Thanks to Cyberjar88 and Celli for sending this one in!


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Rating: 4.2/5 (62 votes)
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Projective

ArtbegottiStrictly speaking, it's not "normal" to find animals stacked on top of one another. Nor is it "normal" to be an arm's length away from a star just by standing on a chair. But in Jay Jeon and Jonghwa Kim's perspective-based Global Game Jam puzzle, Projective, these bizarre images are perfectly normal. Well, sort of, since you're just making it look like the man's reaching for the star, but that's part of the challenge. While walking around a room loaded with floating silhouetted shapes, produce, and livestock using [WASD] and the mouse to look around, you've got to find the perfect spot to stand and view the shapes, so that what you see matches the target pattern in the corner. When you've identified the shapes, click on them to highlight your solution and line up your perspective once more.

ProjectiveProjective isn't an easy game, as there are a lot of red herring shapes in the room that might draw your attention, and there's only one spot to stand that gives the perfect solution. However, if you can figure out a system for sifting through the decoy shapes to find the real McCoys, this quickly becomes a very intriguing puzzle game. Beyond all that though, don't forget to take the time to just look around and soak in the environment. In one particular level, I uttered "whoa" out loud when studying the dynamic poses of some human shapes frozen mid-action. While a pretty minimalist game, Projective still makes the details pop in surprising ways. Take a walk around the five levels, and see what puzzles you can solve.

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Weekend Download

JohnBWeekend Download: the only day of the week where cats can go on dates with their owners, pirates demand their captives play football, and ninjas actually get trapped in castles.

ninjatorappuNinja Torappu (Windows, free) - Ever been in a castle when all of a sudden a rolling spike thing starts grinding down on top of you? Yeah, this ninja has, but you're going to help him stay alive! This simple arcade game challenges you to avoid things flying up from the bottom of the screen as you rush to hop from platform to platform, constantly fighting to stay between the spikes and the edge of the playing field. Collect coins to refill your health, just be careful about it! Spot-on controls and gameplay that's more than just speed and reflexes.

flabbyblubberinFlabby Blubberin Football (Windows, free) - Appease the pirates by juggling footballs. And there you have it! Move around the ship's deck and use [z] and [x] to kick your little pixel feet. Juggle the ball as many times as you can for great justice. Think of it like an old Atari version of hacky sack. Only... real hacky sack is much easier!

catastrophicdateA Catastrophic Date (Windows, free) - You are a cat. A genius cat. Your owner is having a terrible time in the dating world, so you decide to give her a hand... by impersonating her next date! Genius cat, remember. Read through the text and use the [arrow] keys to respond. Depending on how you play things, you'll get one of several different endings. A cute game that's fairly short but scores high in the humor department.

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