Doublespeak Games' A Dark Room was a smash-hit for a lot of good reasons, being an amazingly deep and epic simulation that revealed itself a bit at a time to patient players, and even eventually got a mobile port from Amirali Rajan. So when fans like myself are surprised by an iOS prequel like The Ensign, the reaction is, predictably, ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh, but also hmmmm, because unlike the original game, The Ensign is actually a roguelike adventure. When your commanding officer gives up, you refuse to, and with only a few sups of water and scraps of food you set out into a hostile world to try to find and activate your ship. All you can do is follow your compass. The catch is that when you die, and you will die, a time paradox occurs and sends you back to the start of the game. At first it may appear like you're just beating your head against a brick wall, but as you try and try again, you'll begin to notice subtle changes in yourself and the world around you, though the world map will be randomized...
Behold! Nothing up my sleeves... abracaplatformer... there is your card, my friend!... just, uh... suspended over that pit of sawblades and spikes... hmmm, Blaine makes this look so easy. In Tinsleeves' The Great Magician's Curse: Magicians 2, you play a magician who is not only trapped in a puzzling world of dangers and switches, you're dogged by magical dopplegangers who copy every move you make. Don't worry, they're not dangerous... quite the opposite, in fact, since you can use them to accomplish tasks for you! Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump. But the kicker is that only the main magic maestro can go through the exit and collect the card in each level, and a single hit will destroy any of your magicians. Since they all move at once, you'll need to figure out how to manipulate the copies to open doors for you without endangering your magician... something that becomes even harder since most switches only stay pressed if someone remains holding them down, and deadly barriers may require a sacrifice before they open.
What three free escape games do we have in store for you this Weekday Escape? Well, that's a question worth exploring in more detail, so I'll give you some key facts and see if you can guess without peeking. The first is from a designer who makes perfect use of minimalism, hiding clues in the decor, and is well-known to us here at JIG, although the brief offerings have sometimes escaped our notice. Next, these guys, always green and poised to escape, sure do get in an awful lot of trouble but they're also sure to bring the laughs—as long as we can find them. Lastly, this game series, more new to our escaping crew, has clever puzzles and quirky drawings to extend the hidden buttons fun...
In Jay Armstrong and Jimp's action-packed platform shooter The Last Dinosaurs, the dinos aren't extinct... they're just hiding in sewers from the evil feline army, naturally. Clever girl. As Russ, a dinosaur who looks like Reptar and was probably trained by John Woo or Danny Butterman, you'll amass a team of heroes and go on arena-based missions from your secret underground hideout... missions which typically involve bouncing all over the place and firing guns into the air while going ARRRRR to take out all the enemies before they can do the same to you. The controls can be changed by going into the menu, clicking a control key icon, and then hitting the key on your keyboard you want to rebind that action to, though the default is [arrows] to move and jump, [C] to fire, and the down [arrow] to pick up anything. Coins from fallen foes can be spent between missions on upgrading everything from your special abilities and weapons to the strengths of your companions. Your teammates will move and attack on their own, and if they die, they're down for the count unless you've unlocked the limited revive ability. Healing items and any additional unlocked weapons will spawn periodically through openings in the floor, but your enemies can pick them up too! You can't replay missions, but you can earn more cash by playing "challenge mode" maps from the main menu.
A mysterious knock on the door, a mysterious package on the stoop, you just know this isn't going to end well for whomever finds the parcel, don't you? Indeed, in Witches' Legacy: The Ties that Bind, EleFun's latest adventure hybrid, that package heralds the beginning of yet another fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil involving witches, witch hunters, and a ton of hidden-object finding and puzzle solving. It is the day before your adopted daughter (who is a good witch) Lynn's wedding to former witch hunter Edward when suddenly, displaying the brains and judgment of a concussed lemming, Edward decides to walk right into what is obviously a trap to find out what happened when he was a child and his family was killed.
Ever wonder about light? Most of us know the basics: it's super fast, it's got something to do with rainbows, and it's dangerous to drive or cook bacon without it. Well, the folks at Foumart Games want to teach you a thing or two about this mysterious force that illuminates our world, and lucky for us they've created an extremely addictive puzzle game with which to spread the gospel. Quantum of Light isn't a strict educational game, more a brainteaser that rewards you with some cool textbook facts. Gameplay revolves around rotating square tiles a 2D grid to better reflect the streams of photons towards the crystals at the end. The game tosses some creative obstacles in your path like black light streams that cancel out your photons, so patience and intuition are a must. It's great fun watching the colorful patterns take shape as you guide your light streams towards the crystals, and seriously, who doesn't like to learn?
In SpryFox's gorgeous indie roguelike strategic puzzle adventure Road Not Taken, you're lost alone in the snow-swept woods and beset by evil spirits until you discover a strange staff with a blue flame that allows you to levitate objects around you at the cost of your own energy. You're rescued by a fisherman who takes you to a tiny, remote village where, it turns out, that staff just so happens to be the symbol of a Ranger's office. Your duties? Well, for the most part, you're tasked with finding and rescuing the children who get lost in the forest each year while picking the berries that the town exports. But the woods are deep, dark, cold, and ever-changing, and it's not just the malicious entities, freezing temperatures, and wildlife you'll need to watch out for. Combining randomized puzzles and a subtle yet engrossing narrative with a clever crafting mechanic that allows you to create an amazing amount of new things by combining objects and animals around you, Road Not Taken is a smart and oh-so-gorgeous game that will keep you coming back for more.
As the Wikipedias tell us, major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. It is believed to currently affect approximately 298 million people as of 2010, which is 4.3% of the global population. As you probably know, a famous entertainer who just about everybody wished well has recently committed suicide. Many who've never experienced the disorder are trying to understand why, and just as many who live with it try to explain but find it difficult to elucidate beyond a list of symptoms and desperate urging for those who suffer, to get help, even though they know from experience that it's not that simple, and the stories they share may only trigger more pain. Into this maelstrom comes the wide release of Depression Quest on Steam, or play it online in your browser. It's a twine interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression, developed by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler, and its hard to tell if its come at exactly the right or exactly the wrong time. Either way, though, it's well worth your time.
Players should be warned that the narrative deals frankly with depictions of people in painful mental states. Those with conditions that might be triggered should take caution. Anyone with thoughts of suicide or self-harm or feel that they may be at risk should seek help immediately: You Are Not Alone.
Puzzle phenomenon 2048 spawned a lot of copies and imitators, which, depending on your point of view, is sort of ironic since 2048 is itself more-than-heavily-inspired-by Threes! 2048 Bricks offers a slightly different spin on things by keeping the basic concept and adding in a twist. Or... stack. See, each level has five stacks, with each stack having a certain number of blocks on it, and each block has its own value. Click a stack to pick up the top-most block, and then another stack to drop it, though you can only stack blocks on those with numbers of equal or lesser value. By stacking a block on top of one that matches its current value, the two will combine into a new block that represents the combined total of the old ones, so stacking two fours will net you a single eight. The goal is to figure out how to reach a single block with a total of 2048, which usually isn't hard, but doing so in as few moves as possible is another story.
Smart Pen is one of those puzzle games that is essentially a browser-based version of iOS game Blek by another developer, which definitely puts it in "clone" category. The controls couldn't be easier. Simply draw a line or shape and watch the pattern repeat in the air. Your lines will bounce off the sides and keep repeating but the upper and lower borders are off limits, and then there are the black holes you must avoid. The goal is to send your magic marker through each colored circle on the screen, requiring no small amount of imagination and artistic flair. The pen is smart, sure enough, but it can take some time to reprogram your brain enough to understand just how your lines will behave once you set them free in the vacuum. This is how mouse-only browser gaming is supposed to feel, requiring forethought, a sure hand, and a boatload of patience when things get tricky.
It's the last day of summer vacation, and like any kid worth his salt, the protagonist of no1game's Find the Escape-Men Part 115: Summer Vacation has put off every single piece of homework til the last minute. Procrastinators unite!... eh... eventually. For some reason, his mother fails to see this as the badge of honor it is for childhood, and demands he finish every piece before she gets home. Luckily for him, he's found a flyer for a special, totally not shady "homework finishing service"! All he has to do is find ten little green men, already hidden around the house, and all his problems are solved. Like all Escape-Men games, all you have to do to play is click around to interact and solve puzzles, though since the game doesn't have a changing cursor to indicate any "hotspots", you'll need to be diligent and search everywhere. Click an item's question mark icon to view it closer up, which can allow you to interact with it in new ways.
To Sherlock Holmes, Mr T was always the Tea Shop owner. This chronicler has seldom heard him mentioned under any other name, most likely to prevent confusion with the Rocky III guy. In his eyes he eclipsed and predominated the whole of his tea-making profession. So it was to our mutual dismay when Police Inspector Jason Bartholomew came round and informed us of his ghastly murder. The poor man had apparently been drowned in a giant cup of his own tea! And not even the good stuff! This cannot stand! Come! the game is afoot in Sherlock Holmes: The Tea Shop Murder Mystery, a short point-and-click adventure from the folks at Carmel Games.
Mysterious women appearing out of nowhere in front of your car on dark, rainy nights? Rarely a good sign. In ERS Game Studios' new hidden-object adventure game Ghosts of the Past: Bones of Meadows Town, you play a sheriff with the world's corniest sense of sarcasm sent to Meadows Town to investigate the murder of a local teacher and the disappearance of the last sheriff, which wouldn't seem to bode well for your quip-makin' butt. Aside from a sassy Viking sign, the town doesn't seem to have much going for it after you arrive despite the best efforts of an apparition to make you crash. In fact, apart from a skeleton who wants to axe you a few questions (just think, I get paid for this) and a deputy who must have been hired for his golden waves of hair since he clearly can't shoot worth a Stormtrooper, this place looks almost deserted. Seems like the townsfolk have all evacuated from the bad storm rolling in since they believe all of this is being caused by an angry spirit said to be the guardian of an ancient treasure. What follows is easily one of the most over-the-top gleefully campy, over-dramatic, absolutely insane adventures to come along in a good, long while. Jump scares! Corpses in top hats! Ominous obstructing balloons! Don't think about it too much... just throw up your hands and go "WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP" Zoidberg style along with the game and you'll enjoy every minute even if it ends with a pfffft rather than a bang.
Phoenix Wright games have always been sort of brilliant. A series of visual novel-style mystery adventure games originally for Nintendo's handhelds, they mostly feature around the titular protagonist, defense attorney Phoenix Wright, as he struggles to prove the innocence of the clients he's representing in every bizarre case he comes across. The series has already made the jump once to iOS, but the release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is still a bit of a surprise given that the game originally appeared on the 3DS just last year... though not an unwelcome surprise by any means! With the first episode free to play and the others available individually for $5.00USD (or grab all four at once, not including the bonus mission or outfits, for the discounted price of $15.00USD) as optional in-game purchases, there's never been a better time to pick up this smash-hit series that balances comedy with murder, cross-examination, exploration, and more. With a clean, intuitive interface and some silky smooth graphics and playback, this is one port you don't want to miss whether you're a fan of the series or a newcomer.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad Air. 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.
A gathering of assassins, cultists, elders and the miscellaneous undead? No, it's not a production by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It's Loot Clicker, the new incremental idle game from TrampolineTales! Loot Clicker takes the standard creature encounter formula typically found in roleplaying games and streamlines it, then presents it on a grand scale. With money earned through farming, you're recruiting a party from among eight different character classes to lay to rest everything that's wrong with the world from insects to malevolent spirits, and using the money earned to recruit still more. Each class has its own properties, which influence what sort of creatures you'll encounter, and will claim their own proportion of the wealth they generate. Encounters will also net you loot, different types of equipment which add buffs to your stats. Predominantly these will be chests and sacks for each of your class types, but you'll occasionally get mouse pointers to increase your clicking effectiveness, potions to add temporary boosts to it, and scrolls that provide major temporary buffs.