The thing about inspiration is that it sort of sucks. You could be halfway through your adventure fanfic mashup of Harry Potter and Spongebob and bam! your inspiration leaves you staring helplessly at the screen in the middle of the Krabby-Patty-cook-off-on-broomsticks scene. This is pretty much what happened to Scarlett (minus the fanfic). She is the protagonist of Manor Memoirs, Playrix's new hidden-object/time-management hybrid – a bestselling author who just can't get herself to start working on her next book. So she takes the only surefire cure for writer's block: she buys a sinfully expensive mansion in the country and moves in. Having neglected to visit the place before buying, Scarlett realises the manor is almost in ruins and in dire need of renovating. This is where you come in. You are an expert interior designer and the perfect person to conduct a series of garage sales to raise the money for the makeover.
In Just Pine Games' History Museum Escape, also available free for iOS and Android, you're up to some 1980s teen-movie style shenanigans and find yourself locked in the museum overnight. Because you don't have Donna Noble with you, you can't just boot the door open (or does that only work in libraries... ?), so you'll need to hunt around for a key if you want to escape, and let me tell you, the person who designed this security system must have been shooting for a "Most Convoluted Award". Just click around to interact and pick up items when the cursor changes, and white text will usually display to provide you with descriptions. If you want to try combining things, or just using one object on another, click one item in your inventory, then the next you want to try to use it with. You'll want to experiment with this a lot, since you'll need to come up with more than one handmade tool before you can find your way out.
Doubtlessly you remember Threes!, the addicting swipe-puzzler which gripped us all and influenced the mega-hit 2048. And hopefully you remember Triple Town, the unique match-three game with cute bears and an abundance of trees. These games were so popular and successful for a reason—they demanded attention and required some real planning. But let's play around with these formulae, shall we? Take the basic movement system from Threes!, throw in the rules and obstacles from Triple Town, and stick the grid in a series of finite levels... voila! The outcome is Letter Monsters, a well thought out and deviously cute combine-three puzzler from 1001.com. Presented with cute, colourful monsters labelled from "A" to "Z", your goal will be to combine sister letters to build your alphabet as far as you can. Three A's will make a B, three B's will make a C, and so on. Immovable obstacles and black holes will provide challenges, but certain special monsters, along with eight essential types of boosters, will help you out and make for some exceptionally fierce strategy. Playable both online with the [arrow] keys and on iOS or Android with the swipe of a finger, Letter Monsters brings a fresh aesthetic and a variety of new quirks to a now-familiar gameplay style.
It's nice to be lighthearted, social and full of smiles now and then, but you constantly upbeat extroverts can really try the nerves sometimes. I'm just saying. There needs to be more appreciation for grumps, I say. Without us, who would you happy people have to focus all your cheer-ups on? How else would such poetic phrases as "Turn that frown upside down!" be born? So our first two free online escape games from Self Defiant and No1Game are a wee bit dark and morbid, what with being locked in an asylum or buried in a pit of sand. But, for you happy-go-lucky do gooders, take heart: a cute little duckling from Minoto should provide ample opportunity to tilt head to side and say, "Awwww, so adorabs!" Read more about our Weekday Escape trio...
Bottle Rockets is a downloadable indie sci-fi platform game by James Earl Cox III set to the song "Alberto Balsam" by Aphex Twin. It is a short, artistic work that's worth going into unspoiled, but suffice to say it is about an astronaut deep in space, aboard a station where things have gone seriously wrong, a daughter with a message for her mother, and the wide range of emotions in-between. Its been rated quite highly in the smattering of Game Competitions it has been submitted to, including the Nar8 Storyteling Jam, the GameJolt GlitchJam, and the "Women Are Too Hard To Animate" Jam, so expect a compelling plot, a whole lot of graphical flickering (epileptics take note), and smattering of X chromosomes to keep things interesting.
In Skip Around the World: Finland, the first installment of Carmel Games' point-and-click adventure series, Skip, as you might surmise from the title, is a world traveler who winds up in Finland. And hey, visiting Santa's Village is fine, and sure those Northern Lights are all breathtaking and whatnot, but what Skip really wants is to meet Oiva Vasta, the "sauna guru", who apparently shares Skip's passion for sitting around wearing towels and sweating with strangers, which is basically my nightmare scenario. To find his hero, Skip will need to travel around and see the sights, solving puzzles and performing favours for the locals as he tries to find someone who knows where Oiva might be. Just click to interact when the cursor changes, and click an item from your inventory to pick it up so you can try to use it somewhere. And hey, you might actually learn something about Finland in the process!... sorta. Maybe?
Gridland is from Doublespeak Games, creators of A Dark Room, which as you know means that a) it's a really clever and interesting game, and b) I can't really say too much as to why and how without spoiling it for you because of the way the game slowly changes as you play. Superficially, it looks like a simple match-3 puzzle game. Click on two adjacent tiles to swap them, and if they match, the resources they represent will be collected. The game is turn-based, and while time marches on, it only moves when you make a turn, so plan you moves to get the most "cascade" matches possible as other tiles drop to replace the ones you removed. Initially, it seems both too easy, and, well, weird. You'll need to figure out on your own what's happening and how you figure into it, since the game offers no help or direction whatsoever. During nights, planning your matches becomes even more important, and the thing to remember is that while everything else happens automatically you don't need to rush, and in fact frantically making matches will work against you. You'll need to experiment and really choose your moves carefully... especially when the sun goes down...
Mike Salyh and Cynic Sama trapped a bunch of kids in a mine full of explosives, not because they're villains in an old Lassie episode, but because it's the puzzle game they made in a week, Sweep Miner. In each level, using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys, you move the miner around the level to rescue the minors, who will follow him when you walk over them, and all you have to do to win is get them all to the exit. The twist? The floor is covered in deadly explosives, and the only time you get to see where they are is when the level first loads. As soon as you take a single step, they all vanish from sight, but they'll still send you sky-high whether you can see them or not, so you'll need to memorize the layout. In addition to occasionally having to rescue more than one wayward tot, you'll have to deal with colour-coded warp ladders that will zap you back and forth around the level. All of which sounds like a lot of trouble for kids. I mean, can't you just, like, make more?... what? Oh, so now I'm a "heartless monster" instead of just "practical". I see how it is.
If you have fond childhood memories of chasing out the door after a musical ice cream truck in a crazed desire for the sugary, cold treat, have I got a question for you: what if, instead of chasing after the truck, it came directly to your house and delivered the ice cream straight to your door? Well, this mind-blowing premise is the foundation behind Firedroid's free mobile game, Ice Cream Nomsters. Available for those who sport either an iOS or Android device, this time management title has you controlling a neighborhood ice cream truck in its delivery of its precious sweet cargo to each home as it is requested. Be it of the green or red variety (pistachio or cherry?), you've got all palettes covered.
You're a stickman! You have a lot of guns! There are a bunch of goons in that building that want to kill you! You should kill them first! You've got a battle suit that allows you to slow down time because it has technology or something! Maybe at some point you'll pick up a chainsaw! There's really not that much more to say! Black IV: Time of Revenge, a top-down action shooter by Modern Boys Production, is a continuation of a series that first made its way to the internet back in 2006. Move with the [WASD] or [arrow keys] and aim/fire your current weapon by clicking the mouse. You can enter into a Bullet Time mode for a recharging period of time by hitting the [spacebar], and again to exit it. Change weapons by clicking on them or by pressing the corresponding number key. You can use [Q] to switch back and forth between your two most recent weapons, and [R] to reload. In the top right corner is a menu that lets you select your current special weapon, like grenades or remote-detonated bombs. You aim your current special weapons by hitting [F], then set it by clicking. Defeating enemies will cause them to drop cash and grant you experience. Use these to unlock weapons upgrades and customization options using the menu in the lower left. You can also search cabinets and computer terminals for extra cash, ammo, and health packs by standing by them and holding [E]. Beat all the enemies, bosses, and Da Final Boss and you win! It's that simple!
Down, down, down the rabbit hole Alice went after the white rabbit, never thinking about how she'd get back out. Now the frustrations of a morning that has not been very accommodating to young ladies who chase bunnies and fall a long ways lie in a large puddle, and here we are likewise trapped in this very stately, and quite strange, hallway. So comes your next curious assignment in Alice House No.2: The Pool of Tears from the ever whimsical Funky Land—find five dodoes and unlock the door so you can escape. The dodoes appear in a variety of forms: pictures, silhouettes, and...other things, some in the open, some needing to be unlocked by a code or item. To navigate, point and click on an area you'd like to view more closely; when you can back up, a grey bar will appear at the bottom of the scene as you hover your cursor there. It is a good thing to keep in mind, especially as you'll need to back up to swing open certain cabinet doors, otherwise there is no changing cursor or directional arrows to aid your explorations.
ERS Game Studios' hidden-object adventure series PuppetShow turns five years old this year, proving that there's nothing people love more than sentient puppets with soulless eyes and hungry plastic mouths, so good job, you weirdos. PuppetShow: Lightning Strikes is the latest, taking place in Paris in 1888, and you've been called in to assist when local women begin vanishing during lightning storms, and anyone struck by lightning turns into a living puppet. Despite this, since puppets are already a big part of this alternate-steampunky-France, down to the creepy mechanical newsboys and creepier ice cream vendors (we all float down here), nobody thinks to suspect them right up until one shows up and tries to steal a piece of evidence. Seems the victims might all have something in common, and love ain't always sweet. As you travel the city solving puzzles, you'll uncover evidence you'll need to sort with the help of your new psychic friend who really wants her magical doll back (I swear I'm not making this up), deal with a cranky fellow who possesses the bizarre ability to bring inanimate objects to life, and more.
Like Sentry Knight and Elona Shooter, HighUp Studio's Viking Valor is a defensive shooter, one that, specifically, revolves around blasting vikings in the face with cannons. See, some king stole a gem from your people, and to get it back, you have to kaboom your way through vikings, viking tanks, viking sorcerers, viking bombs, viking... bats?... and, well, you get the idea. In each level you'll face waves of enemies, and all you have to do is aim and shoot with the mouse. In addition to dropping cash you can spend on placing traps to hurt or hinder, your foes also net you experience points, and every time you level up you gain points you can spend on upgrading your weaponry and spells. Oh, didn't I mention? As you level up, you unlock various spells you can activate with [Z], [X], and [C]... each has a cool-down timer, however, so don't go using them willy-nilly. If an enemy reaches and manages to damage your ship, don't panic! Just make sure you pick up the boards occasionally dropped, since they can repair the ship's hull. Of course, you still want to avoid damage as much as possible, since you're awarded stars for each stage depending on how much damage you took, and those stars are used to unlock new traps and upgrades for them.
Balls is not, as you might think, a game made by Bobby Singer, but rather Robamimi's latest escape game in which you must find four balls in order to get out. It sounds simple, but the reality is anything but. Just click around to interact when the cursor changes, and use the arrows at the edges of the screen to move around. The changing cursor, while helpful, is nothing new, but the game also includes an option to display colour names when you mouse over certain items whose colour is relevant to solving puzzles, making the game much more playable for people who have difficulty distinguishing colours in general. There's also a hint function, but don't expect it to do much more than gesture vaguely in the right direction. But hey, that's all you'll need, right?
Tell me if this has happened to you before: while on a camping trip with friends, roasting marshmallows into crispy gooey bliss, innocently toying with bottle rockets near the campfire, an extraterrestrial aircraft zooms over and zaps you into space. No? Then, you may have missed out on one of... No, not one of, but only the most exciting interstellar odyssey of your life. That is, if Bik: A Space Adventure is any testimony on the subject. And he should be, given this is exactly what happens to Bik as the titular character in Zotnip's marvelously fun classic scifi point-and-click adventure, playable on your iOS and Android mobile device or on your computer as a download. But in case you begin to doubt Bik's perspective on the subject, there will be opportunities to walk in Ammut, Tatenen and Talandra's gravity boots for a change of pace and scenery, exploring alien environments and solving the story-driven puzzles encountered along the way. While the pursuit of fun and extracurricular recreation is a perfectly valid reason to travel the galaxies, there are bigger bots to fry: join forces with the good guys as they escape Umarian abductors and Houns mobsters while stopping an evil corporation from exploiting a peaceful farming planet—the universal battle of good versus evil all in resplendent 2D pixel art.
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.