If you don't think grinding is a dirty word when it comes to RPGs and you love dungeon crawling, Mitsuhiro Okada's completely free, simple, and devilishly addictive Minute Quest for iOS and Android is calling your name. You play a nameless hero sent off by a lazy king to... uh... I'm not sure exactly. Slay a whole bunch of monsters? Doing so involves advancing through screens of enemies as you journey forth from the castle, every enemy increasing in power the further you get. Just tap the left or right side of the screen to move, and move into enemies to attack. Slay enough and you'll level up, earning five points to distribute to your attributes. Die, and, well, you're booted all the way back to the castle (don't worry, you keep all gold, items, and levels) to start again, though you will eventually unlock a means to speed through places you've been before. As you slaughter your way to the right, you can find chests with different monster pets that provide bonuses as well as helping you fight, and you'll discover different shops you can buy new equipment types at as well. Though it looks easy and even too simple, behind its carefree retro charm Minute Quest has a surprising amount of depth and nary an in-app purchase to be found.
To a young man like Cantus, the rest of the world and all the people in it can just seem like... noise. An indistinct roar that's nothing more than static. Of course, he won't shut up about it either, so it's no surprise that everyone is content to let him spend his time alone, listening to waves crash against the shore. Everyone that is but this energetic blue-haired girl that just showed up in front of him, and who seems aggressively interested in piercing all of his carefully constructed jaded cynicism. (Happens to me all the time!) Why does he even care? Maybe it's something in her voice: a voice that sounds like water flowing, with a breeze in the sky. Something like the Voices from the Sea. Voices from the Sea is a visual novel adventure from Zeiva Inc. about a boy, a girl, the ocean, and sea shells. Lots and lots of sea shells.
Content Advisory: This game features a small-minded character who uses several vicious slurs against the LGBTQ community. Discretion is advised.
In The Astronauts' highly anticipated indie horror adventure game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, it's every parent's worst nightmare when, as the title suggests, young Ethan Carter goes missing. Before his disappearance, he'd been sending you letters... you, Paul Prospero, a detective with a reputation for the occult. Nobody believed the things Ethan told them about... not the police, not the priests... but you did. Now you've come to his hometown of Red Creek, which looks like a quiet, obscenely picturesque, yet oddly quiet, town set deep in the forest, but looks can be deceiving. Billed as a "non-linear narrative", The Vanishing of Ethan Carter offers little to no direction when it drops you unceremoniously into the game, and it's entirely up to you to figure out where to go, follow your own clues and leads, and solve puzzles with minimal obvious direction. It's a slow, thoughtful experience with abstract puzzles and a heavy focus on storytelling in a gorgeous, immersive environment, made more for fans of subtle, classic horror than splashy, flashy scares and thrills. Though only a few hours long and lacking in replay value, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an extraordinarily beautiful and unsettling piece of narrative fiction that uses some knock-out imagery and shocking events to take you along for the ride.
Warning: Parts of this game contain flashing lights that may trigger those sensitive to it.
Did you hear the story about the running physicists? No? Well, let me tell it to you: Once upon a time, two physicists and their robotic assistant went running through a super collider to discover new elements. Sometimes they succeeded; sometimes they failed. The End. What do you mean that wasn't very entertaining? Well, maybe I told it wrong. Ian MacLarty and Jon Kerney do a much better job in their indie jump and run title, Boson X for iOS, Android, and PC, Mac, and Linux. Yes, there's running along moving platforms. Yes, there's jumping back and forth upon said platforms. And, yes there are definitely lots of failures in this seemingly simple task. LOTS. But they're of the kind that will make you say "Dang! Okay, just one more try".
Just because you saved some guy from a cage in the forest doesn't mean you're turning into Robin Hood. Because you're just in it for the loot, right? Well, maybe not. In Rogue Soul 2, the second installment of the jump and run action series by Soul Studio Games, you want treasure and lots of it. But just maybe you'll become a hero along the way. Use the [arrow] keys to move and jump, [Z] to slide, and [X] to throw collected projectiles at your enemies. Your goal is to make it to the end of each level alive. You need fast reflexes to dodge, jump, or attack what's coming, so if you stay too close to the front of the screen, you could be dead before you know what happened. Collect cash, called soulons, and other treasures throughout the levels to purchase upgrades for your character to make survival easier. These include such things as starting with projectiles, better armor, and a chance to dodge enemy attacks. Different goals are listed before each stage. Accomplish these and you'll be awarded stars which can be used to buy skins to change your look. Get all these in the shops from the map screen, where you can also check out the soulbook which has information on your enemies.
Currently in Early Access, The Long Dark, or as I've taken to calling it, The Long Dark: The Wolfening, or The Long Dark: Help, Help, a Wolf is on My Face!, is a challenging first-person apocalyptic survival simulation adventure with roguelike elements from indie developers Hinterland Studios. In it, you play a man or woman whose plane has gone down in the Northern Canadian wilderness in the dead of winter due to a "mysterious geomagnetic storm" that's rendered the whole world still and silent. It's just you against the elements (and the wolves), as you scavenge for everything from food and water to wood and other supplies, constantly battling freezing temperatures (and wolves), dropping caloric reserves (and wolves), and your own fatigue... and wolves. At the moment, The Long Dark offers a mostly complete sandbox mode based around the Mystery Lake locale, with the promise of more to come, as well as an eventual episodic story mode. Your sandbox goal? To survive as long as you can, which is easier said than done since you start with little more than the clothes on your back. You'll need to scrape together wood, find shelter, melt snow for water, search abandoned buildings (and frozen corpses) for supplies, and cross your fingers that you find a hunting rifle because even if you have a knife, those deer carcasses aren't going to be around forever.
In Eipix Entertainment's flashy and classy hidden-object adventure Danse Macabre: Moulin Rouge, you've been summoned to solve the murder of a young woman at the legendary concert hall, and though the police think they have their killer, we wouldn't have much of a game if hat were the case. (Shortest game in history. "Oh, our mistake, madame, please go back home and enjoy some pastries." Credits roll.) As you probe deeper, you soon discover there's something seriously weird happening on the streets of Paris, and Sophie, the poor girl who was murdered, is just the tip of the iceberg. Luckily, you've got your forensic kit at your disposal, and despite the sneering of the local police, you're sure this "new science" will reveal the killer. With your own private coach, you'll travel around the city as you put together connections revealing suspect after suspect and discovering their motives, solving puzzles, hidden-object sequences... and maybe even polishing up your bartending skills a little.
It seems like, for once, the zombie apocalypse has caught you at a decent time. You're way out in the woods, far from obnoxious crowds and all the chaos of a major city. Out here it's a pleasant vacation - nothing but you, a bunch of weapons, and a car you have to fix. Oh, and dozens upon dozens of bloodthirsty, brain-chomping zombies scratching at your barricade. Still Alive can't go too easy on you, now can it? It all boils down to a shooting game with some time management thrown on top. Aim with the mouse to use a variety of weapons to turn each shambling corpse into a regular corpse. When the horde has died down, you have to allocate your remaining stamina into either searching for weapons, practicing to increase your shooting skill, fixing the barricade or repairing your car. If you can get that car fixed up you're home free. It's not going to happen overnight, however...
Either you love tower defense games or you don't, but if you do, there's a good chance you love IriySoft's ferociously addictive hit Cursed Treasure and its sequel. For a while, your productivity was safe as long as you were away from your computer, but now that Cursed Treasure 2 has hit iOS, well, hey, it's not like you needed that job or those social obligations, right? The premise is still the same as you place and upgrade towers full of demons, orcs, and the undead to hold off the heroes (that's right, you're the bad guy) who are trying to come and cart away all of your precious gems. As towers slay foes, they become eligible for upgrades, which increases their power, but also allows you to choose certain upgrade paths for them that will give them new abilities, such as turning an undead tower into a crypt that terrifies or slows enemies. You're awarded experience based on how well you did, which earns you skill points to upgrade towers, passive bonuses, and spells, and if you can make it through a level without an enemy even touching a single gem, you'll earn a three star rating. Eventually you'll unlock Night Mode for all levels, which, well, is what it sounds, allowing you to play the game at nighttime with the restriction of only being able to place towers within the range of light sources.
When evil space pirates kidnap your brothers, it's always wise to go look for a hero. Getting one from another world is a major bonus, unless he's as apathetic as all get out. In Mr. Splibox, a platform puzzle game by Eyesteam, you play as this unmoved hero, who can't even be bothered to jump. That may raise some issues in a platform game, except the spliboxes have granted you the ability to spawn them underneath you at will, giving you the boost you need. Use them like a stepstool, or an improvised pole vault, or as flat out bait for the bad guys. Seriously these spliboxes will do anything for you, including falling onto spikes and letting themselves be launched across the screen. They don't care, they always seem to come back to you no matter how they 'pop'. They'll help you do anything as long as you get their captive brothers back to them or make your way through this wacky world to the teleporter.
Those of us who spend all day playing browser games are no strangers to the art of laziness, but the little pajama-clad infiltrator in Sean James McKenzie's Lazy Thief is a true master of the craft. He's driven enough to sneak all the way into each of the 50 levels, hauling a bag of rocks, bouncy balls, and ninja stars the whole way, but he can't be bothered to scamper up the blocks to grab the precious gems. That's where the physics puzzles come in. Click to lob your various projectiles at the diamonds to knock them onto the color-coded platforms nearby. Some blocks will crumble on contact with a projectile, some will require some fine-tuned bouncing with a bouncy ball to strike at the correct angle, and sometimes there's a string you have to cut with a ninja star. Watch out for the diamond-destroying lava squares. If you can get the gems onto the correct platforms they'll magically teleport into your possession. Thievery has never been so lazy!
As warm and inviting as the perfect summer day, Rub's short, free indie adventure game Lisa, made in just two months, is the perfect combination of awwww and hmmmm. The only description it gives you is that it's about a dog and a girl, but I'd more accurately call it "adorable, whimsical afternoon simulator". You control both a peppy blue pup and (eventually) a young girl as you explore and solve simple puzzles around the lazy countryside surrounding your tiny farm. The dog follows your cursor when you click, while right-clicking makes it bark (hold to release a bigger, mightier woof!), and the girl moves with [WASD], with [E] to whistle and call the dog to her, and [spacebar] to pick up and throw certain objects. All of this is relayed via signs and images, as Lisa is a game entirely without words, leaving you to intuit what characters want, and you'll need to explore everywhere. It's the type of game that may only take you ten or fifteen minutes, but is so cozy and sweet you'll wish it was much, much longer.
See those cute, adorable graphics? Try opening up the game and listen to that darling, innocent background music. Isn't it all so charming? Well, don't be fooled! That dastardly, darling, little fish will win over your heart with her cozy stitching and and her muted orange color, but look at that blank stare. This isn't just a happy-go-lucky little game. No, this is a game to test your physics skills with no mercy. A heartless, cold, unforgiving test. Or perhaps it really is just a charming game with actual tricky puzzles to figure out, with a few levels that just really kicked my tail fin.... Tricky Fish, where the goal is to help this supposedly sweet little fish jump out of the water to collect all the pearls (and stars) it can, while avoiding spikes and those infamous saw blades. But Tricky Fish has some aces up her fins, and with the help of springs, bubbles, and you, she can gather all the pearls she needs for whatever reason her fishy little heart desires.
Love is in the air and it's shaped like gigantic, fuzzy, eyeballs. Yes, the cute furry couple need to be united once again in ALMA Games', Blob's Story 2. Even if you haven't played the first Blob's Story (that can be solved with an easy click) you should know you're in for a delightful treat when ALMA Games comes into the mix, as they have given us the wonderful Monsterland: Junior VS Senior and Cat Around The World series. Blob's Story 2 continues on with the endearing simplistic puzzles of the cut-the-rope style physics. Slice the ropes that bind the eyeballs (and other miscellaneous items) to collect the beautiful flowers, avoid the rogue saw blades (there should really be a law about leaving those laying around), and cuddle those two eyeballs together to listen to their warm purrs of joy as you complete the round. It's so sweet and so darling and full of small details, like how once the lovers lock eyes they don't look away till they are together, who could pass it up?
I had an introduction for you, folks. It was right here, no joking. So let this be a lesson for you, which I very recently learned through my freewheeling cavalier oh-I'll-just-real-quick-step-away-for-a-phone-call—backing up your creative endeavors, no matter how small or large, is a good habit to be in. Anyways, the intro? It went something along the lines of "embrace new things, treasure old things," and all that sort of muck muck, closed with a witty (very profound and very insightful) platitude about taking the opportunities life gives you. I really have to tell you, it was some of my best work. You would've loved it. Anyhow, here are three new (and not-so-new) escape games for your Weekday Escape enjoyment...