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.
Quad Cop is... a weird game. It's a physics puzzle where you play a square sheriff wrangling square baddies by trying to knock them off the screen, while also collecting all three stars on every level because a physics game without collecting stars these days summons the physics police. That's not the weird part. The weird part is that on each level you have a limited amount of food to feed to your cop, which affects him in different ways. Tacos make you burp, peas (beans?) make you fart and temporarily fly, and chilies make you let out a burst of heat. Just click one of the food items in the upper left corner, then click on a sheriff to feed the food to him. All of this impacts you and your surroundings in various ways, so for example, feeding a taco to a sheriff on an incline could mean the resulting fart gives him enough momentum to go sliding down and good grief is that actually a line I just typed? Is that even a taco? It could be a bánh mì. I don't know what's happening anymore.
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.