In Hypnotic Owl's turn-based puzzle The Wizard, titular magic maestro Kevin loses his most precious treasure... his face. That's right, someone has literally made off with his moneymaker, and he has no choice but to pursue the thief through the sewers and into a dangerous castle filled with tricks, traps, treasure, and beasties galore that would love to chew Kevin's non-existent face right off. The game is divided into levels, with the goal being to make it safely past any dangers and to the exit, casting spells to deal with anything that gets in your way. Click and drag on green tiles to make a path, but beware... monsters will come after you if they spot you. You can click a creature to see its range, which will be helpful in planning your method of attack. See, as you play, you'll unlock new spells for Kevin (how great a wizard can he be if he literally has no magic until you find it for him?) that need to be triggered by drawing specific patterns. When you find a spell, it'll go to his notebook in the upper-right corner of the screen for you to refer to. Click on Kevin, and then draw the spell's path around him to cast. As you incinerate monsters, you'll actually level up, which can earn you points to upgrade spells you've discovered. Sadly, no upgrade for the Magic Missile will allow you to attack the darkness. Hey, can I have a Mountain Dew?
Trigger Warning: This game contains scenes and themes that some people may find upsetting.
Nicky Case, best known for his demo of the upcoming Nothing to Hide and Gap Monsters gets more than a little personal with his interactive story Coming Out Simulator 2014, also available on Itch.io. Created for the Nar8 Jam, this semi-autobiographical game opens in a coffee shop, but primarily takes place back in 2010, when the narrator's boyfriend, Jack, encourages Nicky to come out to his parents. As you read, you'll be given different responses to choose that can drastically alter the flow of dialogue, and, as the narrator cautions, everyone will remember everything you say, so think about your words before you pick them, but don't expect to "win" in the traditional sense.
Couture Craft, by Resonant Craft, is a game all about taking smaller things and combining them into one bigger, more awesome thing. Weaving threads into cloth. Stitching that cloth into clothing. Taking the match-3 genre and infusing it with the likes of an puzzle game. Here, your playing pieces resemble fashionable accessories, but they don't just vanish into the ether when you get three of them together! Drop them two at a time into the playing field to combine them into newer, better pieces, and you can combine those pieces into even more pieces, and so on and so forth until your wardrobe is a veritable explosion of style. And if that wasn't enough alchemizing for you, you can also mix your socks and hats and whatnots into powerups and goodies between the levels! It's not quite clear how you turn a pair of khaki shorts into a T-shirt, and then morph three of those right back around into denim jeans, but that's the magic of alchemy, isn't it?
Hoang Tuan Minh's AI-Conflict looks like your typical science-fiction themed tower defense game, but as with people and calzones, it's what on the inside that counts. Using cash earned from blasting enemy ships to smithereens, you place your defenses along the sides of the path that your foe will follow, and as the game progresses you'll unlock everything from heavy-hitting cannons to flame throwers. Each tower uses ammunition in varying amounts, which replenishes automatically and is represented by the yellow bar, and if there isn't enough to go around some towers won't be able to attack, but by placing ammunition plants to help the regeneration, you can ensure your full defenses are always firing. What's neat in addition to being the key to victory, however, is that each and every one of these turrets can be programmed through simple drop down menus to use very specific behaviour, Dragon Age: Origins party member tactics-style. Only without elven Antonio Banderas and Nigel from Crossing Jordan, though if someone ever manages to patch that in, you need to let me know right away.
In the new chibi platform game Key & Shield you've been freed from your cell by a rather lackluster guardian angel who's gone and slipped you the key. The catch? It's up to you to rescue the rest of your buddies from the same predicament. I'm not sure where their own guardian angels could be, but I'm beginning to suspect a distinct lack of professionalism among the ranks there. Fortunately, Key & Shield manages to be utterly impossible in all the right ways. We love playing platform games precisely because they feature so many surreal things that couldn't possibly work in real life. Ledges of bricks that float in mid-air? Throwing balls of fire underwater? How about standing on the end of a ledge using only your toes? If what you're craving is a little more "Nintendo physics" in your day, Key & Shield's got you covered. Burst up onto overhead platforms while smashing the bad guys with your shield. Dodge fireballs in mid-air from monsters who are actually on fire themselves. Drift down gently like a leaf on the breeze floating on your own solid metal shield. Developers Fire Totem Arena, with Matt Oglesby and Luis Lancho
doing the music and sound, have put a lot of heart and character into crafting this lovable and impossibly surreal landscape — and it shows!
Ninjadoodle's point-and-click puzzle game Shurizzle is about that most wondrous of solutions to all life's problems... the shuriken. Can't find a seat on the bus? Shuriken'd! Favourite show got cancelled? Shuriken'd! Cereal got too soggy before you were done eating it? Totally shuriken'd! Ask your doctor about what shuriken can do for you, but in the meantime, your goal here is to make a shuriken in each of the game's twenty levels. Each stage looks similar, but presents a different twist on its formula to assemble your heart's desire. All you have to do to play is click and experiment, figuring out the mechanic in each level that will reveal that pointy metallic goodness.
Dualities exist all throughout nature. Confucius knew it, Hermann Hesse knew it, and you bet Obi-Wan knew it too. Now developer Daniel Linssen, alias Managore, has transformed the concept into the exceptionally unique platformer The Sun and Moon. Taking first place in Ludum Dare 29, the game embraces its theme of "beneath the surface" with style, forcing the player to move not simply on top of platforms, but within them as well. The [arrow] keys or [WASD] will move the teeny ball of concentrated cuteness you control, with [shift] or [Z] allowing you to delve into the ground and through the dark-coloured platforms. Your objective is to collect the three Shinies and reach the wormhole to beat each of the levels. You'll be fighting gravity to achieve this, whether it's the familiar ol' downward pull, or the reverse gravity inside the walls, which seeks to thrust you high into the sky at alarming speeds.
The future promised to us back in the Eighties is finally here, and when we're not learning Elvish online for our D&D campaigns or managing our Causes.org petition to finally compel Cyndi Lauper to spell-check her name, we're decking into the glowing neon Matrix and downing corporate ICE for the sheer unadulterated thrill of it! Gordon Little, along with Gustavo Santos, Ivano Palmentieri, and Rusty Hayes, deftly slap together old and new in this intensely-luminous cyberpunk Pokémon hybrid RPG, Cyber Punkemon. Maneuver your deck through the Cyberdyne Systems mainframe with the [arrows], and take on any defensive ICE programs that try to block your progress! You'll then be in a mouse-based Battle Mode a la Pokémon, where your program and the system's both have their own special moves.
We've been doing a lot of reading on improving our business model here at JayIsGames. And through all the tomes of literature, filled with talk of "micropayments", "freemium content," "cryptocurrency", and other words that may or may not be found in any dictionary, it seems that a focus on
ripping-off Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend "works with conceptual similarities to other popular games" is one surefire path to success. Since there's never been a bandwagon I haven't leapfrogged upon when given the chance, I give to you JayIs2048, a puzzling... we'll say tribute to UsVsTh3m's Make Your Own 2048 generator, which is kind of a tribute to Gabriele Cirulli's 2048, which was a kind of tribute to 1024 by Veewo Studio, which was kind of a tribute to Threes by Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend, which, of course was kind of a tribute to the mathematical postulate that small stuff can be combined to make bigger stuff, an axiom that was first evidenced either by the Ancient Greeks or Voltron. Whew. So if Pythagoras of Samos shows up with a DCMA take-down order, I know who I'm passing the buck to.
Remember how difficult Edmund McMillen's The Binding of Isaac was? No way to know what you'll encounter next, hordes of enemies charging at you, and nothing to defend yourself but your salty tears. Well, now you can experience a horror-based roguelike which gives you no weapons at all! Such is the premise of No more Bullets, currently playable in beta and Orangepixel's entry for the recent Procedural Death Jam. Using the [arrow] keys to move, your objective is to find your way to the glowing white beacon without dying at the hands of a proverbial army of monsters.
You won't find any powerups, hidden switches, or boss battles here. This game is as simple as they come. It focuses not on gimmick, but on getting the most out of its game mechanics, and there is something very admirable about that. With the ability to move quickly and not much else, you'll quickly find ways of baiting the monsters—who incessantly follow you like they're under a love spell, even if it means getting themselves stuck on corners—into going where you need them to be. Saying much else would take away from your own experience playing the game, but I will leave you with this. There are ways to recover your health. With more developments to come, this beta has a lot going for it already. It's too bad that the sound doesn't seem to be in operation yet, but it's impressive that Orangepixel managed to create such an eerie atmosphere even without it. Maybe in the next update, we'll learn more about those freaky disappearing heads...
Do you like your Sokoban hard? Good, because nabokOS.exe by Giorgio Malrone is tougher than scraping gum off your shoe. Like a reverse version of the classic puzzle, served up by a program that seems to want you to fail in anguish, you don't push the blocks to their destinations, but they'll stick to you, and you pull them along instead using the [arrow] keys. And once they stick to you, you'll have to scrape these blocks away to get them off of you!
While the sticky can get pretty tricky, there's one extra move that might help. When you press up against an immovable block and move into it, you'll obviously stay put, but any blocks stuck to you that can move will move. This scrape/push mechanic is the key to tackling the high-difficulty puzzles in this Puzzlescript-designed game. Can you scrape by and solve all the diabolically twisted challenges nabokOS.exe has to offer? How much harder can the program make the game before it self-destructs? Also, do you have any tips for getting gum off of shoes? Seriously, I can't walk on tile floors anymore without leaving pink quarter-sized tracks.
Duuuude. Have you ever really looked at your hands? Or dismantled them, added in a scanner, blowtorch and transmitter, and put them back together? That's just what you'll be doing for your clients in this Papers Please-inspired cyberpunk time management game by talented musician and game developer Rezoner of QbQbQb fame. In Limbs Repair Station you work at a cybernetics repair center, accepting the orders of irate customers whose robotic hands no longer work or need modifications for some reason. You're in charge of disassembling the items, diagnosing what's wrong with them, replacing any broken components, and choosing and installing any new parts to meet the specs.
You'll have some clients with specific professional requirements, and you'll then have to consult the manual to determine just what parts they'll need installed. Other times a customer's specs will involve optimizing for just the right amount of hand grip and precision. Those two qualities are a tradeoff, and parts that add to one will typically reduce from the other. As with the rest of the game thoughtful analysis, reasoning and attention to detail is a must if you're going to get it right — but you're also getting paid for each order you successfully complete, and you're on a timer that ends the game when the work day is over. Mark a job as complete when there's something you didn't get quite right — or managed to miss completely — and it'll get sent back with a jeer from your manager. Fortunately it'll also include an itemized description of just what you missed, so the only thing you'll lose is time. Which is money! Oh, and don't forget to make sure the product is covered under warranty. That means not only making sure its warranty hasn't already expired, but also verifying that it was purchased from a retailer whose products you service — as well as verifying that the bar code on the circuitboard matches the one shown on the warranty. It's a tough job but you didn't think they'd just hand you a paycheck, did you?
This game succeeds in a lot of ways beyond its unique premise. It's more than just a standard time management title because instead of just filling orders to a demanding schedule you'll have to carefully prowl around for a plethora of different things before you can call an order good, and that means it will engage more of your aptitude and strengthen any weak points. It was also made color-blind, and by that I mean it can be difficult to tell Asian skin tones from Caucasian ones. Because you'll need to make the hand you're working on match the complexion of your customer, that can trip you up until you get familiar enough with the palette used to be able to match the skin tone on the customer's ticket. But Rezoner is still frantically grafting new parts onto his latest creation (mad scientist laugh optional), and is conspiring to have a Kickstarter and some new hands hired on for this, so if any of this piques your interest you should definitely check in on him. Just... you know, to make sure he's doing alright. As a friend.
Previously featured in Link Dump Friday, Gabriele Cirulli's fiendishly simple and dangerously addictive puzzle game 2048 has sort of been taking over the world, one square at a time. The object, as the title implies, is to reach 2048 by combining squares... when two squares of the same value are merged, they become a single square with their total value, and your goal is to swipe and combine until you reach that golden number... or the board fills up and becomes immovable. It's harder than it sounds, since each time you move with [WASD] and the [arrow] keys, not only do all the squares move at once in the same direction, a new square will also be spawned with a value of either two or four.
If it sounds a lot like Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend's iOS and Android smash-hit Threes!, well, that's because it basically is, albeit extra simplified in every conceivable way, from design to gameplay. Where Threes! actually boasts some surprisingly challenging rules for such a simple mechanic, 2048 is mostly just about simple matching and addition. It identifies as being "similar" to Threes!, which it is, but a bit more than in a passing fashion. It's still fun and enjoyable as it is, but if you do enjoy it, you should probably also make the effort to acquaint yourself with some of the "source material".
2048 is one of those easy to play yet hard to win games that tend to dominate any spare time you might have had, but Gabriele's has really taken off in a massive way, spawning countless imitators and even outright clones in just a few weeks. It's the same sort of unexpected, jaw-dropping viral success of, say, Flappy Bird, but without the infuriating mindlessness. Randomly swiping your board around can admittedly rack up a fairly decent score, but the more the values start climbing, the more apparent it is that you'll need to start coming up with a strategy if you really want to get anywhere close to victory. If you do manage to succeed, you'll actually be given the option to keep going to try for even bigger combos. Playing 2048 has the same sort of "just enough brain involved" appeal of games like Solitaire, and it's easy to see why it can have you going "one more round" over and over. With so many imitators and clones, it's important to give proper credit where credit is due, so make sure you're only playing on the official site, and consider making a donation to the developer if you've lost an hour or several here, and be sure to check out Threes! if you want something even smarter and meatier for your favourite smartphone device.
Mark Richardson's turn-based puzzle game Gobble Rush! is one of those weird little games that manages to be both unexpectedly charming and challenging despite not really having any bells and whistles to speak of. Using the [arrow] keys to move, you're trying to get to the checkered exit at the end of each stage without being flattened by the... yellow... crabby thingers that will charge at you like bulls if you enter their line of sight. The catch is, you have to do just that to lure them away, since they won't stop their charge until they hit something, allowing you to shuffle them around the board with careful planning. When they spot you, an exclamation point will appear above them, and you have one turn to move out of the way, and you can't go through the exit if one of them has you in their sights. Don't worry, you can hit [Z] to undo any moves you like, and [R] will restart the stage if you get creamed.
What's neat about Gobble Rush! is how satisfying its puzzle solving really is, encouraging you to carefully study each level layout to pick your way through. In some cases, for example, you'll need to figure out how to make your yellow foes collide in order to stack them in such a way as to provide more stopping points for others. It's a lot harder than it seems, and it made me wish for a turn counter so I could see how many moves I'd managed to complete a level in to try to improve... or even, hey, a level select at all, though the game will allow you to continue where you left off if you stop playing. While it does get a little repetitive simply because of the way it's designed, players looking for simple and smart puzzle designs should look no further.
Please 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?
To 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.