[Note: Please be aware that this game deals with subject matter some may find upsetting.]
A Normal Lost Phone might possibly be the most immediately suspicious thing to call a phone, but here it's the title of this intriguing interactive narrative, created by the team calling themselves Accidental Queens for Global Game Jam 2016 in France, where you must try to figure out what happened to the phone's owner, a young man named Sam. You interact with the phone as you would any smart device, by clicking on icons and dragging the screen to scroll, and you'll need to search through old messages, calendar events, and more to find out the truth, as well as how to unlock certain functions. A Normal Lost Phone is largely a simple, personal narrative that will connect more with some than others, but one told in a creative way.
Before you fire up Chocolala Studio's Chocolate Shop Escape, I'm going to need you to clamp down tight on your sweet tooth, because otherwise you're never going to escape from here. As the title implies, you've been locked inside a small, trendy chocolate shop, and to find a way out, you'll need to solve some puzzles and gather some items, and resist the urge to lay underneath the chocolate fountain once you get it going. There's no changing cursor to show what's interactive, but the design is clean enough that you shouldn't need one. Just click on things around the room, and pay attention to your surroundings... even if a clue seems to be sitting right out in plain view, it might need a second look to make sure you're using it correctly. Chocolate Shop Escape is short, sweet, and just clever enough to make it a nice, light treat for escape fans. Make sure you have everything before you go!
Made in just three days for Ludum Dare, Sort the Court! by graebor, Amy Gerardy, and Bogdan Rybak is a simple sim about a king making all the hard choices to raise your kingdom to a population of 250 by presiding over the decisions people bring to you each day, though you can only answer Yes or No (type [Y] or [N]) to each of them, and you won't always know the consequences right away. Sometimes it might be as simple as loaning some cash to a fisherman, while others might have you deciding whether to potentially gamble away some souls for the chance at some extra cash. Decisions can impact your money, population, and happiness positively or negatively, and with 37 different characters and over 150 decisions, Sort the Court! is extremely charming with its cute art filled with lovely little touches and surprises. Help your kingdom grow, and check out the official Ludum Dare 34 page for Sort the Court! to vote!
After a space anomaly you, Captain Welmu for the Spacefleet, end up on the far side of the galaxy all alone with only your A.I unit to keep you company. On your way to returning home you run into a weak signal for help coming from a planet called Hox. Decided to appease your curiosity you go down to see if you can help, only, of course, to end up getting into your own predicament. Can you find a way to get off the planet or find who needs your help or maybe find a way to kill two birds with one stone? The Captain is just a small demo of the much larger planned game by SysiacGames. But if the game is anything like this demo, we'll all be anxiously awaiting the final product. This point-and-click adventure game feels like a teaser for something big and great by being something small, but great. With three different endings and an intro to the kind of gameplay and characters we can expect to see in the future project it still feels like a game on its own.
These little friends are inseparable. They literally light up each other's world. But when their plain of existences holds some precarious situations they have to use each other to make it through together. Literally, as both of them have major faults that only the other can make up for. In Undivided, an absolutely adorable puzzle game, there are two heroes, one green who can only move left and right with the [arrow keys], and one who is blue that can only move up with [W] and down with [S]. Thankfully neither of them are above taking a little tough love and will allow the other to push them towards the warmly glowing orange squares that is their exit. It's meant to be played with two players and a different experience is promised if you do, but if you are alone for the time being this game is more than enjoyable to play by yourself. These brightly colored heroes have enough friendship to go around. Made by a group of MFA students at USC's Interactive Media & Games Division, Undivided may not be the most challenging or the most advanced game in the puzzle genre but it's surely one of the cutest.
Randall Munroe's webcomic xkcd has been around for well over a decade, touching on everything from pop culture to science, love, and beyond, and it's garnered a pretty huge audience. To celebrate the launch of his new book, Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe has released Hoverboard, a very simple little platformer where you gather coins from a small playfield and drop them in a box. The end!... or is it?! Using the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move and jump, you'll find your hoverboard can jump an infinite number of times and take you beyond the designated play area to explore a surprisingly huge black and white world with secrets aplenty. There's not much to do other than take in the sights and collect more coins, but with so much to find, all rendered in a simple but lovely black-and-white stickman style, Hoverboard is worth a romp as a great piece of interactive art full of secrets and references to everything under the sun.
It's a story as old as time itself: Boy finds sword. Boy stabs monster with sword. Boy rescues girl. Boy and girl go out for coffee or something. But what if things happen in the wrong order? What if the boy accidentally stabs the girl, or trips on the sword while walking hand-in-hand together? What if the monster reaches the girl first, accidentally scorching her in the process? What if the boy tries to stab the monster, but finds he has no sword? (Hint: scorching?) Such are the scenarios considered by Tiled Quest, an HTML5 sliding block puzzle game developed by Team Doa Ibu, made up of Alif, Rosanqodrian, Novel Apriaji, Rino Adi, and Anto Febian! Visit the creator's site at Tempa Labs!
If you're looking for rapid-fire, cute, point-and-click puzzle goodness, Ninjadoodle's name should be on your short list, and they're serving up another helping with Lightybulb 2, where, just like the original game, you're trying to figure out how to make the lightbulb in each level light up. Click on things to interact, but also try to drag objects around... you never know what might happen. The levels may look similar, but you'll have to solve them in a variety of different ways... math, deciphering codes, or even just good ol' process of elimination. If you like your puzzle games aggressively cute with a bouncy soundtrack, then Lightybulb 2 is probably a bright idea. Zing!
Few escape games are as immediately recogniseable as they are made by no1game's little green men, and for good reason. They've been providing free entertainment for a long, long time. How long? Oh, just a whole decade, and Find the Escape-Men 167: No1Game's 10th Anniversary is a well-earned celebration, even if no1game's idea of celebrating does mean locking you up in a strange room with a coffin, a punching bag, and some questionable reading material. As usual, to escape you'll need to find the ten little green men hidden sneakily throughout the room, and, also as usual, there's no changing cursor, so you'll really want to search everywhere and everything for interactive spots. Some of the puzzles you'll encounter here may feel as if they stretch the lengths of intuitiveness to their breaking point, or are a little awkwardly implemented. Which is not, of course, to say that Find the Escape-Men 167 doesn't have its share of surprises, some silly and others, ahem, risqué, and you'll definitely need to think outside the box more than once. While No1Game's 10th Anniversary as a game might be a little rough around the edges, it represents an amazing achievement by a generous developer, and we can only tip our hats and hope for ten more.
Neptune, Venus, and Jupiter are just your average teens, sweating and groaning through another year of being with the Summer Scouts. Between the bullies and the frustrating camp activities, which of course include your typical teenager chores like fighting evil and getting ready for Magical Girl style transformations, the group is just waiting for it all to be over so they can get back home and back to normal, or at least as normal as they're expected to be. But in between all the religious songs and charm practice, all the sunscreen and bugspray, Jupiter, Venus, and Neptune keep their own secrets, even from themselves, even from each other. Because if they were ever to be found out, well, they'd be left all alone when the devil comes for them. Aevee Bee, Mia Schawrtz, Alex Lambert and their team bring you We Know the Devil, a surreal psychological indie online visual novel about being "weird and queer and wrong and hoping no one finds out when the actual, literal devil comes for you". To play, just click to advance the text, and, when offered, choose character combinations to undergo certain tasks. The game has four different endings, with the "true" one only available under certain conditions once you've got all the others, and you'll want to chase down every interaction and character combination to flesh out not only the relationships, but the kids themselves and how they relate to and see themselves and one another.
Blink and you'll miss it, but In Between Games' The Mammoth: A Cave Painting, made in just three days for Ludum Dare 33's "You Are the Monster" jam, is well worth the few minutes it'll take out of your day. In this piece of striking interactive art, you'll go through the history of one of the world's most iconic great shaggy mammals by playing as one who initially goes in search of her child, separated from the herd, and then must reconnect with the herd herself. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, and, when available, hit [X] to trumpet, which will cause you to call your baby to sprint to you quicker. Later, you can use [C] to charge and trample dangers. The game tells a fairly familiar story, largely because it's been repeated throughout history with so many different animals in a very Potter/Voldemort "neither can live while the other survives" sort of way, and while it doesn't actually do anything tremendously different or unexpected with its story and moral, its striking visual style and somber storytelling fits the mood and setting extremely well. It likely isn't telling you anything you already know, but its well paced and executed. The Mammoth: A Cave Painting is a snapshot of well-crafted interactive art foreshadows good things from its development team in the future.
In Emily Ryan's interactive comic adventure Secret Agent Cinder, one person's fairytale is another's tale of espionage, as you take control of the titular heroine who's been tasked by her godmother to infiltrate the Royal Ball and steal the military plans before the stroke of midnight. To play, just click the choices you want to make as they appear onscreen, paying attention to the artwork for any clues as to how to proceed, and use the arrows to move around the castle... though if an arrow is pale, you can't go in that direction. (Yet?) Don't forget to play in fullscreen! There are two main endings, but a lot of events and options to encounter, from dealing with a particularly overzealous prince, to incapacitating guards. The artwork is gorgeous, using a limited colour palette to striking effect, and the text is simple but effective, leading you on and fleshing out the gameplay and environment without overflowing with unnecessary description. It's a short game, but the sheer variety of options encourages replaying, especially given the way your final score in several categories changes based on your actions, and leaves us hoping we'll see more adventures and missions from Emily Royal's dashing, daring leading lady in the future.
Working at a theme park for no1game's iconic little green men? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, except for the part where you're stuck in a hot costume all day long, and when you finally get to take a break, you find yourself trapped in the staff room. In Find the Escape-Men Part 164: EM Land, click around the room to find the ten little green dudes and ultimately escape... which, as you might have guessed, involves solving a handful of strange puzzles and looking under every proverbial rock you can, since there's no changing cursor. As a result, the place you might get hung up the most is simply missing a hidden spot or two to click on, which can be frustrating given what a small space you're working in as you spin in circles. Stick with it, however, and no1game's quirky sense of humour will remind you why they've been a hit for so long now, though the ending is a little bit strange. Maybe we'll get to explore more of EM Land than the locker room in the future? We can only hope!
They say love is blind, but even the most classic tales (excluding certain animated features) will tell you that frogs are typically ill-suited to marital bliss, at least when one half is human. In cute puzzle game Save the Princess: Love Triangle, the princess has been turned into a frog, and the prince needs to bring her a magic potion to turn her back to normal... though he's a bit dense. He's only motivated by cake, you see, so you'll need to click on the ground to place cake arrows to lure him forward. Click an arrow to rotate it to direct where the prince will head next when he encounters it, and think carefully about where it goes, since you have a limited number, and the prince will gobble it down when he touches it. Not only do you need to contend with steering the prince away from spikes, but you'll also need to either use some of your limited cake supply to steer away rival princes... or, well, lure yours to a sword to finish them off. Throw in some buttons and doors to activate to change the path, and things aren't as straight-forward as they initially appear. Though pretty dated when it comes to gender roles and on the whole very gentle with difficulty, Save the Princess: Love Triangle, is a cute, bright little puzzle game in a simpler vein of titles like Talesworth Adventure, making it cheery fun to kick back with... without breaking your brain.