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January 2014 Archives


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Rating: 4.4/5 (50 votes)
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Broken Age - Act 1

DoraNote: Currently, only the first act of Broken Age is available. Act two will be provided as a free download for you later this year when you buy the game. This review is based on Act One.

As gorgeous, surreal, and darkly whimsical as a storybook come to life, the first act of Double Fine's point-and-click adventure game Broken Age captivates. If you feel like there are an overabundance of video-game funding projects these days, you can blame Broken Age for that, since its original Kickstarter funding two years ago was such a staggering success that studios, fledgling and veteran alike, couldn't help but sit up and take notice. The initial funding goal was four hundred thousand dollars, not a small amount in itself, but by campaign end the game had taken in over three and a quarter million dollars, so to say expectations are high is a bit of an understatement. I have raised expectations when I pay more than two dollars for a cup of coffee. So does the game live up to those standards? Well... sh'yeah. Mostly.

Broken Age - Act 1The controls should be familiar to anyone who's played a point-and-click game before. Just click to interact, and click the arrow in the bottom left corner to open your inventory, which will allow you to drag objects from it onto anything onscreen to try to use them. From the inventory menu, you can also click the character portrait on the far right, which will let you swap between the two main characters. [ESC] opens the menu, where you can manually save your game or change the options. Throughout the game, you'll play as two characters. Vella is a young girl expected to perform a dubious honor for her village, along with a batch of other eligible young maidens, and all the cakes and pies in the world can't hide the rotten truth. Shay lives aboard a space station where the only other residents are devoted automatons that treat him like a child, and though each day blends into the next, he discovers he might have more choice than he thought if he can force a change. They've never met, and neither even has any idea the other exists, but they are both about to shake up their worlds in a big way.

Broken Age - Act 1Analysis: Broken Age is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful and cinematic adventures to come along in a long time. The game is devoted to its storytelling as a visual art, and everything from its expressive character designs to its backgrounds, both in and out of the many cutscenes, are a wonder to behold. Of course, the stellar voice acting doesn't hurt either, and Broken Age features everyone from Elijah Wood and Masa Moyo to Wil Wheaton and Jack Black. The world building is initially on the whole rather light, and it can feel like the game is sort of just shuttling you from one strange scenario to another. Cloud cult? Fish maidens? Overly clingy AI system? Warriors turned bakers? It's all very interesting, but none of it really seems to have much to do with anything as a whole until late in the game. It makes Broken Age a very character driven experience, and considering how much the cast shines with personality, that ain't a bad thing.

Broken Age - Act 1The writing is, as you'd expect from Double Fine, absolutely top-notch and funny far more often than not, though there is a fair amount of adult or crude innuendo. Where a lot of games focus on self-sacrifice, Broken Age deals with standing up for yourself rather than just doing what's expected of you, of knowing that caring about other people doesn't mean just taking things as they happen. Being brave enough to look for other options even when someone tells you there are none... or even just thinking about yourself and what you want for a change. Despite these interwoven themes, however, you'll still spend a lot of time wondering how, exactly, Vella and Shay's adventures come together, since their settings are so vastly different and they aren't even aware of one another. As mentioned, it feels like there's very little actual world building going on, so while you have a sense of the characters and the story they're trying to tell, you don't really get much of a feel for where all this is taking place apart from merely "somewhere weird". Broken Age had a chance to create an entirely new universe that felt distinctive and whole and unique, and it didn't really do that, largely because the lore is sort of shoved off to one side and the characters and their cultures seem to have little to do with one another in a way that would have brought the setting to life as much as the characters within it.

Broken Age - Act 1Broken Age's gameplay is as traditional as you can get for a point-and-click game, which means you're going to do a lot of clicking things on other things to see if they make new things or open other things for you to do. Though the logic can seem a little weird, as most adventure games do, Broken Age actually feels a little on the easy side simply because of the way it's structured. Options and items tend to be limited enough for most of the game that you'll run into the correct solution eventually, but the game is also fairly good at dropping little hints as to what everything does or everyone needs. Some item combinations or uses are weird, sure, but so is the whole setting, and once your brain starts working within that context you'll find yourself moving along at a rapid pace. It's not unenjoyable by any means, but it's also not anything I ever really found myself challenged by, and I found myself wishing for more substantial or challenging puzzles to really engage my brain the way the story and characters did. It's a strange complaint to make since Broken Age was originally funded as a "classic point and click adventure", and yet Broken Age is significantly easier and more straight-forward than the lion's share of classic point-and-clicks, to the part where it more closely resembles a modern adventure game such as, say, The Walking Dead in execution.

None of that means Broken Age is a bad game. Quite the opposite. As you'd expect from Double Fine, it's stunning, funny, thoughtful, and engaging in all the right places. Playing through the entire thing at a leisurely pace took me close to four hours, and while I firmly believe that for me personally the quality is worth the price of admission, for others the game's $25.00USD price tag coupled with the comparative brevity might give them pause, at least until the second act is released later this year. That's a personal decision you'll have to make for yourself. What I can tell you is that, quibbles aside, Broken Age is an absolutely masterfully crafted cinematic experience that's as well written as it is beautiful to look at, and for as long as it lasted, I didn't want to pull myself away from it. Time will tell how the final act ties everything together later this year, but in the meantime, Broken Age still captivates and delights.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version (Steam)

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version (Steam)

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version (Steam)

Download on the AppstoreBroken Age: Act 1 (iPad)


(15 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf

GrinnypThe first day of work at a new place is always nerve wracking, especially when you, an expert on native American symbols, are heading to the Center for Native Cultures when suddenly symbols and your amulet begin glowing. At the same time, the local mushrooms are suddenly the size of Buicks, and there's a ghostly Indian maid asking you for help, and there's a glowing spirit wolf wandering around... yeah, this is not your normal first day of employment, is it? No, it is in fact the opening of Eipix Entertainment's beautiful new adventure hybrid, Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf.

grinnyp_mythsoftheworldspiritwolf_screenshot1.pngPoint and click your way through as you attempt to solve the mystery of the glowing symbols, amongst other things, in a world packed full of adventuring, mini-gaming, and hidden object finding. Alongside the expected mix of gaming there are extra quests like finding sun runes in every scene. In fact, along with the usual picking up everything not nailed down you will find yourself building and using your now glowing amulet to unlock symbols, using your trusty binoculars to find far-off clues, and solving a ton of puzzles and mini-games. To help you along the way are the usual changing cursor, a useful map that allows you to instantly travel from place to place, and the obligatory notebook to keep track of clues.

grinnyp_mythsoftheworldspiritwolf_screenshot2.pngEvery inch of Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf is packed with gameplay. Each hidden object scene features not just simple "find this object" gameplay, but a multitude of "combine these objects" sub-quests. And for those who disdain hidden object finding, the choice to instead play a rousing marble popper game is a joy. An amazing amount of effort appears to have been poured into every aspect of the gameplay, from the visuals to the music and sound, creating a game that looks as good as it plays and plays as good as it looks. If Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf has one downside, it is the co-opting of every practically every cliché of Native American culture that ever existed. Despite this insensitivity, Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf takes hidden object adventuring to new heights with its stunning look and marvelous gameplay. The ability to customize the difficulty levels only enhances what is already amazing adventuring fun. Crank up the Duran Duran and get playing!

Note: Myths of the World: Spirit Wolf is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes wallpapers, music, animations, concept art, extra gameplay (including both a new adventure and the ability to replay each and every hidden object scene and mini-game), and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Order the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Order the full version


  • Currently 3.8/5
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Rating: 3.8/5 (36 votes)
Comments (6) | Views (2,598)

Winnose

TrickyIt doesn't look like it's going to be a good day. The great winnowing has split the world in two, your flower's petals have fallen off, and your other half is missing. If you find it though, maybe you'll be able to return things to how they were, and the world can finally chill. Winnose is a surreal puzzle game by Todd Luke and Calum Bowen. Any other description more specific than that would be nothing more than base speculation. Move with the [arrow keys], timing your movements to reach the exit of each screen. The world changes from orange to green and back again, whenever you step into a portal.

WinnoseThere are other creatures in this world too. When the world is orange, there will be those who will clomp you over in their pattern of movement without a second's thought. When the world is green, there will be those who follow you and snatch you to who-knows-where. When the world isn't, though, they will stay where they are. And then there are mindless brains that now only move when someone is resting on the buttons that control them. Fortunately, when you meet up with your other half, it'll be able to help you out by mirroring your movements. Reunite, and you'll fly off into space and time to stop the winnowing before it began. If the above description seems like a vague recollection of a feverish dream, that's mainly because so does Winnose. However, it's the good kind of trippy: the kind that gamers in the mood for something different or odd actively seek out. If there are deep levels of artistic meaning to Winnose, then this reviewer is afraid he's missing out. But don't worry: you'll be more than content to swim around on the surface with an enjoyable game that takes place in a setting as goofy as it is unique.

Play Winnose


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis week on Link Dump Friday, some kids with some serious firepower, a farm where love and profits are just a click away, a whole lot of sky-bound bullets and bosses, and a prime example of why you should never get between a pony and her cake.

  • Frantic SkyFrantic Sky - Survive as long as you can against waves of enemies and increasingly badder bosses in Crionuke Games' arcade shooter, nabbing coins to spend on upgrades for your initially paltry plane. Be warned... not only does the game make the dangerous mistake of not using Danger Zone as a soundtrack, but once you die, you'll have to start all over from the beginning! (Though you'll keep your upgrades, mercifully.)
  • Idle FarmerIdle Farmer - Junjo delivers a simple sim game that almost plays itself as you hover over your initially itty-bitty farmland to grow and sell crops that can be spent on upgrades. Part clicktoy, part ultra-ultra-ultra-lite Harvest Moon, it's super cute, but don't expect much depth even when you get a wife, since her entire function is just to help you farm... which I suppose is fair since you literally spend every waking moment in the fields anyway!
  • Tiny DefenderTiny Defender - Normally I'd tell you to pick on someone your own size, but the pint-size powerhouses in Smallfarm's defense shooter don't need any protection! Unlock new heroes and upgrades as you hold the line against metal giants and more, and even rescue fellow tiny citizens to enable them to help you in your battles, but stay on your toes since enemies can attack you as well as the wall you're defending.
  • Celestia's Cake Golf Adventure in SpaceCelestia's Cake Golf Adventure in Space - futzi01 has done a few My Little Pony games already, but this one might be the weirdest if you aren't up on your pony fan jokes. When Princess Celestia's beloved cake winds up in pieces in orbit, she takes up a rather unusual golf club to use the gravitational pull of the planets to collect it all in this familiar but silly physics game.

  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (36 votes)
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Octodad

JohnBWhat started as a crazy student project has grown into a crazy indie game. Octodad: Dadliest Catch by Young Horses continues the mad premise first showcased in the 2010 tech demo, adding a storyline and a handful of new environments to stumble around in. What should be a series of ordinary tasks end up being wacky hijinks in the world of Octodad. Think of it as QWOP in a 3D world and you've got a good idea for just how unhinged this game can be.

OctodadIt all starts at the wedding. Octodad and his lovely non-octo bride are about to tie the knot, but Octodad is late, as usual. Getting down the aisle wouldn't be a problem if you had a skeletal structure to support your jelly-like body. But you're Octodad, you'll have to make do with squishy tentacles stuffed inside a suit. Control each leg independently, flopping them forward one at a time as you move forward...ish. Your arm works in much the same way, allowing you to pick up and manipulate items with a high level of perceived precision. Don't make too much of a mess while people are watching, though, or they'll get suspicious. Can't let them find out what you really are, can you?

Things get "serious" when the family visits the aquarium, a place no octopus would ever want to go. Sharks, octopus cookbooks, biologists that can spot a fish no matter how snazzy their suit is. Just about this time Octodad's nemesis (a chef, naturally) starts stirring up trouble, making it even more difficult to get things done like an ordinary dad.

OctodadAnalysis: Octodad: Dadliest Catch feels like one of those heartwarming sitcoms from the early '90s (or mid-'50s). He's an octopus, you see, but nobody really notices. He's just trying to fit in, but the world wasn't built for someone of his species. This provides a nice contrast with the flopping walking style you'll be doing a lot of, and it's balanced to a point where the game doesn't turn into a constant exercise in stealth. Yes, you want to fit in, but that doesn't stop you from whacking people with random objects or tumbling around on banana peels.

Most of Octodad's tasks amount to fetch-style chores, which feels a bit samey after awhile. There are only so many things you can do with the wobbly limbs premise, but squishing through shelves and solving the various mini-games stays intriguing longer than you might think. The artwork, storyline and fantastic sense of humor keep you interested even when the missions begin to fumble. No matter how you cut it, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a great piece of fun. And when you start to finally get the hang of things, try co-op mode with your friends. We dare you.

WindowsWindows:
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LinuxLinux:
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(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Dawn of the Plow

JohnBFinally, a game that accurately portrays the plight of the snow plow driver! Dan FitzGerald's Dawn of the Plow is an arcade game that's all about clearing piles of snow out of the road so cars can make it home safe and sound. It's as simple as bumping into the drifts while careening around the board, but no goofing off or you'll be fired. Seriously, you will.

Dawn of the PlowDawn of the Plow takes place on an isometric board and utilizes simple swipe controls. Tap the screen to make 90 degree turns, use the horn button to warn other cars of your impending plowage, and swipe up or down to increase and decrease your speed respectively. Once you get the hang of it you'll be clearing piles of snow like a pro.

The trick to Dawn of the Plow is to keep your approval rating as high as you can. You do this by ensuring cars don't have to wait for your services, and that you don't actually crash into them. A few power-ups help you at opportune times, but other than that it's just you and piles of the white stuff, ready to be cleared! A simple, satisfying game with a difficulty curve that is guaranteed to keep you plowing for hours.

WindowsWindows:
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Get the full version

LinuxLinux:
Get the full version

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 4. 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.


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (21 votes)
Comments (16) | Views (4,329)

Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness

KimberlyIf you think living in a magical land of candy is all about gumdrop bridges and lollipop lanes, think again. Sure, you might be able to bathe in chocolate when ever you want and have cupcakes for dinner, but all is not well. In Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness, a Twine text adventure by Michael Brough, something dark is lurking. There is certain doom in the air. Until you show up, that is. Start off by selecting one of three character types. Each type has different special abilities which are made clear fairly early in the adventure. After reading each screen, select the action you want to take with a click.

There are several different areas to explore, each with their own quirky monsters to destroy and quests to finish. Instead of hit points, you possess a rechargeable sugar shield. If an enemy hits you when your shield is fully depleted, you fail at your quest and have to start the entire story over. Luckily there are plenty of tasty items you can eat that help you replenish your shield. Candy Quest 3, created for Candy Jam, never takes itself too seriously, which makes it a pleasure to read. It also gives the distinct impression that there's more than meets the eye in this world, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending... yes, that's the way it's supposed to look and function. The battles take a surprising amount of strategy... having the right selection of candy in your arsenal can make the difference between the sweet life or a bitter death. An interactive map would make navigating easier than all the backtracking that happens, though the portals you can create do help a bit. Whether you are fighting a terrifying haunted grasshopper, or a sinister goblin, only you can repel the doom... one percentage point at a time.

Play Candy Quest 3: Edge of Sweetness


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (61 votes)
Comments (4) | Views (2,775)

Crazy Digger 2

TrickyPipkin Games' little red chomper guy is back for another round of Boulder Dash-like arcade fun, in Crazy Digger 2! Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to guide the digger around each of the 25 levels, with the goal of eating all the gems. You are able chomp through the green dirt and push around blue rocks in pursuit of your goal, but be warned: while the digger is not affected by gravity, a rock or gem will roll on curved surfaces, and without any support, it will start plummeting to the bottom of the screen. That can lead to a painful squishing or a cracking of gems, so watch out! There are enemies to avoid as well, including new spinning ones which will follow a path along the ever-changing wall layout. However, they are also vulnerable to squishing... though dropping a gem on them will crack the gem, ending the level. New to this installment are Locked Crystals, which must be unlocked with a collision with a wall or other object, before being collectible.

Crazy Digger 2Call it shallow, but the grating music of the original Crazy Digger made us little uncertain about how the game would be received. At the very least, Crazy Digger 2 upgrades the soundtrack from "obnoxious" to "cloying", which is as good a start as any. However, the rest of the experience has been kicked up a notch as well: the puzzles are a good deal cleverer, while being much fairer with enemy placement, meaning fewer lost lives as the result of not being fast enough on the keys. This, along with the new inclusion of a level editor and new levels being shared on the game's main website, marks Crazy Digger 2 as the kind of sequel that even those who skipped the original will totally dig.

Play Crazy Digger 2


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (94 votes)
Comments (1) | Views (4,225)

Flappy Bird

JohnBMobile devices have long been home to quick arcade games built around mechanics so simple you practically know how to play before even downloading the thing. Mastering those mechanics is where the fun is at, and games from Doodle Jump to Angry Birds have carved out ample space for themselves building on these core ideas.

Flappy BirdEnter Flappy Bird, a super simple avoidance arcade game that has suddenly exploded in popularity on both Android and iOS devices. A cute pixel bird flaps its wings as you touch the screen, moving higher with each tap. Pipes with randomly generated gaps scroll by, and all you have to do is keep the flappy bird away from anything solid.

The intense difficulty is one of the things that makes Flappy Bird so captivating. It's not easy passing even one pipe gap, let alone a handful in a row. There are no power-ups, mini-games or other diversions to keep you distracted, it's just pure, raw, intense tapping. Play until you get the timing right, then keep playing to beat the high scores. The slightest collision ends your game, so be careful, and try not to throw your phone in frustration.

The trick to mastering Flappy Bird is to come up with a good rhythm. The bird has a lead belly and sinks faster than you expect, cutting reaction times to their minimum. Stay calm and keep the rhythm going. Don't focus on the pipes, just keep your eyes on the bird and don't deviate from your tapping pattern. Another strategy is to stay high, drop when a pipe comes near and rapidly tap to ascend through the gap. Cheats and hacks aren't worth it, just stick to the plan and you'll get double digit scores in no time.

Update: This game is no longer available to download. Previously tagged as: android, arcade, avoidance, free, game, gearsstudios, highdifficulty, ios, ipad, iphone, mobile, rating-g, tablet


  • Currently 3.7/5
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Rating: 3.7/5 (40 votes)
Comments (17) | Views (5,571)

TRIHAYWBFRFYH

elleThe wind sounds a lonely howl over the expansive fields of sunset-tinged grains, hemmed in by rocky foothills of the distant mountains and densely wooded areas. A heavy presence, hovering in the sky above, waits. So what can you do? Run! You have just twenty minutes—the rapture is here and you will be forcibly removed from your home. Otherwise known as TRIHAYWBFRFYH, this Connor Sherlock creation is both perfectly titled and inadequately described. Use [WASD] to move and your mouse to look around in a narrative adventure where the main objective seems centered on reaching various locations before you are raptured. Or, doing nothing besides running around in panic until you are raptured. Or, merely gazing at the breathtaking scenery and calmly wandering about until you are raptured. The point here being "until you are raptured."

TRIHAYWBFRFYHTRIHAYWBFRFYH is strong on atmosphere, and very immersive, although so much of it is just trudging through the vast landscape, trying to get from one spot to the next. That is both a source of frustration and potential boredom as well as an impetus for heightened tension and a growing need/want to know more. Yet curiosity is rewarded by discovery as you experience every piece of the characters' lives,with each voice actor wonderfully adept at turning familiar stories into their own personal narratives. As a result, the overall experience is more easily compared to an audio-visual book than an ordinary adventure game. That said, what you get out of it depends much on gameplay: how well you can find—and run to—each story point. Unfortunately, it's easy to succumb to impatience, as the difference between using [shift] to run and not using it is negligible, given the vastness of the terrain. It's also hard to decide whether this would be more enjoyable without so much time spent running about or whether those long spaces of searching punctuated by a tidbit of story are necessary to build a game structure as well as evoke mood.

TRIHAYWBFRFYH is very beautiful—both simple in its presentation yet complexly affecting. Here, Unity mechanics are utilized to their greatest advantage. Navigation and movements are comfortable and realistic enough to avoid the nausea inducing disorientation found in some Unity-based games. I say this as someone who usually shies from said games, being horribly prone to motion sickness. One of the reasons to play TRIHAYWBFRFYH is for its example of how Unity, in the right hands, can be used to create a gorgeous, multidimensional environment that is a pleasure to explore. Yet, some of the drawbacks are there as well, such as an initially long load time and the awkward takeover of your browser (use [esc] to regain your system cursor). Still, while short of actual realism, the graphics do what they're meant to do: evoke a sense of being. Rapture is probably a surreal experience, after all. Whatever it is, though, it will be especially appealing to players whose favorite part of a game is exploration. Or anyone looking for an artistic presentation of literature. Or those who love a beautiful atmosphere. The point is, it's worth a play.

Play TRIHAYWBFRFYH

The soundtrack for this game is available on Connor Sherlock's Bandcamp page.


  • Currently 3.5/5
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Rating: 3.5/5 (67 votes)
Comments (3) | Views (1,945)

The Right Way

Starchild The Right Way is a sweet little puzzler about arguably the world's most useless robot. Sure, it's adorable with its red light and its, um, unblinking, soulless eyes, but it doesn't do much else than jump around. This is the 21st century, we were promised mechanical butlers, soldiers and fast food servers! Instead, you have to serve the little scrapheap by making a path for it in each of the twenty-four levels. The robot will move straight ahead along the tiles until it finds an obstacle, and then it will turn right. The goal is to guide it so that it reaches the exit, which is the blue circle on one of the tiles.

The Right Way The gameplay progresses at a leisurely pace, making sure you have the time to figure out each new element before moving on. At first, you'll get special blocks that will force the robot to make a turn. After that, you'll be introduced to directional arrows, moving walkways and, of course, blue and orange portals. The premise is simple enough, but the possibilities are endless, and the game could have easily had twice as many levels. The puzzles rely on spatial orientation, so those of us who have trouble telling left from right might find them a little confusing at first, but it only takes a few minutes to get accustomed to. The difficulty level is never so high as to be annoying, as the puzzles can be solved with a bit of trial-and error; it also helps to know that the game can be paused at any moment and the ever-valuable undo button is at your service. So there's really no excuse not to try The Right Way – it's charming, clever and it will acquaint you with the strange business of robot babysitting.

Play The Right Way

Weekday Escape

elleThere you are! I've been waiting all week to see you again. What a week, I have to say. I mean that in either a good way, or a not so good way, depending on what applies. But that's all behind us now, for the next three games, all that matters is that zen moment of intense puzzle concentration, shushing away all other thoughts, an escape from worldly concerns...

Gatamari Escape 20Gatamari Escape 20 - If you don't read Japanese, you might be put off by the start screen—white kanji letters starkly set against a plain black field. Just click the letter cluster in the bottom left and be pleasantly assuaged by its accessibility. Stuck inside a small, watercolor-hued room with an eclectic assortment of puzzles and two endings, you wonder what devious mind neatly arranged all this. Thankfully, logic and deduction overcome the potential language barrier, assuring freedom for the steadfast. By the way, I see you, "Let It Be" motto sign; I have your Japanese language relative on my sitting room wall.

Escape from the Strange HotelEscape from the Strange Hotel - Some may prefer Hilton, but when I get away from it all, I want to go to this specialty boutique hotel. Rather than bothering with inconveniences such as paying, I could earn my stay by deciphering codes and rummaging through rooms for puzzles. Per Hottategoya's usual oeuvre, you'll encounter plenty of similar doors, floors and rooms. Overcome the difficulty of navigating them all and escape is quite easy. Strange? Although these accommodations are a far cry from The Stanley Hotel, its eerie emptiness is indeed unsettling. Going up and down stairs and along hallways, sadly, doesn't count as a daily cardio workout.

Chick Hide and Seek 15Chick Hide and Seek 15 - If you're feeling frazzled and needing to chill, here's the perfect place to do it. Caught up in an igloo, play a game of seek and find until you've discovered all ten chicks. There's only a couple puzzles to solve so most your efforts will be put toward contemplating where these tiny cuties could be hidden and just where/how to click to get them to come out. Yuri's brood of downy yellow adorableness is apt to melt even the grouchiest frown. When you're busy saying "Awww," it's hard to care much about anything else.

We love escape games, and our readers love talking about them and sharing hints! How about you? If you think you've found a game that deserves to be featured, use this form to send it to us.


  • Currently 3.9/5
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Rating: 3.9/5 (40 votes)
Comments (2) | Views (2,808)

Sacred Heroes

DoraLittle Giant World is normally known for adorable itty-bitty sim games, so Sacred Heroes, a (still adorable and itty-bitty) realtime strategy defense game is a bit of a surprise. In a world where an evil god has warped his followers into half-man, half-animal monsters to torture the land, you will lead a tribe of people constructing temples to raise the strength of a benevolent god trying to beat back the darkness. Enemies will swarm towards your temple in each stage, and you're given direct control over four different heroes to fight them off while the civilians build and repair. You'll direct your heroes around the battlefield by clicking on them, and then on where you want them to go, and you can even wield a little godlike power yourself by casting spells to aid them against enemies. It sounds simple, but with status effects, upgrades for all, items, special abilities, and more, you'll have your hands full.

Sacred HeroesThough it feels a little unwieldy at first, Sacred Heroes is a surprisingly addictive little game despite its rough edges. The main problem is that the game plays very slowly in the beginning, and the tutorial only touches on the bare basics, so you'll either have to experiment or wait for the tool tips to be unlocked as you play. It makes for an experience that unfortunately feels like a slow uphill climb in the beginning, which means some players won't click with it right away, or even at all. The inability to pause the game and issue orders, or change the default speed in any fashion, can mean things get hectic in a hurry when you're trying to cover all sides of attack and upgrade your heroes and drop spells and gather items and gold and trigger combo attacks.

None of that makes Sacred Heroes a bad game, just not quite as accessible or effortlessly enjoyable as it should be, which is a shame because if you've got the patience to learn the ropes, Sacred Heroes is a lot of fun. You can draw the paths of your lightning spells, the piles of upgrades and achievements offer a lot to work with, the status effects and special attacks add depth, and the boss battles add a bit of challenge. Plus, it's adorable as all get-out, with enemies such as Rock Hippo and Thundra Wolf, which, F.Y.I., is going to be the name of the new thrash metal band I just decided to start with my husband when he gets home from work later. Surprise, honey! Sacred Heroes is a game that still feels like it needs some polishing and tweaking, but still offers plenty of charm and challenge for the persistent and the patient.

Play Sacred Heroes


  • Currently 4.7/5
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Rating: 4.7/5 (122 votes)
Comments (13) | Views (11,501)

Escape from Mr. K's Room 4

DoraIt's been almost three years since we last heard from Mr. K, a friend of ours who probably never gets his security deposit back because he immediately renovates each and every place he moves to into an elaborate concoction of puzzles and mechanisms for his friends to escape from. Thanks to Tesshi-e, he's finally back, and now it's time to Escape from Mr. K's Room 4, featuring hippos, dapper birds (of course), piano music, a great view, and even a relaxing beverage. Awwwww yisssss folks, now we're gaming with style. Remember to click the language button to choose English before you start the game if you can't read Japanese!

Escape from Mr. K's Room 4Like most Tesshi-e games, Escape from Mr. K's Room 4 lacks a changing cursor, so you'll have to click everywhere to find items and clues to escape. All items can be examined closely when you pick them up by highlighting them with a click and choosing "about item", and many of them need to be in order to discover even more clues and additional objects. Viewing objects up close is also the way you can combine things in your inventory, so if you want to try, examine an item, then click another one you're carrying and try to place it on the magnified view. You may also need to click and hold on certain things to reveal their hints! Tesshi-e's games have always married whimsy with logic in their design, and this latest is no exception as it packs a surprising amount of secrets, clues, and puzzles into a relatively small area. The angles can be a bit of an issue when it comes to manipulating your environment since there are so many sneakily hidden ways to approach things, but if you're a fan of Tesshi-e you already know to search every nook and cranny, sometimes more than once. Can you find the way out and the Happy Coin? This one might take a little arts and crafts to do so...

Play Escape from Mr. K's Room 4

Thanks to Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


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The Vault

TrickyKing, developer of popular "waiting around to get another life when you could just be playing Bejeweled" simulator Candy Crush Saga, is attempting to trademark the words "Candy" and "Saga" for games/merchandise. Now, while it must be admitted that 80% of mobile app stores now consist of games with titles like "Candy Rush Saga", "Candy Mush Saga", and the adults-only "Candy Tush Saga", suggesting that yeah, there might be some duplication going on, I'm personally hoping that Lord Licorice will ally with Grettir the Strong to form a legal dream for the inevitable (and tasty) protracted court battle. Anyways, while I go trademark the words "Vault" and "The", enjoy these wonderful adventure, arcade, and puzzle games from the JiG archives.

  • The Scene of the Crime: Golden DollThe Scene of the Crime: Golden Doll - The second in Pastel Games' Scene of the Crime series, and best, 2010's Golden Doll is a dark and beautiful piece of noir. Admittedly, some of the mechanics are a little off (why would you use fingerprint paper to take blood samples?), but the atmosphere is so thick and the art so evocative, that you won't care. Sometimes solving a murder is all grit and no glamour, but even a nameless girl in a derelict shack deserves a little justice, and you won't be able to stop till you've delivered.
  • Poom!Poom! - When all you have is a paddle and a ping-pong ball, then the whole world looks like a game of "see how many times you can bounce that ball on the paddle". And Poom! looks an awful lot like that game too! A 2005 simple idea work from GotUsed and the New York State University College at Buffalo, Poom! has a pretty steep difficulty curve, but it is undeniably addictive. Though it may take a dozen immediate failures at its bouncing gameplay, eventually you will stumble your way into the zone and the combos you score in that groove will be all the sweeter.
  • Hans Hans the Biking Viking:
Leaving Loki's LockupHans Hans the Biking Viking: Leaving Loki's Lockup - The web is filled with fully-formed animated series prospectuses that never quite made it. For every Adventure Time, plucked from internet meme-itude to rightful fame and fortune, there are a dozen Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls, Lakewood Plaza Turbo, or The Modifyers that are no less deserving. I wish I could say that having an awesome tie-in puzzle game improves a series' chances, but the fact that the Hans Hans the Biking Viking website hasn't been updated since 2009 kinda belies that claim. Oh well: NDi Media's Leaving Loki's Lock-Up game still features enough wonderful art, engaging characters, and clever teamwork platforming (since the Blizzard Act of 1992 requires all video game vikings to engage in teamwork platforming), that you'll be wish for what might have been.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (240 votes)
Comments (4) | Views (10,894)

Monkey GO Happy Mayhem

DoraSome of the Monkey GO Happy games have been on the short side, but Pencilkids provides a great big chunk of point-and-click puzzle games delivered rapid-fire in Monkey GO Happy Mayhem. Solve thirty(... ish) levels and make your monkeys smile by clicking around to combine items and make some literal mayhem happen. I know nothing puts a smile on my face like massive property damage. Throw in a pile of ill-gotten toys and hat-dispensing slot machines and you have yourself a recipe for simian capers galore.

Monkey GO Happy MayhemWhile Monkey GO Happy Mayhem does have a lot of levels, you shouldn't expect the majority of them to last longer than a few seconds since the difficulty level is set very low and some stages simply consist of swapping out whatever hat you're wearing, or the toy your apathetic monkey children are knocking around. (And is it just me, or if you saw a shady looking building with "Touch a chicken" scrawled over it, would you be a little suspicious too?) Some of the puzzles do get more elaborate as you go along, however, requiring a bit more thought, and you can never accuse them of not providing enough variety at the very least. It'll still be over before you know it, but Monkey GO Happy Mayhem lives up to its name with a pile of puzzles, hats, toys, and more to get your day started off right. Which of course is to say... weird.

Play Monkey GO Happy Mayhem


  • Currently 3.6/5
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Rating: 3.6/5 (54 votes)
Comments (12) | Views (4,772)

Find the Escape Men 80: Mountain Hut

elleYou're minding your own business, climbing up a snowy mountain, perhaps reliving your favorite scenes of A Sound of Music or Heidi, when along comes a snow storm to put a damper on things. Luckily, given the circumstances, you come across a hut where you can duck inside and escape the worst of weather. Checking it out, you see it's an unassuming enough place to hole up and might be rather dull except, even more fortunate for you, No1Game has picked this exact location for a game of Find the Escape-Men #80: Mountain Hut. So, look around a bit more closely, peeking in places you might not ordinarily look and solving a few puzzles, until you uncover ten of the titular little green dudes.

Much of the difficulty will come from figuring out just where to look because you'll get no clues from the unchanging cursor. Call it a pixel hunt if you will, but you should do fine if you're diligently thinking about and looking for every single surface and corner where an escape man could hide away, which—considering how small, flat and apparently sticky they are—is just about anywhere. As long as you're not afraid of some math, puzzles are straight-forward and the whole encounter turns out to be rather brief. Along with the fun of collecting hidden objects, the story brings it together to be a rather entertaining sojourn.

Play Find the Escape Men 80: Mountain Hut


  • Currently 4.2/5
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Rating: 4.2/5 (115 votes)
Comments (10) | Views (2,740)

Dynetzzle

TrickyThis is a game site, right? So here are a few interesting facts about dice. A standard die, of course, is a cube with each of its six faces showing a different number of "pips" from one to six. Despite what certain Broadway musical logos would have you believe, the opposite faces of the die will always add up to seven. There are 11 different arrangements (or "nets") of six-connected squares that could be "folded" into such a cube. And one more tidbit: based from these rules Vishnu Vadakke Pariyarath has developed Dynetzzle, a simple puzzle game that pen-and-paper fans will find to be quite the bit of pair-o-dice.

DynetzzleUsing the mouse and following the above rules, click the white faces of the presented nets to fill in the correct numbers. Once all the numbers in a puzzle are correctly filled in, the next puzzle is unlocked. Puzzles will involve overlapping "nets", which are denoted by different colors. The concept behind Dynetzzle is quite strong... at the very least, it could definitely stand to be explored further than the mere ten puzzles included in this collection. It has the basic framework of Sudoku, but with a spatial awareness twist that forces you to think in three dimensions. So give it a roll!

Play Dynetzzle


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Mobile Monday

JohnBGet to demolishing things! In their own unique ways, the games in this edition of Mobile Monday are all about destruction. The destruction of alien bugs. The destruction of evil kitties. The destruction of... plums.

clobbr-p.gifClobbr all the things - Clobbr presents a very interesting take on the puzzle/mining genres. Your mouse friends want to escape the cave, but an orange kitty blocks the way. By sliding the rows of blocks you can arrange the puzzle tiles as you like, then give the mallet a swipe to send the rock rolling. Depending on the layout of the tiles, the stone travels in different directions, hopefully landing to scare away the cat and maybe grab some cheese along the way. A very brainy game that's simple to pick up but hard to master. The time limit can be a little frustrating, but otherwise it's cute, smart, and endlessly fun.

harry-p.gifHarry likes smaller plums - Squeezing himself down to iPhone size, the Fantastic Contraption-inspired Harry Likes Plums has finally made its way to smaller-than-iPad iOS devices. Blending precise puzzles, physics toys, and, well, plums, Harry has a unique way of charming you while keeping the challenge level surprisingly high. And that artwork? Delicious!

supersanctum-p.gifSanctum's tower defense goes mobile - Here's a bit of a surprise: the 3D first person shooter/tower defense game Sanctum has gone mobile. It's not the big bad daddy version, though, it's the streamlined SNES-style tower defense PC release from a few months back called Super Sanctum TD. Isometric gameplay puts a new slant on the TD setup, while the series' tower sets and perks system rounds out the experience quite nicely. It's a great play with a perfect balance between hardcore and casual styles.


  • Currently 4/5
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Rating: 4/5 (30 votes)
Comments (5) | Views (2,307)

Drop Swap

ArtbegottiAccording to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Video Games (DSM-VG), it's a known fact that gems prefer to mingle in linear clusters of three or more, after which they cease to exist and exert a downward gravitation pull on other gems around them. However, they can't move around on their own, which is where you come in. In Drop Swap, a match-3 puzzle game by Aaron Steed, you mingle around a field of gems using the [arrow] keys. As your shadowy character walks into a gem, you swap places with it. Moving three gems in a row removes them just like any match-3 game, but you have to plan your moves carefully, because you get a limited number of steps to make a match!

Drop SwapClearing a match restores your full stock of moves, but running out of steps means you've failed the level and have to press [R] to restart. And unlike most other Puzzlescript games, there's no undo key, so every move matters. In each of Drop Swap's five levels, your goal is to either clear all of the marked gems (with a plus that unfortunately covers their colorblind markings) or drop a number of grey gems to the bottom row. The fourth level introduces skulls that instantly kill you if you're next to three in a row, but can be removed by dropping them to the bottom like a grey gem. Though there are only a handful of levels to play through, just enough concepts are introduced in those levels to make them strangely replayable. Drop Swap is a great example of a simple idea done very well.

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(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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In Fear I Trust

JohnBThe survival horror genre may be a touch overused in recent years, but In Fear I Trust knows how to take the psychologically unstable angle and leverage it into something interesting. You wake up in a prison cell with one thought on your mind: get out! But then you start seeing things, and soon you question what happened here as well as your part in the whole thing.

In Fear I TrustIn Fear I Trust uses swipes to control movement, item use, puzzles and everything in-between. Swipe to look around the screen, and double tap to move to a new location. You can opt for virtual joystick controls if you want something a bit more hands-on. You'll pick up items and use them to solve simple environmental puzzles one at a time. Nothing too complex, just a handful of logical riddles that make sure you explore your environment to its fullest.

For the all great ideas and masterful set pieces, In Fear I Trust does come with a few flaws. Most of these are technical in nature and can (and should) be fixed in future updates. During the course of playing, we managed to get stuck on solid objects, watched tutorial text repeat itself for no reason, played for stretches without sound, had the main menu refuse to show up, and several other non-trivial snafus. Most of these were easily remedied and didn't really cause any lost progress, but it makes the whole game feel unstable. And not in the atmosphere-enhancing psychological way.

In Fear I Trust is episodic, and this first installment includes two episodes, each with about 35 items to find in separate small environments. Good for a few hours of entertainment, and suitably horror-filled for moody late-night sessions. The bugs make it a little shaky at times, but it's still an impressive game worth checking out.

Note: In Fear I Trust is not compatible with iPad mini, iPhone 4 and iPod touch devices.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (159 votes)
Comments (6) | Views (5,570)

House of Wolves

DoraIn Louissi's real-time strategy simulation game House of Wolves, you're responsible for establishing and protecting your own bloodline by building a thriving settlement from humble beginnings that can stand against the forces of darkness. (Actually, it says, "his bloodline", but the joke's totally on them because I made this goatee out of black felt and totally snuck past the game's dude-dar, which is a radar to check for dudes.) Though you begin with only a single watchtower and one lone settler, the tutorial will walk you through the basics of building. Everything is done by ordering your people around, and you can click on them to open their menu for building or attacking, and then right-click anywhere to make them head to that location, selecting multiple people by dragging your cursor to form a box around them. Send settlers to gather resources like food and building materials, and train and recruit warriors and archers to defend your land from hostile forces.

House of WolvesLacking any sort of fast-forward option, House of Wolves is a game best suited for players that don't mind everything happening in due time. Much of your time will be spent waiting for things to be built, or for enough resources to be gathered/generated to build them, and since your interaction primarily consists of ordering people around, it can feel like a very slow-going time. The game is played on a 2D plane, restricting building to a straight line, so eventually you'll wind up with a sprawling territory that will be harder and harder to defend as the frequency and strength of enemy attacks increases. Balancing offensive with the defensive is tricky but a necessity if you want to gain access to the more powerful buildings and upgrades, so you'll need to make sure you don't spend too much time hiding within the safety of your soldiers as opposed to spreading out and exploring. House of Wolves, however, strikes a nice balance itself between simplicity and complexity to allow both casual players of the genre and diehard fans to find enough to like, especially with the difficulty options. It's a game meant for a bigger time investment than some browser titles, but Louissi's usual level of polish and style will make it worth it... provided you have the time to give.

Play House of Wolves


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Weekend Download

JohnBThis edition of Weekend Download is out to mess with you. A serious art game. A game about clubbing baby seals. A game that might as well be made by a troll. Go ahead, download and play. Seriously. Go for it.

olsonOlson's Journey (Windows, free) - Olson's Journey is a tiny adventure game with three scenes and a single puzzle. Solve the puzzle, then see what happens. The game is so short you'll think you've been trolled. Then you'll realize there's Olson's Journey 2 and Olson's Journey 3, which makes the brevity a bit easier to swallow. The cardboard and paper set pieces also make it worth checking out!

fictionsFictions (Windows, pre-alpha) - A short pre-alpha build designed to showcase the in-dev project titled Somewhere, Fictions is a surreal first person exploration game that makes about as much sense as eating soup with chopsticks. The basic goal is to sneak up on people and possess them, allowing you to experience the game's world as a new character, seeing things through their eyes. It's very bit as much a piece of interactive art as a game.

inuitInuit (Windows/Mac, free) - Oh boy, call the political correctness police. Inuit is an arcade game that's all about clubbing seals. You can't actually kill them with your club, just, you know, knock them into things that will kill them. See how many seals you can vanquish in each level and how fast you can do it. Low-res pixel graphics make everything less controversial!


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Rating: 4.3/5 (100 votes)
Comments (37) | Views (25,681)

CivClicker

KimberlyThe first thing to remember when starting a new civilization is that if you want anybody to do anything for you, you have to feed them. A lot. That and a roof over their heads, and you've got yourself the start of something. Adding to the ever-growing collection of web incremental idle games comes CivClicker by Dave Holley. As an enterprising leader, it's your job to take nothing and build up a great civilization. The game is entirely mouse-driven. Simply click on the action you wish to take, and the population leaps to your command. They'll keep working for you even if you open a new tab in your browser. Playing more like a single player board game than others in the genre, CivClicker takes quite a bit more micromanaging. You have to adjust your resources carefully (using a system similar to that found in A Dark Room), in order to gain what you need to upgrade your town.

CivClickerThat's not to say there aren't more than a few surprises to tease out, and quite a few achievements to uncover, not to mention towns to raid, and deities to worship. You'll soon go from dealing with a single farmer living in a tent to hundreds of workers and soldiers living in mansions. While CivClicker keeps you engaged, it does feel a bit unpolished around the edges. It would be nice to know what you did to earn an achievement, for instance, or if purchased upgrades would disappear so the screen wouldn't become so cluttered. The game is being actively upgraded, however, so stay tuned for more content and improvements. In the meantime, there is still plenty of time to be wasted building and protecting your very own vast empire.




Play CivClicker

Thanks to Kevin for sending this one in!


  • Currently 4.3/5
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Rating: 4.3/5 (247 votes)
Comments (13) | Views (40,370)

Escape the Office

elle[01/24/14: Now available to play free in your browser!]

There's no story, no plot and no motive involved, unless you count the ongoing human narrative, the trials and tribulations of the workplace and the simple desire to get on the elevator and go home. Who needs a better reason to Escape the Office? Explore your surroundings, collect requisite tools for escaping and reach the best payday of all: that deep satisfaction earned when, your brain versus office equipment, you triumph. So forget about taking the copy machine out to an empty lot for a date with a sledgehammer.

Escape the OfficeCreated by Afro-Ninja, known for logical puzzles and intuitive designs, Escape the Office is quick, fun and easy to play as long as you keep a couple things in mind when you begin. First, after collecting a usable object by tapping it on screen, drag it from the inventory and release when your finger is over the area you want to use the object (not where the object is since it hovers above your finger like a memo). Next, when played on a mobile device, there is no changing cursor to help you find interactive areas. So give attention to small details and tap everywhere that might yield a good result (there's no penalty in trying, unless you're trying to beat the clock or tap timer). Speaking of that, while the game is free, if you're stuck or need extra focus to play, an in-app purchase will provide some hints as well as a list of challenges to meet.

The game's brevity, with only a handful of basic dilemmas and a couple codes to ponder out, leads to disappointment for only one reason: it's too enjoyable to want to end it so soon. Only the most incurable of workaholics would want to linger in the office longer than necessary, yet these neatly rendered visuals and perfectly casual puzzles make for a relaxing getaway. It's fair to hope that the elevator ride would open to a new room, with more hidden keys and even harder to hack passwords. Meanwhile, though, Escape the Office is a great way to momentarily avoid other, less fun duties cluttering your inbox.

Play Escape the Office

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the Nexus 7. 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.


Comments (7) | Views (3,188)

Link Dump Fridays

DoraThis week... randomized dungeon delving with some seriously weird parties. An expedition to find a magic ruby and avoid food poisoning. A rubber ducky in a locked room, which totally isn't creepy at all. And some... unintentionally unsettling racing.

  • Dungeons and PartiesDungeons and Parties - Though not yet fully translated (and what is, is a little rough around the edges) or completed, this quirky little HTML5 RPG holds a surprising amount of depth if you've got the patience. You're in charge of randomly rolled parties of everything from rogue lizardmen to fairy clerics as they delve through dungeons to earn you treasure and gold to upgrade your abilities. Battles are "active time battles" in the style of Final Fantasy (the good ones) or Chrono Trigger, and you can either let your party handle things themselves, or use a surprising amount of abilities to help them defeat bosses and traps. Very old school, and very worth a revisit on our part later when it's complete.
  • Dakota Winchester's AdventuresDakota Winchester's Adventures - Sadly, the Winchester in Carmel Games' latest point-and-click adventure lacks either pie fetish or fabulous flowing locks, but hey, they can't all come with their own bewildered angel in a trench-coat. Search for a lost ruby that makes up part of a key needed to unlock a mystical box deep in the dungeon because of... reasons, I guess.
  • One DuckOne Duck - It's just you and a single rubber ducky in this bizarre little physics webtoy from NostraDamon, and all you can do is click to pick it up, and release to throw it. Say, do you suppose strange things might start to happen at specific numbers of duck bounces? It's a little light on content, though it was made for Ludum Dare, and there's something oddly therapeutic (and sinister) about all this squeaking. Rubber ducky, you're the one, you make enforced isolation so much fun... What do you think? After the ducky, will there be cake?
  • Heat Rush FutureHeat Rush Future - I didn't realize you could make racing freaky, but hey... learn something new every day. longanimals throws tracks upon upgrades upon tracks on you in this futuristic racer, where you can scream down eerie otherworldly highways with unidentifiable monoliths appearing at random intervals, and the unearthly howl of the void filling your ears and the creeping suspicion that if you were to look at your other competitors, you might bring unwelcome attention upon yourself from the coldness behind their racing helmets where exists only the soft, encompassing hush of static. Hey, I think we found a racing game for Clive Barker!

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Rating: 3.5/5 (33 votes)
Comments (3) | Views (11,029)

Doodle Kingdom

JohnBAfter life, the universe and everything has been created, what's a doodling god to do? Make a kingdom of magic! New from JoyBits comes Doodle Kingdom, a follow-up to the Doodle God series that takes the puzzle-driven alchemy formula to a more fictional level. Instead of tooling around with fire, earth and water, you get to use magic to create a world of fantasy creatures, one element at a time!

Doodle KingdomThe basic goal behind Doodle Kingdom is the same as Doodle God: keep combining basic elements to form more complex ones. Tap a category on the left side of the screen, then tap one of the elements that appear. Do the same for the right side and the game will attempt to combine the two. If it works, you get a new element! The more elements there are the more combinations are available, meaning you'll do a lot of experimenting to see what odd things you can craft.

Microtransactions in Doodle Kingdom step a toe over the line of acceptability. The in-game currency is gems that can be spent on hints and unlockable features, most of which only last for 24 hours. You can refill these via an in-app purchase, and the shocking thing is there are packs that sell for an upwards of 100 USD. Call us mad, but that seems like overkill for a game that already carries a multi-dollar price tag. Persistence outflanks IAPs, so stick with it and you won't have to go broke to beat the game.

The presentation and interface in Doodle Kingdom are both superb, and it's great to see some extra creativity injected through the use of a fantasy setting. Later on, you even get to raise dragons, complete quests and engage in combat sequences! The JoyBits team has refined their skills over the course of the Doodle God games, and that experience shows in Doodle Kingdom. With over 115 elements to discover divided between 13 unique groups, you won't be in need of a good coffee break game any time soon.

Also available on Windows 8, Windows Phone, Mac App Store, BlackBerry.

NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. 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.


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Rating: 4.1/5 (162 votes)
Comments (18) | Views (6,390)

LinkageDraw

kyhNo story, no cute characters, not even music. Masa's physics puzzler, Linkage Draw, keeps it simple, yet challenging. Like a child putting together blocks to match an overly simplistic blueprint, you are tasked with recreating a pattern using the set of pieces presented, both fixed and movable. It might not be rocket science, but it's sure to test your mental acuity. Through each of the 16 levels, you will be given two sets of pieces, the red locked pieces and the otherwise multicolored movable ones. You can connect the pieces together by dragging a black dot on one over the black dot of another. If you'd like to try another configuration, double-click a piece to unbind it from all other pieces.

linkagedrawYour ultimate goal is to trace the red line(s) on the level with the red dot on one or more of the pieces. How exactly to put the pieces together to do just that is where the challenge lies. It's not something that can easily be done in one sitting, so prepare to have yourself seeing red for awhile. A game lacking any flash or congratulations, you may need to just pat yourself on the back after completing each level... Or we could all get together in a semblance of the LAN parties of old and be there to pat each others' backs. No, no. Not creepy at all...

Play Linkage Draw


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Rating: 3.7/5 (38 votes)
Comments (4) | Views (2,038)

Deadly Road Trip

Starchild Contrary to what the title suggests, Noname Lab's Deadly Road Trip isn't a game about a bunch of teenagers getting gruesomely murdered on a forgotten country road in Arizona. Instead, it's an arcade shooter about a bounty hunter/biker chasing down a seemingly infinite group of criminals. All you have to do is direct him with your mouse and click to shoo... or choose the autofire option. Your guy drives along a road, killing as many thugs as possible and collecting money and power-ups, until he runs out of fuel or gets totaled. At the end of each run, it's upgrade time. If that's not enough, there are also twenty-five missions to accomplish. The first impression you get from Deadly Road Trip is just how great it looks. Driving around at sunset on the beautifully rendered road, your bullets sparkling like fireflies, criminals blasted through the air in a perfect explosion... and all this is supported by flawless mechanics. But it's not exactly a walk in the park.

Deadly Road TripAt the beginning, you'll get a pretty lame motorbike with a gas tank the size of a lunch box and the endurance of a tricycle. Soon enough, though, you'll be able to upgrade it to something more reliable and the game will hit its stride. When you kill enemies, you'll be able to pick up more fuel and better weapons. The road is strewn with money and a wide range of power-ups, from nitro to rockets, making your runs more dynamic and certainly a lot more fun. Another interesting addition is the ability to jump from your vehicle to those of your enemies, which is a great way to continue a run if you're getting low on hit points. Deadly Road Trip is by no means short, and it's not meant to be beaten in one sitting. Having to restart from the same point every time does get repetitive after a while, but, somehow, that's the beauty of it – you'll have your fill, leave it for a while, then come back and start again with new missions and a determination to get even farther this time. Because sometimes you just want an explosion-filled, unlimited-ammo old school arcade game, and Deadly Road Trip is just that.

Play Deadly Road Trip


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Rating: 3.4/5 (31 votes)
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The Hunter

TrickyThe night is dark and full of terrors. You are one of them. You cannot see, but you can hear, and though they may hear you coming, they will not be able to stop you. Because he deserves it. Jord Farrell presents The Hunter, a unique top-down stealth-based horror action-adventure, originally developed as part of the "you only get one" themed Ludum Dare 28 competition, now expanded and refined for a final release. Move with [WASD], and hold [shift] to run. Every step you take sends out a wave of sound that will allow you to place the features of the darkness around you. However, these steps will also announce your presence to patrols, so time you moves wisely (and hide in cabinets!) or you'll have to restart. The ultimate goal of each level is to kill a specific target with a spear you can find and throw with the click of a mouse, though you may have to deal with other enemies as well. A missed spear makes quite a bit of noise, however, and you must retrieve it after every throw.

The Hunter A game of unrelenting tension, both in its mechanics and the sparse bits of plot slowly doled out, The Hunter will be one of the most intense games you've played in a long time, even if (or possibly because) it is unforgiving in its challenge. Reminiscent of You Must Escape, another game made for an earlier Ludum Dare competition, The Hunter is a bit more personal and a bit less visceral of a work. Even if the motives of the titular Hunter seem to be muddier the more you play, that just makes the experience all the more frightening.

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Rating: 4.4/5 (186 votes)
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ClickPLAY Time 4

DoraNinjadoodle's point-and-click puzzle game series ClickPLAY Time is all about buttons and the clicking thereof, and ClickPLAY Time 4 is no different. The goal is to decipher each stage's puzzle, be it golfing with a giant whale or deciphering mismatched faces, and clicking the play button you're rewarded with for doing so. Some puzzles are less creative than others, such as codes or scrambles, so it's a bit of a shame that we get them several times instead of more imaginative point-and-click scenes, which is what the series does best. On the other hand, though the difficulty level is on the whole rather low, some stages provide an unexpected challenge simply by being less straight-forward than they appear. ClickPLAY Time 4 isn't exactly a meaty challenge, but with the series' customary snappy soundtrack and colourful presentation on top of a variety of puzzles, it offers a satisfying break of whimsical weirdness.

... And poop jokes, I guess.

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Weekday Escape

elleLadies and gentlemen, welcome to the (re-) launch of Weekday Escape, the greatest JIG feature of our time. Well, obviously, except for your features, Mr. Tricky, which are also...very good. And, all JIG crew, yours aren't...that bad, either. Anyway, what I mean is, welcome and thank you for coming to the launch of one of the top thirty JayIsGames features of our time. I hope you will enjoy it, and the bit of it that is a bit different than normal, as well. Every week this time, this space, we'll present escape games that are, we think you'll find, quite enjoyable. So, where to begin?

Escape from the Room of Three BoxesEscape from the Room of Three Boxes - When introducing a game, it's a good idea to include thoughtful details. Yomino Kagura does just that with this titularly self-explanatory game. Here, obviously, open three boxes and then escape. The changing cursor compliments photo-realistic graphics and a clean design for an intuitive experience. Despite most the narrative being Japanese, the rest is so familiar, success will be quick for those fluent in puzzle.

Escape Game of Baseball BoyEscape Game of Baseball Boy 2014 - At times least expected, odd things turn up. Such as this Minoto creation, a top example. The navigational rules are not spelled out but apparently stealing bases is not allowed. Instead, solve a puzzle or two and then you can move on to the next view where a tad more help is given. While fully understanding Minoto's logic could be hard to do, if you're enjoying yourself, does it matter?

Find the Escape-Men 79: The BoxerFind the Escape-Men 79: The Boxer - If you have trouble deciding, try making a list. Here's why this escape from No1 Game is a worthy play. Number one, in order to succeed, you must find ten little green men; the finding men bit is a very good start. Two, it has a humorous story and who doesn't like to laugh? Well, except the pixel hunt parts are rather poor since you must click places that are not too obvious. Two out of three is still nice, though.

We love escape games, and our readers love talking about them and sharing hints! How about you? Let us know what you think, ask for clues, or help out other players in the comments below.

Treasure Adventure World demo

JohnBSay goodbye to the next few hours of your day! A demo has just been released for Treasure Adventure World, Robit Studios' upcoming sequel to 2011's Treasure Adventure Game. The demo contains two large islands and a temple to explore, along with a handful of items to find and plenty of sailing.

Treasure Adventure World is a side-scrolling open-world metroidvania game that's set to do everything Treasure Adventure Game did, only with more of everything! Search for hidden artefacts, sail the choppy seas, fight foes and discover clues to your character's mysterious past, all in glorious HD widescreen with hi-res artwork. And from the teasers released so far, that's only the beginning!

Treasure Adventure World pre-orders are still open. No firm release date has been set, but the team thinks the end of the first quarter of 2014 is a safe bet.


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Rating: 4.3/5 (68 votes)
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Tesla: War of Currents

DoraWhen science is at stake, you have to be willing to fight dirty, and Tesla and Edison are throwing everything from cannons to lasers and more at each other in the war for electrical dominance! NSBrotherhood's Tesla: War of Currents is sort of a reverse tower-defense realtime strategy game like Villainous. You're in charge of building robots to protect Tesla as he blasts his way through Edison's defenses, clicking the arrows along the way to direct his path and deploying repair zones to keep everyone hale and hearty. You can also earn a total of three stars for each level to spend on upgrades to improve both Tesla and your various robots, and during levels you can open the robot management screen to upgrade any bots you have for the duration of the level with cash.

Tesla: War of CurrentsAt a paltry fifteen levels, your time with Tesla will be over before you know it, but it's still worth the short investment. The game plays with the levels in various ways, from forcing you to carry fragile boxes in one stage that each take up a robot slot, to rescuing puppies, contacting Martians, and more. So, uh, yeah, not exactly meant as a canon retelling of the great Tesla/Edison rivalry. The downside is that is just sort of feels like the game needs something more, be it extra difficulty options a la GemCraft for each stage, or even just more visual variety, to really push it over the edge and keep you coming back for more. It's a compact little game that feels like it had the potential to be given more room to breathe and been better for it, but will still provide a short burst of surprisingly fast-paced strategic action as it stands. Heck, Tesla was dreamy enough already without adding puppy-rescuing and power armor to the mix anyway.

Play Tesla: War of Currents


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Rating: 3.9/5 (38 votes)
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Pandesal Boy

DoraPandesal Boy by Khail C.S. and Josel Nicolas (and sponsored by Robin Ras) is an unexpectedly clever little puzzle platformer that starts with a very dangerous job that, naturally, winds up getting you cursed... delivering bread. Your goal is still to deliver the bread to your customer's house in each level, using [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, but that was a lot simpler when the world wasn't floating in a void. Luckily, you've got a few new abilities up your sleeve, and to get around, you can click certain platforms to rotate them, or hit [S] while you click to turn them counter-clockwise. While only the grass platforms are safe, as new elemental tiles come into play, you can actually use even the hazardous ones to your advantage. Lava may be deadly, for example, but it can be used to light cannons, and cooled with the touch of an ice platform to let you safely pass. But that's just the beginning.

Pandesal BoyTo say Pandesal Boy has a lot of ideas is a bit of an understatement, as over the course of its 28 levels (and four bonus stages) you'll do everything including launching yourself from cannons on a projectile path, find yourself split into two boys who move simultaneously, dodging angry spirits, and more. It makes for a lot to handle, but also keeps the gameplay fresh and inventive, though there is so much that not all of it gets used often enough, or even to the full extent of its potential. Since reflexes come into play as often as brains, the timed scoring feels like a bit much even though you can ignore it if you choose, and the game is honestly a better puzzler than a platformer since moving and jumping feels a little stiff. The level crafting for some of the more thinky stages can be downright sneaky, and new things are still being introduced even late in the game in, uh, unusual ways. (Who knew a cosmic fart could come in so handy?) Pandesal Boy is an unexpected delight with a ton of creativity and a goofy sense of humour,

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The Vault

Tricky Hopefully, by the time you see this our team of dedicated upgradeable-stickmen will have completed the move to our new servers. With comments once again enabled, we can all get back to discussing vital topics in casual gaming-slash-proper comma usage. And, most importantly of all, I can share some excellent shooter, action, and role-playing games from our archives in this week's Vault!

  • Orbital DecayOrbital Decay - So maybe you're not entirely sure what you're in the mood for. Maybe you want a little shooting. Maybe you want a little "strategery". Maybe you want a little defending. Maybe you want a donut. Well, Piron Games thought the same in 2009, and made Orbital Decay to help quash that indecision. (Except for the donut thing. You'll probably have to go to Tim Hortons or something for that.) It starts a little slow, but soon enemy ships will be swarming around you like Ender's Game on steroids. Those in the mood for a bit of sci-fi shooting that's a little bit more tactical, but with no fewer explosions, should definitely check it out.
  • Cactus McCoyCactus McCoy - Flipline Studios, with their Papa Series, deserves all the accolades they get for being the masters of the food creation simulations that they are. That said, when they branch out, they do it right, since Cactus McCoy (and its sequel) are most likely the best beat-em-ups you're ever going to find in a browser window. Furious action combined with bouncy platforming and an (almost) never-ending quest for secrets made an instant classic when it was released in 2011, and when it comes to bad guy punching fun, it has yet to be equaled.
  • Synopsis Quest DeluxeSynopsis Quest Deluxe - Want all the thrills and confoundment of a 50 hour JRPG, but don't have the 50 hours to spare? Well, then Skipmore has you covered in 2010's Synopsis Quest Deluxe! Enjoyably clunky in that retro kinda way, Synopsis Quest Deluxe will have you hit all the hallmarks of the 8-bit experience in a fraction of the time. You'll search suspicious looking pots! You'll deal with long-winded old kings! You'll face your rival on a cliff! You'll learn the truth about your missing mother! But more than anything, you'll play a really fun parody from a developer who clearly knows and loves the material they're sending up.

While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!


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DoraHello, JayisGames! If you're seeing this message, then congratulations! You've made the long and arduous trek with us to our new server. It's intended to provide a faster and more reliable experience for our writers in the database we use to create our articles, as well as to hopefully provide an even faster experience for you. The new server move began this morning, and for some people, it's finally complete, though some regions (even including my own!) will still see the old server for a while.

In the meantime, we want to reach out to you and make sure all our bits and baubles are intact. Please use this page to report any new problems you're experiencing with the site, from logging in to leaving comments, and include any information that might help us nail down a fix, from (roughly) where in the world you are, to what type of browser you're using, and so on. If you receive any sort of error message, please be specific as to what it said! We thank you for your patience and understanding and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and will be up and running with new games and reviews for you as soon as we can verify the lion's share of the issues are ironed out!


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Mobile Monday

JohnBA little nostalgia to start your week? Mobile markets are prime real estate for ports and remakes of classic games new and old. Not only is portability a nice bonus, but oftentimes the reworked touch screen controls fit better than an old fashioned d-pad. Well, sometimes, anyway.

pixelroom-p.gifMake room for Pixel Room - From browser to iOS, Kotorinosu's Pixel Room is now portable! The game is an escape puzzler that's all about clarity. Pick up "items" and examine them in your inventory, use the arrows on the sides of the screen to change views, or tap on just about anything in the scene to interact with it. The closer you are to solving the stage, the clearer things will look!

droidarcade-p.gifDroid Arcade on iOS for free - Kittaro Games has released a follow-up of sorts to the stop-motion animated puzzle game Droidscape:Basilica. Droid Arcade is, as you probably guessed, an arcade game that focuses on speed and action. Same basic setup as the original game, only now instead of drawing lines and focusing on timing, you hop to it with real-time movement!

ffvi-p.gifFinal Fantasy VI on Android - Continuing Square-Enix's slow push to the mobile market, the classic SNES game that got everyone irrevocably hooked on the series is now available for Android devices. Final Fantasy VI is a careful remake of the original, featuring full touch screen controls and remade graphics that may or may not please your nostalgic eyeballs. The price tag is higher than most mobile games, but reports thus far indicate it's a solid re-release.


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Rating: 4.6/5 (21 votes)
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The Banner Saga

DoraEven the most positive person in the world would probably have difficulty interpreting the sun permanently halting in the sky as anything other than a bad sign. As Stoic's stunning indie RPG strategy game The Banner Saga begins, a new truce between the human kingdom and giant varl is being tested with both the immoveable day and the return of the massive armored creatures known as the dredge. Throughout the game, you'll play everyone from a varl tax collector to a widowed hunter and his daughter, and their stories will come together in unexpected ways depending on the choices you make throughout the course of the game. (Note that while the game is available through several digital stores, it is only playable through Steam.)

The Banner SagaThough the game attempts to have some simulation aspects at least as relates to making sure your army has enough food so that they don't wind up marching over the starved corpses of their fellow soldiers as they days progress (a sure downer), your army isn't as important as you might think. Occasionally, you'll encounter massive groups of enemy forces that you can have your unnamed soldiers deal with via a text option or two, but you can also choose to engage the enemy yourself with your main party for greater rewards. Since the game's turn-based combat is how you earn Renown, which is used for everything from buying supplies and items to promoting your party, there's rarely a situation where handling things yourself isn't a good idea in the long run. Especially since there's a finite amount of it, as there are a limited amount of predetermined battles in the game with no way to grind more.

The game's turn-based battles take place on a grid, using the party of heroes you've gathered so far, and whoever you've selected to take part. Strength acts not only as a determining factor in how much damage you deal, but also as your hit points. It makes defense all the more important, both in keeping you alive and knowing when to go after an enemy's shields instead of their throat, since if you reduce the stat significantly you can take down even towering foes with weaker characters. Willpower can even be spent to strengthen attacks or move farther on the battlefield. Each character belongs to a certain class that dictates the abilities they have, and after a certain number of kills, you can spend Renown to increase their rank and make them stronger.

The Banner SagaAnalysis: Because of its on-rails progression, The Banner Saga feeds you its world and characters bit by bit, just enough to keep you intrigued for the next piece. The lack of any sort of "lore" menu is sorely missed, since it would have both helped keep track of who's who and all the places mentioned, but also fleshed out the world a great deal. It puts the focus squarely on the characters and politics you deal with to carry the story, and largely, they succeed with flying colours. You'll make and lose both friends and enemies, and it's impossible not to feel both responsible and genuinely at a loss when someone dies as a result of your decisions. They have so much personality and can illustrate complex relationships and alliances with just a few lines. It's just a shame that the art doesn't always match what the text is describing. There are some scenes that would be better served emotionally by more dynamic, varied illustrations, even if just changing expressions. Come on, Ludin, you were just nearly beat to death... aren't you even a little roughed up?... no? Still want to look like you smelled a fart, huh? *sigh* Alright then.

The Banner SagaAs challenging as the combat can be, I actually found it far less stressful once I realized I wasn't dealing with the Fire Emblem-style perma-death for fallen characters I had honestly expected. Battles feel satisfyingly strategic, though the difference between "normal" and "easy" modes of difficulty is so vast you might as well have called the latter "baby's first turn-based strategy". Where you move your characters and how you choose to attack with them feels like it has real weight, and once you figure out how to make strength and defense work for you even when the odds seem to be against it, every character feels useful. On the other hand, the limited Renown in the game is odd, and having characters only level up according to killshots makes the game fiddly if you don't want to wind up with a slew of weaklings and two or three power-houses.

Rather than calling it an RPG, however, you might be closer to accuracy if you called it a visual-novel mixed with turn-based strategy. The Banner Saga is still a slow burn of a game with a heavy focus on combat, but sucks you in with its rich world of gradually unfolding mythology. It's about people as much as it is saving the world from giant evil monsters, and it's a case you'll grow to care about, especially since you decisions have real consequences down the line. An argument might lead to the death of a party member. Failing to punish a soldier acting out could put the entire army in danger. Conflicts big and small play out along the path you walk, and the result is a big, meaty game you'll slowly sink deeper into the more time you spend with it. The lack of a demo is a shame, since the game could definitely win some of the hearts of those who might still be on the fence, but The Banner Saga is an incredibly ambitious and satisfyingly challenging game with a grand scope and breathtaking presentation.

WindowsWindows:




The Banner Saga



Mac OS XMac OS X:




The Banner Saga




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Rating: 3.7/5 (59 votes)
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Above Average Guy

DoraChris Jeff and NCH Productions team up for the cavalcade of ridiculousness that is puzzle platformer Above Average Guy, a game where you find yourself abducted and forced to compete on the titular game show, an allegedly Japanese event involving pools of acid, walls of spikes, disappearing/reappearing platforms, and much, much more. Sort of a lethal version of the late (great) Unbeatable Banzuki meets America's Wipeout, only with more goofy headgear. Across 43 levels, use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to get to the exit, but a hop, skip and a jump will only get you so far. Sometimes you might have to type something to get by, while others will have you use your mouse to interact with the environment, and it's up to you to figure out when and how by experimenting... or clicking on the announcer for hints! Just don't lose all of your audience.

Above Average GuyWith its myriad of puzzle mechanics, Above Average Guy is a great idea... it just doesn't quite nail the landing. It's a better puzzle game than it is a platformer, with movement feeling almost overly responsive in some cases, and the levels that ask you to figure things out are far more interesting than the ones that are simply a matter of timing and reflexes. The rapid-fire level progression and each stage's size actually works in the game's favour, keeping things moving at a brisk pace, and the bizarro humour and bright artwork, combined with some of the more creative puzzles, make Above Average Guy stand out from the pack. It would be nice to see a sequel that was entirely devoted to some of the more "think outside the box"-y mechanics tried out here, but as it stands, Above Average Guy is still an inventive and weird little puzzler with some neat ideas that's worth a play despite its slip-ups.

Play Above Average Guy


(12 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain

Starchild Teaching is becoming more and more demanding these days, especially when one of your students manages to open a portal into a parallel world and you have to go chasing after him. Of course, it turns out that the parallel world has a power-hungry ruler who turns you into a monster and you are the only one who can break the curse and you're pretty sure you left the stove on at home... Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. In Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain, the new hidden-object adventure by Eipix Entertainment, you take on the role of the intrepid professor Burns, as she travels through a magical land and tries to save it from the clutches of the evil king Demario.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain At least the land is pretty stunning, so you're got that going for you. As you walk around, collecting stray objects and opening other people's cupboards and chests, you'll encounter one breathtaking landscape after another, not to mention the elegant architecture and, er, an ancient stone golem or two. Alas, you aren't here on a holiday. There's a kingdom to be saved, and between you and victory stands a mighty tyrant. The land relies on a balance of power, represented by two crystals; one is given to the ruler, the other to the Guardians, a council of mages. Since Demario has pulled a Macbeth and taken all the power for himself, you have to find a way to take his crystal away and restore the Guardians. And, if you have time, bring your student Jonathan back home, along with a lost puppy. You better get some overtime pay for this.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain doesn't stray too far from the familiar formula. There are items to find, puzzles to solve and stuff to interact with. Lots of elements follow standard patterns, but they are still enjoyable – the puzzles aren't terribly innovative, but they're certainly adequate. There's also the (seemingly compulsory) adorable sidekick, but how can you say no to an eager little puppy? However, it must be said that there are real attempts at refreshing the genre. For one thing, hidden-object scenes are varied, from text lists to silhouetted lists to riddles. Also, you are given a bow to use on items that are too high to reach, and the shooting system lends an almost arcade feel to the action sequences. The story is dynamic and has enough twists to fill an entire episode of a soap opera, but still manages to follow a coherent line. The Living Mountain might not be a game-changer, but it tries, and it delivers an average of four hours of magical entertainment.

Amaranthine Voyage: The Living Mountain is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes a bonus level, concept art, wallpapers and more. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version


(10 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky

DoraA Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky is the very long name of a very long RPG by Kasey Ozymy I have been trying to sort out how I feel about for a very long time. It's the story of two sisters, Ivy and Mint, who suddenly find themselves alone and forced to care for themselves in the barren, hostile world they live in. With Mint's poor health and little left to even scavenge, their only option seems to be a rope... one that, as the title suggests, hangs down from somewhere high in the sky above their heads. What they find up top turns their world upside down and changes everything they thought they knew about their family, and sets them on a dangerous adventure in an unfamiliar and forbidden land. Also, there are pig meat costumes, like you do.

A Very Long Rope to the Top of the SkyFor the most part, A Very Long Title I'm Not Typing Out Every Single Time is a fairly typical turn-based RPG. You'll explore, get in fights with random encounters, level up and grow stronger, buy new equipment, the whole shebang. While the combat might not ring any bells, it's at least well thought out enough to provide ways for characters to regenerate mana to offset how scarce in-dungeon save and healing points are. It is, in short, the type of game that exemplifies a lot of the classic elements of the "JRPG" genre, and you'll get the most out of it if you already love, or at least expect, grinding levels and random encounters. The main story (which is difficult to talk about without spoiling the big twist revealed early on) takes a while to really get going, mostly because Mint and Ivy keep getting sidetracked into helping people. Mint, despite her illness and eagerness to explore and learn, is very much a "everyone else comes first, THEN me" type of person, and Ivy is driven by a desire to simply see her sister happy. It makes them very likable and sympathetic heroines who deal with some complex themes along the way, from family to religion, but it does also mean you get spoon-fed morals every few hours as well. It takes away from the warm fuzzies or thoughtful introspection when either Mint or Ivy have to carefully and awkwardly state whatever it is you were supposed to learn from an encounter. Every time it happens, I want you to imagine it's playing that little Scrubs sad musical riff. Ba-da dum-dum-dum DUM bum-bum...

A Very Long Rope to the Top of the SkyPrimarily, however, it's the pacing that holds the game back in several places. We don't need to dodge the boulders twice. We don't need the doors-and-switches puzzle three times in a row. It's trying to provide a more cerebral experience to its dungeons than simply stabbing things, which is appreciated. But then those puzzles repeat, or you find yourself pushing through long dungeons without much visual interest or anything to do in them besides grind levels. Don't make me resent slogging through dungeons and drawn-out scenes... let me love you. Because if you stick with it, there is a lot to love about A Very Long Title With More Words Than Strictly Necessary. It calls itself character driven, and this is definitely true in the best possible way.

Even with its flaws, this is an extremely enjoyable and ambitious RPG with a clearly enormous amount of thought and effort behind it that deserves to be appreciated. While you can expect to do a lot of "Huh?" and "Bwuh?" in your first hour or so due to the way the world building is handled, the writing is exceptionally solid with a fine balance of humour and drama. The cast is immediately likable and expressive thanks in part to the way their portraits change to emote, and the world is mysterious yet relateable in a way that compels you forward to find out more about it. Area design is, unfortunately, on the whole rather uninteresting, but the game carries you through with the substantial meat of its gameplay. In addition to the main story and hefty amount of sidequests, you can craft items, raise pigs for an arena, develop a town, and more. The game promises over sixty hours of gameplay, which might seem a little generous depending on how you play and how much of a completionist you are, but will still keep you involved for a long, long time if it gets its hooks into you.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


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Rating: 3.5/5 (22 votes)
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backstabber

kyhYou have something to say? You say it to my face! Does this phrase scare you? Make you want to run away and not deal with the situation? Well, Dennis Ranke presents you with an alternative in his MiniLD (Ludum Dare's kinder, less stressful little brother) puzzle entry, backstabber. A nameless man with a mission, your only goal is to stab everyone else in the back. However, you're not the only one with a violent streak. Run across their line of sight, and they'll be putting you under that gravestone.

bstabberMove mister antagonist around with the [arrow] keys and take action with [X]. Oh so convenient in a Sokoban-like game, undo your last move with [Z] or use [R] to restart the whole level. With the pixelated look characteristic of PuzzleScript games, Ranke has created an interesting experience in the limited development time allowed him. Between-level text often gives information helpful to complete the increasingly difficult and complex levels, not to mention the little story it ends up telling. Intrigued? Well, challenge yourself and find out what would bring a man to become... a backstabber.

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Weekend Download

JohnBGame time! Grab some mom-approved snacks (apple wedges? celery? raisins?) and beverages (water? ugh...) and settle in for a good time. We've got cyborgs and evil angels and crazy alien beaming games ready to keep you entertained!

env.gifEnv (Windows/Mac, free) - Crazy physics game time! Env is a brief first person survival game where your only goal is not to fall off the platform. Making your life difficult is a tractor beam-like apparatus sucking up blocks and suspending them in the air, exposing the dangerous water below. Grab food and tech cubes as you wander the environment trying not to trip over your own two feet. Surprisingly fun for such a simple concept.

vindicatorVindicator: Uprising (Windows/Mac/Linux, demo) - A single screen platform shooter that's all about shooting, hiding, and shooting some more. As a special agent for The Order, it's your job to fight the Angels who are out to conquer the Earth. Work your way through their hierarchy as you climb through level after level of twisted stages filled with enemies and obstacles. The current demo showcases three levels for the full game, which is expected to release later this year.

deadcyborgDead Cyborg (Windows/Mac/Linux, donationware) - A donation-driven first person adventure game that's free to download, Dead Cyborg drops you in a broken down post-apocalyptic world as a human who is trying to find out what's going on. Two episodes have been released, each one supplying about two hours of exploration, point-and-click gameplay, puzzle solving, and shockingly well-rendered environments, especially when you consider this is a one man project! Grab both episode one and episode two and start playing.


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Ferris Mueller's Day Off

GrinnypOne of your mules has taken a sick day, but instead of staying home and recovering from whatever vague illness he claims to have, he simply wanders around town, getting into lots of adventures while leaving you in the lurch. If this sounds suspiciously like the plot of a rather well-known 80s movie it is, but it is also the basis of Glitch Games' marvelous new comedic mobile adventure, Ferris Mueller's Day Off!

Ferris Mueller's Day OffInstead of resembling Matthew Broderick, Ferris is... well, he's a mule. A green mule. And he's missing. Rather than share in Ferris' adventures, you play the suave, handsome Mr. Rooney as he attempts to track down Ferris. The game takes advantage of mobile touch screen interfaces as you tap and swipe your way through the cartoony scenery, all while seeing how many gags, puns, and old movie references you can spot. Oh, and solve a few puzzles as well.

Glitch Games, the creators of the fabulous Forever Lost series of adventures, keeps their wonderful interface from those games with the suitcase which holds all of your inventory items and the incredibly handy in-game camera. That camera can take pictures of the scenery, with the photos then available in an "album" for you to peruse or scribble on, taking the place of a traditional notebook in which to register clues.

With Ferris Mueller's Day Off Glitch Games proves that they can do more than dark, brooding, psychological horror games. The crudely drawn, bright pastel backgrounds are a lovely backdrop for the cascade of frolics, japes, and larks which infest every corner of the adventure. The puzzles are multi-layered, wicked fun, and your enjoyment will increase depending upon your tolerance for puns. Take a sick day and enjoy the adventure! Niiiiiccccccceeeee.


  • Currently 3.3/5
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Rating: 3.3/5 (48 votes)
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Neon Doors 2

GrinnypDon't like trudging around to find things and solve puzzles? The lazy person's room escape is back with Abroy's Neon Doors 2, another 25 levels of door unlocking fun. The basics of this type of escape game are simple; try to unlock the door in front of you, which leads to... another locked door. While other games in the genre concentrate more on the physical aspects of trying to unlock a series of doors, Neon Doors 2 goes for much more visually abstract puzzles. Solving the puzzles helps you not only go through the door but, in some cases, find the darn thing. There is a lot of purely cerebral point-and-click fun to be had in this delightful and challenging sequel. For room escape fans who dislike a lot of moving around this is a dream come true.

Play Neon Doors 2


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Link Dump Fridays

DoraAGE TEST! Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarnik-y-doo, this Link Dump's for yooooooou... skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, and these games tooooo... play as a kitty cat or go underneath the sea, chop through a retro forest but don't die from a zombie! Skinnamarink-a-dinky-dink, skinnamarink-y-do, this Link Dump's for yooooooou (I really mean it) this Link Dump's for yooooooou (because I wrote it) thiiiiiiiiiis Link Duuuuuump's foooooor yooooooou!

  • Lumber JohnLumber John - This arcade-y platform game is one I'd call retro, with a hand on your arm and a meaningful lift of my brows until you told me to "stop being weird". From its pixellated flannel to its classic hop and chop gameplay everything about this little game screams old school. Simply collect all the notes to open the door in each level. Nobody correct me if this isn't 100% what lumberjacks do. Leave me my adorable illusions.
  • Deep Sea Hunter 2Deep Sea Hunter 2 - Basically, it's The Life Aquatic, but with more wholesale slaughter of hostile sea life. Following coordinates around a map in this action game, you'll pilot your little submersible underwater to discover treasure and blow up enemies and bosses with missiles and upgrades. Presumably there is a hidden level where the Sea Shepherds come after you for your crimes, but can't stop bickering enough to actually do anything about it.
  • RoadZRoadZ - You emerge from a bar in Louissi's action-packed strategy game to discover people have gone over all bitey, and you've got red on you. That's right, zombies are to blame, and it's just enough time to pick up Mum before we head off to the pub for a pint and wait for all of this to blow over. Scavenge for supplies, hide in buildings, keep your crew alive, and SOMEONE MAKE ME A SHAUN OF THE DEAD GAME.
  • Catlateral DamageCatlateral Damage - Chris Chung knows you harbour secret destructive impulses, and now there's a way for you to act out as that most villainous of creatures... the cat. Specifically, the cat left alone for (literally!) two minutes in a room full of expensive things, just waiting to be knocked over. So get to it! It's cute, simple, and perfect for the fiendish feline in all of us. Ah, the cat. Nature's little jerkface.

  • Currently 4.4/5
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Rating: 4.4/5 (56 votes)
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DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4

TrickyBeethro Budkin has been going down, down, down, for a while now, clearing out all the critters and baddies in King Dugan's dungeon. But even a smitemaster like him has to be worried that he's reached the Deadly Rooms of Death within unlucky floor thirteen... not to mention unlucky floors fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. So lift your Really Big Sword, wipe the Living Tar off your boots, and get set to patiently-and-strategically charge into the newest browser installment of Caravel Games' turn-based puzzle-strategy games: DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4!

DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4Move Beethro with the [arrow] keys (though utilizing the diagonals of the number keypad is recommended if you have one), and swing the Really Big Sword clockwise or counterclockwise with the [W] and [Q] keys. Explore each level to find the exit, opening doors by triggering switches and killing various snakes, roaches, and the dreadful living tar. Each switch can be clicked with the mouse to reveal how it will affect the environment. With every move you make, the baddies will respond with a move of their own (and watch out for those diagonals!). Scrolls will reveal new information, stepping on a red x-tile will save your progress as a checkpoint, and [R] can be pressed to restart any room from the beginning. And trust me: you'll probably need it. We're plunging past the halfway point of the original game, and now every move and every swing of the sword counts more than ever. DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite - Episode 4 will chew you up and spit you out... and fans of the series wouldn't have it any other way,

Play DROD: King Dugan's Dungeon Lite
Episode 4


  • Currently 4.5/5
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Rating: 4.5/5 (135 votes)
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Sometimes Sunny Hold

elleWelcome to Sometimes Sunny Hold, Haretoki's marvelous fun factory, where every surface is made of fun toys to play with and fun gadgets to explore! Yes, it is fun I tell you; please don't bang your head against the wall like that. Although there's no turning away from the comically complicated contraptions and delirious devices, things are not as devious as they seem. No matter how trapped you feel, no matter how futile your efforts to make sense of that hinge thingy, I'm not kidding you, escape is possible. After all, I wouldn't be here to tell you about it if it wasn't.

Sometimes Sunny HoldDespite looking complicated, the interface is pretty intuitive and will be old hat to anyone familiar with escape games. Just in case you're new to this: navigate by clicking the grey bar that appears at the edge of the screen to turn or back up. Clicking on certain objects will zoom you in for a better look or will grab them for your inventory. You can then use an inventory item by highlighting it or examine it in detail by double-clicking. Although there's only one ending, using the "save" feature will help you take a break to regain sanity. Finally, you'll be well-equipped for puzzle solving by combining certain items, correctly using others, and making inferences from the clues which are nestled into the room's fixtures and furnishing.

The static cursor adds to a couple instances that would be pixel hunts except Haretoki dropped hints here and there, alerting us to the hunt. Because the puzzle presentation is semi nonlinear, the greatest difficulty comes in the beginning until you tick off some puzzles from your checklist, lessening the slew of clues and narrowing the possibilities. Admittedly, not everyone will call this game his idea of fun. So maybe it seems designed by a third-grader on a Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs bender, and maybe Sometimes Sunny Hold sometimes seems illogical, but as odd and befuddling this place is on first beholding, there's near lyrical perfection in its creative logic and inventive construction. Cool stuff will unfold if you have the patience or mental tenacity to solve your way out. So don't hold back—let Haretoki's fantastical architecture work its wonkiness while you work your way to freedom.

Play Sometimes Sunny Hold

Thanks to John and Cyberjar88 for sending this one in!


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Weekday Escape

Dora01/30/14: I am pleased to announced that Mateusz Skutnik will be creating our very first escape game within the next few months! :) We are still in the early planning stages, so please keep your suggestions coming.

Weekday Escape is making a comeback, but this week we want to get your input on something special. We know you guys like finding your way out of things. You lock yourselves in cat carriers and beach bungalows, balconies and dungeons, and many, many more, all the way back to the very first game of its kind featured here on the site, Viridian Room in 2004. There's just something about a locked door that gets you guys excited, and hey, we understand... even after that time we came back to the office after that long weekend and found you trapped in the JiG breakroom, trying desperately to cobble keys and puzzles out of FunYuns and instant coffee pods. I mean, it was weird... but we understand. (Whoever ate all my spinach Hot Pockets, though, you still owe me $2.76.)

Which leads us to this. We want to approach a developer to make an official JayisGames escape game, and we want you to tell us what you'd want to see in it! What sort of theme would you like.... scary or relaxing? Funny or weird? Maybe you want a story... or maybe you'd just rather be confronted with a devious mix of puzzles, no narrative needed? Do you want it hard as nails, or more of a comfortable ride? Maybe there's a certain type of puzzle you love... or just one you'd love to see set on fire. Either way, now is the time to let us know. We're looking to get feedback and suggestions on what you love (and hate!) to see in escape games, and what you think would make a JayisGames themed escape perfect. We'll take your ideas and suggestions (and give credit where credit is due, of course!) and approach a talented escape developer to craft it for us... maybe you even have your fingers crossed for it to be someone specific?

We're looking to make a JayisGames Escape with fans, for fans, so sound off in the comments and help us brainstorm the very best escape game we can!