On the Moondrop website, Amphora is described as "a peculiar puzzle game that mixes story elements and physics." Now, when a developer claims that its own game is peculiar, that's something that makes me both intrigued and skeptical, like a movie poster that's made up its own adjectives to declare itself "Potter-riffic" or whatever. However, having played through Amphora, one has to agree that it is indeed peculiar. It is also magical, enjoyable, and strangely haunting in its own unique way. While its plot is generally shown rather than told, you play as a spirit who apparently resides in the titular Amphora... which, for the record, Webster's tells us is "a tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck." You act as a kind of guardian to a little girl as she grows, learns, loves, loses, and becomes a woman.
December 2014 Archives
Mateusz Skutnik has already helped us ring in the New Year in years past, point-and-click puzzle style, and with Where is 2015? we go on a gorgeous, subtly animated photographic journey through the months of the year, reassembling a calendar and hopping from place to place. To play, just click when the cursor changes to show you can interact with something, and click on items in your inventory to pick them up to use, or view them up close. Where is 2015? is similar to the 10 Gnomes style of interaction, where you're exploring environments made up of beautifully detailed pictures and close-ups trying to find hidden items or mechanisms, though not every location or view has something for you to find. Just remember to look in every nook and cranny, examine your inventory, and revisit places you've been before!
It's the end of 2014 which means this is the last Weekday Escape of 2014. To mark the occasion, let's raise our glasses in a toast to a few of 2014's mostest. So cheers and brrrrs to you, Ice Bucket Challenge, for giving us laughter, a few tears, and awareness of a very good cause. The ante can only be upped from here, think: 2015 breath fire dare? Next, cheers to All About That Bass, for not only did you get us to shake it, but the spin-offs and mash-ups ensured it'll be well into 2016 before the tune fades into quietude. Cheers, Alex From Target, for making thousands of school girls swoon by doing nothing—no song, no video, no magazine cover, just a red shirt and a name tag—that's true ninja heart throb skill in action! Thusly, we should also toast Heart Emoji for taking less than three and turning it into that which makes the world go around; 143 could only watch in envy. But let's save our most ebullient cheers for the escape games that inspired and entertained us since Tesshi-e's Mr. K never let us down, Lo.Nyan's gorgeous interiors became free luxury vacations, Haretoki's strange contraptions let us play like kids again. Plus there was this by Mateusz Skutnik because of you, JIG community. As we're toasting and sharing memories, here's a few more to close out the year...
If you love Fallout, then you owe a lot to Wasteland, Interplay Productions' 1988 (!!) hit RPG that laid the groundwork for everyone's favourite post-apocalyptic saga. Now, over twenty-five years later, inXile Enertainment and about seventy thousand Kickstarter backers Wasteland 2. The story goes, explained in a surprisingly well-acted live-action opening cutscene full of people who are very dirty but all have beautiful flat-ironed hair, as that whole "end of the world" thing, the wasteland was rampant with murderers, gangs, cannibals... all of them turned loose on the terrified civilians who survived. Those who were willing to rise up and defend those who couldn't defend themselves became known as the Desert Rangers, of which your newly created party of four will be a part of. As the game opens, your group of Rangers are investigating the suspicious death of one of your own, someone whose body was found shortly after they went off to investigate a troubling radio transmission. Though you and your party (all four of whom you'll create from scratch) are still a little green around the gills, you're being sent out to investigate, and it goes without saying that there's a whole lot of big, dark danger waiting for you out there in the ruins of Arizona. Sporting brutal turn-based combat, complex character creation, and a pitch-black sense of humour, Wasteland 2 is a game that will fight you every step of the way, but will definitely be worth your time despite some rough edges if you're looking for a challenging strategy RPG with toasters, toads, carnivorous fungi, cannibals, and much, much more.
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KamotoKamotoKamo is rapidly turning into one of those escape game developers whose name alone lets you know you're in for some surprises, and It's About Time does not prove the exception to the rule. Things seem relatively straightforward at first as you find yourself in a room with a obvious mechanisms and abstract design choices, but the more you explore, you'll realize very quickly that there's more here than meets the eye. The cursor will change when you pass it over something you can interact with, and most of your time should be spent paying very close attention to your environment for clues to solve puzzles. If you can't figure out what something you've just interacted with did, you'll probably want to take another look around every place you can get to, just in case something has changed. It's About Time may be sneaky, but as long as you keep perspective, you should be able to find your way home!
It's the classic story. Boy goes adventuring, boy gets trapped in a cube (nevermind how), boy faces danger and must use his wits and never-ending supply of crates to escape. Though really it's your cleverness that is needed to get the boy out in Box! an interesting and engaging puzzle platform game created by Jeremy Cytryn, Renchu Song, Sam Chen and Will Peck, with art by Kevin Ma and Natalie Diebold, and music from Brigid Choi. Use the [arrow] keys to walk and jump. Press [space bar] to deploy a box in the direction you are facing, and again to destroy a box you are looking at, including ones above and below you. Use [WASD] to look around the corners of the cube to see what's ahead, or to make sure you won't die a fiery death if you drop down.
Ask any six-year-old, or twenty-six-year-old who's been putting adulthood off for a couple of decades, and they'll give it to you straight: There's nothing in this world more awesome than a cardboard box. So obviously, a puzzle game based on the delightful properties of cubical cardstock must be really awesome, right? Worry not, for Hadyn Lander tests this theory with the whimsical This Way Up! Don't just play with a cardboard box, become one. Only instead of the limitless potential of the imagination, this box is filled with a limitless supply of magical purple pellets which it can fire at will with the [spacebar]... but only out of its top side. Since your boxy body can only move by turning over one side at a time, making sure your top end is actually facing what you want to shoot at isn't so easy! Using the [arrow] keys, tumble your way through a fanciful neighborhood in the sky... avoid malfunctioning fire hydrants, be careful around those icy patches, and carefully get into position to fire violet balls, ping lots of glowing tetrahedral switches, and open the way forward. The bubbly, content music, musical sound effects, and summery aesthetic give This Way Up a relaxing feel, but though chill, this puzzler still has a few teeth!
Alec Holowka, Scott Benson, and Bethany Hockenberry deliver a moody, lovely, and even frequently funny indie spin on folklore in Lost Constellation, a chilly ghost story based on a folk tale from their upcoming title, Night in the Woods. Framed as a bedtime story for a particularly spunky kitten, you find yourself in the snowy woods on a mission to keep a promise. It's strange and surreal and maybe even a little unsettling... everyone you meet seems convinced you're going to die, but you're determined to make it through no matter what you might see or hear. You're looking for the forest god, after all, and the frozen lake, and on this, the Longest Night, anything is possible. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, [spacebar] to jump, and click on people and objects to interact. When dialogue balloons have little blue arrows on either side of their text, you can click those to cycle through different things to say. Keep your eyes peeled for objects in the trees... you can click and hold on the snow you're walking on to collect snowballs, then aim and fire with the mouse to throw them at things. Note that while Lost Constellation is available as "pay your own price", including free, if you enjoy it, please remember to support your indie developers!
At a quick glance, Eugene Karataev's Mustache Time, looked like another physics puzzler game. You need to prevent the mustachioed balls from falling off the screen while eliminating those who are clean shaven (the mustache rules all) by drawing endless amounts of stone blocks for them to fall on. While it already sounds like a great premise there is a new twist of reality being broken, and I'm not just talking about how gravity doesn't work 'til you start drawing in each level. In every level there is only one small area you are allowed to use your mouse in. Outside of that area is another you, or two other you, or more of you that mimic what you do but in their own way. While usually they lay out the stone just as you do, there are times when the screen they are on is mirrored from yours, or upside down. This isn't your average physics game, and it's going to take a lot more than your average solutions to make it through.
If you're at all into Western RPGs, then Bioware is probably a name that makes your heart go pitty-pat. They've been behind some of the most (rightfully) highly praised RPGs of all time, from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to Baldur's Gate, and they're also responsible for two of the biggest RPG series in recent memories... Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. If you're a fantasy fan, it's the latter that held your heart, and Dragon Age: Inquisition has arrived to devour every scrap of your free time for the foreseeable future. As Inquisition begins, roughly ten years after Dragon Age: Origins, the world is already having its share of problems, when the mages, who have previously lived under lockdown, decide to buck the Templars' control. Things go from rocky to, well, apocalyptic when a massive rift opens in the sky and demons begin pouring out of it. In the middle of all that, literally, comes you. You appear out of nowhere, staggering out of a glowing portal, and suddenly you find yourself named the Herald of Andraste whether you like it or not. Admittedly, when you discover you've got the power to close the rifts opening up all over the realm, it does seem like you're destined for some pretty big things... too bad that means a lot of people want you dead, and you're suddenly saddled with the responsibility of leading the Inquisition to boot. Now you're leading an army, and all you have to do is close that enormous breach in the sky and everything will go back to normal... right? With a daunting amount of play time, huge, open maps filled with quests that span both Ferelden and Orlais, an epic quest with a diverse and fully realized cast, and a massive stronghold to oversee and grow, Dragon Age: Inquisition isn't without its flaws, but is formidable and fun in all the right ways.
When it comes to escape game creators, few developers are likely doodled in notebooks of their players with little hearts around them as often as Tesshi-e probably is, and so The Happy Escape 8 definitely lives up to its name. As the game opens (after you set the language to English if you can't read Japanese!), you're just about to close up your coffee shop at the end of a tiring day when Santa Claus magics you away. Christmas is finally over, and he wants nothing more than to relax with a cup of your famous coffee, which must get some seriously awesome Yelp reviews to kidnapping you to the North Pole. Santa, we seriously need to have a talk about boundaries, though considering all that "he knows when you're sleeping" stuff, that's probably a lost cause. There's no changing cursor, so just click everywhere to navigate and hunt for things to interact with. Items you're carrying can be viewed up close if you click them and then choose "about item", which can sometimes reveal hidden functions when you click on them again. If you want to get out, you'll need to brew Santa a cuppa, and don't forget about those Happy Coins either!
Goody Gameworks' Caravan Beast is basically a very Pokemon-esque RPG with a very literal carrot and stick, as you play a young boy named Arche who has big dreams of becoming a Beast Tamer. Beast Tamers, trained at the Academy, can hatch Beasts from eggs and train them as they travel around the world, visiting powerful Masters and defeating them to gain their trust and prove their own worth. No tiny metal balls for your beastly companions, however... as the name implies, your beasts follow along behind you as you walk, with a little encouragement from a dangling piece of bait. The game's in-depth tutorial will walk you through the basics, but they're pretty, well... basic. You'll click on locations on the map to travel there, and automatically begin the journey, which can take several days. As Arche and his Beasts walk along automatically, you click repeatedly on trees, rocks, and more to make them drop loot, and at the end of each day, your caravan will rest, letting you feed your Beasts and prepare for the next day. You may encounter wild Beasts, and your own will fight automatically, being helped or hindered by various types of terrain. (Be aware that if you choose to forfeit instead of fight, your current journey will end and you'll have to start from the beginning of your route!) Win, and your Beasts will not only gain experience to level up, but you may also find an egg to hatch a new one. It's a simple format that may be a little too automatic and clicky for some players, but the vibrant visuals, cheery mood, and piles of Beasts to raise and train will be just the hook for some to strap on their walking shoes and travel across the land, searching far and wide...
I like to think that somewhere in the current revised edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Detarou has a footnote all their own, only instead of "mostly harmless", it's just a bunch of question marks. Detemita Escape locks you up somewhere weird, but let's be honest... that's what we're all here for. If there weren't grown men in strange costumes doing vaguely unsettling things, we'd go home disappointed. The cursor will change whenever you mouse over something you can interact with, but that's the only help you're going to get. Clues are hidden everywhere, and even different viewpoints can be sneakily tucked away in odd locations, so pay attention to everything. Detarou delights at peppering puzzles that require codes to crack, but even the typical "use item X on object Y" point-and-click gameplay requires a little thinking outside the box. Double-click an item to view it up close, or click it once to "equip" it for use, and remember to save your game from time to time. There are three endings to find, after all, but not all of them are good.
The next time someone accuses you of being a crazy cat person, you can just give a patronizing little chuckle, secure in the knowledge that you're ready for the upcoming fox invasion with your well-trained (and adorable) attack force while your detractors will be crushed beneath the mecha-fox feet. Strikeforce Kitty 2 follows in the pawsteps of the original, serving up fast-paced arcade action as you lead and upgrade a fearsome foursome of felines through a series of levels to thwart the evil fox empire. It's a simple premise, and yet the formula is considerably different this time around. Your cats still run and attack automatically, and you can click to jump, and every level is literally overflowing with all sorts of armor and weapons that you can nab from fallen enemies to equip your kitties. Each enemy offers a unique set of equipment, often based on characters from pop culture, and every piece they drop can be equipped on any cat, in any configuration, offering bonuses and even new abilities that will allow you to access places in levels that were previously out of reach. When you have the required ability to bypass an obstacle (you'll need all pieces of the appropriate costume equipped on one cat), it'll activate automatically when needed. In the sequel, the game has moved to a level-based format, with each area being small and contained, gotten rid of the stamina bar, and instead of attacking continuously, both friends and foes will have a bar above their head that will slowly fill before they can act automatically. But wait! That's not all! Throw in locked doors and keys, switches and moving platforms, special powers, lottery tickets, training room, boss stages, and more, and Strikeforce Kitty 2 is remarkably more fleshed out than its predecessor... but does it all work?
The last we saw of Snail Bob he was traveling through a world of point-and-click puzzle fantasy. Now in the cold winter months he's moved on to a much better fantasy in my book... a warm tropical island. But nothing is a vacation for Bob, not with the Frog/Lizard snail-eating tribe after him. Snail Bob 8:Island Story, by Andrey Kovalishin starts with Snail Bob being literally cut away from his bearded elderly grandfather while ice-fishing and finding his way across the oceans back into the warm but dangerous jungle. Snail Bob is an ambitious little fella and is always wanting to move unless you put him back in his shell by clicking on him, or tapping the [spacebar]. You can also turn him around and speed him up, either by using the number buttons or clicking on the icon in the corner. It's your job to keep Snail Bob moving the right way, or stopping him to wait for the disasters to pass. Your other job is to push buttons, switch levers, chase away hungry creatures and much more by using clicking to interact with them. Otherwise it's just one slip that ends Snail Bob's life and that is no way to end a vacation.
I wonder why we so eagerly enjoy the division of the color of shapes. What makes the red in Red Removers worse than that soft blue? Or how we are ordered to put them on their platforms of their own color and not with any other shapes of another hue as in Cyclops Physics and do so without question. There seems to be some horrifying level of hierarchy that takes place in theses physic tumbledrop games that we mere human players are unaware of. But oh well! They are sure a blast to play and the 'evil' ones always look grumpy, so we're probably all good. Transblockies, by OZDY, is next to join this frenzy of these puzzlers. Click to change the shape to alter its body into a new configuration in order to bump, slide, and/or roll the purple enemy shapes off the screen while leaving the happier ones intact. It's fun for the whole family and the whole family of gadgets (It's a mobile game for Android and Amazon, for a little fee, and iOS is coming soon) that is, if you don't get involved in the moral dilemmas of anthropomorphic shapes.
Originally only available for Playstation 3 and now finally ported to PC, Sega's Valkyria Chronicles is a meaty turn-based strategy RPG that follows the brutal and bloody war between East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Empire, who have been clashing over the availability of a mineral called Ragnite, right before it involves the previously neutral Principality of Gallia. At the start of the game, a young man named Welkin is returning home to the tiny village of Bruhl in Gallia just as the Empire (it's always an evil empire) is about to declare war on Gallia to seize the Ragnite deposits. Neither Welkin nor his adoptive sister Isara are soldiers, despite both being descended from well-known war heroes, and new town watch captain Alicia has more experience baking bread than she does holding a rifle. They're about to learn, however, that sometimes you don't get to choose whether you get involved. Driven from their home and conscripted into the Gallian military, Welkin and his friends believe they'll be able to return home one day... but will they recognise the town or themselves when they do? With a deep story, likable, human characters, and compelling, challenging battles, Valkyria Chronicles is a cut above the rest in almost every conceivable way, with a PC port that doesn't cut corners. Also, I expect some sort of prize for going this entire review without once calling it Valkyrie Profile, which isn't easy to do when you're old. Where's my rocking chair? Get off my lawn!
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How do you explain a game like Pizzamakesgames's Skullz? In the beginning it is described as a bad trip, but I'm not too sure if they meant the effects of some sort of hallucinogen or some adventure you went on before finding yourself lost, dazed, and confused. This surreal gamedoesn't just start like that, but carries that theme of "Whaaaa?" throughout it. Almost set up as a text adventure with images it gives you an illusion of choice as you go through the madness of this dark world, with your trusty sidekick, or perhaps arch nemesis, or annoying Navi style guide, or maybe... perhaps I should give up on trying to label him. He's a talking skull. At times he's not even too sure who he is. Confused? Great you're ready to start. There is a story here and your questions eventually get answered with a "Ohhhhh... wait... then... what?" It is an experience though. A dark, macabre tale similar to games like, Samantha Wins or the Nekra Psaria series, but with much less puzzle solving and a slightly clearer tale to tell.
It's the night before Christmas and we here at JayIsGames want to wish you merry merriment and festive festivities, whatever you might be doing. If you're here, though, that means you're playing more free online escape games. As well you should, being what a cold night it is in Yonashi's whimsical world. But, thanks to Flash512, Santa brought you a gift, and it's a nice gift, but only the most clever can get through the jolly one's test and leave with it. After that, help little Northan get into Jenny's house: she'll only let you in if you can solve all the puzzles because, well, that's what friends do for holiday fun...
Nitrome has graced us once more with a wonderful fantastic platform game better than all the rest. What could make it better than all the rest? It's endless platforms, to start with. It's also not only for browser but your iOS and Android devices alike. The goal of Platform Panic is to gather up coins in order to unlock the other platform heroes and find out which is the best... can you guess who they all represent? The biggest issue is every hero seems to be in a panic and won't stop moving. They are always on the run either out of fear or maybe just an eagerness to show what an amazing hero they can be, which makes them a little harder to control. The left and right [arrow] keys make them change direction, while tapping up makes them jump, and you'll need to be quick to help them evade dangers through the randomized order of levels, where spikes, robots, bouncy pads and more lurk. Use the coins you collect to unlock different characters to play as!
Ah, the holidays. Nothing says Santa like a ton of explosives, amirite? In Sos Sosowski's short but frantic point-and-click puzzle game McPixel Xmas Special, there's a bomb in each itty-bitty level, and our hero has only twenty seconds to find and somehow neutralize it, which would probably be a lot easier if he didn't operate on bizarro logic. To play, just click to interact. Chances are you'll need to experiment a whole lot before you win since the solutions and actions are deliberately silly, or even raunchy or often violent. When a level ends, it automatically cycles to the next one, which can be annoying if you just want to replay one in particular until you win, but them's the breaks. If you like this, be sure to support the developer and check out the original full game, which is available for iOS and Android as well as your computer, and has 100 levels plus free DLC!
[Note: A Postcard of Afthonia is free to download, but please consider picking up the Special Edition with commentary and additional content to support the creator!]
There's a war going on in Verena and Jonas Kyratzes' beloved Lands of Dream, and in this short indie point-and-click adventure, you've been summoned through a very small magical portal to help two people in need. A Postcard from Afthonia has you helping Kyon and Katerina, who have put aside the differences cats and dogs typically have as they've fallen in love, and are even expecting a child. They're a little nervous about the future, with the war going on and interbreeding not always looked upon favorably by certain people, so they want you to visit the Oracle on their behalf. To play, just click to interact in the large in-game window on the left side of the screen whenever the cursor changes. When talking to people, just click the different dialogue topics to change the discussion. On the right side of the screen, the top-most window will give you directional arrows to let you move around. Below that is Mrs Papyrus, who will keep track of your tasks, and below that is your map, which lets you travel to different locations. The last window at the bottom holds your inventory, but don't focus solely on grabbing everything you can and barreling through your objectives, because A Postcard from Afthonia is all about the journey and the people in it.
There's snow day like a Robamimi escape day, and Snow Dance 2 is the perfect festive treat to play curled up with your favourite Christmas beverage and get away from the chill. Click around to interact, and the cursor will change when you mouse over something you can use. Double-click an item in your inventory to view it up close, or click it once to highlight it for use. The hint button will give you a nudge in whatever direction you should be focused on next, but don't get complacent. You'll still need to be on the lookout for clues, and figure out how to interpret them when you spot 'em, which is easier said than done. Apparently Robamimi doesn't think Christmas is any excuse to slack off on your escape exercising, and you might find it more of a challenge than the original Snow Dance was.
Have yourself a merry little button game... Tototo Room gets Christmassy with Button Escape: Chapter Edition, where you'll need to find and click on eleven gray balls hidden throughout the scene in order to light up all the ornaments on the Christmas tree if you want to escape. This one definitely falls into the "blink and you'll miss it" category, with a decided emphasis on cracking codes and no inventory items whatsoever. But if you want something sweet and festive with just enough puzzle oomph to start your gears turning for give minutes, Button Escape: Chapter Edition is the perfect Christmas treat to whet your appetite without wearing you out... after all, you need to be in tip-top shape to stay up and catch Santa Claus, right?
Hey, everyone, Emily is back! What do you mean, Emily who? Only the owner of a beloved restaurant, a former cooking TV show star and a local superhero, always there when her hometown of Snuggford needs her. Of course, I'm talking about the Delicious time-management series by Zylom Game Studio, and its newest member, Delicious: Emily's New Beginning. In the recent past, Emily got married and went on a honeymoon cruise, and now she has given birth to a lovely baby girl. The problem is that Emily can't imagine her life without her cozy little restaurant, so she decides to reopen it and take care of her daughter Paige at the same time. Ever wondered what it would be like to juggle a baby and a bunch of full plates, while impatient customers tap their fingers on the tables? If so, step right this way, please, and try not to trip over the toys scattered all over the floor.
With Christmas right around the corner, you might be saying, "But Dora, this is the worst possible time to be spending money on a bunch of games!" To that I say, "WRONG! Foolish mortal, this is the best possible time to be spending money on a bunch of games!" Now's your chance to pick up a bunch of great games on the cheap you can use as digital stocking stuffers for the nerdy in your life... or, okay, yes, add to your growing library of electronic joy. This week has a little sumpin' sumpin' for everyone, from some huge classic indie RPGs, top-down space shooting action, visual novel rrrrrrrrrrrrromance, indie adventure, and much, much more.
In Funkyland's Alice House No. 9: Alice's Evidence, if you want to escape this red, red room, you'll have to find five items bearing the Knave of Hearts. There's no changing cursor, but the room is fairly small and limited to only a handful of views, so you should have no trouble finding the items and Knaves you need as long as you remember to look on and under absolutely everything... and provided you can crack a code or two of course. Like all of the Alice House escapes, Alice's Evidence is short and sweet, just the ticket for when you want a snack-sized game, complete with a snack itself if those tempting tarts on the table are anything to go by.
The story behind Alpinist Escape, by Pine Studios (formerly Just Pine Games) and also free for iOS and Android, is you and your friends go skiing for the first time and your group discovers a cabin. As you walk in you hear the door lock behind you and then presumably the giggles and snorts of your friends as they run off into the cold darkness that is the winter night. Long story short, you need some new friends. If you enjoy solving puzzles and escaping then they are the most thoughtful friends on the earth, because that is exactly what you need to do. The pleasant, soft music and the witty things said when you pick up items are kind of pushing the more happier story where in the end instead of calling the cops or getting in a large fist fight, it will more likely be laughter all around and pats on the back. Alpinist Escape is simple, short, but cheery enough to keep you warm no matter what room you've been locked in.
What it is with hotels? If it's not demons, it's curses or a war between evil, and some other evil. Or, well, maybe it's you, since you and your friend James (who you keep rather endearingly labeled in your scrapbook as "professional detective") seem to constantly find yourselves wrapped up in bed-and-breakfast themed trouble. In Elephant Games' hidden-object adventure Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence, James has kicked the bucket, taken a dirt nap, bought the farm, ridden the pale horse... he's totes dead, yo, and a note slipped under your door from him that was presumably written before that happen tells you the Holy Mountain Hotel is the cause of it all. You quickly discover there's nothing sacred about this place, and though it looks as if it's been abandoned for years, it's clear that the people who have visited it have all had one thing in common... guilt. If you want to survive the spectre meting out justice from beyond the grave, you'll need to hunt for clues and items to solve puzzles, and of course crack a few hidden-object scenes along the way. And you know what? Maybe the next time I need somewhere to stay while I'm traveling I'll just... I'll just couch surf a little.
Minding your own business is probably a good rule of thumb when traveling intergalactically. I mean, no one wants to answer a distress call and end up with an alien exploding out of their chest. But what do you do if you are minding your own business when suddenly you're attacked by a large tentacled being? Use your puzzle platforming skills and take A Stroll in Space, by Gameshot. Use the [arrow] keys to move and jump as you travel the length of your ship. Once you've rescued your monkey companion, you can press the [spacebar] to have him deactivate gravity to help you move crates and jump to otherwise inaccessible places. Can you make it to the escape pod unscathed?
When you think of Detarame Factory, you probably think about chic decor and cute, cuddly alpacas. Well, once you play Nightmare Escape you're going to be thinking of blood! And jumpscares! And The Ring! And BLEEEARGHBLE! That's right, it's a horror escape game from one of the last developers you'd expect, and though it's actually still plenty cute, it's also decently gory, and, as the opening warns you, you might want to turn your volume down. To find a way out (once you've found a way in), just click to interact when the cursor changes as you mouse over objects, keeping an eye on your environment for clues, and remember you can double-click things in your inventory to view them up close. While there's something inherently charming about the ghoulishness here, if you prefer to avoid blood and screamers, you may want to approach this one cautiously if at all. Some of the puzzles may be a little awkwardly implemented or unintuitive, but I guess if you want to get away from this creepy place, you'll figure it out, won't you?
In Victorian London, famed (well, sort of) explorator Bertram Fiddle is sorely in need of a new adventure if he wants to avoid having any sort of regular old boring employment. He and his trusted cyclops Gavin go searching for a job in Episode 1: A Dreadly Business, a point-and-click adventure from Rumpus Animation, currently out for iOS devices (with android and PC versions in the works.) When he gets bumped into by a mysterious stranger, Fiddle unexpectedly ends up on the case of the elusive serial killer Geoff the Murderer. But how far can he get when he's up against Sherlock Holmes?
We live in a world of invisible walls. Race, class, gender, religion. Sometimes it's important to remember that human beings can accomplish wonderful things when we find the fortitude to work together. Maybe that's what the new Unity-powered puzzle game Suddenly, Thousands, by Omiya Games, is trying to teach us. We might be pirates and samurai and wolf suit-wearing misfits, but with a little time and effort, there's no obstacle we can't overcome. In this extremely experimental platform game, you guide your little avatar with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys and use the [spacebar] to jump through some exquisitely rendered 3D environments, using the mouse to pick up stragglers and build a little crowd. It's sort of like Pikmin, or a 3D Oodlegobs, having you wrangle your expanding horde of followers past traps and over barriers. There's also a robust physics system. Everything's just so darn cool with this game.
Normally, when slimes and quests intersect, it's usually so that novice heroes have something harmless and cute to beat the snot out of (ahem) while they're still gaining their adventuring legs. But Letmethink's humble slime was not satisfied with this lot in life, and so, in celebration of Ludum Dare, he's set off on his own puzzle platformer adventure, appropriately enough entitled Slimey's Quest. His journey won't take him very far, as the theme of this Ludum Dare is "the entire game on one screen." But that doesn't mean he won't have plenty to see or do... Slimey's Quest, you see, is to push buttons, and every time he presses one down, his entire landscape changes! Using the [arrow] keys, hit every bright red button, squash a few baddies along the way, and navigate the ever-shifting landscape to prove you are the bravest slime to ever ooze your way along the trail! The screen might not move, but Slimey's ever-shifting world will keep you on your toes and him on his... droplets.
If you've never played any of Ninja Kiwi's Bloons games, you're missing out. The dart throwing monkeys have been around for years now, and in the latest twist combine city building with the tower defense goodness you've come to love. In Bloons Monkey City (available in your browser or for iOS) you go behind the scenes to train, upgrade, and build a city for your monkey army to inhabit, all the while battling back the evil bloons from your lands. Why are the bloons so vicious? Nobody's sure, but I think it must have something to do with their association with clowns.
In water, heat rises and cold sinks. That's the premise behind Thermo, the temperate and mercurial new platformer by Andrew Wolfers, Daniel Carpenter, Grace Ren, Joel Gross, Kelvin Jin, and Robyn Nason. (Did I leave anybody out?) In each of the 30 levels you need to first open the exit portal and then get to it... somehow! The activator and portals aren't necessarily where you can get to them, and that's where water comes in. Floating masses of water are strategically-placed throughout the levels allowing you to use your special abilities, if you have them. Passing between red contacts heats you up, enabling you to rise if you start out in water. You'll continue to rise until you hit an overhead surface at which point you'll fall just as you ordinarily would, though you can steer your descent. Blue contacts let you create an ice platform under you while in water. Yellow contacts enhance either ability... you can create up to three ice platforms in water if you're cold, and walk on the ceiling if you're hot! Dull grey contacts return your temperature to normal, but leave any platforms or ceiling-walking abilities if they're active.
It's beginning to look a lot like a standard hope-you're-happy and non-denominational time of year! If you don't celebrate Christmas, then all the themed games that come out around this time of year might be a little much to take. So with that in mind, this week's Weekday Escape is only going to feature one Santa-ridden title, while the other two are your standard "trapped in a room, oh noes!" affair without being seasonally tied. Besides, since when does it need to be a certain time of year to celebrate with no1game, Yamino Kagura, and Just Pine Games? MY REVELRIES WILL NOT BE CONSTRAINED BY YOUR PUNY CALENDAR.
For some people, Christmas is about togetherness and family. And I'm not saying it isn't, just, uh... well, be honest, what's Christmas without a little sugar? In Carmel Games' point-and-click puzzle The Way the Gingerbread Cookie Crumbles, George is throwing a Christmas party, and his friends aren't having any of his excuses as to why he hasn't ponied up any gingerbread, even if a broken oven and a blizzard are pretty valid reasons. Search the house for a way to appease George's ungrateful friends! You can click on anything to interact when your cursor changes to a hand, and if you want to try combining something you're carrying, click the first item in your inventory and then the next. You'll need some seriously silly solutions to some strange obstacles if you want to succeed, but this is still one cute, funny little game that'll only take a few minutes of your time.
If an escape game by TomaTea is on your Christmas list, well, Feliz Navidad dear friend because Ginger Joy is here! With a gentle seasonal soundtrack and some tasteful festive decor, this is one room you might want to linger in for a while, especially if you've got a sweet tooth. Santa will understand, right? But when you are ready to get out, playing is simple. Just click around, and the tip of your cursor will glow when you can interact with something. Click the "i" icon that appears when you mouse over inventory items to view them up close. As you'd expect, there are piles of puzzles, and many of them need various codes to solve. If you see a message that says "I have no clue how to solve this!" it means you haven't seen the clue that corresponds to whatever you're looking at yet. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind sharp, because this Christmas is clever and sneaky!
Indie puzzle adventure The Talos Principle, created by Croteam, Jonas Kyratzes and FTL: Faster Than Light's Tom Jubert, opens with a heavenly choir and roiling white clouds before you find yourself in a garden before a sprawling series of ruins. A great voice informs you its name is Elohim, your creator, and bids you find him in his temple, but first you must overcome the trials set before you, and find the Sigils hidden throughout. Then, you'll be fit to serve, and, he adds, attain eternal life. What do you think? After the trials, will there be cake? Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, hold [shift] to run, tap [spacebar] to jump, the mouse to look around, and click to pick up, put down, or interact with items. You'll start with Jammers, which can disable anything electronic as long as they're aimed at it, but you'll soon graduate to Connectors, which can be used to set up chains of lasers to activate different things, and more you'll unlock as you go. Threats can be things like the patrolling black orbs that explode if you get too close, or the wall-mounted turrets, but don't worry... if you die, you'll just be rewound back to the start of whatever area you entered. Each area is a contained puzzle, and completing it rewards you with a Sigil, which look like Tetrominoes, and multiple Sigils are needed to open the doors that allow you to proceed deeper in. As you explore, you discover the various worlds your creator has made for you, free for you to "subdue" as you please... but that great tower? That's the one place you're never allowed to go. It might seem like a perfectly reasonable restriction at first as you explore the various places crafted with challenges for you to master, but as you go farther, it quickly becomes apparent you're not the only one who has passed this way, and malfunctioning terminals filled with fragments of text hint that something very big has happened. And then there's the being who communicates with you through the terminals only when it sees fit...
To say T34 Studios' massive escape/point-and-click adventure game The Rosefinch Curse (originally only available in Chinese) is ambitious is sort of an understatement. How many escape games do you play that ask you to complete a lengthy tutorial before you start, that feature a quick-travel map because the place you're in is so big? As the game opens, you play student Tina Tang, who wakes up to find herself in an unfamiliar place with one heck of a headache, and the last thing she can remember is a truck barreling down on her as she crosses the street. So why does she seem to be in a school filled with strange mechanisms? And what's up with that strange girl? Playing the tutorial is definitely recommended, and with no changing cursor to mark interactive areas, you're in for a real challenge, though features like the minimap, which shows you not only where you are and where you're facing in addition to points of interest, are a nice touch. You can even click the camera icon at the top of the screen to take pictures of whatever you're facing, so you don't have to constantly write down clues. With multiple endings, a branching plot, party members, and more, despite some rough edges and a clunky interface, The Rosefinch Curse is still an impressive and formidable game, and well worth checking out if you have the time and patience needed to conquer it.
Whenever Ludum Dare comes around, you can expect piles of new games, and this one's theme was "Entire Game on One Screen". Here's a standout for you: Tightrope Theatre by Adventure Islands, a gleefully retro offering with challenge and charm to spare. You're a pixely little unicyclist tasked with performing death defying stunts before your enraptured crowd. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to roll and jump from tightrope to tightrope, avoiding spikes, falling barrels, and fire along the way. Yeah, this particular circus doesn't mess around. And remember, you're on a unicycle and not your feet, so everything's just a little bit slippery up there. Patience, timing, and skill are essential if you want to make your bow at the end.
Look, I'm all about the sisterhood and female empowerment, but there are some chicks I just can't stand behind in solidarity. I mean, right around the time you earn the moniker of "most prolific female serial killer in history" is probably when I stop throwing up the horns to support you. O2D takes on what might be Hugary's most notorious historical figure with Vampire Legends: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bathory, a hidden-object adventure where you, a gypsy woman, have been hired to find a young girl named Agnes. She was invited to stay with the Countess Bathory, along with a bunch of other young women, which totally isn't suspicious at all, and even though they've all been missing for months, the king is too busy with the war to concern himself with their disappearances. You know what they say. All that is required for evil to triumph is for nobody to think it's that weird to send their daughters off to stay with the sinister bourgeois. Using your ability to mix helpful potions that can give you an edge and psychic impressions, you must discover the truth behind the Countess and the disappearances, but it's pretty clear that despite a mysterious benefactor, something sinister it happening. As you play and solve puzzles, you'll gather herbs and ingredients for various potions, and the hidden-object scenes will have you track items down in various ways. Hopefully you haven't bitten off more than you can chew... ha! I slay me. HA! Get it? Slay? Vampire? I'm here all week, folks.
Hey kids and former kids! Welcome to our new weekly feature, where we post some of the best gaming bundles that pop up during the week. Personally, I love a deal, especially when it comes to games, and with the popularity of the Humble Bundle, these suckers are everywhere now. So while I was filling my game library up with more and more titles I may never play (because why would I actually play a new game when I could just replay Chrono Trigger or Azure Dreams for the ten thousandth time), it occurred to me that you fine folks might like to know about some of the bundles that cross our path. Each Sunday, we'll post a handful of some of the best bundles that have popped up, and you can feel free to share your own on the comments. To be clear, we don't get any sort of affiliate revenue from this, we're just making sure that if we don't have any productivity because we're playing games, neither do you! We'll initially be keeping these posts limited to a few bundles as we tweak our format. This week: a visual novel/RPG hybrid with romance (including options for M/M and F/F), a triple pack of one of DC's greatest heroes in action/adventure format, an eerie indie adventure loosely based on an old Swedish tradition, and much more!
From Jay Armstrong, the same guy who brought us Super Adventure Pals and Bearbarians, comes the next big adventure, Epic Time Pirates! Think you already know what to expect from this action arena game? I'll fill you in anyway. It's space pirates who travel through time to fight in an epic battle against zombies, monks, other pirates and more. What else is there to say? Well, okay there is a bit more than just expanding on the title. Apparently Time Pirates just don't plunder stuff in all different time zones. You and your crew are hunting down a foe who is causing time anomalies and putting a stop to it. Usually through death matches, securing crucial control points, and of course a bloody fight, capture-the-flag style. You can unlock new guns and even buy animal companions that give you an added boost. And one of those guns is a shark boomerang. Shark Boomerang. Seriously, what else do you need to hear before hitting that 'Play Now' button.
Ain't no party like a no1game party, 'cause a no1game party don't let you escape 'til you've found ten sneaky little green men! In Find the Escape-Men Part 129: Year-End Party, you're in charge of the New Year office party, but all your coworkers are getting rowdy, so it's time to round them all up. Too bad they're not ready to leave! Click around to interact, and remember to check everywhere since there's no changing cursor and there are a lot of sneaky things hidden about! Parents might want to be warned that unlike most no1game titles, Year-End Party features a lot of alcohol, some minor violence, and even a bit of blood and what I believe is either vomit or, um, number one, so player beware. You'll need to figure out how to get your coworkers back under control if you want to get home, so start clicking!
What's a great sliding block puzzle game that involves charming little robots? Botiada? Oh. Well, yes that does fill the bill, but no! This one has even cuter robots and a name that looks like a preteen texted it to her BFF, Slydrs! Also free for iOS and Android, this new adorable game by the Oliver Pearl team is too cute to be frustrated by, but the challenge of the levels themselves will contest to that. The whole goal is to put the bright orange robot on equally bright buttons to make their antennas glow. Of course the robots weren't built with any sort of braking system so they slide across the screen until they hit something as solid as them. But these delightful little piles of hardware and circuit boards know how to work as a team. Help them use each other to make sure all the button are pressed down. It doesn't matter if they all get a spot or not, they can share in each others victory and so can you.
No more battle cries. No more allies or foes. No more levels or epic loot. No dungeon crawls, or quest giving, or npcs repeating everything they say over and over again. The Empty Kingdom is coming to an end. Once the clock strikes midnight all the servers will be shut down. All that is left is a king, wandering around his empty kingdom in hopes of finding something; perhaps a new life to begin. This experimental visual novel by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is a peaceful tale even though the King could be facing his untimely deletion. Though midnight approaches in the story, there's no timer, and you can take your time as you walk across the panels. If there ever was a game that was soothing and relaxing, this is it.
You know what they say about the weather re: it being delightful, right? Well, it may be snowing, but Pencil Kids' signature simians aren't very cheerful in their latest installment of the point-and-click puzzle series, Monkey GO Happy North Pole. Santa's workshop is a shambles, and obviously you can't have Christmas without a stranger bringing you lots of material items via breaking and entering! Click around to gather and use items, and keep an eye out for clues! As usual, this superbly seasonal game from Pencil Kids is short and sweet, enough for a coffee (or eggnog?) break. I'm not saying that if you don't play this game, Christmas won't come because Santa will still be stuck in his workshop... I'm just saying, why risk it?
Created in about two months, action RPG/crafting sim Rogue Legend by Lance Knifehand (Help I Made a Game!) is meant to be a delicioush mish-mash of a lot of things... Harvest Moon, Minecraft, and The Legend of Zelda, for instance. If that made your mouth water a little but also your eyebrows raise with tempered skepticism, well, read on. As the game opens, you, our hero, are awoken one night by a commotion outside your home, and when a huge black knight bursts in, your mother drags you out of bed and shoves you down a secret escape path they had conveniently built in their fireplace along with an integrated tutorial because reasons. Your hometown in flames and your family murdered, you escape, and one year later you've finally settled down on a farm of your own... so, uh, guess you didn't get any serious childhood trauma or anything. Use [WASD] to move, or just click to make the character follow your cursor. From your inventory at the bottom of the screen, you can just click to equip something, and then anywhere onscreen you want to use it. Select the hammer, for instance, and then click on rocks to break them down. Doing so, and in fact busting up other resources, grants you things you can use to craft... you can make furniture and tools, as you'd expect, but you can also make blocks to build with. If you find yourself at a chasm, just craft some stone blocks, for example, and plop them down to make a bridge! Or more importantly... build a house! Had enough of crafting? Then get out there and start stabbing the hostile wildlife, ya filthy animal! Despite some bumps and kinks, with crafting, gardening, livestock, and adventuring Rogue Legend has a lot of promise, and with some patience, could really prove addictive.
Kamotokamotokamo knows you work hard and deserve an escape from it all, so How About Taking a Break? After climbing a ladder at the bottom of a massive... thing... you find yourself in a room with some seriously adorable decorating and a whole lot of twee furniture. Click around to explore and interact, though there's no changing cursor so you'll have to poke around in every nook and cranny, and make sure to examine items you're carrying with "about item". A lot of your success depends on finding and deciphering (or even deducing!) codes, which can often come down to changing the way you look at things. It's weird. It's silly. It's even got a few surprises. So relax. Lean back. And take the game's advice for a while. ... though admittedly maybe you shouldn't be taking productivity tips from someone who wrote this as her job in novelty pajamas.
Waking up with no memory? Check. Underground abandoned facility? Check. Creepy mutant monsters wanting to nibble on your face while you have limited ammo? Check and check. Facility Z is ready to play. This action shooter, by Mina Ta may not have the most in depth or original story line, but the game play keeps up with everything you want in a zombie horror shooter. With eleven levels of nearly maze-like areas nothing is simple for poor Kyle even with the help of Dr. Greg Sanger who tries to guide him over the radio. The good doctor needs you to hurry to him while he's still alive and not being chased by anything greenish, but not before gathering up the data disk of research he has been conducting otherwise years and years of work will have been a waste. And since you're the only one apparently left functioning and able to fire a gun, it's up to you to help and escape with your life.
In Carmel Games' point-and-click puzzle Maplewood Junior High, your teacher wants you to do an assignment, but the problem is she expects you to do it on a bunch of ancient computers that haven't seen the light of day since 1996. Can you complete your homework despite the literally old school equipment... and the fact that you're woefully unprepared? To play, just click around to interact. The cursor will change to red if you can use something, and people you can talk to will display a mouth icon when you mouse over them. To use something you're carrying, just click it once to highlight it in your inventory, and then again wherever you'd like to use it onscreen. Then, if you're extra experienced, lay facedown on the floor for a while feeling the crushing weight of the years because computers that would still be more modern than the ones you learned to type on in school are considered to be relics. Anyone have a rocking chair I can borrow? I need to go sit on my porch and yell at clouds.
Once again we come to that time in the week that I like to call "Wednesday." You might have heard of it before? No? Okay then, sit right here beside me and let me explain: This is the day that men, women and children around the world everywhere gather to pay homage to an entity called The Escape Game. In this universally uplifting ritual, we play at being trapped inside a room (or a boat, mushroom, or any old such thing), forced to seek out employable objects and solve random puzzles all for the sake of regaining freedom. It's pretty cool. It may be that, someday, it will help save the world. Don't believe me? Well, here then, have a look at a few samples from Hottategoya, Tototo Room, and FunkyLand, then try to tell me you still hold doubts in your heart...
In 2008, Dmitry Zheltobriukhov's Caravaneer became a smash hit, putting you in the shoes of a traveling caravan owner in a post-apocalyptic world in the form of an RPG-style sim. Surprise surprise, seven years later we've been graced with Caravaneer 2, and it's even bigger and badder than the original. This time, you play someone who's grown up in an underground VaultER AH I MEAN bunker (totally different), who has been undergoing training to be a scout to the outside world. Your mentor, Olaf, vanished while you were gone on your last training mission, and you've been told you're to go out and bring him back... using physical force if necessary. Outside in the harsh, dangerous real world, you quickly discover that money talks, and to make it, you'll need to buy low and sell high as you travel from place to place, managing your inventory, supplies, and more. Caravaneer 2 places a huge emphasis on its enconomy and your trading, and combined with the huge amount of micromanagement, might be too slow or intimidating for some, but just as many will dive right in to the deep, thoughtful gameplay.
Isn't it always the way? You get into witchcraft for the love of communing with nature, dancing skyclad through the heather and magically-fresh laundry, and before you know it you're inevitably found out by the townsfolk, reanimating their ancestors to attack everyone, and your sister's assembling a strongly unfragrantly-scented abomination to avenge your execution and drive everyone from the village. It could happen to anyone and in Last Town, the time management defense game from Elliot Pace, your role is the heroic town Mayor determined to keep your community together and preferably alive during the onslaught of a Plants vs Zombies mishap brought on by, you guessed it, Too Much Magic. With plenty of upgrades, eight addable character classes to rock each with their own set of skills and upgradable abilities and a comprehensive storyline where your choices really do significantly affect the gameplay, Last Town brings a lot of what we learned to love from Plants vs. Zombies while remaining something all its own.
There are some people who believe that games should stay games and never deal with "real issues", but Parable of the Polygons, by Vi Hart and Nicky Case, shows just how great games can be about getting concepts and ideas across. Billed as a "playable post about the shape of society", Parable of the Polygons talks you through how small biases can have a bigger impact than people think by leading you through a series of puzzles where your job is to make the squares and triangles all happy by shuffling them around until their living conditions are diverse. But not too diverse. Different puzzles have different requirements to make the shapes happy, and over time you see how they grow more and more apart without really meaning to. By starting small and then working through larger puzzles and a few simulations, it talks earnestly and intelligently about how bias impacts society, without ever pointing the finger or addressing any one specific group or cause. Talking about things like this can be hard to do without people feeling as if they're being accused of something and going on the defensive, but Parable of the Polygons is well worth a read (and a play!), and a great example of the way games can get people talking and thinking.
I'm dreaming of a waterlogged Christmas... Hmm. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Still, there's room for every celebration, including the kind that involves torrents of water in Yoeri Staal's puzzle game Flooded Village: Xmas Eve 3. Like the original game and its previous seasonal spinoff, the goal is to get water (or ice!) when you need it by clicking to remove different squares on the board, with a limit placed on how many times you can do so. Different things, like pirates and trees, react in different ways to certain elements, and you're trying to make everything happy. Water makes the pirate ships float and trees sprout, while ice spread through any water it touches and freezes pirates solid (bad) but turns grown trees into Christmas trees (good!). If you've played the other games, then the vast majority of this one will feel very familiar, but if you've been itching for a little festive flooded puzzlery, then Flooded Village: Xmas Eve 3 is the perfect choice to kick back with some hot chocolate and your best tacky, itchy Christmas sweater.
None of my in-laws are gamers, so most of the time anything I'm telling them I reviewing sounds silly to them. My father-in-law, a retired serviceman who looks like Charlie Chaplin, chuckles bemusedly and half disbelievingly when I tell him I'm writing about human/pigeon romance, magical pony princess P.I.s, and amateur butterfingers open-heart surgery. Half the time I think they believe I'm making it up, so what am I supposed to do now that I've played I Am Bread, the latest bizarro indie game from Surgeon Simulator 2013 team Bossa Studios? Currently available in Early Access, it's the physics-driven tale of, yes, a slice of bread who desperately wants to become toast. You can move, sort of, via gripping with each corner in varying combinations, and using those corners as anchors when you flop around. If you're not using a controller, , , , and  each correspond to a different corner of the bread slice (is this really a real thing I'm describing?), while [Q], [W], [E], and [R] can toggle each corner's grip on and off (I guess it is), which will let you stick to things for as long as your grip meter, at the top of the screen, holds out. Don't worry, it regenerates when you're not using it. You click and drag with the mouse to move the bread around, but this only really works when one portion of it is anchored, otherwise all you can do is scoot around in itty-bitty increments face down. Your goal in each stage is to get yourself toasted, but be warned... if your edibility drops to zero, which decreases when you're touching the floor or any other dirty surface, you fail. Nobody wants to eat dirty toast, after all. And then? Once you're actually toasting? Why, then you have to stop toasting before you're burnt! Not hard enough for you? Well, sometimes you won't have access to a toaster... so you'll need to improvise.
Something cute this way comes, and since it's an escape game loaded with puppies, bunnies, angler fish and snakes (what? they're cute too!), you know it's got to be Detarame Factory, who's serving up sequel satisfaction with Mikke Escape 2. As in Mikke Escape, if you want out, because hanging out with cuddly critters and watching TV sounds sooooo awful, you need to find and click on ten circles hidden throughout the room. Just use the arrows at the edge of the screen to move around, and click to interact, with your handy changing cursor cutting out pixel hunting. Items you're carrying can be double-clicked to view up close, so don't forget to check them out if you're stuck! One colour-based puzzle might give you trouble if you have difficulty with colours, but on the whole, Mikke Escape 2 is both cute and clever. Not too hard, nor too easy, it's juuuuust right no matter what time of year it is.
Welcome to the jungle, we've got City Siege games! The Podge serves up another heaping helping of stages for City Siege 3 with City Siege 3: Jungle Siege FUBAR Pack. As before, you're leading your squad of soldiers into zones full of danger and destructible objects to rescue civilians and take out any baddies. Use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move and jump, with the mouse to aim and shoot. The stars you find can upgrade your heroes' health, while the cash is spent on buying more units to take with you. From spies to bombers, tanks to helicopters, it's all about figuring out who's best suited for the job. Get things done as cleanly as possible... and by cleanly we mean blowing up buildings, dropping enemies into lava, blasting through trees... whatever it takes! Or if you like, play it sneaky and try to get through without alerting anyone or, y'know, making something explode. With big levels packed full of destructibles and enemy soldiers, Jungle Siege FUBAR Pack is more of the familiar action City Siege fans crave.
It's beginning to look a lot like Neutral... one of the most popular escape game creators is back with a trio of seasonal titles, Chick Mini Games, beginning with Tower of Chicks, a simple puzzle game that requires you to swap cuddly birds between nests until they're stacked in proper order, and first followed up by Chick Room Escape and then Chick Room Escape Xmas ver. Make sure you play them in order... their stories are tied together! All you need to do to play is click. When playing either escape game, your cursor will change to show you're hovering over something you can interact with. If you want to use an item, click it in your inventory to highlight it, then click where you want to apply it. As the title implies, these games are short, but with Neutral's signature style and deft touch with puzzles, they definitely fall into the "short and sweet" end of things. What better way to celebrate the season than with a trio of cute and clever games?
Thanks to Martha for sending these in!
Ah, the holidays. It's just not Christmas if there isn't a jealous, grunting old man creeping outside your window, brandishing a disturbing knobby... branch... while you and your beloved share a tender moment. That beloved holiday tradition is the start of Elephant Games's entry into the Christmas Stories hidden-object adventure series,
Christmas Stories: Hans Christian Andersen's Tin Soldier. Charles and Nina have been turned into toys thanks to a curse and malfunctioning magic from their jealous voyeur, the Baron, and your friend Albert, who's also been transformed, has called you in to help. You'd think a fully grown human would be able to handle a bunch of toys, but the Baron has the surly box trolls on his side, and you have... uh... well, in his current form, Albert can crack you all the nuts you want, so bonus for snackies, I guess. Together with Albert, and Charles once you find him, you'll need to stop the Baron, who has an entire army of trolls on his side, and find Nina. To do so, you'll need to solve puzzles, enlist the aid of Albert and Charles to get past certain obstacles, hunt through hidden-object sequences, and of course, deal with the magical forces and other sneaky tricks of the Baron, who always seems to be one step ahead of you, despite not actually having feet anymore. With vibrant visuals, genuinely funny animation, and some unexpected heart, this Christmas casual should be on anyone's short list if you're looking for holiday cheer.
Consider the space marine. Grizzled, stoic, encased in enough metal to make a Buick. These sci-fi cowboys are invading every facet of pop culture, from the triple-A titles like Halo and Gears of War to films, books and everything in between. Well, the Raze games by Sky9 Games have brought the running and gunning action into the browser gaming universe, and Raze 3 offers more of the arena-based sci-fi shooting action you'd expect from the series. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move, the [F] or [Enter] key to use your rocket-repelling laser sword, and the mous] to aim and shoot your way through each of the fifteen levels in the main campaign. Or just settle into a quick match and start blasting away. Space marining is a tough job, but someone's got to do it.
In Choko-Chai's point-and-click puzzle game Christmas of the Mazy Forest, our three favourite felines are feeling a little festive, so when they get an invitation from the witch of the forest to attend her Christmas party, they're more than a little excited. All they have to do, of course, is find their way there... shouldn't be too hard, even if the forest is a maze, right? To play, just click to interact and move around. Your cursor will change when you can do so, and if you want to examine an item you're carrying more closely, click the item to give it a red border, then click on "About Item", which can let you interact with whatever it is further. Perhaps most importantly, however, you'll want to remember the cats are actually here to help! If you're stuck, try clicking on the happy cat in the bottom left corner... if the cats appear onscreen, one of them should be clicked to help you do something. With math codes, locks, and all manner of trickery in their way, escaping the maze might seem like something they'd need a Christmas miracle for... so good thing you're here to help!
Note: Elliot Quest contains narrative scenes involving suicide. Player discretion is advised.
You can't die. Well, I mean, you can. But it never lasts. You always just wake up again at the last one of those glowing stones you passed. It's amazing and it's terrifying. You're just a simple man with a power your don't understand, whose love has disappeared and who needs to find answers. It is your quest, Elliot: an Elliot Quest. Elliot Quest is an enjoyable indie retro platform adventure by Ansimuz Games inspired a bit by Metroidvanias in the La Mulana style, and a bit more by that oddball of its series, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
Bubble Dreams, free for iOS and Android, is the sort of colourful, no-frills, classic-styled match-3 puzzle game you reach for when you need something light to fill your free time. Chances are you're familiar with the concept... shoot coloured bubbles to make matches of three or more, which will clear matching, adjacent bubbles away, and try to clear the screen before it fills up. To play, all you do is tap, and the top-most bubble Chompy, our flinging alligator, is holding will fly towards the place you indicated. If it's a wall, the bubble will ricochet off, but if it touches another bubble, at any angle, they'll stick together. Chompy holds two bubbles at any time, and while the bubble on the bottom is the one you'll fire after the one on top, if you tap him, the bubbles will swap places. Complete one island's requirements to unlock the next, or, if you prefer, you can optionally pay via an in-app purchase to unlock an island immediately. As you play, you'll also unlock power-ups that can help bust through tricky situations, and while you can choose to buy more of them if you wish, they're completely optional.
Since Chompy fires where you tap without hesitation, aiming is fairly precise, though you need to be able to plan and predict where the bubble will go on your own, which can be really difficult when it comes to off-the-wall bouncing. The downside is that where similar games often take colours you have cleared from the screen out of rotation for you to shoot, making the format distinctly more puzzle-like, Bubble Dreams does not, so levels can wind up taking longer than they should. At the same time, swapping between whatever two bubbles Chompy is carrying helps this, so careful planning and aiming goes a long way. Bubble Dreams doesn't really do anything new, but it takes a familiar game and puts it in your pocket in a simple-to-pick up, vibrant style. If you want something deep or with more complex mechanics, Bubble Dreams might be a little too simple, but with a whopping free 250 levels to play, relatively sparse use of ads, and completely optional social integration and in-app purchases, it's a simply solid match-3 title with classic gameplay.
Long ago, the mighty pirate Jack Treepwood discovered a magical compass. It had the power of pointing in the direction of the most wondrous hidden treasures imaginable. Soon, "Lucky Jack" became the richest pirate in the world, now apparently content to remain retired and mysteriously out of contact on Taoki island. Stachmou, a slightly less mighty, but still impressively-facial-haired pirate, figures that if the compass is just going to waste, then maybe "Lucky Jack" won't mind if he borrowed it for a bit. Of course, the first order of business is getting to Taoki, and we'll worry about step 2 when we get there. Stachmou and the Golden Compass is a humorous point-and-click adventure developed by Didier Guagliano. Or should that be point-and-click adventARR? It shouldn't? Oh. Alright then.
Sometimes in life with your significant other there's a need to go on a relaxing getaway with them. And these adorable dots chose to do just that. They travel through the deepest ocean, scale a highest mountain, cross the fiery landscape, and generally go to places that really wouldn't seem relaxing to most of us. But if the way to travel around was to connect dots of matching colors, well the simple answer would be, "When do we leave?" Two Dots, by Two Dots Inc, is a free mobile puzzle game about connecting; connecting the dots, connecting our two heroes closer together, and connecting you to one of the most charming, addictive games for iOS and Android we've seen in a long while. If the thrilling challenge of the levels isn't enough to win you over then the whimsical artwork and the snazzy music will. And fear not, this matching game of color is also friendly to the colorblind.
Have you tried other translucent fruit-spread based works like Jelly Escape or Jelly Blocks, and still feel, as of yet, insufficiently prepared for this jelly? Well, Jelly Lam, a simple idea physics puzzle game by Alexander Balabanovich could be just the solution! It the game, you play as a cute lil' jelly named Jelly, and you'll be stretching, swinging, slicing, and coloring him across a trio of themed worlds, grabbing keys and stars and hoping against hope that you'll make it to the exit in one piece.
For some, this time of year is filled with festivities. A lot of those festivities are meant to be merry and happy, filled with fun, good times, letting loose. It's the letting loose part to watch out for: it goes with the fun, and it might also go with the intake of liquids that might or might not be part of the fun. I think you know what I mean. Each one of us has heard those cautionary tales of what "too much fun" can result in. In the best of situations, the worst is a blushing chuckle and a "I can't believe I was so dumb." But dumb can have consequences. Heck, they even made a song about that sort of thing. Not only a song, but also a mobile game. Um, anyhow, I'm just gonna come right out and admit it: I kinda sorta love you guys. This is spoken straight from the heart. So be careful out there, okay? I want to see you here each week solving escape games with us, remarking about those pixel hunts or whimsy-topped scenarios and just generally being your lovable selves. As you digest that little thought, let's visit three new ways to play smart—Flash512's adorable rabbit house, No1Game's green guy's hiking excursion, and Yomino Kagura's rather large time piece...
[Please note that Game of Thrones is an episodic series. Purchasing the game grants you access to all episodes as they become available. Currently only the first episode has been released.]
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass... no, no. Wait. Sorry. Wrong epic. To say murder maestro George RR Martin's series of gritty fantasy books, A Song of Ice and Fire, have captivated their audience is a bit of an understatement. After all, while the success of the HBO show can't be denied, the books have been around for almost twenty years and aren't done yet. So who better to bring fans a taste of the intrigue, politics, dragons and murder than TellTale Games, and with the first installment of their episodic adventure series Game of Thrones - A TellTale Game Series now unleashed, it . Here, the story centers on the Forresters, a family who has been loyal to House Stark (central characters of the original books and show) for literally thousands of years, which means with the current war for the Iron Throne going on between all the would-be kings, the Forresters are obligated to rally. As the game opens on the eve of a, um, most joyous wedding, initially casting you in the shoes of squire and former pig farmer Gared Tuttle, who's about to see all his hard work for Gregor Forrester, Lord of Ironrath, pay off. At the same time, young Ethan Forrester suddenly finds himself the head of his House, struggling to measure up to the expectations of others who think he's too bookish and weak. In King's Landing, Ethan's sister Mira works as handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell, putting her in a unique position to help her family, but also in great danger when suspicion falls on anyone whose relatives raised the banner for Rob Stark. As the story moves through each character, they become more and more ensnared in the political manipulations and webs of deceit, because everyone has their own agenda, and you can never really be sure who you can trust.
When Uncle Vladimir's nephew accidentally flies his brand new remote-controlled airplane into the creepiest house on the block, Vladimir decides to get it back in Carmel Games' point-and-click more-quirky-than-creepy Yurius's House of Spooks. Too bad "Crazy Yurius" lives up to his name, and he's locked Vladimir in the basement to be used in an experiment! Of course, once Vladimir gets out (which is... surprisingly easy!) he's still not giving up on getting that toy airplane back. To play, just click around to interact, and your cursor will change whenever you pass over something that can be manipulated. Short and definitely silly, Yurius's House of Spooks proves that crazy men build crazy houses... and attract crazier houseguests!
Also free for iOS and Android, One More Line by SMG Studio is an addictive and challenging yet deceptively simple arcade game where the goal is to last as long as possible as you rocket down an endless corridor without crashing into the walls or the connector nodes. Click and hold to make your flinging... thingy... shoot out a line and latch onto the nearest node, which will cause you to swing around it in a circle until you let go and fly in whatever direction you were heading. Latching on to a node from farther away makes you swing in a big, wide circle, while grappling on closer yields tiny, tight, fast circles. While attached to a node you can pass through walls, but not other nodes! With its snappy soundtrack and vibrant colours, One More Line is easy on the eyes in addition to being lean and mean... just don't play it if you plan on relaxing.
One More Line (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
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Lou is a happy-go-lucky guy that has had some bad luck but is ready to start anew after his parents died a year ago, by moving to the beautiful city of Lisbon. In the start of this free indie point-and-click adventure game (which might not be so happy-go-lucky), A Date in the Park by Cloak and Dagger Games, you find Lou, well, about to go on a date in the park with the woman of his dreams he just met the night before. Lou feels as if she is truly the one, and for those who have met a person in an unfamiliar bar and then plan the rest of their lives together, we know that this probably won't end the way he thinks it will. Lou is optimistic to a fault about his life and is rather a sappy gent himself that perhaps we can ignore the slight hints that something is off and join him in his haze of puppy love.