R-LO is a very fuzzy escape game from no1game, and as usual, you're trapped somewhere and surrounded by cryptic clues and puzzling mechanisms. The cursor won't change if you can interact with something, so you need to go about it the old fashioned way and click everywhere to make sure you find everything you need, though pixel hunting is mostly non-existent. Instead, you'll be required to solve puzzles that need logic more than anything else, and know how to spot a clue when you see it. R-LO may be short, but it's also smart, with some appealingly sneaky puzzles and tidy (though, really, so fuzzy) design, making it an excellent warmup for escape fans of all kinds.
March 2015 Archives
Ah, the gun. Versatile, loud, deadly. How many games have made use of the firearm for gameplay purposes? Seriously, how many? Our shooter game tag is getting dangerously full. Well, here's another title to add to that venerated list. The Gun Game Redux by Flashchaz and Marsh Games pares the genre down to its basics: you have a gun, targets exist, and it's time to introduce one to the other with as much efficiency as possible. Move your firearm through the air with the mouse, being sure to keep it within the green zone so you don't suffer a penalty, and start popping targets like targets insulted your mom. There are three main competition types... Defense, which has you blasting away targets before they can reach the green, Efficiency, in which you have to drop the target while aiming through a small hole, and Offense, which drops the targets altogether and puts you against an AI-controlled gun that's not shy about fighting back. A wide variety of unlockable guns keeps the game interesting as you blast your way to greatness.
The brothers from Meowbeast's puzzle platformer Money Movers may have busted out of the slammer once before, but in Money Movers 2 they're busting back in to rescue dear old dad who's also gotten himself locked up. As before, you'll control the two bros simultaneously with the [WASD] and the [arrow] keys, making them work together to flip switches, collect money bags, and deal with turrets, guards, locked doors and more to reach the exit together. The smaller brother can jump higher and fit into narrow places, while big brother might be too slow to avoid lasers or too heavy to jump high, but can make up for it in brute strength. The game might spend a bit too much time teaching you the basics from the original, so if you've played that, then you'd be forgiven for feeling like the sequel is dragging its feet. Eventually, however, they start getting more complicated and demanding more timing. It never really does anything significantly different from the first game, but it does up the complexity and challenge significantly, making it a great fit for fans looking for something a little meatier, all wrapped up in the bright colours, clean design, and swanky soundtrack that makes a Meowbeast game so polished and fun.
Akkad's Impossible Rush, free for iOS and Android, serves up the latest in addictive high-score arcade action for as long as your reflexes can handle it. To play, just tap the screen to rotate the square to the right, the goal being to catch the incoming coloured balls on the matching side of the square by having it face upwards. Miss even once, which gets a lot harder in a hurry since things start to speed up, and it's game over, but you can create "clans" to compete for top rankings in scores once you've logged in with Facebook, or join our clan under jayisgames. Don't want to compete online? You don't need to! Games like Flappy Bird, Atomas, Crossy Road and more have proven that many players love using their phone to play the sort of challenging games that ruled the arcade decades ago (you whippersnappers), and Impossible Rush's simple yet frantic gameplay makes it fit right in. Though it could use a few extras, like perhaps a snappy MIDI soundtrack that slowly speeds up with the gameplay, or a one-time in-app purchase to disable the occasional ads, Impossible Rush is still a great addition to the library of fast, fun-yet-frustrating high score endless games smartphones seem to be a perfect fit for, and hopefully gets expanded even more in the future. Just... don't blame it when you end up spiking the phone off the sidewalk the next time you're one tap away from beating your best score when you fail.
Impossible Rush (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
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There have been a lot of free-to-play games put out for big franchises, and to be frank, most of them tend to be muddled messes of shallow gameplay, timers, and in-app purchases, so I was a little concerned and skeptical about FINAL FANTASY Record Keeper, free for iOS and Android by DENA Games and Square Enix. In it, you play a young scribe who learns all of the records of the great heroes from the iconic Final Fantasy series are vanishing, being devoured by a strange darkness, and you're tasked with restoring them by your Moogle professor... a task which naturally involves going inside paintings representing battles from all of the classic games and stories, and recruiting a roster of all the characters you know and love along the way. Make no mistake, FINAL FANTASY Record Keeper is solely a turn-based RPG focused entirely on combat and party management, and the inclusion of timers and randomized loot that makes crafting slow going may give you pause. Despite this, it's a surprisingly satisfying little game with tons of fan-service and sufficiently strategic combat that's worth checking out... perhaps doubly so if you're the sort of person for whom party micromanagement is a great time.
It is generally agreed upon that puppets, much like clowns or doing your taxes, are creepy and scary no matter how many times you come across them. Luckily for ERS Game Studios, some of us hidden-object adventure lovers like to be spooked from time to time. This is why the PuppetShow series is so popular that it's celebrating its seventh birthday this year with a new installment, The Price of Immortality. You find yourself in the delightfully steampunky town of Immortale (the "e" is silent), looking for your friend, Enrique, who went there to investigate the disappearances of a number of journalists, all somehow connected to the Theater of Emotions. Now, the Theater of Emotions sounds like it puts on audience-participation productions where everyone ends up holding hands, weeping and going out for cupcakes afterwards. That alone would be a good reason to save Enrique, but the theater turns out to be a place where snoopy reporters come to die. Turns out the theater holds a sort of murder lottery, where townspeople lucky enough to have their number drawn get to throw knives at the unfortunate reporters. On top of that, Immortale used to be famous for its beautifully crafted puppets, but lately they have been as abused and tortured as the visiting reporters. Just what is going on in this twisted town?
If you've ever wondered where the three adorable cats who star in Choko-Chai's escape games come from, play the insanely cute The Three Bamboo Princesses and wonder no more, as it explains these beautiful kitty girls are in fact magical bamboo princesses, whose foster parents lock them up out of love to try to avoid losing their beloved cats. To help them escape, just click around to interact, keeping an eye out for certain twinkles and watching when your cursor changes if it passes over something you can click on. If you're really stuck, you might need to use one of the cats to help you... press the kitty icon in the lower-left corner while looking at what you're trying to interact with, and if she says "leave it to us", you can usually click a navigation arrow to back out of the current viewpoint to see the cats sitting in a row. Just click all three of them until you find the one who tells you she can help, then click on whatever you were trying to interact with before. It's a little clunky, to say the least, but it's also super cute, as we may have mentioned. The Three Bamboo Princesses may be a little rough around the edges, but Choko-Chai's puzzles and sweet stories are always a welcome delight, and there are a few clever conundrums to conquer here as well. With two endings to find, The Three Bamboo Princesses will cure what ails you, provided what ails you is a serious deficiency in royal fairytale cats solving puzzles through teamwork.
You're a professional room escaper who just received a new challenge by mail. A helicopter air-lifts you to a remote island where the room is waiting, but getting in may prove to be as difficult as getting out! Such is the setup for Gatamari Escape 24 (by Gatamari, who else?). Navigate around the game world with the mouse, keep your brain in gear, and cross your fingers, because it's going to take luck and/or use of the game's save feature to get the best of the game's four endings.
Please be aware that this game contains graphic, heavy violence, as well as sexual violence some players may find upsetting.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number opens with a tutorial were you brutally slaughter everyone inside a house in the most graphic fashion possible and then assault a woman. If any part of that sentence made you wince, Devolver Digital and Dennation Games' follow-up to their 2012 ultra-violent, ultra-challenging indie action game probably isn't for you. That the whole scene turns out to be part of a movie's filming doesn't necessarily lessen the blow when the rest of the game is every bit as gut-wrenchingly gory, with all of it wrought by your own hands. In every level you're bashing, blasting, slicing, or otherwise decimating your way through places filled with people armed to the teeth, and even a single hit will take you down, forcing you to move fast and react faster. Kick the door down to knock the man behind it to the floor, grab his gun and blow away his partner and the reinforcements who come bursting in while dodging to the side to avoid the gunfire through the windows and then take out the first guy before he gets to his feet and comes after you. Fail, and you'll have to try, try again, and all of it happens in the space of a breath. It's fast, stressful, and, yes, incredibly, lavishly, unstoppably violent, but it's packaged around a challenging and rewarding combat system, and one of the trippiest stories, soundtracks, and visual styles you could ever encounter. Despite significantly increasing the premise and complexity of its story as you play multiple different characters over the course of the game, a significantly more structured approach to the way levels are designed removes enough of the need for quick-thinking versatility to make the game something more of an action-based puzzler... with levels of violence that might make Tarantino raise an eyebrow.
If you've ever wanted to be mayor, manager, and a master city planner of your very own town, you might want to give Cities: Skylines, a simulation game for your desktop by Colossal Order a look. When a map is chosen, you're presented with a blank slate, and it's up to you to connect yourself to the outside world and develop the city of your dreams. Most of the initial play is building a basic structure for your town by building roads and zoning them according to need for residential, industry, or business. Once zoned, buildings pop up on their own and citizens begin to move in. You also need to generate electricity and make sure your residents have clean water. Your choices start out limited, but grow as your town grows. If you want to pause while you build, hit the [spacebar]. Don't like what you built? Use the bulldozer tool. Eventually you will generate enough taxes to get in the green (or decide to take out a loan) so you can start expanding and adding other services such as health and death care, police protection, and garbage pick up, among other things. You've also got to be aware of pollution (both environmental and sound), traffic flow, and the happiness of your residents, all of which (and more) can be managed by using the pop-up menu that opens on the top left of the screen.
Please note that Lakeview Cabin Collection is an episodic game. As of this writing, only the first installment has been released. Purchasing the game gains you automatic access to all other episodes in the future.
Roope Tamminen's Lakeview Cabin was a surprise hit in 2013, a deceptive little browser game without dialogue or direction where you played a man at a peaceful lakeside cabin who discovers the place gets very different, and dangerous, when the sun goes down. Players adored not only the campy, old-school horror themes and styles, but the free-roaming gameplay... it was entirely up to you to figure out what to do, and there was a lot you could do just for the heck of it, like skinny-dipping. Now you can go back for more with Lakeview Cabin Collection, a paid indie download over at itch.io, which, as of this writing, contains the first of several planned "episodes". (You'll automatically gain access to the other three chapters when they release!) The premise is the same, though the set-up isn't, this time framed around a movie theater showing a variety of horror films you end up taking part in. Though you can explore the theater as different characters and find secrets there, the bulk of the game resides in the cinema showing Lakeview Cabin III, where you suddenly find yourself in control of a group of people partying it up lakeside at a sprawling campgrounds. They're actually the new counselors, ensuring everything is ready for guests, but there's just one small, murderous problem...
How low can you go? Roofdog Games' wildly successful action mining game is back and better than ever for iOS and Android! Tap to dig your way down as far as you can collecting increasingly-precious metal ores, gems and priceless artifacts, but don't let the game scroll you off the top of the screen! Redeem your loot for cash you can use to upgrade your pickaxe and get to the better goodies stashed further below, and complete your artifact collections for better upgrade cards. Pocket Mine 2 brings the frantic digging action with all the features of its predecessor -- bombs, exploding gas, crafting, and the crowd-pleasing Crate Radar -- along with new powerup crates like Chain Lightning, Explosive Drills, and Worm Crates. This time there are also new islands, each with their own artifacts, which you can unlock sequentially as you dig ever-deeper. But the biggest innovation in this double-your-fun installment has got to be the clothing and accessorizing feature! Y'see it's not just about looking your best while swinging your pickaxe around in tunnels a hundred meters below the earth's surface, although there is that. Whether it's Diamond Boots (chic and comfy!), Trainer Gloves, or a Brain Parasite hat many of these items grant you special mining abilities when you don them. You can mix and match, and even designate customized sets. It's time to play Princess Dress-Me-Up and get on down to the mines in your 16th-century powdered wig, boxing gloves and bunny slippers!
You Have 8 Bricks. That's it. That's all. Just eight. And with these eight bricks, at least one must make the daring climb up and out to the surface and to the world that awaits you there. Rarykos's avoidance platform game is a short, high difficulty, tower climber controlled by either the [arrow] keys or [WASD]. In the beginning, you must mash any key to break lose and start your climb by jumping up. Pressing the up [arrow] or [W] in the air lets you perform a double jump which helps as you climb the floating platforms. There are three ways for you to die, with blue lasers that shoot up from the bottom (they don't hurt until fully charged), and white squares shot straight up (a pink glow will show you where they are coming from), and of course rising lava wanting to claim all four of your corners. It doesn't seem too hard and the climb is short, but the path is narrow. It's easy to get knocked back to your doom. One hit kills and you'll soon find eight lives may not be enough.
Greenie 2 is a big fat liar. It claims to be "a sequel to a mediocre game, but with more levels..." which is a dirty lie. Greenie 2 shouldn't be anywhere near the word "mediocre", and Letmethink should be ashamed for making a platform game with such false conceptions of modesty. Much like its titular hero, Greenie 2 is a tight little bundle of fun and efficiency, a no-frills jumping game with a little puzzle sprinkled on top. Move with the [arrows] or [WASD] keys and press the [spacebar] or [Z] to shift those translucent blue blocks from solid to non-solid and back again. There's the odd spike patch, or button pushing puzzle, and occasionally there are short little color-coded enemies that can be manipulated into pushing switches for you. Call it spare, call it retro, call it more fun than a basket of kittens, but "mediocre" is one thing this series is not.
Mr Jump by 1Button SARL is the latest in a long line of those free brutal platformers iOS players apparently can't get enough of. In it, your goal is to navigate the titular character through levels were a single mistimed jump will force you to start again, since touching spikes, falling into water, hitting walls, or any other obstacle is considered a one-hit KO. Mr Jump runs forward automatically, and all you have to do is tap to jump... quick taps for light hops, and extended presses for bigger leaps. Unlike other games in this category, Mr Jump isn't randomly generated... all of the levels are predesigned, and they're finite as well, so finishing one unlocks another. Different levels even have other tricks in addition to a (mercifully) different soundtrack and style, such as tokens you need to nab in mid-air to perform an extra jump.
Things aren't going so well for the locals when a bunch of frost giants show up and take over, freezing everyone solid. Luckily, a group of vikings has returned home just in time, and with your help, you'll be able to free them all in Deqaf Studios' Frozen Islands, which combines action with light strategy and defense elements. You'll form your viking army out of the units you have available and then sally forth against an island under frost giant control. Your troops will fight automatically as they go, but you can help them out by triggering their special attacks and launching support from the ship when your timers are full. If they succeed, the island will come under your control, allowing you to tax its inhabitants (not too much or they'll riot!), as well as earn glory and cash to upgrade your army and its capabilities. Some islands are even holding your companions hostage, and by freeing them, you'll be able to add them (and thus their unit type) to your army. Though its mechanics are simple, knowing how to configure your army and when to activate their abilities are the difference between great victory and crushing loss... though even if you do lose, just try again, especially since you keep any gold you earned before you were killed. It's a fairly simple concept, though the different unit types and their abilities make it more than just a game of numbers, though it still might not have enough depth if you're looking for a really meaty strategy game to massage your brain. If you want something more casual, however, Frozen Islands might just be your cup of tea. ... do vikings drink tea? Mead?... eh, just drink it out of the skull of an enemy and you'll be fine.
Have you ever been so unhappy that only solving a bunch of point-and-click puzzles and finding 70 tiny monkeys dressed as ninjas would cheer you up? That's the problem in Pencilkids' Monkey GO Happy game, Monkey GO Happy Ninjas, so it's clear you have your work cut out for you if you want to turn this simpering simian's frown upside-down. The cursor will change when it passes over something you can interact with, so just click to move around, pick up items, and (literally) leave no stone unturned, because as is the norm for a Monkey GO Happy game that involves tracking down large numbers of something, those itty-bitty monkeys are everywhere. In addition to finding the little ninjas, most of the people in the area need help of some sort, and there are coded locks to crack. Finding seventy tiny monkeys sounds like an impossible task, but Monkey GO Happy Ninjas likely won't take you very long at all, and it's a lovely game with a ton of areas despite an apparently random mishmash of scenery and imagery, making for a light snack to start your day off right... everyone knows you need the proper amount of monkeys in your entertainment diet, after all!
There's a tornado heading your way in Pine Studios' Catastrophe Escape, but your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere next to a deserted gas station, and if you want to escape the incoming storm, you'll need to scavenge for repair supplies and everything you need for the road. To play, just click to interact... the cursor will change when you mouse over something interactive, and display the name of whatever you're touching at the top of the screen. Items in your inventory can also be combined by clicking on first one object, and then the other. Most of the puzzles you'll encounter revolve around simply figuring out which item to use where, which does take a little creative thinking, and at least one of the item uses could stand a little subtle prompting to clue you in to what the game wants you to do, as opposed to what you might, y'know, rationally do. The ending is a little anticlimactic, and once you figure out what the game wants you to do the whole thing won't take longer than a few minutes, but a great sense of style and atmosphere make this a bite-sized escape worth checking out... though you might want to deal with any oncoming tornadoes first.
To Be or Not To Be (Android)
Clash of Clans has been played by more than 100 million people for iOS and Android! Check out our best tips in our top ten "Must Know" for advice on how to keep your resources safe from other players, how to make the most out of an army (for the least cost to you!), the advantages of joining a Clan, and much more! Have a tip YOU think is a "Must-Know"? Share it in the comments below!
It's good to appreciate the little things in life. Like dandelions, or the sound of rain, or the age-old story of spiky-haired young men with swords the size of their own bodies fighting to keep the world free of evil. Lethal RPG: War Begins is a bite-sized bubble of browser-based RPG goodness from EyeSpyda Games, full of all the classic RPG standbys: impossible hairdoes, impossibler weapons, giant rats, evil mushrooms, item crafting, and sidequests, sidequests, sidequests! War Begins is actually just a small snippet... a teaser, if you will... of the full Lethal RPG: War, which is available for Android devices via Google Play, iOS on the App Store, and PC via Desura. But War Begins is more than just a glorified demo. It's a meaty and deep browser RPG in its own right, with plenty of challenge, strategy, and sidequests for your monster-battling pleasure. Did we mention sidequests? Because there's loads of those. Lethal RPG: War Begins thrusts you directly into its world with only a modicum of introduction, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because it's refreshing to see a fairly deep and complex browser-based game that doesn't insist on railroading you through its first fifteen minutes, but on the other hand...
Here we are again: Gathered together by this intangible connection through the interwebs and, although not something we can put a finger on, it's no less real nor is it insubstantial. I think (and forgive me if I'm being too forward but) we have something special between us—you, me, everyone. It's not just like. We don't simply like these escape games. This is a considerably more poetic, personally resonating and meaningful thing. We're not on the fringe of society, either. Escape games got the Hollywood spotlight, albeit with a bit of parody, in a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. But to explain too much explains away part of the coolness of it, eh? Still, I don't want to march in here without preamble and just toss out a few games and say: "Uh, here. Give them a try." That'd be far too...what. Dismissive. Abrupt. Unappreciative of our unique bond. Right? Right. So, now we're all in symbiotic accord on the matter, let's skip formalities and get on to it: Everybody, here is this week's Weekday Escape...
We've briefly discussed Cornfox & Bros' lovely iOS action adventure Zelda-alike Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas before, but now that it's finally made the leap to PC on Steam, I thought it was time to take a little more in-depth look at it. The game follows you, a young lad in a world taken over by a vast sea, when your father goes missing while hunting the titular legendary monster. You quickly discover, through the influence of a magical pendant (as you do), that only you can stop the evil beast, but to do so you'll need to sail the ocean far and wide, finding magical crests, heart pieces, and more while solving puzzles with bombs and arrows... and pots. Stop me if any of that sounds familiar. But while Oceanhorn undoubtedly borrows very heavily from a lot of classic Zelda mechanics and themes, its beautiful style and breezy casual gameplay makes it a rock-solid addition to any action-adventure fan's library.
Ryan North and Tin Man Games' To Be or Not To Be, also available for iOS and Android, is Shakespeare's iconic "Hamlet" taken to glorious, chaotic extremes. Presented in the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you're given the chance to not only play as someone other than Hamlet (why shouldn't Ophelia and Hamlet's dad get in on the action?), but also to take the story in directions the legendary playwright likely never even conceived. To play, all you need to do, once you've chosen who you want to play as, is just click to advance text and make choices whenever they become available to you, with the choices that follow the original tale marked with a very well known skull. Combining the talents of everyone from Kate Beaton and Anthony Clark and more, including an optional narration from Ryan North himself, To Be or Not To Be has piles of different endings, each stranger than the last, and a fantastic sense of humour and style, though some clunky mechanics mean the road isn't entirely a smooth one.
There's just something about a TomaTea escape game that calls to mind lazing around and being perfectly content with everything around you, and Spring Hotel is no different with its warm colour palette and mellow guitar soundtrack. The hotel room you find yourself trapped in is small but in a comfortably cozy way, albeit with puzzles and coded locks on every conceivable surface, which I hope was disclosed in the amenities list. The tip of your cursor will glow when it passes over something you can interact with, and as usual for TomaTea, if you're faced with a puzzle that has a clue to its solution you haven't seen, you'll be informed that you have no idea how to solve it. Don't forget to examine your items by clicking the tiny "i" icon that appears when you mouse over them! Doing so may let you manipulate them in a way that reveals more secrets.
Yikes! Goblins are amassing an army and attacking Asgard! The war has begun, but we have teleporters that can zap our troops right to the front lines for just a smattering of gold. Too bad the enemies have the Yetis on their side, and every other evil creature under the sun. But with plenty of upgrades and the strongest of gods on our side, surely the kingdom is in good hands. Asgard Attack, by AnnieandMark, is an action defense game where you need to deploy units to save the day. You can choose to summon in warriors, archers, mages, and healers, and direct them where to go with a simple click of a button to stop the fiends from following the path to your kingdom, marked by blue flags. You can select individual units or click and drag a box to gather them all up and send them all over the map. Each unit is upgraded individually, as is their armor, weapons, and special abilities. When all three are maxed out after four upgrades apiece, you can then choose what powerful god to change them into, unlocking more spells and powerups. Create buildings in town to get even more upgrades using stars earned by finishing levels in different modes.
Combat is hungry work. A full day of orc-slaughter can really bring on an appetite, you know? Well, Goody Gameworks' newest title, Sword & Spoon, gives some much needed respect to those unsung heroes of warfare: the cooks. This strategy game has you defending your castle from an encroaching horde of nasties, with able-bodied (and empty-bellied) men at your disposal. In addition to constructing ranged and melee units, you also need to build potato farms and create servants who deliver the delicious tubers to your men when they run out of health and come jogging back into the castle. You can control where your units stand on the battlefield, as well as deploy some cooldown-inducing powers like summoning spearmen or burying the enemy under potatoes (seriously, is there anything potatoes can't do?), but much of the game is spent managing your food production behind the scenes, giving everything a time management feel. Seriously, you can run a war, and you can run a kitchen, but can you do BOTH at the same time?!
There's been a murder! Yes, one of your simple, salt-of-the-earth kinfolk bit the big one last night and it's up to you all to find out who's responsible and bring him to justice. The problem? It could be your friend, or your neighbor, or the milkman, or the local drunk. This is how BlankMediaGames' new indie multiplayer strategy/puzzle title keeps the suspense ramping up. Town of Salem, free in your browser or as a paid indie download via Steam, is an electronic update of the popular "Werewolf/Mafia" party game, featuring cute little pilgrims trying to out-witchhunt each other while keeping their own sorry hides above suspicion. By day you bicker and argue with each other, hurling accusations in the chat box, trying to determine who's been doing the killings and put them on the gallows to stand trial by their peers. By night, you huddle in fear, waiting to see if you're on someone's hit list. Or maybe YOU are the one who's on the prowl, and you need to do some killing of your own. Things are about to get messy in Salem, that's for sure.
If you like your escape games short and sweet, Vitamin Hana's Hana's Room 1 definitely fits the bill, but while it doesn't present a head scratcher, it does present smart, intuitive puzzles wrapped up in a cute and cheery style. The cursor won't change when you pass over something you can interact with, but largely there's no pixel hunting to be had. To examine an item up close, first click it in your inventory to pick it up, then click the "About Item" button while holding it. For the most part, Hana's Room 1 is all about locks and codes, and all of it is logical, if not particularly difficult. Though it's very much a ten minute escape at most, it's an excellent warm-up for any fan, and its colourful style makes it something we hope is just the tip of the iceberg from its creator in the future.
Play Hana's Room 1
So you're an alien. Well, not just one alien. You're three aliens. In a temple. Filled with robots. Let's start over. Flashrush Games' latest title, Transmorpher 3, is an action platform game with just a bit of puzzle smattered on top. You're a green cycloptic blob of adorably moldable alien with a penchant for absorbing the locals and transforming (sorry, transMORPHING) into them at will. Move with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys and press the ]1], , or  keys to turn into two other shapes: that of a round blue orb that can roll and stick to walls, and a big orange bruiser-type who can't jump but can break through barriers and push blocks. Together the three of you (er, one of you?) must travel into the depths of this inexplicably tech-savvy ancient temple, dodging lasers and robot guards and solving door puzzles along the way. It makes sense when you're doing it. Trust us.
There probably aren't a lot of video game characters who deserve a vacation more than Emily, the non-stop restaurant managing dynamo of Gamehouse's beloved Delicious series of time management games. She and her new husband were expecting a low key honeymoon before her brother-in-law turned up with his newly acquired cruise ship and offered them the trip of a lifetime. But with Emily's entire family and circle of friends on board and her best friend forever Francois in charge of serving the ship's customers, will Emily really get a chance to relax? Delicious: Emily's Honeymoon Cruise is yet another gorgeous, funny, smart and lovingly polished gem that will delight fans and woo newcomers.
If you enjoy word puzzles and appreciate a good, clean design, then BorderLeap's Alpha Omega for iOS is coquettishly fluttering its eyelashes in your direction. It's a simple but oh so stylish spin on a crossword puzzle, where the goal is to swap tiles horizontally and vertically to unscramble the words in each level. Often the first and last letters of each word are already locked in place, but you'll need to suss out where the rest of them go, and remember that letters at crosspoints can be swapped horizontally or vertically. Rather than having clues for individual words, all of them are themed around a certain concept, like "the farm" or "cooking", with a few gameplay twists tossed in to spice things up. The first is that each letter can only be swapped once per level, and the second is that eventually even the level's theme will be obscured, filling in while you play, while later the game will even begin introducing spaces within certain words. If you're stuck, the game comes with a few hints, which will randomly swap two letters to their correct position, but unfortunately after you've spent the ones you're given, the only way to get more are through optional in-app purchases.
no1game's Find the Escape-Men Part 143: First Pitch is arguably more of a straight-up point-and-click puzzle game than it is an escape game, taking place at a ball game where the pitcher, one of the series' iconic Escape-Men, disappears, prompting you to go look for him. As usual, you'll also need to find ten of the little green men, too! Click everything and everywhere to explore and hunt for items... some objects may be hidden in places that don't give any indication you should click on them. Also remember that you can combine items (or use one on another) by examining the first one with the question mark below its icon, then clicking the item you want to use once to highlight it, and then again on the object you're checking out up close. Most of the puzzles here are fairly logical, with the biggest difficulty being finding all those unindicated interactive zones or area transitions no1game seems so fond of. Still, there are a few genuinely sneaky and clever ways of implementing codes, and the game's sense of humour makes Find the Escape-Men Part 143: First Pitch a welcome little diversion no matter what your favourite sport it.
If you know zillix's games at all, then the surreality of odd little puzzle game juxtapose isn't going to come as much of a surprise. In it, you control travelers stuck on opposite sides of a mirror world with only a few strange devices to interact with. The [arrow] keys moves you around the small area, while the [spacebar] interacts with things, and holding the down [arrow] will cause whatever character you're controlling to rest and the world to rotate back to the other. Doing so causes the world to change subtly depending on the things you have or haven't done, and to uncover all of the game's thirteen endings you'll need to do some serious creative thinking, especially since the game's narrative and setting are more than a little disorienting. What if I... what if I put this thing... on that thing? And then do the thing to the... hmmmmm.
OhNoo Studio's new indie point-and-click adventure game brings us a look into a dark unsettling world. With the art inspired by H.R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński, you know you're in for an unsettling ride. Tormentum: Dark Sorrow is a tale of a nameless hero trying to find redemption for a past he cannot remember. All he knows is the cage that is transporting him to the halls of torture and a faint dream of a female statue in between hands reaching towards the sky. Our hero must escape his prison and find this statue that haunts him so. Along the way there are puzzles to be solved, items to be gathered, and major moral decisions to make. Plus plenty of creepy people desiring you to solve their problems. He was told that his soul was filled with evil, will he clear his conscious or prove them right?
At first glance Dig a Way, a frantic puzzle game by Digi Ten for your iOS device, looks like it stepped out of an old Saturday morning cartoon, with it's cute mustachioed man with his helpful and loyal mustachioed dog. But things get real when you realized those adorable fluffy pink bunnies are actually foaming at the mouth and will pounce on you without hesitation. But treasure awaits, and with it, danger. Your goal is to collect gold and treasure chests from the caves. Once you choose your level, three arrows will appear near the bottom of the screen. Tap once on an arrow to move or dig in the direction you desire. Press and hold an arrow to continuously move in that direction, and double tap the left or right arrow to dash, which allows you to hop over a single tile sized hole. Tap, hold, then drag to scroll up ordown so you can plan your next move. You can dig any brown dirt tile, and keep in mind you can always go down, but there's no way back up. There are four maps, the first of which is free, with the option to purchase the rest for a very reasonable price.
In Rotten Mage's arcade tower-defense-bolstered shooter Spacejacked: Endless Mode, it's just you, your weapon, and whatever turrets you can build against the enemy aliens swarming your ship. You'll need to teleport from one area of the ship to another, making sure the defenses you craft from metal resources are holding off the aliens after vulnerable cores, and getting your hands dirty with your own weapon if need be. Use [WASD] (or one of the other control schemes) to move and invert gravity in lieu of jumping, while [K] interacts with things and [J] fires in the direction you're facing. You can only fire so much before your weapon needs to recharge, so blast in short bursts to make sure you're not caught without ammunition. Turrets automatically attack anything within range, and different turrets have different strengths and abilities, so keep that in mind when you're building or upgrading them. If any of the rooms has their core destroyed, it's game over, so it's up to you to last as long as you can! Spacejacked: Endless Mode is a sort of demo/prototype for a planned larger project, and what's there is pretty intriguing, blending tower-defense elements with the chaos of an arena shooter and gravity-swapping to boot. The controls might take a bit of getting used to until your muscle memory kicks in, and the gradual ramping up of difficulty will keep you on your toes. With its appealing retro style and fast-paced gameplay, Spacejacked has a lot of promise and potential, so make sure you check out its development blog and vote for it on Steam Greenlight if you want to see more!
S. Woodson's Magical Makeover is a short Twine text adventure about getting ready for a very fancy ball, where only the beautiful may attend... which is a bit of a problem for you, at least so you believe. With the help of a condescending magical mirror, you'll need to use the oddball assortment of cosmetics you have on hand to address each of your "problems" as the mirror points them out. Just click the dark bolded pink text to choose whichever you'd like, but beware... different combinations of items net vastly different results, and set you on unique paths once you leave home. Largely, all of the interaction in Magical Makeover takes place at the beginning, with the rest of the game unfolding as a story that follows whatever paths you triggered during your bathroom rituals. It was made as a sort of response to the "Girl Games" eating up so many portals these days... you know the ones, where you have to "fix" the ugly, dirty characters by cleaning them up for dates, school, and so forth, but here takes the basic concept and spins it into adventure. Very well written adventure at that, with wonderful bits of humour, strange creatures, and magic and even just the right amount of introspection to make for cozy reading. With seven very unique routes/endings to uncover, your night at the ball is likely to turn out far stranger than you could ever have imagined.
Let's face it: we just don't know why groups of archetypal anime-style characters keep deciding to get together for vacations at locations cut-off from the surrounding world, or, at least, why they always seem so friggin' shocked when someone ends up dead. If you ever show up at like, a secluded mountain cabin, and the first people you meet are a clumsy maid and the gregarious dad of a disaffected slacker, I would probably just hop back on your Ski-Doo. That having been said, even if The Misadventures of Detective Butler, a free indie mystery visual novel by Goldbar Games, sticks pretty close to the model perfected by Ryukishi07, it's still quite entertaining. In 1962, a popular cruise ship shuts down after the accidental deaths of two of its passengers. Now, a half-century later, the CEO of a wealthy company has purchased tickets for his closest employees and son Gilligan to sail on the first cruise of the relaunched and remodeled relaunched ship.. On board, Gilligan happens to meet the mysterious Detective Butler and, when the two of them delve deeper into the ship's history, another incident occurs. Will our sleuths crack the case of the Maiden Voyage Murder? And more importantly can you crack it before they do?
What ho, noble readers, it's time for another installment of your favourite grab-bag of random escape games and mine, Weekday Escape! I was, uh. Kind of tapped to write this thing at the last moment, so I'm not really sure what to say. Getting my head in a proper "escape game" mindset takes work, you know? But it's cool. I've got on my Scorpius shirt and leopard print workout pants, and I've shut and locked all the doors to my office and replaced all the obvious things I'd use to get out with a bunch of torn-up notes, cheerful coins and be-hatted birdies, and a random assortment of items I could theoretically use as tools. Ready? Let's do this.
[Please note that Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic series. Purchasing the game grants you access to all episodes as they become available. Currently only the first and second episodes have been released.]
While I play and love a lot of video games, it's rare that I replay one, let alone several times in a five month period, so let that show you how much I loved TellTale Games' first installment of Tales from the Borderlands, which I played twice by myself and then again, forcing my husband to watch, so I would, theoretically, stop quoting it at him. (Without context, anyway.) Based on the wildly popular ultra-violent and ultra-hilarious shooter from Gearbox Software, the series follows Rhys, an employee for the villainous company Hyperion who gets tired of being jerked around but bites off more than he can chew when he tries to pull a fast one, and Fiona, a conwoman who's just trying to get by on the planet Hyperion has been ruining by taking care of her family the only way she knows how. As the series opens, we found Rhys and Fiona prisoners, each blaming the other, and we've since been treated to some very conflicting stories of who-ruined-everything-for-who as they recount the events leading them to now. At the start of the first episode, Rhys finds himself saddled with an apparently permanent new friend who has his own plans, while Fiona, after performing some experimental surgery, discovers something called the Gortys Project could mean big things for everyone... too bad she doesn't know what it is. With some of the funniest pitch-black humour around and exciting action sequences, Episode Two: Atlas Mugged breathes new life and depth into old characters and places, and delivers one of the best adventures around.
Fifty years ago a new order was established in a land of chaos. The Blood Brothers, once nothing more than a band of mercenaries, now watch over the land and guard the rulers of the Citadel. Through them peace was kept, until a new foe appeared. Things were in disarray once again. Former allies turned traitorous, new foes rising out of long forgotten pasts, but new friends are ready to help bring order back to the land of Arnashia. Blood Brothers 2, by DeNA, is a new free-to-play strategy roleplaying game for iOS and Android devices where you are a commander in the Blood Brother army. Organize your troops (you can have three squads with five troops each) and lead them to victory on the battle field in this harrowing tale of betrayal arising from an new evil. Winning over more heroes to gain them all, unlocking souls to use as power-ups, and fighting in the arena against other players, is just the start of all this game has to offer.
You know what your life has been missing lately? A good sliding block puzzle game, that's what. The Kieffer Bros. bring us a gorgeous one for Android and iOS called Blockwick 2. The goal is to manipulate the blocks until all like colors (aside from white, which isn't really technically a color anyway) are touching. The controls are very responsive--just slide the blocks around with your finger. You will also notice runes on the playing field. If you can solve the puzzle while also covering all the runes with a colored block, you achieve illumination. While this is not needed to continue, it does make you feel pretty smart and adds an extra challenge to an already challenging game.
Love Burger by Carmel Games is a short point-and-click puzzle game that will ring true for anyone who's ever had to work customer service. When a demanding customer comes into a fast food joint and won't take no for an answer, even when they're clearly wrong, one employee has to come up with a way to serve them... a bit of revenge, that is. Just click around to interact, and remember you can try to combine items in your inventory if necessary. Even for a Carmel Games title, which are usually pleasantly break-sized, Love Burger is short and can literally be solved in less than five minutes, but while we're certainly not advocating any creative comeuppance the next time you're faced with a fire-breathing customer who can't admit they're wrong, it's still nice to see one get their just desserts in this quirky and very silly little game.
In one night, Jacqueline Brown's life was flipped upside down, someone tried to kill her, and a close friend was killed. Things would be much smoother for her in this visual novel if it wasn't for the fact that as a result of a car accident she is left blind, mute, and paralyzed. All her friends and family members think she is in a coma, but she can still see light and hear every guilty word her visitors say. Locked In, by Lucky Special Games, is a free indie "whodunnit" mystery where we see, hear, and remember everything Jacqueline does. While most of this game is reading, in the end you are given the choice of who you should show you're still listening to... by wiggling a single finger. The entire game is played with the mouse, clicking to get through dialog faster and selecting what choice you make in the end. With eight different endings can you make sure justice is served or be forever trapped in a prison of yourself?
MayMay is back with another tasty escape game in Find 10 Cookies, where you have to do exactly what the title says if you ever want to get out. The cookies are everywhere, some sitting out in plain sight while others will require you to crack some pretty clever codes. Hey, cookies are serious business! There's no changing cursor, but most of what you can interact with is obvious, apart from one or two things that have more than one "hot spot" that makes them behave in different ways, or inventory items that need to be placed on juuuuuust the right portion of the screen to work. Despite this, Find 10 Cookies is still far more sweet than sour, and MayMay's ability to cook up smart, satisfying little escapes makes them one developer whose rapidly turning into a favourite treat.
Despite what they say, in short bursts war can be exceptionally fun. For proof, check out Matthew Hydman's 10 Second War, a unique little topdown puzzle shooter game with a time-bending main mechanic. You play as a little squad of soldiers tasked with eliminating the opposing turrets and bots, but you only have ten seconds to get the job done. Fortunately, you get to select each unit individually and control them with the [WASD] keys and your mouse through the ten second span, and then hit [F] to "finish" the unit. Then you can do it all again with the next guy, creating a tiny little ballet of violence as your previous soldiers go about their choreography. A robust level editor gives the game some great replayability but be warned: you might find yourself playing each level ten or tweny times trying to perfect each shot and dodge for maximum efficiency.
The meddling, passive-aggressive mother-in-law who constantly finds fault with the bride is such a ubiquitous trope in pop culture that I thank Celestia for my own sweet, not-as-crazy-as-I-am mother-in-law. In Delicious: Emily's Wonder Wedding, part of the beloved Delicious series of time management games from GameHouse, cafe owner Emily is finally about to tie the knot with boyfriend Patrick, but the road to wedded bliss isn't a smooth one. Not only does Emily have to contend with dress problems, mailing invitations, and, of course, managing her popular eatery, she's also got to win over Patrick's mother who's just flown in from Ireland and seems to pick on everything Emily does and says. With a run of bad luck a mile wide, Emily begins to convince herself that maybe Patrick's mother is right and the wedding is cursed, but that's nonsense... right? GameHouse proves once again they know the time-management trade almost better than anything else, and delivers a fun, funny, and gorgeously polished game that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
I admit, I'm a little wierded out by the endless procession of random things Pencil Kids' Monkey Go Happy simians need to perk up... in point-and-click puzzle game Monkey GO Happy Leprechauns they want a whopping 20 leprechauns (... for... what?... ), and you'll have to explore to find them all. Click around to pick things up and interact, and use the big yellow arrows to move to different locations. Monkey GO Happy Leprechauns follows the usual formula of finding keys and X number of random item Y in addition to the usual puzzles solved by bringing people whatever they ask for, though it's more a matter of simply opening one lock after another this time around while the music feels like it's gearing up for an Enya song that never quuuuuuite happens. Cute, short, and just puzzle-y enough to make it worth your while, Monkey GO Happy Leprechauns is another great addition to the series.
I've never gotten trapped in a bathroom before, but I guess that's because the ones I frequent are apparently low on the "complicated puzzle locks and little green men tucked into every nook and cranny front", unlike the commode in no1game's Find the Escape-Men Part 142: A Typical Bathroom. You're locked in, as you'd expect, and to get out you will, as usual, need to find the ten green Escape-Men hidden around the room. Also as usual, there is no changing cursor, so you'll need to really be diligent about searching everywhere (sometimes even after you've changed the environment) in order to succeed. This isn't as complex or lengthy as some of the entries in no1game's long and popular series have been, but it's just clever and tricky enough to make for the perfect break-sized game.
Brave adventurers, are you ready for a challenge? A mysterious cult has begun infiltrating the land, and it's up to you to get to the bottom of it in Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic, a rogue-like RPG for iOS or your desktop from The Bitfather. Start by choosing three heroes from those milling about at the inn. Tap on them to see their stats, special abilities, and hilariously random back story. Once you've done that, hit the "go" button near the bottom right to set off into town. Talk to the colorful cast of characters, check the shops, arrange your hero order and equipment to your satisfaction, and accept a quest. Though danger is lurking everywhere, you might agree to fetch someone's favorite comb, or a crucial missing piece of a super suit. Once you leave town there's no going back until you conquer the dungeon or die, so make sure you're ready to go. Empty your bag as much as possible as it's a bit small to fit all the loot you're likely to find. As you walk to your designated dungeon, you'll engage in several randomly generated encounters along the way, which can lead to treasure, fights, or nothing. The turn based battles start in earnest when you reach the dungeon.
Arnold Rauer's strategic card game Card Crawl for iOS is Solitaire for those of us with dice in our bones and Bags of Holding in our hearts, albeit on a much, much more simplified scale. The object is to clear the deck of cards the big monster dealer Hoerni lays out for you... your character has 13 hitpoints, two equipment slots, and a backpack to store an item. There are potions that heal you, coins that add to your total wealth, weapons and shields, special abilities, and, of course, monsters. Each round Hoerni deals four random cards from his deck, and you need to remove at least three of them before he deals more. So, even if all the cards available are beneficial, you'll still need to get rid of three of them to proceed... do you discard a spell? Waste a potion? Sell equipment to the shop to earn its value in coin? If you drag a monster directly on top of your hero, she'll slay it, but her hitpoints will decrease by the monster's total remaining life. Dragging an equipped weapon on a monster card damages it by the weapon's point value, while dragging the monster itself onto an equipped shield will subtract the shield's point value from the damage the monster does. There is always a fixed amount of cards and their types in each deck, you just don't know when they'll be dealt, so surviving 'til Hoerni's hand is clear takes planning, thought, and a bit of luck. Win, and you can keep your gold to be spent on unlocking more cards at the shop. Celebrate by attacking the darkness and cracking open a Mountain Dew.
Definitely simple but undeniably adorable and cheery, Nerd Herd Production's action arcade game The Comet's Calling is about a trio of "monsters" living in a junkyard who need to amass all the food and supplies they can before the place is shut down in one month's time. Each day you're given a different list of items to collect, and as the monsters race in their shopping cart and toss junk in the air, it's up to you to catch items by clicking to open your mouth, and avoid the things that you don't want by releasing the mouse to shut your trap, as it were. If you accidentally swallow something not marked with a star from your list, click rapidly to spit it out. The Comet's Calling isn't particularly hard and it definitely isn't that complex, being repetitive in a way that may put some players off, but where it shines is its sunny sense of humour and sweet cast of characters throughout the game's many story cutscenes. While a little more variety would have helped flesh out the gameplay significantly, the endearing story and style infuses The Comet's Calling with charm and personality to spare.
Mike Morin's point-and-click puzzle Myosotis games get even stranger with Myosotis Chapter 5, which you shouldn't even bother trying to play unless you've played the others since you'll have no idea what's going on in the story of PI Rick and the mysterious letter that lead him to an even more mysterious box. Now you're dealing with a variety of puzzles, from anagrams to spot-the-difference, and once you've figured out what the object to each level is, just click around to create the solution. Though its as gorgeous and atmospheric as its predecessors, Myosotis Chapter 5's random mish-mash of puzzles don't really feel like they fit the theme or overall plot particularly well, and the ending to the series feels abrupt in an unsatisfying way. Still, the neon-soaked visuals and moody soundtrack makes Myosotis Chapter 5 a treat for the eyes and ears, and if you want a handful of stylish puzzles, it's worth firing up.
[Mac user? Try freeware tool RPG Hub]
In Meaka's surreal free indie horror adventure Living Playground, Octavio, Tony, and Pablo are just your average kids who also happen to turn into playground equipment, out to hunt up the best snails they can find at an old factory. When a shadowy figure attacks, Tony finds herself trapped inside and separated from her brothers, and following pieces of a story that might be even stranger than a bunch of kids who can turn into playground equipment. To play, just use the [arrow] keys to move and the [spacebar] to interact. While all items are used automatically wherever they're needed and you can only save the game in certain places, opening the menu with [ESC] allows you to access the Skills submenu, which lets you transform Tony to and from her slide form, which can help in certain situations. While there are no battles, Tony and the others can still take damage from certain things, and they have limited hit-points, so be wary of danger. Living Playground's odd premise may raise an eyebrow, but expressive artwork, loveable characters, and a story that combines classic fairytales with a look at family and identity makes it an impressive, engrossing game adventure fans should definitely check out.
I almost forgot it was Wednesday! I got a little too caught up in something new I've been trying: "being in the moment." Apparently, people who study these kinds of things have come up with the idea that all this modern lifestyle—internet, phones, social media, and the like—have abbreviated our attention spans and evolved our brains to constantly need new stimuli. That could be why stories like Cheryl Strayed's Wild are so compelling; staking out a "peace" of the wild, escaping the trappings of modern life, is not an uncommon dream although fewer do it than dream it. Still, who wouldn't feel a little anxious leaving home without a phone in hand? How comfortable would you be without internet for a month? Sure it's important to be aware of surroundings and appreciate a slower pace. Yet, as I'm always saying around here: Escape games? They're the good way. Folks who escape-the-room on a regular basis, you're used to looking closely at your surroundings, noticing small details and perhaps even a few clues. You already have immense appreciation for a more relaxed, touristy pace through life just as you usually prefer relaxing, mediative games. So it's okay to get lost in thought as you play these next three escapes from Tototo Room, FunkyLand and No1Game. There's no hurry, no time limits, and no finish line: Just an open door into the world...
Think Little House on the Prairie mingled with Star Trek and you've got an idea of the feel of Our Personal Space, a thoughtful sci-fi visual novel by Metasepia Games, free as a download or for your Android device. Would you be willing to give up your family and friends, basically your whole life to colonize a distant planet? What skills would you need to have? How much could other futuristic technology make up for the lack of indoor plumbing? Could you handle it? Could your relationships handle it? You get to step into the shoes of the protagonist and her new husband (you get to choose their names!) as they embark on a journey of a lifetime to the distant garden planet Talaam. As you progress in the story you'll get to choose your profession and your hobbies, all which open up different scenes and options as you go.
[Mac user? Try freeware tool RPG Hub]
In Bevel's Painting, a free indie horror adventure by Maninu and translated by vgperson, you play an artistic young girl who winds up inside one of her own paintings one day when she discovers the canvas aglow. You know. As you do. Inside, things look magical, with fairy servants and teddy bear chefs, but there's something strange going on. ... well, stranger than getting sucked into a painting where everyone speaks gibberish. There's danger hidden around every corner, and this world doesn't exactly seem to follow logic our heroine would understand, though making the wrong choice could have... unfortunate consequences. Use the [arrow] keys to move and the [spacebar] to interact, while [ESC] opens the menu. You can only save at the little paint boxes you find, and most items will need to be used manually, so open the main menu and select an object from your inventory when you want to try to use it. Additionally, as you explore you'll find paint colours that can be used to change the world around you, though using a brush makes it dirty, and you'll need to find clean water to wash it before you can use it again. There are nine different endings to find, and the way to unlock all of them isn't necessarily obvious. Save frequently, and in different slots. Though on the short side compared to some freeware horror adventures and possessed of some chase sequences that may annoy more than anything else, Bevel's Painting crafts an unsettling and intriguing atmosphere with a story more implied than implicitly told. Note that while most of the text is in "Bevelese", it can be translated manually once you've worked out the alphabet... there's a clue as to how to do so in one of the "worlds".
Buh-hwaaaaaaaaaaa? Unlike no1game's other cute point-and-click puzzle games, My First Flower Viewing stars a little boy instead of a girl, what madness is this? He and his mother want to go see the cherry blossoms, but before they can go, you need to help him find all the items they need for a relaxing picnic. To play, click around to hunt for clues and interact, keeping an eye out for the rather baffling amount of code clues for the locks peppering this apartment. (Is Mom trying to raise the next Professor Layton?) My First Flower Viewing definitely falls into the short and sweet category, with a handful of puzzles that all make sense and most of the difficulty coming down to finding the occasional item or clue in an odd spot. no1game's "My First" titles always feel like they might be mostly aimed at children with their cheery premises and simpler puzzles, but they're fun and light enough to be enjoyed by just about anyone... apart from the odd disparity of how whiny the little boy makes his little girl counterpart seem. My First Flower Viewing will kick your brain awake just enough to make a nice break, and maybe the next time you go on a picnic, you'll have a few things to add to your list, too!
Max Gittel's science-themed zen-like puzzle game Atomas, free for your iOS, is the sort of sneakily simple looking game that's a perfect fit for smartphones and tablets... something clean and elegant looking you can pull out and play for a few minutes, but clever and addictive enough that you'll probably catch yourself fiddling with it for a lot longer. The goal is to create the highest score possible by placing and combining elements around the edge of the circular playing field. Each element has a value, and if you place a Plus element between two identical ones, they'll combine to create a new, higher value element. If there are matching elements on either side of the pair you just combined, you'll start a chain reaction where they (and any other pairs bracketing the point of combination) are added in as well. Occasionally, you'll be granted a Minus element, which will let you remove any element on the board and place it elsewhere, or, if you prefer, convert it into a Plus. When the board is completely filled, the game is over, so trying to plan out how your elements are arranged as you place them is crucial to getting a high score! Lucky Charms are awarded as you progress, and when you equip one from the main menu, it'll grant you a passive bonus, like an increased chance of receiving Pluses or Minuses. If things are really desperate, you can use an Antimatter blast to partially clear the board, though as of this writing it appears the only way to gain those is to buy them through in-app purchases.
One again, witches are causing a ruckus in puzzle platformer Shape Shifter 2 by FlashTeam... or, well, one specific witch anyway. As in the original Shape Shifter, a mouse, a rabbit, and an elephant have all been bewitched into sharing the same body, and you'll need to swap between all of them in order to use their special skills to get through levels. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move and jump, and the , , and  keys to swap between forms. Each critter has unique abilities to help them deal with obstacles, like the rabbit's extra-high jump and the elephant's... ability to wear mitts and handle hot objects, as elephants do. Shape Shifter 2 unfortunately shares the same floaty controls as the original game, making quick and precise platforming a pain, but the creativity of most of the levels and the charm in its character animations still makes Shape Shifter 2 a fun. endearing franchise we hope gets some polish in the future.
Lastronaut, free for iOS by Darrin Henein and Stephan Leroux, is the best sort of casual endless runner/arcade game... fast, chaotic, flashy, addictive, and, yes, completely free with no ads or in-app purchases whatsoever. The concept is simple... you're an astronaut racing down a road filled with all sorts of hazards and enemies, and you're given a random weapon. You run forward automatically, so tapping the left side of the screen makes you jump, while tapping the right side of the screen fires. It's up to you to last as long as possible to get the highest score you can... easier said than done since a single hit knocks you out in glorious slo-mo-o-vision, and then you have to start again. Different weapons descend in capsules with parachutes, and you'll face everything from evil robotic drones to a variety of other explosive dangers. Though it definitely gets repetitive, Lastronaut's fantastic style and aesthetic makes its simple, just-one-more-run gameplay a pleasure to play and behold, much like classic Canabalt. If you want something complex, this isn't it, but Lastronaut's twitchy, satisfyingly explosive gameplay is perfect for a few minutes of fast-paced, chaotic action whenever you need it.
In Apanda's surreal arcade game Cloudventure, little Cloudia has to pass one more test to become a weather mage, but when all you can do is make clouds, how are you suppose to survive a gauntlet of mines, lightning, and other tricky obstacles? To play, just click the screen. Cloudia is constantly moving forward, and each click makes a cloud that boosts her up, allowing you to "fly" up and down the screen. Collecting coins gives you cash to spend on upgrades at the store in case you get knocked out, which is probably going to happen a few times since in the beginning bumping against a single thing will make Claudia fall and force you to restart. The game isn't actually that long, and a few upgrades will get you far, especially since there are power-ups you can pick up to help along the way, with twelve stars netting you a random one as well. Cloudventure is simple, but its cute, dreamy style and storybook setting, complete with strange creatures and encounters, makes it a fun little arcade game that will brighten your day, even if it isn't much of a challenge.
Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt by Remar Games and Ludosity is a very retro free indie action RPG made in four days for the Games Against Ebola Jam. You, as the titular princess, descend to Hurtland in search of your missing friend and healing people of various ailments as you go. See, as the name might imply, the folks of Hurtland are in a bad way, but lucky for them Princess Remedy can duke it out with the things making them sick. To play, just use [WASD] or the [arrow] keys to move, and [spacebar] to interact. In a fight, Princess Remedy fires automatically in the direction she's facing, so it's your job to maneuver her around the battlefield to blast enemies apart while dodging their attacks. Tapping the [spacebar] will throw a flask... you only get one of these per battle to begin with, but they let out a big blast! The more people you heal, the stronger you get, and there are plenty of treasure chests to find to upgrade the princess' power as well. It's on the simple side, but fans of sweet, silly humour and classic old school gameplay will want to add this one to their to-do list.
Things get seriously surreal in Monkey GO Happy Talisman, the latest game in the Monkey GO Happy series of point-and-click puzzle adventure games from Pencil Kids. You and the monkeys are stuck in Swampville, which is filled with all manner of creepy inhabitants and the most ominous music in the world, and you're looking for a magic talisman... though finding it means doing a lot of favours for the locals. Just click around to play and interact, and make sure you pay attention to the scenery for clues. At one point the game may appear to be bugged when it comes to picking up a specific item needed to travel back and forth between two locations, but everything is functioning the way it's supposed to. Despite the excessively oppressive soundtrack and oddball characters, there's actually nothing to be afraid of in Monkey GO Happy Talisman, and in fact the whole design is weird in a very appealing way. It's still a short snack of a game, with a nice balance of inventory puzzles and coded locks that are perhaps a bit more obvious in this installment than they have been in previous Monkey GO Happy games, but fans of tracking down tokens and helping out animal people will enjoy this one for the welcome break it is.
Please note LongStory is an episodic game. Currently, only episodes one and two are available. The first episode is free, while episode two is an optional in-app purchase.
Bloom Digital's iOS and Android LGBTQ-friendly episodic visual novel LongStory is about high school. Well, people, actually. You've just come back to the States after spending time abroad in France, and adjusting to school is hard enough thanks to the return of your old antagonists, a trio of girls you call Hanniferjane, nevermind the strange notes you just found in your locker. It seems like the locker's previous owner left under unhappy circumstances, and while everyone seems to know something, nobody wants to talk about it. Of course, whether you pursue the mystery or just focus on your life is up to you... it's not like you don't have friends of your own to think about. Like homeschooled Nora, who you only know from long chats online, or taciturn Marcel, who just wants to go home to Dubai. And then there's that person in the weird costume who never seems to talk, and yet always knows just what to do. Your choices will determine the outcome of not only the story, but your various relationships, as they carry over from episode to episode. Choose not only your appearance and preferred pronouns (limited to he, she, and they), but whether to pursue friendship, romance, or simply find out what happened to the girl who came before you in this funny, sweet, and earnest game.