First up is Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World, in conjunction with Warner Bros’ new feature film. Anyone who has played any other licensed or “crime solving”, free-to-play hidden object game will be immediately familiar with the format. In this one, you play as a fresh recruit to Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, trying to assist the Ministry of Magic in solving cases. You’ll explore various crime scenes finding objects as well as vital clues and evidence. You’ll “interview witnesses, analyze evidence, and cast spells (via a line tracing, like waving your wand) to uncover and protect the fantastic beasts at the center of every mysterious case”. If you haven’t seen the film yet, don’t worry, while set in Rowling’s Wizarding universe, this appears to be completely separate from the characters and events of the book/film.
Then from Drop Wizard developer, Neutronized, we have a fun, free, retro-style platformer called Super Cat Tales. Help Alex the cat find his siblings as you make your way through over 50 levels of cat-filled gameplay. In each level you are trying to find and collect one or more specified objects, before reaching the end of the level. Sometimes these will be straightforward, sometimes you’ll have to do something to trigger their appearance and other times, they’ll just be seemingly unreachable. Each of the six cats (which you unlock along the way) has unique abilities and at the start of a level and certain points within the levels, you may switch to a different cat to utilize their abilities to tackle certain areas of the level that may have been previously unattainable. Super Cat Tales has cute graphics and some cool level design. If I had one beef with the game, it’d be with the simplified two-finger controls, which at times I felt were working against me. However, even with that slight frustration, the game is definitely still worth a look.
Quite a unique and engaging experience, Replica : A Little Temporary Safety is a port of an award-winning PC title, which I have to imagine is even more immersive on iOS, than it was on its original platform. Replica is an interactive novel game, which is played entirely through a cellphone interface complete with apps, photos and social media accounts. You’ve been given this strange cellphone, you don’t know where it came from and your first task is just to figure out how to unlock it. You get a call, explaining the origins of the phone and you are tasked with finding evidence to help bring down a terrorist cell. The game plays out through calls and texts received on the phone and you must invade the mobile phone owner’s privacy by digging through their social media accounts and hidden/locked photos. I don’t want to give too much away but this was an excellent, albeit a somewhat brief experience, however there are multiple different endings, encouraging replay. The full-screen phone interface makes it incredibly immersive when played on your iPhone. If you enjoy original and unique experiences, I highly encourage you to check this one out.
Another new release that look particularly intriguing is ISLANDS: Non-Places. Designed by NYC artist and animator
Carl Burton (Serial), this 45 minute experience is billed as “a surreal trip through the mundane”. Players are presented with 10 different environments to explore with their fingers, tapping and rotating to reveal the “hidden ecosystems”. I haven’t had a chance to check this one out yet, but take a look at the trailer on page 2 of this post and you’ll see that it looks pretty neat.
And now a trio of titles for the kiddos.
First up is My Town : Cinema, the latest game in the popular My Town series of imaginative play digital doll house apps. In this FIFTEENTH! title in the series, kids get to experience a little movie magic as they become a patron, an actor, director or cinema employee, selling popcorn and concessions, putting on their own show, watching (30) different my town short movies and more. There are loads of new characters, cute costumes, neat new locations and all sorts of hidden things to discover. As I’ve said before, my daughters (especially the younger one) love this series and they were really excited to visit the cinema and will certainly be playing this one for a good while to come as they make up their own cinematic adventures.
While not a direct port of Haba’s board game, Fox and Sheep has done a great job in capturing the essence and tower-building fun of the Rhino Hero board game in their latest digital app. They’ve taken that classic stacking format we’ve seen before in games like Scoops and Sky Burger and added some cute new twists and elements of strategy to give it own feel and entertain kids. The goal of the game is use a crane to build the highest skyscraper possible by stacking building parts on top of one another. When you reach certain heights, Super Rhino Baby will freeze your tower such that nothing below that point will fall, no matter how unstable it is. Each new level that you add helps to charge/re-charge your ability to call upon Super Rhino Hero to fight off the periodically appearing evil-doers who seem set on toppling your tower. So you’ll need to work quickly, yet carefully to recharge Rhino Hero before another baddie takes a swing at your tower. The game has really cute animations as well as loads of unique building segments which can be unlocked through play. My older daughter and I have played the physical game before and she immediately recognized the name with a big smile. She has been playing this one a lot since release and delights in bettering her score and watching the elevator go higher and higher as it counts the number of floors that she built. In fact she is currently the reining champ in our house, with her high score besting my own.
Finally for kids titles, there is new physics-based puzzle game called Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens which promotes STEM education. Set in a medieval world with castles, princesses dragons and more, players must move, handle and/or combine objects to “clear a path, obtain the key, and open the gate to the next level”. Kids do this using a mix of logic and physics, by triggering switches, flipping levers, playing with light and mirrors, gears and using their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Successfully completing levels earns them in crowns, tiaras, mustaches, costumes, and other accessories which they can use to customize their Thinkroll character. The game is jam-packed with levels including 115 easier puzzles for ages 5-8 and to teach new players the basics and then 113 harder puzzles for older kids and/or experienced players. My 9 year-old really enjoyed this game, playing through the numerous puzzles in a sitting one right after another and giggling as she unlocked new stuff to put on her character.
unWorded is a neat new narrative puzzle game from the two-man indie French studio Bento. A writer has been involved in a serious accident and now he is in a hospital bed, where he explores his thoughts as he reflects on his life. His wife by his bedside reading him “strange and wondrous” tales. The player is inside the writer’s head, where everything thought, every idea, is composed of letters and they must rearrange and reassemble special collections of letters to form an object or concept to help the writer complete his thoughts. The game utilizes a beautiful minimalistic art style and players must use both literary cues, wordplay and some outside of the box creative thinking skills to figure out how to properly manipulate and combine the letters to deduce the desired object. It makes for a rather engaging experience both on an emotional and brain stimulating level. unWorded is a nice little indie release that will hopefully garner some attention on the App Store.
Earlier this year, Chillingo and Czech-based developer, Inputwish, released an Apple TV-exclusive rally racing game called Go Rally. Now the game has just gone Universal, allowing you to take to the off-road tracks on your iPhone or iPad as well as you try you navigate slick, winding trails in this difficult to master, yet beautifully rendered top-down racer. From snow-covered mountains, to wooded forests and even nighttime races lit only by your vehicle’s website, graphically this game is quite a stunner. Unlock upgrades, new vehicles and new paint jobs to help you improve your vehicles and race times. While only one player races at a time, the game supports pass-and-play, hot seat gameplay to allow family and friends to compete against one another for the fastest times. It can definitely be a challenge to stay on the road, but if you’ve been wanting to play this one and don’t have an Apple TV…now’s your chance.
Previously released on Steam, 10tons Ltd’s (Trouserheart, King Oddball, Tennis in the Face ) futuristic, sci-fi dual-stick shooter roguelike Neon Chrome has arrived on iOS. Taking place within Neon Corp’s cold and shadowy corporate building known as Neon Chrome. You are a hacker trying to take down the evil “Overseer” who lays rule over the building and its inhabitants. However you do not directly put yourself into the line of fire, instead, remotely controlling the selected asset from the safety of a special immersion chair. Players start each run, by selecting one of three randomly chosen assets, each of which has a unique set of initial stats as well as a weapon. As you make your way up the building, floor by floor, you’ll kill enemies and loot facilities to collect credits as well as new weapons and other upgrades. The game is structured such that you must complete several levels (and fight a sub-boss) in order to unlock a new checkpoint. Should you perish (this being a roguelike) you’ll lose most of what you’ve collected, including character enhancements and upgrades save for any credits and/or persistent upgrades which you may have had. The checkpoint system helps ease the sting of death and since levels are procedurally generated, giving them nice replayability and the destructible environment allows players to get out a little aggression and blaze their own paths through levels. The game is currently $4.99 (which is a 50% off launch sale).
And that’s all I have for you this week…enjoy!