Sky: Children of the LightiOS
I can’t even begin to imagine how Sky was made. It’s ultra-smooth visuals and seamless multiplayer feel like they can’t work on a mobile device, yet they do. This is indeed an achievement, and I cannot deny that. Once I start playing it though, it feels like I’m smearing a painting. Everything is so beautifully composed, and then I come along to fly into a wall or get hung up on a ledge. This happens so frequently that I don’t really like spending time in Sky, which is a real shame.
Few shooters I’ve played successfully create the tension I’m looking for. Planet Automata solves this problem by tuning its difficulty and making itself a run-based game. I wish there were some other changes this game made to genre conventions, if only for the sake of variety. Still though, Planet Automata is a fun and accessible shooter that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did.
Meridian 157: PrologueiOS
Meridian 157: Prologue is a bite-sized portion of what could shape up to be a great The Room-like. The only problem is, there’s almost too little of it to tell whether it can do something interesting with its premise. For a free (and short) game, Meridian 157: Prologue is worth looking into, but the jury still seems out for if its next chapters will be fulfilling.
TEPPEN offers a strange brand of CCG that I'm kind of into. It's not always the most intuitive, and it definitely has a free-to-play grind, but I like playing as Chun-Li and playing cards emblazoned with Felicia and Zangief enough to look past that stuff. If that also sounds like something you'd be into, go ahead and give TEPPEN a shot.
I like systems-heavy roguelites because they can allow me to tell stories. Variables can align such that I have a game experience that feels uniquely mine. Tharsis should be able to do this in theory, but its systems are a little too transparent for that. The result is a really tightly designed roguelite with a great soundtrack, but not one that will give you unforgettable experiences.
Although it doesn’t end in an especially satisfying way, I still really enjoyed my time with Forgotton Anne. It builds a really cool world and animates it beautifully. It even contains quite a few touching character moments and explores interesting ideas. These things are rare in games, particularly on the App Store, so its flaws are worth looking past.
Minit has some neat tricks up its sleeves, but I lost interest in looking for them before I finished it. The looping mechanic is one that makes for a great pitch and first impression, but it gets old very quickly. This isn’t to say there aren’t things to enjoy about Minit, but they were probably far more enjoyable a year ago when the game was fresh and you were playing it with a controller.
Void Tyrant isn't quite a perfect game, but I adore it nonetheless. There are so many amazing, smart, and creative things in this game that I've never seen in a card-based roguelite before that I don't care that some runs can feel random or oddly paced. There's always a next time to look forward to in Void Tyrant, and that's the greatest thing about it.
I can easily imagine a world where Serial Cleaner is a different and better game. It could have been a time attack game where you try to do as much disruption to a crime scene as possible in a certain amount of time. It could have focused on how to dispose of evidence and bodies once they’re in your car. Instead, it’s just an extremely conventional stealth action game that does very little to stand out.
It’s weird to say this, but I wish I could pay for Alabama Bones. Without the ads, Alabama Bones is a refreshing and quick one-touch platformer that is good fun. It may have an uneven difficulty curve, but it’s still fun to sail through levels, provided you aren’t being interrupted by ads for the latest App Store shovelware between deaths.
Booger for iPadiOS
Booger is a great game with a lot of barriers to entry. In addition to requiring a tablet to play, you also need to have some pretty flexible fingers to execute its challenges and some strong determination to move through its rigid level progression. This is to say there's a lot of really cool things that Booger does, I just wish these things were a little more accessible.
Dark Quest 2iOS
Dark Quest 2 is successful in creating a fun and satisfying progression system for heroes with some surprising abilities. Sure, this is all stuck in a very typical dungeon-crawler mold that has some slight control issues, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every moment I spent with Dark Quest 2.
I love ’Normal Club in concept, and I almost love it in practice. The writing is fun, it has some great art, and the light puzzles sprinkled throughout the experience are entertaining. That said, all of these things wear thin when you have to tap through it time and time again in search of an ending that is confusingly dissatisfying.
Wild Bullets offers up some fast, fun arcade action that is satisfying and challenging without ever feeling to punishing or grind-y. The only really bad thing I can say about it is that it has ads, but if you throw the developer a few bucks, that’s not really a problem. I recommend you go do that so we can see more games like Wild Bullets come out in the future.
Infectonator 3: ApocalypseiOS
Infectonator 3 has a lot going on in it, but it’s all in service of a run-based game that doesn’t feel particularly worthwhile. Even when playing in Casual Mode, where humans don’t research a cure, the game feels like an endless slog of upgrades that takes forever to ramp up into something interesting to play.
Very Little NightmaresiOS
Aside from some nice art, there’s not a whole lot to enjoy about Very Little Nightmares. From top to bottom, the game feels poorly conceived. It doesn’t work as a horror tone-piece, a puzzle game, or a mobile experience, which is a pretty big problem if you’re trying to make a horror-themed puzzle game on mobile.
In my time with TheoTown I discovered something about myself. I discovered that I’d rather play a buggy city-builder that lets me build things however I want over something that may feel a little sleeker but also way more arbitrary and limiting. If you also appreciate games that maybe reach a little too far beyond their technical limitations, you can get a lot of mileage out of TheoTown, just like I did.
What little there is to “play” of KIDS is certainly unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I just wish there was more to it? Or, maybe I missed the point? In either case, KIDS seems like it would be of little appeal to most folks, except those that can appreciate the avant garde.
Zombie Night TerroriOS
There are some levels in Zombie Night Terror that really work and sell me on the entire premise, but these gems are thinly dispersed across the game. Too often there are challenges that make the controls feel like your enemy more than anything presented on screen. This left me shambling away from sessions with Zombie Night Terror, hungry to play things that feel more satisfying.
Solar Explorer: New DawniOS
Solar Explorer: New Dawn may be mechanically simple, but its presentation and structure creates enough variety that you’ll walk away from play sessions with a story to tell. These tales might not always have a happy ending, which can be frustrating at times, but they serve to make your successes taste all the sweeter.
The ideas that Alt-Frequencies puts forth are novel, but the game also demonstrates they’re really hard to pull off. There’s something admirable about the ambition of projects like these, but the chances Alt-Frequencies takes don’t allow it to rise above the issues they spawn.
Magnibox is a straightforward puzzler that has more than enough tricks up its sleeves to keep you occupied with it for a good long while. While some levels aren’t always amazing and the game can be fiddly in the controls department, there’s enough going on in Magnibox for it to still be an attractive package.