Here are the games that I’ve been playing on my iPad which have been keeping me distracted from the cold, wet darkness of winter.
In this game you burn things. Toys and bricks and food and batteries and planets. For everything you burn you build up credit to buy more things to burn, which you order from catalogs. There is a plot that unfolds as you progress in the form of notes from your neighbor and updates from the weatherman as you cower indoors. This game is a criticism on video games and it skewers the way that modern games get you to obsessively play against odds and (spoiler alert) ultimately chides you for wasting your time playing this game. That said, I enjoyed every moment. The fire sound effects are soothing, each thing you burn has a different aspect or reaction (some scream, some explode) and it remains amusing throughout. The graphics are all lovingly created fun to toss around. You get a bonus when you burn things together from a pun-tastic list you can check off when you guess what “Duck Season” or “Nuclear Shave” means, which adds an extra completionist layer and will have you looking back through old objects to find a match.
This game manages to be simple fun while having you looking extra hard to find a deeper story, and you won’t be disappointed. The humor and a few subjects inside are not for young children. $4.99 in the App Store, see more at the Tomorrow Corporation website. Also for Windows, Mac and Linux.
This is a mysterious and emotionally dark exploration game based on Swedish folk tales. It starts without any guidance on how to play or where you are or what you are doing, all things you’ll uncover as you progress. It’s graphics and spooky atmosphere had me continue to poke around instead of giving up in frustration. The first time I played it I was on a plane and the guy next to me made a point to ask what I was playing, it really is that pretty.
One of the first objects you encounter doesn’t end up being used in the completion of the game but it does tie into the Companion game ,which is easy to simply not know about. The companion game is short but adds some explanation and depth to the original story and it, apparently, wasn’t released for a good long time after the main game which was a very interesting move.
This game deals with murder and ghost horses and dead babies and is really, really not for the young. $3.99 in the App Store, Year Walk Companion is free. Year Walk will also be available on Steam soon, see the Year Walk website.
This is a recent addition to the app store but I’d had a preview of it last year at the Seattle Indies Expo. The graphic in this game are all inspired by origami and in the game you actually unfold objects to go deeper, it’s a fresh and intuative and frankly gorgeous form of gameplay. That said the unhappy reviews of this game focus on the fact that it’s short, which is true (but it’s worth the price) and slow, also true but the only aspect I had a problem with. Your character moves from location to location at a fairly slow pace and the first time you run through a new land it’s great to have a chance to look around and admire the origami landscape. When you backtrack to solve a try something it takes a little patience, when you have to go back for the eighth time to move something into another position in the midst of solving a puzzle you get downright impatient. A form of double-click-to-run option would solve all this and in the end it’s a trivial complaint in the midst of a deeply beautiful game. Available in the App Store now, $4.99, pre-order for OS X and Windows is on now. See more at the Nyamyam site.
This is a new adventure game in the old school point and click style. Everything is hand drawn in a charming cartoon style and it’s set in a completely different world which is underground and dying out and guess what? That’s right! Your character is unwittingly set on the path to save it. I’ve loved this style of game since King’s Quest 1 and a thoroughly enjoyed this game, the gather-and-combine puzzles aren’t too obvious and aren’t too incomprehensible, the conversations with characters are funny (and skippable if you find yourself asking the same question), the world is quirky and unexpected. It’s a bit of a slower pace than (affect a “kids these days” tone of voice here) games these days but I loved it and played it in short bits as a sort of bedtime story for myself. There isn’t much objectionable in this game (it’s Despicable Me type grown up inside joke humor) but it probably won’t interest younger kids. $0.99 in the App store. Also available, DRM-free, for Windows and Mac on the Studio Fizbin website, it comes in German and English.