It took a bit longer to get through the games this week. Our last game recommendation was responsible for that: a space exploration sim with an intriguing story. We’ve also got a web game that let’s you work out your inner urban planner. If you’re looking for a more in-depth take on the RPG-Hybrid puzzler we have an iPhone game you should check out. If a lazy Sunday is more your speed, we have a game that mixes paint by numbers with a puzzle. Finally, we have an iOS game that migrated to the Mac.
Rymdkapsel – Mac
Silly name, great game. You get a couple of minions and a mission to build a space station. Each new room you build is a different shape, and you’ll need to work to get it all to fit together. As you harvest energy and sludge to grow your station and get more minions, a faceless enemy will attack in waves. This means that you’ll need to build defense stations and reassign your minions. In the four corners of your space there are monoliths you can research to get bonuses to your stats. The waves of enemies get tougher and tougher, and you’re tasked with surviving long enough to research all the monoliths, and surviving 28 waves of enemies. There isn’t a story, and the graphics are retro. The best way to describe it is a minimal take on the real time strategy genre.
Though this type of game isn’t going to replace Starcraft, but think of Rymdkapsel as the Dune to Starcraft’s Star Wars. It’s arty and more abstract, but the minimal nature of the game taps into the base essence of the genre. The difficulty curve is a slow boil, which means you get a chance to build and set up your defenses before the enemies come and destroy it all. Prioritizing the mixture of goals is likely going to be the most difficult step early on, as you’ll often feel pulled in different directions.
What’s Good: Excellent design, good mixture of action and planning.
What Sucks: Minimalism isn’t going to suit some RTS fans.
Buy it?: If you’re into RTS but not attached to huge cinematics, check out Rymdkapsel on their website for $7.99.
Paint by Numbers is an odd choice to make a game around, but Numerity pulls it off. Instead of using that little plastic set of paints, you’re tapping sets of numbers that slowly come together as a black and white portrait. There are categories of levels, all based around a theme. You’re given a number, or a brief equation to reach a number, and you find it in the big field of numbers. It’s then filled in, and you move on. You’re timed which determines the number of stars you’ll get.
This is a simple game, but it’s more meditative than challenging. The concept is simple, and that’s really all it has to offer. The equations seem to be there to increase the challenge level, as do some of the number sizes you’ll have to find. However, if you are looking for a serious challenge this isn’t going to be it. This is much more of a quiet afternoon game.
What’s Good: Interesting concept, lots of content.
What Sucks: Simplistic, not very challenging
Buy it?: If you like quiet puzzle games and don’t mind an easy game check out Numerity on the App Store for $.99
Wizard Quest – iOS Universal
The character you play in Wizard Quest awakes with no memory in a world filled with magical elements and enchanted creatures who attack. You cast spells by matching groups of three or more of the elements. What these spells do changes based on the context. The game roughly divides into two modes: movement and combat. In movement, you match the elements to open up the path. If you get stuck, you die. You’ll also need to be mindful of clearing all the elements, as those you don’t clear will cause you damage. There are also doors, treasures, and traps that will require you to match a certain numbers of elements. In battle, the elements are used to cast specific spells. Some of these heal you, freeze the enemy, or do different kinds of damage. The overworld map has a ton of levels, some of which change the look and feel of the game to match their themes. The game deftly mixes puzzles with RPG battles, and traversing each level offers a unique twist.
Wizard Quest is a fun game, and has a deep story. This genre mix has been done before, but with a lot less action, which gives the game the feel of a real RPG. The movement is linear, leaving little room for exploration, but it’s still far more expansive than something like Puzzle Quest. The graphics are a little simple, though there is a lot of variety in the enemy and spell designs.
What’s Good: More engaging than similar games, good story development.
What Sucks: Graphics could use a little more polish.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of games like Puzzle Quest, but would like something with a bit more depth; check out Wizard Quest on the App Store for free. (Normally $.99)
Mini Metro- Web/Mac
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a transportation mogul? Mini Metro lets you to take control of a city’s transportation system, building a subway, station by station. You’ll have to balance the demand for travel with keeping routes short. You start with only three lines, but as you keep building you’ll be able to unlock more. Other bonuses for providing service are bigger stations and trains. If you don’t keep up with demands, your subway will close due to overcrowded stations. For a game that is still in alpha, this is already a great experience.
The game has excellent mechanics, and very few bugs. It seems that most of the remaining development is going to go into new features, because this game is pretty good. I’ve played through the game a dozen or so times, and the scenario feels truly random. The web version of the game feels complete. You can also download a version you can play offline. The art style is simplistic but that is greatly overshadowed by the complexity of the modeling. It’s also stylistic, looking like a subway map.
What’s Good: Excellent simulation with deep strategy.
What Sucks: This is admittedly quite a niche title.
Buy it?: If you’re intrigued at the idea of a deep transportation simulation, check our Mini Metro on their website.
Out There – iOS(Universal)
It was supposed to be a routine trip to Ganymede, but when you wake up from your cryogenic freeze, you’re not even in the solar system anymore. Some aliens suggest a destination, and are kind enough to leave to you a FTL drive you can use to zip from star to star. Welcome to Out There, where you scavenge your way from star system to star system. You search for the elements needed to power your ship, repair the hull and provide air supply. This is done by visting planets and drilling or probing them to collect the elements available. The gameplay is similar to the resource mini-game in Mass Effect, though the stakes are much higher. Some planets will host life, and you’ll need to work to negotiate with them for resources, which in turn provides you with more of their language. You’ll need to make sure you’re not burning too much fuel, and that the resources you use to build your new gadget isn’t needed to keep the hull together. As you keep exploring, you’ll meet alien species. Eventually you’ll find enemies and friends among the various systems, but you’ll need to work hard to find them. You have to work to communicate with aliens, and you’ll scavenge technology from dread civilizations. You can even get ship upgrades by commandeering abandoned ships.
The best thing about Out There, is the game is content to let you explore and survive, rolling out its story as little more than obstacles. If instead, you’re interested in diving deep into the mysteries of the aliens, you can search for new clues just scraping by. The game uses a light touch in both storytelling and design to create a real sense of freedom. There is nothing especially remarkable about the gameplay in Out There, it just pulls the resource management element, the exploration element, and a unique story into something that’s deeply engaging. Prepare to lose hours to this game.
What’s Good: Great design, engaging gameplay, unique approach to story.
What Sucks: Overwhelming, at first.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a fun game with a unique approach to story-telling, grab Out There on the App Store for $3.99.