Sorry about last week everyone, I was struck with a case of the vacation and it wasn’t curable. I’ll make up for the lost week with not one but two puzzle games for iOS. This ensures that the continued run of new and great iOS puzzle games stays unbroken. I’ve also got a classic adventure game updated for OS X. Then we close out with a console grade adventure for iOS.
OLYM is the sequel to MUJO. The game has the same premise, you clear blocks with like colors to defeat enemies. If the set of blocks you clear isn’t the right color, or large enough to defeat your enemy it collects into the block you touched with a number. This is a bit of a change from the original game, which just cleared your blocks but only had a single kind of attack. This time there’s a more general strategy that uses the whole board.
This also tones down the RPG elements in the original game, which may or may not be a bonus. It does make the game easier to just pick up and play. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like the game has quite as much going on. It’s a straight forward puzzle game, one that has an interesting look and feel.
The game does seem to have some stability problems. It crashed on me a few times when loading stages, and once or twice while playing. This happened on both my iPad and my iPhone, Air 2 and 5S. It is frequent enough to be annoying, but infrequent enough that I stuck with the game.
The game is free to play, but it doesn’t seem to have any of the forced come-ons and other trappings of the genre. You have lives, and in app currency that allows you to have extra moves and continues.
What’s Good: Fun puzzle game, easy to pick up and play.
What Sucks: A tad unstable.
Buy it?: If you like puzzle games with a unique design check out OLYM. Download it from the App Store for free.
Last Voyage – iOS(Universal)
Last Voyage is the sort of puzzle game that would feel at home in a British sci-fi film from the seventies. The soundtrack is a sweeping Vangelis-esque synthesizer sound, which gives this game a very retro future feel. The game has an impressionistic look that combines hard abstract geometric shapes with impressionistic backgrounds.
The aesthetic is really cool, but the game’s design doesn’t stop at the look. The gameplay is a variety of puzzles that all feel distinct from each other. There are slower logic puzzles that have you manipulating shapes into the solution, using the audio as clues that you’re getting closer. There’s also some action puzzles that require you to swipe around to keep along paths and avoid obstacles.
If I had a complaint about the game, it’s short. I got to the fifth chapter in around two hours—which is because the action oriented puzzles required lots of trial and error. Without those sections, the game would be a lot shorter. That isn’t to knock the game, I felt like the trial and error was earned. With better reflexes I would have been through them faster. The design that went into the game excuses the brevity, at least for me. You’ll need to ask yourself how much time you want for a dollar. There are new chapters that are going to be added for free.
What’s Good: Music, design, and variety of gameplay are all nearly perfect.
What Sucks: Short.
Buy it?: Fans of unique puzzle games and cool soundtracks should check out Last Voyage. Pick it up for $.99 on the App Store.
The Last Express – Mac
The Last Express is a classic game from the 90’s, saying that makes me feel really old; but with the modern resurgence of Adventure games it doesn’t feel that out of place.
You play as Robert Cath, and American doctor on a train at the dawn of World War I. Your friend is murdered and you assume his identity to solve the crime.The game owes as much to Agatha Christie as Zork. The story is intriguing and has an international cast that spans the global politics of Europe right before World War I.
It’s a good thing that the story is so good, as the graphics and gameplay have not aged as well.
The game was done via Rotoscoping, but has a very choppy frame rate and feels like a bad motion comic in some places. The game play is glitchy in some places. There are some weird places where the game has issues displaying the correct cursor. I also didn’t get any of the on screen cues for the fight sequence. I was able to work through this, but it was still annoying. The only reason I stuck with this game was the excellent story.
What’s Good: Well written story.
What Sucks: Animation is choppy on modern system, some gameplay glitches.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a well written adventure game, or want to see the ancestry of the modern Adventure game, check out The Last Express. Pick it up on the App Store for $3.99.
Captain Forever Remix – Mac
I tend to to include Steam Green Light games in this column, as often there are problems it wouldn’t be fair to call out. However, I really liked the look of Captain Forever Remix, and the developer provided a review copy, so it has his blessings to review the game a little early.
Captain Forever Remix is an arcade shooter with a really cool twist. You build your ship as you go, scavenging Lego like pieces that add weaponry, hull,thrusters, and other pieces that are unlocked as you play. That concept should be enough to get your interest up in this game, but it is also a pretty well crafted arcade shooter.
The game has a phrasing story of a brother and sister playing Captain Forever. You take the role of the sister who seeks to free the solar system from her brother’s tyranny. Each level challenges you to defeat an enemy one level above you. The level has more enemies that are your level, you can defeat them to make your ship stronger before you fight your objective.
In addition to the on the fly customization, there are packs that you unlock. These are based around the weapons that you see on each level. Things like the melee pack that arms you with saws, and there’s a close range pack that gives better directional thrusters. For a simple game, there’s a lot of craft in this game that adds tons of replay value.
What’s Good: Fun game, lots of replay value.
What Sucks: Isn’t clear that you should go after more than just the goal enemy on each stage.
Buy it?: Fans of arcade shooters who what more than a high score for replay value should check out Captain Forever Remix. Grab it on Steam for $14.99
Implosion: Never Lose Hope – iOS(Universal)
Implosion: Never Lose Hope is the latest game to garner a lot of buzz around hardcore gaming on iOS. With good reason too, the game looks great. The hack and slash gameplay isn’t compromised with the touch interface, and it has touches that are unique.
The game has an interesting story. The Earth was evacuated after an invasion, but your crew needs to return to scavenge for supplies. You do so by transporting your consciousness into a mech suit. You have to battle the mutants which also can possess and animate corpses. So it’s space zombies, which is a pretty played out premise. The game is fun to play which can overcome the bland story.
There is a virtual d-pad and button interface, which has the main attack buttons as well as your special attacks. In addition to your main attack you have a ranged attack, you shoot by dragging your finger off the attacking in a specific direction. I think that we’re starting to see conventions fall into place on how to emulate controllers, and it’s nice to see little touches that take advantage of the touch interface.
The game has some RPG elements as well, you level up your suit as you play. You’ll also get items that allow you to augment your skills. These aren’t just idle number leveling, certain skills will allow you to access secret areas in levels. These are used to aid medals you can get. Each level also has a hard mode. There’s a second suit you can unlock which adds to the replay value.
What’s Good: Fun gameplay, lots of replay value.
What Sucks: Worn story premise.
Buy it?: If you like hack and slash, you need to play Implosion: Never Lose Hope. Buy it on the App Store for $9.99.