We’re deep into summer now, but I’ve still got some games to keep you entertained while you hide inside from the crushing heat. First up I have a game that combines Asian influence art with meditative puzzles. I’ve also got the final chapter in an indie horror franchise. Then we close out with the proper sequel to one of the most popular mobile games of all time.
Prune – iOS(Universal)
Prune is the kind of meditative puzzle game that works really well on mobile. You swipe up to begin growing a tree, swiping to prune branches the grow in ways you don’t like. You’re trying to guide your tree to light so it can grow flowers.
As the game advances you’ll get additional challenges. Some of these have large red suns that cause your whole plant to burn and die. There are parts of the game that get pretty difficult, though you can usually just use trial and error to solve levels.
The art style of the game is really cool. It looks like Asian influenced paintings, and the trees have really excellent branching patterns. The music is atmospheric, adding to the overall feel of the game.
What’s Good: Fun art style and original gameplay concept.
What Sucks: Some of the more difficult levels break the relaxing feel of the game.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for an interesting puzzle game with a cool art style, check out Prune. Download it on the App Store for $3.99.
Adventure Time: Puzzle Quest – iOS(Universal)
You can point to Adventure Time as a franchise that aims to put its brand everywhere, but at least tries for quality. Merge that with Puzzle Quest, and you at least have a game that should work. Puzzle Quest set the template for mixing the match-3 games with other genres, in their case an RPG. That formula fits well with Adventure Time’s surrealistic fantasy.
You get quests from the Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, or Flame Princess. The quests have their own maps with several missions and a boss fight. Each stop is a battle where you party battles the enemy using attacks triggered by the puzzle game play. Each character has a set of special attacks, you can use these to do additional damage before the character’s turn.
As you play you unlock tons of characters you can play with. You can also craft items. If you’re impatient to collect materials you can buy some of them using in game currency you buy via IAP. It’s not too bad as far as free to play games go, including the wait for your characters to revive. Though you will have to pay a lot of IAP to add more characters to your stable. Again, you get most of this if you play through the game a lot.
Like the Marvel Puzzle Quest game, this is a good use of the license within the frame work of puzzle quest. The difficulty curve might be a bit rough, as early on the missions get pretty tough.
What’s Good: Excellent mix of the two franchises to make a fun game.
What Sucks: Crafting system a bit overly complex.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of Adventure Time or Puzzle Quest check this game out. Download Adventure Time Puzzle Quest for free on the iTunes store.
Five Nights At Freddy’s 4 – iOS(Universal)
Five Nights At Freddy’s was a simple concept that sprawled into a franchise. I did a run own of the first three games in the series, earlier this year. The latest installment narrows the concept down to a kid hiding in his room from the marauding Animatronics.
You’re still only armed with a flashlight and closing doors. The lack of a camera or any other equipment strips the game to it’s basic action: frantic checking of doors and listening for audio cues. I have to say this was the first one that managed to make me jump, and I think that it’s the clastrophobic atmosphere of the game.
Some of that is lessened by almost ever present tutorial buttons on the screen. This installment has a lot more tension, as you can see the eyes of the Animatronics slink away when you shine your flashlight. You can also catch one of them skittering away from the bed behind you. It’s such a waste that there’s big button with words over the screen to obscure most of that atmosphere.
What’s Good: This is a stripped down and intense version of the game. Managed to get a jump out of me the first time I played.
What Sucks: Help text obscures gameplay.
Buy it?: If you’ve been playing along with this series, you should grab the final chapter. Buy Five Nights At Freddy’s 4 on the App Store for $2.99.
Alphabear – iOS(Universal)
Alphabear is a rather novel approach to word puzzles. Each stage is slightly different, but you get a starting set of letters. As you play word the stage expands exposing more letters. Each letter has a number on it that represents the numbers of turns you have to play it. Let it expire and it becomes a rock. When you clear the space bears fill in the space behind you. The bigger the bear the bigger your score.
This requires a mix of word knowledge and strategy. The stages break down into a couple of categories. There is a general daily stage, and a timed stage. If you complete enough daily stages, you also get a boss stage. In addition to simply competing on score, you also unlock bears. There’s also a challenge you can play the big bear challenge, where you can get rarer bears.
These give you bonuses and change the frequency of certain letters. Depending on the rarity, the bears have different wait times before you can use them again. As you complete challenges where you get the same bear, your bears level up get better powers. At the end of each level you get to see the bear you unlock use some of your words in a pre-generated phrases. You can then share these out to social networks.
Alphabear is free to play. You have energy and coins that you pay to play levels. The energy replenishes automatically, and is used to play the daily stages. The coins are used for the big bear challenge, and you get those as a bonus when you complete stages. You can also buy either outright, or earn more by watching ads. I never felt like I was being pushed too hard to keep buying things, though you can only play once our twice a day.
What’s Good: Fun game that combines word puzzles with strategy.
What Sucks: Free to play model doesn’t let you binge on playing the game.
Buy it?: If you like word game, but are looking for a bit more strategy. Check out Alphabear for free on the App Store.
Angry Birds 2 – iOS(Universal)
Angry Birds was one of the games that defined the iPhone. There have been a ton of spin offs and iterations of the original game, some of which were just as powerful. There has finally been a numbered sequel, bringing along some new gameplay styles and characters. This version is completely free to play, which brings along a few different problems.
Before we get to the bad, let’s start with the good. The game has gotten a lot of upgrades. The animation is crisper, and you get a lot more detail in the various models. At its heart Angry Birds was always a physics game, and the addition of spells to the mix changes this. These are cards that you can use to create various effects. Some of these are fun like rays that turn all the pigs gigantic, or raining down rubber duckies form the sky to smash the stage. There’s also random power ups that act as ads, I’ve gotten two bonus Cheerios sponsored power ups, but I have no idea when they appear. There’s a lot of ads scattered around the game. You can avoid buying in game currency for continues and just get an additional bird by watching ads. There’s whole app take overs, so far advertising an LG sponsored behind the scenes video on You Tube. The lives thing bothers me the most, as I’d rather just start over when trying to play through a level. So let me just pay five bucks and be done with it, you can keep the ads and in app currency.
What’s Good: New gameplay changes add depth to the original concept.
What Sucks: Free to play lives and ads disrupt the game.
Buy it?: If you liked the original game, this is much more than a level pack or skins, this is a real sequel that expands the original games concepts. Download Angry Birds 2 from the App Store.