Games of the Week: Running With Friends, Will Love Tear us Apart?, Avengers Alliance, Tall Chess, Color Zen

WWDC had some pretty positive news for gamers. Both OS X and iOS are going to be getting built in API’s for game controllers. We saw a unique use of Bluetooth to create a mash up of toys and video games. It’s been a really, really interesting week on the iOS gaming front with iOS 7 APIs.

Anywho, we have another round up of games for you. First we have Zynga’s entry into the endless runner genre. Next is a browser game that evokes post punk and artiness to create something unique. Then we have a free to play RPG featuring Marvel’s mightiest. We have a chess game that evokes the design simplicity of Letterpress. Finally we have a puzzle game that favors logic over speed and process.

Running With Friends – iPhone


So Zynga isn’t anyone’s favorite company. It might be struggling with Farmville, it might be shutting down OMGPop, but more than likely it’s that every game they make becomes a social virus for a few months. Running with Friends is their latest social take on a gaming crazy. The game’s an endless runner.

Rather than running from mad monkeys in a South American ruin, you’re running away from bulls in Spain. You collect stars and dodge a variety of obstacles, all while trying to beat your friend’s score in three heats. Like other Zynga games, if your friends list is a little light on game players you can pick random players to face off against.

The game has gems that are used to purchase bonuses and second chances. You get up to two second chances, if you can afford them, that allow you to keep running after you hit an obstacle. You earn the in game currency by playing the game and leveling up, but you can also buy them with in app purchases (we refer to this as the “Zynga Special”. In addition to the in game effects, the currency allows you to purchase character customizations.

What’s Good: An excellent riff on the genre, with a lot of variety in stages to make it feel like later distances are a real accomplishment.

What Sucks: Needs a lot of attention, frequent push notifications and in app purchase updates pretty much never stop.

Buy it?: It’s free, so what do you have to lose? Grab it on the App Store.

Will Love Tear us Apart? – Browser Game


If you name your game after a Joy Division song, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s bleak. A simply browser based game, Will Love Tear us Apart is a very arty take on a break up. It’s broken into three stages. The first is a card game where you have to play out an argument through an emotional version of rock, paper, scissors. The second stage is a maze that you have to guide two characters through simultaneously. The final stage is a first person level where you have to solve a puzzle by walking around. The game manages to tell a compelling story in less than a half hour, and manages to stoke enough curiosity that you’ll replay it a few times to see what changes.

What’s Good: The art and design in this game are gorgeous, there’s a lot to let soak in. The game tells a story that relies more on empathy and symbolism than direct storytelling.

What Sucks: This is arty, and paced like such. It’s something you’re either going to love or hate.

Buy it?: Another free game, play this in your browser with the Unity plug in here.

Avengers Alliance- iOS (Universal)


Who wouldn’t want to battle along side the Avengers, even if you are only a lowly SHIELD agent. You might be the red shirt, but you get to battle a variety of villains alongside the likes of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Avengers Alliance has its roots in a social game created for Facebook.

That does mean that the game has recharges, in game currency, and a lot of other staples of the free to play game. On the other hand you get a Marvel RPG that has a ton of heroes to unlock, so comics fans will overlook the issues. In addition to the straight RPG adventure style missions, you also send the various heroes on their own missions gathering more resources. This is an area where there is a lot of emphasis on trying to get you to buy your way through the game.

What’s Good: A fun RPG with Marvel Superheroes, what’s not to like?

What Sucks: Game is extremely linear, emphasis on buying bonuses to unlock characters.

Buy it?: This is free so comics fans should check it out, but be careful of the in-app purchases. Grab the game on the App Store.

Tall Chess- iPhone


Letterpress has started to spawn a litany of titles inspired by the game’s flat design aesthetics. Tall Chess brings that design sense to the classic board game. You play online using Game Center. Each game you add has a different colored board, though you will need to buy the full game to play more than one game at a time. Chess is a bit of a brainy game, but if you move rashly, it does give you the option to undo the move by waiting a few moments before submitting your move to the system.

What’s Good: A simple chess game with a fluid and intuitive interface, gets out of the way of the game to just let you play.

What Sucks: No AI mode.

Buy it?: The free evaluation should let you see the nice design, unlock the full version for $2.99. Grab it on the App Store.

Color Zen – iOS (Universal)


Puzzle games seem to be taking their cues from Letterpress as well. Color Zen uses simple shapes and colors to create a game that’s deceivingly complex. You have a series of shapes, and the order to finish by having the background match the border color. You change the color of the background by touching the shapes together. Later levels increase the difficulty by creating layered shapes and adding different effects. These later levels require some serious planning, as just flailing around will not usually get you some success.

What’s Good: Well designed game, both visuals and gameplay are complex but accessible.

What Sucks: Not a lot of tutorial assistance in later levels, despite introducing new mechanics.

Buy it?: Puzzle fans should pick this up, this game will entertain without shutting off your brain. It’s $0.99 on the App Store.

Mac geek? Gamer? Why not both? Mike is a writer from Wisconsin who enjoys wasting immense amounts of time on the Internet. You can follow him on Twitter.