This week we have some interesting games for your new iPads (or your old one, we don’t judge). We have a paper folding puzzle game. Though it may have been more fitting for last week, we’re also covering an audio adventure set in the afterlife. An indie gaming series brings its latest sequel to iOS. We have an action RPG featuring a certain Norse god. Finally, we have a tower offense sequel that really ups the ante for iOS game quality.
If you were among the people who chose to upgrade to the iPad Air, your games will enjoy some impressive benchmarks. The new tablet is reported to be twice as fast as its predecessor. Telltale released the trailer for the second season of their Walking Dead games, and it looks like the series is going from bleakly depressing to including a free coupon for grief counseling with every download. The new Batman Arkham Origins game may have come out last week, but if you missed out on Arkham City, you can grab it for half price.
Kami – iOS (Universal)
Kami is the name of the paper used for Origami. Though there is a lot of folding paper in Kami for iOS, this isn’t a test of your design skills. Instead you’re trying to figure out how to get groups of paper squares to become the same color. What the paper does is allow the designers to create a really textured look to the game, this is a really low action way to show off exactly how detailed iPad games can be.
The gameplay is simple, you’re given an array of colors to choose from. You take those colors and choose ways to fill the entire board. The first set of levels has three colors, the second has four. There are are four sets of level in total. It doesn’t take very long for these puzzles to get a little challenging. You have a limited number of moves to complete each level, and you can earn a perfect for completing it in fewer moves. For some reason when you go over the maximum number of moves it lets you continue playing, which means you’re first failure might be a bit of a surprise. It also looks like there is a plan to add more levels in the future.
What’s Good: Great graphics and design, lots of content.
What Sucks: Doesn’t let you know when you fail right away, meaning you can waste a lot of time on a level.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a thoughtful puzzle game, grab Kami
Papa Sangre II – iOS(Universal)
Listen, it might of been Halloween last week, but let’s just go with Al Jorgensen on this one citing the “Everyday is Halloween” precedent. Papa Sangre II is part adventure game, part radio drama. Like the first game you are in the afterlife, and have to find your way out. The interface has gotten a bit of a facelift, and now you tap to use your hands as well as your feet.
If you missed out on the first game, you wear headphones and are given audio clues to navigate a world. This time you’re recovering memories from Pap Sangre’s museum for a mysterious stranger, all while navigating a treacherous landscape of mind lice and other creepy-crawly things. You do this be default by using the gyroscope to turn around, though there are other control schemes buried in the options. (Swiping or tilting are far more practical for most players.) The sound design is amazing, the mind lice make some really grotesque sounds that take awhile to get used to. The story is well paced, and the challenge ramps up enough that you’re never frustrated, but you will have to stop and work at passing the later levels.
What’s Good: Really good sound design, engaging story.
What Sucks: Content and gameplay not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Options for more accommodating controls are buried.
BIT.TRIP RUN – iOS(Universal)
The BIT.TRIP series was a tribute to classic gaming with graphics to match. However with, BIT.TRIP RUN (BIT.TRIP RUN 2 when it was on PCs) the game gets a lush visual upgrade that still pays tribute to its retro roots. As its name implies, this is a runner, though not an endless runner. The game is broken up into stages, and there’s actually quite a few of them. There are two worlds that each have ten regular levels, and four bonus levels. They also add five additional 8-bit levels. The latter are ridiculously hard, as you have limited lives. There are two more levels marked on the main screen as coming soon, though it isn’t clear if these are going to be included as a free update or a future IAP.
This game has a lot of challenge for a simple runner, it doesn’t pull its punches. At certain points you will have to simply go through trial and error until you memorize the upcoming obstacles. That gets frustrating fast. The controls are tap to jump, and swipes to control the other actions. The problem with this is that sometimes you’re trying to swipe and putting your finger down causes a jump, and you die. You get unlimited lives, but flying all the way back to the middle of the level because of a control bug can make you quite tempted to test out the iPad’s durability against walls. However, compared to most endless runners that are nearly mindless, there’s a lot of design work here.
What’s Good: Great level design and art style. Tons of content.
What Sucks: Some levels require memorization rather than skill. Controls can be imprecise.
Thor: The Dark World: The Official Game – iOS(Universal)
Combining free-to-play with a licensed title should be an instant ticket to misery; however — Thor: More: Colons: than needed — shows off that you can make a fun game. There is some attempt to tell a story here that should match up with the movie, but it’s pretty muddled. Loki breaks out of his chains to lead you on a trip across the various worlds, and Thor hits stuff with a hammer. Considering that Loki is the biggest member of your ally screen, this isn’t the case for long. You also can unlock Thor’s raucous crew from the first movie, as well as some other characters. You also have faceless minions you can summon as well, though they are little more than cannon fodder.
The game pushes you hard to buy in-game currency via IAP. It isn’t show stopping, but you’ll have to do a lot of grinding on the early levels to get the cash to get out of it. The game has nice tap controls that feel like what Diablo would play like on the iPad, though the touch targets aren’t always precise. If this game cost a couple of dollars and lost the come-ons it would be a nice afternoon-killing action-RPG. There’s multiplayer as well, though beyond challenges in Game Center from random people, there isn’t much of a clue on how to use it. Also the CG cut scenes could have used some polish, as Thor looks like someone smacked him in the head with a frying pan.
What’s Good: Fun combat, variety of gameplay approaches.
What Sucks: IAP come ons, imprecise controls.
Buy it?: If you’re looking for a new Action-RPG and don’t mind heavy IAP pushes, grab Thor for free.
Anomaly 2- iOS(Universal)
Anomaly: Warzone Earth was pretty novel at the end of the Tower Defense boom, as it put you in the role of the attackers rather than the tower manager. Anomaly 2 retains that formula but adds a ton of CG cutscenes, a lot more story, and a multiplayer mode that lets you lay down the towers for once. This game is set a few years after the first game, and you’re told your victory in the first game was fleeting. You’re given a quick level that shows off the new transforming units as well as the new enemy units. Then the game cuts to New York, where the tutorial takes over and you’re back in the seat of a novice. The story is pretty intense, and the levels still have the organized lines you control in a secondary view, but the regular game view doesn’t force the looks to match those.
There’s also multiplayer mode. This allows you to play others online, sometimes as the defender. The Tower Defense role has its own tutorial, which should help make your early defeats a bit less humiliating. The multiplayer portion introduces resource management and other strategic elements. This game has been out on the Mac for some time, and it doesn’t appear that much is missing in the port. What started as a gimmick in an over saturated genre has turned into something really unique that is redefining that same genre.
What’s Good: Excellent graphical design, multiplayer, and story are all much better than the original
What Sucks: If you’re really burnt out on the genre, no amount of novelty will bring you back.
Buy it?: Grab Anomaly 2 if you’re looking for a fun take on Tower Defense.