Posts Tagged ‘Games’

Surf the snow and alarm a llama

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

As a former Ski Safari addict, I found Alto’s Adventure, an artistic reimagining of the endless skier concept hard to resist.

The graphics are gorgeous, stylish lightly-shaded landscapes that look like paper cutouts form the backdrop to your gentle glide down the slopes herding llamas*.

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There are plenty of subtle touches ; the llamas’ graceful gait and endearing sledging** on steeper slopes, a day and cycle that regularly refreshes the vistas and the occasional storm make the game easy to return to.

Be warned that it’s a slow builder and can initially feel underwhelming. Stick with it though, and you’ll soon find its secrets revealing themselves as you keep returning for “just one more go.”

* I have to be honest, I’m not sure if llamas are usually rounded up by skiers, but somehow I don’t think this was ever intended to be a documentary.

** Again, not a documentary.

Odd Bot Out

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Odd Bot Out is a physics-based puzzler from Swedish developer Martin Magni. The goal is to guide your hapless robot companion over assorted blocks and slopes to an exit on the right of the screen.

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The app’s greatest strength is its physics engine, which is extremely intuitive, flexible and believable. Blocks can be stacked, pushed over or joined together with a satisfying click, switches can be wired to motors to build levers and crude vehicles. Above all, the physics makes the robot all the more real and engaging ; its attempts to regain its balance give it the air of a drunk puppy trying to balance on a beach ball, and the effect is utterly charming.

After playing through the first forty levels, it feels to me that there’s much greater potential to be tapped here. That’s saying something when the app presently has exclusively 5 star reviews on the UK app store. Although it’s incredibly impressive that Odd Bot Out was created by a single developer, I could imagine that a set of levels from an experienced level designer with a fresh perspective would make a worthwhile in-app purchase that would greatly boost the app’s longevity.

The Room

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

The Room, from Fireproof Games, may be one of the most well thought out apps I’ve yet encountered on the iPad. Playing out through an enigmatic series of puzzles within puzzles, every stage has been polished to perfection.

The easiest way to describe this title is “Myst in a box”, although this doesn’t quite do it justice. The influence of Myst seems visible throughout, from the beautifully textured surfaces and the subtle atmospheric soundtrack to the mysterious handwritten notes scattered throughout, hinting at the arcane science of game’s universe.

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Nihilumbra

Monday, September 17th, 2012

With so many television channels in the United Kingdom now dedicated purely to childrens’ viewing, it’s surprising to remember that back in the 1970s, cartoons on TV were strictly rationed. Typically there would be an occasional episode of Tom and Jerry, or if you were lucky, Scooby Doo. Once in a while, there would be very strange Czech cartoons depicting melancholy, dream like worlds which followed their own bizarre logic. Nihilumbra feels like being immersed in one of those cartoons.

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Osmos

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Osmos has the most perfect blend of visuals, music and gameplay that I’ve come across so far, and is one of the best examples of a game as an art form that I can think of.  Although not originally an iOS title, it works so well with a touch screen that it’s hard to imagine playing it on another platform.

When people talk about games as an art form, there can be a knee jerk reaction from hard core gamers as they worry they’ll have to float through a forest lighting fragments of poems with a magic twig*. Osmos is not that kind of game.

It stands up on gameplay alone. Like many of the best iOS games, it has a very simple, mathematically balanced mechanic which allows a great deal of subtlety and nuance from a single touch.

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Windosill

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. That’s a concept that many games seem to lose sight of, but one which Windosill embraces wholeheartedly.

Starting in darkness, Windosill takes the user through a succession of interactive scenes, each containing some challenge that must be explored before the user can move on to the next one. Although the graphics often have a childish theme – occasionally reminiscent of Dr. Seuss – this is an app that has as much appeal to adults as children, and possibly more. I was surprised to watch my partner, who has little patience for computer games, lose herself completely in the app for well over an hour, only stopping when she had completed every scene.

Terms like ‘game’ and ‘puzzle’ don’t quite apply here, and the focus has been primarily on feel. Elements can be touched, dragged, pushed and prodded and all respond beautifully and dynamically. Great care has obviously been taken to provide fluid behaviour for every object and it pays off; the user is left with a strong sense of a living, physical world.

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