Firstly, I just want to say that although this is a PC game, I played it via the Steam Link app on the iPad. Actually, it’s more complicated than that, but it’ll do for now.
Secondly, this game came free with Lair of the Clockwork God – a new platforming/point and click hybrid game from Size Five Games. It was a surprise simultaneous release with that game, but instead of being either of those two styles, it’s a visual novel telling the story of how Ben and Dan met at high school, and the immediate adventure they had there.
It’s very short and has no challenge whatsoever, but it was funny and, of course, it was free. And there’s a section set in the toilets.
At first glance this is a JRPG, but actually, it’s somewhat different. There’s a wrapper story (with really nice puppet stop motion animation cutscenes) about a brother who is writing a JRPG to entertain his sick little brother.
The problem is, he doesn’t know how to code the AI, so he pretends to be the AI while his brother plays, and so, as him, you have to decide which enemies to have appear in the random battles. If you make them too hard, his character dies, but make them too easy and he gets bored. It’s actually really tricky, but pretty unusual in terms of gameplay.
It’s cute, and I really like the animation, but I did find the RPG bits too random.
I had no knowledge of what this game was going to be like, but from the screenshots I anticipated a narrative discovery game, hopefully with one or more toilets. Sadly, there were no toilets.
But I was mostly right about the narrative discovery bit. Discoloured is a first person puzzle game, although the puzzles require discovery more than logic. You are transported to a 50s style diner, but everything is in black and white. By finding and activating red, green and blue prisms, you put colour back into the world, but to do so involves looking at and activating everything, not always with obvious reason.
There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as certain items and switches only appear or are useable when the correct prisms are enabled (or disabled), which is tiresome despite the very small area the game occupies. It’s all over pretty quickly, though.
It’s interesting but there’s no plot or story to follow, and the puzzles aren’t really the sort to give you any sense of achievement, and so coupled with the short length of the game I was just left with a thought of “is that it?”.
I was a big fan of Marble Blast Ultra on the Xbox 360, and this, apparently by the same team, coming to Apple Arcade was great… until I tried to play it and found it totally impossible to control with a touch screen. Then I realised I could use my 8bitdo controller with my iPad and, despite having to balance the system precariously on my lap, it actually worked well. Well enough to complete, even.
So the game isn’t as good as Marble Blast Ultra. I’m not sure what’s missing, but the levels all seem really easy and a bit bland. Perhaps the fun I had with the “original” was trying to beat friends’ times on the leaderboard and that’s not what I’m trying here, but I’m also not wanting to, so there’s still some spark not there.
That said, I did enjoy it. Except for that one level – called Escalation, I think – which I spent longer trying to complete one single jump on than I spent on the whole of the rest of the game combined. There’s a high platform you have to reach and you have to get a jump power up and then normal jump and immediately boost jump to get the height needed. Problem is, the timing is near impossible and until I did it by mistake there was no way of knowing if I was even doing the level correctly. Eventually I fluked it only to fall down higher up, triggering an earlier checkpoint on the way down, and then had to do it again.
What a lovely little game this turned out to be. It’s these tiny little Lego dioramas each with a little puzzle in – get you little lego boy to the other side of the screen, or make machinery do something, or build a thing in a certain way.
It isn’t difficult, although one of the puzzles introduced a new gimmick which I completely missed so it stumped me for a while, but it’s clever and looks incredible and if you have Apple Arcade already (as against all odds, I do) then it’s free and a wonderful thing I strongly suggest you play.
Another nice little Apple Arcade game. This time, you’re a repair woman who is trying to make some money while visiting a town for some festival or other. You seem to be able to turn your hand to repairing everything, and despite having turned up with just a small suitcase, you’re equipped with spare parts for a watch, a music box, a handheld games console, and a slide projector amongst other things.
Like Possessions, which I also completed today, it’s short and easy, but the disassembly, repair, and reassembly of these items is just the delivery mechanism for the story. A story which involves two sisters who have fallen out, and a father and his daughter who have forgotten how to have fun together. By repairing their stuff, you can repair their relationships.
It’s not actually quite as twee as I’ve made out, but it’s enjoyable enough for as long as it lasts.
This is a little puzzle game where you’re give a 3D view of a room with some objects hanging in midair. The idea is to rotate the camera in such a way that the items appear to be in the correct place – flowers on a window ledge, taps on a sink, that sort of thing – before moving on to the next set of items.
It isn’t hard, and the game is incredibly short, but it was fun and looks really nice. There’s also a story that plays out with the man of the house becoming more and more absorbed in his work and less and less interested in his family.
Not a game I’d have bought, but certainly worth a play on Apple Arcade.
You know, I’m actually enjoying Apple Arcade a lot more than I thought I was going to. This is another of the titles on there I’ve completed.
I won’t go too much into the plot, but it’s a story of a girl solving a murder which turns out to be more than “just” a murder. There are interrogation sections where you prod people and question them about evidence you find, lots of puzzles (often of the jigsaw and press-the-right-buttons variety), and some platforming. Being an iOS game, the platforming is a bit woolly, as you don’t have direct d-pad control of Jenny. Instead, you sort of drag her around, or flick her to jump. It’s a bit fiddly, but you can’t die and it’s not against the clock so doesn’t really matter much.
None of the game is particularly difficult, with most of the puzzles being quite straightforward, but it took me a good 12 hours or more to complete so it’s a decent length. The plot is excellent though, and the way it’s framed as a book an author is writing, under duress, is very unusual and adds a sort of second plot.
My only real complaint is that when you solve the mystery at the end… you don’t. It’s left as a To Be Continued, which was a bit annoying.
This was a very short Apple Arcade point and click adventure game from the makers of Machinarium. You have to complete little tasks for people, some of whom join you in your quest, and then when everyone is happy, you win.
There’s not a lot more to say about it without spoiling anything, but it’s a nice little thing to play for the hour or so it lasts.
Tint is a relaxed puzzle game, where you use watercolour paints to colour in objects on each level. Mixing colours produces different colours, as you’d expect, and the trick is to make sure you don’t cut off routes from paint sources to objects as you paint.
There are a lot of these sorts of games around at the moment, such as Lines on the Switch, but this one isn’t grid based and gives you much more freedom in working out a solution. On the other hand, it can be a little fiddly weaving your paint line through narrow gaps without touching other colours already down.
It isn’t very hard, nor very long, but is an enjoyable little game while it lasts.
Let me just address your question of “Alright deKay, how are you going to claim you’ve completed this?” right off the bat. Each level has an achievement for getting a certain number of cars on the map, and I hit this target and got all the achievements. Happy?
Mini Motorways is very similar in style to Mini Metro, which I have on many different devices and enjoy very much. It’s not surprising it’s similar as it’s the same developers, of course, but there’s something not quite right with it and I’m not sure it’s entirely down to me not being very good at it.
The aim is to join up houses with a matching colour building, by drawing roads, so people can get to and from work. If you can’t supply enough people in cars fast enough, then it’s game over. And here is the problem: sometimes you can’t through no fault of your own.
Of course, you can fail by causing too much traffic congestion, or having routes that are too long, or not making use of motorways, bridges or traffic lights most efficiently, but I was failing even when I’d the shortest possible route with no delays or junctions. The game simply wasn’t proving me with enough people to service the buildings, or was but randomly putting them far too far away from each other.
As a result, success was much more down to luck than planning, of which there was an element in Mini Metro but here it’s more obvious and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Another Apple Arcade title, and one that looked really nice but turned out to be pretty weak. There are lovely little dioramas for each location, with what starts out as simple point and click puzzles in each. Unfortunately, the puzzles are all far too simple throughout the game instead of getting harder or more complicated.
The story also seems to start out interesting, a couple of kids in the 80s sneaking out at night to watch a film, but then it veers into uninteresting vampire nonsense. Props for being inclusive with the characters, but they’re poorly written with shoehorned 80s references cluttering the dialogue and, well, just too much dialogue.
It’s not puzzley enough to be a puzzle or adventure game, and not clever or exciting enough to be a narrative discovery game, so ends up as a bad one or the other or in limbo between the two.
I didn’t think Apple Arcade was ever going to be for me, and to be honest I still don’t, but that hasn’t stopped me getting the month’s free trial and giving a few things a go. What the Golf is one game that stands out as “working on a touch screen”, to the point where I’ve managed to complete it. And, more importantly, enjoy completing it!
The game starts off as a golf game. Pull back your finger to aim and control power, and get the ball to the flag. Very quickly, however, things change. The flag moves, or you “hit” the club instead. Or the golfer. Or the hole. Or cars, bottles, footballs, bicycles, houses, saw blades, and many other increasingly ridiculous things.
As you move around the map, you reach areas with levels last pay homages to other games – Flappy Bird, Super Meat Boy, Portal, Superhot, Mario, Katamari Damacy and Metal Gear Solid. The rules of the game frequently change, with many ideas used just once then discarded. Instant restarts and for the most part unlimited “swings” reduce the frustration, so the game remains constantly fun. The only level I didn’t enjoy was the final one, and that was because it’s very long with many sections – and I encountered a bug in the final section which meant I had to keep restarting. That aside, What the Golf is excellent.
I’m aware I’ve not posted in a while, so just a brief catchup.
Stardew Valley (Switch)
Just reaching the end of Winter, Year 3, and although I’m ready to wed the lovely but crazy Emily, there’s been no rain for the entire season so I can’t see the guy on the beach and buy the necessary amulet. I’ve been making friends with everyone while I wait instead. I’ve also managed to complete Qi’s increasingly more bizarre requests and now have access to the casino. I’ve not won much though.
I think I’m nearly done with the game. Once I’m married I’ll consider retiring, unless it opens up more gameplay stuff. I’m almost 110 hours in and there are other games that need playing.
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
800-odd moons now. I’ve completed The Darker Side (but not The Dark Side), and collecting the remaining moons is tedious beyond belief. It’s the least fun Mario game in ages now. But I feel I must get them all, so…
Million Onion Hotel (iOS)
I talked about this for a bit on the ugvm Podcast (which you really should listen to). It’s a 5×5 grid, screen tapping puzzle game that I paid real actual money for and it’s madness. And too hard. I reached the third boss but that’s as far as I’ve managed so far.
Picross S (Switch)
Not very much though. Just the odd puzzle every now and then. That’s not knocking it – it’s how I want to play it!
I wouldn’t even consider a Coldplay referen…oh. Dammit.
That podcast that I do, you know, the ugvm one? Well, Luffer was on it this week and he told us all about a mobile game called Yellow. It piqued my interest, despite being a mobile game, so today I looked it up and discovered it’s free. Free! Something I read said it was ad-supported, but I didn’t see any, so not sure how that works. Free!
It also does the other thing that negates the issues I have playing telephone games, buy having sensible, touch-screen usable controls. No virtual sticks and buttons here. Ticks all round.
The game itself is a set of 50 puzzles where you have to turn the whole screen yellow. The thing is, you’re not told how to do this, and the puzzles are all different (with only a few sharing similar ideas). You have to not only work out what you’re supposed to do, but how to do it.
Some involve pressing shapes in order, others need you to move things around. There’s a Rubik’s Clock type one, a couple involving wordplay, and one with RGB sliders – only they’re not exactly RGB.
None of them are especially taxing, and the whole game is only around an hour long, but it was fun, and clever, and that’s more than enough a free game needs to be.