Hi everyone and welcome to a new jam-packed edition of My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. The previous week was a bit quiet because I was playing a lot of pre-release games. But now they’re all out and I can talk about them! I also updated my iPad to iOS 11 and started recording videos on there instead of through my PC. You’ll see that those videos look much better than the older ones, as they play back in full screen on iPad. They’re also in 1080p and 1440p instead of 720p, since I’m recording directly from the source. And since I was going to start making videos directly on my iPad, I decided upgrade my iPad Air to a new iPad Pro. There’s just so many great PC ports releasing and I wanted a device that could really show them off. Anyway, there’s a ton to cover, so I won’t waste any more time with this introduction.
Mike Bithell’s narrative game, Subsurface Circular (say that five times fast), about a robot detective on a subway train released not too long ago on PC, and I was hoping it would one day make it to iOS. I didn’t really expect it to happen, though, and definitely not so soon. But this morning, I woke up to the announcement that it’s available on iPad. It’s meant to be played in one sitting, but it’s been a busy day so I only played about twenty minutes so far, or the first two chapters. But I like what I’ve seen so far and I look forward to digging in more. I’ll likely write a review once I finish, but if you can’t wait, check out my gameplay video below.
Layton Hawkes is a brilliant puzzle crafter, as demonstrated by his first two games, Puzzlepops! and Puzzlepops! Trick or Treat. I had nothing but good stuff to say about both games, so I was ecstatic to hear he was releasing a new puzzle game this week, called Campfire Cooking. I got it a bit ahead of time and have now finished all but one of the 105 levels. The last one is really hurting my brain. Anyway, it’s a fantastic puzzler, but I already wrote a review for it, so I’ll let you read that instead of repeating myself. I also have a walkthrough in progress if you need help.
“PUSH”, by Maciej Targoni and Michal Pawlowski, is another game I played ahead of release. It’s not as long as Campfire Cooking, and it does have more filler, but it gets pretty tricky in the second half. I really enjoyed that part of the game and wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future. Again, I have a full review here so I’ll let you read that. I also made a complete walkthrough if you get stuck.
Returner 77 is one of those games that I want so badly to recommend, but after finishing it, I’ve got mixed feelings. For context, think of it as The Room in space. But it has a personality all its own. It’s a gorgeous game. Possibly the most impressive, graphics-wise, that I’ve seen on iOS. For that alone I would say it’s worth experiencing. Then on top of that, the puzzles are interesting and often difficult. There are also video clips to find that unravel the story bit by bit. The problem is, the game ends on a cliffhanger after only four short chapters. Normally I wouldn’t be so critical of only part of a game being released, but it kept me engaged the entire time and part of what held my attention was my eagerness to find out what happens. There’s an air of mystery about the game and I wanted to unravel it, not wait however long it might take for them to release the next part. I also had no idea this wasn’t the full game when I started it. So the ending — or lack thereof — left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. It’s still a gorgeous game worth experiencing, but it won’t leave you anywhere near satisfied at the end. I’ll likely write a full review soon, but for now, just decide how you feel about cliffhangers and whether you want to play now or wait for the rest of the game to release.
Luna Forest is another short game that I was enjoying a lot before it ended abruptly after only twenty levels. It’s a puzzle game that’s a bit of a cross between Lara Croft GO and Monument Valley. It starts off pretty simple, with you moving your character along a path to the goal at the end. You need to push buttons that make some bridges appear and others flip sideways. But around the halfway mark, it starts to get more unique with the addition of the wolf character. The wolf moves on its own automatically when there’s a spot with a paw print that it can access. You have the power to control its path by opening up small sections for it at a time. But things get really interesting when you learn that the wolf hits any buttons he lands on, and when he does, it deactivates the button so you can’t use it anymore. This makes the last few levels incredibly tricky and I enjoyed them immensely. But just as I was getting into it, the game was over. The wolf was only in ten of the twenty levels, so it was incredibly short. It’s hard to recommend unless you don’t mind spending $2 for such a brief but smart puzzler. Hopefully more content will release soon and I can recommend it wholeheartedly. If you do decide to play, I have a complete walkthrough guide here if you get stuck,
Wheels of Aurelia
Santa Ragioni’s Wheels of Aurelia is another PC port that I heard a lot about and was excited to play. I was especially impressed that the developer took the effort to turn it into a one-handed portrait game on iPhone, something rarely done for PC ports even when it makes sense. The game has a great concept, where you’re driving through 1970’a Italy, picking up hitchhikers and making friends along the way. Each playthrough is short, maybe fifteen minutes, but there are multiple endings to find, depending on the dialogue choices you make. I think I found about four or five endings before I lost all interest. The dialogue just didn’t hold my attention or make me care for the characters. And the driving part is almost pointless, as there never seems to be any penalty for crashing into other cars. All it did was distract me while I was trying to read. On top of it all, the dialogue trees didn’t always make sense. I would sometimes have options that wouldn’t work as a response to what I asked and vice versa. It took me out of the moment and made it hard to get immersed in the game. It’s also hard to figure out sometimes what would lead to a path you haven’t taken yet, and it gets repetitive replaying parts while you work that out. Although, to be fair, there are some shortcuts to later chapters to make that less tedious. I really wish I could recommend this one, but I can’t. If you’re still curious, though, check out my iPad and iPhone videos below to see some gameplay in action.
Warhammer Quest 2
I know I’m doing this in the wrong order, but I never played the original Warhammer Quest before the sequel released. So when I played Warhammer Quest 2, I had nothing to compare it to. I liked aspects of it, but for the most part found it to be too much of a waste of time. It’s a top-down dungeon crawler in which you need to clear out all rooms of monsters before you can leave and take your meager loot. The graphics are impressive, but not enough to hold my interest. Moving around the dungeon feels cumbersome and before each turn, the screen goes dark and punches you in the face with the words YOUR TURN. Even though it’s a single-person game and it’s completely unnecessary. The battles also felt slow and bland. You only get some loot at the end of the dungeon, so it feels like one long slog without any reward until you get to the end. And if you do get some loot, the inventory management is a mess. On top of it all, there’s microtransactions, so you can buy gold if you find the slow trickle of drops to be too much to deal with. I personally am not enjoying the game and don’t plan to put more time into it unless it gets a huge overhaul. It’s a huge step back from the original in so many ways. It needs a lot of work to be fun for anyone but the most patient and persistent players. You can see some gameplay below if you’re curious.
After spending some time with Warhammer Quest 2, I decided to download the original so I have something to compare it to. Right from the start, I was already enjoying it a lot more. You loot gold, weapons and other items directly from individual enemies, like you’re supposed to in any good dungeon crawler. You also have a straightforward inventory for managing items, though it’s a bit odd that you have to rotate your device to access it. There’s also no YOUR TURN message and there’s a fast forward button you can tap to speed up battle animations, something missing in the sequel. And, perhaps most important of all, the text that tells the story has actually been holding my attention, whereas the sequel could not. I read the opening words of Warhammer Quest 2 maybe four or five times while I was trying to get a recording to work and I still couldn’t tell you what it said. I would probably even stick with this one for the story, but it’s still plagued by some slow gameplay. The sequel added the ability to move after attacking, so you can get through a dungeon a bit faster. But here, once you attack, you can’t move anymore. So you have to keep ending your turn and starting a new one to move, even if you killed off most enemies. I also get tired watching my men all miss their attacks on the same turn. I don’t think I have enough patience for that when there are so many other games out there that move at a more desirable pace. But if you’re curious about the series, I suggest starting with the first one. It’s free to try, too.
Boo! (factory balls halloween)
Boo! is a short little puzzle game that Bart Bonte released as a free Halloween present. It involves painting pumpkins to match the one you’re shown. You have eye patches, a mask, and a witch’s hat that help you make the required design. There’s not much more to say about it. It’s free and it’s clever. So just download it. And if you need help, you can try my walkthrough guide.
And finally, I had been sitting on Maciej Targoni’s HOOK for the longest time and finally played it, using PUSH‘s release as an excuse. It’s a nice minimalistic puzzler about pressing buttons in the right order…wait that sounds familiar. Just kidding. It’s very different from PUSH, and does some clever things. I do wish it was a bit more forgiving when you make a mistake, though. Later levels give you multiple lives before you’re forced to start over, but it’s still a bit painful to restart if you mess up near the end. Still, it’s a solid puzzler that’s worth checking out. And again, I have a walkthrough in progress here.
Whew! That was a busy week! And I still have to finish some of these games and write reviews, while I’m sure some other PC ports will surprise us over the next few days. That’s what the whole last month has been like, after all. It’s a great time to be a mobile gamer and I’m so glad that PC developers are taking the platform seriously. But man, I could use some sleep. 😉 Anyway, I hope you’ll pick up some of these games and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!