My Week Unwrapped: May 22, 2018 – G30, Alleys, Homo Machina, Zero/Sum, Eden Obscura, Minesweeper Genius and More

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Hi everyone and welcome back to another installment of My Week Unwrapped, where I cover all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. There have been a lot of new releases this week, especially in my favorite genres — puzzle and adventure. Not all of them rang true for me, but a few blew me away. In any case, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get right down to it.

G30 – A Memory Maze

Ivan Kovalov’s G30 came out of nowhere for me, but I was instantly captivated by its trailer. It’s a game that weaves its story in with its puzzles so you’re unlocking bits and pieces of it as you progress. You even have to put in some extra effort to get the whole story, as you don’t unlock it automatically. On my first playthrough, I found the puzzles a bit confusing and felt like I was losing my mind, just like the character in the story. I loved that it had that effect on me, and once I finished, I started over and took my time with each puzzle to crack it open. It was an enjoyable experience the first time, but I only understood its genius the second time around. It also has a very poignant story that resonated with me. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it’s a very special game. I wrote about it in much more detail in my review, so you can read that if you’re still on the fence. And if you get stuck, I made a walkthrough guide.

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Alleys

I’m still playing THEMEr’s exploratory adventure game, Alleys, but I’ve really enjoyed my time with it so far. Aside from maybe too much backtracking, it’s been a very relaxing experience for me. Basically, you explore an empty theme part that’s reminiscent of The Room series, but instead of solving complex puzzles, you’re mostly looking for keys and Tool Cards that act as inventory items. It feels part walking simulator, part hidden object game, part open world exploration. Each door or chest or drawer requires a certain number of keys or check-ins to unlock it. Sometimes you need a specific tool card, like a ladder to reach a key on a high shelf. The graphics aren’t as impressive as The Room‘s and the bright yellow user interface is a bit tacky. But aside from G30, this is the game I’ve been enjoying the most this week. Since I’m recording my playthrough, I’ve been making sure I have time and energy when I sit down with it, so I’ve sadly gone whole days without playing. But I’m excited to jump back in and see where it goes. I’m usually not a fan of tons of backtracking, but somehow it doesn’t bother me so much here. I guess I just enjoy walking around this massive area. I also fell in love when I realized that ladders I was passing by aren’t just decoration, but you can actually climb them to reach balconies of buildings. It’s surprisingly open for an on-rails game and every time I unlock a new area, I’m amazed by its size. I’ll likely have a review up once I finish the game, but until then you can check out my walkthrough guide and gameplay videos here.

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Homo Machina

I’m not really sure what to say about ARTE Experience’s Homo Machina. On paper, it should be everything I want in a game — fantastic artwork in the style of Fritz Kahn, playful puzzles, a great soundtrack, and a story to pull it all together. But when I was playing it, I never got a sense of wonder that I did from other playful and artistic games like Monument Valley or Gorogoa. I would just tap and swipe some things to see what happens, figure out the puzzle and then move on. I never really had a moment during the game where I thought “wow, that was really clever.” The story is cute — though the dialogue tried a bit too hard to be funny, I think — as you’re controlling a bunch of little workers who keep a body functioning like a machine. You’re taken through the man’s day as he smells his morning coffee, chews his breakfast, walks to work, then prepares for his evening date. Some puzzles are over too quick while others linger too long. And I was never sure when the game would save, so I played through the nasal passages puzzle about five or six times. I would complete a few puzzles and take a break, then be set back to the beginning of that puzzle when I returned. So if you do play, I recommend completing one of the three chapters before taking a break so you won’t have to replay any of the puzzles before continuing. Unfortunately, you also can’t revisit your favorite chapters or puzzles once you complete the game. All you can do is start over from the beginning. The bottom line is, Homo Machina isn’t a bad game by any means, but it’s short and never reaches its full potential. I wanted so badly to be blown away with it, but when I finished I forgot about it and moved on to something else without feeling like I needed to tell the world about it. Anyway, you can check out my walkthrough guide and gameplay video below to help you decide for yourself.

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Zero/Sum

I was mostly excited about the B movie story about curing cancer with math in Sean Kearney’s Zero/Sum, but I was still hoping there’d be enough to the gameplay for a puzzle lover like me to enjoy. Unfortunately, there were a number of user interface and overall design issues that interfered with my enjoyment of the game. I already covered it in depth in my lengthy review, so I’ll just let you read that instead of rehashing it here. If you do decide to pick it up, I have a complete walkthrough guide here.

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Minesweeper Genius

I also reviewedMinesweeper Genius today, so excuse me if I cut this summary short. But it’s a solid one-handed relaxed puzzler with basically endless content because of its randomly generated levels. It’s not my favorite game ever, but it’s enjoyable enough and I don’t have too many complaints about it. It’s best for playing here and there when you have a few minutes to kill, as it doesn’t really have that “just one more game” quality for me. Anyway, you get loads of content for only a couple of bucks, so consider picking it up if you like puzzling on your iPhone.

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Bloki

I also reviewedBloki today. It’s a weird little puzzle game that I’m not very good at and unfortunately didn’t have the patience to try and master. It tests your spacial awareness and ability to imagine what a shape would need to look like and how to build it by just making it grow and roll around. It’s fun to mess around with, and maybe if it had allowed more than one level to be unlocked at a timer I’d have stuck with it. But after a while working on the same level and not seeing the solution, I finally gave up. I’m sure there’s some audience for it out there, so check out my video and longer write-up before deciding for yourself.

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Eden Obscura

Several people last week kept telling me how they were excited about PixelJunk’s Eden Obscura coming to iOS. It’s a one-handed port of an older game that was on multiple other platforms. It even seems to be completely free, as I don’t see any mention in-app purchases (IAPs) in the App Store description. In it, too play this little creature who swings on plants and bounces around in mid-air. You tap to make him swing and then swipe to make him jump off in a direction. The goal is to collect enough pollen to fill up this flower-like Spectra so you can move on to the next level. Other elements are added, including a timer and checkpoints. Even though I haven’t played that much yet, I never felt all the driven forward. It didn’t feel like there was much substance, like it’s more of a toy than a game. I’m also not too thrilled with the fact that it forced you to turn on your camera, even though that adds very little to it. I would have liked the option to play without it, especially since the original version didn’t need it. Anyway, it’s still worth checking out for free, but I was a bit underwhelmed by it after all the hype.

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And that’s everything from this crazy week I’ve had! I’m eager to get back to playing Alleys after I shower, assuming I still have some energy. Anyway, let me know what you’ve been playing, and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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