Hi everyone, and welcome to the latest installment of My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the iOS games I’ve been playing over the last 168 hours. It’s been a crazy one with tons of great games. I’ve already written some reviews and plan to write more, but I’ll give you the gist of it here. If you’ve been saving up some money for games, now’s a good time to spend some of it. It’s an especially strong week if, like me, you’re a fan of puzzle and story-based games. There’s even something for you platformer fans. So get cozy and let me fill you in on which games are worth playing and which should be skipped.
Pipe Push Paradise
Plumbing puzzler, Pipe Push Paradise, is positively perfect in every possible way. If you liked Snakebird or A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, you’ll feel right at home here. There’s an entire island that’s in desperate need of a plumber, and apparently you have some proclivity for it. You’ll make your way through fifty pipe-pushing levels where you need to connect the pipes in a way that the water runs through them and into the next room. Like Snakebird, there’s no hand-holding and there’s no filler. Almost every level will both challenge you and teach you something new. I especially liked how the names of each level often give you a subtle hint as to the solution. New mechanics are added in each section of the map, keeping things fresh from beginning to end. The best part is that the game was redesigned with mobile in mind, so its in portrait mode and playable with one hand. I already gushed about the game in my full review here, so I’ll let you go read that. But the gist of it is, if you like clever and challenging puzzle games, just grab it now. I also started a walkthrough guide if you need any help, though I recommend working at the puzzles until you solve them yourself.
Linn: Path of Orchards
Linn: Path of Orchards is the latest game published by Crescent Moon Games, with a gorgeous art style that’s reminiscent of Monument Valley and Alto’s Adventure. Gameplay-wise, though, it’s nothing like either game. It’s actually a level-based platformer where the platforms spin and undulate while your character is constantly moving. The controls are gestures-based instead of onscreen buttons, but can still be difficult to get a handle on. I really like the idea of the game, and it’s exciting when I complete a tricky level with some of the objectives. I just wish I was better at it, because even after a couple of hours, I still struggle to reliably control my character. I did finish the game, but I left a lot of objectives on the table and I doubt I’ll go back for them. I think it’s still worth checking out if you have more patience than I do and don’t get frustrated easily. But this is not a relaxed puzzle game, so know that going in. You can read my full review here and I wrote down some tips and tricks I learned while playing here.
Knights of the Card Table
I mentioned Knights of the Card Table before, and I was enjoying it at first. Unfortunately, the more time I spent with it, the more repetitive it got and the less I felt like I had any control over my destiny. I wrote a detailed review here explaining why I’m unlikely to continue playing after getting about a third through the game. I’m not sure that my sentiments have changed, but I am glad to see that the developers are listening to feedback and already pushed through an update that removes the gold cost for dungeons. It wasn’t really a big issue, but just seemed silly that you’d unlock a dungeon and then have to pay for it to access it. They’re also working on other improvements, so maybe I’ll revisit it sometime down the line. Anyway, check out my review and if you need any help, I wrote a walkthrough guide here.
This isn’t a new game, but it might as well be considering how much work developer Kickback has put into it over the last few years. I never played Lost Echo, despite owning it for several years now. I just never made the time for it. But the latest update is so big that it’s basically a remaster. So this seemed like the perfect time to start playing the game. And I’m so glad I did. It’s a point-and-click adventure in which you play a guy named Greg whose girlfriend disappears. But she doesn’t just go missing. It’s as though the two of them never met. Any trace of her in his home is gone and his friends never heard of her. So he sets out on a mission to figure out what’s going on. The game is very user-friendly in that there’s a hot spot locator and a map to travel quickly between different locations. Everything is also super responsive and I never felt like the game was wasting my time. I look forward to playing more of it. I’ve just been holding off continuing while the developer tries to figure out why I can’t record video with the mic on without losing the game’s sound. Anyway, from what I’ve played so far, I think it’s worth checking out if you haven’t yet.
STAY: Are you there?
I didn’t know that much about STAY before I heard it was coming to iOS this week, but what I did know intrigued me. I was lucky to get a copy ahead of release and have been spending a lot of time with it over the last few days — although, not enough time if you ask the protagonist, Quinn. See, the game’s title is actually a command. Quinn has been kidnapped and is locked in some strange house, looking for a way out. There’s a laptop that allows him to communicate with you for some strange reason. I’m still playing through it for the first time so it’s all still a mastery to me. But the general idea is that it’s a room escape game combined with something like Lifeline. Quinn finds puzzles for you to solve and asks you to help him make difficult choices. But that’s not all — the game keeps track of how long you’ve stayed with Quinn and how long you’ve been away. And your connection with Quinn weakens if you’re away too long. Well, it’s been a crazy week so I’ve had other games to play besides this. Plus needing to sleep and have some semblance of a life. So he’s not happy with me. Anyway, I’m currently working out a difficult puzzle, so I don’t have a review ready yet, even though the game should be releasing tonight. I hope to finish tomorrow and work on my review. At the moment, I have some complaints, but overall it’s been a positive experience, and unique enough that I would recommend it to anyone interested in these kinds of games. It’s flawed but still worth playing, I think.
The Shapeshifting Detective
I also mentioned The Shapeshifting Detective several times and I finally had a chance to play through the game once. And I actually chose the killer correctly! Basically, you play as a detective who can change into different people and then get information from suspects without their knowledge. It’s an ethically gray area, but it does get the job done. And I managed to save a life! The murderer is randomized each game, so I do want to play again and see what I missed. It seemed like I left a lot of dialogue options on the table and I’d like to fill in the gaps. There also seems to be some meta puzzle at the end that you can access if you get all the questions right. I messed up, so I’m hoping I can gather enough information on my second playthrough to answer correctly. Anyway, if you like full motion video games and murder mysteries, I think this is a pretty easy game to recommend, even if I didn’t feel like I had enough information when I chose the killer. I’m planning to properly review it, but I’m probably going to wait until I play through it a second time. But you can watch part of my gameplay videos to help you decide whether to grab it now or wait.
Snakebird Primer is a gentler version of Snakebird, meant for kids or people who just found the original game too intimidating. It’s supposed to be out already, but at the moment only the Apple TV version can be bought and played. It should be universal once the iPhone and iPad versions are approved, though. I’ve played through the entire game except for the trickiest puzzle, the black hole, and it’s definitely a lot easier than the original game. It’s exactly what it says on the label. There were some puzzles that tripped me up for a bit since I’m out of practice, but if you’re looking for more dastardly difficult puzzles to chomp on, you’ll be disappointed. There’s a lot more filler, as each level is much more bite-sized and simplified compared to the original game. It’s like they split each level into several different parts to make them more accessible. I think I may have seen a couple of new ideas, but if you played through most of the original you’ll likely breeze through these. I highly recommend it for anyone with kids, though. Those birds are adorable with all their facial expressions, and there’s even new background critters to interact with. A lot of people thought the cutesy birds meant the original game was meant for kids, so I guess now everyone gets what they wanted. Anyway, I’m not sure I’ll review it since it pretty much said everything I have to say. It’s Snakebird but easier and it’s easily recommendable to kids or those who found the original too difficult.
Distrust had been up for pre-order for several weeks now, and it finally released this week. It’s free to try and then you can pay once to unlock the rest of the game, as well as buy some bonus playable characters. I like the art style, and it seems like an interesting survival game. It’s very touch-friendly (except when I accidentally tap outside a building and my character starts running there) and the controls are pretty easy to get a handle on. The problem is, I didn’t really understand what my goal was and eventually gave up after an hour. I think I was maybe supposed to build a bomb to open a gate, but I never found all the ingredients and I wasn’t even 100% sure that’s what I was meant to do. I searched everywhere, used up all the fuel and firewood I could find, and my people were freezing and had no way to warm up. So I just gave up before even finishing the first mission. This probably just isn’t my type of game, so if it is yours, just download it and give it a try. If you like it, buy the rest of the game. If you don’t, delete it. Everyone wins!
I really like the look of Typoman, and it reminds me of Limbo, but with an extra gimmick where you use letters and make words to progress. For instance, you push an O next to an N to turn on a the power and make a platform move. Sometimes you even have to scramble words to make a new one, like DOWN to open a gate. It’s free to try, and I was enjoying it to a degree, but the controls didn’t feel responsive enough. Either that or my thumbs are hitting the wrong spots. But as much as I was enjoying the game itself, the controls were starting to get on my nerves. I could see how it would be especially frustrating as it gets harder and requires split-second reflexes. Normally, I would have spent the $1.99 to unlock the full game, as I do want to see where it goes. But I think the controls are just too iffy at the moment for me to make any commitment to it. I think you can also play for free if you watch an ad every time you die. In any case, I recommend downloading it and giving it a try. Maybe you won’t have as much of an issue with the controls as I did.
Shikhondo – Soul Eater
I don’t usually play a lot of bullet hell shooters, but after loving BACKFIRE, I was hoping for something that could scratch a similar itch. I also saw that Shikhondo was published by the same publisher as Pipe Push Paradise, so I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy the short time I spent with it. I found all the particles a little too distracting, so that I sometimes had a hard time telling what could harm me and what couldn’t. I seemed to do pretty well despite my confusion, but I lost interest after ten minutes. Still, if you like these kinds of games you might get more out of it than I did. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like.
I’m most definitely not the target audience for virtual pet collector, Noa Noa!, even though I had a Tamagotchi as a kid. I really don’t think it held my interest for long, as I grew up with plenty of real pets that I could cuddle and not just pretend to care for. My interest in these things hasn’t changed, especially since the game tries to capture the nostalgia of the original toy by keeping the 1-bit graphics and buttons to cycle through all the options instead of using the touchscreen directly. For people who like these things, I’m sure it fills that void. But I lost interest pretty quickly and it was easy to quit when I couldn’t figure out how to hatch the second egg I found. It’s also pretty pushy with the opt-in ads for rewards and there’s a whole bunch of confusing in-app purchases. Anyway, I’m probably not the best person to judge it, so if it interests you give it a go and if not, don’t. It’s free to play so there’s nothing to lose by trying it.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week! I still want to review STAY and The Shapeshifting Detective, so look out for those over the next few days and maybe gameplay of whatever other games pop up. Let me know in the comments section what you’re playing and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!