Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. You might have noticed I’ve moved this back on Tuesday after a couple of Wednesdays. That’s because I have so many games to cover already, that it doesn’t make sense to push it off another day. As I said before, May is turning out to be one helluva month for iOS games, so check your couch cushions and winter coat pockets for any spare change, as you’ll need it. I hope this is a sign of the golden age of premium iOS games returning, because it’s just wonderful. Anyway, let’s get to the actual games, shall we?
I mentioned Ian MacLarty’s Jumpgrid couple of times already, but now it’s available for everyone and you should all be playing it. Seriously, this game is crazy good. I can’t believe how much time I’ve been spending with it, considering I usually bounce off reflex-based games pretty quickly. My favorite mode is Infinite, the high score chaser. It’s quite possibly the best designed game of its kind. You need to be fast to compete, but it’s not just about speed. I keep pushing myself to scores I didn’t think would be possible for me. Anyway, I wrote a glowing review here, so I’ll just let you read that. But seriously, play this game.
I hadn’t heard of Magnibox when it released on PC, but it caught my attention last week when it made it over to iOS. I’m always eager to find more puzzle games that respect the player, so this seemed like a good choice. Unlike so many games that throw thousands of filler levels at you, Magnibox is distilled to 160 levels spread across eight worlds. New mechanics are constantly thrown at you so it never gets stale. I also like the idea of using magnets to push and pull objects away from you. I enjoyed my time with it, despite some control issues, and am glad it got an iOS release. You can read more in my review here, but if you’re looking for a new puzzler to play, this is a solid choice.
The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between doesn’t release until the 17th, but I wrote a little preview piece about it, including some gameplay video. I’ve since completed the game and it was nothing short of magical. I really don’t know how else to describe it. I’m working on a proper review — if I can manage to put my feelings into words — but this is one of those rare games that has everything. You can tell a ton of love went into it, as every detail is just perfect. And the developers went that extra mile to make a high quality port with all the bells and whistles. If you trust me at all, don’t read up too much about the game — just buy it and discover all the magic yourself.
XOB is a weird game. In a good way, though. It’s a puzzler at heart and uses familiar concepts, but adds enough of a twist to make it unique. The idea is to roll a cube and get it to the exit. But you’re constantly dealing with gravity and somewhat bizarre controls. See, the way you move your cube is by rotating the whole board. When you do so, the cube heads in the direction that’s pointed downwards, as gravity is pulling it. If it hits the edge of a platform, it drops straight down. But if you go around a corner and into a wall, gravity will shift and the wall becomes the new floor. On top of that, you can tap to completely reverse gravity and make your cube fly upward to the ceiling, which now becomes the floor. It’s very trippy, and the psychedelic colors only enhance the drug-like effect. That said, I find the lack of an undo button a bit of a turnoff, and it might keep me from sticking with it. The game has unconventional controls, which make it easier to mess up and fall to your death. I would have liked more freedom to experiment and mess up without having to start the level over each time I die. Still, I appreciate that it’s free with ads and a single IAP to remove the ads. There are no other IAPs or anything else to get between you and the game. So at least give it a try. It’s definitely different.
Shards of Infinity
Shards of Infinity is a card game where you build your deck with each turn. The idea is to amass lots of gems so you can then collect more powerful cards, and then use those cards to attack your opponent. If you collect enough Mastery points, you can even use the Shard of Infinity card to automatically win. I actually managed to do that on my first game against the easy AI, but purely by accident. I’m still learning the ropes, and I only seem to be able to win against the easy AI. Every time I play against the medium difficulty AI, I get demolished. It seems like a pretty cool game, though, so I look forward to spending more time with it. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like.
I played some of Wahler Digital’s puzzle game, SiNKR, a while back, which was partly inspired by “HOOK”. I never completed it, mostly because the lack of an undo button meant that messing up was permanent and I’d have to restart the level. But now, the developer has a sequel releasing this week on the 16th, and sent me an early copy. This game does have a limited undo button, which only allows you to undo your last move. In general, it does seem like a well-made puzzler, but it’s still not sucking me in and holding my attention. I do like that it plays in either portrait or landscape mode, so you can play with one hand on iPhone or hold your iPad comfortably in your lap. I can’t really put my finger on why it’s not drawing me in. But if you liked the first game, you should be happy for more of the same. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like and pre-order the game if it interests you.
Solar Explorer: New Dawn
Solar Explorer: New Dawn is a physics-based lander where you need to safely land your spaceships on the moon. It features realistic graphics, a gorgeous soundtrack, and compelling gameplay. But sadly, I suck at it and won’t be applying to work for NASA anytime soon. I think if you’ve played some other games of its ilk, you might have an easier time with it, but I have trouble figuring out just how much thrusters I should be using for a soft landing. After a few crashes on Medium difficulty, I tried Easy and did a lot better. Still, I struggled once things got a little harder with meteors flying at me and the path down to the moon getting more erratic. So I don’t think I have what it takes to excel at this game, but I appreciate the attention to detail and the overall look and feel of the game. If you like physics-based landers, you can pre-order it right now or wait a couple of days for it to release. You can also see my misadventures in space in the videos below.
Toppl. has already been out for a while now, but I hadn’t heard of it until the developer sent me a free copy a few days ago. It seemed interesting, so I gave it a try. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t really want to work in the way the game is asking it to, and instead I end up brute forcing it through trial and error until I get the solution. The idea is that you have a shape and you need to roll it towards an outline on the board. The catch is, the shape looks different on each side, and you need it to match up won’t the outline’s shape. There’s also a move counter and you only earn a star if you can do it in the minimum number of moves. I managed to complete about fifteen levels or so, but I really wasn’t enjoying it so I stopped. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see if it’s something you might like.
I had downloaded Jelly Juggle back when it first released, but I never got to trying it as it looked like something that would just stress me out. Since I was loving Ian MacLarty’s Jumpgrid so much, I thought I’d finally give it a try in case I was missing out on another potential favorite. Unfortunately, I was right, and it doesn’t have the same draw for me. It’s a perfectly good game, but I don’t have the skills to properly enjoy it and I bounced off it pretty quickly. Still, it’s free with ads and an ad removal IAP, so if you’re at all curious about it just give it a try.
She Remembers Caterpillars
I’d been waiting for She Remembers Caterpillars to make its way over to iOS ever since its PC release. Unfortunately, that day hasn’t come yet, but since I now have a Switch, I decided to give it a try on there while waiting for them to finish up the iOS port. In my first session, I was using the Switch’s joystick and buttons because that’s the only way I can record gameplay video. The whole time I was thinking how it would feel so much better on a touchscreen, though. That’s when the developer pointed out that it can be played with touch. So I played some more that way and it’s exactly as I’d hoped. The game has you controlling little creatures that come in different colors. The goal of each level is to get all the creatures to their little leaves so they can then fly off. The catch is, there are bridges that come in different colors and only creatures that contain that color can cross it. Then there are obstacles where only creatures of a different color can cross. In order to get everyone where they need to be, you need to merge creatures to create new colors, then split them apart again as necessary. So for instance, you may need to combine a blue creature and red creature to make a purple creature so they can both get over a blue bridge together. Then you may need to break them up again because there’s a blue barrier in the way. It gets pretty tricky, and I’m not even that far along. The touch controls feel great, except for the merging, but I’m hoping that can be refined, especially for the iOS version. Anyway, if you like puzzle games, this is definitely one to keep an eye out for. I would recommend waiting for the iOS version if you prefer touch controls. But the Switch version is great, too. You just need to get used to the joystick and buttons. I’ll definitely be posting more impressions of this game as I progress.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this past week! I also saw The Hustle, which I don’t think deserved its 11% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It was silly and kind of dumb, but perfectly entertaining. I almost skipped it because of the reviews and I’m glad I didn’t. Anyway, like I said, this month is turning out to be a crazy one full of quality premium games. I don’t even notice all the junk free-to-play games releasing because I just don’t have the time. It’s nice to see that premium games aren’t dead just yet. Have you picked up any of the games I’ve reviewed recently? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!