Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. This time, I don’t have any full reviews written, but I still tried out a lot of games, so there’s plenty to cover. Also, Memorial Day was yesterday and, because of it, many games went on sale and still are. I made a list here, so make sure you check to see if anything strikes your fancy. I spent much of my long weekend binging the new Netflix show What/If and I don’t regret it one bit. I love good bad shows that Netflix seems to specialize in. Anyway, like I said, lots of games to cover. So let’s jump right in.
I’d been on the lookout for KIDS ever since it was announced, as I loved the weirdness of it. It’s by the same developer as Plug & Play and, as the App Store description says, it only takes about 15 – 30 minutes to complete. I actually had never played Plug & Play before, but I enjoyed KIDS enough to buy it and play through it. I did notice some similarities, though KIDS is not quite as weird as it’s predecessor. While the exact interpretation is up to each player, there’s clearly something here about crowds and conforming to them or breaking away from them. It’s more of an interactive short film than a game, but each vignette requires input. On one, you may need to push everyone into a hole, on another you need to get all the people clapping, and on another you need to swim upstream against the crowd. It is longer than Plug & Play, though there’s some repetition. Overall, I enjoyed it, but make sure you understand what you’re buying. If you’re not ok with spending $3 on a very short interactive film, then simply don’t. But if you have a few bucks to spare, I think it’s worth experiencing.
Plug & Play
Like I said above, I hadn’t played Plug & Play before, but after KIDS I was curious about it. Plug & Play is definitely the weirder of the two, though they have some things in common. This one’s much shorter and only took me about ten minutes to complete. I think it’s worth playing — or at least watching on YouTube if you think $3 is too much for 10 to 15 minutes of entertainment. Maybe it’ll even go on sale to celebrate the release of KIDS. In any case, I’m glad weird, experimental stuff like this exists and I hope these developers will continue making bizarre games for us.
Zombie Night Terror
I love the idea of Zombie Night Terror. You infect humans with a deadly virus and create a zombie army. These zombies move around on their own and infect other humans to join their ranks. You can’t control the zombies directly, but you can interact with things in the environment to help them move along. For instance, weakening a door allows them to break through it. You can also change the direction below stairs to make them go up the stairs instead of down or ignoring them completely. It’s essentially Lemmings with zombies. There are different skills you can use, as well, like one that turns a zombie into a sort of traffic director. Any other zombies that encounter it will head towards the direction it’s pointing. There are other skills you learn later, but I haven’t gotten very far. After my first session, I haven’t been that eager to return. That’s due to a few things. First, I’m not a fan of having the action spanning across multiple screens. There’s a lot going on, and while you’re focusing on one area, something off-screen could be messing up your whole run. I think games like this work better when everything is visible at once on the same screen. You can pause the action while you look around, but I don’t think that’s really enough. Another thing that bothered me is that some levels have either main objectives or extra objectives not let any of your zombies get killed. That means you would have to directly infect any humans with weapons so they can’t kill any zombies. The problem with that is the pixel art tends to get in the way. It’s not that easy to tell who has a weapon, so you could miss one and have to restart the level because of it. I would have liked it to be glaringly obvious which humans have weapons so I could plan my strategy around them and not be surprised. It is a puzzle game, after all. And on further research, I learned that the game only gets harder and more reliable on precisely timed actions, so I think I’m just going to call it quits on this one. If you have more patience than me, though, you might enjoy it.
Somehow I missed Word Forward when it initially released about five years ago. Luckily, it’s back now and has remained a fully premium game with no ads or in-app purchases. I’ve only played the first few levels, but I really like it so far. Like most word finder games, you need to string together letters to make words. The longer the word, the better. Mainly because any word over three letters gives you more swap tokens. Swap tokens allow you to swap two letters so you have more freedom when looking for words. You still need to be careful not to leave any letters stranded on their own, because you can only make words from letters that touch. You also have some power-ups you can use in a pinch, like a bomb or one that changes all the remaining letters on the board. But if you use too many power-ups, you’ll finish the level with fewer stars. It all works really nicely together, as you can make it easier on yourself by using more power-ups. The only reason I’m going through it so slowly is because I try to take my time and get bigger words, and also get three stars per level. I see that there’s a ton of content, so I think this one will take me a long time to finish. But it’s great for playing in portrait mode when you have a little time to kill and want to work your brain. If you want to see it in action, check out my gameplay video below.
Honestly, I can’t really say much about Despotism 3k yet. I bought it because I like dark humor and the idea of torturing humans. But my first two games didn’t go too well and I haven’t been back to it yet. I keep meaning to, but I’m still getting over a nasty cold and it makes me less eager to play games that require my undivided attention and fast reflexes. I also found the tutorial less helpful than I’d like. So I’ll hopefully play more when I’m feeling better and be able to give more impressions next week. But you can still watch my video to see what it’s like.
Ritual: Sorcerer Angel
I was so pulled on by the artwork of Ritual: Sorcerer Angel, that I ignored the exclamation at the top that said “Watch the game play itself!” I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do that, but I gave a try anyway. And it turns out it wasn’t exaggerating. Basically, you swipe to send your character in on direction and then it bounces off walls and enemies like a ping pong ball. The only thing you can do to help is either create a shield or shoot projectiles when the little guy picks up enough mana crystals. But you can’t direct it towards the crystals or towards specific enemies. All you can do is watch helplessly as it bounces around not picking up all the mana crystals. In the first few levels, it didn’t seem like I was taking any damage at all, but then all of a sudden I was getting knocked out in one hit. Someone pointed out that I missed something on the map that would have allowed me to level up. So that could be why I was struggling to survive at that point. Still, I don’t see any reason to go back to the game. It feels like an utter waste of time watching him bounce around and not having much input at all. But if that’s your jam, you do you. I appreciate that the game is at least free with a premium unlock and not riddled with IAPs.
Warriors of Waterdeep
I didn’t have much hopes for the Dungeons & Dragons game, Warriors of Waterdeep, knowing that it’s free-to-play and from Ludia, who are good at making attractive games with horrible monetization. I gave it a try anyway and was surprised that the battles themselves are actually fairly deep compared to so many other F2P games these days that don’t give you much freedom. You have a party of about three or four warriors and each turn they can attack, use a skill, or move. Skills have cooldowns, but there are also dice rolls that add a little chance to it. You can roll a dice to try and increase your attack damage, but it could also reduce it! The artwork isn’t the most impressive out there, but it still looks great. I could have seen myself playing this in short bursts. But then I hit the dreaded F2P wall. See, you earn loot and coins from each battle. But the loot doesn’t really work like normal equipment. Instead, you get pieces of, say, a pair of boots. Once you have all the pieces that make up that pair of boots, you equip them to the appropriate warrior and that gives them experience. Then they can level up. But equipping items costs gold, as does leveling up. At first it seemed like I had plenty and then all of a sudden I ran out. I didn’t find it much fun to keep looting equipment I couldn’t use because I didn’t have the gold. And you can’t even grind older levels for loot, though there is a challenge mode that might be good for grinding. Basically, the game pushes you pretty early on to start buying gold with real cash. And if you don’t, you’ll probably be weak in the dungeons and then it’ll push you to spend gems to revive instead of accepting defeat. In my old age, I really don’t have patience for this nonsense, so it’s easier to just move on and play other games instead. It does hurt, though, seeing the basis of what could have been a solid game if it had just had an upfront cost and none of this IAP crap.
Puzzle Retreat is another game I missed from a few years ago. After playing The Gardens Between, I was looking through the Voxel Agents’ other games and found this. Since it was free, I gave it a shot. The puzzles all involve sliding blocks of ice into wooden holes. New mechanics are added later, like fire and bonsai trees, to shake things up. If you play a lot of adventure games, you’ve probably seen something like this in some form somewhere. It plays in portrait mode, has no time restrictions, and even has an undo button. The difficultly curve can be a bit off at times, but I find it a nice relaxing game to play when I have a few minutes to spare. The first two packs are free and then each one after that is $0.99 or $6.99 for the whole game. There are also time-sensitive offers and it got me on the $1.99 for three packs. I do wish there was less filler, as the first puzzle in that first paid Pack was very easy. But I don’t regret buying them. I like being able to play a couple of levels at a time. I don’t know if it’ll hold my interest long enough to need all nine paid packs, but we’ll see when I finish these three. In any case, if you haven’t played it yet, I highly recommend giving it a try.
One Deck Dungeon
I’d heard great things about One Deck Dungeon, but I ignored it when it released on iPad because I knew I probably wouldn’t play it much on there. I’m much more likely to stick with a card-based dungeon crawler if it plays in portrait mode on my iPhone. And this past week, that’s exactly what happened. Not only did Handelabra Studio add iPhone support to make it a universal game, but it plays in portrait mode on there. And it doesn’t suffer for it, either. It feels great playing with one hand and everything’s easy to read, easy to access. Unfortunately, there’s no iCloud sync, which will affect those who already had the game more. It means your iPad progress won’t sync over to your iPhone. That’s not too much of an issue for me, as I’ll just avoid playing on my iPad. The problem is, I don’t think I can enjoy a game that’s so reliant on dice rolls. I played 2 – 3 games and always felt like my success depended on whether I got high or low dice rolls. There are a few ways you can mitigate your luck, but it never felt meaningful enough for me. There are permanent skills and upgrades you can earn to make things easier, but that also involves playing a lot of games and grinding for those points to put into it. So, as nice as the portrait mode feels, I’m not sure it’s something I’ll stick with. But check out my video below and decide for yourself.
Bewildebots is a puzzle game with an interesting twist that’s releasing on June 4th. In it, you have several robots who you have to get to the goals. The catch is, they all move together. And there are hazards that can kill them if you’re not careful. It’s turn-based, making it a pretty chill game. The way it works is you swipe left or right to turn the robots and then tap to move them in the direction they’re facing. I found the turning controls hard to get used to, so I kept messing up and then restarting. In the video below, you can see I was frustrated because of the stats the game keeps track of. It counts your moves and your attempts, even though there’s no minimum move count to strive for. I found that distracting, even if you can turn them off. But the developer listened to my feedback and updated the game so the stats are hidden by default and take extra work to unlock them. Now the game feels much more relaxed, as I’m not worrying about the stats. He also added an undo button and made sure turning doesn’t count as a move (if you decide to keep the stats on). That way, I don’t have to worry about swiping the wrong direction. The game feels much better now, and I really appreciate that it plays in portrait or landscape mode on any device. There’s no iCloud sync, unfortunately, but I’m going to try and catch up on my iPhone so I can play it with one hand. I’ll hopefully spend more time with it and have more to say next week when it’s out. Until then, feel free to watch my gameplay video.
Sole Light is an upcoming puzzle game that’s like Monument Valley, QB, and Playdead’s INSIDE all rolled into one. I only played one chapter that’s available as part of a public beta. But I really enjoyed it. You walk along a path that crumbles under your feet, pushing stones onto switches to activate moving platforms. You can also control zombies to help you, and the order you do it in matters. The only thing I felt that was missing is an undo button, and the developer said that’s already planned for the full release. There’s no word on when that will be, but I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on this one.
Ben 10 Heroes
Ben 10 is the latest franchise to get a match-three game based off of it. I liked the cartoon at one point and figured the different aliens could offer a nice twist on the genre. I played through the first chapter, though, and found the mechanics to be weird. You need to still match three or more of the same gem in a row, but you can use a gem from anywhere on the board. That, in theory, makes it way too easy — and to an extent that’s true — but it also had trouble sometimes telling which gem I wanted to move where. I guess that’s the down side to having full freedom. The game hasn’t been all that difficult yet, so it isn’t a big deal. What is a big deal, though, is that I got a heat warning from my phone shortly after playing for only about thirty minutes. I’ve never seen that before and find it pretty worrisome, so I deleted the game and will not be playing it anymore.
I avoided AFK Arena since it released because I’m not all that interested in idle games. But I finally caved due to the gorgeous artwork. I was actually surprised by how generous the game is for one reliant on IAPS. I even spent almost an hour playing before putting it down. But I’m not sure I’ll go back to it. I felt like I wasted that hour doing nothing. You see, the game pretty much plays itself. You just upgrade your heroes and send them off to battle, then watch it play out. You can shoot off the special skills yourself or automate them so you really don’t have to do anything. The game even gives you rewards for being away. What bothers me, though, is that I couldn’t speed up the battles because I hadn’t made it far enough in the game for that. I don’t understand why I have to watch the battles play out more slowly just because I’m earlier on in the game. That really annoyed me. I might have stuck with it longer if I felt like it wasn’t wasting so much of my time staring at it and doing nothing. So I’ll probably just forget about it. Those character drawings really are nice, though.
And last, I finally finished my walkthrough guide for Syntaxity’s Bigfoot Quest since it’s currently free and more people are looking for help. It’s shorter than the developer’s other games and has a couple of clues that aren’t the clearest, but overall it’s a decent point-and-click game. Definitely grab it for free and then decide if you feel like playing it. I don’t have a video yet, but I’ll make one eventually, preferably when I don’t sound all stuffed up and nasally from a cold.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week, aside from the Meteorfall dailies and some other games that got updates, like Humbug. I’ve also been playing a few upcoming games I can’t talk about yet, so expect next week to be pretty big, as well. Anyway, I need to get back to those games. So let me know in the comments section what you’ve been playing and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!