My Week Unwrapped: August 7, 2019 – Sky, Journey, Kubrix, Battle Chasers, Leisure Suit Larry, Hamsterdam, and More

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Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. The astute observer may have noticed that I skipped a week, mostly because I got so deeply sucked into Sky that I didn’t play too many other games last week. But I’ve rectified that and have about fifteen games to cover from the last two weeks. There are some really great ones, a few duds, and both paid and free games to meet anyone’s needs. So let’s get straight to it!

Sky: Children of the Light

I reviewed Sky: Children of the Light shortly after it released and was pretty sure I would take a break from it until new content was added. But then I got a serious case of FOMO and decided I needed those seasonal items that you can only earn during the event. So I bought the adventure pass and have been going on every morning to earn my 6 seasonal candles. I’ve since upgraded three of the seasonal spirits and got some cool items, like a fox mask and dragon mask. I’ve even been updating this guide every day with the information needed to complete all four daily quests and find the extra seasonal candles. Since I’ve been spending so much time playing, I decided to also make a guide for the spirit and wing locations. I still wish it would ease up on the grind and high currency requirements for items. I’m also still not a fan of having to replay the game over and over to earn said currency. And I’m especially tired of watching the same cutscenes again and again. But it is a gorgeous game, and it’s fun to fly around with friends. I hope they can balance and tweak things better in the future to make it feel less like a chore so I can play when I want to and not when I need to. But even if they don’t, it’s still worth playing through it at least once to experience it.

Journey

Ever since Sky released, I’ve been hoping thatgamecompany’s 2012 console game, Journey, might make its way over to iOS, especially with all the comparisons I’ve seen made. I wanted to experience that mysterious — well, journey — through the vast, magical desert. And then, out of nowhere, without any warning whatsoever, the game was on the App Store yesterday morning. I’ve since played about a half hour and the game looks great. I do see the similarities to Sky. I even wonder if they take place in the same universe. Journey takes place in a desert and you pick up upgrades to lengthen your scarf, allowing you to fly higher and higher. Even though Sky gives you a cape for flying and not a scarf, it starts off in a desert area with scarves blowing in the wind. So Sky definitely feels like a sequel. The problem is, the camera in the iOS version of Journey is a mess. It spins around wildly at the slightest touch, so it’s impossible to get it to go where I want. The spinning also gave me a bad case of motion sickness after only twenty minutes. For comparison, I’ve put in hours and hours into Sky and haven’t gotten sick once. Hopefully they’ll fix the camera so I can continue playing. But in its current state, I can’t really recommend it.

Kubrix

Kenny Sun is known for making quirky and unique games that either stand out for their mechanics, their presentation, or both. His games also jump from genre to genre, so I haven’t loved every one. But Yankai’s Triangle sucked me in when it first released and I put a lot of time into it. It’s an endless puzzle game about matching triangle colors to each other. It’s kind of like the digital version of a fidget spinner, giving you something to do with your fingers. The art style and bizarre sounds are also a huge part of what kept me hooked on the game. So I was excited to see he was making a new game called Kubrix, which is basically Yankai’s Cube. Once again, you’re rotating shapes. Only this time, the goal is to connect line segments to light up square nodes. There’s a certain number of nodes in each level, and the number is shown at the top so you don’t have to guess. Once again, there are infinite levels, so there’s no real difficulty curve to be seen. You might get a super tricky puzzle followed by a very easy one. I also didn’t even encounter new mechanics until around level 45 or so. But it’s almost like a meditative experience, so that’s perfectly fine. Even the level names are entertaining, as they’re well-known phrases with the word “brick” replacing another word. The game’s name is also a play on the name Stanley Kubrick and a combination of the two words “cube” and “bricks.” The game is also free and supported by ads, with a low $1.99 IAP to permanently remove pop-up ads. There does seem to be opt-in ads for hints, but you earn those through regular play as well. And for folks like me who don’t like using hints, there’s a crazy clicker game hidden inside it so you can spend your hints on something besides actual hints. I thought that was both bonkers and also kind of cool. I also started a walkthrough here if anyone needs help. The game is free, so try it and see if you like it enough to pay to remove the ads.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Handygames’ Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a PC port of an absolutely stunning turn-based RPG full of quality voice acting, a story I actually want to follow, and a world that’s fun to explore. I’ve only spent about an hour with it so far because I keep getting distracted by other games and want to give it my full attention. But I plan to play some more this week. My main complaints at the moment are technical ones — it only works with the Home button on the right, and that means my headphones are in the way of my left hand. There’s also no iCloud sync, so I’m stuck playing the game only on my iPad and never away from home. I think the developers are planning to add that, though. Anyway, you can watch my gameplay videos below to see what it’s like and I’ll hopefully have more to show and say next week.

Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry

I’ve never played any Leisure Suit Larry games before, so I don’t have any nostalgia for the series. But the latest game, Wet Dreams Don’t Die, recently got ported over and it’s free to start and then costs a one-time IAP to unlock the rest. So I figured I’d give it a try, even though Larry sounds a bit offensive to me. The free part of the game lasted me over an hour, so it was pretty generous and also gave me a good feel for the tone and gameplay. I’m actually enjoying it quite a bit, especially the way it makes fun of social networks like Farcebook, Instacrap and Timber. The bathroom jokes are a bit too much for me, but I’m enjoying the riff on Apple, Prune Incorporated. It’s owned by Bill Jobs, aka BJ. Some of it might be cheap humor, but it still got a few chuckles out of me. I’m considering buying the rest of the game, but I haven’t decided yet. There’s just so many games on my plate! Anyway, check out my video below or play the free part yourself to decide if you want to spend $13.99 to play the rest.

Hamsterdam

Hamsterdam is a cute little brawler where you play as a hamster taking on other animals like rats, rabbits and weasels. You need to time both your taps and your swipes, and occasionally even perform a rhythm game of QTEs. It’s fun for a little while, but I’m finding everything to be a bit too spread out on my iPad. I can’t really play with a thumb on each side of the screen, and holding with one hand and tapping/swiping with the other means my finger is never really close to the action. I would like to switch to my iPhone, but there’s no iCloud and I haven’t really been feeling like starting over. So I just haven’t touched it since that first session. I also don’t like how the special missions for each level can’t be seen on the map, so you have to tap on a level to check whether you missed anything there. The game is only $1.99 and those hamsters sure are cute. So if you’re curious about it and like brawlers or rhythm games, it’s not a big risk to take. You can also watch some of my gameplay video if you need help deciding.

Secret Signs

Secret Signs is a short little puzzle game that asks you to experiment and figure things out on your own. There are hints, but it’s more satisfying if you don’t use them. The the game reminds me a lot of The Guides and Bart Bonte’s color games, where each level tasks you with turning the whole screen that one color. The problem is, it seems to be a mixed bag of puzzles that are mostly too easy and an occasional one that is reflex-based or ones that just don’t have the greatest feedback. Some are clever and fun to figure out, but I think the game is too short, making the easier ones and problematic ones stand out more. A few puzzles are also bugged at the moment, but the developers said they already pushed an update through. Overall, I like the minimalistic presentation and how you get an education after solving each puzzle. But I’m not finding it particularly fun to play, nor as impressive as other games of its ilk. The first eight levels are free, though, and the sixteen remaining are on sale today for only $0.99. So give it a try and make sure to grab it at the discounted price if you like it. I also started a walkthrough here if you get stuck.

Apocalypse Inc.

I never played Plague Inc. or Rebel Inc., so I have nothing to compare to, but the developer of Apocalypse Inc. sent me a copy and I played through each of the four scenarios once. The idea is basically to start catastrophes that will destroy mankind as quickly as possible. The vary from Nowadays, Mystical, Future and Past. So a future scenario might involve killer robots, a mystical one could see werewolves taking over the world, and a past scenario could involve barbarians. Each game starts with you rotating the planet to look for “sins.” You tap to collect them and then can use them to unlock something like ghosts or war. You continue collecting sins and use them to upgrade each type of disaster. There’s several branches you can choose in each scenario, and some are more effective than others. The problem I had with it is that you’re scored on a star system, and I couldn’t tell what would keep me from getting three stars on some games. I got two stars when I completed the game in 6 years, but then got three stars when I completed it in almost eight. There’s no feedback on the scoring system, so it makes it feel pointless to go back and try again. I’m also not sure if it’s ok to stop and read the story or if that causes me to do worse. In any case, it’s an interesting concept, but I think it needs some work to make it worth replaying. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see if you might want to play it.

Bear With Me

I’d never heard of Bear With Me before, but it seemed like an interesting noir point-and-click adventure. It’s also free to try out before shelling out money on the rest of the game, so I figured I’d give it a go. I do like the hand-drawn animations and there’s some impressive voice acting. I even like the whole idea of a teddy bear solving crimes. But the characters move at a turtle’s pace, making every action painfully slow. I also couldn’t find any hotspot locator, so I spent most of my time with it pixel hunting, tapping everywhere to see what was interactive. At the end of the trial version, I didn’t really want to continue with it, so I’m going to just move on. But check it out anyway since it’s free to try.

Lull Aby: Dreamland Adventure

Lull Aby is about a child named Aby, and the name is a play on the word “lullaby.” It’s a level-based platformer in which you need to build the platforms that you jump onto. Basically, the right side has some platforms lined up. As Aby automatically runs to the right, you need to tap a platform and make it appear at that height right in front of Aby. Tap the left side of the screen to make Aby jump. The idea is to keep the platforms coming at a fast enough pace that Aby won’t fall to his death. There are also a limited number of each kind of platform, so you have to choose wisely. There are orbs to collect and obstacles to avoid. Overall, it seems like a pretty neat idea, but it’s just not my kind of game. I find it too stressful even early on. But check out my gameplay video if you want to see what it’s like. I’m sure there’s an audience out there for it, even if it’s not me.

Exospecies

Exospecies seems like an interesting concept, but it needs some polishing. If you’re playing in landscape mode, you have to turn your device sometimes to read instructions. It’s also a turn-based strategy game where you have to move characters across the board. But the board is zoomed in all the way, even on my nice big iPad, with no way to zoom out that I could find. It means you’re going to spend a lot of time dragging the camera around just see what’s happening. That alone was enough to make me not want to bother with it. But it’s free, so if the idea intrigues you, give it a try.

The Black Widow

I really don’t know what to make of The Black Widow. It has an interesting concept, where you talk with the dead through a Ouija board. It seems to have adopted gameplay similar to Her Story, where you need to search a word and see which clips come up. But it’s far less interesting and far less polished. It’s hard to tell why some words work and others don’t, when I’ve heard the words in other clips. It also crashed a few times on me. The dialogue is also pretty sleep-inducing. But the worst is the way they animated the woman’s face off a photograph. It’s comical watching her talk, and I was too distracted by that to even focus on her words. So I quit after about ten minutes or so. I wouldn’t recommend this one.

The Original Mobile Games

I tried out an older game called The Original Mobile Games because a friend asked me to compare the physics to the Switch version. It’s a collection of old physical tilt-controlled games like Labyrinth turned into digital versions. I only played through the free content, but I also found the physics lacking. I’m also not a huge fan of tilt controls, so I lost interest pretty quickly. But give it a try if you want!

Unhatched

Unhatched is a card-based game inspired by Reigns‘ binary choices that’s scheduled to release on August 14th. It’s kind of a cross between Reigns and Meteorfall, where you use a deck of cards to battle opponents. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, as one of your battles is against a jar of pickles. I went into more detail about the mechanics in this preview piece, so I don’t want to repeat myself. But it feels like a clever spin on card-based battlers. What I find most interesting is that nothing is randomized. Each battle is hand-crafted like a puzzle, so there’s a right solution for each. Take a look at my gameplay video below and pre-order the game it strikes your fancy.

SNIKS

SNIKS is an adorable puzzler from Shelly Alon that’s releasing on August 14th. It has you swiping colorful two-headed snakes around a grid to get them to eat same-colored fruits. You can overlap snakes to make new colors, such as blue and red to make purple. New mechanics are added in every world to keep things interesting. There’s also some flexibility once you get to the harder levels, so you’re not stuck staring at one puzzle until you solve it. With iCloud sync and a game that’s perfect for one-handed play, SNIKS is the full package. I should have more to say when it releases, but you can read my early impressions here and pre-order it now for a dollar off.

And that’s everything I’ve been playing these past two weeks, along with the upcoming Golf Peaks content update that adds twelve new devious puzzles. And on the news side of things, the final chapter of Agent A is finally coming August 29th! There’s so many great games to play these days that I can hardly keep up. So you should have no trouble finding something new to grab from this list. I’ve also been catching up on Veronica Mars and am constantly surprised by how many actors have had guest roles on the show. I just saw Lucy Lawless, aka Xena, in an episode! It’s a campy show that feels a lot like Riverdale, but it’s pretty good mindless fun to watch between playing games. Anyway, let me know in the comments section what games you’ve been playing and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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Gaia

Lisa, this LSL game has nothing to do with the original developer, it’s basically a fan tribute. The originals (all of which I played way back, bar Magna cum Laude (emphasis on the ‘cum’, the ‘story’ such as it was, was that Larry had managed to get to university (a complete implausibility as he flunked elementary school) and was getting off with as many big boobed freshers as possible. That was basically it. It was universally panned, so I didn’t bother). The original writer was Al Lowe, and the games were published by Sierra, who also published his Space Quest… Read more »

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