Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. It’s been a pretty crazy week, and I’ve managed to play a lot of games, despite spending Saturday at Playcrafting’s game conference, Play NYC. I somehow knocked out some full reviews and made plenty of gameplay videos. August is turning out to be quite the month for both quality PC ports and original mobile games. It’s only halfway through and we still have GRIS and Dead Cells to look forward to, among others. It’s a great time to be an iOS gamer! So continue on to discover what I’ve been playing this week.
SNIKS is the latest puzzle game by Shelly Alon of Sputnik Eyes fame, and it combines clever mechanics with colorful minimalistic artwork and adorable sound effects. If you’re searching for your next puzzle fix, look no further. It has you controlling little two-headed gummy worms to eat up same-colored fruits. It may seem very familiar at first, but what really helps it stand out is the color-mixing mechanic. See, you can overlap snakes to get new colors. If there’s a green pear lying about, you need to get both a yellow snake and a blue snake to eat it. Then the two combine to make green. There’s over one hundred levels spread out over six worlds, with new mechanics added in each one. I think you should just grab it without another thought, but if you want to know more, you can read my full review here.
Unhatched is a card-based puzzler developed by Philip Loster with artwork by Karol Sollich. I wrote a bit about it a several weeks ago after playing through the first few quests, but the game got some improvements since then. I restarted and got to experience it with better tips for the earlier part of the game. I finished the current content and really enjoyed it, but was a little disappointed to see that the story isn’t complete yet. The developer does have it written and is planning to include it as a free DLC, but just be aware of it. The price is still a great deal for a game that feels familiar but unique at the same time. I wrote a full review already, so I’ll just let you read that instead of rehashing everything.
SARKWO has actually been out for a couple of weeks now, but I couldn’t get a good feel from the App Store description whether it would be something I’d enjoy. Then the developer sent me a copy, so I gave it a try. It’s not a long game, as I completed it in one sitting. But I did enjoy my time with it. It reminded me a bit of Puzzlepops!, since you need to slide colored pieces around a grid to each of their goals. But what makes it different from Puzzlepops is that each swipe moves all the pieces at once. It’s still a familiar mechanic, but things are mixed up as you progress, and some levels can be quite tricky. I do wish it had been longer and made more use of its more clever mechanics, since there’s only around 45 levels total. I would have also preferred it in portrait mode, as it would make a great one-handed game with its simple controls. I’m glad I played it, but just be aware that it’s a short experience if you’re thinking of picking it up.
I almost completely skipped Devolver Digital’s Witcheye because I thought it was a traditional hardcore platformer with onscreen controls and that I wouldn’t last five minutes with it. It turns out that it’s actually gesture-based and very touchscreen-friendly. In it, you play literally as a witch’s eye. You’re chasing after a knight who stole all your loot and trying to get it back. There are no buttons. Instead, the eye floats around. You swipe anywhere on the screen to send it in that direction. It will then ricochet off walls and enemies. You can also tap and hold the screen to stop the eye in place. You start off with a generous amount of health and some fairly easy enemies to dispose of. Each level has a certain number of gems to collect, as well. That part can be tricky, as the gems sink through the floor after enemies drop them. So you need to pick them up fast or miss out on them completely. I haven’t finished the first world yet, and I missed gems in almost every level. But it still feels fairly forgiving and approachable to me. I do want to spend more time with it this week, so keep an eye out for more about it. You can also watch my gameplay video below.
I actually haven’t played GRIS on iOS yet, though it is coming on August 22nd. After playing through the PC demo at PlayNYC over the weekend, I was too excited to sit for it. I managed to get a Switch copy so I could get a head-start and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s just absolutely stunning. I also like that it’s a puzzle platformer without any death to worry about. There are some difficult platforming sections that require precision and decent reflexes, but the worst thing that happens if you mess up is that you try again. So missing a jump a few times can be a little frustrating, but unlikely to cause ragequit. Right now, I’m actually stuck on a puzzle section, trying to figure out how I can use my heavy cube form to weigh down two separate platforms. I can’t wait to have this game in my pocket, but for now am enjoying it on my big screen. I should have more about the iOS version closer to release, but if you want to take the plunge, you can pre-order it now. I also have some Switch gameplay footage below.
Rogue Legacy is a well-known PC and console game that was released in 2013. It was ported to iOS this week out of nowhere and was on sale for the ridiculously low price of $0.99, so I snatched it up. It’s a roguelite, in that you start from scratch each time you die and then have to try to make it further on your next run. But you can use the gold you earn to buy upgrades that help you survive longer. The catch is, any unused gold has to be forfeited when you enter the dungeon. So you can’t accumulate gold by earning a small amount at the beginning of the dungeon over and over. It’s a nice compromise that keeps the game from feeling like a meaningless grind for gold. I also like how your knight is randomized for each run, with different perks that could be either beneficial or detrimental. It also has iCloud saves and completely customizable buttons. I only wish that I didn’t suck so much at it, because there’s a lot to like.
Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Don’t Dry
I already spoke about the new Leisure Suit Larry port, Wet Dreams Don’t Dry, last week when I played through the very generous free trial. I’ve since unlocked the full game and made some more progress. I still like the humor that makes fun of modern technology and social networks, but I’m currently stuck and unsure what to do next. I know I need clippers to trim a bush so I can get the key from inside it, but I’m not sure how to sneak the clippers out of the hooker’s apartment. Such a dilemma! Hopefully I can figure it out and make some progress in time for next week’s roundup. Until then, you can check out my gameplay video below.
Endless Runner X
Endless Runner X seems like a typical endless runner at first, and since it uses the dinosaur and cacti artwork from Google Chrome’s runner game, no one would fault you for thinking it’s just some shameless ripoff. But there’s actually a lot more to it. You see, every thousand points you manage to run without tripping, the game changes. Your dinosaur might get bigger or smaller, or start running upside-down. Suddenly you might even be a cactus jumping over dinosaurs. All sorts of crazy things happen, and there’s plenty of fourth wall-breaking humor to go along with it. I’ve been enjoying it so far, though it starts to make me a bit dizzy after a while. It’s a neat concept, though, and it’s free with ads and a single IAP to remove the ads. So there’s nothing to lose — just give it a try.
And for anyone concerned that the developers ripped off the artwork of the Google Chrome runner, this is what they told me: “The original game is part of the open-source Chromium project that lets you reuse or remake the game as long as you include the license and don’t use the words Google or Chrome in your advertising.”
I didn’t know much about They Breathe, but it looked like an artsy game that might be relaxing, so I grabbed it for $1.99. I suppose I should have read the description more carefully, because it’s not relaxing at all. In it, you play as a little frog diving underwater. You move by either tapping where you want your frog to go, or dragging your finger around for him to follow. He needs to breathe, so you need to lead him to air bubbles that float up. You can also help other frogs get to air, but that seems to be optional. Where things get stressful, though, is when you start to encounter other animals that are trying to kill you. Staying alive requires keeping away from them so they don’t kill you, getting enough oxygen to stay alive, and depriving them of oxygen so they’ll eventually die. Later, you encounter creatures that actually die from oxygen, so you have to change up your strategy. It’s an interesting concept and I like how bizarre it is. But the gameplay is just too stressful and too exhausting for me. After ten minutes of frantically swiping my frog around the screen to avoid enemies, I had my fill. I know the game is only meant last about thirty minutes, but I can’t see going back for the rest. It’s just too fast-paced for me and I’m not enjoying it. Still, you can watch some of my gameplay video below and see if it’s something you might like.
I had the pleasure of trying out Fourzy at Play NYC this weekend and loved the colorful and cutesy art style, as well as the gameplay that allows for single-player mode, two-player local, and two-player over internet. It’s sort of a cross between Connect Four and Tic-Tac-Toe, as the goal is to make four in a row before your opponent does. But, unlike Connect Four, you can drop the pieces from any of the four sides of the board. There are also lots of different kinds of boards with obstacles like sticky tiles, ice, and so much more. The game is best played with friends, but I’m finding the single-player puzzles to be a good challenge, as well. There’s no word on the release date yet, but you can join the beta if you can’t wait to play.
I’ve yet to be convinced that augmented reality (AR) is useful as anything more than a gimmick. I’ve seen it used in fun and creative ways — like Pokemon Go or Avo — but that usually involves bringing some critter into our world for a bit and then getting on with your day. There’s also been the occasional puzzle that shows off the technology, like in The Company Game. Some games even give the option to play the entire game in AR mode, but only if you want to. That can be a fun little gimmick for a bit, but I wouldn’t want to be forced to play that way. And that brings me to Diorama Detective, the latest in the puzzling trend of games that are designed to only work in AR mode. This means you don’t have the choice to just sit on your couch with your iPad in your lap, or to play on a bus ride with your iPhone. You have to use your device like a camera, walking around the center of the room — preferably a table — to see the game come alive in your world. It’s a neat trick for a few minutes, but not something I want to be forced into for long periods of time. Unfortunately, that’s what Diorama Detective demands of me and it makes for a very unpleasant experience. What’s so frustrating about it, though, is that the game seems like it would be a lot of fun, especially for kids, if you could just interact with it normally, swiping around your iPad to control the camera. But having to use my body as the camera is just more trouble than it’s worth. You can see what I mean in the video below. I hope the developer might consider offering a non-AR option, in which case I would revisit it. Otherwise, I’m going to have to give Diorama Detective a pass.
And that’s everything I’ve been up to this week, along with some games I can’t talk about yet. I’m also still collecting my seasonal candles every day in Sky, trying to earn all the seasonal items before time runs out. If you can’t find a good iOS game to play right now, I’m not sure what to tell you. There’s just so many amazing releases every week and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. With Apple Arcade coming in the fall, I only see things getting better. Anyway, let me know in the comments section which games you’ve picked up and I’ll see you back here next time with more of My Week Unwrapped!