My Week Unwrapped: October 9, 2019 – Takoway, Grobo, Untitled Goose Game, Dear Esther, Figment, Reky 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. You may have noticed that Apple Arcade launched a few weeks ago and that most of my coverage since then has been about those games. You can see all that coverage here. Because of that, I’ve fallen behind on these regular weekly roundups. So consider this My Month Unwrapped. I won’t be covering any Apple Arcade games here — only individual apps. There’s also a Switch game thrown in because I was feeling some serious FOMO with the goose game. Anyway, there’s a lot to cover, so let’s get straight to it.

Takoway

I previewed Daylight Studios’ perspective-shifting puzzler, Takoway, a few weeks back, but now it’s out and available for everyone to play. There’s a lot to like about, not least its unique mechanics that allow you to switch between two different views — inside and outside the box. By simply swiping left or right, you pull the other perspective into view. It’s very touchscreen-friendly and clever, too. You simply tap on a node to move Tako, the six-tentacled hexapod, there. Early on, it’s just a matter of using the two perspectives to allow you to climb walls and reach the exit. But soon enough, Tako meets new friends that can help her. There are lizards that can switch a dome from one perspective to the other. That way, she won’t get trapped in it. Then there are snails that control rotating parts that block Tako if they’re rotated the wrong way. Then those mechanics get combined, with the snails rotating Tako inside a dome. Add portals to the mix, and there’s enough to make your brain hurt. In fact, I recommend playing it when you’re wide awake and focused, because it can be frustrating if you’re not firing on all cylinders. I like a lot about Takoway, especially its cute art style and clever mechanics. But there’s a few things that hold it back for me. Each level has a move counter to get a star, but it’s very easy to accidentally waste a move and then you have no choice but to start over. An undo button would be very welcome. I would also like a way to see my move count on the screen at all times instead of having to constantly pause to see how I’m doing. These two things would have helped keep me hooked instead of taking long breaks from the game. It’s also not a very long game, consisting of 36 levels, but the challenge makes it last longer than you’d think, especially if you try to earn all stars. I’ve already spent a few hours with the game and haven’t played through the final chapter yet. So if you like challenging puzzle games, you should enjoy this. It just requires patience if you want to get all stars. You can also watch my gameplay videos below if you want to see it in action, and check out my walkthrough guide if you get stuck.

Dear Esther

I’d heard great things over the years about The Chinese Room’s Dear Esther, even though I managed to avoid knowing too much about it. It’s supposed to be the original walking simulator and, since I enjoyed games like Gone Home, I had high expectations for this one as well. And now that it’s finally available on iOS, I could play it on my iPad from the comfort of my couch. The entire game consists of waking around an island. You can’t actually interact with anything, but at certain points you’ll trigger chunks of story told through letters. They’re fully voice acted, which helps with immersion, but I found the writing too pretentious. I had a general idea of what happened, but the writing made it hard for me to truly care about these people. I did enjoy walking around and exploring the glowing caves in particular, but I wish there had been better payoff. Overall, I found it mostly forgettable, but I could see how back in 2012 it might have been groundbreaking. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations and I’m not sure I would recommend it. If you’re still curious, it only lasts about two hours, so it doesn’t require too much of a commitment. And an iPad is a great way to experience it, as the controls are simply left side for movement and right side for camera. I also managed to avoid motion sickness, so I would say they did a pretty good job with the port.

Grobo

I played some of the gravity-defying puzzle game, Grobo, at PlayNYC a few months back and really liked what I saw. Since then, the game has been polished up and expanded upon and now it’s releasing tonight. The gist of it is that you play as a little robot named Grobo who has anti-gravity capabilities. You simply swipe in any direction and he’ll shoot over there until he lands on a wall. If there’s no wall, he’ll just fall to his death and you have to start the level over. The idea is to get to the computer terminal in a certain number of moves. Each swipe counts as a move, but you can also walk on platforms and fall off edges without using a move. Falling off an edge into space will force you to start over, as will hitting a spike or getting crushed by a cube. I’ve only played a few levels so far, but already things are getting pretty tricky. There’s also collectibles to find, and I already had a hard time collecting one of the early ones. So if you’re looking for a meaty yet accessible puzzle game, Grobo seems like a good choice. It also plays in portrait mode, making it easy to pull out and play anywhere. Again, you watch my gameplay video to see it in action, and I’ll likely have more about it in the future.

Untitled Goose Game

I almost didn’t buy Untitled Goose Game since I was already flooded with over 70 Apple Arcade games I couldn’t keep up with. But then it started popping up everywhere, with even my non-gaming friends posting memes on Facebook. So I decided to grab it on Switch instead of waiting for it to hopefully make its way over to iOS one day. If you somehow don’t know by now what the goose game is, it puts you in control of a horrible goose who steals things and causes trouble. Oh and he honks. A lot. After explaining the controls, the game leaves you to figure everything else out on your own, giving you a to-do list of tasks to complete. Early on, those include things like stealing the gardener’s keys, throwing the rake in the lake, and making a picnic. Since you’re a goose, you grab items with your beak and then run, hoping the gardener doesn’t catch you. The radio for the picnic is especially tricky, since it turns on when you grab it, calling attention to you. It took me a little while to figure out how to distract the gardener, but I managed to get all but one task done in the first area. I still don’t know how to make the gardener put on his sun hat. The next area looks even trickier, with goals like trapping a boy in a telephone booth. I haven’t even figured out how to open the phone booth! I really like what I’ve played so far, especially since there’s no fail state — if you mess up a task, you simply try again. Meanwhile, you can just run around and be a jerk and honk at people. If I wasn’t up to my neck with iOS games, I’d have definitely spent more time with this by now. But as is, I just haven’t been able to squeeze it into my schedule. But if you’re looking for something quirky and fun and have a Switch or PC to play on, I highly recommend it.

Journey

Thatgamecompany’s wordless desert-trekking exploration game, Journey, got ported to iOS a little while back. I had started it, but the spinning camera gave me a bad case of motion sickness and I had to stop. The game has since gotten an update that improved the camera, so I was able to continue. I’m still enjoying it, though it’s weird playing it after Sky, as it’s so clear that Sky is a sequel. The mechanics are all there, from the flying to the call that makes the scarf pieces lift you up the air. I’m enjoying it, but the game feels a little bare compared to Sky, so there’s more walking involved. I still want to complete it, and might have done so if Apple Arcade hadn’t launched. So I don’t know when that will happen, but I’ll be sure to update you with my thoughts once that happens.

Sky: Children of the Light

While we’re on the topic of Sky, the new season started, called Lightseekers. A friend gifted me a pass, so I’ve been collecting my candles and now have a really nice sun hat and fancy cape to go along with my deer mask from the Season of Gratitude. There’s also a new umbrella that protects you from the rain, though it’s not as useful as it sounds. You can fly with it, but if you hop or start a fire, it closes. So it’s not so practical. Still, it’s nice to see new items added. There are also flutes and — quite possibly the best part of the update — piggyback riding! It, too, needs some work, since the game separates you when you enter a new area. But I had great fun making a totem with four other friends and flying around the new hidden Easter egg area. There’s even a super with cat you can ride! You can watch some of my latest videos below, and check out my seasonal spirits guide here and seasonal candles guide here.

Card Thief

Tinytouchtales’ Card Thief went on sale this week for $0.99, so I decided to give it a try, despite having some issues with Card Crawl that kept me from enjoying it. The idea is that you are a thief in a dungeon. There are nine cards laid out at a time, some torches, some guards, some gold. There might also be a door or a barrel to hide in. You need to draw a path from your thief card to the other cards, trying to sneak past guards without getting caught. After you clear some cards, more are dealt to replace them. The goal is to grab the treasure and make it to the exit at the bottom of the deck without getting caught. I’m not going to explain all the mechanics here, as there’s a lot of factors at play. It is an interesting game and I do like it a lot, but I have the same problem with it as with Card Crawl. It’s a high score chaser in which you can’t really compete with others until you play a ton and unlock other cards. Since I need to earn the treasures to unlock new cards and new dungeons, I’m less willing to take risks. I go for the treasure when it’s easy to take, making the game feel like a huge grind. Contrast that with a game like Meteorfall, where I don’t need to worry much about losing, because there’s nothing to collect for the meta game. I can take risks to try and get a high score without worrying that I wasted time if I lost. With Card Thief, any game I didn’t win means I didn’t make progress and am no closer to getting to the next dungeon or the next card unlock. It makes the game less compelling for me, because I think of all the rounds I have to play before I can really start focusing on taking risks and getting a higher score. I already see my interest waning, as I haven’t opened it in a couple of days. I think it’s still worth trying out for $0.99, but I don’t really regret not buying it back when it first released.

Figment

Bedtime Digital Games released their surreal adventure game, Figment, back in 2017 on PC and I had been hoping it might one day make its way over to iOS. That day is coming sooner than expected, as it’s planned for release before the end of the year. I was lucky enough to get access ahead of release and have spent a good chunk of time with it. I don’t want to give too much away, but a child lives through a traumatic even and starts having nightmares. As the player, you take control of an odd creature who needs to defeat these nightmares and ease her suffering. The nightmares take on forms of monsters. The first one spawns snake heads that attack you and the next one throws stink bombs. And the whole time you’re chasing them, they’re rhyming, complete with voice acting. The game combines point-and-click adventure puzzling with some real-time battles. It all combines nicely and works well on touchscreens, too. I would just like to see the attack button made a bit bigger on my iPad. I don’t have any information yet on the exact release date, but I’ll be sure to update you when I know more. I’m really impressed with the game so far and look forward to playing through the rest of it.

Reky

I heard about beyondthosehills’ stylish minimalistic puzzle game, Reky, a few months back and was excited to play it. It releases tonight, but I got a copy ahead of time and gave it a try. Unfortunately, I’m finding the mechanics a bit confusing and it’s making it hard to get sucked in. I noticed near the end of the video below that cubes behave differently depending on the color you paint them. But the game never mentioned anything about that, so I wasn’t sure if that was intentional. It turns out it was, so I’m going to have it go back and give it another try and see if things click. The lack of a proper undo button makes it a bit cumbersome to mess around and experiment with the mechanics, especially since it takes a few seconds to restart a level. But I don’t want to dismiss it just yet, so I’m going to give it another chance and try to learn what each color does. Until then, you can watch my early gameplay video and see if it looks like something you might enjoy.

Krystopia

Krystopia is an upcoming adventure game that reminds me a lot of the Faraway series — perhaps a little too much. Unfortunately, it’s currently bugged and the inventory won’t work on my iPad. So I have to wait for an update to give it a proper go. I do like the look of it and was impressed by the voice acting. The story also seems interesting. But until I see more of the game, I can’t tell whether it’s any fun. So I’ll be sure to update you when I get deeper into it.

And that’s all the games I’ve been playing outside of Apple Arcade. I’ll try to continue covering standalone games, even if I can’t write reviews for them all or fit a weekly roundup in. Let me know in the comments section if you’ve been playing any of these games and I’ll see you back here next time with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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