Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. My Apple Arcade coverage is winding down now that new games are no longer being released on a weekly basis. So, even though this post is a few days late, I’m going to try to get back on a schedule. Some of these are new games, but since there’s a massive Thanksgiving and Black Friday sale going on, I wanted to also cover some games that are on sale but I hadn’t played before. That means there’s a lot to cover, so get comfy!
The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature
LaBelle Games teamed up with ARTE France to bring their choice-based adventure game, The Wanderer, to iOS. It’s based on Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein, and puts you in the role of the monster himself. The combination of watercolor artwork, sharp writing, and a stunning soundtrack kept me hooked until the very end. There are multiple endings depending on the choices you made, but I only saw one of them. I’d like to replay it if I ever find the time, but even if I don’t, it was a moving experience and I’m so glad it came to iOS. I would recommend it to anyone who likes games that are more art than challenge. You can read my full review here and see more gameplay videos here.
Figment: Journey Into the Mind
I’ve already mentioned Bedtime Digital Games’ Figment a couple of times over the last few weeks, but now it’s finally available on the App Store. It’s a charming adventure game that combines puzzles with real-time battles. I just spent more time with it today and enjoyed solving some clever puzzles dealing with cracking open seeds and then watering them so I could plant them. I also love the voice acting and quirky world-building. The combat is the least enjoyable aspect for me, mainly because the touchscreen joystick can be a bit imprecise. It can be difficult to dodge attacks when I don’t feel like I have good control over my character. The game does have controller support, though, and I just bought a PS4 controller, so I may give that a try and see if it improves the experience. It’s still a lovely game, with singing bosses and plants that sprout musical instruments. The game has a ton of charm and I hope to see it through to the end, either with the touchscreen controls or a controller. Either way, it’s free to try, so download it and see how you like it. If it grabs you, the rest of the game can be unlocked through a $4.99 IAP.
NOX – Escape Games
I started playing Everbyte’s NOX about a week ago, and it’s been a bittersweet experience so far. It’s a room escape game where you look for objects and clues and solve puzzles in order to unlock more rooms and make your way through the mansion. The game has a few tricks up its sleeves, though. Each room has an isometric view. But you only see two walls. If you press a button to rotate the camera, you can then see the other two walls. Everything else pretty much works as you’d expect — tap on furniture to zoom in, tap on a drawer to open it, tap on an item to pick it up. But sometimes the game tries to be clever and do something different when you’re not quite expecting it. So you could get stuck simply because you didn’t try to swipe at everything in the room, even though very few objects use swipe controls in the first place. It feels like a cheap trick to get stuck not because you couldn’t solve a puzzle, but because you didn’t read the developer’s mind that in *this* specific instance you should swipe on something instead of tapping on it. I still plan to play through the end, but it soured my experience somewhat that I needed to get help from my readers for silly things that are just really easy to miss. Also, there are a few bugs, like the screen freezing during the narrative and the words not appearing. So I’ve missed some of the story. Anyway, the game is free to play, supported by ads with a one-time payment to remove ads. So give it a try and see for yourself if it’s worth sticking with. And if you get stuck, try my walkthrough guide.
Doors: Awakening is another portrait mode puzzle game published by Snapbreak Games. It looks like it might have come from developer Pine Studio, but it’s actually just in their style but made by Bigloop. The first two chapters are free, with pop-up ads between each level, but you can unlock the rest of the game and remove the ads for $3.99. The price seems a little steep for what you get, but I bought it anyway. The graphics are impressive, and I like the tactile feel of the game. But the puzzles themselves are on the easy side, making the game go by very quickly. I’ve already completed the four main chapters and just need to go back in for the two epilogues. I recommend playing through the free content and seeing how you feel about it before buying the rest. So far, it hasn’t gotten very challenging, so just know that before buying. And if you need help, I have a walkthrough guide here.
Mystic Escape: Prisoner Diary
I liked the low-poly look of SunRay Games’ Mystic Escape: Prisoner Diary, so I was excited to give it a try. Unfortunately, the camera gave me a bad case of motion sickness. I still stuck with it for a few chapters, but it took me a long time to feel better after, so I regretted it. The problem is the game is in 3D and you look around using the camera. But then you tap to move, and the camera zooms around. The Back button also does some bizarre stuff. The developer said an update is coming in a few days that should improve the camera, so you may want to wait till then. Either way, the game is free to try, so you can see if it’s even a problem for you. If it doesn’t bother you, just continue playing and consider unlocked the rest of the game for $2.99. If it does bother you, wait for the update and try again. It’s hard for me to say whether the puzzles themselves are good, because I was just having a miserable time altogether from the camera. So you’ll have to judge for yourself unless the game is made playable for me.
Table Top Racing: World Tour
I don’t play too many racing games, but I liked the idea of a premium game in which you use mini cars driving around items like bread and cans of soda. So I decided to give Table Top Racing: World Tour a try. It looks great, and the controls are pretty simple — tap the left and and right edges of the screen to steer. You can also pick up power-ups, which you use by tapping the button. There are a lot of cars to choose from, each with different perks. I started off using a little green bug and then decided I had to have the mobile home from Breaking Bad, despite the game warning me that it was hard to handle. I had to put it away pretty quickly, because I had a lot of trouble steering it. But I like how much customization the game offers, all without any ads or IAPs, like so many of these games often have. I struggled a bit at first, but started to improve and made it though almost the full first championship. But I was having trouble with the race that has no power-ups. You need to come in third place to pass it, and the closest I could get was fourth. I was also starting to get tired at that point, so I’m hoping can pass it the next time I play. If you like racing games, this seems like a pretty well-made one, and it looks great, too. You can watch some of my gameplay video to see what it’s like before buying.
I thought we were past the days of Verby Nouns, but some trends die hard, so this week brought us Saily Seas. It’s a sailing game that’s similar to Alto’s Adventure, even down to its three challenges per level. I liked the art style and it was free to download, so I gave it a try. I thought I was getting a handle on it, but I kept getting eaten by a massive whale. I would have liked to try and improve my skills and out-sail the whale, but a video ad popped up after just three attempts. There are no IAPs in the game, and therefore no way to remove the ads, so I deleted it. If you don’t mind watching ads every few minutes, give it a try. But for me it’s not worth it.
AntVentor: Puzzle Adventure
I’d seen AntVentor on the App Store before, and finally decided to buy it when it went on sale for $0.99 for Thanksgiving. It’s a point-and-click adventure in which you play from an ant’s perspective. But this ant is no ordinary ant. He’s an inventor, and he wants to see the world. The game looks great, and that’s what first drew me to it. The backgrounds are photorealistic, while the characters are quirky animations. I like how the ant makes faces and noises when you try to use an item in the wrong place. There’s a lot to like about the game, actually. But it can also be incredibly frustrating. It gives you visual hints through thought bubbles to help you figure out what your goals are. But I was stuck for a good long while because I didn’t realize that I could interact with an item on the other end of the room, past a guard I needed to distract. How can I distract the guard with something I can’t even reach because the guard is in the way? Adventure game logic like that can ruin an otherwise well-made game. The visual hints are also a little confusing sometimes. I really want to like the game, but it seems like one that I won’t get through without using a lot of hints. If you don’t mind that, check it out. You don’t have much to lose at its sale price. And there’s even a free version you can try first.
Bloons TD 6
Ninja Kiwi’s popular tower defense series continues with Bloons TD 6, which has been out for a while now. I actually bought it on a previous sale but never played it, so I took advantage of its current sale to finally give it a try. I was enjoying it at first, even though it seemed too easy. The idea is that balloons float along the path and you need to place monkeys down to pop them before they get to the end of the path. You have different kinds of monkeys, like this that shoot darts, those than throw boomerangs, and even flying monkeys. You can also upgrade them to make them stronger and faster. I was doing pretty well in the first area, finding it too easy for most of it. But there are 60 rounds. After having almost no challenge for most of the game, I got overwhelmed on round 51/60 and was defeated. My choice was to either start over — after about 40 minutes of play — or spend 300 in-game currency in order to continue. Since there are in-app purchases that both allow you to buy upgrades faster and also buy the in-game currency needed to continue, I deleted the game instead. If the game is going to allow continues, just allow them. Don’t dangle them in front of me with a real cash cost. I don’t have patience for that kind of nonsense, and I certainly don’t have patience for another 50 easy rounds that don’t do a good job preparing me for the 51st round. I would have felt a little better about it if they didn’t make money by selling players the ability to continue. Feel free to try it out yourself, but to me it seems like an overhyped series with too much skewed towards pay-to-win.
911 Operator has been out for quite some time, but I decided to grab it on sale this week for $0.99. The basic idea is that you’re a 911 dispatcher and you have to take emergency calls and decide how to respond to them. Then you send emergency vehicles to the correct locations. There police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, and depending on the emergency, you could need any combination of them. The game first tries to locate you so you can use a map of your own neighborhood. I like the overall idea of it, but I didn’t really enjoy playing it. The most entertaining part is the phone calls, but so far they’ve all been very short. Most of the time I spent with it involved dragging a path for vehicles and waiting for them to travel to their destination. I’m also not sure why I need to ask anyone where they’re calling from, since the game pinpoints it for me the second they call. And by far the strangest aspect to me was that it rallied up my profits at the end of the night. Who exactly was paying for police and firemen to come to their aid? I could understand if I were working for a private dispatching company, but the title of the game suggests otherwise. Anyway, it’s still an interesting idea, but seems more about management than the actual phone calls themselves. If you’re more interested in the story, I think JoinDispatch does a better job with that. And again, there’s a free version you can try out before buying the full game.
Mahjong Venice Mystery Classic
Mahjong Venice Mystery Classic is another game that’s on sale right now for only $0.99. I’ve actually been looking for a Mahjong matching game but most of them are free-to-play and full of ads and IAPs. This one is fairly old by now, but it still looked great and I wanted to give it a chance. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, as you don’t select pairs from the board. Instead, have a row of tiles in front of you. You tap on one of those and then can select those same tiles on the board. Normally, it just allows you to choose one, but if you’re fast enough you can choose several and get a points bonus. The goal in each level is to collect all the keys. There are also power-ups you can find, but everything is included and there’s no way to buy your way ahead. It’s not a difficult game, especially if you play without the timer like I am. But I’m still enjoying it a lot, and I think it’s one of the better purchases I made during the holiday sales. It also seems to have a lot of content, so if you’re looking for a relaxing game that will last you a while, this seems like a good choice. You can also watch some of my gameplay video below before deciding whether to buy it.
My Koi is yet another game I grabbed on sale for $0.99. The screenshots made it look like you have a pond full of realistic koi fish, and there are no ads or IAPs, so I figured I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, I found it boring and deleted it after a short while. The way it works is that you first create a koi fish to add to your pond. Then you feed it and wait for it to grow so you can add another fish. There’s nothing to do while waiting besides change the camera from a side view to a top view and drop little pieces of food for them to eat. It seems to take a long time to do meet the requirements necessary — whatever they are — to unlock the next fish. It’s not a free-to-play game, so I’m not sure why it can’t just let you add as many fish as you want. If there’s something else to do later on, I’ll never find out, because I got bored and deleted it. The fish and environments look nice, but a fish tank with almost no fish and little interactivity is just not that interesting. I rather just watch my Apple TV’s sea lions screensaver.
It’s been a long time since the no-touching puzzle game, Blackbox, got some new content. The latest update only adds one level, related to new features that were added with iOS 13. But it’s always nice to see this game getting continuous support. This update also adds another unlockable icon. I don’t have video of it, but you can use my walkthrough guide if you need help solving it.
Sky: Children of the Light
I mentioned in my last roundup that the new Season of Belonging arrived in Sky: Children of the Light, and with it new weekly spirits. This past Monday, the Isle of Dawn spirit was added, bringing with him my favorite expression — dancing! I already had it in the beta version, but now it’s in the live version and you can have spontaneous dance parties anywhere! The first two levels of the expression are a slow dance, with the last two picking up the pace. The expressions are my favorite part of Sky and this season has perhaps the best ones yet. I can’t wait for you to see the rest that are coming. You can see my video for the Isle of Dawn spirit below, as well as my step-by-step guide to finding it here. I also made a video of the season’s ending cutscene in beta, but only watch that if you don’t mind spoilers. I also made a video of the toilet krill, and of my little glitched dance with Granny. It’s also the Days of Giving this week, up until Tuesday. To celebrate Thanksgiving, all hearts you send and receive are doubled, as well as heart pieces from lighting friends’ stars. I already bought myself a nice pink cape with the hearts I earned from it, as well as some other items. I’m saving up for the white cape next, though I wish there was a way to wear all the capes at once, like a rainbow! Anyway, make sure to collect your candle light and send friends hearts while they’re doubled! It’s very exciting!
She Sees Red
She Sees Red is a full motion video game (FMV) releasing on December 4th. It’s more of a movie than a game, similar to Netflix’s Bandersnatch. Each playthrough is about thirty minutes and has a few choices you can make to change the path. I only played through it once so far, but it had me glued to my iPad the whole time and I’m looking forward to playing again. It’s in Russian with English subtitles (though there’s also English dubbed) and the acting is top notch. It’s a mature game with adult themes and it surprised me a number of times. I only wish it was available on Apple TV, because I rather watch it on my nice big TV than on my iPad. And then I also could have invited a friend to watch with me. I still think it’s worth playing/watching if you like these kinds of games. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it by the time it releases, so keep an eye out.
And last, I played some of Ian MacLarty’s upcoming puzzle game, Tile Snap. For those of you who played Dissembler, it should look very familiar. It’s a free-to-play version of it with a gentler difficulty curve and a total of 300 puzzles. The game will be 100% free without and ads, and the only IAPs will be for hints. And even those only go up to $2.99. So you can play completely for free as long as you don’t need any hints. I only played a few levels so far and it definitely feels like deja vu for me. But for those who haven’t played Dissembler, it’s a must-play. It even includes those same satisfying clicking sounds. I do hope it offers more of a challenge later, but it’s still a nice surprise. You can expect Tile Snap to release on December 10th.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing over the last week or so. There’s a lot here, so I hope you found it informative and helpful in deciding which games to buy. Don’t forget that there’s lots more games on sale right now. You can find a list of the notable ones here, with links to any reviews or impressions I’ve written. I also can’t believe it’s almost 2020. I’ve already starting compiling my 2019 Game of the Year list and I’m reminded what a great year it’s been for iOS — even without Apple Arcade. So make sure to keep an eye out for that in the next month. I might also have a big giveaway in the near future to celebrate reaching 50,000 subscribers on YouTube. So it’s going to be a crazy December! The thought of it is making me tired, so I’m going to bed. Until next time, that’s My Week Unwrapped!