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 as regularly. So I’m trying to stick to a weekly schedule again. There aren’t a ton of new games to cover this week, but some are must-haves and will keep you plenty busy. So sit back and relax while I tell you about them.
The House of Da Vinci 2
I first mentioned Blue Brain Games’ The House of Da Vinci 2 when it released last week, and I had plenty of good things to say about it. I’ve since finished the game, along with my walkthrough guide. As I mentioned before, the series has come out of its shell and doing a lot more to differentiate itself from its inspiration, The Room. There are some clever puzzles, gorgeous locations, and an intriguing story dealing with time travel. I’m also a big fan of the use of time travel to solve puzzles. There were a couple of tedious puzzles, and one level had a bad camera that gave me motion sickness, but overall I really enjoyed the game. I should mention it ends on another cliffhanger, so we’ll likely have to wait for a third game to see how it all ends. I like how the the story is told both through narrated cutscenes and text added to your journal. I only wish the cutscene at the end had been more enjoyable. It has a long, drawn-out story told through clumsy rhymes and the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard. I zoned out early on and didn’t catch much of the story. I’m not sure what happened there and why they went that route, but it is skippable, so don’t let that deter you from playing. If you like tactile puzzles and sprawling 3D adventure games, you should have a great time with The House of Da Vinci 2.
Kaigan Games have proven themselves to be master storytellers when it comes to “found phone” games. The first released the free Sarah is Missing, then the paid SIMULACRA, then a free spin-off called SIMULACRA: Pipe Dreams. Now they’re back with SIMULACRA 2, and I’ve already spent several hours playing without completing the game once. I love what they’ve done with it, building on all their experience from their first three games to offer an even more immersive and entertaining experience. I especially love the humor as you delve into the lives of several “influencers.” There’s also more branching paths and endings, for those of you who like to dig through everything and find all the hidden Easter eggs. It even lets you choose between two playable characters — a detective or a tabloid reporter. I chose the reporter for my first game, and it has me working closely with the detective. So I’ll definitely be playing again to see how the detective’s point-of-view plays out. I love how the game combines horror and humor so seamlessly, and gives you lots of freedom to explore at your own pace. I hope to write a proper review once I’ve finished it at least once, but if you like these kinds of games that mimic a smartphone and ask you to search for clues within fake social media apps and emails, don’t wait for my review — just grab SIMULACRA 2 now. And if you get stuck, I’m working on a walkthrough guide here.
I’m a big fan of Ian MacLarty’s tile-flipping puzzle game, Dissembler, so I was thrilled when he told me he had a similar game releasing, called Tile Snap. It’s completely free, without any ads. The only IAPs are for hints, so you can play without spending a penny if you don’t need any. I played a little for you last week, and mentioned that it’s basically the same as Dissembler, but with a gentler learning curve. I played some more since, and still prefer Dissembler, but if you haven’t played that you should definitely grab this one. It has the same gameplay and same satisfying sound effects. The tiles have patterns this time instead of being all solid, and there’s more filler, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same game. It did start to trip me up after a while, even with all my experience with the game. The only thing I find confusing is that you can’t replay levels. Once you complete them, they’re locked away unless you reset your progress. It’s not a big deal, but I’m not sure what the reasoning is. Anyway, definitely grab Tile Snap if you like smart and satisfying puzzlers and don’t want to spend any money. But if you prefer less filler, as well as some bonuses like daily puzzles and an endless high score mode, you’ll want to also grab Dissembler.
I don’t play too many clicker games, but occasionally one comes along that piques my interest and I’m willing to give it a try. Caramel Column’s ALTER EGO combines the genre with a story about finding yourself using things like personality tests. It’s an interesting mix, but I’m not sure there’s enough here to hold my interest and keep me playing. I do appreciate how the upgrades you buy are pages of books, and every once in a while you get to read an excerpt. The personality tests are also interesting, but there just wasn’t enough to hook me. I do appreciate that the game is free with ads and an ad-removal IAP, as well as some IAPs to increase the rate you earn currency. They could have easily sold currency straight out, but thankfully they don’t. All the IAPs are permanent upgrades instead of consumables, which is rare for this genre. In any case, it’s free to download, so give it a try and see if you want to stick with it and spend some money on it.
When I saw some of the App Store screenshots of bitCycle’s word game, Ehlol, I knew I had to give it a try. There was an image of an arm inside a hole on the beach, and it was obviously supposed to be an armpit. Get it? An arm inside a pit? One of my favorite books as a child was A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, which illustrated weird sayings like “drove me up the wall” with someone actually driving a car up a wall. I love that kind of wordplay, so I was hoping for something similar with Ehlol. There are a few clever puzzles like that, where you’re shown an image and have to unscramble the letters into something like ARMPIT. But there are only thirty levels total and most are not as entertaining. For instance, there’s a level with a photo of a lemon and a melon and you’re simply supposed to spell each one out. Another just ass for three different types of oranges. I wish the game had more of the clever wordplay that I was hoping for. It’s short, so it might be worth sticking with anyway. But at only 30 levels and some being very unsatisfying, I don’t think it’s worth the $2.99 to remove the ads. There are much better games to spend your money on. You can also watch some of my gameplay video below if you want to see what it’s like.
Path of Giants
And that’s all for the new games, but one of my favorite puzzlers of the year got a new content update to celebrate the winter holidays. Journey Bound’s Path of Giants got four new chapters as part of the Winterfest. These levels are tastefully decorated with some Christmas themes, and there’s even a sled for the wee travelers to ride. These new levels have some tricks up their sleeves, and I thoroughly enjoyed solving them. If you haven’t played the game yet, now’s a good time to grab it. And if you have played it, you can access the new content even if you already deleted the game. That’s a nice little touch I really appreciated. And if you need help, I have a walkthrough guide here.
Sky: Children of the Light
And last, I’m still playing Sky every day. This week brought a glitch that made some old Winter Season spirits appear and allowed some players to collect their expressions. It’s already been patched, so they’re no longer available, but those of us who got the Juggle and Blow Kiss expressions got to keep them, at least for now. The developers also said they’ll be available again in the future, so don’t feel too bad if you missed out on them. But you can see what they’re like in the video below. This week also brought the Vault of Knowledge seasonal spirit with its Pensive Stance and fancy white cape with gold fringe. There was also a big update that gave the new vault area a facelift, and I made a video of the spirit inside there. They also announced the holiday event that will take place from December 22nd to January 1st, in which the “secret area,” aka the office, will be open to all. I’m excited to see how they decorate the place. Anyway, there’s a lot to look forward to.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week! I’ll be sure to update you with more impressions as I play more of SIMULACRA 2, and there are some other games to look forward to this coming week. There’s certainly no shortage of good games these days. 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!