My Week Unwrapped: March 22, 2020 – Wide Ocean Big Jacket, Mirages of Winter, Repulsive, InfiniteCorp 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 coronavirus craziness continues, but one good thing to come out of it for iOS gamers is that many devs have temporarily made their games either cheap or completely free. I’ve been making daily posts for the sales here, though they seem to be dying down now. Still, most of the sales from the past week are still in effect, so make sure to grab anything that catches your fancy. I’ve filled in my library a bit with some games I didn’t have already, and even took the time to play some of them for you. So this roundup is particularly long, a mix of new releases and games that are on sale. And since you’re already stuck at home, you should have plenty of time to read it!

Wide Ocean Big Jacket

Tender Claws’ and Turnfollow’s Wide Ocean Big Jacket released into PC in February, but just a short time later we’re lucky enough to have it on iOS. It’s a super laid-back narrative experience about an uncle, his wife, his niece and her friend on a camping trip. It only takes about an hour to complete, but is a great diversion while you’re stuck at home and wishing you might be out camping instead. It’s actually a perfect fit for touchscreens, since everything can be controlled with one hand. The whole screen can be used as one big joystick for moving a character or rotating the camera between people. Then you just tap on the screen to interact. As the game progresses, you control a different character at a time, and dialogue is broken up with some activities like birdwatching. The writing is the strongest part of the game, and I especially liked the quirky Mord, who makes everyone a little uncomfortable with her blunt questions. Another highlight was Ben’s ‘Rats in the Sink’ scary story he told around the campfire. I really felt like I got to know each character by the end of the camping trip and was sad when it was over. This is more of an interactive story than a game, so as long as you go in with the right expectations, I think you’ll enjoy it. I did get some mild motion sickness from the walking sections, but since they don’t last too long, I was able to push through it. Despite there being many games on sale right now, I think Wide Ocean Big Jacket is very worth picking up if you’re looking for a nice little distraction from the end of the world.

Mirages of Winter

Mirari Games’ Mirages of Winter is a puzzle adventure game with a really unique art style. The whole world is made up of ink-painted scenes that you interact with. It features a gorgeous immersive soundtrack that’s definitely one of the highlights of the game. I’ve only played through the prologue and the first chapter, and I’m not sure yet how I feel about it. The pace is intentionally slow, but so far I’ve gotten stuck on silly things. For instance, the game has a really interesting mechanic where everything is made up of 2D art but you can rotate the camera around you to see more of the scene. I like that, but it means things can be a little confusing early on as you get used to it. An early puzzle wanted me to move a flower to a jar of water, but I didn’t realize it because every time I selected the flower, the camera centered on it. The jar of water was off to the right and off-camera in my iPad, so I tried a whole bunch of other things before finally managing to get it into the jar. It seemed like a really silly thing to get stuck on, and I probably wouldn’t have if it had been a traditional point-and-click adventure where the whole scene is laid out in front of you. A bit later, I got stuck on another puzzle because I thought I needed wind to be blowing in a certain direction, but it turned out I needed no wind at all. I think I understand the game a bit better now, so hopefully I can avoid silly mistakes like that going forward. I’m planning to play more today, so hopefully I’ll have more impressions for you by next week’s roundup. If you don’t want to wait for that, you can watch some fo my gameplay video below.

Repulsive

Yes, Repulsive is a strange name for a game, especially if you want people to buy it and not stay away. But the name is more to do with the fact that you ride a hoverboard, which repels you from the ground, as opposed to something that you find disgusting. This is Punk Labs’ fourth game and certainly their most ambitious. There’s no tutorial other than an indication to use both thumbs, and I admit I was a bit lost at first as to what my goals were. There’s some silhouetted objects in the pause menu, as well as some unlockable characters, but no explanation for either. I eventually found a fire hydrant and crashed into it and realized what the game wanted. You’re meant to find these items and knock them over. There are stop signs, office chairs, even drones, but I’ve not been able to knock any drones down yet. I haven’t completed and of the items, so I’m not sure what happens when you do. I’m guessing you unlock new character skins that way, but there are ten items to complete and fourteen characters, so I’m not 100% sure. Unfortunately, the camera movement gives me some serious motion sickness, so I couldn’t play for long. I do like the simplicity of it and how you can’t really do anything wrong. It seems to have a pretty big world, too, but I’m not sure exactly how big. If you’re looking for a game where you can just leisurely hoverboard around and try to pull of tricks without worrying about messing up, you should have a good time with it. But you might want to avoid it if you get motion sickness easily. You can also watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like.

Get–Out

No, Get–Out is not a movie about a community of white people who brainwash black people into being their slaves. It’s a game in which you play a trench-coated stranger named Mr. Get, who’s stuck in a strange maze-like world full of monsters that want to kill him. You know the way out in each level, but the tricky part is getting there. The whole game is controlled through swipes, as you send Mr. Get down different paths to collect all the gold particles before heading to be exit. You only have two lives, and if you collide with an enemy once, you lose a life but keep your progress. Two hits, though, and you have to restart the level from scratch. It can be a very hectic game, and it’s not easy getting Mr. Get to go exactly where you want, especially with ghosts on your tail. I’m not sure how much I’ll stick with it, but it’s very different from anything else I’ve seen, and I appreciate that. It feels fresh, even if it might be too stressful for me. The graphics are also nice and clean. I should point out, though, that it’s currently only available on iPhone, not iPad. Again, you can watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like.

InfiniteCorp

Ever since the Tinder-like Reigns released, there have been a number of games that tried to incorporate the swipe-based and faction-balancing gameplay into a different theme. The latest is T-Bull’s cyberpunk InfiniteCorp, which stands out from the others with its imprsssive art style and eerie soundtrack. Unfortunately, the rest of the game hasn’t been able to hold my attention the same way the Reigns games did. Here, you play as a manager of a wealthy corporation. You need to make decisions that will keep the elites, citizens, media, security and syndicate happy, but not too happy. Just like with Reigns, every choice you make has the potential to increase or decrease one of those factions. If any of them reaches 0% or 100%, it’s game over. But there’s an extra layer of complexity on top of that. Besides those five factions, you also have to appease the board members, as they’re the ones with the power to fire you or promote you. Every few weeks, there’s a board meeting. If at that point your standing with them is BAD, you get fired. If it’s OK, you get to keep working at your current position, and if it’s GOOD, you get promoted. The problem is, it’s hard to tell sometimes how to please them. But even if you do know, you may have to do the opposite in order to keep the factions balanced. It’s an interesting twist on the formula, and I would probably appreciate it more if I liked the writing and story. But whereas Reigns had a lot of humor and fun little side-characters to keep things entertaining, I’m finding the people and their dilemmas incredibly boring here. And while Reigns certainly had its share of mystery and cryptic details to decipher, the menu and layout was at least clean and clear. With InfiniteCorp, it took me a good while to even find the settings menu. And I still don’t understand how to unlock new managers. A little more info could go a long way. But at the end of the day, if I don’t actually enjoy playing the game, it doesn’t really matter whether or not I understand the goals. I’m just not all that interested in finding more cards and more people, because they’re all utterly boring. Reigns did a great job keeping the player entertained with short sentences. In InfiniteCorp, I wouldn’t even really notice if I saw a new card, because they all start to blend together pretty fast. The characters don’t have unique voices or anything all that interesting to say. It’s a shame, because it’s tied up into a really nice package that I want to like. Perhaps others will find the writing more to their liking, so I suggest watching some of my gameplay videos before deciding for yourself.

green (game)

Bart Bonte has been releasing color-themed puzzle games for a while now, and this week brought us the latest, called green. As with the others, it consists of fifty levels, in which the goal is to turn the screen all green. I played through about half the game, at which point I got stuck on a level where the screen fills up with lettered balls. You can pop them, but I couldn’t figure out the solution and I eventually gave up. There are hints, so I may go back and use one, but I’ve got so many other games holding my attention, that it might be a while before I do. Still, it’s a clever game with some smart puzzles — and also some annoying mini games. But it’s free with ads for hints, so give it try for yourself.

Anima ARPG (2020)

Anima ARPG (2020) is a hack-n-slash dungeon crawler in the vein of Diablo. I only played for about a half hour so far, but had a reasonable amount of fun. I eventually stopped when I got chased by a very determined Mimic that just wouldn’t leave me alone. The game then glitched out and had me stuck in a loop of going through the same two doors over and over, until I finally managed to pause it and break the cycle. The enemies so far are pretty monotonous — aside from that annoying mimic — but I could still see spending more time with it. One of my favorite aspects of dungeon crawlers is finding loot, and this game is very generous with it, despite being free-to-play. With so many games on my plate right now, I’m not sure how much I’ll play, especially with Book of Demons filling this void, but definitely give it a try if you’re looking for a hack-n-slash game to kill some time during the apocalypse.

PictoQuest

Plug In Digital released PictoQuest not too long ago, but I didn’t pick it up since I’m not a huge fan of Picross puzzles. It’s not that I hate them, but I just don’t really want to solve one after another after another. They’re fine mixed in with other puzzles in an adventure game, but on their own I lose interest fast. That said, the game was on sale for $0.99, this week, so I decided to take a chance on it. The Picross puzzles themselves are fine, though I recommend changing the controls to the iPad settings, which allow you to tap on the squares themselves. Otherwise, you need to use a d-pad to awkwardly scroll through the grid to find the square you want. What’s lacking here is the RPG aspect. Combining the two genres is an interesting idea, but all it really does is waste time between puzzles. I would much rather just have a level select screen and choose a puzzle, rather than walk around a map to each one. I get this originated on PC, so it might make sense there. But on mobile, it feels clunky. And while we’re on the subject, it makes much more sense for a game like this to play in portrait mode with one hand, than in landscape. These kinds of games are perfect for one-handed play on the go, but that’s not possible here. And finally, the RPG aspects are wasted on me, someone who would prefer to play these types of games without a timer. There is a zen mode, but that makes the monster battles pretty silly, as you’re unlikely to make mistakes without that time pressure. I don’t regret buying the game for a buck, and Picross fans will likely still find some enjoyment from it, but if you’re looking for more than that, you might be disappointed. Again, you can watch some of my gameplay video before deciding whether to buy it. But don’t think about it too long, because I don’t know when the sale ends.

A Case of Distrust

A Case of Distrust is another game that went on sale this week, and surprisingly it’s completely free at the moment. It’s a very stylish mystery that takes places in 1924 San Francisco. You play as a female private eye, which is a rarity for the day and age. I haven’t played that much yet, but I do like the writing, the clue-gathering, and of course the slick art style. But the animations that are meant to elevate it to high art can be a little distracting when I’m reading. I’m also not thrilled when a game is super widescreen on my iPad, taking advantage of only half the screen. It’s especially frustrating here because it means the text is smaller than necessary. I want to keep playing, but it feels like a bit of a struggle, when reading in the game is made more difficult than it should be. Still, the game is free, so check it out.

Aquaria

Finji’s Aquaria has been out for quite a few years now, but for some reason I never picked it up. That is, until it went on sale this week for $0.99. It was too good a deal to pass up, especially since I’d heard good things about it. The game holds up pretty well and looks great on my 2017 iPad. The game as you playing as an underwater mermaid-like woman as she tells you her story with fully voice-acted narration. Controls are simple, as you just tap anywhere and she moves to your finger. You also need to play music to interact with some flowers or unlock certain abilities, as a shield. I’ve enjoyed my time with it so far, with my only real complaint being that save points are too spread apart. I had to keep playing until I found another one just to be sure I wouldn’t lose any progress. Other than that, it seems to be a pretty relaxing — but not boring — underwater adventure game. I would easily recommend it for that $0.99, but you can also watch some of my gameplay video below before deciding whether to buy.

Runaway Toad

Runaway Toad is another Finji-published game that I didn’t play when it initially released, mainly because I already had so many endless runners in my collection. But I love the art style and the general idea of a frog trying to escape so the princess can’t kiss him. So I couldn’t pass it up for $0.99. The game is just as charming as I’d hoped, as you hop along from rock to rock, eating as many bugs as you can. Some insects give you special abilities, like temporary flight or a hippo friend that saves you if you fall into the water. What I’m not a huge fan of is the control scheme. You tap and hold to create an arc, which gets bigger the longer you hold. Then you release your finger to jump that arc, hopefully landing on a rock and not in the water. You also swipe in the direction of insects to grab them with your tongue. It might just take more practice to get used to it, but it feels a bit clumsy to me. Thankfully, the game goes at a fairly relaxed pace, at least early on, so you can take your time with each jump. But I keep losing at the same spot, where the princess’ helicopter catches up with you. I panic when I see it and always mess up. The unlockable toads do help somewhat, as they let you start with an ability like flight before you even eat any bugs. Anyway, I’m not sure how much I’ll play it, but I don’t regret buying it for such a low price. If you’re not sure whether you’d enjoy it, I recommend watching some of my gameplay video first.

Canabalt

Yep, Canabalt is yet another Finji game I somehow never played before. It’s very well known by now and one of the very first endless runners. The only reason I never bought it was because — like I said — I already had plenty of games like it. But at $0.99, I had to see what all the fuss was about. And I’ll admit, it is a very polished game. You play as a little businessperson running across rooftops at the end of the world. I guess that’s fitting, considering we’re kind of experiencing the end of the world ourselves right now. I like the soundtrack and how there are multiple modes that each offer different challenges. For instance, one mode has you crashing through glass windows with each jump, so your timing has to be perfect. Another one has alien ships landing and destroying entire buildings in your path. One has bombs that land in front of you and end your run if you fail to jump over them in time, while another is just highly sped up. I can certainly see the appeal of the game. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of screen-shake involved, and after just a short time with it I felt very sick. I definitely can’t play any more of it, as much as I would like to. It’s unfortunate there’s no way to turn off the screen shake. But plenty of others are able to enjoy the game as is, so if you don’t usually have motion sickness from games, you might be fine.

Kontrast

I’d heard of Kontrast back when it first released and was intrigued, but didn’t buy it for whatever reason. It went free temporarily this week, so I finally played it. And honestly, I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. There are seven short levels, each with different goals. But the goals are not clear, and neither are the mechanics. You usually just tap things until something happens, then tap other things till something else happens. Then, without any idea why, the level is complete. I finished the game in fifteen minutes and that was after getting stuck on the last level for a long time due to annoying controls. By all means, grab it while it’s free, but I wouldn’t recommend paying for it.

Lifeline…

This week, all the Lifeline games are on sale for $0.99 each, and a friend asked me which ones I would recommend the most. That’s when I remembered than I never finished even the first one. So I downloaded it again to see why that was and maybe give it another chance. I played for about three minutes before Taylor, the person I’m meant to be communicating with, disappeared for another two hours. I get that these games are meant to mimic a messaging app and that you’re supposed to wait in real time for a response. Maybe on an Apple Watch it works. But I can’t play like this on my phone. I never even bothered opening it again. I could understand if the game gave me 20-30 minutes of play time followed by a break, but I did not get invested from those three minutes I spent talking to Taylor, and I’m not convinced that I should revolve my life around this game. So unfortunately, that’s the end of my Lifeline… adventure.

Book of Demons: Tablet Edition

Yes, I’m still playing Thing Trunk’s Book of Demons, though I finally completed the main campaign this past week. The difficulty then ramps up with Freestyle mode, and I played some of that, as well. I’m still enjoying it, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue playing at this point. I think I would be more likely to do so if I could play on my iPhone and not just on my iPad. But I still enjoy the gameplay, so I might pick it up here and there when the mood strikes. You can see from my videos that I’ve put over ten hours into the game already and have been enjoying it quite a bit. If you have an iPad and are looking for a dungeon crawler that feels great on a touchscreen, definitely check it out.

And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week! I’m also incredibly impressed with the new Apple Arcade game, Spyder, by Sumo Digital, but I’ll hopefully have a proper review for that once I complete it. Once again, make sure to check all my sales posts from the past week to see if there’s any free or cheap games you missed. Let me know in the comments section which ones you grabbed and are enjoying, and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped. Stay safe, everyone!

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Eric
4 months ago

Glad to see I wasn’t the only one that felt that way about the lifeline games (or other games formatted like that). I actually liked the stories in most of the Lifeline games that I played, but in the end I would have rather just read them as a book than “interacted” with them.

smjjames
4 months ago

On aquaria, it autosaves on map change, so, the save issue is mitigated by that. But yeah, the save points are pretty far apart.

I’ve had a few crashes seemingly related to scene changes, but the autosave at scene change helps that. Otherwise it’s as stable as a rock.