My Week Unwrapped: April 5, 2020 – Orwell, ISOLAND The Amusement Park, Cubether, Two Weeks in Painland 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. Despite the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency and social isolation laws being in effect, we iOS gamers have been blessed with a lot of new releases lately. I already covered some of them as previews, but I’ve spent more time with them and have more to say. I also revisited some games due to updates. Basically, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!

Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You

I mentioned Osmotic Studios’ and Fellow Traveller’s iOS port of Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You last week, but now the game is available for everyone. I also just finished my first playthrough and was very impressed, both with the quality of the port and the content. The idea of the game is that you’re an investigator for a government program called Orwell, which allows you to spy on citizens through their text messages, phone calls, and even hack their whole computer. After a bomb goes off in the Nation’s capital city of Bonton, you’re tasked with finding person(s) responsible. You’re given profiles of each person of interest and you have to scout through social media, blogs, bank records, and all sorts of documents trying to find evidence that can lead to the arrest of a suspect. The way it works is that data chunks are highlighted in blue and you drag them to the profile. Some are necessary in order to progress, but others can be skipped, changing the course of the story. So while these data chunks are usually easy to find, it’s up to you whether to use them and the consequences that come with it. There are also multiple endings, and thankfully the game allows you to choose an episode to replay so you don’t have to start from scratch to see them all. Overall, Orwell does a great job achieving its goal of making you feel uncomfortable with what you’re doing, playing with people’s lives. And it plays absolutely perfectly on an iPhone in portrait mode. I only wish it had iCloud sync and the 27 achievements available on Steam. Anyway, I’ve already said too much, considering I want to review it. But if you like games such as A Normal Lost Phone or Replica, I think you’ll enjoy it.

ISOLAND: The Amusement Park

COTTONGAME released ISOLAND 3 only a little over a month ago, but they’re back with yet another game in the series, called ISOLAND: The Amusement Park. I’ve only spent about twenty minutes with it so far, as I’m currently stumped on how to progress. But I like how it borrows from some well-known artists like Matisse and Dali. It’s also interesting how text is written on walls and you can tap them to see more. They often give clues, too. The people you meet have no faces and don’t talk, so the text seems to be an alternate form of communication. The puzzles have been pretty straightforward so far, but I can’t really say much after twenty minutes. Hopefully I’ll make more progress and have more to say next week. I also started a walkthrough guide here if you get stuck and need help.

Two Weeks in Painland

I was drawn to Unusual Games’ management game, Two Weeks in Painland, due the comic book style and overall concept that has you spying on criminals in order to learn how to keep them happy. Basically, you’re a hacker who’s blackmailed into managing a mafia lord’s gang while he goes on a two-week vacation. You do so by listening in on their conversations so that when resumes come in from people looking to join the gang, you know which lieutenant you give them to. It sounds great in theory, and there’s actually a lot to like about it, even if the humor doesn’t always land for me. But I have several issues with the iOS port that make it hard to enjoy the game. First off, text is sometimes very small and hard to read, despite having plenty of room to spread things out. The “desktop” just isn’t utilized well. But even worse is the fact that when the lieutenants are having conversations, the comic-book style text bubbles appear in a very narrow window that you scroll up and down by touching on the text bubbles. You can’t swipe on the image to the right of it, so instead you’re covering part of the text. It’s also really awkward to reach my thumb over there instead of being able to rest it closer to the edge of my iPad. But it also means I’m reading a little text at a time and spending so much time scrolling. I’m more focused on the actual act of scrolling than on the text I’m reading. That means I don’t really absorb it. And that’s a problem, because you’re quizzed at the end on what you read, and if you get it wrong you miss out on revealing the lieutenant’s traits. So I like the idea of the game and I think it has a lot going for it, but this port’s UI needs some work, at least on an iPad. A nice big intimate touchscreen should be the best way to play a game like this, but instead it just feels awkward a lot of the time. I hope it gets an update to deal with these issues. But either way, the game is free to try with the one-time purchase to unlock the rest of the game, so see for yourself if it’s something you might like.

Cubether

Michal Barszczewski’s puzzler, Cubether, is another game I previewed last week but is now out for everyone to enjoy. I played a few more levels and I’m still very impressed with it. I just got to a new mechanic where you press a button to flip some tiles over, and it adds a whole extra layer of complexity. It’s quite a challenging game and each level takes time to solve, so I don’t think I’ll be finishing the 100+ levels anytime soon. But I plan to keep chipping away at it. I would like to see an undo button added, but so far the lack of it isn’t a dealbreaker. Anyway, if you’re a puzzle fan, Cubether should keep you busy for quite a while. I recommend watching some of my gameplay videos to see what it’s like.

Totally Reliable Delivery Service

tinyBuild’s wonky physics game, Totally Reliable Delivery Service, released on several platforms this week, including iOS. I’m not usually a fan of games that feature awkward controls and silly physics, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. And it’s as bad as I feared. Your two arms are each separated into their own onscreen buttons, as are your two hands. You need to use them to pick up and move packages, eventually delivering them to where they need to be. But even if I could manage that, the joystick and camera are terrible. I’m pretty sure it’s intentional, but I don’t enjoy having to fight my character to make him go where I want. Nothing about it is appealing enough to me to make me want to try and get good at it. But it’s free to try, so go ahead. I supposed it’s good for a few laughs.

Rainmaker: The Beautiful Flood

SweatyChair’s Rainmaker has been out for a few years now, but somehow missed my radar. It went free recently, though, so I started playing it. I like the general idea of it, where you tap the screen to change the form of your character in order to get to the exit. So you start off as a cube. Then you acquire the ability to turn into a bubble. The bubble can float, but if it touches anything besides the exit, it pops and you have to start over. The levels are usually small, taking place on a single screen, so it’s not that big a deal go have to restart. But some levels are very easy and others are frustratingly hard. I spent a lot of time on one that had me tumble down stairs as a cube and hit a lever that would open a door at the top that leads to the exit. But every time I would turn into a bubble, I would touch the stairs or the part of the cooking that wasn’t open. It took so many tries to make it finally work. Later, pitch black levels aren’t added where you have to keep dying just to figure out where the actual path is. I was still enjoying it, though, and only gave up when I came to a side-scrolling platforming section where I had to quickly change forms while my character was running right. I lost patience after a few deaths. I do think the mechanics are interesting, though some forms — like the basketball — don’t really work so well with it. I do think it’s worth checking out for free, but there’s an energy system now with a one-time IAP to remove it. You could also watch some of my video below to see what it’s like.

Little Misfortune

I was in love with Killmonday’s Little Misfortune when it released a little while back on iPhone. I recorded my whole playthrough here, but had to stop when it was crashing near the end of the game. There was an update shortly after that was supposed to fix it, but with the caveat that I’d need to start a new game. I wasn’t really interested in doing that at the moment, so I decided to instead wait for it to get iPad support so I could play more comfortably on a big screen. Well, that day came this week. It fixed some of my crashing on my iPhone, but I still crash when I try to play a video on the TV. So I still couldn’t finish the game on my iPhone. But I also started a new game on my iPad, making different choices so I can see how things play out. Overall, it’s a lot nicer to play on there, except for the fact that everything appears to be stretched to fit the screen. If you compare the two, Mifortune’s head is rounder on iPad, compared to the flatter head on iPhone. The developer seemed surprised when I showed him, though, so hopefully it’s unintentional and will be fixed. Still, it’s hard to recommend the game in this state, so you may want to wait until these issues are ironed out. You can see some iPad gameplay in my video below.

Sticky Terms

Last week, Philip Stollenmayer updated his word game, Sticky Terms, with 150 new puzzles. I went through about half of them right away and then finished the other half this past week. I like how the puzzles are getting trickier to solve as the letters are cut up in more creative ways. I would still highly recommend the game if you haven’t tried it yet. And I have a complete walkthrough here if you get stuck.

Sky: Children of the Light

And last but not least, there’s a lot of action over at thatgamecompany’s Sky. First off, the Season of Rhythm ends tonight. (spoilers!) There will then be a break before the Season of Enchantment begins. Android support is also likely coming this month, but there’s been no confirmed date. I also showed you some of the beta content for the Season of Enchantment last week and added more this week. I finished collecting all the seasonal spirits and transformed the ark. We’re still waiting to see the remaining transformations, so I don’t know yet how the area will look in the end. This whole season is very different from anything we’ve seen before, and it’s pretty exciting. The cosmetics have a very Middle Eastern feel to them and the expressions range from very useful to outright ridiculous. I absolutely love the crab dance and still can’t believe the developers even made it. Anyway, check out my videos below if you’re not afraid of spoilers. And if you’re already playing the beta, I have a seasonal spirit guide here and a colored light guide here. For everyone else, the wait shouldn’t be too much longer!

And that’s everything I played this week. I also gave Bomb Chicken another try, but am entirely convinced now that I stand no chance at getting anywhere with it. I also played some more Apple Arcade games and published a new Apple Arcade Unwrapped. I’m surprised so many new games are still releasing, but I can’t complain. It’s nice to have more distractions from what’s happening in the world. Anyway, let me know in the comments section which games you’re enjoying and I’ll see you next time for more of My Week Unwrapped!

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