My Week Unwrapped: September 5, 2020 – Trüberbrook, Bright Paw, Save the Zacks, Deck ‘Em, Penrose, Dadi 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. This has been another crazy week, with a whole bunch of new games on top of the ones I’m still playing from last week. I also played more Apple Arcade games, which will eventually get their own roundup, but I still wanted to give my impressions before then. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right down to it.

Trüberbrook

I was eager to play Headup’s point-and-click adventure, Trüberbrook, from the second it was announced, due to its handmade scenery and quirky appearance. Sadly, mobile wasn’t included in the initial release last year, but it finally made its way over to iOS and Android this past week. I’ve spent a few hours with it so far and am enjoying it quite a bit. The story follows an American quantum physicist named Hans Tannhauser, who wins a vacation to a small German village named Trüberbrook in the 1960’s. The first night there, he wakes up to someone stealing his notes, and from there he embarks on an adventure that’s nothing like the relaxing vacation he expected. Most of the puzzles so far have to do with finding objects and the using them in the right place. Thankfully, there’s no pixel hunting involved because there’s a hot spot locator. With handmade scenery like this, I think that’s a must, so I’m glad they included it. A couple of the puzzles had strange logic, but other than that, I haven’t had much trouble progressing. I took a break just after revealing a big twist and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store next for Hans. I also like how you can use his tape recorder with different objects to have him record some notes. I only wish it was more obvious from the beginning, because it took me a while to realize what the record button was for. Anyway, I should have more impressions once I finish the game, but you can see all my gameplay videos here if you want to get a better idea of it before buying.

Bright Paw

Bright Paw is a narrative-based puzzle game in which you play as a cat named Theo who finds his owners murdered. He then goes on a quest to hunt down the killer, unraveling a strange conspiracy. The puzzles themselves remind me of Golf Peaks, as you’re given a handful of cards that depict a movement pattern, and then you choose which on to play first. Theo will automatically follow that pattern, as long as there’s room for him to do so. I just finished the fifth act and it was the first time the puzzles truly gave me pause. Thankfully, there’s an undo button for when you mess up, making it easy to fix any mistakes. I also just got a new mechanic that mixes things up a bit. I’m not 100% sold on the puzzles yet, and the story is going in strange places, but I’m still intrigued enough to stick with it. I also like how the whole story is narrated, complete with a British voice actor. But he can be a bit annoying at times, especially when he tries to rush me when I’m looking for collectibles. The collectibles themselves are also not that interesting, as they’re more often than not some mundane item like an empty box. The environments themselves also are a bit drab. I’m also not sure if the iOS version has a bug, as I’ve yet to unlock any skins for my cat. The App Store photos show one of them being unlocked for completing Act 2, so I would have expected to at least have that one by now. Anyway, I’ll have more impressions for you when I complete the game. For now, you can see more videos in my walkthrough.

Senna’s Journey

I covered Senna’s Journey last week, and mentioned that I played through the first chapter last year while it was still in development. I’ve since completed the first chapter again and played through the second chapter and I’m still very impressed with it. The second chapter was much quicker, but there’s still two more chapters left that I’m looking forward to playing. The mechanics are changed up as you progress, so the second chapter — The Blight — has the the trees labeled but you need to figure out the order in which the blight attacked them. There’s usually a few trees near the end I need to take an educated guess on, but I think that’s by design. Anyway, I highly recommend playing through the free content to decide whether you want to pay to unlock the rest of the game. You can also see my walkthrough in progress here with videos of some of the paid content.

Unit 404

I had nothing but praise for Unit 404 when I covered it last week and now that I’ve solved over 60 of the 75 levels, I’m still singing its praises. It feels great on mobile and I love that the puzzles get harder due the more possibilities rather than more steps. The rotating blocks are particularly tricky and it’s so satisfying to solve a puzzle that seems impossible at first glance. The last fifteen levels are really hurting my brain and I do wish there was an undo button for them. But the lack of one is not enough to deter me from playing. I’m just going to take my time with it and work at them whenever I have some spare time here and there. Overall, I’m super impressed with the game and would highly recommend it to any puzzle fans. I also have been working on a walkthrough here.

Dadi

I’m not generally skilled at rolling block puzzles, as witnessed when I tried to play RUNES. But Pascal Monaco’s Dadi looked too cute to ignore. I actually was doing pretty well for a while, as the game does a good job easing the player in and letting them get used to the mechanics. It’s similar to RUNES in the way you roll one cube into others and latch onto them, but the main difference here is that you can also disconnect at will. The boards are also smaller and there’s no move counter to stress you out. Despite all this, I got stuck at a similar point where I got stuck in RUNES — where you have to roll around a three-cube piece in the shape of an “L.” I just can’t get my brain to work out how I should roll the piece to get it into the right position so I can get to the exit. There’s also no way to skip levels, from what I can tell, so I had no choice but to just stop playing. There’s still a lot to like about the game, but if you have as much trouble with these sort of spacial puzzles as I do, you may want to watch my video before deciding whether to buy it.

Save the Zacks

Save the Zacks is a puzzle game in which you need to draw a path for all the little white blobs named Zack to get to the exit. It features simple but cute graphics and controls that are made for touchscreens. It even uses the gyroscope, allowing you to tilt your device to try and nudge the Zacks where you want them to go. There’s also a collectible coin in each level that’s harder to get to than just going straight for the exit. I was enjoying the game a lot, but the second chapter has gotten a bit frustrating for me. It first introduced these octopus-like creatures that grab the Zacks on their way to the exit. You have to try and draw in a way that they can’t reach. Or you can sacrifice a Zack by blowing him up and hopefully severing the octopus’ arms. The problem with this is that it can take a number of tries to get it exactly as you need it. It can be difficult to tap the Zack at exactly the right time and draw the perfect path so that other Zacks don’t tumble off the edge along with the monster. I eventually made it past that frustrating level, but gave up on one with spikes and a narrow hole where the Zacks would get stuck in. It all just got a little too complicated for me. I still think it’s an interesting game, but I’m not usually a fan of physics puzzlers that demand a lot of precision. The first chapter is free, though, so I recommend giving it a try and maybe watching some of my video to see if you want to pay to unlock the other two chapters.

Deck ‘Em

I was looking forward to Frosty Pop’s Deck ‘Em, as there are few genres as perfect for mobile as solitaire card games. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is completely free without ads or IAPs. The gameplay is interesting, too, as you have to survive twelve rounds in the boxing ring to win. You’re not actually trying to defeat your opponent, you’re just trying not to lose too quickly. The block mechanic is the trickiest part of the game, as you can only use the same block card to block an attack with less power than the previous attack you blocked with it. Otherwise, the full power of the attack goes through and you take a lot of damage. So balancing those blocks and attacks takes some strategy. Still, I won on my second try and then lost interest. That’s because I realized the only way to get a high score is to play a lot. It doesn’t matter if you’re the the best player out there and win every run. You need to play a lot of runs and bet your earnings on them in order to be able to earn big. So it becomes more about who invests the most time into the game rather than who’s the best player. I would rather have a high score system that’s more meaningful and less dependent on time invested. It’s free, so try it out, but I don’t think it’s worth giving too much of your time to it.

Penrose

I couldn’t get a good feel for what Penrose is from the App Store description or trailer, so I just grabbed it for a buck to find out for myself. It turns out it’s a non-linear narrative in which you tap on highlighted words to change them and the story. It’s an interesting idea, but I found the format too distracting, and after about twenty minutes playing I hadn’t absorbed any of it. The text starts in middle of the third chapter, then moves forward, then backwards again, then unlocks the second chapter. I don’t know how to read a book that way. It also doesn’t help that you can change the point of view so that you’re seeing the same events through the eyes of different characters. The way things are set up, I feel like I would just tap on things to unlock more text and then eventually read it all in order like a normal book. Reading it backwards and forwards and all jumbled up like this is just too distracting and I can’t form an image in my head of what’s happening. So the words just don’t get absorbed. You can try the game for free in a browser, though, so I suggest doing that before deciding whether to buy it.

Caapora Adventure

Caapora Adventure is similar to the Zelda games in that you run around with your weapon and fight monsters while completing quests for different characters. It’s a bit rough around the edges and the joystick doesn’t respond very well on my iPad, but I was still trying to give it a chance. I gave up, though, when I completed a quest and wasn’t given a new one. I ran around and tried to find someone new who could give me a quest or just explore on my own, but I just kept hitting dead ends. It’s possible I was supposed to go back to the guy who gave me my first quest, but if that’s the case the game should have done a better job letting me know that. By the time I found my way back from all the pointless exploring, I lost interest in the game. It’s hard to justify spending time with something that doesn’t feel good to play when I have so many other games I’m enjoying. Still, it’s cheap, so if my gameplay video doesn’t turn you off, by all means give it a try.

Sky: Children of the Light

There isn’t too much happening in the world of Sky this week. A new traveling spirit arrived for the weekend, this time from the Season of Rhythm. I didn’t make a new video for it, but you can find my guide for that whole season here. They also made some changes to the lantern that will be part of the Days of Summer Lights event. There’s now a toggle to switch between the regular glowing mode and the bullseye mode that acts like a flashlight and creates a pinpointed beam of light. It is definitely a nice addition. Unfortunately, they made the lantern less useful by removing the ability to light candles while holding it. That mig come back, but for now it’s seeming a bit underwhelming, especially for $20. Anyway, I’ll update you if anything changes.

The Last Campfire

I started playing The Last Campfire last week but finished it since. I adore the game, and it made me wish for more open world puzzlers like it. My only issue with it is how difficult it makes it to find any collectibles you missed. There’s one that’s still eluding me, but I’ve gone back and forth looking all over the place and have no idea where it could be. I don’t see any missing. I would love a way to tell a general area where it is so I could waste less time trying to find it. That’s still a minor complaint in the big scheme of things. It’s an absolutely charming game and the puzzles have plenty of variety to keep it from getting stale. Please play this one. I also have a walkthrough guide here if you need help.

World’s End Club

The latest Apple Arcade release is World’s End Club from IzanagiGames, the folks behind the Danganronpa series. It may look cutesy, but there’s actually a dark story here. A bunch of school kids are on a bus when they see a meteor strike. They black out and wake up in some underwater theme park where they’re told that they have to play a Fate Game in which one one person can win. Everyone else would die. There’s more to it than that, but I’ve only played for two hours, so I can’t say tell yet whether it’s worth sticking with it. The gameplay is pretty simple, though, and you always have a chance to fix your mistakes, so it’s not very demanding. It’s more like a visual novel. I do have a few complaints about it from what I’ve played so far. As with Danganronpa, I find the characters a bit annoying. They talk too much sometimes, even when they have nothing worthwhile to say. The worst, though, is when the game explains something to me three times, like I’m too dumb to get it the first time. I was also annoyed that a big moment that seemed to be an important life-altering choice wasn’t a choice at all. If you try to pick the option that the game doesn’t want you to choose, nothing happens. You just keep getting told “are you sure you want to do that?” over and over until you choose the other option. Lame. Anyway, I’m still intrigued enough by the game to continue with it, but disappointed that the developer said it ends on a cliffhanger and the full game won’t be out until it releases on Switch in 2021. If you prefer to play the whole game at once, you might want to wait. If you do end up playing, check my walkthrough guide if you need help with any puzzles.

A Monster’s Expedition

Next week’s Apple Arcade game is A Monster’s Expedition from Draknek, the folks behind A Good Snowman and Cosmic Express. I played part of the demo a while back, but I’ve since gotten access to the full game on Steam. I played some of it on my iPad using Steam Link and a controller, and am really enjoying it so far. But I decided to wait for next week so I can play it with touch controls. I wrote a little something about the game here and explained the touch controls as the developers showed me. I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited to play it.

And that’s everything I’ve been up to this past week! I still want to complete a lot of these games, so I not-so-secretly hope next week is a bit quieter. If you’re looking for something to play, there’s just so many good games to choose from right now. Let me know in the comments section what you’re playing and I’ll see you back here next time with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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