My Week Unwrapped: January 16, 2021 – Erica, YANKAI’S DIAMOND, The Pillar, Picnic Penguin, Neon Beats 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. Things have finally picked up again now that all the holidays ended and everyone’s back to work. I still made some time to play Genshin Impact, as I’m fully sucked in now, and some other games got content updates. But there’s plenty of new games to cover, too. So let’s jump right in!

Erica – Interactive Thriller

I had heard good things about the full motion video (FMV) game aka interactive movie, Erica, from Flavourworks and was hoping it might one day come to iOS. Well, that wish came true this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. The production values are top notch, as the whole thing both looks and sounds great. I also appreciate that it’s designed for touch, as you’re often asked to use gestures to interact with the world. This might mean swiping up to flick open a lighter, or using two fingers to open a curtain. Another really nice use of this was when you rub your finger against the screen on a scene of the present to reveal the past. The problem is, the game never leaves you to figure these things out for yourself. There are onscreen hints/guides to show you what to do throughout the entire game, so I never felt like I was actually working out these things on my own. That makes it feel kind of pointless a lot of the time, as well as distracting. It was also distracting to have the Home Bar appear with every tap because they didn’t make it semitransparent so it stays out of the way. All this would have been easy to overlook, though, if I actually found the story interesting. But it felt poorly paced and confusing at times. I also couldn’t really get all that attached to Erica, because she barely showed any emotion. The whole game she basically had this damsel in distress look on her face, no matter the situation. I played through the game once, and there seems to be multiple endings based on choices you make, but I just don’t really have much interest in doing it again. Still, the game is free to try, so I recommend playing the beginning and seeing how you like it for yourself. I do have video below of my full playthrough, but keep in mind that I played on my iPad and cropped the video after to get rid of the Home Bar.

YANKAI’S DIAMOND

Back when Kenny Sun released YANKAI’S TRIANGLE, I praised it for its satisfying sound effects and tactile gameplay that made it hard to put down. It had an endless number of procedurally generated puzzles in which you need to rotate triangles so that the colors on their sides matched up to each other. It was a very relaxing game that’s easy to pick up and play whenever you just need something to occupy your hands. Kind of like a digital fidget spinner. I haven’t played it in a while, but I was still excited to see that a sequel was releasing called YANKAI’S DIAMOND. The idea is the same, but this time you match diamonds to each other instead of triangles. It still features great sound effects and quirky patterns. If you liked TRIANGLE and wanted something similar but also a little different, this should satisfy that craving. But if you’re burnt out on the original, I’m not sure it offers enough variety to pull you back in. I do appreciate the addition of different modes, such as Chill, Thinky and Brainy. Chill consists of the easiest levels, while Thinky will, well, make you think more. And Brainy will hurt your brain the most. If you prefer the more randomized version of the original game, you can stick to Default, where you’ll come across puzzles of all three difficulties. Overall, I like the game, but after spending so much time with TRIANGLE, I’ve grown a bit tired of it. I could see opening it here and there for a few puzzles, but it hasn’t hooked me in quite the same way. I think I also miss the soundtrack from the original. This one has sounds, but nothing that plays in the background, so it feels less immersive and a lot easier to put down. You can see for yourself how it plays in my two videos below.

The Pillar

The Pillar is another game that got ported over to iOS from other platforms. It’s a puzzle game that looks a lot like The Witness, but unfortunately is not nearly as deep or as enjoyable to play. Instead of a big open word that you’re exploring, it’s broken down into levels. That’s fine, but the puzzles you solve are just not interesting enough to make me want to play through the whole game. You’ve likely seen these before, as each puzzle is made up of a grid, with some squares colored. You then need to draw paths between the same-colored squares so that the whole grid is filled in. There are a number of mobile games that are just hundreds, if not thousands, of these puzzles without the world to explore, so it’s nothing new. These puzzles also don’t seem to get that much harder as you progress, and even when they do, they’re still accompanied by ridiculously easy ones. It does mix things up by including puzzles where you have to watch a line or two drawn and memorize the sequence so you can repeat it. But I like those even less, and they test my memory, not my ability to solve puzzles. There are also occasionally clues around the map to find, such as four-digit codes, as well as a certain number of puzzle pieces in each area. While I did enjoy looking for those, it gave me a bad case of motion sickness, so it just wasn’t worth it. Overall, The Pillar isn’t a terrible game, but I’m just not sure it’s worth your time when there’s so many other more interesting puzzle games out there.

Hidden my game by mom!

I’m a big fan of the Hidden my game by mom! series, so I was thrilled to see they released the fourth episode as part of the original game. I slowly played through it over the past week, taking my time to find both mom and my game in each level. As always, there’s some bizarre stuff going on with this family. I do wish the developer would add an ad-removal IAP, but otherwise this is an easy game to recommend. And if you get stuck, I have a full step-by-step guide here.

Picnic Penguin

Picnic Penguin is a Sokoban puzzler from Neutronized, in which you need to push different food items to the tablecloth in each level. There are usually blocks in your way, so you have to push those around, too. There are some interesting mechanics, like being able to push multiple blocks at the same time. But there are taller blocks that are heavier and can’t be pushed if a shorter block is in the way. I only played through the first world and half of the second, but there is a lot to like. What’s keeping me from sticking with it is the odd decision to include enemies in some levels that pace around the outside of the walled part of the map. In those levels, you’ll usually have to go outside the walls in order to access a different area of the map, and you need to avoid those enemies when doing so. It seems unnecessary for a puzzle game, as I just want to focus on solving it, not worrying about the enemies in my path. I also don’t like how there’s a move counter but no goal as to how many moves you should be aiming for. There are leaderboards for each world, but that still leaves you guessing as to which levels you can shave moves off from. I rather know the goal so I can work on it instead of wasting my time replaying levels without even knowing whether it’s possible to improve my score. If these things don’t bother you, definitely give it a try, especially since it’s free. It is supported by ads, but there’s an ad-removal IAP. You can also buy coins to use in the gachapon machine to try and earn more characters, but be aware that you can get duplicates.

Neon Beats

Neon Beats is a super stylish minimalistic platformer with a great soundtrack and touchscreen-friendly controls. It’s also a very demanding game and I died 85 times in the tutorial, nearly giving up before I even made it through. I did relay the tutorial and manage with only six deaths, thanks to some nuances with the controls that I wasn’t fully aware of at first. I also played through the first level, after many deaths, but I haven’t been back to it since. I like it, and I’m grateful that checkpoints aren frequent, at least so far. But I think it’s just too hard for me. I may see how the second level goes, but I doubt I’ll make it through the whole game. If you’re better at platformers than I am, you’d probably have a good time with it. You can watch some of my video below if you want to see how it plays.

Ghost Beat

I really liked the idea of Ghost Beat, and since it was so cheap at only $0.99, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s an autorunner that takes place completely inside a circle that’s constantly shifting. You have two buttons, one that moves you to the next outer path and one that moves to the next inner path. You need to react quickly so you don’t hit a wall or other obstacle, like spikes. As you progress, the number in the center will show the percentage you’ve completed so you know how much further you have to go. There are only five “worlds,” which are actually levels. I made it to 90% on the first one and died, then made it to 94% and died and saw that I could try the next level, so I moved on. There are no checkpoints, so if you die you start over from the beginning. That’s a bit too punishing for me. I also don’t really like the music, and since it’s the same exact music each time you restart a level, it started to grate on my nerves. I would prefer a game like this either have checkpoints or just be endless and randomized so I’m not doing the same exact thing over and over. I do like the overall idea of it, but I’m the end it’s just not for me. I should also mention that it’s not full screen on the latest iPad Pro at the moment, but the developer said they’ll fix it.

Little Misfortune

A few days ago, I remembered that I never finished Little Misfortune because it was crashing on my older phone. So I tried it on my new one to see if I could get past that sticking point and it worked! After all this time, I was finally able to finish the game. Sadly, I missed a spot somewhere that I was supposed to sprinkle glitter, so I didn’t get the good ending. I don’t really want to play it again to try and find it, especially since it’s difficult to know if you’ve done them all without following a guide to be sure. There are also no achievements in the iOS version, so it makes it difficult to remember which choices you made the first time, especially if it’s been a while since you played. Also, Misfortune’s head is stretched out on my iPad and squished a bit flat on my iPhone 12. So neither one feels ideal. Had it been a better port, I might have been inclined to play again on my iPad. But as is, I’ll likely just move on. I do recommend playing it, but perhaps iOS is not the best place to do so, especially if you have an older device. You can see all my videos here.

Genshin Impact

I’m still spending a lot of time with Genshin Impact, and now that I’ve completed most of the quests available to me, I’ve been focusing more on finding things I missed and also building my team. This week saw the end of the Lost Riches event and if you finished it, you get to choose one of three pet seelies that will follow you around. I chose pink because it stands out more and it’s just absolutely adorable. It’s also very chatty, so I don’t know if I’ll get annoyed with it at some point. But for now I’m still enjoying its company. I also pulled the latest 5-star character, Ganyu, today and have been trying to get used to using an archer so she can be part of my team. I still have a lot to do in this game, and I may need to step back a bit again so it doesn’t consume my whole life. It’s very easy to get focused on certain tasks and lose track of time. If you’re looking for a game that will last you a long time, this is certainly a good option.

Fugl

Fugl has been in development for several years now and I’ve been looking forward to its arrival on iOS. Though the date hasn’t been announced, the developer said it’s close and that the current beta version is likely the last. I took this opportunity to give it a try and also make some gameplay video. I’m not sure what you would categorize Fugl as, but you basically fly around voxel environments and encounter other animals, which you then transform into. It’s a relaxing game in which you can’t really fail in any way. I suppose the goal is to collect all the different creatures that you can play as. There are also different maps to explore to keep it interesting. I like it overall, but was having a really hard time getting used to the controls. It got easier the more time I spent with it, but it never felt intuitive to me. Still, I look forward to playing more and hopefully the game will release on the App Store soon.

Little Orpheus

And last, but certainly not least, Ivan Ivanovich’s adventures continued this week as Little Orpheus got a ninth episode called “A Rush of Onion to the Head.” In case you forgot, Little Orpheus was one of my favorite games of 2020, so this was very exciting news. This new episode takes place in an area full of hot air balloons and gusts of wind that push you high into the air. Perhaps the best part, though, is the return of Laika the dog, who listens attentively as Ivan tells his story. The ending also strongly hints that there’s more to come, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I still need to replay all the episodes to collect the orbs and extras, but new content is always better than old content. So I’m glad to see Ivan’s adventures aren’t over yet. If you haven’t played Little Orpheus, please do so! And you can find all my videos for the game here.

And that’s everything I’ve been up to this week! I really should go back to playing Genshin Impact more casually so I have time for other games. But I’m glad to see things are starting to pick up. Next week also promises a few big releases, so get your wallets ready! Let me know in the comments section which games you’re playing right now and I’ll see you back here next time with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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