iPad, PC/Mac • Hey, everyone! It’s Monday and I’m still sick! This announcement has nothing to do with the game we’re about to discuss or with garnering sympathy (I’ll take it, but that’s not the main point), but I wanted everyone to understand why content might be a little slow over the next few days. The flu I seem to have picked up is accompanied by migraine level headaches, and staring at a screen makes it about 100x worse, which is kind of an issue when writing a blog. Hopefully this clears up quickly and things can get back to normal, but I thought you should know. Back to our regular programming: Let’s talk about Subsurface Circular.
iOS Universal • Need to kill about 12 hours while you wait for a certain something to arrive on the App Store? I feel ya. You could fill a bit of that time with Underhand, but if you’re in more of a puzzle mood, how’s about giving Returner 77 a go?
iOS Universal, PC/Mac • It’s been a long time since we’ve had a pure puzzle game worth talking about land on the App Store. The Witness, Jonathan Blow‘s puzzle opus, almost fits. It’s definitely a puzzle game, but it’s also big, beautiful, and mysterious. It feels like there’s much more to do than just solving the maze-like puzzles, but when you get down to it, there really isn’t. It’s kind of weird, but I keep loading it up and exploring the world so there must be something there.
iOS • Shakespeare once said, “…brevity is the soul of wit,” but he did so in the middle of 30,000 words in what would be his longest play. In other words, Shakespeare has been trolling the shit out of high school sophomores who have been reading Hamlet since 1609. That said, he was definitely on to something, which is why I try to keep all my posts as short as possible. LOOK AT ALL THIS WIT! When it comes to games, however, it’s commonly thought that brevity sucks. Wordwich would beg to differ as it’s the shortest damn game I’ve ever played. It’s not the wittiest, but it does manage to be somewhat addictive.
iOS Universal, Android • Tin Man Games left their usual gamebook fare in the dust when they released Miss Fisher and the Deathly Maze earlier this year. Instead of reading pages of text and then picking where the story goes, Miss Fisher was a full-fledged adventure game with a rather awesome protagonist and a slew of other interesting characters wrapped around a compelling mystery. It’s good enough that I started bingeing the Australian series on Netflix and have been loving every minute of it. Over the weekend, Tin Man added Episode 2 to the mix and, in the process, made the first episode free-to-download.
iOS, Android • When December finally rolls around, I think it’s safe to say that Tinytouchtales will have two contenders for Game of the Year. Back in March they released Card Thief, a complex stealth-based card game about looting castles and avoiding the guards tasked with protecting said loot. Next week they’re releasing GOTY contender #2, Miracle Merchant, a card game whose complexity is more akin to their previous GOTY winner, Card Crawl.
iOS Universal • Last week saw the release of FRAMED 2 on the App Store and, yes, I’ve been aware of its existence. I’ve been actively ignoring it because, in my rapidly declining memory, I remembered Kelsey hating the first one when we covered it back at Pocket Tactics and didn’t see the need to cover the sequel to a game we actively disliked back in 2014. Went back and looked today and he didn’t hate it. In fact, he kind of loved it. So, I’m an idiot and now we should talk about FRAMED 2.
iOS • Format plays much the same role in modern writing that fate played for the ancient Greeks. Monument Valley 2 is exactly what that title suggests, and the original was so popular that there’s little need for reviews. But I’m a game reviewer, and to resist describing it would invite the intervention of displeased gods. So: Monument Valley took the inspiration for its puzzles from M.C. Escher, its visual style from Helvetica and sunsets, and its lightly-presented narrative from maturing, regret, and making amends (and how distinct are those, really?). It was the sort of gem which made people feel like there was still something they could use to show off the potential of touchscreen devices to jaded onlookers. MV2 refines that success very gently.
PC, Mac, Linux • I remember talking with Owen back in the day and listening to him gush over Empire: A Deck Building Strategy Game as if it were the second coming of XCOM. Was his love for Empire a tad overzealous? Perhaps, but just a tad. Designed by Keith Burgun, Empire and his other titles, 100 Rogues and Auro, have all been the cream of the App Store crop since their release. Thus, you’ll be happy to hear that Mr. Burgun is working on another title and he’s currently funding it via Kickstarter. You’ll be less happy to hear that there’s no plan to bring it to mobile.
PC/Mac/Linux • Nostalgia is a tricky beast. Some creators will use it like bad wallpaper, covering the cracks of their leaky foundation while trying to remind us of the wallpaper in our childhood bedroom as if that would make us ignore what’s underneath. Other creators will use it to enhance the story or characters by dropping us deeper into whatever it is they’ve crafted. Last year’s X-Files reboot was the former, Stranger Things was the latter. Nostalgia can only take you so far, and if the product isn’t good to begin with then nostalgia won’t suddenly make it worth your time. Thimbleweed Park drips with nostalgia. In fact, they could have called it “Nostalgia: The Game” and I would have nodded and thought it was a good choice. Thimbleweed Park exists solely to remind you of classic point-and-click adventures from the 80’s and 90’s, especially those from LucasArts, but it does it with a deft hand and excellent new mechanisms, making it far more Stranger Things than X-Files. This is nostalgia done right.