The Silent Age is shaping up to be one of the best point-and-click adventure games of recent memory. House on Fire’s crowdfunded effort is being teased out in episodes, and if the first one is anything to go by, we’re in for a special treat.
Between a compelling, well-written story, logical puzzle design, a great touch interface, polished graphics and sound, and an interesting protagonist, there’s almost nothing to fault — almost being a key word there, as its two notable shortcomings are difficulty (it’s easy) and length (this first episode lasts a few hours, tops).
Today I drove the getaway vehicle in a bank robbery, repaired a remote antenna tower, ran several criminals off the road, rushed a patient to the hospital, and successfully parked a bus. It wasn’t easy, but duty called — and I wasn’t about to be beaten by a bunch of dastardly traffic cones or inconveniently-placed street light poles.
Duty Driver is like a taster for the vehicle simulation genre of games — a packed field on PC that includes such classics as Euro Truck Simulator and Street Cleaning Simulator — okay, maybe that second one isn’t a classic, but I think you get that it’s a broad field. I never understood their appeal, but now I think I’m starting to get it. And my stint in each of Duty Driver’s five roles is what helped me overcome my distant air of curious bemusement.
It’s amazing how quickly the variety and quality of games have increased and improved in the Play Store over the past couple of years. There are now tons of titles available for Android devices in every genre, with graphics and gameplay that rival those seen on games for best-selling portable consoles. Don’t believe me? What if I told you the new kid on the block is a 2D side-scrolling pixel art endless running arcade fighter?
Besides being a mouthful, that’s really the best way to describe Punch Quest, the latest release from Noodlecake Studios, publishers of such casual entertainers as Ready Steady Bang, Zombie Road Trip and Huebrix (which we loved to bits and reviewed here). You play a dashing hero clearing his way out of a dungeon filled with ghouls and creepies, and you’re not afraid to let your fists do the talking. Let’s see if all these genres come together to create a knockout title, shall we?
Unstoppaball DX probably isn’t the best of games to play on the move. Evoking the abstract physics-based platform rolling of 1984 Atari hit Marble Madness — and to a lesser extent the more recent Super Monkey Ball series — it asks you to steer a ball through hazardous environments by tilting your device.
While it doesn’t have the depth of those forebears, it’s a fun, challenging, well-designed exercise in steady handedness and virtual rolling.
Sports games used to be better. Somewhere along the way, despite tremendous popularity of simpler titles like NBA Jam, Sensible Soccer, and Tecmo Bowl, the genre became obsessed with simulation. Developers stopped focusing on fun approximations of real life in favor of being as lifelike as possible — no matter how inaccessible and confusing it may be to the majority of potential players.
But there are those who are fighting back, creating sports games with uncomplicated controls, fewer obstacles to enjoyment, and more arcade-style action. Super Soccer Champs 2013 is one such effort, drawing on the legacy of Dino Dini’s Goal! and Sensible Soccer to provide a delightful, nuanced, two-button top-down soccer game.
Remote/radio control cars can be great fun, especially when you use them to do stunts or race on makeshift tracks. That’s clearly the thinking behind Re-Volt, a popular 1999 console and PC kart racer that’s just made its way to Android.
Re-Volt Classic stays true to the original, with all cars, tracks, and the stunt area intact, but the most compelling feature — multiplayer — is currently missing. This is emblematic of bigger problems with the touch-screen remake, which not only handles less elegantly without physical buttons but also suffers from a number of frustrating niggles.
Games have been aping Indiana Jones since Raiders of the Lost Ark burst into the cinema in 1981, but few execute on their vision as well as Relic Rush — a retro-styled one-touch game of racing through dungeons and tombs in search of treasure.
It’s pretty light on depth, but it’s so well made and cleverly conceived as to be a glorious distraction worthy of the hour or two time investment.
There’s something strangely cathartic about watching cute cartoony animals marching off to their doom, oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead. Lemmings was great not just for its level design and presentation but also for the way in which its blissfully ignorant critters were always mere seconds from annihilation.
EliteWare’s debut Android game, The Penguin Trials, harks back to this Amiga masterpiece with helpless penguins that need guidance from a higher power to herd them safely from igloo to flag pole. It’s far from perfect, but the quirky concept and clever level design make Penguin Trials a worthy test of your time.
Blowing up cartoony worms is more fun than it sounds. Team17’s Worms series exploded onto the PC gaming scene in 1995, adding a touch of Lemmings-esque dark humor to the formula of taking turns to shoot projectiles at an opponent across a deformable landscape.
The cute little critters wasted little time after conquering the Amiga, expanding to several other platforms and a franchise with more than a dozen entries. Now they’ve set their sights on Android with the excellent Worms 2: Armageddon. And the good news is that the series is intact and just as compelling on mobile.
Mobile gaming, as you probably know, is super popular: people play games on mobile. Because of that, there are tons of games for Android; they even have their own section in the Play Store, completely separate from “Apps.” I have my select crop of games, as I’m sure you do. I prefer 2D side-scrollers — they are simple, somewhat mindless games that help me pass the time. However, when I came across Draw a Stickman I was pretty intrigued. It didn’t seem like your run of the mill adventure game, so I downloaded it and gave it a try. What did I think? Let’s take a look!