Out Now: Showcase Showdown Edition

By Nick Vigdahl 17 Mar 2017 7

Apple continued its Indie Games Showcase this week, featuring game after game created by independent developers. That's more or less every week at Pocket Tactics, but hey, we'll take great games when we can get them, and I've got a whole slew of them to share with you this week. Without further ado, the games…

Beglitched (iOS)

Somehow, the laptop of the Glitch Witch—the best of the best of hackers in a pink-washed world where magic meets technology—has fallen into your hands. Having her laptop makes you, a complete noob, her hacking apprentice and she is willing to show you a thing or two. From there, you're off following an odd narrative and trying to figure out exactly what you're supposed to be doing at any given point. Beglitched is a puzzle game with both match-three and Minesweeper elements that goes far beyond either.

There's an interesting story about insecurity, both of ourselves and our technology, RPG-laced combat with a lot more challenge and strategy than first meets the eye, funny dialogue, and interesting puzzles. You start out not really knowing what to do, but gradually get a clue through trial-and-error and hints in the dialogue. Beglitched is very cool and if you're looking for something unique and can handle being clueless until you figure things out, it is well worth checking out.

Euclidean Lands (iOS)

Comparing games is done often, maybe too often, but it's a handy way to quickly pass along what to expect. The Verge called Euclidean Lands a cross between Monument Valley and Hitman Go played on a Rubik's Cube and that's very nearly the perfect way to describe it (though I might have said Hoplite rather than Hitman Go). You control an implacable spearman who is certainly not plagued by vertigo or a fear of heights as you twist and turn the gameboard in search of foes for him to slay.

You have to take them all out before manoeuvring this intrepid warrior to a space marked with a red circle. It's a really cool combination of puzzle and quasi-roguelike that adds new terrain, weapons, and enemies to keep things fresh. I'm really happy there's no move limit or stars to earn in this one. You just worry about taking out your foes and claiming your rightful space. If you like a little combat in your geometric puzzler Euclidean Lands is for you.

Ticket to Earth (iOS)

Yet another tactical puzzle game, this one with an RPG storyline, is also now available for Apple gamers. Ticket to Earth is set in a science fiction future and based in New Providence, a dying colony on a distant world. The colony is being evacuated back to earth, but tickets fall into the hands of the rich and powerful. The people have had enough, and faced with an uncertain future, opt to rise up. You play as Rose, Wolf, Doc, and Seven as they work to stop a criminal conspiracy and find a way out.

The narrative is interspersed with plenty of puzzle-influenced, turn-based combat missions where the mantra is "see the grid, find the path." Your goal is to find a path to your foe that moves through as many same-colored squares as possible, as this powers up your attacks. I found this style of combat to be very fun and tactically challenging, especially as new characters with different powers come into play and you take on new foes. Couching it as a meditative martial art is a good story-based explanation for what would otherwise feel like a very inefficient way to fight, as well. Fans of both turn-based tactical RPGs and genre busting puzzle games should strongly consider Ticket to Earth.

Cosmic Express (iOS and Android)

Cosmic Express is billed as "a puzzle game about planning the train route for the world's most awkward space colony," which is about as accurate a game marketing line as I've ever seen. Your job is to figure out how to construct a space tram line to pick up and drop off a bunch of little alien folk. It sounds and looks a bit cutesy, but the levels are super challenging and a whole lot of fun. The new mechanics that get thrown in to up the difficulty level as you progress make sense and don't just feel tacked on like some puzzle games.

Best of all the different levels are like exploring a galaxy with lots of different directions you can go next, which means if you get stuck on a hard level you can just go play one of many other options and come back to it. I dig puzzle games and Cosmic Express is one of the best I've seen lately. It's made by the developer that brought us A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build—if you look closely you'll see a familiar "face" in the driver's seat—so there's some solid puzzle creating pedigree at work here. I definitely recommend it to both puzzle masters and more casual fans of the genre.

Guards 3D (iOS and Android)

Guards is a turn-based tactical combat game that's all about unit positioning units in three battlefield lanes. Each turn your four hero team of medieval-themed warriors attacks whatever dreadful creature, or creatures, stand before them in their own lane. Each turn you can swap two of your heroes before the attack phase. Your decision is often based on the hero's special abilities—some fire from range or hit multiple enemies for example.

There are eight different heroes to recruit and use and they are customizable with various items and equipment. The game is pretty simple to play, works well with touch controls, and has some decent tactical crunch in figuring out how best to take out enemies. This is worth a look if you are a fan of turn-based combat games and are looking for a new game with a different style of gameplay.

Aftershock Tactical Card Combat (iOS)

Aftershock is a card battler that goes for something a little different by trying to get in on the Pokémon Go vibe. Your real-life daily activity, both steps and location information, are used to fuel an adventure narrative. The game is more about battle than story, however, and you'll encounter plenty of opponents to fight. Combat is turn based and quick. Each turn you get to choose to attack, evade, or apply a shield.

You can apply a special effect card on your turn as well. There are some tactical decisions in combat, but it isn't super deep or overly complicated. As you advance you'll gain XP and levels, which allow you to upgrade your abilities, as well as fuel reserves which can be used to acquire more cards. Aftershock features both a single-player adventure and asynchronous PVP. Aftershock is yet another combat game with different gameplay mechanics and is worth exploring if you like the idea of a game driven by your own activity, or lack thereof.

Bit City (iOS and Android)

Bit City is a city simulator from the makers of the very well-received Tiny Tower. You start out with some cash and a lot of open space and buy plots of land to zone as residential, commercial, or services (parks, libraries, water towers, etc.). As your city grows you start to earn income per second. You also mash the yellow "Build" button whenever it lights up in order to upgrade one of your buildings. Your goal is to grow city by adding and upgrading buildings and keep increasing your population in order to progress through a series of levels featuring larger and larger cities.

Bit City has an in-game currency that is acquired fairly easily—grabbed off of cars driving around your city and by meeting certain objectives—and can be used to fast forward 10 or 60 minutes for some quick cash. There's also an option to watch a video and get double production for ten minutes. You can do this back-to-back to enable some much speedier play sessions. Yeah, these are freemium mechanics and Bit City is a free-to-play game but it isn't in your face about it. The game sounds and even feels a bit like SimCity, but you're not making anywhere near the types of strategic decisions that made that game so compelling. If you're looking for a clicker-type game to play a couple minutes here and there to pass some time Bit City is right up your alley.

That's all for this week's round-up. Seen anything we've missed? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget to share your impressions if you end up trying out any of the above! Have a good weekend! 

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