My chemical romance: Science puzzler Sokobond coming to iOS & Android

Shell game.

Shell game.

Sokobond is a puzzle game about making chemical compounds that requires “no chemistry knowledge” to play. I think that’s downright cowardly, but I suppose I understand the commercial impulse behind not shutting out 98% of the world’s population from buying your game.

It’s lovely, minimalist thing from indie developers Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee, puzzle specialists who were responsible for These Robotic Hearts of Mine and Stickets, respectively. Sokobond released for desktops yesterday on Steam, but its creators say that iOS & Android versions are forthcoming.

The last time we experimented with a chemistry-centric game, it turned out to be a bit of a dud. I figure we’re due for a win. Watch the trailer below.

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Art nouveau: Paint it Back update brings new puzzles and an Android version

In the next scene: a fiddle contest.

In the next scene: a fiddle contest.

Edward Brown’s Paint it Back, the picross-style game that PT‘s staff unanimously declared to be our favourite puzzle game of 2013, received a big update yesterday. Brown’s added a new room full of paintings to be restored — 12 to be exact, which include “Satan Explaining to Bigfoot Why He Should’ve Gotten Baptized” and “You’d Better Smile for the Smile Patrol”. You probably remember those from your visit to the Louvre. The update is free to existing owners of the app.

But there’s about to be a whole lot more owners of Paint it Back, probably. Brown told me that he’s engaged the services of Apportable to bring the game to life on Android. They’re the folks that did the Android ports of Ridiculous Fishing and Sword & Sworcery EP, “so I get an excuse to mention PiB in the same sentence as those guys,” Brown said.

That Android port should pop up on Google Play tomorrow, and the Paint it Back update is available on iOS right now.

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Storm warning: Blizzard launches Curse of Naxxramas expansion on iOS and desktop

I put a spell on you.

I put a spell on you.

Neumann has been preparing you for Blizzard’s first Hearthstone expansion for weeks, tallying new cards and dissecting the pricing structure. And now the day has arrived: Curse of Naxxramas is out right now worldwide as an update to the Hearthstone iPad app. Word on the PT forums is that Blizzard’s servers are having some launch day hiccups, so patience is advised if you’re diving in tonight.

Naxxramas shakes up established Hearthstone strategies with 30 new cards for Blizzard’s fantasy collectible card game, but it also adds a whole new single-player campaign that adds solo depth to what was primarily a multiplayer affair until now. The PT staff reviewed Hearthstone as a roundtable chat back in May.

After the jump, a cinematic trailer for Naxxramas that (let’s be honest) has bupkis to do with the game, but is still pretty neat-o.

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Zombie crush saga: Walking Dead No Man’s Land will be free-to-play

[MOANING]

[MOANING]

Given the extraordinary success of Telltale’s Walking Dead adventure game series, I’m surprised there haven’t been a dozen different tie-in games by now. By my reckoning there was just one besides Telltale’s: the decidedly above-average real-time tactical game Walking Dead Assault.

Somebody finally forwarded the right Powerpoint to AMC’s licensing department, because Walking Dead: No Man’s Land has just been announced. Based on the TV (and comic book) zombie drama, the game features “characters fight[ing] for survival in a post-apocalyptic, walker-infested world.” All right! That sounds pretty good. What kind of game is it exactly?

It’s probably another soul-less Clash of Clans clone, I’m afraid. Neither the press materials sent around nor the trailer embedded below reveal any sort of gameplay details, but some cursory digging around in Finnish developer Next Games’ website uncovers that they’re a venture-backed studio “focused on… engaging free-to-play mechanics.” Shucks.

Now, I know I’m some kind of heel-dragging luddite on this topic. But I can’t be the only guy asking this question: how many nigh-identical Clash of Clans clones can the mobile gaming market support? I know CoC makers SuperCell are supposedly putting away $5 million a day with their free-to-play phenomenon, but surely the market is saturated now. I get ten pitches a day for games like this. There’s just no way that this isn’t a bubble.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe when No Man’s Land drops in 2015, it will be an earth-shaking revelation that changes free-to-play games so that they aren’t fundamentally player-hostile, unpleasant experiences. But I’ll stake a beer that it won’t. Anybody want to take the other side of that bet? No?

Watch the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land trailer after the jump and shake your head at the state of non-indie gaming. At least we’ve got Telltale.

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Still alone: Lone Wolf’s third chapter arrives 7 August

Just the worst indigestion. You have no idea.

Just the worst indigestion. You have no idea.

Act 3 of Bulkypix’s action RPG/gamebook hybrid Lone Wolf will be popping up for iOS and Android on 7 August, the French publishers tell us. There’s few details about Lone Wolf: The Shianti Halls (I think we had a company Christmas party there a few years back) other than a cryptic allusion to “a dreadful new enemy”, who is presumably the red-eyed chap in the screenshot above. Either that, or Lone Wolf finally has a friend, and need not be so alone anymore. Probably not the latter.

Last year was a banner year for gamebooks. Both Lone Wolf and Inkle’s Sorcery! series put the “interactive” into interactive fiction like never before — Lone Wolf by adding in fantasy RPG action and Sorcery by adding deeper decisions and dynamic dialogue. We preferred the latter, but they were both very good in their own ways. You can read Neumann’s review of Lone Wolf Chapter 1 right here.

There’s no video yet for Chapter 3, so after the jump I’ve got the trailer for Chapter 2, which came out back in back in April.

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Get out of my dreams, get into my carrier: New Victory at Sea trailer

For the Winston.

For the Winston.

British devs Evil Twin have released a new video of their mobile-bound RTS conversion of the Victory at Sea tabletop game. As with their previous trailer, this one is soundtracked by the ominous mumblings of Winston Churchill himself.

I’m awfully curious to see how the developers intend to translate a turn-based miniatures game into a real-time WWII naval combat sim, but the big point of difference here is the dynamic campaign that Evil Twin are promising: the world’s oceans are a giant sandbox where opposing forces react dynamically to what you do. You can sail your fleet anywhere in the world to engage the enemy where you see fit, starting as a destroyer captain and working your way up to admiral’s stars.

The game will be out on desktops August 8th, but Evil Twin told me just now that they’re hoping that the mobile versions will launch in late September.

Watch the trailer below and keep tabs on this project on Facebook and Twitter.

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Free-to-pray (to the Emperor): Horus Heresy Drop Assault will be an F2P 40K game

The emperor protects?

The emperor protects?

Long-time readers will know that — due to a brain parasite I contracted from an Eldar Farseer during a lurid college spring break on Craftworld Ulthwé — I am pathologically unable to stop myself from posting about Warhammer 40K games, no matter how far outside this blog’s editorial sweet spot.

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault sports a moniker that will quicken the pulse of any 40K nerd, but let me just break your heart right now and get it over with. The game is free-to-play and to my eye, appears to be a Space Marine’d-up Clash of Clans, that most odious F2P skinner box. I could be (and very occasionally am) wrong. Somebody explain to me how I’m wrong and I’ll be much obliged to you.

Canadian devs Complex Games have a resume that includes such titles as TMNT Rooftop Run and Ducktales: Scrooge’s Loot, so big licenses appear to be something of a specialty for them. This is first game set in 40K’s Horus Heresy epoch.

For those readers who have spent their precious time on this mortal coil more wisely than I have, the Horus Heresy is a landmark event in Warhammer 40K fluff: it’s the civil war within the Imperium of Man that led to the status quo in the game’s universe where the diminished Imperium (fascist neo-Roman theocrats) stands off against the corrupt forces of Chaos (punk rock Frankensteins). There’s currently a series of tie-in novels (of wildly varying quality) that digs deeper into the lore.

Horus Heresy: Drop Assault will come to iOS & Android this fall. Watch the trailer after the jump and see if you concur with my diagnosis.

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Landing site selected: Space Program Manager touches down October 31st

We will come in peace for all mankind.

This October, we will come in peace for all mankind.

Coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings over the weekend, Slitherine have announced a final release date for the long-in-development Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager: October 31st, 2014. This gives you plenty of time to get a good-fitting waistcoat for your Gene Kranz Halloween costume.

Space Program Manager puts you in the driver’s seat of the American or Soviet spaceflight program in the 1950s, and challenges you to beat the other side to a manned Moon landing. Publishers Slitherine and developers Polar Motion are planning expansion packs that will extend the game into the 1980s and into near-future manned explorations of Mars. I gave SPM a thorough going-over in my preview in May, and I expect that the finished product will be pretty popular around here.

SPM will be released on iPad, Android tablets, and desktops. If you want to get in on the desktop version early, Slitherine are selling early access to the development builds until August.

Slitherine have sent along a trailer that marks the lunar landing anniversary. Now, this trailer doesn’t have any gameplay per se, but it does have Jack Kennedy saying “We choose to go to the Moon,” which gives me goosebumps the size of Skittles every time I hear it. Watch it after the break.

UPDATE: Hawk-eyed PT reader Matthew Tate sends us a correction, that I have since verified with Slitherine. That 31 October release date is for the PC version of Space Program Manager — the tablet versions will follow but there’s no nailed down date for those.

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