“…and this is where Thing from the Addams Family is buried.”
A couple of years ago I was wondering what had become of Myst-style immersive puzzle games, a genre that was getting non-gamers into gaming when the Angry Birds were still yolks. Then Fireproof’s The Room came along and won a million billion fans and pretty much every award going.
Unlike Myst, there’s not a lot of imitators of The Room, probably because the art intensive style is expensive to attempt. Here’s The Secret of Raven Rock, a game that probably doesn’t have the high gloss sheen of Fireproof’s masterpiece but looks like an earnest effort to give it a little competition.
In this game, which drops next week for iOS, you return home to your town and find that its inhabitants have vanished. Thoughtfully, they’ve left a bunch of puzzles that will unlock the secret of their disappearance once solved. You’re going to be really embarrassed when it turns out this is just your surprise birthday party.
If there’s one thing the App Store is lacking, it’s solid single-player puzzle games. Seriously, sit back and think about it. Are there any out there? I know I can’t think of one.
Noodlecake Games, makers of PT-favorite time-waster Super Stickman Golf, is putting a stop to this travesty today with the release of new endless puzzler, Joinz. In Joinz players have to form Tetris-style shapes from blocks on a grid. Blocks can be slid in a line to form shapes, which removes those blocks from the board. Every time you move a block and don’t create one of the shapes, however, new blocks enter the puzzle. Eventually, new colors are added, shapes get more complicated and the difficulty skyrockets.
Even if that description doesn’t trip your trigger, try this on for size: it’s $2 with no IAP or ads. That should be worthy of your attention at the very least.
Here’s by far the most unusual thing to land in my inbox in the last few days, and keep in mind that this is the week Kapsula came out.
Matchstick Memories describes itself as a “meta-text adventure”. If you enjoyed A Dark Room, this game is absolutely for you. If you didn’t like A Dark Room (and fair enough — it’s a divisive experience), Matchstick Memories might appeal to you regardless.
This is a puzzle game, or to be more accurate, lots of different ones. There’s a Dungeon Raid-like line-drawing game, there’s a tile-swapping Puzzle Quest-style game, and a couple more. Solving each puzzle — and how you solve each puzzle — progresses a storyline told through terse prose snippets that sketch out the barest outlines of a game world. Behind the puzzles is really an old-school text adventure game: you’re navigating a world and collecting quest items, but your only means of interacting with the world is the puzzles.
Matchstick Memories is three dollars on iOS — it’s the first release from the delightfully-named dev Cooper Buckingham, who sounds like a character from Clue. Kelsey’s reviewing this one for us.
Renowned Japanese tabletop game publishers Oink Games have launched their first iOS title this morning: MUJO, a mythologically-themed puzzle game that has been in soft-launch in Singapore and New Zealand for the last month. It’s out right now in New Zealand and will be releasing wherever you are at midnight, or at 11pm Eastern in the US.
I’ve toyed with it some this morning and I love almost everything about it. I love the clever tile-matching gameplay that’s unlike any match-3 I’ve played before. I love the whimsical music that reminds me of Katamari Damacy. I love the colourful flat-design Greek gods and monsters. What’s the Greek pantheon doing in this game, anyway? There isn’t really a story or anything, it just seems like Oink’s designers resolved that if they were going to have unlockable heroes in their puzzle game they might as well be Olympian gods. I can get behind that.
I definitely don’t love that there’s consumable IAPs in a game that you’re also asked to pay for up front. I know Zeus likes to have things both ways but come on now — pick one or the other, Oink. The IAPs seem to be fairly innocuous so far, but I couldn’t not mention them to you.
MUJO is out worldwide and probably should be reviewed by Clancy. I shall have Hermes inform him.
I’ve written before of my affection for Square Enix’s beautifully realised Hitman GO, and now (lucky me) I have the opportunity to do so again: it’s the “Free Game of the Month” courtesy of IGN.
Some PT readers have reported that the slightly Byzantine process required to redeem your free copy – which I’m told entails a loyalty oath, a geography quiz, and a small (mostly painless) hot-iron brand of the IGN logo on a forearm — can be a bit tricky, but it’s probably worth it. Hitman GO is one of the year’s best puzzle games and is reassuring proof that AAA studios can make mobile games that aren’t icky free-to-play garbage.
To get your free iOS Universal copy of Hitman GO, roll up one sleeve and visit this URL. Supplies are apparently limited so don’t dawdle.
In the Pantheon of New Release Nights, tonight is occupying a decidedly low plinth. The week’s notable launch might be the already-availableYardmaster, though PT commenters are giving that one some fairly equivocal praise so far.
There are a few games worth chatting about, so why don’t we watch the trailers after the jump?
With enough sequels it’ll be like a Motel 6 on Fireproof’s catalog.
In what can only be the year’s least surprising news, Fireproof have announced that The Room 3 is en route. But of course it is. The games industry has classically conditioned the Scottish studio by festooning them with awards every time they make a new installment of their 3D puzzle game franchise. Pavlov would be proud.
The Room 3 coming to iOS in the spring of 2015, with an Android version to follow, Fireproof say, and they’re also making a neat-looking jet-packing game called Omega Agent for Samsung’s newly unveiled VR doohickey. Samsung do love a gimmick but they’ve actually lined up some impressive launch partners for the Samsung Gear VR, which was just announced at IFA a few hours ago.
Fireproof and its head honcho Barry Meade are well worth supporting: he’s one of the good guys taking a stand for good old fashioned “premium” games in this increasingly free-to-play world. You should read Meade’s Polygon editorial on that subject if you haven’t.
There’s no video for The Room 3 yet, so after the jump you’ll find the trailer for The Room 2. You can keep up with Fireproof on Facebook.
What is a mobile video game worth? Quite a lot, say Square Enix, who are stubbornly sticking to their gunblades on mobile game pricing strategy. Their iOS port of PS2 JRPG Dragon Quest VIII launched back in May at the price of $20 — it’s on sale this weekend for the very first time at $15, still a vertigo-inducing price tag by App Store standards. It’s tempting to look at Squeenix and see a doddery old man complaining that kids these days listen to their music too loud and expect their games to cost a dollar.
Cas Prince of PC game developers Puppygames recently wrote that game prices are dropping so precipitously that the rich and diverse ecosystem of game creators we’ve come to enjoy is in danger. That long post includes apparently self-immolating statements like “[customers] are worthless to us[.]” But hear him out.
“Once upon a time, back in the early 2000s or so, games would sell for about $20 or so. Some developers did really well at that price point -– I mean really well. Most of us didn’t do that well, and made beer money, but we carried on making games anyway because that’s what we liked to do, even if nobody wanted them. When we got a customer we were able to treat them like royalty.”
“Then came the Humble Bundle and all its little imitators. It was another cataclysmically disruptive event… You’ve sold 40,000 games! But you’ve only made enough money to survive full-time for two weeks because you’re selling them for 10 cents each.”
Obviously, Prince is talking about one- and two-man indie studios here, not publishing behemoths like Squeenix. And casting Squeenix as the defender of the “premium”-priced game is problematic when the other fork of their mobile games strategy is pushing free-to-play bilge. But at least Square Enix have resisted the temptation to rip out Dragon Quest’s spine and turn it into a freemium cyborg like Namco did with Tales of Phantasia.
I wonder sometimes about publishing this (mostly) weekly price drops post. Am I aiding the forces pushing game prices down? I love getting a game for a dollar as much as the next guy, but many of the games I love can’t be sold profitably at a price point that low. I don’t know. I’ll keep doing it out of inertia for now, but I’m open to the notion that there’s something better to be doing on Saturdays.