Due to all the awards at the end of December, the new guys were too busy to clean the Writers’ Dungeon here at Mt. Hexmap. Thus, once January came around, I locked them up asked them to kindly head back to their stations and have at it. Frankly, writing all those awards tired them out and, to be honest, I really needed a little peace and quiet. With the writers safely stashed away, we didn’t get a “Games of the Month” post out last month. Well, the writers are back and fully rested, so take a gander past the break to see what our writers–famed App Store trendsetters–have been playing on their touchscreens over the past month.
Remember, these aren’t necessarily the latest and greatest games from last month. In fact, they may not have even been released in the past 30 days. Instead, you’ll find a cornucopia of games that have grabbed our attention over the past month. Curious? Good. See you on the other side.
One of last year’s surprises was a new Puzzle Quest game with a coating of Magic: The Gathering laid over the top. The most surprising thing was that the Magic coating wasn’t just for looks, it actually worked and made Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest one of the best Puzzle Quest games on the App Store.
Today MtG-PQ received its first major update, bringing the app to version 1.3. The update addresses some card balance issues as well as rebalancing the Planeswalkers themselves, but the big additions are the new Quick Battle system and new Heroic Encounters. The Quick Battle system will allow you to play against an AI using decks created by other players. You lose nothing if you’re defeated, but gain points to gather rewards at the end of each event. Events reset on a two-week cycle with different rewards available each day. Everyone who wins at least one match will get some reward, with the best rewards going to whoever is at the top of the leaderboard.
There are 25 new Heroic Encounters added, unlocked when you complete Gideon’s Heroic encounter. Each Planeswalker has five encounters, and each one features a specifically crafted deck. Much like Hearthstone‘s Tavern Brawls or Adventures, these encounters do not follow the standard rules, so figuring out how to defeat each of them becomes more like a puzzle…quest!
Apart from that, the inventory and Daily Reward systems have been updated and improved with Daily Rewards now offering everyone who logs in a couple times a month extra rewards.
Magic: The Gathering – Puzzle Quest is available for both iOS Universal and Android and is free to download. Original release trailer after the break.
Owen first mentioned The Witness way back in 2013. Back then we didn’t know much about the game other than it was from famed developer Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, and that it looked a lot like classic CD-ROM puzzler, Myst. The game just released for PC on Steam, however, so we should have a little more information on what, exactly, The Witness is. Lucky for us, it’s still on track for an iOS release sometime in the future.
The Witness is a puzzle game and, from the videos that have been released, does look very Myst-like: you’re alone on a strange island and you have to solve puzzles. The puzzles appear to be controlled by mazes that appear around the island on interactive panels. The entire thing has a surreal quality to it, not unlike Myst. The only downside I can see is that the plot has you waking up on the island with no idea of who you are or how you got there, so, basically, how I begin every one of my D&D campaigns. Then again, I’m a hack and my PCs expect that, I’m guessing they have real writers who know what they’re doing.
The Witness is available now for Windows for $40. I contacted the developers about the iOS port, but they said there was nothing new to share at this point. That said, their website still claims an iOS port is on the way, so I’m running with it. If and when I get more detailed info, we’ll pass it along. Until then, enjoy the dreamy trailer after the break.
Kind of like when I tried watching scrambled Playboy channel as a kid.
One of my favorite games of 2015 was the unique FMV puzzle, Her Story. In my review I stated, “We can only hope that Sam Barlow is working on a Her Story 2, which I would buy without needing to hear the pitch.” Well, he is, and I’m already standing in line waiting for it to hit the App Store.
Earlier this morning, Mr. Barlow tweeted a one-sheet for Her Story 2 with all the juicy details blurred out. He went on to confirm that the new game will not be a direct sequel to Her Story, as the stories will not be related.
And that’s all we know. I’m kind of hoping they bring back Viva Siefert for this one, and have her play a different role, American Horror Story-style. We’ll see. More on this one as it develops.
If this is making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you might be an engineer.
I first ran into Zachtronics when a little puzzle game called SpaceChem was released for iPad way back in 2011. I had never seen anything like it: a puzzle that intuitively made complete sense, but was completely and utterly beyond my skill. I loved it even though, as I progressed, each puzzle became more a form of torture than “fun”, but I was going to figure it out, dammit! I ended up loving/hating it enough that I bought the PC/Mac edition when I learned that Boss Missions had been left out of the iPad version.
Last year, Zachtronics pulled SpaceChem from the App Store due to the cost of maintaining it each time a new version of iOS was released. I thought that might be the end of Zachtronics on mobile, but this morning they posted on Facebook that another of their cryptic puzzlers, TIS-100 had made its way to the iPad. Just looking at the screenshots made my parietal lobe shrink in terror. Naturally, I downloaded it immediately.
TIS-100P is the mobile version’s moniker, and the game puts you in charge of rewriting the corrupted code of the titular TIS-100, an archaic computer system that holds a lot of secrets. Note that when I say you’re in charge of rewriting code, you will be rewriting code. There’s no Hollywood style hacking here, you need to literally type in commands. The goal seems to be similar to SpaceChem; move data from here, manipulate it, output it here, but there’s no whimsy, just a screen that resembles a mainframe from 1991. Don’t know how to code? Not to worry! The game includes, as part of the puzzle, a fourteen-page manual that replicates the finest that tech writing in the late 80’s had to offer, both in substance and presentation. Here you’ll learn how the machine works and how to start coding. Downloading TIS-100P means you’re giving yourself a homework assignment and, yes, you’ll need to print that manual out or you won’t get anywhere.
If you’re still with us–and I’m glad to see there are still a few of you–you can give it a shot on your iPad for $4. Don’t jump in lightly, however, we will not be held responsible for what happens to your brain if you give this a go.
Want to see programming in action (and I use the term “action” loosely)? Watch the trailer after the break.
One of the best games of 2014 was the math-based shooter from internet comedy guru Seanbaby, which might be the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written. Yes, the game was designed by Seanbaby, who’s better known for internet hilarity and the game’s main angle involves arithmetic. It went on to win our Word/Puzzle Game of the Year 2014 Runner Up only because of the arcane voting process Owen installed for end of year awards. If Owen was a despot, I’m pretty sure it would have swept all the categories and then he would have married it and taken it to Tahiti for a lavish honeymoon. 2014 was a weird time at Mt. Hexmap.
Over the weekend, Seanbaby announced that a new Calculords was under way with the surprising title Calculords 2. What’s new? He’s glad we asked, because there’s a ton. The first major addition is cross-platform PVP. You can battle your enemies now across iOS, Android, and Steam. Not into PVP? Seanbaby has you covered with a lengthy single-player campaign that takes place 30 years after the end of the original Calculords. Players will also be able to create their own cards from special abilities all the way to card art. Yep, slap art on the card and pick abilities, watching the card’s cost rise as you make it more and more awesome. You’ll earn powerups, abilities, and art as you play allowing you to create bigger and better cards as you play more. It’s not just for campaign player, either. Customized cards can be used in PVP battles as well.
There are other changes as well, such as needing to capture two lanes to win a battle and decks that are built solely from unit cards. The game is still in its infancy, with no in-game screenshots to pore over. That said, the art for Calculords 2 is being done by artist Dave Bardin instead of the first game’s artist, which was Seanbaby himself.
The original Calculords holds the record for being the game with the most articles written about it on PT. Prepare yourself for another Calculords tidal wave, because it’s coming.
Looking at images of Her Story, you might think that the only reason it’s getting an award is because it’s doing something different. Not entirely. Yes, an interactive fiction/puzzle game told via short video clips is unique to the App Store, but if it were just a gimmick the game wouldn’t be one of our favorites of 2015.