Word/Puzzle Game of the Year 2015 Runner-Up: Auro: A Monster Bumping Adventure17 Dec 2015 0
2015 felt like an "off" year for iOS games to me. Perhaps it's because 2014 was so incredible, but there were few games this year that stood out to me as true classics. Auro is one of those precious few games from 2015 that would be one of the year's best games no matter which year it was released.
Auro is 2015's foremost release in the "Broughlike" (named after 868-HACK and Zaga 33's designer Michael Brough) microgenre of movement-based tactical puzzlers. Don't be fooled by its cutesy pixel art, ornate interface or goofy writing. Keith Burgun's (of Empire fame) Dinofarm Games has crafted a swiss watch of a game, with every single mechanic having a unique purpose while also interacting with every other mechanic in surprising and useful ways. Not a single part feels out of place.
Yes, the premise of the game is kind of absurd (you play as a young prince who has to bump monsters into water until a naughty prince goes sulking home), mechanically it's much more complex than its closest relatives (a much-needed update reduced the number of tutorial stages from thirty to twenty), and its structure of single-player competition may seem foreign to many players. But there's a beautiful moment where something clicks into place and you understand why everything in the game is the way it is. Well, maybe not the premise, but everything else.
Dinofarm attempted a Kickstarter this year for an expansion that would've added an overarching RPG structure and persistent progression to the game. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter failed, and for a while it seemed like development had stalled on the game. However, while writing this post I discovered that Dinofarm has been working on a massive reworking of the game in the form of a 2.0 update, which should smooth over a lot of the idiosyncrasies that may have kept people from enjoying such a wonderful game. Don't let that keep you from trying it as-is, because the current version of Auro stands with 868-HACK and Hoplite as one of the best games in its genre, and it will only get better in 2016.
To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.