A few levels in and you might wonder whether klocki has taken the notion of a relaxing puzzle game a bit too far.
It’s easy almost to the point of being a sedative, merely having you swap tiles on a flat plane, in order to fashion complete pathways. But klocki is a smart cookie, very gradually introducing new concepts so slowly you barely notice; but pretty soon you find yourself immersed in rich and complex tests.
Later levels have you battle three-dimensional shapes, switches, and tiles that rotate; and despite the minimal aesthetic and noodly audio, it never really gets old. The game is, however, quite short – a few hours and you’ll probably be done.
Still, the low price-tag ensures klocki remains great value, especially if you take the time to savour its charms rather than blazing through its challenges at breakneck speed.
The Room is a series about mysteries within mysteries. It begins with a box. Fiddling with dials and switches causes things to spring to life elsewhere, and you soon find boxes within the boxes, layers unravelling before you; it’s the videogame equivalent of Russian dolls meets carpentry, as breathed into life by a crazed inventor.
The Room’s curious narrative and fragments of horror coalesce in follow-up The Room Two, which expands the ‘boxes’ into more varied environments – a séance room; a pirate ship. Movement remains restricted and on rails, but you’re afforded a touch more freedom as you navigate your way through a strange clockwork world.
The Room Three is the most expansive of them all, featuring intricate, clever puzzles, as you attempt to free yourself from The Craftsman and his island of deranged traps and trials.
Get all three games, and play them through in order, preferably in a dark room when rain’s pouring down outside for best effect. It’s a terrifying and – ultimately – infuriating experience that will have you toying with the idea of having to go online for walkthroughs until you finally crack the mystery.
There are some clues, but generally these are very gentle hints at best.
You might moan about trains when you’re again waiting for a late arrival during your daily commute, but think yourself lucky reality doesn’t match Train Conductor World. Here, trains rocket along, often towards nasty head-on collisions. It’s your job to drag out temporary bridges to avoid calamity while simultaneously sending each train to its proper destination.
From the off, Train Conductor World is demanding, and before long a kind of ‘blink and everything will be smashed to bits’ mentality pervades. For a path-finding action-puzzler – Flight Control on tracks, if you will – it’s an engaging and exciting experience.
The developers of Osmos HD call it an ‘ambient arcade game’. It’s a strange description, but apt, since Osmos is often about patience and subtlety. You guide a ‘mote’, which moves by expelling tiny pieces of itself. Seemingly floating in microscopic goop, it aims to munch motes smaller than itself, expand, and reign supreme.
This is easy enough when other motes don’t fight back, but soon enough you’re immersed in a kind of petri dish warfare, desperately trying to survive as various motes tear whatever amounts to each-other’s faces off.
And then occasionally Osmos throws a further curveball, pitting you against the opposite extreme in scale, dealing with gravity and orbits as planet-like motes speed their way around deadly floating ‘stars’.
You probably need to be a bit of a masochist to get the most out of Snakebird, which is one of the most brain-smashingly devious puzzlers we’ve ever set eyes on. It doesn’t really look or sound the part, frankly – all vibrant colors and strange cartoon ‘snakebirds’ that make odd noises.
But the claustrophobic floating islands the birds must crawl through, supporting each other (often literally) in their quest for fruit, are designed very precisely to make you think you’ve got a way forward, only to thwart you time and time again.
The result is a surprisingly arduous game, but one that’s hugely rewarding when you crack a particularly tough level, at which point you’ll (probably rightly) consider yourself some kind of gaming genius.
There’s something of a children’s animation vibe about Warp Shift, with expressive Pixar-like protagonist Pi floating about brightly colored boxes, aiming to find an exit that will take her a step closer to home.
At first, it’s a bit too simple. You slide boxes, tap to make Pi scoot about, and sit there smugly, wrinkling your nose at how easy it all is.
But Warp Shift gradually starts clobbering you with additional tests: colored doors that must be lined up; a cuboid chum to rescue and lob at the exit; switches; move limits to attain enough stars to unlock subsequent stages.
The mix of enchanting visuals, familiar mechanics and gently stiffening challenges proves stimulating and captivating.
You initially get the feeling Rush Rally 2 is treading a fine line, unsure whether to steer towards being an arcade game or a simulator. It certainly lacks the demented rocket-like speeds of an Asphalt 8, but Rush Rally 2’s more measured gameplay nonetheless gradually reveals a sense of fun.
Sure, the standard rally mode can be sedate, although the game’s nonetheless happy to frequently catapult your car up a hillside when you mess up a turn. And then there are weird missions, such as dodging missiles as you negotiate hairpin bends (Colin McRae never had to deal with such things.)
But when belting along in Rally Cross mode, Rush Rally 2 suddenly clicks. You’ll use other cars as brakes and spin off into the gravel, before gunning the engine and blazing back into the thick of it. Even then, this racer’s a more challenging and thoughtful affair than most, but it’s just as gleefully exciting when you’re bombing down the final straight, and take the chequered flag by fractions of a second.
It’s always the way: you’re minding your own business when – BOOM! – you’re suddenly propelled into a gargantuan space maze. At least it’s the way if you’reCaptain Cowboy. This smart arcade title comes across like seminal classic Boulder Dash in space. You dig through dirt, grab diamonds, and avoid being crushed by boulders within the asteroid.
There are also floaty space bits, nasty space laser turrets, space bus stops and a space disco. At least, we’re told that’s the case, because we’ve never found the last of those things; but we’ll keep trying, because Captain Cowboy is superb.
(The trailer is also one of the best we’ve seen, so watch it and then buy the game.)
You might narrow your eyes at so-called ‘realism’ in mobile sports titles, given that this usually means ‘a game that looks a bit like when you watch telly’. ButTouchgrind Skate 2 somehow manages to evoke the feel of skateboarding, your fingers becoming tiny legs that urge the board about the screen.
There’s a lot going on in Touchgrind Skate 2, and the control system is responsive and intricate, enabling you to perform all manner of tricks. It’s not the most immediate of titles – you really need to not only run through the tutorial but fully master and memorize each step before moving on.
Get to grips with your miniature skateboard and you’ll find one of the most fluid and rewarding experiences on mobile. Note that for free you get one park to scoot about in, but others are available via IAP.
The bar’s set so low in modern mobile gaming that the word ‘premium’ has become almost meaningless. But Leo’s Fortune bucks the trend, and truly deserves the term. It’s a somewhat old-school side-on platform game, featuring a gruff furball hunting down the thief who stole his gold (and then, as is always the way, dropped coins at precise, regular intervals along a lengthy, perilous pathway).
The game is visually stunning, from the protagonist’s animation through to the lush, varied backdrops. The game also frequently shakes things up, varying its pace from Sonic-style loops to precise pixel-perfect leaps.
It at times perhaps pushes you a bit too far — late on, we found some sections a bit too finicky and demanding. But you can have as many cracks at a section as you please, and if you master the entire thing, there’s a hardcore speedrun mode that challenges you to complete the entire journey without dying.