Greetings programs! Soon, in the not-too-distant future, there will be no distinction between mobile and console/PC games as everything will run on a tiny chip inserted into your pre-frontal cortex. Oh what a happy day that shall be! Until then, here are a selection of items specifically tailored for your pocket device!
The success of Monument Valley at this year’s gaming BAFTAs is proof that if you place wonderful design elements to the fore then it doesn’t matter if the mechanics lying behind them aren’t exactly new or complex. Endless runners have been a staple on this platform for some time now, but it’s always a pleasure to play a new one if it’s as picturesque as Alto’s Adventure. As an alpine skier pursuing his lost llamas, Alto must zip down the mountain’s treacherous slopes, collecting ever-valuable coins and performing the odd trick for good measure. He’s but a cluster of pixels on the screen, allowing you to fully take in his snowy surroundings which have been impeccably designed. The sun blurrily blazes in the sky above as the snowboarding shepherd grinds along bunting and hops over campfires to the merry but plaintiff clanging of bells. Happily bereft of IAP’s, this adventure is one worth embarking on.
It’s something of an oddity to see Plato’s Allegory Of The Cave transmuted into game format; even more surprising is that’s it’s so compelling to play. The game presents you with a strange, unrecognisably abstract 3D object, which can be rotated in place. On its own this object is devoid of any meaning, but when lit from behind and aligned correctly, it casts a shadow on the far wall of something we can readily comprehend. A collection of objects, animals and fictional beings wait to be uncovered by the flickering light. Once you’ve grasped the concept, matters become more complex by introducing two separate objects which must be rotated individually and combined to form one meaningful shadow. There’s a string of wonderful moments of recognition to be had if you can solve them unaided, but if you’re struggling to coax shapes from the darkness, a series of hints are available for each puzzle to push you in the right direction. For talented topologists there is also a bank of secret shapes hiding somewhere in the main game.
Hidden object games have always occupied a significant corner of the casual gaming market on the web, but mobile and tablet touch screens make for an ideal second home, especially with the recent expansion of screen real estate which most handsets are aiming for. Our titular agent has a murder to solve, and is tasked with casting a keen eye over different crime scenes in search of clues. Rapid location of the evidence is rewarded with points which are converted to the stars required to progress the story. Several mini-games such as lock-picking are interspersed within the investigation for a bit of variety. In terms of the dreaded IAP’s, extra hints and energy points are available for a fee, but energy recharges over time and on the whole, unless you can’t see the nose in front of your face, it shouldn’t restrict your play. The game initially contains eight episodes but developers Wooga have promised new content on a regular basis, and have a good history of supporting their games. Lavish cut-scenes, a relatively engaging plot and a mysterious music score make this a more than competent HOG.
Cheating somewhat as this is not a game at all, but let us elaborate. Malmö-based developers Simogo have expanded their creative portfolio and also the utterly charming world of their previous mobile narrative journey, The Sailor’s Dream. The Lighthouse Painting is a four-part audio drama which serves as an indirect sequel to last year’s life on the ocean wave, featuring more nautical-flavoured tunes from Jonathan Eng. These sensational Swedes have aced everything they’ve turned their hand to so far, and show no signs of slowing down. So far this has been a great listen, and it’s free too!