June iOS Roundup #1 – the puzzlers

Quell

Quell

Quell is a charming puzzle game with a consistent set of rules that evolve over the game’s seventy or so levels and present ever-escalating challenges – with the occasional easy level thrown in so that you don’t feel like a total thicksicle.

It’s one of the few puzzle games I’ve ever played to completion. Well, I’ve done all the levels, anyway – there are loads of levels I’ve not done in the optimum amount of time, but bugger that for a game of soldiers. I don’t like it that much. (Ed: you’re probably just a bit shit at it, aren’t you?)

The game’s got a curious framing mechanism: you select a picture frame from a shelf and this is then superimposed over a window. You then push a raindrop around levels in one of four directions, collecting pearls and avoiding obstacles. Each shelf is associated with a year. There’s a nostalgic air to the game’s context that has absolutely nothing to do with the gameplay itself. Still, it lends the game a relaxed and serene atmosphere, which is good because some of its puzzles can be right wee bastards.

There’s a hint system available if you get desperate. It’s not really a hint system, though, as it shows you exactly what to do, which you then do, and then you’ve completed the level in the optimum number of moves. Well done, you can follow direct instructions!

It’s about a pound and it’s a lot more consistent, comprehensible and cerebral than more arbitrary games like Bubble Blast. Recommended hard for puzzler fans.

lilt line

lilt line

I picked this up cheap during the savygamer 5th anniversary sale. It’s a sort of music rhythm game with an gyroscopic twist. You tilt your iThing to guide a line along a route, and tap the screen when the line passes through a marked area to lay beats down onto the music track thats playing. It’s dubstep heavy so it’s not the sort of thing I’d naturally go for, but the music and gameplay are well-integrated so I’m down with it.

At present I’ve only played my way through the first half-dozen levels of about twenty in all; if the later levels are equivalent in length to the relatively short early levels then the game is not one that lasts long, but I suspect they will get much harder much more quickly. Even early on it’s easy to misjudge exactly when to tap; this might be down to lack of familiarity with dubstep but either way it’s an enjoyable challenge.

Ordinarily lilt line costs ¬£2 and that’s a bit more than I am comfortable recommending it at, but if you see the opportunity to get it a little cheaper then I’d suggest you give it a go. I’ve not encountered many iOS rhythm games this stylish and tailored to the device’s varying methods of input.

Galactic Core

You’ll see the screen on the right hand side an awful lot.

Galactic Core

I spotted this one in the new release section, which I occasionally browse whilst drunk or stoned. I thought I’d give it a pop for 69p as it sounded like a sci-fi space trading and exploration adventure of sorts. It’s not. It’s actually an A to B randomly generated adventure; a little bit Choose Your Own Adventure without the storytelling.

At first I thought this might still be good fun; the sort of thing you can rattle through in 5 minutes and experience something new every time. Unfortunately all of the adventures I’ve had so far have featured the same small selection of events and locations and I’m left with the impression that the game’s pool of content is very, very limited.

There’s also artificial difficulty galore: your ship has only 1/4 of the fuel it needs to make it to its destination, so you’re basically committed to exploring almost every location you run into. There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll gain something versus losing crew or shield points.

This effectively translates to there being no actual skill involved. You just have to hope that what the game arbitrarily places in your path will work to your favour enough times to make it to point B. Galactic Core is mildly diverting, but there is little actual game here.

Robotic Hearts

These Robotic Hearts of Mine

A puzzler with a story. The story purports to be a simple tale of love involving a boy, a girl and a robot. It’s not remotely memorable, unlike the far more delicately integrated setting of Quell.

The gameplay is better: you spin cogs by tapping them and these rotate whatever hearts happen to be near them. Your objective is to get all of the hearts the same way up. As with Quell there’s an optimum number of moves for each level, so there’s some motivation to replay if you overshot on a previous attempt.¬†There are about 50 levels and some of them are pretty fiendish.

I think I got this for free via an app of the day promotion but it’s worth a little bit of cash as the puzzling is decent, whilst the chunky, pixellated visual style is charming even if the story falls flat. I like the title, too, even if it is patently pretentious. What can I say: I loved the Sandman comics as a teenager.