This has been a fantastic week for the iOS gaming world, with some blockbuster releases, follow-ups and surprises.
Bring your thumbs and come on in as we look at this week’s cream of the App Store crop!
While many people in the gaming sphere have an understandably unfavourable view of Zynga, they should take note because the latest game from the mega publisher is a truly spectacular achievement in mobile gaming.
Developed by Phosphor Games Studio, Horn is a spectacular open world third-person action adventure set in an odd but beautiful medieval land beset by huge and quirky monsters. The monsters, as it turns out, are former village folk, and your adventure will take you across the land to uncover what has happened and how to undo the damage.
What sets Horn apart is that it brings jaw-dropping graphics to the iOS world without resorting to an on-rails structure to make it work, unlike Infinity Blade. The gesture-based controls are finely tuned for touch, and the music — written by Journey’s own Austin Wintory — brings the majesty of a live orchestra to the App Store. Horn is ambitious, impressive and engrossing. A new bar has been set for blockbuster iOS gaming.
One of the first games to benefit from the SEGA Alliance support initiative for indie developers, Jack Lumber is the latest title from the quirksters at Owlchemy Labs, and fits snugly amongst their lineup.
Playing as a lumberjack, you’ll be out to revenge the death of your granny (a tree fell on her). The game’s sense of humour is subtle but effective, expressed through the wonderful papery visuals and stylish details of presentation. As you earn logs, you’ll be able to purchase power-ups — syrups — and beef up your abilities. The gameplay is not unlike Fruit Ninja, though it focuses more on precision slicing than frantic speed.
There are IAP to be had, though they are positioned to be truly unnecessary unless you’re really in a hurry, which is perfect. Bizarre, charming and beautiful, Jack Lumber is a worthy showcase title for SEGA and a fantastic game for the rest of us.
We love Ravenous Games because they brought us the endlessly entertaining League of Evil series, but now they’re opening up a new lane of development with a title called Random Heroes.
Stylistically similar to its predecessors, Random Heroes nevertheless sets itself apart by focusing more on the action end of the action platformer genre, and succeeding marvelously. A “group of unlikely heroes” will be your guides through the game’s 30 levels as you battle inter-dimensional monsters. The 15 unlockable characters are diverse and fun to upgrade and mow through enemies with, and the retro feel of the presentation keeps things feeling light and addictive.
The game is universal and features Game Center achievements as well as iCloud saves, which is great because you’ll have a difficult time peeling yourself away from this polished platformer.
Shaun Inman’s wonderful retro puzzle game, The Last Rocket, was big in the indie gaming scene when it came out, and now Shaun is back with a spin-off title, endless runner style.
Flip’s Escape is about the protagonist rocket’s escape from a huge shockwave unleashed at the end of the previous game. As with The Last Rocket, a supreme attention to detail is on display here, with all elements of gameplay polished to perfection. The controls are simple, but reward mastery, and the difficulty presents enough challenge to ensure that progress feels satisfying.
An excellent warp mechanic and diverse collection of upgrades make it easy to keep returning to this great game. If you’re after a runner that doesn’t formulaically parrot the successes of Temple Run, then you’ve found it.
To end with a freebie, we look to the creators of Bloons to find a brand new, adorable physics puzzler called Meeblings.
The meeblings look a lot like tiny jellybeans, but their diverse powers will come in handy as you help them escape from each level. Though each meebling’s ability is usually simple to master, it’s the combination of powers that lends the game its challenge in later levels. You’ll have to come up with interesting combinations to get where you need to go, and the visuals and audio are so cute that you won’t mind trying out different approaches.
You can earn gems and use them to view hints or skip levels outright if you’re stuck, which ensures that you never feel frustrated by anything for too long. The banner ads are an unfortunate consequence of being free, but you can get rid of them with an in-app purchase if you feel so inclined. Otherwise, Meeblings is an accessible and cheerful little puzzle game, appropriate for all ages.
What Have You Been Playing?
Those are this week’s best games on the App Store! Come back next week for another selection, and keep leaving us your comments with any games we might have missed!