The key to winning a match in a fighting game is predicting what your opponent will do—and then punishing him or her once you get the opening you're waiting for. Focusing on this more mental component of the genre, Yomi for iPad introduces aspects of poker and rock-paper-scissors to turn that combo-happy experience into a strategic card game that still feels like you’re fighting. You may not be mashing buttons, but Yomi offers intense and rewarding moments that put your skills to the test.
“Stealth board game” isn’t exactly a common genre, but it’s the best way to describe Hitman GO, the debut project from Square Enix’s new Montreal studio. It strips down and repurposes classic stealth mechanics from the popular console and computer assassination game series, and the result is a novel experience that’s perfectly suited for the App Store. Hitman GO takes place on a series of game boards with a grid overlay, populated by security guards, night watchmen, and unwitting police officers.
Vlambeer specializes in twitchy, arcade-style games that get really hairy (while remaining plenty fun) in a hurry—like iOS greats Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing—and its latest Mac entry, Luftrausers, certainly maintains that philosophy. You'll pilot a tiny plane as enemy craft and carriers launch a barrage of gunfire, zipping about and laying waste to foes while trying to maintain a score-boosting combo streak. And much as the combat itself proves entertaining, it's matched well by an awesome customization system that allows you to swap various parts to create the fighter of your dreams.
Family Guy made its name on TV by being simultaneously derivative and edgy; it riffed on The Simpsons’ formula of an animated nuclear family with a drunken, lovingly-dumb father, but its gags went further or weirder. And it did it well. So you might have reason for thinking that Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff—which takes its cues from The Simpsons: Tapped Out—might also push boundaries and poke fun at conventions. You’d be sadly mistaken. The Quest for Stuff is a shallow, money-grubbing, cynical, and downright boring freemium city builder with few redeeming qualities.
Nearly six years into the life of the App Store and we’re just now getting a realistic, licensed Major League Baseball simulation—but R.B.I. Baseball 14 doesn’t resemble the feature-crammed, richly complex affairs seen on home systems. Instead, it pulls both inspiration and its moniker from a popular ‘80s/‘90s console franchise, and grounds its gameplay in the simplicity of that era while modernizing only the visuals. The result is expectedly very accessible and easy to get into, but also skimps on a lot of things that make baseball video games enjoyable and worth playing more than a couple times.
David doesn’t pull any punches. Its blissful, serenely sparse world is populated by multitudes of terrifying two-dimensional shapes, all hell-bent on snuffing the life out of your little box-shaped hero. All you have in your defense are wits and agility, along with a special projectile ability that takes a few seconds to charge. David’s physics-driven rumination on the struggles of life feels almost poignant at times, and its abstract design works mostly in its favor—but the game is also extremely difficult and not for the easily frustrated.
If you approach Trials Frontier as a Trials game (capital “T”), then you’re in for disappointment. Although the game broadly echoes its console counterparts, its soul has been ripped out and replaced with the festering guts of a stinking freemium business model, and then spray-painted in mobile-friendly colors and cuteness. Yes, this is still a physics-oriented bike-balancer, set across ludicrously difficult-to-traverse tracks, but it lacks refinement and elegance.
Compared to most popular collectible card games, Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is relatively straightforward. Simple rules make it incredibly welcoming to new players, but they also allow for elegant strategies and varied tactical possibilities. Unfortunately, as a free-to-play game, Hearthstone runs into the same problems that have long plagued tabletop card games: it's hard to get worthwhile new cards without breaking the bank.
Monument Valley couldn’t be much more different in tone and approach than developer ustwo’s first game, Whale Trail—a delightful, rainbow-filled float through the clouds as a marine mammal—but both excel at charming you with remarkable ease. In this case, it’s done with a quiet, contemplative trek through illusion-soaked puzzle stages, wherein spinning the perspective or tweaking a dial reveals new pathways to traverse. And it’s one of the most beautiful games we’ve ever played.
Death comes in many flavors in FTL: Faster Than Light for iPad. Will your crew slowly suffocate from depleted oxygen? Be eviscerated by carnivorous space spiders? Get caught by the heavily armed armada fleet that's always in hot pursuit—or something far worse, perhaps? An unpleasant fate is almost a certainty in this challenging strategy affair, but the push to survive and conquer the obstacles thrown your way with each light jump is where FTL's magic lies.