The Shivah opens with a question, simultaneously straightforward and cosmic: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Lead writer and designer Dave Gilbert attempts to answer it with fuzzy pixel art, a jazz soundtrack, and the restrained and cynical story of Rabbi Russell Stone, who takes it upon himself to investigate the murder of a Jewish businessman. Gilbert is well versed in noir-tinged mysteries, but The Shivah is understated and realistically grounded when compared to Wadjet Eye’s science fiction games (like the great Gemini Rue). The Shivah dispenses with many of the adventure genre’s more cumbersome traditions, too, leaving room for investigation to drive the plot forward instead of awkward, arbitrary puzzles.
There’s a strong sense of déjà vu that comes from playing Oceanhorn. This mobile adventure stars a brave boy that sails to different islands, overcomes puzzling dungeons, and gains the tools necessary to combat evil and essentially save his kingdom. Despite not featuring princesses or golden triangles, there’s no denying that the game draws heavily from Nintendo’s iconic The Legend of Zelda series, particularly Wind Waker. However, instead of merely giving us a facsimile and porting it to iOS, Oceanhorn handpicks what it borrows and creates an experience well worth playing.
Punishing puzzle-platform games are nothing new on iOS, but Stealth Inc. raises the bar in both creativity and challenge with the inventive gauntlet of deadly devices it sends you merrily charging through. Trapped inside a cloning facility, your mission in this clever puzzler is to escape with your hide intact. That's not so easy when there's a vast network of closed-circuit cameras watching from all directions. Outsmarting these mechanical overseers to circumvent the many dangerous traps is a real thrill — assuming you don't mind dying a lot in the process.
When it came to Mac in August, BioShock Infinite represented a huge change for its venerable franchise. It switched up the combat, trading bizarre weapons for conventional guns and frenetic pacing; it gave players a constant sidekick, Elizabeth; and most strikingly, it moved the action from the undersea nightmare city of Rapture to the (deceptively) sunnier, airborne steampunk metropolis of Columbia. Burial at Sea — Episode One, Infinite's first story-driven add-on, represents a step back on a couple of those points, the biggest being that the setting is once again Rapture — although we get to see it as a gleaming objectivist utopia, before everything really goes crazy.
Tilt to Live wasn’t easy when it debuted in 2010, and its sequel certainly isn’t easy today. To some degree, you can consider Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous the anti-Asteroids: using tilt controls to command a little arrow avatar, you must rid the screen of all collision-causing obstacles, only instead of shooting them it’s a matter of avoiding them for as long as you can hold out. Basically, you’ll want to keep your arrow from touching plagues of red dots that will hunt you to the ends of the earth in various patterns and formations.
Gameloft surely hopes that GT Racing 2’s flashy lighting and obsessively modeled licensed cars will make it stand out from — or at least keep pace with — a recent surge of App Store racing sims, notably genre leader Real Racing 3. Lens flares and dust effects are well and good, but GT Racing 2’s visual fidelity threatens to overshadow its real strength: as free-to-play racers go, it’s got great controls. GT Racing 2 doesn’t reinvent the iOS racing control scheme, but it executes it better than most of its competitors.
Morphopolis may be one of the most beautiful games we’ve seen this year, but its remarkable looks aren’t always backed up by strong puzzle design. Taking on the role of a caterpillar as it undergoes five metamorphoses into ever larger insects, you’ll find hidden objects and solve puzzling minigames across more than a dozen scenes — each as lusciously detailed as the last — all backed by a stellar soundtrack amidst a bare-bones interface.
Blending a borrowed approach from Mario Tennis with elements from Sega's own Virtua Tennis franchise, Sega Superstars Tennis is an entertaining bit of fan service that delivers on-the-court action plus a bevy of racquet-based mini-games with Sonic the Hedgehog and compatriots in tow. Recently ported to Mac by Feral Interactive more than five years after its debut on console systems, this colorful affair serves up simple and approachable tennis action, and is decent fun for fans of Sega's back catalog.
It’s been only six months since Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol brought its unique, tactical take on World War I air combat to iOS, and already we’ve got a sequel. Pushing the action forward to the Pacific during World War II, Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies pits American and Japanese aces against each other in missions that range from simple dogfighting to defending or destroying vital ships, bases, or other structures.
Pathogen stylishly refashions the classic game of Go into a deadly struggle between warring cells and viruses. You’ll face off against one or more opponents in either a single-player campaign or on multiplayer maps, with the end goal being to control more than 50 percent of the squares when the board is filled. Fiendish-yet-simple capture and destroy mechanics combine with cool neon visuals, a map editor, and a variety of stage types to make this a stellar strategic engagement.