You can always rely on Crytek to push graphical boundaries, and the Crysis developer’s latest iOS outing is no exception, with detailed and realistic environments that sparkle in all the right places. But beneath the glitz and the glam—and beyond a strong core, top-down arena shooter design—The Collectables suffers from a toxic progression system, which forces you to spend big or grind repeatedly through already-completed missions.
You would be forgiven for mistaking Steller for a Storehouse companion, but in actuality they're independent variations on the same social storytelling theme: simple, elegant narration. Like Storehouse, Steller doesn't overwhelm you with design options, but it gives you just enough to get your creative juices flowing while inspiring you to turn your life into art.
Although the verdict may still be out on whether mobile devices actually make us more productive, there’s no denying that gadgets like the iPhone help take some of the drudgery out of our daily lives—including keeping a journal of what we’ve been up to lately. Such is the premise of Rove, a free journal/diary app that promises to automate the thankless task of documenting our lives in excruciating detail. Similar to last year’s excellent Heyday, Rove uses geolocation data to keep a running tab on where we’ve been, importing new photos taken with the device to put a visual stamp on those memories.
There's always a slight sense of fear when one of our favorite apps gets the iOS 7 treatment. Our finger hovers just a second longer over the flattened icon as we brace ourselves for what awaits us inside, hoping that the new guidelines haven't messed with any of the functionality. AccuWeather epitomizes these concerns. With a ground-up redesign that strips away everything that previously set it apart from its competitors, the popular weather app has reinvented itself with version 7, but far too much of its new identity feels cribbed and undeveloped.
Glorkian Warrior: Trials of Glork is what would probably happen if a quirky cartoon series was suddenly invaded by a host of goofy aliens trained by the kamikaze pilots from classic arcade blasters Galaxian and Galaga. The hero of the hour—a bipedal, three-eyed fellow wearing a talking backpack with automatic weaponry—must defend his asteroid from countless terrors intending on blowing it to bits. It’s here where you come in, guiding the purple protector left and right, blasting pulsating alien formations and occasionally having him leap about a bit in order to avoid swooping foes.
Dudeski asks just one question: are you rad enough to be a Shred Lord? Evoking fond memories of classic Windows game SkiFree (or MacSki for veteran Mac-heads), the game at its core is an arcade-style take on downhill skiing. Red and blue gates check your progress against a pursuing avalanche and a host of gnarly obstacles waiting to trip you up, while fast-moving pixel graphics and cheery chiptune music lend a light, playful air to what is an inherently difficult game.
Even if you have no musical abilities, your iPhone gives you the tools to create lush, multi-layered tracks in an instant, thanks to the proliferation of simple, speedy interfaces that require neither practice nor patience. Crossfader might be the best representation of this fact to date. With a brilliant concept that uses the iPhone's accelerometer to mix and mash popular tunes, the app won't teach you how to be a world-class DJ, but it will get your next party started quickly.
For such a relatively compact game, developer Ice-Pick Lodge’s Knock-Knock is often unwieldy, mixing and matching elements from survival horror, point-and-click adventure, and 2D side-scrolling games with a bizarre, metaphor-heavy narrative about mental health. The results are scary enough, but Knock-Knock suffers from a lack of clarity and focus.
If there's one thing that we’d change about iOS, it’s the keyboard. Back in 2007, we may have marveled at its flexible design, but today it feels antiquated—especially when compared to some of the alternative models we’ve tried. Unlike Fleksy or SwitfKey, Jot doesn't offer a new way to type; rather, it focuses more on text selection, sidestepping Apple's somewhat stale tap-and-hold method for a clever cursor-based concept, which dramatically improves upon the way we cut, copy, and paste.
Block Fortress: War tries valiantly to narrow the focus of its stellar, open-ended base building and first-person tower defense predecessor, but it misfires repeatedly and never quite lives up to its potential. Foursaken Media once again tackles a Minecraft-esque universe of war-torn block races, this time constructing a campaign around relatively linear battles wherein you have partial command of a hero and his minions, plus full control over the placement of defensive blocks, turrets, and bombs.