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.
The latest iOS devices are capable of producing amazingly high-quality video footage, but the resolution tops out at 1080p HD. Thanks to Ultrakam, a new third-party camera app, the iPhone can squeeze out even more pixels—even if the current hardware isn’t quite up to the task. Ultrakam is capable of shooting video with up to 70% more pixels than standard HD. While there’s no denying that it manages to cram in a whole lot more pixels into each frame of video—and the additional detail is certainly noticeable—there are too many tradeoffs made to get there.
Your challenge is simple: fly a wedge-shaped spaceship around an orange slice of space, collecting circular coins. All you need to do is grab 15, and each successful pick-up increments a circular score indicator at the center of the screen. How hard could that be? The twist is that your actions are cloned and represented on screen by an increasingly large robotic swarm of black ships. Collide with one of your echoes and it’s game over.
Despite its flashy neon lights and comic book-style interstitials, Flashout 2 is a pretty straightforward sci-fi-tinged racer: you'll zoom around a futuristic track, earn cash, upgrade your podracer, and repeat. Here’s the catch: each hovercraft comes armed with a machine gun, rockets, and mines, and a quick trigger finger is often the difference between first and last. While decently fun, it ultimately proves insubstantial and lightweight, with control quirks and a lacking balance between racing and combat.
Supercell's Boom Beach sticks close to the basic formula established by mega-hit predecessors Clash of Clans and Hay Day, but it brings an enticing new combat system that grants you greater control over your own fate. It's war of oceanic proportions, as you work to liberate the natives of one island after another from the evil Blackguard (as well as from rival players). Your goals boil down to two needs: keeping your headquarters protected from invaders—with help from an assortment of mines, defensive buildings, and strategic placement—and building up an army strong enough to take down the headquarters of any island not under your control.
Like the complicated father-son relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the marriage between the Star Wars franchise and card battling games has been a tumultuous one at best. Last year's Star Wars Force Collection was a hands-off snooze affair bogged down by heavy micromanagement. The latest attempt at shoehorning a galaxy far, far away into a collectible card game format, however, is a vast improvement over what we’ve seen before. Star Wars: Assault Team packs all the polish, accessibility, and strategy that were sorely missing in Force Collection, even if it's not an entirely fresh spin on collectible card combat.
Marvel Comics’ latest film adaptation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has been receiving rave reviews in the run up to its release this Friday. Gameloft’s universal iOS beat-‘em-up of the same name has a fair bit going for it, as well, with solid presentation and quite a bit of content, but ultimately doesn’t captivate over the long haul. Spreading a small number of game mechanics and levels as thin as possible muddles what could have been a pretty strong action affair.
Google is coming up with all kinds of clever ways to enhance its $35 Chromecast, which plugs into any HDMI-equipped television and allows compatible apps to “cast” video, music, and now photos to the big screen. Billed as a “Chrome Experiment,” Photowall for Chromecast is Google’s latest iOS app, which allows mobile devices to throw pictures onto an HDTV and make them come alive as a unique interactive composite.
Scrabble and poker may seem like an unlikely pair, but the two have joined forces in Words & Cards, a new free-to-play puzzler from Ayopa Games. The result is unique to be sure—a colorful blend of vocabulary and card-playing that provides a few engaging sessions of casual, online head-to-head play. Over time, unfortunately, it becomes evident that Words & Cards lacks any real sense of depth or replayability. Like a beta still in its testing phase, this game sadly feels incomplete.
At some point in the ‘90s, every college dorm had a Magnetic Poetry set stuck to the front of someone's mini-fridge. Verses might have been limited to the few dozen tiles that hadn't fallen behind the vent cover, but the fun wasn't in creating Walt Whitman-worthy masterpieces—it was in seeing how your creation was twisted by other people. Magnetic Poetry eventually went out of fashion, but FridgePoems looks to bring it back. However, while there may be a certain sense of nostalgia evoked here, the digital representation loses quite a bit of the fun without the kitsch and collaboration of the original.