Most adventures that send you slicing and spell-flinging through pixelated dungeons lead you along the path by dangling some form of juicy carrot, whether it's a quest to save the world or amass a trove of cool gear. Wayward Souls buries its carrot under a foot of concrete and suggests you dig for it with your bare hands. This brutal retro “roguelike” game walks a fine line between the grueling and fun sides of intense challenge, often robbing you of your life just when you feel like you're making good progress. The real question, then, is what is it about this brawler that’ll keep you pushing onward, death after death?
Continuing in the vein of memorable iOS gimmick apps like iBeer and Tom Cat, SpeakaZoo is part kids app and part parlor trick. As the zookeeper in charge of a whole stable of colorful, crudely animated animals, your sole job is to keep them happy—but not in the usual ways. You won't be feeding or washing them; instead you'll help them work through their various neuroses and idiosyncrasies. But while the wow factor wears off a little too quickly, SpeakaZoo’s chatty characters and childlike charm should be enough to keep your little ones coming back.
Kind of Soccer is true to its name. You fling a ball from one player to another, hoping to line up a shot—not at the goal, however, but the referee, who runs about like a headless chicken desperate to avoid becoming dinner. Goals don't matter at all, in fact, nor do offside rulings, corner kicks, or any of the complexities of the beautiful game that bewilder non-believers. This is the kind of silliness that anyone can get behind.
9 Elefants offers a reasonably stylish and cartoonish take on Paris, draped over a game that thinks it’s a cousin to Nintendo’s Professor Layton series — but has bafflingly omitted panache, imagination, and fun. The plot involves meandering about unlocked locations, having drawn-out conversations with irritating characters who seem to be in on a massive practical joke. Your father, a professor, has vanished; but rather than help you, Paris’s inhabitants instead demand you solve puzzles, in return for them drip-feeding vital information.
The recent Heartbleed bug managed to turn even the most secure Internet passwords into a potential security risk, but for those smart enough to invest in good password management software, the situation appears considerably less dire. 1Password is hands-down the best such solution, and we’d go so far as to recommend it as a required purchase for anyone with a Mac or iOS device.
Even by the relatively low standards of movie tie-in games, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a weak entry. It makes a strong first impression with vibrant graphics in an open-world setting, but absolutely everything else about it is underwhelming, bland, or outright frustrating. Most of the problems are fundamental and extend from the game’s own lofty ambitions. An open-world setting demands that Spidey swing freely, which works just fine so long as he’s heading in a straight line.
Pixite continues its string of clever iOS image tweaking tools—following Tangent and Fragment—with Union, a compositing app that moves away from shape-based blending and instead approaches the process in a more conventional manner. Union is designed to combine images by knocking out specific colors as transparent, while borrowing some mojo from the company’s previous apps, and it’s a pretty slick affair—but still lacking some key features for optimum image blending.
When the App Store first launched, many developers made their dubious mark with tip calculators and fart apps, which eventually paved the way for more useful (but no less ubiquitous) to-do list apps ranging from utterly useless to absolutely awesome. The paid follow-up to a popular original, Checkmark 2 falls on the higher end of that scale, mostly because of how it intelligently uses geolocation data to create more useful reminders. The sequel also debuts a new Lists feature for organizing to-do items in a more traditional fashion.
Film noir combines beautifully with graphic novel aesthetics and stealth puzzling in Third Eye Crime, the debut effort from the ex-Bungie team at Moonshot Games. With a story full of twists and turns and a smooth lead character, it's a super-slick offering, and there's plenty of great level design to back up the style. This iOS original turns one particular film noir convention on its head, casting you not as a private detective but as Rothko, a telepathic art thief dragged into a mess he'd have rather avoided entirely.
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.