Handily poking fun at classic spell-flinging RPGs, Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet delivers a very silly iPad fantasy adventure full of tongue-in-cheek antics and self-referential humor. It blends side-scrolling brawling with puzzle-like spell mixology in a fun and fresh way that's not lacking in chaos or comedy. Cobbling together all manner of elemental wizardry – to blast inventive foes swarming in from all directions – gets a bit hectic in the heat of battle, but it's a craziness that's fueled by creativity as you piece together spells on the fly.
Combining a match-three puzzler with a role-playing game isn't an entirely new idea. After all, the popular Puzzle Quest series managed to accomplish as much over five years ago. But Dungeon Hearts adds a character party dynamic, tasking you with aligning jewels on a scrolling play field to launch attacks from four unique avatars. The concept itself is great, but the entire affair falls apart only minutes after the quest begins.
Truth can sometimes seem much stranger than fiction, and Lie Swatter puts that idiom to the test in an amusing, quick-hit comedic trivia game. Developed by Jellyvision, the studio behind the hit You Don't Know Jack series, Lie Swatter serves up a series of seven statements in a certain category and challenges you to pick out the fibs. Do so while leaving the factual notes intact and you'll earn a stack of points in your turn-based competition with an online foe. Actually selecting the incorrect statements from each bunch is often much tougher than it seems, however.
NimbleBit made its name on slower-paced simulations like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, which charmed with their retro-leaning pixel aesthetics and impressed with surprisingly friendly free-to-play models. Nimble Quest, the studio's perfectly-titled latest release, maintains those latter qualities but embodies a different and very active kind of spirit. The result is a mash-up of Snake and retro role-playing games that's uniquely enjoyable and ideal for one-handed amusement.
Poised to carve out its spot as one of the most adorable and enchanting point-and-click puzzle adventures of the year, Fetch spins a lighthearted storybook tale of a boy and his search to recover his best pal, a peppy dog named Bear. This charming, science fiction-tinged adventure packs plenty of pooches, perils, and puzzles to pursue, and its kid-friendly vibe makes it a good pick for a game to play with the family.
If by some chance you happened to miss out on one of the best video game experiences of 2012, Telltale's excellent adaptation of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead is on sale in the App Store. Individual episodes have received a deep discount for a limited time, and picking up the whole bundle will save you a few bucks more.
Like Bejeweled Blitz before it, PopCap's Solitaire Blitz takes a classic game premise – in this case, the single-player card game Solitaire – and emphasizes bite-sized play sessions with amped-up game speed within a free-to-play structure. And just like the Bejeweled variant, Solitaire Blitz is a Facebook favorite that's an excellent match for the iPhone and iPad, not to mention incredibly tough to ignore.
While Gameloft's past Order & Chaos games had players fighting off monsters in massively multiplayer online battles (Order & Chaos Online) or defending their bases in multiplayer online battle arena matches (Heroes of Order & Chaos), the new Order & Chaos Duels turns combat into a strategic game of cards. Featuring all of the lore and fantasy the franchise is known for, Duels offers plenty of rich card-dueling action, but is marred by a freemium structure that makes for a frustrating deck-building experience.
Video games are an ever-evolving medium, and as such, certain genres seem to fall out of style as the years pass. The match-three tile puzzler – arguably perfected by PopCap with Bejeweled 3 – isn't exactly redefining the interactive experience, but Alien Hive proves there's still room for innovation in an otherwise well-worn, casual-focused concept. Blending two simple gameplay ideas with a relaxing, cartoonish aesthetic works – for the right player.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is more than the average add-on piece of downloadable content so prevalent in video games these days. Blizzard approached the second iteration of its massively popular real-time strategy game as a trilogy from the start, each portion allowing you to delve deeper into the gameplay and backstory of StarCraft's three warring factions. Heart of the Swarm is a beautiful dive into the slimy muck of the Zerg, and the centerpiece of an inevitable conclusion to a three-part story.