Back when it was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2009, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes' highly engrossing mix of match-three puzzle gameplay and RPG combat made it the surprise sleeper hit climbing its way onto year-end best games lists. While the low-resolution original was spectacular on its own, the fact that Clash of Heroes on iOS is a port of the updated HD console version is even better news for puzzle nerds.
A dark, moody atmosphere and a mysterious safe filled with complex puzzle-box curiosities lie at the heart of The Room, an enthralling puzzler that balances intrigue with challenge. Much like a set of Russian nesting dolls, cracking the outer shell of the massive iron box awaiting in the center of this grim abode only leads you deeper down the rabbit hole of mechanical conundrums to solve. Locked in single room and left with a peculiar note hinting at the powerful artifact tucked away within the huge safe, your task is to unravel the winding puzzle-filled path to this ancient device.
Style and attitude are two ingredients found in abundance throughout the first chapter of The Journey Down, a fresh HD reboot of a quirky freeware PC adventure that makes a comfortable transition to the touch screen. A heavy Caribbean influence shows up through the catchy reggae soundtrack to the main character's thick accents and beyond, giving this point-and-poke trek some fresh flavor. It's a nice change of pace from average genre fare.
Word games like Scrabble are great, but their classic sensibilities can sometimes feel a little staid. If you’re looking for something a little more mobile, you might want to give QatQi a try—it feels similar enough to the familiar formula, yet is a fresh take that has you “moving” around a darkened map looking for coins and multiplier bonus tiles. Yes, it’s rather interesting.
The freedom of being let loose to explore, build, and carve out your own little niche in an open sandbox world made games like Minecraft and Terraria tremendously addictive. Deepworld attempts to capture that same magic by injecting the formula with a post-apocalyptic steampunk vibe, and while there's plenty to do both above and below the surface of this fantasy realm, this online crafting adventure doesn't quite click in the same way as the games it emulates.
As dusty as the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rulebooks it's based on, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition is a relic from gaming's past. For long-time tabletop RPG nerds like myself who get misty-eyed over the nostalgic glory days of rolling up a fresh character, recruiting a party of misfit NPCs, and gallivanting off in the Forgotten Realms to bash in the heads of some ne'er-do-wells, this antiquated fantasy adventure still hits a certain sweet spot. Baldur's Gate's classic sword swinging and spell flinging is well-preserved in this iPad port of the PC original, though it's perhaps a little too faithful to its roots for modern times.
If the word “beat” quickly leads you to "tab," "bat," "ate," "bet," "tea," and "eat," you’ll probably do just fine at Writer Rumble for iPhone and iPad. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, combatants in Writer Rumble duel not with fireballs, but word tiles. Dragging your finger across the grid of letters to spell words creates not only terminology but also projectiles, which are flung at the opponent to cause damage. The longer and more complicated the word, the more powerful the attack. Think Boggle, but more violent.
When the world has gone to hell, scavenging bullets and supplies is the only thing left to do in the fight to stay alive against an endless mob of mindless, flesh-eating atrocities that roam the decimated streets. The Walking Dead: Assault delivers a stylish action-focused take on survival in the zombie apocalypse that pays homage to the original comics, all while cooking up something a little different than what we've seen from other series tie-ins.
Playing to the powerful pull of both puzzle solving and card playing, Chip Chain mashes up match-three puzzles with poker aesthetics in an inventive way that's highly addictive, yet accessible to folks who have no clue what a royal flush is. While the gameplay itself has very little to do with the actual game of poker, it scratches a different kind of itch that carves out common ground between card sharks and casual players alike.
Flea Symphony is the new iOS game from The Odd Gentlemen, which previously developed the Victorian-styled Xbox Live Arcade puzzler, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom. Like Winterbottom, Flea Symphony seems delightfully preoccupied with a bygone era, but its gameplay feels surprisingly fresh. In each level, you need to save the fleas flying out of the bells of musical horns by catching them in basket. The trick is figuring out how to do it in time to a set percussion beat.