Vlambeer specializes in twitchy, arcade-style games that get really hairy (while remaining plenty fun) in a hurry—like iOS greats Super Crate Box and Ridiculous Fishing—and its latest Mac entry, Luftrausers, certainly maintains that philosophy. You'll pilot a tiny plane as enemy craft and carriers launch a barrage of gunfire, zipping about and laying waste to foes while trying to maintain a score-boosting combo streak. And much as the combat itself proves entertaining, it's matched well by an awesome customization system that allows you to swap various parts to create the fighter of your dreams.
David doesn’t pull any punches. Its blissful, serenely sparse world is populated by multitudes of terrifying two-dimensional shapes, all hell-bent on snuffing the life out of your little box-shaped hero. All you have in your defense are wits and agility, along with a special projectile ability that takes a few seconds to charge. David’s physics-driven rumination on the struggles of life feels almost poignant at times, and its abstract design works mostly in its favor—but the game is also extremely difficult and not for the easily frustrated.
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.
If the goofy portmanteau of a title—plus the sight of a masked wrestler pummeling demonic creatures—didn't make it clear, then let us assure you: Guacamelee! is indeed a very odd, offbeat game. Styled after Metroid and the modern Castlevania games, this side-scrolling adventure finds you accruing various powers and abilities as you explore its interconnected stages. However, it does so with a ton of humor and panache, and the end result is an entertaining and challenging game that succeeds in part by not taking itself too seriously.
Tengami, a new point-and-click adventure game from indie duo Nyamyam, takes place in a dreamlike version of mythical Japan. It’s all cherry blossom groves, abandoned pagodas, and gently rolling seas, painted in pastel pinks and blues and set to ethereal music. Still images are pretty enough, but Tengami is defined by the cues it takes from old pop-up storybooks: secret passages are hidden beneath paper flaps, and new areas spring into existence with each turn of the page.
Oquonie revels in obfuscation. On the surface, it’s a simple isometric arcade adventure, of the type enjoyed by gamers since the likes of Knight Lore and Head Over Heels on ancient 8-bit systems. Taking the role of a dopey-looking cartoon bipedal dinosaur in a suit, you amble about a maze-like office complex, bumping into photocopiers that bestow you with cards and simultaneously spew gibberish via a series of cryptic glyphs.
Eliss Infinity hurls you into an abstract universe where you sort planets for obliteration. They materialize somewhat randomly on the screen and must be manipulated by your digits, making them a suitable size to dump in “squeesars” that periodically appear and wink said planets out of existence. Naturally, there are twists that hamper any thought that you’ll be done with your planet disposal within mere minutes. This upgraded and expanded version of one of the App Store’s best early games remains fresh, tactile, and truly terrific today.
If you’re in an area currently blitzed by heavy snowfall, you’ll likely appreciate the distraction offered up by the frantically challenging Dawn of the Plow. Taking the wheel of a pixelated plow in a lo-fi world of cars, snow, and asphalt, you’ll battle to keep the roads clear for the never-ending influx of traffic. It’s at once silly, hectic fun and frustrating brutality, punctuated by chirpy chiptune music.
Originality and weirdness often blend well in the indie sphere, spawning games that spark the imagination and sometimes spur you to scratch your head in equal measure. Incredipede is one such offering. Ferrying your ever-morphing creature through challenging obstacles and hilltops made of meat is indeed peculiar business in this unique puzzle platformer. Wonder occasionally mingles with frustration, however, given the trial-and-error nature of the game's more grueling stages.
Two thoughts will probably consecutively enter your mind upon first booting up Strata: first that its visual design is beautifully, almost sinfully elegant, and second that you have no idea what’s actually going on. Don’t panic. Like many of the artfully abstract-chic brainteasers that often pop up in the App Store, Strata is conceptually pretty simple, even if its confusing layers of colored lines might have you initially thinking otherwise. The easiest way to describe Strata is to say that it’s essentially a visual logic puzzle.