Rymdkapsel is what we imagine playing an isometric, real-time strategy space game on the Atari might have been like back in the day – if the genre had existed then – and it's fabulous. The complexities that come from gathering resources, expanding your space station, generating new minions, and defending your galactic turf from waves of invading aliens contrast wildly against the simple 8-bit style aesthetic and tightly focused scope. There's a certain charm to its simplicity, but enough depth to back it up and keep you immersed in the fascinating task of building out your tiny space station empire.
Like a cross between the critically acclaimed PlayStation 2 hit Shadow of the Colossus and Forbidden Forest for the Commodore 64, A Ride Into the Mountains asks you to hop on your pixelated horse and shoot odd floating monsters with arrows until a distant relic regains its luster. This shooting mechanic is core to the experience, involving an Angry Birds-like slide gesture whereby you pull back and drag to aim and fire — with a bigger gesture needed for longer shots. Most enemies must be hit in a particular spot, too; otherwise arrows are ineffective. It's basic, but tough to master under duress from enemies and their projectiles.
Imagine waking up in a strange house and having no recollection of what happened to your wife, your friends, your job, your home, and the rest of your life as you know it. Only by meandering through the darkness and stumbling upon grim clues can you begin to piece together the horrific tale that lies at the heart of Home. But exactly what that tale is depends on the choices you make and how you perceive each twist you encounter along the way. An experiment in interactive storytelling, Home is equal parts unsettling and puzzling. It's an absorbing – albeit terribly brief – journey that will ultimately leave many of your burning questions unanswered.
When you begin a game of Stickets, the emptiness of its 5x5 grid is a vast expanse of possibility. You have four shapes, all L-blocks made up of three squares each. These squares alternate in color between three set tones, with the palette randomly ordered. Each L-block, unable to be rotated, can be placed anywhere on the screen as long as there’s room to accommodate its shape, and when placed it plays an ambient tone. Once on the grid, the block is replaced with one of a different color arrangement, with the same rotation. Your sole objective: Make three or more squares of the same color touch so you can clear them from the board. There’s no timer, and the only score is the number of moves you manage to rack up. What do you do? Stickets' total lack of forgiveness generates a brilliant iPhone puzzle experience.
Ferrying a flock of afro-adorned critters through a ghastly gauntlet of increasingly menacing shadow machines is a challenging, sometimes messy affair in Badland. It's easy to get swept away by the gorgeous scenery cycling in the background of each doom-filled stage, but failing to focus on the dark traps springing to life in the foreground does not bode well for your gaggle. This interesting and visually distinct one-button game layers unique mechanics around its simple premise to keep you tapping along even when your cute crew gets shredded to pieces over and over again.
Getting marooned on a spooky alien world full of creepy crawlies and other unfriendly inhabitants might sound terrifying, but it turns out to be a welcome detour from the dull depths of space in Capsized+ for iPad. Exploration and survival in this beautifully hand-drawn 2D platform shooter make for a satisfying balancing act, one made all the more interesting by the diverse ways you can traverse and interact with the harsh planetscape.
A sense of mystery can be a strong force that connects you to a place. Kairo relies heavily on mysteriousness, and a thick layer of atmosphere too, to draw you deep into its minimalistic realm. For such an empty place, the blocky architecture and dark corridors hold a lot of intrigue. Who built them? What happened to the people here? Why am I here? These and other questions pop up as you explore and solve abstract puzzles during your colorful trek through this desolate landscape. It's a journey that's strangely compelling, despite a distinct lack of excitement.