Brightly colored Spandex and match-three puzzling might seem an odd pairing at first, but digging into Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign yields addictive super-villain smashing fun in abundance. Between collecting virtual comic book covers to unlock new heroes and leveling up your posse with RPG-style enhancements, this free-to-play battler hits the nerdy sweet spot without going overboard in the in-app purchase department.
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.
Where’s My Water? is Disney’s best-known original mobile smash, with a couple of successful spin-offs following since, so naturally a proper sequel couldn’t be far behind. Where’s My Water? 2 might seem like a sure thing, as such, but it sadly squanders the well-earned respect of its predecessor. Its few new ideas simply aren’t enough to justify a fumbling attempt at injecting free-to-play hooks.
If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s almost impossible not to see Pivvot as a response to the abstract dodge-or-die arcade design of Terry Cavanagh’s indie hit Super Hexagon. Both games require you to rotate a small on-screen point around randomized geometric shapes flying at you from changing directions. Both also use increasing speeds and nervy, thrumming soundtracks designed as much to distract as thrill. But where Hexagon’s tension and fear came from the panic of trying to guess (and keep pace with) its breakneck shape changes, the linear track Pivvot runs on changes its feel a bit.
A pint-sized pickpocket and his doe-eyed ferret pal make charmingly mischievous cohorts in this fresh, funny take on the point-and-click adventure genre. Rather than send you gallivanting along through one seamless quest, Tiny Thief challenges you to navigate through individual puzzle stages set up as clever little animated scenes. By studying your surroundings and tapping the environment to see what you can interact with as you sneak around, figuring out how to grab the goods and get out undetected proves a delightful jaunt.
Building a new kind of obsessive virtual pursuit out of the various parts of two real-life ones, Super Paper Pool combines elements from billiards and miniature golf, challenging you to hit colorful pieces into their rightful spots with a cue ball. It starts simply enough, with early holes featuring just one piece to maneuver around a winding path, but hazards and multiple pieces quickly turn each round of tables into a sometimes-brutal gauntlet. Engaging as it can be, however, the requirements for progression begin to feel too intimidating far too quickly.
Limbo begins in darkness and near silence and doesn't stray much from either over the course of the side-scrolling adventure. It also doesn't feature any text beyond the menu screen and credits, save for a gargantuan neon hotel sign that punctuates the quest, nor does it mention the controls or detail any of the puzzle mechanics you'll encounter along the way. What could feel aimless is instead thoroughly gripping, as Limbo's brilliant and atmospheric quest makes exploring the unknown feel thrilling, terrifying, and ultimately fulfilling.
Rovio’s new “Stars” label was designed to snatch up and release indie games with promise, but we weren’t sure quite what to expect from the Angry Birds maker's publishing efforts. As the first of the so-called Stars, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage luckily lives up to its lofty billing and sets a high bar for those to follow. It’s a quirky, inventive, and colorful physics puzzler that deserves every bit of visibility the mobile publishing giant can give it.
Pairing Disney's biggest original iOS hit with the company's most iconic character, Where's My Mickey? XL delivers another breezy physics puzzler that challenges you to guide a stream of liquid to the cartoon mouse. Skillfully utilizing a classic Mickey Mouse aesthetic with animated cut-scenes, the game maintains the winning gameplay formula that propelled Where's My Water? and licensed follow-up Where's My Perry?, though a lack of challenge makes it less memorable than expected.