New iOS Games This Month [January]

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Shadowmatic $2.99

by Triada Studio

Shadowmatic is my personal favorite on this list, and the kind of game that needs to be ported to Android. It is the best proof there are undiscovered ideas out there, in the indie zone of the gaming industry. A brilliantly smart game with gorgeous visuals and wonderful music, Shadowmatic has you toying with abstract items, as you watch their reflections on the wall and try to match them to create shadows of existing objects. There are 9 rooms, each with a great number of levels. The visuals here deserve a standalone praise chapter – 3D, tilt-sensitive parallax view, with weird shapes forming incredibly recognizable shadows. It is fun, hard, innovative, beautiful and relaxing at the same time. The game features a hint system that charges you in-game currency for each hint, starting from the first hint being a very vague one, with the last directly naming the object. Without a doubt, Shadowmatic is going to be on everyone’s list of the Best Games of 2015.


 SineWave Freemium

By Mad Fellows Ltd

sine wave

SineWave is the product of Greenshots, a program funded by Microsoft and Creative England. That said, the developers could have lingered with the launch to iron out some rough edges, like the controls. Overall, it is a very fun game that has you flying a sci-fi spaceship that can be customized in shape and colors (the bug one looks awesome). Then, you fly through a sci-fi tunnel full of obstacles and spiced with coins scattered here and there. The dubstep music is awesome, provided you like the dubstep. The game offers three sound tracks for free while more are available via IAPs. As fun and addicting as it could be, the controls bug makes you cringe every time you lose, and it even makes the highest difficulty levels basically unplayable. Also, the visuals, as cool and sci-fi as they are, don’t look like the game is taking advantage of the iPhone’s powerful hardware. Nonetheless, we encourage you give it a try – it’s free-to-play, and you’re better off making up your own mind. Some gamers absolutely love it.


 Princess Bride $3.99

By Gameblend studios

princess bride

I would only recommend this one to the long-time fans of the original Disney movie because the game basically taps into your nostalgia. Being a collection of four mini-games, Princess Bride does not bring anything new to the Princess Bride story. Instead, it gives you the content you already know, but in a playable manner. As you play, you will unlock sound clips and images from the movie. There ma possibly be more content in the upcoming updates, and they are free for anyone who buys the game now. That said, $4 seems like too much for a game with a spell that doesn’t work on anyone who is not a big-big fan of the movie.

The four mini-games include Shrieking Eels that see you tapping eels to prevent them from getting to the Princess stranded in the water. Cliffs of Insanity (a poetic title, I admit) has you tilting your device to avoid traps in a slo-mo endless runner. Battle of Steel throws you into a battle of Inigo and Westley where the mechanics painfully remind Fruit Ninja. Battle of Strength, finally, is a battler against Fezzik where you swipe as fast as possible to defeat him. One other thing I disliked is with the price of the game, you still have to earn stars to unlock mini-games and to play them on other difficulty levels.


 1-bit Ninja Remix Rush $1.99

By kode80 LLC

1-bit Ninja Remix Rush

1-bit Ninja Remix Rush is a tough challenge, there is no denying that. It’s the kind of endless runner you play with your both hands clutched to your smartphone till your fingers and neck go numb. Here is the trick – you use one hand to run, and the other to jump. The tricky part is changing direction is only possible if you hit specific pads, and not all of them are special. It’s unnervingly hard, unforgiving, but sports a nice graphic style. The fact that it’s not auto-runner and requires your both hands to move, and restricts your side-ways maneuverability sounds hard enough, but wait till you try it. The only mechanics that is in your favor is you can stop once in a while to wait for the right pads, or let your eyes get back to their normal orbit. As a result, that dash and stop pulse gives you quite an adrenaline rush while you play – absolutely engrossing and addicting.

Did I mention there is a timer? There is, and if you spend too much time hesitating and let it hit zero – it’s game over. The collectible goodies may reverse the clock a bit, but they’re hard to come by because in many cases, they’re placed in the danger zones stuffed with traps. At some point, you may feel desperate, as if the game is unfair, but fee rewarded when you succeed.


 Gunbrick $2.99

By Nitrome

Gunbrick

Aside from the music I instantly muted, Gunbrick is a brilliant physics-based puzzler, and a bit of a dungeon crawler. Folks at Nitrome confirm my suspicions that pixel style in mobile gaming is not the past developers and gamers are nostalgic about, but a fully-fledged trend of today. A visual delight, Gunbrick is an instant crush even though it is virtually impossible to tell what this game is all about from the description.

You control a cube with an operator inside. Again, it is difficult to say whether it’s a guy or a duck. Swipe and hold left and right to rotate the cube and move. On its side, it has a rocket launcher, that can shoot obstacles and let you fly, if the rocket is directed at the floor side. Also, since you’re a cube moving awkwardly through tunnels, floors and other construction-looking maze, you are sometimes restricted in movement, and a rocket shot sideways will give you an extra space to turn.

Don’t know if that explanation makes any sense, but the game is smart and fun to play, and it will make you smile. Whoever Gunbrick is, and whatever he is delivering from one gate to another, he must be someone from a parallel universe where they haven’t thought of a wheel. Like the Maya.


 Sol Invictus $0.99

Developer: Cubus Games

Sol Invictus

A brilliant sequel to last year’s Heavy Metal Thunder Gamebook, Sol Invictus takes off where HMT left you, and now you know who you are, what your name is, and who your friends and foes are. The human race is preparing the massive counter-attack on the alien forces, and your unit, Venice Clovers, may have a pussy name, but you sure are the toughest kind humans have in stock. Hence, the number of sinister operations to attack the aliens is dubbed Sol Invictus, and unconquered deity that dies, descends into the world of the dead, and resurrects as immortal to bring doom on its foes.

Intense, rich narration with great branching out is spiced with combat and conversational dice-throwing that test your skills. The adventure is abundant is emotionally high pressure moments, and climaxes. Besides, the complex branching out means you can take different turns and make different choices from checkpoints, or start a different gameplay altogether. The game lets you save three game slots. Read our full review here.


Space Marshals $4.99

Space Marshals

Space Marshals looks fab – it’s obvious. There is a great deal of tactical sci-fi shooters out there, and many of them lack in the story department, which is not the case with Space Marshals. It’s a top-down shooter, where you play as a head hunter Burton on his hunt for criminals that escaped after a prison break. The game is episodic, and consists of three episodes, with the first one being released now, and the subsequent two later. We don’t know, however, if they will be available for free, or as IAPs.

Worse, the hunt takes place in outer space, and you will visit a great number of locations you will need to scout, use objects for cover, creep in on your foes, collect goodies to use in combat – flash bangs, frag grenades, mines, shields, and more. You will be able to disguise yourself to spy on your foes and get past their guards, distract them to reveal their positions, unlock silenced weapons.

Additionally, you need to make a choice of gear you can carry – body armor, grenades, shotguns, assault and sniper rifles, energy weapons, axes, and handguns.

Dual stick controls are customizable, and you can also choose a faction to join. Overall, Space Marshals is a beautifully crafted space sci-fi shooter with the twist of Westerns in it, an interesting story and a super-fun stealth gameplay.


 Combo Quest $0.99

By Tapinator, LLC

Combo Quest

Combo Quest puts you in the shoes of a knight on an endless quest to reclaim a combo crown stolen by a dragon. I would not be surprised if there is a damsel in distress, waiting for her crown to be returned, but we may never know it – the description says the quest is endless. I do hope you will see the crown some day, but until then, you have to level-up your knight, clothe him in shiny armor and fight a gazillion of villains, beasts, boss enemies and then the dragon.

The game sports a nice soundtrack, a variety of upgrades, magical potions, and a unique time-tap mechanic, whatever that is. The game also features four seasons and unlimited years for the continuity of the gameplay along fun unlockable achievements.


Audital $2.99

By Bruce Slater

audital

Audital is a great reflex tester for the fans of Super Hexagon, Hex 99, Impossible Draw and the likes. Its ambient dynamically generated music by a BAFTA winner Simon Hale (LA Noire) is the tripping background, with the beautiful minimalist design being its core. There are three shapes – circle, triangle and rectangle; choose one to start playing. The core shape is at the center of the screen, and it is surrounded by a shield of an identical shape. You control the shield by tapping on either left or right side of the screen to make it rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise. Now, it needs to rotate to shield off incoming assault of circles, and let the squares inside the core shape. However, if the squares hit the shield, they break fragments of it while if circles reach the core shape, they make it shrink in size. Once the core shape shrinks altogether – game over.

The appeal here is the immense replay value because the game has 15 game modes, four difficulty levels and a great variety (over 1000) of combinations with each having a leaderboard and full game center support. It’s a real treat for the twitch fans.


 The Horus Heresy: Drop Assault Freemium

By CROOZ, Inc.

horus heresy

This one is for the fans of the Warhammer 40.000 and Clash of Clans because it combines the universe of one and the gameplay of the other. First, you choose which side to join – Hours’ and become a traitor and Emperor’s as a loyalist. This choice will define which types of fortresses and armies you will be able to use later in the game, and some other in-game goodies. Then, there comes the classic Clash of Clan-ish action – build your fortresses, arm your armies and attack your foes. You will form alliances with your friends, and here it’s called chapters, for some reason, but never mind – if you are fed up with Clash of Clans, there is nothing that will hook you here. On the other hand, if you like the essence of the game and are a fan of the Warhammer world, go ahead – it’s a decent free-to-play title.


 Flockers $1.99

By Team17 Softwar

flockers

Sheep are trendy this year, and developers behind Worms offer a brand new sheep-themed game. Flockers comes packed with dark humor, and has you guiding the poor sheep through a maze of traps to safety. The sinister traps will cut, pierce and crush the poor creatures, and honestly, I would not recommend this little game to children or vegetarians. Literally, the sheep get brutally murdered and their insides explode all over the place. 60 levels, cute sheep, nasty worms, totally perverted traps and a wicked sense of humor. Sheep can do supernatural things like flying and exploding to sacrifice themselves to save the flock. I’ve always known this – sheep are smart and kind, unlike the stereotypical silly sheep lead to the butcher’s.


 1+2=3 Free

By Pine Entertainment

1+2

Remember Sumico? If you liked that one, try your wits at this simplistic, yet challenging math game. It challenges you to beat a first grader, and the little challenges it throws your way are nothing but a mockery, but the point here is whether your reaction is fast enough to do well.

Basically, it is not about math but your reflexes, so it’s an overall fun time killer to train your brain cells. You do know what happens when you let them go dry, don’t you? This sort of challenge is also a part of Brain Wars mini-games, but if you prefer this challenge alone without PvP element, give this one a try – it’s free.


 Hero Emblems $2.99

By CHUN LUNG KUO

hero emblems

Hero Emblems is a fun match-three JRPG adventure game with a huge addiction level. Combining side-scrolling beat’em up with match-three puzzler, the game takes you on a cute, yet hard to beat adventure set in the middle-age fantasy world. Of course, you should expect this world to be dominated by sorcerers and knights, and the main heroes are the four warriors on their dangerous quest to prevent the evil of evils to resurrect from its three thousand years sleep.

RPG and match-three seem to work like a charm in nearly every game that mixes them, and Hero Emblems is not an exception while its stylish visuals make it an irresistible charmer. A bit of grinding here, a good deal of strategy there, and a magic portion of luck will let you enjoy every aspect of this great game.


 WWE Immortals Free-to-play

By Warner Bros.

Wwe immortals

A lot has been said about this new Warner release already, and probably, the shortest way to give you a heads up about its gameplay would be – it’s a junior sibling of Injustice. Same controls, same UI, same combat mechanic. That is why WWE fans will most likely love it, or on the contrary, feel disappointed for the lack of novelty. Even if you don’t watch WWE, and look for a next time killer that is easy to learn, go with Immortals. For a free-to-play title, it has a great level of polish, but since it comes after a lot of people got far into Injustice, it may feel a bit too familiar. Well, opinions differ, but it’s certainly a game worth trying just to giggle at the characters.


 Bust-A-Move Islands Free-to-play

By gumi Inc.

Bustamove

Another match-three classic, Bust-A-Move is a mobile port of the 80’s mega-popular arcade game subsequently released on consoles. Bub and Bob get spell-attacked by a villainous dragon, and turned into little cute dragons themselves. To un-do the spell, or curse, they need to pass 200 colorful levels of bubble popping action. The game throws an occasional power bubble, like a bomb, to help you pop large constellations of bubbles. Beware of traps – snakes, rocks, blocks and more. Overall, it is a very fun bubble popper fairly close to the original, but without multiplayer boss battles. The life meter will decrease with every new level you try, so you won’t be playing as much as you like unless you buy in-game goodies, but if you can control your mobile gaming consumption, you should do just fine with the free lives.


 Airship Bakery Free-to-play

By Torn Screen Entertainment, Inc

Airship Bakery

This month’s iTunes novelties are puzzles galore, but a few exceptions, it seems. Airship Bakery is a match-three puzzler that has you dragging-and-dropping pastries to match them, serve them to guests that are placed at the top of the playboard, and make it till the end of the level in the given number of moves. The increasing difficulty of levels, changing boards, adding obstacles make it a fun, tasty-looking time killer. It is a nice change from the glitter of the artificial and toxic sweetness of the Candy Crush, so if you like the match-three puzzles and Disney-like cartoon-ish style, get those pastries and cookies moving.


 Unpixelate (3D puzzle) $2.99

By DeNA Co., Ltd

Unpixelate

Unpixelate is beautiful, and if you remember Miika, you would probably agree the style is similar. The gameplay, however, is not. Unpixelate is based on a Puzzle Dimension Steam game for PCs, and features 100 puzzles with quite interesting mechanic. You tap on or around a fancy sci-fi orb to guide it to the exit from each level. The environment is filled with traps and rotates around the orb. The traps include spikes, fire, ice, gaps and even teleporters. You also need to collect blocks of stars located in the trickiest of places.

The main challenge, however, is to sort out the controls and physics since the game does a poor job of explaining some tricks like camera movement and the orb rotation basics. No, it’s not overly intuitive, as the description suggests. Tap once and the orb moves one square, but if you tap and hold, in which case the orb will move squares until you stop pressing. Tap twice to jump, and don’t forget to rotate the camera to get a new angle when you look at the tiles. Changing the camera angle will also resolve the problem of the orb not responding to your taps. Sometimes, the orb won’t move if you’ve zoomed in, so zoom out to move on. In other words, try watching the demo video to get the hang of the mechanics, and once you do, you will be able to enjoy the game to the full extent of its fun and beauty.


 Battle of Toys Free-to-play

By Tiny Bytes

battle of toys

Never give up on a child inside you, and Battle of Toys will bring back those sweet times when you thought your toys were throwing a party every time your family would leave the house. The heroes here are two teams of toy figurines, like robots, warriors and soldiers dubbed Techno Titans and Smash Heads.

They fight one another in rounds, and you can see a child’s bedroom in the background. You tap and swipe just at the right moment to battle your opponents and win coins after each fight. You can spend the bling on power ups and upgrades for the toys you have on your shelves, or to buy new toys.

There is also a capsule machine that can give you a very special upgrades and energy boosts for your heroes, but you also need coins to try your luck at it. The gameplay is super-fun and the design is top notch – try it.


Dragon Knights Free-to-play

By Com2uS Corp

dragon knightsA classic turn-based RPG, Dragon Knights tasks players with clearing series of dungeons, as they team up . The traditional set of heroes is present here as well and you can be a priest, a warrior, a magician or a bandit. The game features a widespread life energy restriction, which means you will pay in energy to enter each battles. The latter happen automatically while the players can deploy magic spells and activate special skills manually, spending their mana.

Of course, there is plenty of loot and gear to collect, and you can also forge new weapons, and there are over 400 of weapons and armor. The game features a single-player Strory mode, Arena PvP, and global multiplayer boss battles. Oh, and did I mention 40 varieties of pets?


 Around The World in 80 Days – Hidden Objects $0.99

By Crisp App Ltd.

80 daysNo, it’s not 80 Days, but Around the World in 80 Days, and yes, it does tap into Jules Verne novel plot, but this game is a hidden objects puzzler in its core. Even though some objects are hidden “too well,” the art work is wonderful, and each scene is a visual gem located on a different continent, new country or another town each time. There are protagonists Fogg and Passepartout that travel around the world, and you help them out by solving the hidden objects mysteries. The gameplay has a very nice ambient soundtrack, too.


 Tile Enigma Free-to-play

By Pikaware LLC

tile enigma

A new indie game Tile Enigma is a 2D minimalist style puzzler that has you matching two-sided tiles to match their colors. You need to flip tiles, match colors and keep an eye on other tiles because each swipe you make not only changes the side of the tile you swipe, but also affects the other tiles’ orientation. As you might have guessed, you only have a limited number of moves to make it through each stage. You can retry as much as you like – the game is free. If you want extra moves, though, you can buy them via IAPs. Enigma comes loaded with 40 good-looking levels available for free while 60 more are available for $1.99 through a one-time in-app purchase.

The levels are divided into five worlds and increase in difficulty gradually, and each world introduces a different mechanics – sliding, inverting, echo effects of three types. Overall, it is more complex than might seem initially, and will have your grey cells steaming while you master it, but the success is very rewarding when you do good. Ambient soundtrack is a charmer, and you can choose to listen to your own music in the background.


 Hot Tub Time Machine: Tap That Free-to-play

By Funtactix, Inc

hot tub

It’s Chevy Chase time again, well, at least for those who like a good, silly laugh. Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a sequel to Paramount’s 2010 time traveling story, hits theaters this February, and this game comes a s a movie tie-in, with additional scenes and more to the original story than you’d see in the movie.

As far as the game is concerned, it is a pretty funny hidden objects puzzler that has you traveling through time in a hot tub to collect clues when the characters have experienced yet another “blacked out bender in the tub.” If you find the clues fast enough, you earn combo points that will help you complete the subsequent scenes faster. The game also comes full of mini-games – matching, jigsaw puzzles, “shots of booze and shots of… you’ll see…” It is also available on Android and in facebook.


 Gunslugs 2 $2.99

By Pascal Bestebroer

gunslugs 2

Gunslugs 2 is all about shooting, so if you like spectacular explosions, intense action, a bit silly story and top notch graphics – get it. Mixing up the pop culture elements of the 80s and 90s, Gunslugs 2 tasks the elite force of gunslugs with wiping out the hostile Black Duck Army that wants to dominate the galaxy. It is also very fast-paced, and keeps pushing you in the middle of the action from the moment you first launch it.

Basically, all you do is shoot your ammo out until you are out of ammo. Well, sometimes you would climb ladders and shoot towers, but most of the time you shoot, and the game seems to have amassed the world’s arsenal of bullets. There are seven worlds with 8 levels per each, and of course, the boss fights at the end of each level. The inside areas of levels are randomly generated and stuffed with all sorts of weird and silly objects – spaceships, rockets, aliens, tanks, worms and the like. It’s shooting enemies in hoards, giggling at the silly chaos and marveling at the overall very enjoyable gameplay. It does make your eyes feel tired after a while, however.


 Bouncy Blue Free Free

By Paul Balauru

bouncy ball

Bouncy Blue is a little indie game we encourage you check out, if impossibly hard twitch games are your cup of tea. Here, you control a little guy bouncing off what seems to be like a rubber chord – stretch it more to jump higher, stretch it a bit to jump lower. There are four lines of laser beams, or so they seem, above the little jumper, and they are of red and blue color. Your aim is to jump to reach the blue beam, and avoid the red one. Watch the trailer for yourself and challenge yourself with this fun, little time killer. It’s free, and doesn’t require Internet connection to play – perfect when commuting.