The choice is yours as to how you spend your life in Road Not Taken, although it will more than likely involve a lot of grid-based puzzling. Hitchhikers are plentiful in Hohokum, but what do they want?!
Finally, a great Pokemon clone on iOS.
So much data. Making jumps by the numbers in Metrico.
Your options are sometimes limited by your illness in the very important Depression Quest.
August 1: The Last of Us, Oddworld, Modern Combat, Mount Your Friends, KairoboticaJuly 18: Civilization, Abyss Odyssey, Monster Hunter, Crimsonland, MouseCraftJuly 4: Valiant Hearts, Shovel Knight, Sniper Elite III, Transformers, Squids Odyssey
Road Not Taken / PC, PS4 / Download only / $22.95 / Developer Spry Fox made its name on mobile with the hit game Triple Town, and although its latest is a strictly PC and console affair (for now), its scope and style just screams “tablet game”.
Road Not Taken is a smart, difficult puzzler with cute art and a procession of challenges you can knock off at your own pace. You play as a ranger who returns to a forest every year to rescue children who have become lost while picking berries. What makes Road Not Taken stand out from its contemporaries is you only have a 15-year lifespan. You are free to do what you want with this life: save all the children, meet all the townspeople or do nothing at all. Of course if you do nothing, you will never find out the true mystery of the forest or the interesting behaviours of all the items found within.
Hohokum / PS4, PS3, PS Vita / Download only / $19.45 / Upon seeing Hohokum at E3 this year, talk show host Conan O’Brien’s reaction was immediate: “And how high do you have to be to play this game?”
Featuring a hypercolourful string-snake that visits a series of nonsense worlds, Hohokum has you zooming between monkeys, carnival-goers or a jellyfish mermaid in order to find combinations of elements and progress.
It is a free-flowing, meditative game that strips back common features like specific goals in favour of a whimsical world that needs to be explored and understood. Paired with an incredible soundtrack, Hohokum defies easy description, but its sheer weirdness and sense of innocent fun could be reason enough to jump in.
Metrico / PS Vita / Download only / $19.45 / This is another game that looks to break the mould, although with somewhat less success. Metrico is a sidescrolling platformer with a twist: most game elements are affected by behind-the-scenes data-tracking of your every move.
Cannot make a certain jump? You may find the platform you are trying to reach is tied to the number of times you die, so the only way to extend it is to jump into the pit and fail multiple times. Pie graphs in the background might keep track of your steps, and getting the right ratio is the key forward.
While it is a novel approach and allows for some powerful narrative overtones, the later stages in Metrico take the idea to uncomfortable extremes, using the PlayStation Vita’s touchscreens and cameras to excess.
Micromon / iOS / $1.29 / Having been sucked into the digital world of Micromon, your avatar immediately meets a quirky professor and is given a vague mission.It boils down to exploring a large and varied world, taming as many of the 130 different Micromon as you can and leading them into battle against other tamers for fun and profit. Sound familiar?
Yes, this is an incredibly flagrant clone of Pokemon for mobile devices, but it is also the first of its kind to actually succeed in meeting the fun level of the games that inspired it. Annoying micro-transactions aside (this is a mobile game after all) Micromon offers dozens of hours, a decent story, cute and cool creatures with various evolutions and even online battles.
If you are a Pokemon fan who has grown tired of lugging around your Nintendo handheld for on-the-go monster-catching, this one is for you.
Depression Quest / PC, Mac / Download only / Free / There is an argument to be made that Depression Quest is not a game. Not only because it is mostly narrative fiction or that it is attempting something very serious, but because it really is not fun. At all.
The text describes the everyday events of a life, including a job, a relationship and a family. You are tasked with navigating these situations while also dealing with a crushing depression, which makes some options simply untenable and others the sad and only possibility.
It is a very well-executed experiment that gets its point across, even if that means it is a testing and, at times, a boring experience to go through. As a game designed to comfort those suffering depression by letting them know they are not alone – and also to communicate what depression is like to non-sufferers – it is an important and worthwhile game.
Tim is on Twitter: @weeklyrift
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