REVIEWED: iOS adventure apps
09 Jul 2012
The best new iPhone and iPad adventure/puzzle games reviewed
The British summer hasn’t failed to disappoint as usual, with so much rain and icy weather that you might as well label it ‘winter 2’. Chances are you’ve planned an escape in the form of a fortnight in Spain, or a relaxing Caribbean cruise, which means long journeys and lots of free time. And what better way to spend it than with a host of excellent iPhone and iPad games?
There are plenty of dumb action or racing games cluttering up the Apple App Store, so we delved deeper to find those games that offer something more. Whether it’s a deep plot or mind-bending puzzles, these adventure games will keep you occupied for hours, and don’t require instant trigger-happy reactions.
LostWinds 2 (£1.49)
Originally starting life as a downloadable game for Nintendo’s Wii, LostWinds 2 has you guiding a young boy called Toku across various treacherous lands on an epic adventure. It’s a platform game, but rather than directly controlling Toku, you conjur up gusts by swiping the screen to blow him around. It’s a unique feature that works well, and thankfully never becomes frustrating.
As well as gushing Toku all over the place, you can manipulate the environment to help his progress – for instance, freezing the air to create a snowball, which can then be used to smash through a barrier or attack enemies. The game world starts off as a frozen wasteland, making it necessary to light fires to keep Toku from freezing to death, but later on the seasons change, which gives you access to new areas – but also brings fresh challenges to overcome.
Fans of platform games will love the original gameplay and sweet cartoony graphics of LostWinds 2, an excellent adventure that’ll easily last you through a lengthy flight.
Waking Mars (£2.99)
If you’re sick of generic action blasters, try this sedate exploration game that sees you navigating through mildly perilous caverns beneath the surface of Mars. The emphasis is on finding new species and discovering how they survive and reproduce, all while tracking down a missing probe that went before you. Your only companions are a mouthy eccentric robot that helps with your investigations, and your fellow team mate who updates you via radio.
The pace is slow but never dull, as you manipulate the local plantlife and wildlife to progress deeper and deeper into the mysterious caverns. Useful map and research pages keep things from getting too confusing, and the simple controls – touch in any direction to fly there using your jetpack – are perfect for the iPad’s touch-screen.
If you’re the impatient type who gets bored unless they’re pumping a ton of lead into a hideous mutant, Waking Mars isn’t for you. If you prefer to take things at a slower pace, it’s a gripping and original game, and highly recommended.
Dark Dimensions: City Of Fog (Free to trial, £4.99 for full iPad version, £1.99 for iPhone version)
Hidden object games have been massively popular on PCs in recent years. For the uninitiated, they’re essentially a series of mini treasure hunts – you seek out a list of objects in a typically cluttered scene, maybe solving the odd puzzle along the way to keep things interesting.
Dark Dimensions: City Of Fog sees you exploring a ghost town, piecing together what happened to the long-deceased inhabitants. There are plenty of hidden object scenes to find as you navigate around the eerie backstreets and deserted buildings, as well as inventory items to collect and some brain-bashing puzzles to solve.
City Of Fog is free to trial, but you need to pay to download the full version. Note that the iPad version is recommended over the iPhone one, as the iPhone’s compact screen makes it tricky to browse around at times.
Amazon: Hidden Expedition (£1.99)
Another hidden object game that fuses treasure hunts with devious puzzles. Amazon: Hidden Expedition involves tons of item searches across a variety of jungle and cavern-like environments, as you track down a missing professor who was searching for the legendary Beetle Temple. The hidden object sections are moderately difficult, with built-in hints if you’re struggling to find certain items. These show you the silhouette of the missing object at first, then highlight it on-screen if you’re still stuck.
Amazon isn’t just an endless stream of treasure hunts however, as these sections are broken up with a variety of interesting and original mini games. One moment you’ll be connecting up pipes, the next you’ll be trying to decipher some ancient form of puzzle box. There are also a number of journal pages to find, which fill you in on the professor’s findings and are surprisingly funny at times. Graphics are crisp and colourful, looking good on the iPad’s screen.
The Lost City (69p)
An adventure game played from the POV of the main character, your task is to explore a rather bizarre island filled with all manner of devious puzzles. You move from scene to scene simply by tapping on a doorway or path, but at the start of the game most of the island is out of bounds – until you discover a series of statues and gems that appear to change the weather...
Puzzle variety is excellent, featuring everything from sliding block conundrums to tracking down hidden items such as keys and jigsaw pieces. At times it can be a little vague what your objective is, but a built-in hint system will sort you out if you’re stuck, so you won’t have to resort to an online walkthrough. The Lost City is highly recommended for anyone who likes point ‘n’ click adventures, especially at this low price.
We'll be bringing you full reviews of more adventure/puzzle games real soon, as well as action games for anyone who loves a good virtual explosion - stay tuned!