Drawn: The Painted Tower HD (£4.99 on iPad)
Drawn: The Painted Tower is one of the most beautiful adventure games we’ve ever had the joy of playing. Beautifully presented with crisp, colourful graphics and a sweeping musical score, your aim is to climb to the top of an enormous tower to rescue a young girl from mysterious foes. You do so by diving inside magical paintings, transporting you everywhere from a dense forest to a dragon’s lair.
Drawn's story is revealed through conversations and cut scenes, your reward for solving the game’s many puzzles. You’ll find yourself mixing up recipes, staging an unusual play, messing with the local wildlife and plenty more, and it's difficult enough to provide a challenge but still accessible to appeal to most ages. A hint system is provided if you do get stuck, although it could be slightly more helpful for younger players. Still, Drawn provides many hours of fantastic gameplay and is well worth the asking price.
Strange Cases: The Lighthouse Mystery Collector’s Edition HD (Free to try, £4.99 to unlock full game on iPad)
Hidden object games have been massively popular on PC in recent years. For those yet to try one out, 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. Strange Cases: The Lighthouse Mystery is one such game, casting you as FBI agent Claire Ellery as she figures out why her old partner hurled himself out of his apartment window.
For the most part you’ll be exploring crime scenes and finding clues, with the occasional hidden object scene to complete. The graphics are often incredible, with some of the most lifelike environments you’re likely to see on an iPad game. We did notice the occasional glitch, including a puzzle that solved itself, and the touch sensitivity wasn’t quite right, leading us to stab the screen repeatedly at times. The plot is also comically preposterous with a seriously bizarre ending. However, it’s all good cheesy fun and a great way to while away a few hours on a lengthy trip.
Reiner Knizia's City of Secrets Pipes (£1.99 on iPhone/iPad)
A cute cartoon intro sets up the basic plot of Pipes, involving an accident-prone mole who has to repair the skyship that he accidentally cripples. However, the story is pretty much incidental to the series of pipe puzzles, which sees you connecting a central generator to a number of holes around the edge of the screen. You do this by laying a piece of pipe at a time, with different sizes and shapes throwing a spanner in the works. Presentation is fantastic throughout, with funky steampunk graphics and sweeping orchestral scores belying the low price.
However, Pipes is a tough game and a difficult one to devise a strategy for. You have no control over which pipes you get, no way of seeing what’s coming up, and the sheer number of different pipes makes it impossible to anticipate what you’ll be given. If a pipe won’t fit anywhere it turns into a penalty block, which often cuts off a section of the game area and makes victory impossible. Luck is usually the deciding factor between sweet success and crushing failure – or it was in our games at least. Despite this, we found ourselves going back for more, to see if we could defeat that one level that had us beat. If you have enough patience to replay levels over and fancy an intriguing puzzler, Pipes is worth a look.
Tingo (£1.99 on iPhone)
From one of the QI researchers comes this charming little pick-up-and-play word game, as addictive as it is simple. Tingo throws a variety of quick-succession words at you, from olde English to foreign slang, and asks you to select the correct definition from a choice of three. For instance, did you know that in World War I, the Tommies called someone inordinately fond of jam a ‘pozzy-wallah’? While in Japan, the word ‘bakku-shan’ means a girl who appears pretty when seen from behind, but not from the front.
It’s generally possible to narrow down the correct definition to one or two, and getting a number of answers correct in a row builds up your multiplier, giving you tons of extra points. The achievements and leaderboards are great incentives to play on for big points. Tingo even pops up with a word of the day in your notifications bar, tempting you to have another quick go. A great purchase for language fans.
Haunted Manor: Lord of Mirrors HD (£4.99 on iPad)
Another hidden object game, Haunted Manor sees you trapped inside a ghostly mansion with a host of lost souls, who you have to help out before you can escape. Each room is drawn with impressive detail, and features a similar challenge – pick out essential items from piles of junk, locate keys to open chests and tools to break open boxes, and give each ghost what he or she demands. The object hunts are broken up with other puzzles, such as jigsaws and riddles, to keep things from growing stale.
You get a good few hours of gameplay for your five quid, depending on how sharp your eyes are. The story is nothing to shout about but the gentle difficulty level makes it ideal for playing with the young ones, and an excellent hint system helps out when the occasional American term causes confusion (for instance, our US cousins refer to a shuttlecock as a ‘birdie’ – something we learned while playing this game!)