Title: Last Voyage
Cost: $1.99; currently on sale for $0.99
Platform: iOS 7.0 or later
Last Voyage, by Semidome Inc., is an abstract puzzle game inspired by science fiction movies. It features hypnotic, minimalist graphics that often consist of simple geometric shapes; but also more cinematic scenes that pay homage to icons like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Black, white, and red are the dominant colors throughout, with occasional surprise appearances by blue and green. The pulsing, 40-minute original soundtrack adds immensely to the experience.
Told in five chapters that can be played individually, or moved through in order, it has been compared to other cinematic games such as Monument Valley and Lost Sounds. While Last Voyage doesn’t present a traditional narrative, the idea that you are embarking on a mind-bending journey through the depths of space is strong and ever-present. Each player is free to imagine their own reason for the journey, and their own interpretation for each chapter.
Color Zen occupies a special place in my gaming heart right near games like Flow (which I reviewed for the YALSAblog App of the Week here), Boomshine (which you can download for iOS or play online here) and my favorite game that is for some reason not available as an app, Alchemy (from the people who brought us Plants vs. Zombies). These games are colorful, easy to learn, and relaxing on the early levels. By the later levels, they cause your brain to wrench, twist, and try to flip itself over as you attempt to develop increasingly sophisticated strategies to solve increasingly’ difficult puzzles. Continue reading App of the Week: Color Zen
Title: The Room Platform: iPad 2 or higher Cost: 4.99
The Room is an old-fashioned puzzle adventure updated for the interactivity of the touch screen. You begin the game, like a proper tale of mystery and suspense,’ with a hastily scribbled note left by a vague acquaintance imploring you to solve the puzzles he has left behind.’ “The stakes are higher than you could imagine,” writes A.S., who instructs you to begin by finding a special lens. To navigate around the game, you use your touch screen in many of the familiar ways: pinch and pull to zoom in or out, tap an object to get a better look, or slide to look around.’ The best part is, instead of using a keyboard or a controller to interact with the puzzles in front of you, you can touch the things you see: turn a key, slide open a panel, rotate a series of metal rings. You can explore each puzzle more physically than a game where you can only see and hear.
The graphics are intricate and beautifully rendered: wood finish and shiny metal mechanical parts. Reviews are comparing the game to Myst, and The Room certainly has a similar intriguingly suspenseful tone. You know intellectually that it is not the kind of game where any enemy will appear and attack you, but the first time I used the lens to look around for clues, I jumped when I saw the invisible ink it revealed.
Full disclosure, I haven’t had a chance to play through the whole game. I don’t have an iPad, but I have a friend who does. My friend Anna is an avid gamer on all platforms; she’s the person who first introduced me to Minecraft. I find her gaming habits to be a helpful resource because she always knows about games I haven’t played and tends to be familiar with games that are popular with my teens. Friends are a part of your personal learning network. It’s always worthwhile when I learn from mine.’ Fellow App of the Week blogger, and all-around technology advocate, Linda Braun, mentioned this in her column, The Unbound Word in this month’s VOYA. You can always stay up to date on a device you don’t have by asking a friend to let you play.
So far the only complaint I’ve heard about The Room, is that it’s too short. Anna broke it down for me this way: the game costs 4.99 for maybe four or five hours of gameplay. Initially, she thought the price seemed a bit high, but when she compared it to a more expensive PC game that might be four or more times as long, it seemed to work out fairly.
Take a look at the game in this quick spoiler-free trailer: