iOS games

[Review] Adam Wolfe (2016) (PC)

This past Spring, I picked up the game Adam Wolfe on a Steam sale. At first glance, what immediately struck me was how similar this game’s name was to a favourite game of mine:

Familiar? Yes, indeed; in appearance, and in initials (A.W.)! And the similarities go further – both games use aspects of the paranormal in their story. (Both A.W.s are different in genre, however: Alan Wake being more on the survival horror spectrum, while Adam Wolfe is hidden object adventure).

More to the point, the paranormal as a plot device in games is a familiar one. Adventure games in particular have used it repeatedly. I am quite familiar with it having played games like Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can, and Shiver: Vanishing Hitchhiker, among many more. Some gaming studios have taken the device to dead horse flogging territory, using it over and over again (looking atchu, Big Fish Games…). You would think by now I would avoid games like this… but there was just something about Adam Wolfe that pulled me in.

Adam Wolfe is a paranormal investigator with the San Francisco Police Department, responsible for cases that are too “out there” for run-of-the-mill detective work. First order of business is to chase down a firebug who is wrecking havoc in the Bay area. He mantracks the perp and discovers there is something supernatural about the dude.

In this scene, the perp just melts on screen – literally!

Meanwhile, Adam’s sister mysteriously goes missing, and he soon discovers the firebug case he is investigating and his sister’s disappearance are interrelated. This leads Adam into the seedy underbelly of San Francisco, face to face with a strange cult whose leader claims he has the secret to eternal life on Earth. Along the way, Adam discovers a watch that allows him the ability to turn back time to a period when crimes took place; helpful to Adam who uses it in his investigation to get a better grasp of what happened. Using a cellphone, he is able to GPS his way around the city, and call his partner, Marv, back at the station, for information needed to further his investigation.

Over the four-part game, Adam Wolfe draws you into an intriguing story that infuses suspense and horror into the plot successfully.  There are indeed some scary moments in the game that made me jump out of my seat, which isn’t normally expected in a hidden object game. Granted, the plot devices of missing relatives, turning back time, and the supernatural is totally cliched in hidden object adventure games, but I forgive Adam Wolfe as there are bigger standouts that trump the negatives. For one, the quality of the graphics in this game are unparalleled when compared to other hidden object games I have played as of late.  The gameplay is taut and the puzzles are varied and challenging, including clear-picture hidden object scenes, and picture scrambles. Most interesting is the game gives opportunities to be a part of Adam’s police work: take crime scene samples, shoot Adam’s gun, beat up perps with fists, and drive Adam’s motorcycle through the streets of San Francisco…all in a day’s work!

Having played dozens of hidden object games in my life, Adam Wolfe is one of the better hidden object adventure games going, and is definitely worth your attention. Available on PC, Mac. iOS and Android, I highly recommend you pick this one up.


Adam Wolfe (PC)
MadHead Games

[Review] Monument Valley (iOS)

I love it when ‘fee and gaming collide…

A Starbucks recently opened on the college campus where I work. I am not a lover of Starbucks really…I mean I don’t refuse free Starbucks, but I don’t go out of my way to drink it. In any case, one day last fall a colleague of mine and I found ourselves in the line-up at this shiny new Starbucks. I had no plans to pick up anything; my colleague was after the 6-dollar spinach and cheese pastry. As we approached the cash, I noticed a sign that said, “Starbucks Free App of the Week!” along with a pile of little cards. What is this! I loves me free! I took one of the cards, and discovered it contained a free key code to a game I had never heard of before called Monument Valley. The graphic for the game intrigued me immediately so I thought I had nothing to lose by trying it out. The only barrier was that the key code given was for the game in the iOS environment. I am predominantly an Android user, but thankfully, I have access to an iPad at work, so I was able to use the key before it expired at the end of September. This was the first game I actually played on the iPad, and am pleased to say the experience was a good one. And as it turns out, Monument Valley was a pretty fun game.

I am not exactly sure what the story is behind Monument Valley, but it is a puzzle game where you lead your main character, Princess Ida, through and around beautiful, odd structures and mazes, in her personal quest for forgiveness. The puzzles remind me of the stylings of M.C. Escher (1898-1972), where every puzzle contains a visual paradox. With each puzzle your mind is constantly being bent around in an optical illusion as you tap around, leading Ida through each scene. Levers, turnstyles and strategically-placed buttons are available for you to control platforms and catwalks so that Ida can advance through a scene. The game’s mechanics are very much reminiscent of the Room and the Room 2 (games I reviewed here and here) where you are presented with a puzzle to solve in order to advance to the next room, as well as having the ability to interact with the scene, and move your perspective around to find the correct path you need to send Ida down. Stylistically speaking, keen eyes can’t deny drawing similarities to Kentucky Route Zero (a game I have reviewed previously), particularly in its use of muted colours and fonts. To that end, each scene is beautiful – vibrant, and visually appealing. GORGEOUS, in fact. With every scene, I almost want to take a screenshot, print it out and frame it!

Although a pleasant time-waster, my only real critique with Monument Valley (aside from an unclear plot) was the lack of a serious challenge. It was also a short game, as I completed all the levels in an evening. The game was designed for the iOS environment (it won Best Game for the iPad in 2014), then ported to Android, so I am unsure how it translates to Android. Regardless, Monument Valley is a very placid game, non-stressful, and a decent user experience. …And expensive – $5.99 in Google Play and Apple App store. So, if you can get it for free or at a discount, I recommend it!


Monument Valley
Developer: Ustwo
iOS / Android / Microsoft Mobile / Windows

[Review] BADLAND (Android Tablet)

This game was recommended by Scott, WordPress’s Heavy Metal OverloRd. Thanks for the rec, Scott!

Free game on Android / iOS / Blackberry 10!* 

Traveling through a creepy forest and swamp as a fuzzy ball of a creature isn’t all it’s made up to be, especially when there are sharp objects ready to poke you, bolders to kill you and other clones of your kind that want to hang out with you. Meanwhile, sinister-looking rabbits look on beyond the bayou as you try not to commit suicide navigating gears of death that appear along the way. This is the main premise of BADLAND, a game available for free (with ads) that I played on my Android tablet.

The goal of BADLAND is to navigate your fuzzy buddy through the dark obstacle course that is his life. Along the way, he eats things that make him expand to twice his size, or reduce him down to a speck of dust. These abilities can aid him through certain sections along the course, but can also be a detriment, as in the case when he gets fat, he gets heavy an slows down. The side-scrolling belt-line landscape moves forward, and stops for no one, so if your fella doesn’t catch up, he dies. He also picks up other dudes of his kind along the way, which, if you manage to save any by the end of the course, you gain achievements. The courses are very challenging; one can expect to kill off their fuzzy buddy several times in a course, especially in the higher levels. The more you advance, the more violent the courses become.

The mechanics of this game are basically taking your finger and tapping the tablet screen in order to get your fuzzy bud to move and fly. This was a bit awkward for me, since I am a southpaw, and the instructions were telling me to tap the right side of the screen. I got used to things, and the game adapted well to me tapping the left of the screen, which was great. So, lefties: you’ll do fine with this game.

The look of the game reminds me of a very sinister Alice in Wonderland; fantastic and strange. The scenes are made even richer with an interesting soundtrack of birds, insects and frogs chirping.

BADLAND is a different kind of game – addictive for sure. At the same time, my sensitive side kept surfacing. Here was this cute fuzzy creature who was thrown into all kinds of shit, in very unforgiving territory, only to get murdered violently…seemingly on a loop. I have to admit, my moral compass spun around a couple of times thinking that I was basically this fuzzy dude’s savior, until I reminded myself: “Geez, it’s only a game, Sarca…” and that likely these feelings surfaced because the fuzzy dude is a cutie-pie. If it looked like the creature from Silent Hill, I might have had a different perspective!

At any rate, you can’t do much better than free*, and BADLAND gives you some decent challenges. Check it out!


*Free with ads. You can buy the no-ad version in game (which I didn’t bother with)

Developer: Frogmind
Released: 2013

[Review] Them Tiki Physics Puzzle Games: Somebody Stop Meeeee (IOS / Android)

Free Games on iOS and Android!

Lately, I’ve been living like it’s 2010, and playing games on my iPod Touch. That’s right, I’m reverting back to when my iTouch was my only link to mobile gaming…back before “Android phones and tablets” ever passed my lips.  As it is, I use my iPod as my primary music player. Going way back, I played some pretty decent games on that device, and most were free. I attribute it to my getting started into hidden object games as well as kicking my love for casual games into high gear.

My last gaming review, Amazing Adventures, reminded me of a free game I used to play on my iPod Touch called Tiki Totems. In Tiki Totems, you are given the task of protecting a little yellow statue. The puzzle gives it to you perched precariously on top of a pile of blocks, which you must remove strategically so that the fragile tiki lands gently on the ground. Think Jenga in 2D here. If that Totem drops to the ground, it breaks…and the Tiki gods don’t think that’s cool. They will erupt a volcano situated in the background, and you lose. Tiki Totems is not overly sophisticated but still stands today; some nice bright graphics and a cool jungle beat can be heard in the background as you solve puzzle after puzzle. This game is considered a physics puzzle game and has been my king of time suckage lately. Unfortunately for some of you, this FREE game is only available on iOS… so yay to you iPhone users!

…But don’t worry Android users, it doesn’t mean you are left out.

As it normally goes for me now, I often see if there is some equivalent game originally played on iOS now available on the Android. It’s natural…I have an Android phone, and don’t always carry my iPod around…Like I mentioned, Tiki Totems is not available on Android, but lucky for everyone, the creator of Tiki Totems took it one step further in developing its sister game, Tiki Lavalanche, and it’s a cool spin on the original Tiki Totem idea. And equally addictive.

In Tiki Lavalanche, you are now protecting a group of gold blocks, precariously perched on piles of temporary blocks hanging over a lava lake. You are to remove those blocks strategically so that each gold block falls onto one of the waiting permanent platforms just above the water line. You lose up to three of those blocks into the hot drink, and you awake the volcano god, who will unleash an erupting volcano on your ass. What makes this game even more fun and challenging is that some of the blocks have several behaviours – some bounce the objects, some are actually made of glass that break, tumbling down the whole works. There are even bombs you explode. Like Tiki Totems, the graphics in Tiki Lavalanche are brightly coloured and a similar exotic jungle drum soundtrack plays while you solve your latest puzzle.

Tiki Lavalanche is free to play – with ads. You can pay to play without them if you so desire; Google Play was going to charge me under $3. And best part: this game is also available for iOS users so everyone can enjoy this fun casual and seriously addictive game. I have become so obsessed with Tiki Lavalanche, that I have made sure to complete each puzzle without losing any blocks. It hasn’t been easy, but that is where my competative gaming nature comes to the surface.

See for yourself…try out a Tiki puzzle game today and get nothing else done!

Tiki Totems and Tiki Lavalanche
NoodleCake Games/ Spokko


[Review] Type:Rider (Android)

A while back, I talked about how I used to love designing my own fake album covers. That was just the tip of the iceburg. Truth is I used to be a graphic design junkie. I had my own website on Geocities (ftw!) and designed every graphic on there. I used to have a cheap-o design program called Paintshop Pro (which is like Photoshop’s step-cousin, six times removed) and used it to design many things, including my wedding invitations (yep, I saved a ton of money on those). I did eventually learn how to use the legit Photoshop all by myself. At any rate, in all the years I have done any graphic design, I never once thought, “Hmmm, I wonder where Times New Roman and Verdana come from…” No, to me, fonts were always like electricity and water – just there. The font is there to aid in creating and enhancing, but never needing an explanation.

So, I wasn’t expecting a history lesson on typography when I started playing Type:Rider, a game I played on my Android tablet. To that end, I’m not sure I took anything away from the lesson, but damn, it was a fun, challenging and a beautiful visual journey through a font’s history.

In Type:Rider you control two little black ink dots through obstacle courses fashioned around a particular era in typographical history. You are given one of three methods to move the ink dots around – physically moving your tablet left or right to roll the ink dots through the course, using actual on-screen key pads, or just using your thumbs to direct and jump. I used my thumbs while playing this game. Your goal is to collect each letter of the alphabet that is strategically placed throughout each chapter. The courses become challenging with each passing level, but the game itself is very forgiving. There are no time constraints, nor punishment for multiple “deaths”.

Epochs in typesetting history are covered in Type:Rider: Gutenburg, Claude Garamond, Dada and Futura to name a few. Each chapter is a feast for the eyes, if you can handle navigating through the game and not drop the ink dots while admiring some absolutely gorgeous scenery. Combine it with a cool score and you have a really interesting game.

I was mindful while playing this game not to press my tablet’s screen too hard with my thumbs, but it was sort of hard not to, as I found the controls were a bit to get used to. Type:Rider is available on multiple platforms, including iOS, Mac and PC, I wonder if the controls are better on those ports.

Overall, I would recommend Type:Rider, a nice casual game.


Developer: Bulkypix
Released: 2013

[Review] Davey’s Mystery (Android)

Imagine one day you are living your ordinary life, and out of the blue you get a letter that says a man died, and he’s leaving his entire estate to you*. It’s bizarre because you don’t know who this guy is. The estate includes a nice home with a pool, a cable gondola that leads up to another secluded hideaway, and a lake view of a most beautiful sunset. You are then left to explore the grounds to find out who this guy is, and what your connection to him might be. Davey is his name, and it turns out he has had many worldly adventures. Room by room, shed to hideaway cabin, you explore and find pieces of a puzzle you need to solve, which, when you reach the conclusion, Davey’s Mystery is revealed.

When I initially saw Davey’s Mystery offered for free on the Amazon App Store this past weekend, I looked at the screenshots to see if it would be something I’d be interested in. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly impressed at first. It looked like your typical adventure game with the same puzzles. I downloaded the game because it was free. To my surprise, when I started playing it, I couldn’t help but finish the game in one evening – it was that interesting.

Davey’s Mystery is short, and does follow the formula of point and click adventure games. But, it was the complexity of puzzles that were riveting. This adventure finds you briefly poking around rooms to find an object to use in other rooms. Written prompts give some hints as to what there is to do or whether a route or door is accessible. There is no traditional hint button provided, however the developer of the game has put up a hint page for Davey’s Mystery that players can find online to help them out. Overall, the graphics and music were decent. It ran cleanly on my Android tablet, navigation was simple and the frustration factor was next to nil. Gamers could even exit out of the game and guarantee to start back up where they left off without a problem.

It was at the end of this adventure game that I got the biggest surprise of all – Davey’s Mystery was created, designed and programmed by one guy – Nathan Vey. I am not familiar with him at all, but I was impressed with the work he put into this game. I have played a lot of point and click adventures…games where a whole team of people worked on one game only to release an inferior product – crappy graphics, terrible music, and don’t get me started on the spelling mistakes! Davey’s Mystery is not that at all. Vey really took the care necessary to release a solid, well-produced game.

I cannot say for sure if Davey’s Mystery will ever be free again in the Amazon App Store, but full price, it’s $0.99, which is a steal for a good point and click adventure on Android and iOS**.


*Yeah, yeah, I can hear the collective “woohoo”s…

** Also available in the Apple App store and Google Play

Davey’s Mystery
Developer: Echo Lake Interactive (Nathan Vey)
Released: 2013

[Review] Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold (PC)

When I am in a gaming slump, it’s always good to get back to square and re-visit some “old haunts”. For me, that includes games I have already played, but deemed excellent. Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold fits into that pantheon of great hidden object games. Well made, fun to play and never boring.

I first played Visions of Gold on my 3rd generation iPod Touch, and it was one of the first games from the hidden object genre that I had ever played. When I found the Treasure Seekers trilogy on PC for sale during a boxing day sale at Staples, I had to buy it. Re-playing this game brought back memories for me, and my feelings about it still hold true. If you are after a true and excellent hidden object experience, you cannot go wrong with Visions of Gold.

The Good:


The Bad: Well, if there is anything bad about this game it’s…well…the story. There I said it. The story is cheese and “out there” but it’s all for fun, so get over yourself, Sarca!!

TreasureSeekers Nelly cmg

Nelly and Tom are kids and adventure seekers whose long-dead grandma was a pirate. Grandma had a trove of gold hidden away on some distant island. Armed only with their wits, the two embark on an adventure which includes riding off on a raft downstream, going exploring underwater and meeting up with weird characters…all with their parents’ permission, right? RIGHT?? …Okay, best not to ask…

TreasureSeekers Tom cmg

Yes, the story is far-fetched…I mean, who would believe this woman was a pirate*?


Regardless, what makes this game great are the graphics, complexity of hidden object puzzles and variety of scenes.  The hidden object puzzles are plentiful and interesting – you click on an object and are asked to locate items for that object. Tiny grey outlines of the items are given, and once located are simply dragged and dropped onto the object. There is a hint button, and a skip button is there if you want to blaze a trail through the game.

TreasureSeekers hog cmg

The one thing I like about Visions of Gold is just how placid a game it is. There are no timers, no punishments for overclicking or choosing an incorrect object…When I mentioned this to the hubs, he said, “What’s the point?” The point is to have a game that allows you good time without any stress. Sometimes, that’s what the casual gamer is after. This one really is just a relaxing game to play. Visions of Gold truly is a casual gamer’s dream.


*Okay, maybe she downloads music illegally or something.

Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold
Developer: G5 / Big Fish Games
Released: 2010

[Review] 2048 (Android): Somebody Stop Meee

Has anyone NOT heard of the crazily addictive FREE game simply called 2048?

(Photo: Google Play)

I first learned of its phenomenon when my in-laws came to visit this past May. My casual-gamer Mom-in-law loves to play Facebook social games, but one night after dinner, I noticed that instead of being glued to her laptop, she was busily playing some sort of numbers game on her phone. Curious, I asked her what she was playing, and all she said was, “2048.” My father-in-law was also found to be playing that game. The two were engrossed in it all evening.

Not long after their visit, I was at work and found a colleague playing 2048 on her lunch break. Another colleague was also playing this game on her phone. What is with this game?!?

This casual game is FREE to play, and is basically ported to every mobile device, on every platform, on every OS, including iOS, Blackberry and Android. Flash versions also exist online.


The basic premise is you are given a simple blank 4×4 grid. Two tiles with a ‘2’ appear. You slide the tiles around the grid to pair them to create a 4 tile. With each movement of a tile, another tile with a 2 or 4 pops up on the grid which you will need to find pairs for. Two tiles of 4 become an 8 tile, two 8 tiles become a 16 tile, two 16 tiles become one 32 tile, and so on until you have paired up to the elusive 2048 tile. And, 2048 is quite difficult to achieve, but not impossible if you’re patient and figure out a strategy (and I am sure there is one). I never hit 2048, but can figure with practice and time on my hands I would get there. One final instruction: don’t allow the entire grid fill up with tiles  – that will signal GAME OVER.

When I finally decided to download and try 2048 one evening on my Android tablet, the first thing I noticed was there are a lot of 2048 clones out there, and all appear to be similar. I don’t recommend playing this game on Android tablets, as I had to turn the tablet vertically to play, which I found a bit awkward. But, this is great on a smart phone, and probably what it was meant for.

(Photo: Cheezburger)

2048 is so simple, yet addictive and time-wasting. An hour went by easily while playing it which I found extremely dangerous! I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. Just make sure you start playing when you have time on your hands, otherwise your spouse/ kid/ boss might start complaining you are negligent!

Released: 2014


[Review] The Silent Age Episode One (Android)

Alert!! Free game for Android / iOS and it’s awesome!

Joe is a janitor working in a big high-rise who, one dark and stormy day is roaming around the basement of the building and comes upon a trail of blood. He follows it to a back room where he finds an old man there bleeding to death. The man says he is from the future and gives him a device that can move him back and forth in time. Joe thinks the guy is full of it, but tries to help the old man. As Joe leaves the back room to seek help, a security guard stops him and arrests him under suspicion of murder.

At the police station, Joe uses the device and flips into the future where he notices that things are surprisingly silent…and dead. Urban decay has taken over every room of the police station. Joe’s goal now is to leave and find the old man to figure out what this device is and what has happened in the future to cause everything to die. Joe uses the time traveling device to flip back and forth to move about the building undetected or to possibly provide a better chance of accessing locked or blocked doors. This is the first episode of the Silent Age, a game by developers House On Fire, currently FREE to play on Android, and iOS.


People, if you are into point-and-click adventure games, you will want to try the Silent Age out! It is one of the best free adventure games I have played on my tablet so far, and as you know, I have played at least three that I gave a failing “this game blows” tag.

The good: The animation is cool and stable. It played nicely on my Android tablet, and never once did I have to repeatedly poke-poke at the screen to get the character to move.

The bad: It is only one episode of 5 chapters, so, it’s relatively short. The developers are working on episode 2, and charging $3.99 in pre-order. I don’t think that’s bad, except it left me wanting more…and now I must wait!


This game was great fun. The music set the tone for the game – mysterious and spooky – and the game insists you play with your headphones on. As mentioned, the Silent Age did not screw up my tablet at all, and saved my progress automatically without my intervention. The animation is interesting and fresh. About the only negative thing I can really say about that is that Joe the janitor walks around like his bowl of Colon Blow finally caught up to him.

I am really looking forward to the second episode of the Silent Age to see what happens in the story. I highly recommend it (and it’s FREE!!)


The Silent Age Episode One
Developer: House On Fire
Released: 2013

[Review] Diner Dash (iOS/ Android/ DS) – Fun Gaming on the Dash


I bet you read the title of this post and thought, “Well, duh…It’s like writing about Angry Birds, right? We’ve ALL played these games, what’s the point in wasting a blog post?” Well, why not? And why don’t we ask why this game has mass appeal?

I have now played Diner Dash on three systems. My first taste of this game was when I first got my third generation iPod Touch in 2010. I had been searching for something else to play on it that was easy and fun. Diner Dash was free, so I downloaded it from the Apple app store. Then, having an Android tablet, I always wonder how a game I’m used to playing on a tiny screen would translate to a tablet. Recently, I found Diner Dash: Sizzle and Serve for the Nintendo DS as I was also curious to see what the differences were.

The first time I played Diner Dash, a time management game, I instantly got sucked into restauranteuse / waitress Flo’s world; a young woman who was forced into the corporate office cubicle, and found her method of escape when a dilapidated restaurant came up for sale. The game sets you up with Flo in her little diner, waiting two sets of tables. She seats, takes the orders, and buses tables, all in quick succession, so that she will keep her customers happy, and will get paid a tip that goes into a jar used towards making improvements to her restaurant. With more money, and bigger customer base, she can renovate the restaurant, add more tables (and therefore accommodate more customers), and eventually get a coffee machine that she can use to appease cranky waiting customers. Eventually, she is able to open franchises and different types of restaurants.

The gameplay is easy enough, and consists of dragging and dropping customers to their tables, and tapping on screen to get Flo to move where she needs to go. Where the challenge comes in is how fast you can move Flo, as well as having the ability to keep her customers happy, efficiently. The customers vary and get more complex as you level up – babies, courting couples, tables of 6 or more…a harsh restaurant critic…they all present their own challenges for Flo, but if done right, you can help Flo achieve a lucrative business.

Having played the iOS, Android and Nintendo DS versions of Diner Dash, I can say there are subtle differences between each. To start, I was an expert at the iOS version and working with its tiny screen. So when I played the game on my Android tablet, I couldn’t believe how much easier I found the controls and that even though magnification isn’t completely necessary with this game, I found I enjoyed the lack of eye strain playing on my tablet. I think the worst experience of Diner Dash had to have been the Nintendo DS version (sorry, Nintendo…). In the iOS and Android versions, you can see the line-up of people ready to be seated to the left, and the dining room to the right. On the DS, we have to scroll left or right to see either the line-up of people or the dining room – you can’t see both at once. That extra scrolling may not be a big deal for some, but I found that lack of visualization made me forget those customers waiting for a table. As well, the extra clicking back and forth took my time away from serving customers within the game and therefore a potential loss of income in tips. I am not sure why Nintendo configured the game like that, but they could have handled that better.

iOS and Android play area of Diner Dash – notice the line up at left.


Nintendo DS’s play area of Diner Dash. Note no line up. You have to toggle to access left part of screen via red triangle at bottom left.

So, why do people like Diner Dash?  Well, it’s on Windows and Mac, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, as well as the other three I’ve played this game on, so it’s very accessible. It’s cheap, easy to play and definitely a time-waster. What could be better?

Diner Dash
Publisher: Play First
Released: 2010