October's iOS games
Whether you’re looking for an in-depth game to cuddle up with on the couch, or a breezy one to play in tiny bursts throughout your day, October brought us a fine batch of new iPhone and iPad games worth checking out. If you haven’t been keeping tabs on all of the big releases, then we have you covered with our latest look at the month’s most enticing debuts.
Live trivia game HQ has been picking up a lot of buzz, letting you vie for some real cash against thousands of other players, but that’s not all we’ve enjoyed of late: Into the Dead 2, The Talos Principle, and Stranger Things: The Game are just a few of October’s biggest iOS releases. Flip through the slides ahead for more, and be sure to check out September’s list for even more options.
Fancy yourself a master of unimportant details? Are you a pub trivia connoisseur? And do the words “cash prizes” send your pulse racing? If any of those things are true, then you might be thrilled to hear about HQ. Hailing from a couple of the makers of shuttered social video service Vine, HQ is a live trivia app that offers up a daily competition you’ll play on your phone.
Once or more per day (opt into notifications!), HQ hosts a 15-minute game show that’s free to enter and spans 12 increasingly difficult multiple-choice questions. They’re mostly pop-culture related queries, but they become increasingly obscure as they pile up. And whoever’s left standing at the end splits the cash prize of potentially hundreds of dollars. Appointment gaming? Yes, please.
Into the Dead (Free)
Quick! Need a free, fun, seasonally-appropriate game to play before the Halloween season ends and we’re all thinking about Thanksgiving instead? You’re in luck: PikPok just released Into the Dead 2, the sequel to one of the best endless runners ever seen on the App Store. As before, it puts you in the shoes of human trying to escape a grisly demise amidst the zombie uprising.
You’ll still move from side to side to dodge undead attackers, occasionally use firearms to help clear your path, and rely on some canine help along the way, but Into the Dead 2 shifts its focus from the original game’s endless survival mode towards a mission-based story mode. It’s still plenty fun, at least on the outset, plus the new approach seems to bring in more variety as well.
The Talos Principle ($5)
The Witness hit the App Store in September, and now The Talos Principle brings another one of the most beloved Mac and PC puzzle games from the past couple years to your iPhone and iPad. The most obvious comparison is probably Valve’s quintessential Portal, as you’ll solve a series of environmental puzzles in a first-person perspective.
However, The Talos Principle has its own feel and flow, as well as a very different storyline. As a robot, you’re thrown into these challenges by your creator, and as you solve them, you’ll dig into a narrative about what it means to be alive, and what your purpose is. Our sister site PCWorld loved the PC edition back in 2014, and the core experience still holds up on iOS.
Stranger Things: The Game (Free)
Stranger Things is back on Netflix with a second season, but that’s not the only thing that viewers should be excited about this month: there’s also a mobile game, and unlike the vast majority of licensed games, it’s actually good. Even better yet, it’s completely free, lacking any kind of obnoxious ads or in-app purchases. Why? We don’t know. Don’t question it.
Stranger Things: The Game looks like a lost 8-bit relic from the original Nintendo days, with an almost Legend of Zelda-esque action-role-playing adventure. As police chief Jim Hopper and other playable characters, you’ll search the town of Hawkins for the kids, dealing with threats and puzzles along the way. It’s a bit repetitive, but it’s absolutely worth a shot for fans.
Subsurface Circular ($5)
Following its recent Mac release, Subsurface Circular is now also available on iPad—but not iPhone—bringing the acclaimed, single-sitting narrative game to tablets. What is Subsurface Circular? Well, it’s a robot conversation game, which might sound awfully dull. It’s not. Sharp writing makes this conversational adventure pop from the very start.
As a robot detective, you chat with other self-aware ‘bots to piece together the cause of a series of recent robot disappearances, as well as solve some puzzles along the way. While largely focused on text, the game has a really sharp aesthetic ranging from robot designs to the audio, although it ran a bit slow and choppy on my original iPad Air. Hopefully it runs smoother on newer tablets.
Darts of Fury (Free)
Even with a few other sharp freebie games in this month’s roundup, we can’t help but show a little love for Darts of Fury. Despite the aggressive title, it’s really just a streamlined, head-to-head take on the familiar game, challenging you to toss darts onto the board and be the first player to perfectly hit your tally of 101 points.
There’s nothing too special about the mechanics of the game; your throws are based on your swipes, including speed, direction, and release point, and it all feels pretty responsive. Where Darts of Fury stands out is with its glossy production values and the idea of a league-based structure, wherein you’ll progress over time and battle like-skilled players.
Campfire Cooking ($4)
Much like the recent public pool-navigating game Swim Out, Campfire Cooking takes a relatively mundane concept and makes a really pleasing and inventive puzzler out of it. In this case, toasting a perfect marshmallow over a campfire is a legitimate real-life challenge, but I’m still surprised at how well that translates into a structured puzzle experience.
Here, you’ll move the stick-wielded marshmallow across a grid of squares—some of which are on fire—and try to brown it gently on both sides. To do so, you’ll need to navigate and flip the marshmallow in the right order, which starts off simply enough, but then the game adds multiple ‘mallows, magnets, fondue pots, and other tricks. It’s really delightful stuff.
Batman: The Enemy Within (Free)
We dug Batman: The Telltale Series when it first hit iPhone and iPad last year, and now Telltale Games is back with another season of the Caped Crusader’s crime-fighting antics. Batman: The Enemy Within arrives free with the complete first episode included, and you can but the rest of the season (four more episodes) for $15, or snag individual episodes for $5 a pop as they come.
As before, this streamlined adventure finds you navigating conversations as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, as well as tapping and swiping to take out foes, dodge attacks, solve crimes, and figure out puzzles. And as you make decisions along the way, while facing foes like The Riddler and The Joker, the storyline will shift accordingly. You can carry over your data/decisions from the first season, or simply start fresh. We recommend starting with the first season, of course.
Kunabi Brother has established itself as a studio that makes inventive puzzle games with flexible solutions, as first evidenced by the brilliant Blek and now affirmed with the release of Frost. At first, I wasn’t sure that there was really anything to it: you’ll have one or more streams of spirits on screen, and you’ll need to draw a path to get them to their home planet. Easy peasy.
Of course, like any good puzzler, it starts to ramp up the challenge by throwing in curveballs and playing with the established rules—and then it takes things much, much further. I’ve only played a little bit so far and only seen the beginning of those shifts, but it looks like there’s plenty worth seeing on the back end of it. Besides, they made Blek.
Rekt! is all about goofy, acrobatic driving, letting you whip around a cartoonish car in a neon arena as if you were a pro skater in a vast skate park full of ramps and loops. You’re let loose in the arena with a limited amount of time on the clock, and you’ll have to grab big air, flip and spin, and try to notch the highest score possible while using all of your nearby terrain.
The controls take some getting used to: you’ll probably land on your hood or side a lot at first, but thankfully there’s no huge downside. But once you get familiar with the physics and rotations, Rekt! proves to be pretty appealing for quick bursts of fun. More arenas, cars, and objectives are coming, too.