Best new mobile games on iOS and Android – August 2020 round-up
GameCentral’s monthly review of the best mobile titles takes in Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales and Samorost’s new game Creaks.
Blinding sunlight and stifling heat may not be all that conducive to hunching over a small, increasingly greasy touchscreen, but fortunately the past few weeks’ release schedule seems not to care. This month’s reasons to dry off sweaty thumbs include the superb and ultra-long lasting Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, Amanita Design’s characteristically charming Creaks, and the absurdist thrills of LFDR.
iOS & Android, £5.99 (Focus Home Interactive)
After launching quietly onto consoles in 2017, MudRunner’s unusual blend of simulated heavy goods vehicles and off-road motoring cuts an unlikely figure on mobile. In it you’ll need to drive, hitch up loads, deliver them, and navigate maps fraught with terrain that’s distinctly unsuitable for articulated lorries.
What you’ll discover is a game almost sadistically opposed to arcade-style instant gratification, regularly bogging you down in soft mud, in surroundings that are realistically plastered in mid-brown, for minutes at a time. A bit like Death Stranding, the sense of relief when you complete one of its astonishingly laborious and painstaking missions is palpable.
There is a satisfaction to completing stages with all three bonus goals intact, but the game’s glacial pace and realistic but intrinsically clunky onscreen controls, that offer no option to connect a controller, will not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
iOS, £9.99 (CD Projekt)
Players of The Witcher fall into two camps: those who see the card game Gwent as a deep and irresistible distraction included free with the main game, and those who ignore it entirely. Even if you’re in the latter group, this mix of deck building and role-playing may still be a more alluring mix than you might expect.
Telling the story of Meve, queen of Lyria, and replete with familiar characters from the games and books, Thronebreaker’s games of Gwent mix standard one-on-one matches with a plethora of puzzle levels, each with its own set of rules and constraints.
The result is a rich and varied tactical tour de force, comprising dozens of hours of entertainment backed up by a story that’s as twisted and interesting as Witcher fans have come to expect.
Krystopia: Nova’s Journey
iOS & Android, £4.99 (Antler Interactive)
Sequel to Krystopia: Nova’s Adventure, this is another point ‘n’ click puzzle game built around a series of drag and drop challenges gaining you access to new rooms and more puzzles.
While it has neither the gentle humour of Broken Sword, nor the surrealist joie de vivre of Escape From Monkey Island, it has its own atmosphere and sense of place – in this case deep space.
Unfortunately ,it suffers from the same problem as the rest of its genre, namely relying on random-seeming and counter-intuitive combinations of equipment to overcome many of its problems. YouTube will get you unstuck but cheating your way through feels as hollow as it always does.
iOS & Android, £Free (Lionheart Applications)
With a heavy rock soundtrack and powerfully weird theme, characters, and Google Play Store description, LFDR stands for live, fly, die, repeat; four things you’ll be doing a lot of in this wilfully peculiar roguelike side-scrolling shooter.
You ride a flying motorbike that auto-fires lasers from its handlebars and uses the same tap to fly upwards/release to descend control scheme as Flappy Bird and dusty old classic, SF Cave.
It has an interesting risk and reward structure where you have to shoot enemies, then fly through the souls they drop, whilst avoiding further incoming fire. You also get to choose your path every so often, branching to take on dangerous bosses that drop more resources, or opting for easier but less rewarding routes. If utterly deranged is your thing, this is worth a download.
Felix The Reaper
iOS, £3.99 (Daedalic Entertainment)
Already out on PC, Mac, and consoles, the touchscreen iteration of Felix The Reaper works just as well as its hard key-controlled forebears. In it you play Felix, a romantically inclined grim reaper whose destiny plays out in a series of grid-based puzzles.
As well as rotating the board to get a better angle, you can also swivel the sun in 90-degree increments, the twist being that Felix can only survive in shadow. With those simple mechanics you’ll need to move obstacles, create new areas of shadow, and complete each level’s objectives.
Felix moves beautifully, and the game’s narrated by the eternally sonorous Patrick Stewart, but it suffers from a patchy difficulty level, supplying five-ish hours of mildly frustrating and often repetitive puzzling.
iOS, Apple Arcade (Amanita Design)
From the much-admired studio behind Samorost, Machinarium, and Chuchel, amongst others, comes Creaks, an atmospheric puzzle game of subterranean exploration.
Finding a hole in the wall of your hero’s bedroom, you’re soon heading down into the labyrinthine and curiously animate depths of a world filled with mazes of interconnected ladders and aggressive automata.
Amanita’s distinctive art style and wonderfully expressive characters, whose movements and expressions convey chapters’ worth of emotion, are as effective as ever, even if the ladder mazes and robot baiting eventually get to feel a bit samey.
iOS & Android, £1.99 (Playdigious)
Another port of a PC game, this time with a hand-drawn and animated feel, and a set of gentle, lightly puzzle-flavoured interactions, none of which has any sort of difficulty level to detain you.
Its story is equally languid, with mysterious picture-only interludes and no obvious plot exposition to link together its almost-puzzles.
Clocking in at under an hour, with no challenge and a story that is at best highly confusing, Arrog is beautiful but strangely empty.