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I wasn’t a big fan of mobile games when I first learned about them, mostly because the majority were poorly designed, required me to wait hours to progress and threw in advertisements at every fathomable opportunity. That was years ago, and we’ve come a long way. Now iOS users can play everything from arcade classics to major titles like Telltale’s Game of Thrones. I’ve recently been exploring the app store and, over the past few months, have made some awesome discoveries. Take a break from that FFX remaster or Doom to play one of these laid back games this weekend.
Fans of Life is Strange will no doubt love the romance and mystery behind LongStory. There are a total of six episodes (five currently available), and the first is 100 percent free to play. No ads, no wait periods. Just a beautifully designed, engaging episodic story about a high school girl who returns to her old school after a year in France. The game’s progressiveness is also highly refreshing, with players being able to pick one of two characters and specify their preferred gender pronoun (he, she or they). I usually don’t spend money on apps, but since you can score each episode for just $1.99, I’m eagerly anticipating starting the next chapter of this story.
A girl is the sole survivor of a spacecraft lost somewhere in the universe.
You’re her only hope. I got Lifeline when the full game was offered for free in the Apple Store and was immediately swept away by its palpable tension and unique interface. You play as a radio respondent answering the distress call of Taylor, a teenage student who was accompanying a space mission that ended in a fatal crash. As the lone survivor, Taylor needs your help to contact others and make it back home to Earth. The fun thing about this game is that it doesn’t just respond instantly. Your mini-conversations with Taylor will be interspersed by periods of waiting until your phone lights up with a text-like notification of her response.
The back-and-forth really made this game feel personal, and I was genuinely scared for her life at times. There are also two follow ups that keep the story going called Lifeline 2 and Lifeline: Silent Night. All three can be purchased in the Lifeline Bundle by 3 Minute Games, LLC for only $3.99. If you want a game that emotionally draws you in and keeps you thinking throughout the day, Lifeline is a great choice.
This game is hypnotic. One of the great things about a lot of mobile games is that they’re perfect to play when you’re really not in the mood to play anything. This geometric, futuristic game sends you hurtling through mesmerizing, colorful portals and mimicking the shapes that appear on screen. It’s a lot more challenging than I anticipated, but not so hard that I wanted to delete the app after losing a few times.
This would be an awesome game to play in the back seat on road trips or lounging in bed at night, and it’s made even sweeter by the fact it’s free.
Another interactive fiction game, 80 Days will take you back to 1872 to experience the wonders and challenges of circumnavigating the globe in less than 3 months. You’ll get to map your own route and choose how you travel. You can race other players and take in 150 different cities along the way. The in-game clock is always running against you and you’re really brought into every aspect of the story, responsible for managing not just your trip’s course but also your finances and character’s health. Some will find themselves breezing through their travels, while others will be left starving and begging on the street.
Survival meets storytelling in this beautifully illustrated adventure, and your ticket around the world costs just $4.99.
If you ever had one of those toys that required you to tilt the surface at different angles to move a metal ball into a hole, then you understand the mechanics of Spiral Splatter by Thumbspire Inc. This perfect time-killer is all about boosting your hand-eye-coordination in a nonstop arcade puzzle. The race against the clock to beat your own high score makes it competitive enough to be fun, and the soothing color scheme and simple design enable it to be played for extended periods without too much eyestrain.
Everyone can use some good games that pass the time without feeling like they’re only meant to serve one purpose, and Spiral Splatter fits the bill to a T. Get it on the App Store free of charge.