Critics and gamers all over the Internet have fallen in love with Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, and it seems in some cases that it’s even better on the iPhone. The game makes use of the device’s smaller size for more natural controls, and its Retina display shows off its beautiful graphical style. Sword & Sworcery kicks off the week’s best games, but it’s certainly not the only great title in the mix. Check out our picks and leave a few of your own in the comments below.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP Micro (iPhone) $2.99
A beautiful, understated 8-bit art style and involved audio design are the first things you’ll notice about Sword & Sworcery, but it’s the sense of adventure and exploration that will keep you returning to see how the game plays out. Superbrothers send you on a journey through a land of myth and beauty, where you’ll need to take your time and really look around and consider the world about you. There are puzzles to solve and occasionally monsters to kill, which adds to the adventure aspect, but really, Sword & Sworcery is about moving through different areas and enjoying being a part of a weird, unique world. The game also has a goofy, modern casual writing style that’s at odds with its fantasy ideals and actually makes it pretty funny.
Elemental Rage (iPhone) $4.99
I’m a sucker for long, engaging puzzle platformers, and that’s what Elemental Rage is. It’s a side-scrolling open puzzler in the classic style of games like Metroid (which number among my favorites of all time), in which you explore a massive space -- in this case, a big castle -- and try to work out how to get through it. All the while, you’re collecting new items, weapons and abilities, and each new ability allows you to reach new areas that you couldn’t access before. It creates a mindset of nearly endless exploration and rewarding gameplay, and it goes really well with Elemental Rage’s story of a world in peril and a boy chosen to help save it. The game also has a great, cartoonish graphical style and a powerful soundtrack that help immerse players in the action.
Percepto (iPhone, iPad) $2.99
Speed, precision and 3D thinking are necessary to best the puzzles of Percepto, a game in which you’ll freely switch between a 2D look at each stage, and a three-dimensional one you can rotate. Your job in each level is to swipe your character toward an exit door. Each stage starts in 2D, where you’ll see obstacles in your way or a lengthy trip to the door. Tap the screen and suddenly the level goes 3D, with objects behind or in front of one another. By rotating the level, you can reconfigure how objects line up in the 2D world, thereby clearing your path or getting through the level more quickly and easily -- and thereby finishing with a better score. Percepto is trippy and challenging, which are great qualities for a puzzle game. It’ll keep you busy for a while.
Air Penguin (iPhone, iPad) $0.99
Addictive and featuring solid tilt controls, Air Penguin is another casual flightless bird arcade game that’s done well for itself in the App Store. Controlling the penguin, you bounce from ice floe to ice floe, tilting your iOS device to determine where you land. Hit a floe twice and you’ll fall into the water below. Air Penguin does a good job of sprinkling in some variety in its level design and being challenging without being frustrating as you try to navigate up the screen through each stage. You’ll also have to dodge objects on larger hunks of ice and carefully land on the backs of turtles to ride them across open stretches of water.
One Single Life (iPhone, iPad) Free
Something about One Single Life resonates with me. Few games, if any, create the sort of tension and anxiety of impending failure that One Single Life does, and because of that, it does something that almost no other game can do -- it tests you to really, truly prepare yourself, even if all you’re doing is timing when you touch the screen. The game lives up to its name: you’re tasked with jumping from one rooftop to another by tapping the screen at the right time in order to propel yourself through space. You can practice all you want, but if you mess up during the actual jump, that’s it; One Single Life locks you out, and the level you reached is the level you accomplished. No extra lives and no reset (more or less -- delete and re-download the app and you get another chance, but that’s beside the point). Taking your time, gathering your mental fortitude and performing under pressure are all key, and One Single Life is a cool experience because of it.