What happens after a drunken one night stand? Find out in the awkward short story game One Night Stand.
You wake up, head throbbing, in a strange flat next to an unknown naked woman. What do you do? What do you say? One Stand Stand is a point & click story game that starts with that premise. You can try to get to know the woman better or sneak out or take a look around. Each game lasts around 30 minutes and your decisions can lead to 12 different endings. However it feels weird to replay the game as you already know so much about this woman from previous run-throughs – it seems unfair (just knowing her name is a spoiler). Still this short and tightly focussed game delivers its story well and never gives the impression of cheating or forcefully directing the player (probably because it is short and focussed). One of the more successful story games I’ve played and well worth a look if you enjoy this genre.
One Night Stand is US$2.99 on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux.
Just one more game, just one more. Wait, where did that hour go? Morphblade is an addictive well-made casual strategy game, where the actions you can perform depend directly on where you are located.
Sometimes simple game mechanics rules can build to a deep tactical gameplay. Morphblade is played on an expanding hex grid where the player is battling waves of various types of bugs. The problem is that the actions that the player can perform are completely defined by the type of hex on which they are located. On a Hammer hex bugs can be smashed to pieces, on a Health hex damage can be repaired, Acid hexes strip armour from bugs, and so on. Each type of hex also has different rules for how it can be upgraded. On a small playing area where you are forced to move each turn, this game quickly requires planning several moves ahead in order to progress. Bad luck is kept in check by the fixed order that enemies appear, but memorising moves won’t work as the initial location of the enemies and the hexes added to the grid are random. Morphblade is very addictive. Games last 5-10 minutes of mostly thinking and the player always knows what they did wrong, so the temptation is always to try again. Morphblade is a great simple tactical game.
Unleash your inner misanthrope along with a deadly disease! In Plague Inc: Evolved the player is a disease intent on the eradication of humanity. Very grim, but strangely addictive and well-made.
In Plague Inc the player is one of various diseases, initially mostly harmless, but with grand plans to destroy humanity. That is the game’s goal: kill all humans. Leaving a single person alive is considered mission failure. Progress towards success is achieved by gathering “DNA points” (partially by clicking bubbles as they appear on the map), and then spending them on various mutations – giving your disease improved infectiousness, seriousness, lethality or other effects. That is it. Simple, but effective and well-made. The graphics are good and there is lots of easy to find information on what is happening.
Each game of Plague Inc becomes a battle between infecting as many people as fast as possible, without killing them too quickly, and finishing the job before humans find a cure. Games last 20-30 minutes and every game I have played was close at the end. There are also many new scenarios, diseases and power-ups that become available as you complete earlier missions. With a feel half-way between a board-game and a clicker game, Plague Inc: Evolved is clearly inspired by modern, casual game design. It is easy to pick and play a quick game. I often had that “one more try” feeling.
Plague Inc: Evolved is US$14.99 on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux. There is also a mobile version. It has been bundled.
Do you spend ages staring at those pretty minimalist subway maps? Or maybe it is called the metro or underground in your part of the globe. It doesn’t matter! Mini Metro sets you loose to design subway systems worldwide, with its engaging gameplay and super high level of polish.
This game is about laying the tracks for a city’s subway. Just drag the mouse between stations and like magic there is a metro line between them with running trains ferrying people to their destination. That is Mini Metro. Not much to it, but addictive, and extremely well-made. Of course there is a little bit more, organising the lines to ensure that people get were they are going promptly may require some rearrangement. As the game progresses extra stations appear, while the player gets more lines available, or more trains, bridges, station upgrades, and other things. The game ends if someone has to wait too long at a station before getting on a train. There are many game modes, daily changes and missions set in every world city with a subway.
The design of this game is excellent. The controls are super smooth and need very little explanation. The graphics are beautiful in that colourful abstract style common to subway maps. What is happening in the game is always clear without the use of text. For example, stations are displayed as various shapes, meanwhile people travelling are also displayed as smaller versions of the same shapes, their particular shape being the destination to which they are travelling. It seems obvious and intuitive when you see it, but that is just the mark of clever design. Everything in Mini Metro works as expected – just brilliant, and so pretty. I love it.
Mini Metro is US$9.99 on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux. There is also a mobile version. It has been bundled.
Want to be a government landlord in a totalitarian regime? Want to steal, blackmail and spy on your tenants? Then you are in luck in the dark indie game Beholder.
This game is really about evoking the atmosphere, and the stories, of living in a depressing dictatorship. The player’s avatar is the landlord of a government housing building. He job is to complete the tasks sent regularly from his employers, family, and sometimes mysterious others. To complete them you move around the side-on building and interact with various items and talk to people. Sometime you have to complete bureaucratic reports – make sure all the fields are correctly filled, or you will have to do it again! The actual mechanics of the game become quickly repetitive. Whether you enjoy it will depend greatly on whether the stories and setting are interesting to you. The player is forced to make decisions where no outcome is positive. Beholder is a decidedly downbeat game – dark in both tone and graphics (it is often hard to see what is happening). To me it is more interesting than entertaining.
Beholder is US$9.99 on the Steam store for PC, Mac and Linux. It has been bundled.