Hidden Gem of the Week: Dark Echo

Many horror games rely on jump scares and creepy atmosphere, but the stealth/horror/puzzle hybrid Dark Echo takes a different approach, instead conjuring horror from the unknown and unseen, through minimalist visuals and immersive audio.

While other mobile games like Papa Sangre and The Nightjar have delivered gameplay through sound, Dark Echo melds visuals with sound; every level starts out with a black screen, your white footprints the only color amid the surrounding dark. Move forward and lines emanate in all directions, the sound of your footsteps visualized, bouncing off the walls and revealing the environment. Without sound, you are blind. Your goal is simply to find the exit. However, you are not alone in these passages. Things lurk in the darkness, drawn by the sound of your movement, hunting you.

With each step taken – either fast footfalls, light taps, or loud stomps – or stone thrown to distract the creatures stalking you, Dark Echo reveals itself to be a tense game of cat and mouse where sound is your only means of sight. Water that amplifies your footsteps and slows your movement, switches, crushing walls, deadly terrain, and more add to the challenge and complexity of later levels. The visuals – stark lines contrasting against black – are simplistic yet work surprisingly well in representig the world and its dangersz But it’s the sound design that truly sells the game’s atmosphere:…

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Hidden Gem of the Week: Five Card Quest

Developer Rocketcat is best known for their popular RPG and action roguelike releases Mage Gauntlet, Wayward Souls, and Death Road To Canada, but amid their larger titles lies a smaller and intriguing outlier of a game, the turn-based minimalist roguelike Five Card Quest.

Selecting a trio of warriors from powerful Priest, the dagger-wielding Rogue, and more, you  battle room-by-room through grid-based dungeons. The focus here are those battles, an interesting blend of card game and lane-based strategy; tour party is one side of the screen, enemies on the other, spread out across three lanes. From each warrior’s deck, you choose abilities and attacks, all revolving around the tactics of slowing or damaging enemies, stalling or pushing them backwards in their lane, or even swapping your lane position or that of your foes.

This combination of drawing cards, lane management, and small team of very differently-skilled classes give the combat of Five Card Quest a surprising wealth of strategy and tactics. Controlling the lanes through positioning, swapping fighter placement at the best moment, debuffing enemies all are part of your stratetic repert; you may need to decide over fast slight damage now over a charged blow several turns later, or when to use attacks that target specific lanes or only injury the front-most foe.

The bright angular aesthetic, easy-to-grasp mechani…

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A Steel Media round-up for the week of February 12th

Here’s another weekly round-up of news, previews, and features from Pocket Gamer, 148Apps, and the rest of our sister sites.

On our Youtube page, James Gilmour plays a round of the Chinese release for Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile; the graphics may not be as detailed as its PC and consoles cousins, but it looks like the tension and action of its gameplay has made the transition.

For Pocket Gamer, the App Army provides a wide range of impressions for the recent release Purrfect Date, a visual novel with a feline twist. Amusement, confusion, disappointment, and other reactions make for quite a divisive response.

Tre Lawrence on Android Rundown offers a very positive overview of the very useful Pocket Casts app; any avid podcast listener will want to take a look at why Pocket Casts comes so highly recommended.

And lastly for 148Apps, Campbell Bird put together a helpful guide for how to dive into the concise mobile 4X strategy game The Battle of Polytopia and its new multiplayer update. These tips help navigate its tad-confusing method o…

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Hidden Gem of the Week: Euclidea

Math-based puzzlers tend to revolve around computation and sums, but Euclidea isn’t like most games in that niche; rather than numbers, geometry is the focus, constructing figures and shapes with minimalist tools and within a minimalist aesthetic.

Euclidea starts out simple, easing you into its collection of geometric brainteasers by teaching how to create line segments, select points, draw circles. And then gradually, the challenge begins to increase, as you use intersecting circles to create equilateral triangles and perfectly bisect lines.

Euclidea

But the game isn’t completely merciless. As you master the simpler tasks like deducing parallet lines, Euclidea provides tools that automatically perform certain actions. You’ll need those tools, because while Euclidea may be easy to control, it certainly isn’t an easy game. Figuring out to create a perfect hexagon within a circle or trisecting an angle requires you to think ahead, understand how points and intersections and line segments all interact and can be used together. Euclidea‘s puzzles are cumulative, building upon what you figured out before and challenging you to use that knowledge in new ways.

Euclidea

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A Steel Media round-up for the week of January 29th

AppSpy is only one facet of the larger network that makes up Steel Media, and all manner of interesting and informative articles made their way to pages of our sister sites. This weekly features highlights some of those stories.

Over on our YouTube page, you can find a helpful tips video for the recently released card game-roguelike hybrid Meteorfall; keep that advice in mind and you’ll be a monster-slayer master in no time at all.

Emily Snowden on Pocket Gamer shined a light on the isometric puzzler Valleys Between, a game about carefullly molding and managing life in an gradually expanding world.

Meanwhile on Android Rundown, the adventure game Broken Sword received a retrospective look, revisting its twisting conspiracy thriller narrative and the game’s personal connection for writer Tre Lawrence.

And finally, Harry Slater re-posted 148Apps’ ever-growing compilation of iPhone’s best games. From Gorogoa‘s gorgeous panels to the hectic alien blasting of The Bug Butcher, it’s a varied subsection of genre and style.

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Hidden Gem of the Week: Ending

Aaron Steed’s Ending is a minimalist roguelike stripped of all the fluff and filler, exposing a challenging game of life and death decisions and strategic planning, where one wrong move can destroy you.

Ending

Inspired by chess and board games, Ending casts you as a lowly @ sign, in a maze of dangerous ruthless enemies. Each symbol moves in a specific way or has a special purpose, from moving two spaces in a turn to only being able to attack from a certain direction or firing projectiles. When you move, they move, and one hit is enough to destroy you…or for you to end them. There in lies Ending‘s strategic gameplay: it’s a game where every move must be considered, where you need to think five steps ahead and know exactly how each enemy will be move or else you’ll find yourself cornered and trapped by the fourth step. Maneuvering into advantageous positions to avoid danger and destroy your enemies is thrilling and difficult and always rewarding, and your limited number of moves per room adds more tension and challenge.

Between its level-based Puzzle mode and randomly-generated Gauntlet mode, Ending provides a lean and tense game that subtly mixes chess and roguelike elements, where succss is won through your own careful planning. You can purchase Ending on the …

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Four Last Things blends Renaissance art and absurdist humor on iOS and Android this week

Kickstarted back in 2016, Four Last Things promises Monty Python-esque humor and a point-n-click romp through the landscapes of classic Renaissance paintings, when it arrives on the App Store and Google Play this Thursday.

A loophole sets your bumbling outsider on a quest to fulfill the seven deadly sins in order to gain absolution, leading you through the works of artists like Bosch and Bruegel to chat and interact in true adventure game fashion. Zany sight gags and dialogue, along with animated figures bring these paintings to life, as you collect items, talk with characters, and solve silly yet logical puzzles to assist (or meddle with) poets and blacksmiths, from quaint towns to the Garden of Eden.

Four Last Things can be pre-ordered for $ 3.99 on iOS; more details on the game are available through the official Four Last Things site.

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Decode pop culture quotes in cipher word puzzler Quote Codes, releasing next week on iOS

Word games often have you matching or unscrambling letters to reveal words within, but Quote Codes is a bit different; in this game coming to iOS next Thursday, your goal isn’t to create words but to decode them.

Drawing quotes and iconic lines from all spectrums of pop culture and media, you must use a given cipher to piece together the full phrase, using deduction to match vowels and other letters with their abstract symbols.

As you decode quotes from Stranger Things or Game of Thrones, you’ll be able to track progress, mistakes made, even use of special power-ups once you unlock them.

Word game fans will be able to find Quote Codes on App Store, where it’ll be available on the 18th.

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Hidden Gem of the Week: RYB

This is the first in a weekly series of features dedicated to highlighting interesting, lesser known hidden gems across iOS and Android. With the sheer volume and rate of new releases, it can be easy for a game to unnoticed, unseen; some here may be newer or older, but all are engaging in their own unique way.

Picross, Paint It Back, Minesweeper, Hexcells. There’s something uniquely satisfying about a logic puzzler, perhaps how one can solve their challenges without guessing or mistakes, through pure deduction. RYB falls squarely in this category, a Picross-style puzzle game that eschews numbers and grids for colors and geometric shapes.

RYB

Squares, triangle, hexagons, and other shapes form abstract levels far more vibrant and differently structured than similar games. But despite RYB’s aesthetic, the core concept remains: use logic and clues to correctly fill in each shape with the right colors.

The game gradually introduces its assortment of mechanics and rules but levels soon evolve from a group of shapes and colors into a visual language you can decode and decipher. Being able to study one of RYB’s kaleidoscopic stages, “read” the markers and hues and shapes, an…

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The 5 best games for iPhone and iPad this week – January 5th

We’ve got to the end of the first week of the year. I expect your hangovers have finally subsided now, and you’re back neck deep in the drudgery of your 9 to 5 existence. Ah well, it’s the weekend now, two days to sit around and recover enough energy to survive for the five days after.

But there’s still time for a little bit more content. And that content is here, in the shape of a round up of the best games that came out this week on the App Store. It’s not been the best week ever, but then that’s only to be expected really. And technically we’re covering about a week and a half, but that’s not the point.

Still, there’s a decent enough line up here. As usual you can click on the emboldened names of the games below to grab them. And if there’s anything out there you’ve played and loved that isn’t on the list, feel free to chuck it in the comments at the bottom.

Antihero

A slick and sophisticated mash up of an RPG and a board game, Antihero sees you trying to take over the underworld in Victorian London. It’s got a simple set of rules and a surprising amount of death. And you can train urchins to beat up other urchins too. Which is nice.

Shurado

A mix of Infinity Blade and Dark Souls. Stomp through an unforgiving labyrinth mashing the faces o…

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