Prism (or more specifically, _Prism, note the underscore, in case you want to search for it on Google or on the App Store) is an iOS puzzle game that’s pretty dang good, but the most impressive thing about it is its art. The simple idea of geometric shapes floating in space is used to convey a strong sense of progression, culminating in a truly clever climax that’s also an anti-climax. The game gets to have its cake and eat it too. It’s subversive and expected, climactic and anti-climactic, a clever trick and a thoughtful lesson.
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SUPERHOTLine Miami is exactly what it sounds like. Like Hotline Miami it is a bloody and brutal shooter played from a top-down view, and like SUPERHOT, one in which time only moves when you move.
The mash-up work brilliantly. It’s amazing how effective these two systems work together, which further proves the versatility of both shooting as a central mechanic and slow-motion as a central mechanic. Shooting has already proven itself, given the number and types of shooters out there, but slow motion, even though it has proven itself a memorable part of games like Max Payne, has never really caught on for some reason.
Previously, I praised the Tower of Fortune games for achieving the kind of balance “that’s easy to take for granted because when it works it’s not noticeable. We simply play the game and enjoy it, not questioning or realizing why it’s so enjoyable”.
The quickest way to notice that unnoticeable balance is to play a game that lacks that balance. In a sadly ironic twist, it was Tower of Fortune 3 that made me notice the quality of Tower of Fortune 2. This threequel once again expands the scope of the mechanics and the world, but this time all the changes feel driven by cynicism. Each new system feels designed to funnel you towards the real-money microtransactions, which are now more prevalent and prominent than ever before. Tower of Fortune 3 falls into the trap that the previous games deftly avoided: It feels like a Vegas slot machine.
I wrote about Tower of Fortune, awhile ago, and I enjoyed it immensely for what it was—a simple game that could be played for seconds at a time. I was impressed by how it condensed and simplified RPG tropes like combat and “fun times at the tavern” into an entertaining slot machine mechanic. The key word there being “entertaining”. The game struck an impressive balance between the randomness of the slots and a consistent progress up the tower. It’s the kind of balance that’s easy to take for granted because when it works it is not noticeable. We simply play the game and enjoy it, not questioning or realizing why it’s so enjoyable. The sequel is even more impressive for how it maintains this balance while also significantly expanding the scope of the mechanics and world.
There are quite a few hacking minigames in Pony Island, so many that I’m not sure if this is best described as a hacking/puzzle game or a platformer/parody game or something in-between or encompassing all of those things. But for the purposes of this post, all I care about is the hacking gameplay. Thanks to some surprisingly clever uses of art, Pony Island makes the same puzzle mechanics feel like actual software coding and also like a children’s educational game.