Author Archives: Joseph Leray


After a few hours of Oneclick's Angel Salvation [Free], you're likely  to have developed Tetris Syndrome: colored gems, healing crosses, and devilish earth-tyrants will dominate your thoughts. It's turbo-charged high fantasy aesthetic notwithstanding, Angel Salvation begins zen-like, and your eyes may begin to glaze over as your fingers move about the screen, lazily flicking gems around, making matches and raining hellfire on your enemies...

'Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space Ep 5' Review - To Hell and Back

Season finales are undeniably difficult to pull off: they need to pull the disparate plots of the story together in a way that feels satisfying but not hackneyed, while still maintaining a sense of self-contained narrative. A serialized game like Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space carries the added weight of presenting us with the highest expression of the puzzles and mechanics its introduced thus far...

"Chariots of the Dogs," [$4.99] the fourth episode in the Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space series is easily the best one so far. The Sam & Max series has always been tightly written and designed, but "Chariots" does two things remarkably well: it matches its narrative hook to its mechanics, and it unifies the entire series...

The third episode of Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space was originally released in 2008, on the cusp of the videogame industry's zombie renaissance. Four years and three Dead Risings later the iOS port of "Night of the Raving Dead" [$4.99] may feel -- to steal a quote from the game's antagonist, the vampire Jurgen -- "played, yo." Still, Steve Purcell's brand of silly humor gives "Raving Dead" life, even for those tired of zombies and vampires...

'Incoboto' Review - The End of The Universe Was Never So Much Fun

The description for Ziggurat [$.99] calls it "the end of a much longer story -- a story which ends with The Last Human On Earth standing atop a stratosphere-high stone pyramid." Incoboto [$3.99] could have been described similarly: "Incoboto is the end of a much longer story -- a story which ends with The Last Human in the Galaxy trying to survive the heat death of the universe."..

'ZiGGURAT' Review – Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

The first time I booted up ZiGGURAT [$0.99], I was lying in bed, in the dark. I was hoping for something relatively simple  to unwind with, but the pulsing music and unending creep of monoptic aliens made that impossible. Just playing Ziggurat felt clunky the first time I tried it, forcing me to sit upright in bed...

Buying an episodic game is equal parts gambling and Kickstarting. "Moai Better Blues [$4.99]," the second game in Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space, takes place right after the delightful "Ice Station Santa [$4.99]," which means the entire series is meant to be taken as a whole. Telltale is banking on its audience's willingness to buy every episode, hoping that they feel invested enough in the series' overarching framework to not skip episode two, even though it's weaker than the first...

I didn't really mean to play Eufloria [$4.99] and Mass Effect at the same time during the last few days, but accidentally playing two games on opposite ends of the science fiction spectrum has been fruitful. On the one hand, Mass Effect seems absurdly violent at first glance, sporting photorealistic visuals and third-person shooting. Your character can, quite literally, be a renegade. On the other, Eufloria is relaxed and ambient, full of soft lines and leisure. It's a game about growing flowers...

Telltale's offerings have been received rather frigidly of late, especially after we called Jurassic Park "technically messy" and "poorly optimized." I'm happy to report, then, that "Ice Station Santa" -- the first of five episodes in Sam & Max Beyond Time & Space [$4.99] -- is a solid iOS port of the 2007 point-and-click...

I like to imagine there's an Oberlin burnout somewhere who's made a living getting bent on ayahuasca and pitching music-history based games to different companies. My hypothetical game designer, wide-eyed and euphoric, is responsible for games like Boom Boom Rocket, Eternal Sonata, Jazz: Trump's Journey [$2.99], and now Frederic --Resurrection of Music [$1.99/HD/Lite], by Forever Entertainment S.A...

'Ash II: Shadows' Review – It's Risky Business for this Retro-inspired RPG

An episodic JRPG seems like a hard sell – how do you cut a genre built on the backs of immense sagas and marathon weekend play sessions into bite-sized chunks? Apparently by writing cliffhangers into each narrative focal point and developing for iOS, where mobile users might appreciate a light-weight, turn-based trek through RPG Maker heaven...

Games like Monkey Quest: Thunderbow [$0.99/HD] disrupt the feel-good media narrative we like to tell about the App Store. It's a low-risk way to capitalize on experimental games like Sword & Sworcery [$4.99], a place where Andreas Illiger, the one-man dev team behind Tiny Wings [$0.99], can sell thousands of copies. It's also where a giant corporation like Nickelodeon can sell us an Angry Birds [$0.99] clone to advertise its kid-friendly MMO, Monkey Quest...

To steal a line from Jon Irwin, "The platforming genre, once dominant, has now been relegated to counterprogramming." Which is to say that the two-dimensional platformer has overtaken, like kudzu, much of the niche and indie landscape that isn't dominated by games that involve shooting things in the face. For mobile gaming, that idea is more or less maintained  if you swap face-shooting for physics-puzzling or colored-block-sliding. But that kind of reductive generalization doesn't leave room for nuance, and nuance is exactly what you need to talk about Terra Noctis...

There's not much to say about the Hector series -- rushing headlong to its conclusion in Beyond Reasonable Doom [$4.99 /$6.99] -- that hasn't been said before. We've noted its sharp writing; its high production values; and, most importantly, the way it continually tweaks and revises the traditional adventure genre...

'Machinarium' Review - Absolutely Fantastic

'Machinarium' Review - Absolutely Fantastic

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September 26th, 2011 4:00 PM EDT by Joseph Leray in $4.99, 5 stars, Adventure, iPad 2, iPad Games, Reviews
$4.99 Buy Now

Machinarium [$4.99] is a treasure, judiciously and efficiently designed, with not a single pencil-drawn sprite out of place...