I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by, as it seems like it wasn’t even that long ago when we were obsessive over how to distill thousands of great games down into a Game of the Year, 25 best, and my personal ten favorites. But, here we are. This year I spent a lot of time getting involved in playing free to play games, and a lot of iOS ports of games I hadn’t played before on other platforms. Here’s ten games that I thought deserved an extra special nod somewhere in our year end coverage, oh and these are just in alphabetical order so don’t try to divine any special meaning beyond that:
Bitcoin Billionaire, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – Ever since the explosion of Cookie Clicker and similar browser games, many developers have tried their hands at duplicating the whole “mindlessly wait to increment a number" gameplay formula. What’s weird about Bitcoin Billionaire is never has that goal of simply increasing a number neen more clear and self aware- To the point that you realize how stupid it is, but you can’t help but keep playing. I know it’s dumb, but this game absorbed my life for weeks. I even love how punishing the game can be through its wacky use of in-game ads. It’s so bad it’s good.
Candy Crush Soda Saga, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – The amount of crap I have received for legitimately enjoying this game has been legendary, but I don’t even care. The original Candy Crush was great, and Soda Saga has succeeded in sucking me in even further. I’m currently on level 135, and have yet to spend a single cent on the game. The game is balanced in a way that completing it without paying requires playing the game more like chess than a simple match three. You can’t look at the match you’re making now, but rather the matches that match will allow you to make in the future. Seriously, I can’t get enough.
FTL: Faster Than Light, $9.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – We often talk about games that are so good that you just totally lose yourself in them, and it’s hard to come up with a way to better describe FTL. I’ve played this game until my iPad ran out of batteries on international flights, stopping only to go to the bathroom. I’m not even sure I’ve actually even beat the game on normal more than once, but it doesn’t even matter. In randomized permadeath games, crazy things happen, and those crazy things always keep me coming back for more.
Hearthstone, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – This seems like an obvious inclusion, but, man, Hearthstone is great. As my life has just generally gotten busier I’ve had less time to play paper Magic the Gathering, and Hearthstone has been fantastic at filling that void. What’s rad too is it’s also truly free to play, and I know people who have spent nothing who are super competitive. Personally? I feel like I’m putting someone at Blizzard’s kids through college.
HodappyBird, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I feel like Flappy Bird needs some kind of mention here, but since it’s not on the App Store anymore the best I can do is link to my own game. Madgarden did me a solid and turned what was a joke at GDC into an actual game… And a good one at that, as far as Flappy clones are concerned. It also made a lot of people really mad, which is an interesting side effect to releasing a video game in 2014.
Magic 2015, Free – [Game of the Week] – [Forum Thread] – As mentioned previously, I just don’t have the time I used to for playing the paper version of Magic. Magic 2015 is the latest and greatest iteration of the iPad game, and after a reworking of how the IAP works is the strongest release so far. I still wish it was a full-fledged iOS Magic Online client, but with each year that only feels more and more inevitable.
RETRY, Free – [Release] – [Forum Thread] – Flappy Bird spawned zillions of ultra-difficult insta-death games, and I really think Retry is the best of the best. It’s published by Rovio, controls well, has a great payment model that doesn’t interfere with the game at all, and potentially one of the coolest title screens on iOS. Seriously, don’t miss this one, I don’t care how much you hate Flapp-likes.
Smarter Than You, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – While I’m pretty sure everyone just wanted more 10000000, I’m glad that 10000000 guy decided to take a break from working on You Must Build a Boat to release Smarter Than You. The game feels experimental in every sense of the word, both in the gameplay itself as well as the totally crazy and optional payment model. The online guessing game had its fair share of detractors, but trying to outwit your opponent is a ton of fun.
Tales from the Borderlands, Free – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I’ve played all the recent Telltale adventure games, and none of them even begin to compared with Tales from the Borderlands. The Borderlands universe makes for a flawless setting to a game filled with action, hilarious moments, and writing that actually makes me incredibly excited to see what comes next. Only the first episode is out as of this writing, but I really can’t see how it can’t get even better from here.
Thomas Was Alone, $4.99 – [Review] – [Forum Thread] – I really didn’t know much about Thomas Was Alone before I downloaded it beyond knowing it as another one of those indie games you just know is good because everyone has been talking about it for so long. I had no idea how good it would be, as games with this level of plot and character development are undeniably rare on the App Store. As the credits rolled, I’ve never felt more compelled to just stand up and clap after playing a video game.