A steady stream of interesting intriguing releases, from exciting debuts by new developers to those out-of-the-blue ports no one is ever expecting, but one can only play and follow so many games.
But then there are those special games, the ones that stick in your mind even as the months pass and new games come and go. 2016 was a great year for mobile games, but these five are the ones that became my favourites of the year, in no particular order.
Inkle’s saga innovated the digital gamebook back in 2013, and each subsequent entry has only evolved and expanded upon that formula.
So the surprise is less that the finale is as gripping and complex as it is, but more in how Inkle continued to push the format in new compelling ways.
From disguises that influence your choices and the reactions of others, to a 3D map allows the feared fortress of Mampang to loom over the landscape, Sorcery 4 offers a satisfying conclusion to a journey years in the making.
Michael Brough’s games have often hinged on the dichotomy of simple on the outside and surprisingly deep within. They have a simple lo-fi aesthetic contrasted by challenging strategy.
His latest game Imbroglio is no different – it plays like a distant cousin of his previous roguelike 868-Hack, with a focus on positioning and the synergy of abilities, but expanded exponentially.
It’s a roguelike, a board game, and a card game. And it’s a game of surprising complexity.
First you learn the basics of its mechanics, then the strengths of its classes, and then how to build your board effectively to create powerful combos and counters to any situations.
Machinarium and Botanicula stood out from other point-and-clicks with their charming explorative approach, and Samorost 3 is a welcome return to that style of adventure game.
Six years in the making, the effort shows in every facet – from the weirdly organic planets and their wonderfully animated inhabitants, to the playful challenges that encourage you to observe the world and the effects of your inquisitive taps.
The worlds of Samorost 3 are as much tactile playgrounds as they are expansive puzzles to solve – every touch here is imbued with curious wonder.
Bullet Hell Monday
Bullet Hell Monday unfurls itself chapter by chapter, ship type by ship type, mechanic by mechanic.
A single bullet evolves into multiple bullet types able to be swapped mid battle, a simple enemy force becomes an overwhelming hurricane of projectiles.
And an ever-increasing array of chapters, difficulties, and additional modes test your shmup prowess.
It almost isn’t fair, how a game with such a colorful cutesy facade can be so challenging. Snakebird never expects anything less than your puzzle-solving best.
It’s always a test of your abilities, but it never feels unfair thanks to its consistent rules and easy undoes.
Many snakebirds will die by your finger, falling into the abyss or dropped onto spikes.
But when that “Aha!” moment arrives and you realise what to do (and how the answer was always right there), you feel like a puzzle maestro.