Puzzle and match games
The best puzzle or match game for Android is... Lara Croft GO (S$7)
We can imagine the meeting room when someone piped up with: “Hey, why don’t we turn Tomb Raider into a turn-based puzzle game?” But any doubt must have instantly evaporated on playing Lara Croft GO.
The game is gorgeous — rivalling Monument Valley in terms of breathtaking beauty — but, more importantly, it’s smart. Each step of the quest is a tiny puzzle, where you figure out a path, flick switches, grab swag, and try to avoid being mauled by giant scuttling spiders.
The mechanics might be new, but Lara Croft GO nonetheless feels like those early Tomb Raider efforts — full of wonder and tension, with a sense of isolation in being somewhere no-one else has seen for aeons.
The Room Three (S$7)
The first two installments of The Room were among the best puzzlers we'd played in years, fully taking advantage of the possibilities of a mobile interface and delivering brain-melting conundrums wrapped up in a creepy, brilliantly realised story.
The third edition is even better though: much bigger in both scale and ambition, it's not just one of the best puzzlers but simple one of the best games of the year.
At its heart, little has changed - you're faced with a box, but every time you find a lock or a switch, it’s just another layer that takes you deeper into a weird and mystifying enigma. But this time you can go further inside the boxes, there are more locations to explore and the puzzles themselves are much more varied. Four alternate endings also give it a longeivity somewhat lacking in the originals.
Best played in the dark, preferably with a storm brewing outside, The Room Three is an atmospheric treat; take it in greedily (although turn off the hints system for the full experience) and then if you haven't already played them, go back and devour the The Room and The Room Two.
One of the most criminally ripped-off games of recent years, Threes! is simple but ingenious; easy to play but infuriatingly difficult to master.
A four-by-four grid and a series of sliding numbered tiles are your tools. Each numbered tile can only combine with one other type of tile, at which point it becomes a single tile whose values add up to its constituents.
The idea is to keep playing long enough (a full grid will result in your game ending) that you can create a fabled 2048-valued tile. The music, sound effects and clean presentation are merely icing on an already delicious cake.
Monument Valley (S$5)
Arguments continue to rage about whether games can be art, and Monument Valley is a pretty big tick-mark in the ‘art’ column. It’s a beautiful and delicate arcade adventure, featuring a silent princess who explores impossible monuments.
The architecture shifts as you drag and spin components, Escher-like constructions fashioning pathways that can only exist in the reality of a videogame. The quest is short, but every moment is delightful, and Monument Valley is a beautifully crafted, thoughtful and reflective experience throughout.
Human Resource Machine (S$8)
Programming as a game might cause your brain to emit a DO NOT UNDERSTAND ERROR? and seek solace in something about smashing gems. But before you flee, note Human Resource Machine is by the World of Goo folks, and it’s superb.
You assist a worker drone in transforming inbox items to whatever the day’s boss demands should be in the outbox. This is done by fashioning programming sequences through arranging actions, hitting play, and hoping for the best.
It’s novel and intriguing, wrapped up in sharp satire and melancholy – not least when you notice your little office-based hero ages as you work through the challenges.