Jun 20 2012
Available for: iOS. Controlling flight by jetpack with the tip of your finger, your goal is very simply to explore a Martian cave. For science. Of course your plans are soon thwarted by a cave-in, and the story—like the cave you are now trapped inside—becomes more complex the deeper you go. It plays like a more vulnerable version of Metroid; you are most assuredly not a badass. I’m in love with the way they create the textures in the world. It looks like they’ve taken photographs of rocks and plants, cut shapes out of them, and then reassembled the pieces to create the cave walls and various Martian creatures. But what amazes me most about Waking Mars is the way it succeeds in making me feel like a tiny being exploring a magnificent, unknown planet even while being presented on a screen that’s scarcely the size of my palm. More info here.
Aaaand once again, the music is great. You guys are probably detecting a theme in my requirements for a good video game, right?
Zen Bound (2)
Available for: iOS, Android, and Steam. The last two mobile games I’m going to mention are more like virtual toys than traditional games, but that doesn’t at all take away from their cool quotient. The first is Zen Bound, in which you are tasked to wrap wood and stone carvings with rope. It’s very intuitive, making full use of a smart phone’s touch and tilt capabilities. It’s the kind of tactile experience where you will be able to pick it up and just start playing. It easily oscillates between frustrating and, well, quite zen, but it always serves to clear my mind of the day’s worries. More info here.
Zen Bound 2 includes all the levels of the first Zen Bound for the same price, so be sure to pick that one up if you want this in your pocket.
The real thing, not a screenshot. You can’t buy this at the App Store.
Available for: iOS and Android. Vanitas is basically exactly that: a virtual vanitas piece. What’s a vanitas piece, you ask? Well, it’s a symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries. Obviously! I kid, I kid, of course. I had no idea what it was until I came across this game and thought, “finally, bird skulls and flowers—together at last!” This is made by Tale of Tales, the same people who made The Path (my fandom of which is detailed here), and it can also be dismissed as overly pretentious, yet also offers a more emotional experience than your run-of-the-mill video game. There’s no particular goal in mind while playing—you are able to open and close a wooden box, receiving a different combination items each time. Some items are interactive (or even alive!), and you can of course rearrange them to suit your fancy. This one is probably the most meditative, and I usually turn to it when I’ve got a lot on my plate. Then again, ascribing deep meaning to random objects and circumstances is somewhat of a hobby of mine. You can try Vanitas for free at Tale of Tales’ website here.
There is awesome cello music to accompany your ruminations, to boot!
I’m always ready for new stuff to experience, and you lot have been absolutely stellar about leaving me suggestions in the comments. I hope today won’t be any different. Anyone have any arty-farty mobile games they love to kick back with for a few minutes at a time?
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