Yes, we're long overdue for our latest update on iOS adventures – but hey, wading into the morass that is the App Store's adventure section is a perilous journey from which few ever emerge (at least, not with their sanity intact). It's like the Bermuda Triangle of digital distribution. Fortunately, you can learn from our experiences, as we once again offer you an extensive selection of popular ports, unheralded exclusives, and other games-of-interest for adventure fans that fall a little outside traditional genre lines. As always, there's something here for everyone: There's inventory, there's stealth, there's jigsaws galore; there's Twinsen, there's Hitchcock, and of course there's Tim Schafer (or half of him, anyway). Here's a sneak peek of what's to come:
Page 1: (Just scroll down!)
Page 2: The Silence, Steampunker
Page 4: Republique
Although we’re all still awaiting the release of Broken Age’s second act to complete the popular Double Fine title, we can already say this about its iPad port: it’s a must-buy, at least for those who don’t already own another version already. If you have an iPad and even a passing interest in adventure games, you’re only doing yourself and your device a disservice by not downloading this title immediately. You’re simply not going to going to find another iOS title with this caliber of story, presentation, voice acting, music, visual style, and humor that only Tim Schafer and company can deliver.
As is common with third-person point-and-click iOS adventure ports, Broken Age’s transition over to a touch device is so logical, smooth and intuitive, it’s hard to imagine playing any other way. Instead of using a mouse and a detached cursor, being able to tap and drag both objects and your character across the game world allows for a more tangible interactive experience.
There are no discernible differences between this iPad port and the PC original, but the iOS implementation is seamless: the inventory is swift and intuitive (pulled up from the bottom with the tap of a corner tab) and the hotspots and navigational scheme are flawlessly handled, making everything you touch feel precise. Simply tapping or dragging your finger to a destination carries Shay and Vella to that point. Dragging your finger across the screen also highlights hotspots, which can then be tapped to trigger an interaction, usually accompanied by either an animation or voiced observation. Hotspots also glow when inventory items are dragged over them, while double-tapping exits automatic moves you to the next screen.
As nice as it looks on a larger screen, Broken Age on iPad is a visual spectacle. Something about its cartoonish design is especially striking on the smaller screen – most noticeably if your device has retina display. Held in the palm of your hand, the game convincingly transforms into a storybook come to life, with a flood of lively and vibrant animations practically jumping off the screen. The iPad perfectly captures every color and tiny little detail the game has to offer, making it an ideal platform to play the title on. Even the subtitles are crisp and colorful, reminiscent of old school LucasArts stylings. The quality of the voice acting and music is equally impressive, so make sure to crank the sound up if circumstances allow.
If you haven’t already picked up one of this year’s most talked about and highly engaging adventure games, this is the time to jump on it. It's one of the pricier iPad adventures, and you’ll still have to wait for part two like the rest of us, but Broken Age will give you good reason to get excited about both adventure games and your iOS device.
Secret Files: Tunguska
The underrated 2006 point-and-click adventure Secret Files: Tunguska finally gets a full iOS port years after DS and Wii versions were released. The game features heroine Nina Kalenkov investigating the disappearance of her scientist father. His disappearance is, as you might guess, related to the bizarre (true life) 1908 Tunguska event—a mysterious, still unexplained explosion that carried roughly a thousand times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. This scientific conundrum is mined for great conspiracy effect here, with the type of suitably ludicrous but at least imaginative resolution that you’d expect from an adventure game.
The game’s weaknesses, primarily its mediocre voice acting, are of course still present as this is a direct port of the PC version. However, Deep Silver has made a lot of intelligent design choices to make this an easy-to-play iOS port. On the iPad, the gameplay area is windowed to preserve the original resolution, with a border created for some of the key interface options, such as a very handy hotspot indicator. Many screens feature a large number of hotspots clustered together in this smaller space, and thus the reduced window size can make the game challenging to play without mis-tapping. But it looks great, with all the nifty cinematic cutscenes still intact and just as impressive so many years after initial release. The journal feature is also used very well in this game, a necessary tool to retain information and keep up with the story’s breathless rush toward its conspiracy-laden resolution.
I’ve always been a fan of this game and its ambitious plot conceits. Eight years later, its production values still compare well even to many modern adventures, with the same goofy inventory combination puzzles that seem almost endearing in an era when the most popular adventure games are starting to eschew such puzzles altogether. Secret Files: Tunguska is a long and substantial game with lots of characters and interactions, and it’s one of the more competently ported adventures available. A universal app for both iPhone and iPad, it is highly recommended if you missed the PC version, or if you remember loving the game and are looking to rediscover it.Continued on the next page...