There’s a repetitive nature to app gaming that makes it difficult to know which games are worth downloading, and which would be best avoided. Every week, we see a new batch of top new releases and most popular apps, and the disappointing thing is that many of them are simply variations on models proven to be addictive (or profitable). So in an effort to sift through the clutter, here’s a look at five apps that break free of the mold and offer unique experiences for gamers who want something original.
One of the most popularly mentioned games on app highlight lists, Device 6 is probably already on your phone or tablet if you’ve ever bothered to research truly great or unique games. But if not, it’s well worth a look. Developed by Swedish gaming maestros Simogo (responsible for the likes of Year Walk and The Sailor’s Dream, as well), Device 6 is almost like an experiment in narrative gaming. Or, as Kotaku described it, “multimedia-enhanced interactive fiction.” Put simply, it’s a read-and-explore spy thriller/text adventure, though the Device 6 experience is a great deal more than that.
Spider: The Secret Of Bryce Manor
As mentioned, there are new selections of popular app games each and every week, and sometimes the best ones get buried in the sheer depth of the app stores. That seems to be what happened with Spider: The Secret Of Bryce Manor, which was created all the way back in 2009 and still stands as one of the most inventive games available for smartphones. Not a whole lot of description is needed: basically, you’re a spider. You creep about, capturing insects, spinning webs, and solving mysteries, and it’s utterly captivating. Even better, there is evidently a sequel coming out, called Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon.
Full disclosure: 80 Days is on the slightly pricey side for casual app gamers, costing $4.99 in the iTunes app store. But if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind smartphone gaming experience, addictive because of its quality and variance rather than because of a repetitive or achievement-based structure, this is the one. Based on the concept of Jules Verne’s novel Around The World In 80 Days, the app invites you to plan a trip around the world on-the-go, managing inventory and cash, trading items, deciding routes, and bartering for passage. It’s a huge game with tons of twists in its script to keep you guessing while ensuring that a second playthrough is as much fun as the first. The app secured the title of Time’s game of the year in 2014.
Betfair Live Casino
The Betfair gaming group is one of the larger casinos operating online, and naturally its apps can only be played with real money in areas where such activity is legal. However, players are able to download a demo of the site’s games onto a computer in order to try them out and get a sense of what this app has to offer. Ultimately, the Betfair Live Casino app stands out not because of its real money gaming capability, however, but because it’s more than just another casino games app. Frankly, it brings an aspect of professionalism sorely lacking in the dozens of cheaper casino gaming options out there. The app offers blackjack, roulette, and baccarat.
We’re almost cheating with this one because it goes against the criteria of this post to some extent. Alto’s Adventure is currently featured on some “best new apps” lists, and it is more of a typical, repetitive gaming experience. Basically, you start out on top of a mountain and glide down endlessly on a snowboard, recapturing escaped llamas (yes, llamas), gathering coins, jumping obstacles and doing tricks to gather points. Each run lasts until you crash, and then you do it all over again. Frankly, it’s not a very unique game in terms of how it’s played. But it’s absolutely gorgeous. Visual quality can go a long way to differentiate an app, and Alto’s Adventure stands out sharply because its look (and sound) makes for a rich, pleasurable experience. As Wired declared, the game rivals Monument Valley in its beauty, and for those familiar with that quirky puzzle experience, that’s saying something.