Cynics would have you believe that the App Store is full of Match-3 puzzle games, Endless Runners, and attempts at stealing money through a multitude of in-app purchases. OK, so the App Store isn't perfect and those games are certainly out there (and a plentiful amount of them are still fun!), but that's far from all that's available.
In the spirit of it being the end of the year and the ideal time to look back at what the App Store does so well, I took a look at some of the best experimental delights out there. These are titles that are a little bit different from the norm, either in terms of having a very open ended storyline or through offering a way to interact that's unconventional. As many of us wind down for the Christmas and New Years break, it's the perfect time to relax and try something a little different.
For the shy or easily embarrassed, Luxuria Superbia is a title that's perhaps best played away from less open-minded members of the family. It's a musical and visual journey requiring one to stroke and touch the petals of a flower, watching and reacting accordingly to how the game responds to sensuous touches. It's a title that could well make one blush as they play it, but it's also the perfect example of what the touch based interface of the iPad and iPhone can truly offer when experiencing something different.
Flowmo is a title about interpretation. It won't take long to play through, being more about the art than a conventional gaming experience, but it's fascinating. It's about exploring a new world and discovering new things; whether they be new shooting particles or musical note changes. Using multi-touch support, it utilizes the controls of the iPad well in providing a tactile experience. Interpreting what it all means is all part of the fun here, and while it's brief, it's a title that sticks in the mind for a while to come.
Primarily an audio-based experience, Vanished is spooky. Placing players into a world full of demons, darkness, and demented reality, it's unsettling stuff. It occasionally veers off course but as a truly immersive experience, being required to follow sounds and react accordingly makes this title an unique experience.
On the surface, Indie Pixel looks more conventional than most of the other games featured here. It still manages to be different and more innovative than most other titles though. Solely a multiplayer experience, players control a pixel as they attempt to create shapes alongside multiple other players. It requires teamwork and good planning, but interaction is limited to moving or winking at the other players. It's a fascinating social experiment but one that will occasionally remind the player of how frustrating other people can be.
Solely a text-based game, Blackbar is a fascinating journey into a dystopian future. Censorship is the major issue here, with a series of clever puzzles requiring deciphering skills. It's sometimes fairly tough, at least for those not knowledgeable in classic literature, but it's a compelling experience and a great use of text.
A refinement of the original's majesty, Papa Sangre II is a survival horror game told entirely through sound. It makes for a deeply sinister experience, boosted by the presence of Sean Bean's voice. Traps must be dodged, monsters must be run away from, and sanity must be retained at all costs. It's best played while standing to truly capture the spine-chilling sensations.
Technically an app, The Walk is still a great interactive story. There to encourage its users to walk regularly, The Walk tells a story of intrigue and mystery as one finds themselves embroiled in a conspiracy that could change the world forever. Essentially a glorified pedometer, The Walk demonstrates the power of 'gamifying' parts of one's life as well as the sheer depth of imagination contained within the App Store.