Alright, alright, so you saw what I was most looking forward to this year on the gaming scene, but what about what's already been? We're almost halfway through July, over halfway through 2018, and there's plenty that's happened.
If any of you follow me over on Pocket Gamer you know I've got a fondness for great stories, pretty things, and puzzles, so you may not agree with my choices but, hey, that's the beauty of opinion.
My Child Lebensborn - download for iOS
I remember first learning about My Child Lebensborn in 2016 during one of PG's Big Indie Pitches and thinking 'gosh, that sounds sad'. Having played it, the game is sadder than I'd expected, but also so much richer and sweet.
Basically, you've adopted a Lebensborn (German-born) child in post-WW2 Norway and have to raise it in a hostile and rather unforgiving environment. It works very much like a Tamagotchi that you have to keep happy, healthy, fed, and clean, but it doesn't take long for you to bond with the digi-child.
Once the character starts experiencing hostility from those outside the house, it genuinely upset and angered me that they were doing this to my 'child'. Because you're trying to balance raising your kid and working to bring in money, you have to make some seriously tough decisions as you decide what type of parent you'll be and – ugh – just go play it. I could ramble on about it all day.
Tiny Bubbles - download for iOS
This game was winning awards before it came out, so that's always a good sign. As a bubble-popping puzzler you have to clear the level, or pop the right amount of bubbles, before moving onto the next task.
It's super simple, seriously pretty, and oh-so clever in its own way. The most creative thing about it is the bubbles' physics which can work in your favour as well as against you. It's so clever how they've managed to pull off the bubble physics, and it's such good fun.
Oh, and popping bubbles is always so, so satisfying.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle - download for iOS
This feels appropriate to mention on such a day. If you've ever had the pleasure of playing Slayaway Camp on iOS or Android, you'll get where Friday the 13th is coming from – except, free to play this time.
I still feel my stomach tighten uncomfortably when I'm faced with a free to play game, but 2018 has had a good crop of them. This one particularly tickled me because it's handled very well indeed. There's a structure to the adverts you watch and you can get through a huge chunk of game before you have to watch one.
The puzzler itself is good fun, too. But then, it's all about sliding around as Jason Voorhees and figuring out the best way to kill camp counsellors, kids, convicts, passers-by, cops, you name it. Sure, it's not much different from Slayaway Camp, but it's a great game to have on your phones for those spare moments.
Death Coming - download for iOS
Death Coming surprised me completely when I played it. It looked like a standard, if rather morbid, isometric puzzler with some neat pixel graphics just for good measure. Once you get in and start playing it, however, it's so much more than that.
When you're getting to grips with the controls and what to do in the first level, you quickly realise that the way you do things is important, and this is especially true to completionists. A lot of the traps can't be used again, so you've got to figure out the best way to kill your unsuspecting victims as efficiently as possible.
I know, this sounds like a rather disturbing choice, but it really is good in an awful way. Anyone who adores a challenge will have great fun with this one, and its humour makes the whole thing a bit lighter so you don't have to feel too terrible.
Candleman - download for iOS
As I said in my review, I went into Candleman totally blind and had no idea what to expect. I think that might have made my experience even better, so I'd highly recommend doing that.
While I'm not too fond of 3D platformers and their floating joysticks, Candleman's controls are simple enough that you don't feel hopeless when playing. The levels are nice and short, and your candle mechanics are so frustratingly clever.
It's a dark world you're trekking through, and while you've got a flame to light your way you've only got ten seconds to burn until you – er – die. Because that makes it impossible to use your light all the way through, you need to just turn your brightness way up and flash your flame whenever you need the extra light.
What also tickled me about it was that it's just so charming. Its storybook-like chapter introductions, beautiful visuals, and wonderful music will definitely have you coming back for more.