Florence

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Out of Melbourne, Australia, developer Mountains has crafted an interactive story about love and life titled Florence. Florence features an exquisite mixture of stylized graphics, music, and creative gameplay mechanics. The end result is what I’d best call a Pixar Short Film experience in video game form.

My most favorite part of Florence were the way emotions were conveyed through gameplay. When Florence first meets her boyfriend, her conversations with him are presented as puzzles. A complete the puzzle to continue the conversation sort of thing. In the beginning of her relationship, the puzzles have more pieces/are more complex. As the relationship matures, there are not as many puzzle pieces to put together as communication has become easier.

I enjoyed my time with Florence. Even though I’d say that the story is slightly predictable, the execution is flawless. Check this out if you get a chance. Florence is short (30 minutes) and sweet.

5/5 – Florence is one of those video game experiences you need not miss.

Title: Florence
Developer: Mountains
Platforms: iOS and Android
Reviews on: iOS/iPad
MSRP: $2.99

Miitomo

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The legacy of the Mii, Nintendo’s player avatar creations, continues with Miitomo. Uniting iOS and Android users, Miitomo is a personable social network experiment. Inhabited by Facebook and Twitter friends, Miitomo encourages and rewards players for:

  • Answering questions
  • Reading, listening, liking, and responding to your friends replies

Gamification of Social Media: Check

There is also an odd game within the game called Miitomo Drop (drop a player down a board, hope they hit something valuable). As well as options to buy and dress up a player’s Mii. Style points awarded, of course.

Beyond the spongy exterior, the heart-filled frosting of Miitomo tastes hollow. There just isn’t much to do in this app. Yes, Nintendo has done a great job building an oddball social network. I keep wondering though where the gameplay hook is.

As a longtime Animal Crossing fan, the ability to decorate your Mii’s space would be most welcome. Minigames in the vein of the 3DS Mii minigames (Find Mii, Puzzle Swap, etc.) would elevate Miitomo to another level. Nintendo excels when they take a simple concept and refine the player experience.

Miitomo makes great first impression. The missing gameplay hook, the reason to stay and enjoy this weird world, must be found. Mario is indeed missing.

Two Dots

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Two Dots strings the player along in free to play fashion. Connect the dots, combo color pairings, advance to the next level. Clean aesthetics and simple controls act as delightful seat warmers.

Somewhere in the mid-20’s, level advancement slows down. Power ups needed for progression. The puzzle game’s presentation revealed as a mask for something far darker. They want your money.

There is a cycle I know well,

Free to play games formula from hell,

First they hook you with easy levels,

And gifts to help advance,

Then they increase the difficulty,

And watch you squirm and dance.

I’m not sure at what point I’ll quit falling for the free to play model. Two Dots reminded me of moments of Candy Crush weakness. I admit, I have spent real money for an extra attempt at a puzzle. Shame. Video game shame.

Two Dots has great presentation built on the free to play model. How fair that model is, in regards to this specific game, remains unseen. I may play a level or two more, but I find that hard having glimpsed at the monster behind the mask.

DEFCON 2

wavesplinter2/5 – Proceed with caution.

Wave SplinterTitle: Two Dots
Developer: Playdots Inc.
Platforms: Android, iOS
Reviews on: Android
MSRP: Free

The Mammoth: A Cave Painting

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The flicker of flame, wet finger tips pressed against cold rock walls. Stories take shape, history recorded in hand presses and finger strokes. Archaeological parietal art, or cave paintings, offer a glimpse into the past.

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The Mammoth: A Cave Painting, tells a 5 million year story in 5 minutes. A story about a mamma mammoth, her babies, and the wide world around. Joyful-filled trumpeting. Heartbreaking charging.

Developer inbetweengames have handcrafted a stunning play framed in torchlight.

Take a moment. Download the game. Enjoy the brevity of the experience.

DEFCON 5wavesplinter5/5 – A unique experience at the dawn of the age. 

Wave SplinterTitle: The Mammoth: A Cave Painting
Developer: inbetweengames
Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Reviews on: Android
MSRP: Free