Welcome to the Game Grrlz blog! Today we’re discussing the VERY addicting iOS word game W.E.L.D.E.R. It’s a scrabble-tile based game, with a weirdly steampunky feel to the setup of the game with a splash of arcade thrown in. It of course involves making words as tiles fall from the top of your screen, and you have a limited amount of moves to make a set amount of words. Making big-point words earns you more moves. But there are nasty traps set for you- tiles that can’t be moved, tiles that are toxic, etc. I got so addicted to WELDER that I had a dream about having a robot named WELDER. Seriously. I did complete my dynamic extraction (that’s winning the game) after a week of steep learning curve pain, and that was pretty satisfying. There is great replay value here, as well as several other smaller games in the home menu and the option to do two-player games. Overall, I just adore this game, although I feel it should come with a warning label about addiction to it.
Eva: Curse you, W.E.L.D.E.R! What have you done to me? This is my current new obsession - like I needed another one. Gameplay was slow-going for me at first and I started over a few times until I had a feel for it. I’m half-way through and now that the trial by mild confusion and self-doubt is long past, I’m humming right along. It’s low pressure, but be ready to be infuriated and foiled by words you’ve never heard of! Place a tile in the wrong place and you may spell an antiquated medical plural noun that stops you in your tracks! Oh well, the word may pay dividends with the accidental, random cascade of other words that play on the board.
This game has provided a new way of playing word games and the challenge is deliciously addictive. I can’t wait to get back!
Welcome to the Game Grrlz blog! Today we’re discussing one of our favorite games of all time, the interactive fiction (IF) game Counterfeit Monkey by Emily Short. This game is just a must-play for anyone who likes wordplay or puzzle games. I don’t want to give away much about it, since discovering who you are and what world you’re in and how it works is one of the joys of IF, especially this one. But it is set in a dystopian society where language is highly regulated and objects are physically malleable according to the letters they contain (a tube can become a tub simply by removing an “e”). Your character is really new and interesting, and the gameplay is long, with many locations, puzzles, other characters, and plot twists. This is a game that takes days, if not weeks, to play.
For those unfamiliar with IF, these games are text only (although Monkey does have a map graphic) and require you to type in commands (like “get book,” or “drop carrot”). There’s shorthand for many commands (like “e” means “go east,” or “x desk” means “examine desk”), but by and large you need to figure out what to do and type it in correctly, which can be frustrating. This game’s parser reads many commands very well and almost always understands you, and has rich descriptions that allow you to examine and use just about everything in the long and vivid story.
Monkey is written beautifully, with an entirely new world created that is absolutely believable. I was totally absorbed and never felt bored or overly frustrated. Best of all, the game consistently feels as if you are really exploring and living this story- it never feels as if you’re being just dragged through someone else’s story. It’s as rewarding as a great book, only you are actually participating in it. And it has a socially relevant message that kept me thinking for a long time, not just about the world in Monkey, but about my world.
When it comes to this game, all I want is a Men in Black neuralyzer so I can stun myself and play it again and again and again. The world Counterfeit Monkey takes our minds to not only is a fantastic puzzle, but has a sheen of social satire and commentary. Words have so much meaning in Counterfeit Monkey and can be morphed in their value and meaning… it’s a profound experience. It trains you how to play early in, with a good learning curve. I loved its quirky solving style and I felt satisfyingly challenged and entertained, just as I would with a page-turner of a book. If you are going to play, get a good notebook and a favorite pen or pencil. Write everything down; you’ll want to make a map and keep a good organized inventory. Hats off to Emily Short! It’s a masterpiece.
Note: Counterfeit Monkey can be played for free on iOS by downloading the free Frotz app and using its search function to find the game.
Welcome to the Game Grrlz blog! Today we’re reviewing the escape room Blue Meth Breakout at Lockout Austin in Austin, Texas. I highly recommend this game. It’s really witty, with fresh puzzles, great atmosphere, and a highly unique room guide and hint system. The only real drawback to this room was its lack of scope. You stay in one room the entire time, so it’s missing something I love about room escapes- finding your way into another room and having a whole new place to explore. But with that said, the room is large and there is LOTS to do to keep you busy. There were two of us playing, and I’d say the room is better designed for 4 people- there are just so many puzzles there, and many of them are really different and new. This escape has a room guide who also plays a role in the story, and this was one of the really great things about the game; our guide was really top-notch and set the tone for the game well. Finally, the attention to detail in this room and in the puzzles is terrific. A lot of care and thought and humor went into crafting these puzzles, and making them stand out, and work with the narrative and the ambience. Many times puzzles in escape rooms feel sort of WTF- like what is an electronic neon puzzle doing on a 19th century pirate ship? But everything here felt crafted to fit the storyline and the grungy feel of the room.
What a delightful room to escape ( or at least try). To begin with, I was not expecting an in-character room guide and very glad to experience the immediate immersion and extra sparkle he brought with him. It was fun before the clock even began! This was by far my favorite guide and hint system and it was folded into the game seamlessly and humorously. The puzzles and cleverness required were wonderful. These guys made a single small room layered and complex with lots to do. It was dense and we were busy - juuuust the way I like it. There was a nice combination of puzzles types that were familiar and new ideas for critical thinking/puzzle solving. Overall, I REALLY liked this room and I REALLY liked the staff. Clearly, this is a passion for them, like it is for us, and it shone through in every experience. See you again Lockout Austin!
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Beautiful, thoughtful, difficult puzzling that's free with in-app purchases.
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Welcome to the inaugural post of the Game Grrlz blog! Today we’re discussing the addictive iOS puzzle game Two Dots. We’ve been playing this game for years, and it’s something I actually structure my life around. I like to have a free hour Thursday at 2:00 to play their weekly bonus puzzle. The idea is simple- you connect dots of the same color on a screen full of different colored dots and connecting them makes them disappear, which allows new dots to fall from the top of the screen. You have goals- to collect a certain number of a certain color dots, or to get rid of other obstacles or collect some other achievement as you get rid of the dots. There are many, many variables to this game as you progress to well over 1000 levels: dots that spread fire, dots that move and eat other dots, dots covered with ice that needs to be broken, dots that explode, etc. It can be extremely challenging, and every day you are given free helpers- like erasers that can erase dots, or shufflers that can rearrange your screen, and this is a great feature. The game is free to download, and you can buy extra lives (you regenerate lives every 20 minutes to a max of 5), extra moves, or extra helpers. I’ll toot my own horn by saying that I have 3 stars (the max) on every level and I’ve never bought anything from the game, so I’ve had an enormous amount of enjoyment out of this for years for free. The gameplay is smooth and easy, it really makes you think, and the art is beautiful and fun. I do hate the music, though- I always have it turned off.
I just put down Two Dots to come and write this review. Amanda has done a great job explaining the ins and outs, so I’ll just say this: I play it every day and I sometimes I see it when I close my eyes at night. I guess you can say it’s in my head. Amanda and I play very differently and it’s an interesting study. We both like to win the game without using a helper, but she hoards them and I squander them immediately because who likes to win that way? I do however get crazy and can’t go to bed without seeing the design of the next board. Will there be fire and tar or those annoying crabs and magnets? She can go to bed with an unfinished level. There are other examples of how our different proclivities and inner self-competition vary, but we both love it and it make the games work for us. I finally finished the current levels and am going back and getting three stars on all levels… and/or besting my friends who are also signed up. I want all the gold! It’s pretty, soothing, smart, and I’m hooked.
Play Two Dots!
Eva and Amanda are best friends who puzzle obsessively. Our focus is on iOS puzzle games, interactive fiction, and live room escapes.