Indie games are the heart of the App Store. While big-name brands often dominate the sales charts, it’s the chance of striking it rich with a breakout hit that drives independent developers to create their own miniature artistry. The indie games we’ve selected for this week’s round-up will let you take over the ancient world, pilot a futuristic mech, or just help a squirrel get his belongings back.
A Brief History of the World
This iOS board game shouldn’t be confused with the Mel Brooks movie, History of the World: Part 1. It’s fast-paced and competitive, but hardly hilarious. Like in Risk, the goal is to take over the world with your armies, one territory at a time. You’re presented with an unfolded Dymaxion map, which lets you see every territory (with adjacent lands) at once. You’ll earn gold for invading other players’ land, which have to be won with dice rolls, and you can play special cards that will let you gain the upper hand in battles. A Brief History of the World is simple and straightforward, which makes it a decent alternative to more in-depth historical sims like Civilization Revolution.
This third game in the MetalWars iOS series seems very similar to the first two, which is not a bad thing in this case. In this third-person shooter, you control a hulking machine with mounted turrets and a jet-pack booster. Combat is simple– just tromp up to your target, lock on, and circle-strafe to avoid returning fire. The background visuals are excellent, and the controls are adequate, though the fire button can feel a little imprecise in the heat of combat. Check this game out if you thought the official MechWarrior iOS real-time strategy game fell a bit short.
Whirl the Squirrel
Inspired by Sonic the Hedgehog, Whirl is a super-speedy rodent who loves to blast through loops. Instead of rings, Whirl is trying to collect flowers, along with the personal possessions that were stolen from his house by a mercenary tornado. Whirl the Squirrel also takes some good ideas from twitchy auto-running games, by giving you environmental clues that tell you when to jump over obstacles. The graphics are sharp, and the gameplay is highly responsive, so give this charming platformer a try.
If you like high score games and 1942-style air combat games, Flyro is a nice combination of the two genres. You play as a Flyro, a volcanic bird who is trying to melt the frozen destruction caused by his nemesis, the Mousetermind. You pilot Flyro by tapping on the sides of the screen, but if you lift your finger, Flyro will burst into flames and break through obstacles. It’s simple to play, but we would have preferred a different control scheme that let us make finely-tuned movements without moving our hands across the screen.
Alien with a Magnet
This platforming game has a charming cinematic introduction, with a squeaky-voiced alien narrating his recent crash-landing. He scavenges a magnet, which lets him circle around planets on his way to collecting gems and returning home. The controls are utterly simple– just hold down on the screen to orbit a planet– and the level design is enjoyable and accessible. Check it out if you’ve had fun with other magnet or grapple-themed games in the past, like Major Magnet or Chillingo’s Super Knights (formerly known as Knights of the Round Cable).