September has kicked off with quite a few great apps and awesome games for iPhone and iPad. There's a fantastic side-scrolling stealth game from Sony with some nice hooks into the console version. On the app side, we have a few things to help around the house, including the garden and the kids.
That's enough out of me, let's check out the apps.
Back to Bed
Back to Bed is a surreal puzzle game akin to Monument Valley. Players have to guide Bob, the hapless sleepwalker, from the beginning of a stage to bed through M.C. Escher-style impossible architecture. There's some truly bizarre imagery to soak in among the fairly standard puzzle gameplay, least of all being your primary character, Subob, who is a turqoise human-faced dog representing Bob's subconscious that moves a giant apple around to alter his sleepwalking course.
Back to Bed is a great imagining of the weird things that go on in our heads.
Etherlords is a polished turn-based combat game whereby players gather creatures across a fantastic world in order to rebuild shattered lands. 3-on-3 battles provide matter tiles, which have to be placed strategically to restore certain areas. Once a lake, forest, or other landscape type is fully restored, you earn a creature which can jump in your party, or have their souls combined to create powerful hybrids. The graphics in Etherlords are absolutely fantastic, and the gameplay, though hinging on some classic freemium tropes, is refreshing and new.
Valiant Hearts is a puzzle game by Ubisoft set in World War 1. Inside you'll find a heartwrenching story about soldiers on the front line of The Great War and their faithful hound Walt. Valiant Hearts boasts a gritty graphic novel art style and a great mix of gameplay types. The earlier release on PC and console enjoyed a great reception, and the mobile adaptation has shaped up really nicely.
CounterSpy is a superb side-scrolling stealth game about disarming Russian nukes in the Cold War. Levels are randomly generated, and rely on sneaking around oblivious guards and surgically shooting out cameras to reach your objective. Over time, you steal enough top secret research to upgrade your weapons and unlock new equipment. Intuitive and simple controls have been adapted elegantly from the console version of the game for mobile, plus progress carries over between the two versions. To top it all off, CounterSpy's exaggerated, cel-shaded art style is absolutely great and befitting the retro setting.
Heavy Metal Thunder is a sci-fi gamebook where players are desperately trying to support a human rebellion the face of widespread alien invasion. There's a ton of replay value here, as there's a widely branching narrative that you can continue to explore, even after your first play-through. Strong writing backed up by the odd reflex-driven mini-game and classic RPG-style progression make for a great time.
You know who you are, dog people. (coughAllycough) Howzabout a social network dedicated to sharing dog pictures and status updates? Build profiles for you and your pets, mark them as adoptable if they need a new home, and edit your photos with built-in tools. Best of all, every week, the owner of one of the most popular dog pictures will get to pick a nearby shelter for a $1000 donation.
Reddit unveiled an official app for their high-profile AMA stories this week. Now when celebrities do Ask Me Anything sessions on the social link-sharing site, anyone with the app can keep tabs on the latest questions, upvote and downvote community submissions, and drop a few questions of their own. You can browse through the archive of previous AMAs based on categories or search for specific individuals to flip through their crowdsourced interviews.
Anyone who spends any time on Reddit should grab the new Ask Me Anything app.
Ondes is a new music app for iPad that replicates many of the kinds of sounds you'd hear out of a theramin. More specifically, the app is named after an early electronic keyboard instrument named the Ondes Martenot. Multitouch input is supported, along with a dizzying array of settings, a one and a half octave range for the keyboard, and a morphing wavetable oscillator. Amid all of that, the developers have managed to maintain a simple user interface.
iPad musicians will have a ton of fun messing around with Ondes.
If you're trying to squeeze in a bit more landscaping while the weather's good, Garden Sketch is a simple, helpful app for planning the layout of your garden. Pick, resize, place, and move all sorts of different types of foliage, add labels so you know which plants are going where, and place your home in the midst of it all.
Homeowners with a green thumb will find an immediate use for Garden Sketch.
Story Bug is an interesting idea for helping encourage literacy and keep families in touch. The app allows parents, grandparents, or other older relatives read a shared story with a child over video chat. Both sides can see where one another is touching the screen, flip pages, and talk over video chat. There are a bunch of educational books available for kids ages 0 - 6 the the content partner Cricket Media, available either a la carte through in-app purchases, or all-you-can-read through a monthly or annual subscription. Kindoma, shown in the demo above, is the engine powering the whole affair, and has been available for awhile if you're looking for a different selection of books in this vein.
Grab Story Bug if you need a little help around your kid's bedtime.