The Trend of Attractive and Creative 3D Mobile Puzzle Games
These numbers say something about what we look for when we browse app stores for latest games for our smartphones and tablets. A lot of us don’t want to be completely taken over by non-stop shooting, or having to build up entire civilisations for combat, or diverted by yet more physics-based, quick-tapping bicycle hill-crashing capers.
However, what about an addictive brain-tickler where a 3D puzzle-realm unfolds serenely and atmospherically and that can be solved by exploring quietly? A game where we not only feel like we’re exercising our minds, but also sharing in the challenge with others (or eager screen-loving kids).
There is clearly huge space for these games in the lives of ordinary, busy, even balanced (!) smartphone bearers.
‘Monument Valley’ was an almost spiritual 3D puzzle-scape experience. Made by Ustwo Games, it took you into confined wonderlands of leisurely exploration infused with intriguing, ambient sound. However, these areas were also expertly designed puzzles. They varied beautifully from one to the next. You didn’t feel too overwhelmed when confronted by their inner complexities and this was a big tribute to the way they were designed. In other words, they appeared complex but were so interesting you tried them anyway and then discovered… that none of the levels were actually all that hard. They could be solved more by intuitive movement than any intense, chess-like strategy (that, let’s face it, has never been much fun). You could even call it a brain-tickling adventure. There is now a sequel available.
‘Mekorama’ (made by Martin Magni) is the younger brother to ‘Monument Valley’. He’s less artistic, more fun-loving but also loves lego or robots and everybody spends more time with him. It features a small, amusing robot who also needs guidance from A to B within a dense assemblage of block-types. It also has an editor so you can create levels and share them with others via a simple user-friendly level designer. Huge possibilities open up where everyone can potentially help to expand the game (and promote it).
You could describe ‘Mekorama’ as a game for all the family, less sleepy than ‘Monument’ and made with more fun, versatile graphical elements. The result is another of those games that makes you feel good about your smartphone. It’s that delicate art of tapping into all that Minecraft creative gold, while also having a challenging single-player aspect and being hugely accessible.
And it is accessible. The game is offered for free (which also explains the 10 million downloads of course) and where instead of interfering with gameplay via annoying ads etc, we are simply invited (via a largely hidden menu) to tip something on the basis of what we think the game is worth. It’d be great if all apps did this!
Mekorama’s quality of being lego-like as opposed to artistic means the developer has been able to include this custom level creator. I didn’t even think of my own kid as a budding 3D level designer until he’d nearly finished making one. It’s not an off-putting component and it doesn’t take long to start getting a feel for. However, creating a more devious level takes more work, which is where parents can join in.
In terms of a worthwhile, universal and creative game you can’t find much better, and with such massive choice out there, one feels the need for guidance and being selective. It’s our time on the line, after all.
Mekorama website: http://www.mekorama.com/
Monument Valley: https://www.monumentvalleygame.com/mv2
Other worthy mentions in the app store: ‘Hocus’ and ‘Captain Tom Galactic Traveler.’ And from other genres (but also great diversions): ‘Alto’s Odyssey’ and ‘Roll the Ball’.