Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values out there for under $20.
Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.
* Auroch Digital didn’t let the setback of Apple dropping the banhammer on Endgame: Syria derail its efforts for long. The world-conscious mobile game developer has now turned its attention to the ever-present threat of climate change with its latest release, Climate Defense. Built on the principles of tower defense play, Climate Defense tasks players with growing trees to diminish CO2 levels. It was completed in five days and can be downloaded right now on the Google Play store.
* Longtime Sierra composer Ken Allen has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support his plan for a new album of music inspired by his earlier work. This is a project that any PC gamer, past or present, over the age of 30 ought to be able to get behind. Just imagine what this music would sound like coming from a full orchestra.
* Fans have been waiting almost seven years now to see what’s next for Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. It was announced late last year that developer Red Thread Studios is working with Funcom on a follow-up, with creator Ragnar Tørnquist’s blessing and input leading things along. This week brought some new details about the in-development project, titled Dreamfall Chapters, as well as some early looks at the game.
* The Last of Us isn’t exactly Digital Blend material, but the demo for The Last of Us certainly is. Sony revealed this week that the March 12-releasing God of War: Ascension will also include an opportunity to give Naughty Dog’s latest effort a whirl. The Last of Us isn’t out until May 7, 2013, but Ascension will include access to a full chapter of the spring release for fans to try out. It’s not clear how long you’ll have to wait to download the early access demo after God of War is released, but it sounds like the content won’t be stored directly on the disc.
* BioWare offered up some new details earlier this week on the upcoming Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion that is coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic later this year. The price is now officially set at $20, though continuing subscribers to the partially free-to-play MMORPG will be able to snag it for $10. Subscriber or not, those who pre-order the pack will also receive a few additional bonuses, including a Dr. Oggurobb Hutt Holostatue, the in-game title “Scourge of the Hutts,” and a Makrin Seedling mini-pet.
Top buys of the week…
The Cave nabs a pick of the week win largely for its charm. We didn’t absolutely love the 2D adventure game hatched in the mind of Ron Gilbert and cobbled together by the fine team at Double Fine, but it’s worth playing. The problem with The Cave is that the more you try to see, the more it loses its appeal. The writing is killer and the graphics do justice to the material, but the emphasis on replaying large chunks of the same content just to see more new stuff is a real buzzkill. Check out our review for more.
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is a three-year-old Nintendo DS game that combines RPG play with match-three puzzles. It ported its way to consoles/PC in 2011 and now there’s a touch-enabled version available on the iOS App Store. The $5 price is hard to say no to for a game that offers plenty more than that in terms of its content. If you’ve never played it, Clash of Heroes is a nifty game that does things a little bit differently. The graphics look lovely on an iDevice’s Retina Display screen, though there’s admittedly less value here if this is a game you’ve played before. Still worth a look.
Yay Wave Trip. Lucky Frame takes a page from the PlayStation Vita-exclusive Sound Shapes for its latest iOS release. Equal parts game and musical toy, Wave Trip tasks players with tapping and holding on the left and right sides of the screen to activate shields and ascend in the player-controlled ship, respectively. The goal is to collect orange and blue tokens while avoiding a variety of obstacles. The twist is that each orange token you collect adds a new layer to the initially silent soundtrack, eventually building into a proper musical composition. Each level is a different “song,” and groups of songs are divided up into distinct levels. Really cool stuff, and fairly priced at $1.99.
Balloon Fight! Nintendo’s Wii U doesn’t have a proper Virtual Console yet, but the feature is coming to the console’s eShop later this year. In the meantime, Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Famicom (Japan’s NES) for the next bunch of months with low-priced NES and SNES game releases in the Wii U eShop. The deal boils down to one sale-priced title every 30 days, marked down to $0.30. Balloon Fight is up first, and it’s available now.
Temple Run 2 was released on iOS platforms last week, and this week it comes to Android. It’s Temple Run, with some new twists. Not all of them are necessarily fresh, but if you’re a fan of the earlier endless runner then you’ll probably dig on this one too.