The first images that come to mind when gaming is mentioned are usually violent ones- the hallmark blazing guns of first person shooters, the cartoonish mayhem of old-school side scrollers, and bodies aplenty. iOS gaming has its share of these sorts of games (and I’ve enjoyed more than a few), but the violence-adverse and parents needn’t be worried- the foundations of iOS gaming is casual, after all; a genre that has spawned a host of titles that eschew gore for engagement, bullets for puzzles. Think of the bigger titles in iOS-dom: Angry Birds, Where’s My Water, Words with Friends, Tiny Wings, Dots, and the list goes on. All are downright family friendly; taking perfect advantage of the new interface and convenience of gaming anywhere via a portable touch screen device.
Most of these casual games focus on puzzle solving. Some can be simple (like Dots), some can be maddeningly difficult (as anyone that’s played Year Walk can attest to). Some, like Angry Birds, add a physical component to further complicate gameplay: you have to figure out not only the best target and use for your birds, you must hit the perfect spots as well. While great for eating up those spare minutes in your day, most of these games aren’t exactly what you could label as relaxing. The focus might not be violent, but the gameplay is still often intensely engaging.
The grandfather of the relaxing puzzle game is Myst. For those of you too young to have been exposed to this groundbreaking bit of code, it was a strange mix of (at the time) beautiful graphics depicting a world that held puzzles of various difficulty that must be solved to further the story of the game (which had different endings, depending on your gameplay). I spent as much time exploring and enjoying the island as I did solving the puzzles.
Meadowland, a new release from one-man studio JMJ, captures much of the same spirit. I received the announcement from my friends at Bandello (my favorite source for my indie gaming fix). I was immediately struck at how different it is from the rest of my game app library. As described by the creator, the app is less game and more interactive poem; the focus isn’t on acheivement or attainment but exploration and experience. You play the role of a fairy following the guidance of a storybook as you explore Meadowland. Following storybook’s hints you use your song at specific places and times to go deeper into the story.
I admit, it took me a bit to acclimate to the feel of Meadowland. I play a lot of games, but know of (much less play) few of this subgenre; I’m more at home battling zombies or tensely solving a physics puzzler. The experience was interesting, and refreshingly unique compared to many casual games.
Meadowland does proudly sport its indie heritage. While well made, the graphics aren’t as polished as some big name titles. The visual simplicity doesn’t detract from the intended experience of the app, and fancy graphics or animation wouldn’t mesh with the spirit of the game. If you’re looking for something different to sate your casual gaming appetite you should give Meadowland a look. It’s available now via the iTunes App Store and is compatible with all iOS devices running version 5.1 or later.
- Liquid physics games for iOS (reviews.cnet.com)
- Spheroku™ Mobile Game is Now Available for iOS devices (prweb.com)
- Twin Moons Brings Fun and Choices in Casual Gaming to the Mac (geardiary.com)
- Casual Games Are Most Popular Among Women (raccoonchad.com)