At Big Fish Games, a new game is released every day. Every, single day. We have the privilege of being among the first to play them, getting the scoop on what’s great and worth your time. Head on below to read up on games that Big Fish released this week.
More like Nerdery!
Whoah nellie. Wordary might be too smart for its own good. You spin seven hexagons with six letters around and the linking letters must make words. It is complicated and difficult and something that takes quite a while to wrap your brain around. Also, it struggles to find a way to incentivize the player.
Out of the gate you can play a handful of modes. This is a wonderful step, considering the Main Game is a bit directionless. You are just sorta unceremoniously plopped down and told to play. No time, no goal, no limit. It needs something that’s not in the Main Game. Luckily, the other modes steer you a bit. There’s timed mode, word find and one called Follow My Lead, which is really nice and creative.
The timed mode and word find are simple enough; you either get a time limit or find a specific word. Follow My Lead is a mix of both, where you have to earn as many points as possible in a certain time. The catch is this: the computer chooses a word at random and only gives you the first few letters of it. You have to deduce the word form there. It might start with M-I-N, but you have to find the rest. On top of this, you might find an easy word like “mint,” but later see that you could’ve nabbed “mindlessness” for a lot more points. This makes a nice You vs. Clock dynamic sorely, sorely missing in Main Game.
Honestly, it’s a great game. The controls (yeah, controls) are a bit too sensitive and unexplained but it’s no biggie. I’m no word game buff so it didn’t really rev my engine. However, I could see some people getting really into a game this complicated and full.
More like Big … Buffoonah!
Big Kahuna Reef 3 is match three game. It has a nice island setting and you – well – match three things by swapping adjacent-but-not-diagonal tiles. It’s a game which succeeds only because it relies on such a honed formula. However, likewise, it is the very quality of the formula (let’s call it Bejeweled) that makes this game look so poor.
It’s like comparing a Cadillac to a Pontiac.
The boards are asymmetrical, which is always cool, giving you a bit of a challenge when you’re trying to get into that tight spot. And you get power ups. To be honest, it’s a lot of the same.
There is, however, one amazing, shining bright spot. Mouse Party. Take the game and add another mouse and make it competitive and you get Mouse Party. THIS is a great idea. It’s a blast, making a stale game one worth picking up if you have another match three fan around. What can I say, things are more fun when you got a buddy.
Sadly, it’s the only thing Big Kahuna 3 does superbly well. The rest is middling and there are better puzzlers on BFG.
More like City of … Drools! (this is getting harder)
City of Fools is … interesting (a damning word in any sense of critique). It is undoubtedly the craft of a very passionate, small group of people who poured a whole bunch of effort into it. It’s got an art style somwhere in between Xenoclash and some weird, twisted Nick Toon from the ’90s. It’s a large game world that doesn’t dangle blocked-off areas in front of you. I rummaged through the trash within the first three minutes, I’d say.
Now, that is not to say that it is a great game, maybe not even a good one. It’s more of a spectacular failure. A piece so unique and odd that it succeeds and fails simultaneously. At the very core, it’s a hidden object adventure and a poor one. Objectives are sloppy and confusing, the UI is unintuitive and characters offer aid only in the most arbitrary fashion. Still, it’s got a charm, mostly encapsulated within the art style and sarcastic worldview it presents.
Certainly, it should be commended for breaking the easy-to-replicate formula of HO adventures. It does so with confidence and a winking sort of aloofness. But, again, perhaps inside jokes and diarrhea quests aren’t the ingredients to a great game. Ehh, who knows? City of Fools is very unique and very heavy-handed. It’s an alternative for sure, just maybe not a good one.
More like … umm. Not too … Shaban-ny!
Considering the similar and straightforward sheen that seems to encompass so many Big Fish Games, Shaban is something totally unique. With a stylistic touch to rival Tim Burton, quirky is the quintessential term to describe this game. Filling an oft-forgotten era by being a true point-and-click adventure title, Shaban is a simply story of a boy and his sheep. When nefarious thieves raid his homestead and steal the flock, Shaban sets out on a quest for justice with the one remaining fluffy friend who managed to hide away from the bandits.
This tale is told through a combination of comic book-esque panel progressions, full-motion sequences, and character speech bubbles. The latter is a sure stroke of genius, as crude drawings replace typical text. It’s adorable, delightful, and surprisingly descriptive. Beyond this brilliance, the overall visuals and animations are amazing throughout, well worthy of even a Double Fine production. With a lighthearted and borderline dark silliness at its essence, Shaban’s story is sure to instill some smiles.
Refusing to fully falter, the gameplay is equally as good…almost. That’s a very, very minimal “almost,” mind you, but with the bar held so high by the astounding atmosphere, I’m unsure if anything could have fulfilled my expectations. This isn’t to say the game isn’t great, of course, as it certainly is. Story situations cause you to play as either Shaban or the sheep at separate times, and environmental interactions change appropriately (and cleverly) depending on your controlled character (the sheep cannot read signs or talk to people, for instance). Puzzles are varied and interesting enough, though the strict linearity is a bit of a setback. And because every Big Fish Game needs them, hidden object moments make an (unwelcome) appearance.
I initially appreciated the fresh approach, scrolling through a scene in search of pieces to put together an item you actually need, but they quickly became tedious and troublesome. With items blending into the background too well or being completely blocked by the foreground, I dare you to finish these frustrating hunts without resorting to the hint button. Even a few other puzzles fall victim to this particular problem, with objectives so obscure I never knew what I was supposed to do and turned to the hint system to survive.
Blinded by its beautiful originality, I fell into a premature love with Shaban. After some actual gameplay, however, I’ve shifted him to friend zone status. I still love him, though only as a brother. Still, don’t let this slightly less significant bond betray my recommendation. Point-and-click adventures are so few and far between that any well done example is a rare treasure. Keep calm, make liberal use of the hint button for hidden object solutions, and Shaban will undoubtedly entertain.
More like Haunting … ugh, forget it.
I enjoy elaborating on the creative intentions of every game, searching for successes. The sad fact is, though, if you’ve played any bland Big Fish hidden object release recently, you’ve played Haunting Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls.
Because that’s the best word for this basic work: bland. Your opening plane crash outside an accursed island with captive spirits seeking freedom is an uninspired standard affair. The visuals aren’t impressive either, with stiff and stuttering animations among flat scenes and objects. I didn’t even notice the music until a half-hour in, and only then because it suddenly stopped without loop. To its credit, Hidden Mysteries employs some relatively enjoyable voice acting, but with no other hook, this tiny detail isn’t nearly enough to spice up the tasteless title.
As always, gameplay must be mentioned, but don’t expect any surprises here. Like usual, you obtain items to solve environmental puzzles to progress, stumbling upon the occasional ordinary hidden object sequence or seen-that-before challenge of putting picture pieces together or correctly connecting electrical wires. Even the hint system is devoid of modern nuances, offering no help within puzzles besides selecting to skip them and restricting stuck players to the tedium of “I should look elsewhere!” when using the button to assist in exploration.
Like a lettuce salad (hear me out), Hidden Mysteries: The Island of Lost Souls is as plain as they come. Now, there’s nothing inherently bad about a lettuce salad, but what hungry patron will ever actively avoid the delicious extras that can make a meal exciting when others are offering them at no additional cost? Not a single soul, so settle for something succulent instead.
– Luke Frazier
Sha-blam! We got a game of the week! The throwback, stylized adventure of Shaban should sate your thirst for some online goodies. So, won’t you give it a spin? You won’t be fleeced, promise!