app store birthday sword and sworcery

In its five year lifetime, the App Store has totally changed videogaming. Time was developers needed publishing deals, dev kits and at least 20-man teams to get a game out the door and making money. Now, thanks to the Store, one person alone can build a game and ship it to millions of users. The potential for independently made games to make money is unlimited. As such, we've seen a volley of creatively led games hit the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Here are five of the best.

Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon encapsulates perfectly the "easy to learn, difficult to master" maxim which has served games like Angry Birds and Temple Run so well. But it's cooler than those other two, way cooler. It's simple really. By tapping either the right or left corner of your iPhone's screen, you have to dodge incoming hexagonal shapes, weaving the small triangle you play as between gaps. As you go on, the shapes become more complex and appear more quickly, meaning you need sharp reflexes and, honestly, a lot of patience to make it to the end.

app store fifth birthday super hexagon

There are three difficulties - Hexagon, Hexagoner and Hexagonest - then three "hyper" modes which speed the game up even further. Try and last more than 10 seconds on hyper Hexagonest, we dare you

Plague Inc.

This is a really good one. You play as a virus, and the idea is to spread yourself across the entire world and kill everyone. To achieve that, you use DNA points to evolve new symptoms and new ways of transmitting yourself, so at the beginning, you might pour all your DNA into being hyper-contagious, making it so you're transmitted via air, water and insects, and then, once you've infected everyone, suddenly mutate to cause vomiting, pneumonia, cysts and comas.

app store fifth birthday plague inc

You have to watch it, though, because humans are jumpy buggers and if they get wind that this new virus is spreading fast and killing people, they'll close airports to quell the epidemic and start developing a cure. Be discreet. Wait until you've infected all seven billion people on Earth, then rapidly mutate the organ failure symptom to bring them all down. Then maybe have a look in the mirror and tell God you're sorry.

Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery EP

It's not easy to describe Sword and Sworcery. It's a side-scroller, a puzzle game, an RPG, a text-based adventure and a Jim Guthrie record all rolled into one, but also none of those things. Well, it's still a Jim Guthrie record - Sword and Sworcery has one of the best soundtracks of recent years, provided, as you may have guessed, by Jim Guthrie. And the rest of the sound design really stands out. Sword and Sworcery is optimised for iPhones and iPads, and works best with headphones plugged in.

app store fifth birthday sword and sworcery

You play The Scythian, a young woman on a quest to kill a creature called the Gogolithic Mass. To reach him, you have to explore through landscapes, caves and the insides of your own subconscious to find pieces of a key called the Trigon. Trippy, hilarious and cool, Sword and Sworcery is one of the App Store's standout games, and as part of Apple's birthday celebrations, it's available to download now for free.

The Nightjar

Another one for audiophiles, The Nightjar is a horror game played using sound. You're trapped aboard a spaceship, the eponymous Nightjar, and all the lights have gone out. Thrown into total darkness, the only way to navigate past the killer alien creatures that have snuck on board is to listen out for their grunts. You also have a scientist from another ship, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, feeding you instructions through an earpiece.

app store fifth birthday nightjar

Headphones are an absolute must: Without stereo sound, it's impossible to tell where you're supposed to be going. The Nightjar's also best played in a dark room, alone. There's an interactive element of course, but it's a lot like an audiobook. It's damn scary as well and a great example of the unique kinds of games that live on the App Store.


Lastly, something very different. Shade is a text-based adventure in the vein of old BBC Micro games, the difference being that it's scary - very scary. Or rather, weird. It's a surreal story about you, awake in your apartment one night packing your bag to go on a hiking trap in the Texas desert. But nothing is as it seems. As you continue packing, the room starts to collapse, reality starts to blur and you start to realise you might not be awake.

app store fifth birthday shade

It's creepy as all hell. Originally self-published as a PC game by Andrew Potkin in 2000, Shade is a little fiddly on the iPhone since you have to type in what you want to do: "Put shirt in bag", that kind of thing. Nevertheless, it's a real trip and makes for a welcome change of style compared to what the App Store is generally known for.