Booooo! It may be December, but it’s time for some spookiness! That’s right, we’re kicking off VGU TV’s first App Recap with a special Halloween Edition!!! Remember Halloween? A whole month ago because I’m always late with things and I’m so prone to sickness so I forget to do my work? Yeah, that Halloween. But alas, the show goes on! With a brand new website, no less! If you’re new here, first of all, hello! I’m Graydon; I’m the guy who likes to shine the spotlight on mobile gaming, seeing as it gets left behind in the dust and downtrodden quite often. So I dust off the old spotlight once a month for App Recap, which you’re reading right now! So hey there! Now, the following apps are not exactly new, but they are morbid, off putting, and downright terrifying. Happy belated Halloween! Enjoy!
Heads Off drew my attention at the start of the month, as I saw it on the front page of the App Store. Being the newest app of the bunch, I didn’t quite know what to expect going in. Upon further inspection, I found myself quite confused the entire time I played it. Heads Off follows the Flappy Bird mentality of tapping the screen – or in this case, holding the screen – to keep an object afloat: in this case, a disembodied head. These heads are kept afloat by their screams, which never stop and never get any less unsettling. Truly, it must be seen to be believed. Heads Off is a trippy experience. As you guide this head through the never-ending level, propelled by screams and facing obstacles such as uneven platforms, ramps, and gaps, a fictional story is told along the right side of the screen. Each head is given a random storyline, with progression being marked by the head’s aging, and each year providing a new fact about said head. This text is hard to read, though, as it is difficult to simultaneously read a nonsensical story and keep a severed head from hurtling into the abyss. Yes, Heads Off is a trippy experience. Better still, new heads can be grown on the “head tree” with the use of collectibles scattered across each level. Each head is assigned its own high score – and its own personal scream – so replayability is high. It’s messed up and deeply disturbing, but it’s fun nonetheless. Now you know… well, you still know nothing about Heads Off. So, you’re welcome.
Okay, I must admit I’m cheating with this one. I did not actually play Granny. My girlfriend played while I watched. Also, I did not take these screenshots, as I was too chicken to even launch the game myself, on my own phone. So thank you to Google Images and those who came before me, er, her, to play Granny. This game is wild. It’s your standard first-person puzzle game in which you must escape a house while being pursued by an invincible monster. Shout-out to games like Amnesia for creating this terrifying and extremely unapproachable, nightmare-inducing genre. Yeah, I’m really not a fan. But Granny makes the list because it’s a surprisingly well-put-together video game. Granny takes place over the course of one night, with five chances to die and try again. You play as an unnamed protagonist who wakes up in a house and must find a way to get their car started again without the titular Granny finding and murdering them. The game’s physics engine is what shocked me the most, as many household objects can unexpectedly be knocked over, causing a sound which will attract Granny to your location. Stealth is key in this game, and the puzzles are as complex as the hiding spots. While Granny’s searching skills may not be too realistic (for example, she’ll never open a locker even if she watches you enter it), the game itself is a lot deeper than it seems on the surface, and I have to give credit to these developers for creating a chilling, high-quality puzzle game with such a low-budget feel. Granny is a mobile horror gem.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
Another mobile gem I’ve been sleeping on is Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. This game’s been on the App Store for nearly two years, and I’m just now playing it. You take control of series hero Jason Vorhees as he moves around levels mercilessly decapitating and disemboweling unsuspecting teens. This puzzle game can be played either isometric or top-down, with both camera angles giving you a unique perspective of the action. Gameplay is strangely similar to a block-shifting puzzler – hear me out – in that Jason can only be moved in straight lines across the level, and each action must be carefully planned before following through, or else the end goal will never be reached and everything must be undone. Traps can also cause problems, with Jason’s movements running the risk of ending up in fire, drowning (ironic, right?), or in the path of an armed police officer. The aforementioned end goal, of course, is to murder every teen onscreen, which is made more entertaining with an assortment of unlockable weaponry across many varied locales (such as a prison or the infamous Camp Crystal Lake). Murdering innocents with shovels, crowbars, and machetes has never been so fulfilling, especially when it requires completing a complicated puzzle to get there. If puzzles are too hard, Jason’s disembodied mom is always available for hints, and microtransactions abound in the form of tips, loot boxes, and even unlocking entire stages if you don’t want to work to unlock them for free. Killer Puzzle is a satisfying little puzzle game for anyone: experienced or hopeless.
The Walking Dead: Our World
I started writing App Recap after the whole Pokemon Go craze had died down, so I never got to describe how much that game impacted the world around me. Back in June, I talked about Niantic’s newest endeavor, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which hasn’t exactly “taken the world by storm” as much, but I know a lot of people really enjoyed it in the beginning. One game, however, that completely flew under the radar back in 2018 was The Walking Dead: Our World, AMC’s augmented reality response to the aforementioned Pokemon powerhouse. This game takes place in the television universe of The Walking Dead, and tasks the player with scoping their real life world for any digital zombie attacks in-game. These can range from NPC’s being overpowered by walkers to a multi-level horde of walkers hiding out in plain sight. Wiping out these encounters earns you new weaponry, supplies, and teammates in the form of characters new and old (including, but not limited to, Carol, Michonne, and Daryl). Having better items allows you to take on heavier foes, which drop even better items. Warehouses can also be found or built, and upgraded to help you and your team. Teams can be joined through the social tab, and this is the best way to make money – which I found to be the worst part of the game, seeing as it drains so quickly. I was surprised by how much content was packed into this game, and furthermore, just how large the community is. More people are playing Our World than I would’ve imagined, and I’m not ashamed to say I am now one of them.
One of the first mobile games I ever remember playing, Spooky Hoofs was a delight to return to after all these years. While it may not have aged very well, it’s certainly worth a try for anyone who’s never taken the reins before. Get it? Reins… cuz Hoofs? Anyway, this game is super simple on the surface, with the player taking control of a side-scrolling horse-drawn carriage that moves automatically, and the only real actions being a dash button and a jump button. Think of Canabalt but with horses. And demons. Things get really crazy, though, when you find out all those multicolored orbs you’ve been picking up actually grant you superpowers, from flight to literally lighting your whip on fire and shooting fireballs. This comes in handy, however, when giant monsters appear to f up your jaunty stroll through the countryside. Thankfully you can attack these haunted windmill blades and massive jumping spiders with your terrifying whip, but this is made much harder by the uneven landscape you’re still navigating a horse-drawn carriage across. So yeah, Spooky Hoofs is a bit of a wild ride. The only downside is while playing this on an iPhone XR compared to my old 4th Generation iPod Touch, the HUD is a bit wonky. This makes it a little harder to keep up with the action on screen, but for the most part, Spooky Hoofs continues to be a ghoulish classic and I’m thankful it’s still available on the App Store for my nostalgic pleasure.
Wow, I sure was thankful a lot in that last paragraph! How about we keep the ball rolling in November? Seems like the perfect time with Thanksgiving going on here in the states, and all. Thanks again for joining me this month as we looked at the spookier side of mobile gaming. I hope you’ll come on back in a couple weeks for my November App Recap, where I’ll be looking back on five of my all-time favorite apps that I’m super thankful for. Should be a fun time! See ya then!