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Dragonbox Elements by We Want To Know

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Dragonbox Elements is a tactile new Maths game with a focus on 2D geometry. The aim of the game is to help the player recognise and interact with a variety of geometric shapes.
One of the joys of the game is that the player literally draws out the puzzles by tracing over a number of set co-ordinates that form the basis of each challenge. Once a shape is drawn out it spawns a monster! These geometric gremlins are able to affect the geometry on screen when the player highlights certain properties around them such as the matching sides of an equilateral triangle. Each time the gremlin finds themselves at the centre of newly highlighted bit of geometry they evolve into a new breed of creature complete with new powers that can affect the gameplay. Once all the key shapes have been revealed the newly evolved gremlins can escape their mathematical confines and the level is completed. The game has a pleasing difficulty curve although the lack of a help function can (on occasion) leave you scratching your head for the appropriate action. Nevertheless DragonBox Elements is a polished and intriguing way to look at geometry for students of any age.

Why we love it:

  • Original and intriguing Maths based puzzle game.
  • Intuitive tactile interface.
  • A gentle and satisfying difficulty curve.

Get it for iOS or Android

The Sandbox by Pixowl

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The Sandbox is a free-to-play physics simulator. Players are given access to an array of materials and encouraged to experiment with them. Each material has a unique property and will react to other materials placed nearby. This allows the player to build simple machines, electrical circuits and a variety chemistry based experiments. Whilst the tutorial gently guides you through a variety of in-game possibilities it is the free play mode that offers the player long term fulfilment. The control system makes the most of the iOS touchscreen and offers a simple and intuitive interface which is perfect for experimentation.

Why we love it:

  • Learn about a variety of materials and their properties.
  • Build circuits, conduct experiments and create structures virtually.
  • Save, share and rate your best creations in the online gallery.

Play it online or get it for iOS or Android

Untrusted by Alex Nisnevich

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Untrusted is a lo-fi adventure game which challenges you to escape from a series of increasingly cryptic puzzle rooms by editing the very code that is running the game in your web browser.

With its atmospheric electronic soundtrack and authentic ASCII-art aesthetic, Untrusted evokes the feel of classic cyberpunk literature and hacker culture, while also helping players improve their programming skills. There has been a wave of games exploring programming concepts recently, but what makes Untrusted stand out is its focus on getting players to really think like a programmer. With a strong emphasis on reading unfamiliar code and modifying it through the creative use of a limited set of commands, the game helps budding coders to develop the core problem solving skills that are transferable to any programming language.

Why we love it:

  • Retro aesthetic gives the game an authentic hacker feel.
  • Open-ended design means there are many solutions.
  • Modifying code makes you think like a programmer.
  • The game’s code is open source and downloadable.

Play it online

The Great Brain Experiment by White Bat and The Wellcome Trust

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The Great Brain Experiment is a Wellcome funded mobile app for android and iOS with a welcoming and friendly art style that hides its serious scientific purpose.

The app packages up a number of psychological tests as a mini game compendium and record the player’s every move, thereby gathering a wealth of information useful in the study of Neuroscience. The games themselves are simple tests of both dexterity and perhaps more importantly, character. They test things like how you deal with pressure, whether you are a risk taker, whether you are impulsive and a number of other character traits.

Why we love it:

  • High production value for a free app.
  • Interesting game mechanics that test more than dexterity.
  • The chance to take part in a ground breaking MME (Massive Multiplayer Experiment).

Get it for iOS or Android

Fort McMoney by David Dufresne

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Fort McMoney is a point and click adventure that puts you into the heart of the moral dilemma that is the Canadian oil business. McMoney uses documentary footage to add a deep sense of realism to the game. Taking on the role of environmental detective you meet and greet everyone concerned from the native inhabitants to the executives and politicians that are driving the oil business deep in the Albertan countryside. The framework of the game encourages users to debate the issues with the wider community and for once you get the feeling that there is enough information available in the game to fuel a really constructive dialogue.

Why we love it:

  • Modern take on the point and click adventure
  • Hours of fascinating documentary footage
  • Links to debating forum where the topic can be explored further

Play it online

Sticks and Stones by Littleloud & Channel 4

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Sticks and Stones is a free app and web game developed by Little Loud and commissioned by Channel 4 which aims to throw some light on the murky world of bullying. The player is able to select one of four kids languishing at the bottom of the ‘social ladder’ and help them to earn Kudos to impress their peers. The games focus on different aspects of bullying – allowing the player to defend against attack or display a more aggressive attitude depending on the dice falls. Regular reminders of the real cost of bullying appear between each turn to give the player further context but it’s clearly a game of survival in this dog-eat-dog world.

Why we love it:

  • Fresh and funky art style.
  • Mario Party style mix of game board and mini games.
  • Game ideas come from real life experiences collected from school kids.

Get it for iOS

Dumb Ways to Die by Barrel of Donkeys

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Dumb Ways to Die was created by Barrel of Donkeys as part of a campaign on rail safety for Metro Trains Melbourne, Australia.

The game features 15 snappy mini games in which players must attempt to save cute characters from a variety of grisly deaths – all in a race against time. As players reach high scores, they unlock new characters, seen happily dancing away at the in-game train station. Featuring simple mechanics, a charming 8-bit soundtrack and a wicked sense of humour, Dumb Ways to Die helps raise awareness of a sensitive subject in a way that has broad appeal.

Why we love it:

  • Moreish hook of collectable characters.
  • Perfectly targeted safety campaign packing humour and meaning.
  • Meaningful without being worthy.
  • Smart integration with social networks.

Get it for iOS or Android

Kerbal Space Program by Squad

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Kerbal Space Program is a game where players of all ages create their own space program. The aim is to help the Kerbals to conquer space by building and flying rockets. NASA has partnered with the game on a special downloadable mission pack and KerbalEdu, a cooperative, school-friendly version of space exploration sim Kerbal Space Program, was launched late last year. KSP is still under development, but we can’t wait to see what the team come up with!

Why we love it:

  • Cute characters backed by hard science.
  • Open sandbox promotes learning through experimentation.
  • The demo version is free, and will remain so forever.

Try or buy it here

Nightmare: Malaria by Psyop

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In Nightmare: Malaria you must navigate two worlds – Blood and Brain – set inside a young girl suffering from malaria. Your aim is to kill mosquitoes and save teddy bears. It’s justifiably dark – malaria kills over a million people worldwide every year. Whilst the game is completely free, you will be prompted to donate throughout, with 100% of proceeds going straight to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Why we love it:

  • Graphic, fevered visuals add to the nightmarish atmosphere.
  • The in-game donations.
  • Featuring the voice of Susan Sarandon!

Get it for iOS or Android

The Walk by Six to Start

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The Walk is an adaptive fitness app from the makers of Zombies, Run! and the NHS. With over three month’s worth of super immersive story telling, and hundreds of miles of walking, it helps to establish long term fitness habits. Broader in its appeal than the aforementioned Zombies, Run! The Walk begins with a terrorist attack at Inverness Station. You must escape the city and walk the length of the country, deciding who to trust along the way. The app tracks your steps, how long you’ve walked for, and rewards you with adventure to keep you moving.

Why we love it:

  • Gameplay adjusts its difficulty based on the individual.
  • Motivates long term activity habits.
  • Packed with maps, collectible items and engaging characters.

Buy it for iOS or Android