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Full Steam Ahead by Aardman Animations & ss Great Britain Trust

fullsteamahead

Full Steam Ahead is a game in which you design and build steam-powered ships in the spirit of Brunel. Gameplay is goal-focussed, with the player being tasked to create increasingly complex ship designs to meet ever more challenging criteria. The game gives the player the freedom to experiment, with ‘design tips’ orientating the player towards success. A simple currency system and strong art style round-off a very solid product.

Why we love it:

  • Game rewards experimentation.
  • Tip system scaffolds learning.
  • Strong art style.

Download for free now for iOS or Android or play it online

Fraxinus by Team Cooper & The Sainsbury Laboratory

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In the UK Ash trees are being attacked by a serious disease leaving some of the country’s few remaining ancient woodlands in serious danger. Fraxinus is a Facebook game that uses the tree’s real genetic data, and challenges the player to manipulate patterns to match sequences. The game capitalises on human’s capacity for pattern recognition and gives scientists a helping hand sorting the genome of the Ash tree in pursuit of a cure for the disease.

Why we love it:

  • Strong social network integration.
  • Very accessible version of this type of game.
  • Moreish and meaningful.

Play it on Facebook

Sokobond by Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee

sokobond

Sokobond is a block-pushing puzzler about chemistry. Rather than being a direct simulation, it inspires further exploration of a sometimes daunting subject. A tutorial-free introduction immerses the player in experimentation as they try to figure out how different atoms bond to make molecules, without being prescriptive or dull. The visual design is beautiful, clear and refined, distilling the essence of the gameplay and learning into a triumph of simplicity. Critically acclaimed for good reason!

Why we love it:

  • A worthy tribute to Japanese classic Sokoban.
  • Clean art style.
  • Gradual and organic learning.

Download it for Mac, Windows & Linux

10 by iojoe

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10 is an addictive mash-up of Sudoku and a classic sliding block puzzler which will hone your mental arithmetic and problem solving proficiency. Slide number blocks together to create 10s, once a block becomes 10 it’s rendered immovable, encouraging you to plan your path to perfection. Initially simple it quickly descends into obsessive, head-scratching territory; your brain will thank you.

Why we love it:

  • Incredibly simple pick up and play mechanic.
  • Dozens of levels with an increasing variety of blocks.
  • Works your arithmetic and problem solving skills.

Get it on iOS (free) or buy it for Android

dys4ia by Anna Anthropy

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Dys4ia is a gamified experience about hormone replacement therapy. The controls are very simple – just the arrow keys – and the starkness of the gameplay and the lo-fi aesthetic allow the content to shine through. The game’s creator is making headway in an otherwise unexplored and totally niche area of videogames. It’s like queer WarioWare and is at turns funny, frustrating, informative, and touching.

Why we love it:

  • Game based on real experiences and events.
  • Simple retro styling enhances the message.
  • Witty and moving in equal measure.

Play it online (free)

Wuzzit Trouble by Innertube Games

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Set inside a trap-riddled castle, Wuzzit Trouble is an educational puzzle game which teaches mathematical conceptual thinking. Where other educational games use the gameplay as a mask to hide the learning, Wuzzit Trouble’s gameplay is the learning. The game introduces the idea of mathematical experimentation and encourages the idea of refining and improving your strategies for playing, all in the name of releasing the cute and fuzzy Wuzzits.

Why we love it:

  • Original gear-based mechanic.
  • Appealing characters.
  • Improves multiple skills- suitable for a variety of ages.

Buy it for iOS

Blackbar by Neven Mrgan

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Blackbar is an exercise in economy of development. It’s a text-based game which places word & logic puzzles within a dystopian future (or past) narrative to show the possible consequences of extreme censorship. Its barebones visual style detracts nothing from its message or gameplay, and the sense of satisfaction when you solve a particularly difficult puzzle is great.

Why we love it:

  • Strong story- equally humourous and chilling.
  • The puzzles are pretty challenging!
  • Multiple endings.

Buy it for iOS

Gone Home by The Fullbright Company

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Whilst Gone Home is presented as a traditional mystery with some light horror stylings, it’s actually [spoiler] an engaging and charming social commentary on the challenges faced by young people dealing with their sexuality. But there’s more to it than that – the way you empathise with the personal lives of your character’s parents, coming to realise they’re just people with their own hopes, dreams, ambitions and failings is all moulded into an enjoyable (if voyeuristic) game.

Why we love it:

  • Packs a healthy dose of 90s nostalgia!
  • Atmospheric, subtle and innovative storytelling.
  • Realistic, emotive sound design.

Download it for Mac, Windows & Linux

Plague Inc. by Ndemic Creations.

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Plague Inc. is a strategy game where the aim is to kill off the world’s population. By engineering a disease, you affect transmission, mutation and possible cure rates. It teaches how diseases spread and can kill through factors like hygiene, economics and human transit. It also uses historic comparison of epidemics like The Black Death and Spanish ‘Flu. It’s unsettlingly satisfying to see each country turn a bloody red, and read the news of attempts to defeat you, but ultimately, the game is a reminder of human fragility.

Why we love it:

  • Sometimes it’s fun to be evil!
  • Unexpected teachings on world geography.
  • A great mix of science and horror.

Buy it for iOS or Android

Papers, Please by Lucas Pope

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Papers, Please is a ‘Dystopian Document Thriller’ set on the border of a fictional Eastern Bloc country, Arstotzka. The premise seems simple: accept or deny those who wish to come in to the country based on news bulletins, terrorist attacks, international relations, inconsistencies in their documents and, of course, your own morals. Mistakes, unintentional or not, cost money you can ill afford with a family at home who are sick and hungry.

Why we love it:

  • Gratifyingly physical stamping and scanning.
  • Unexpected statements on gender performances.
  • An eye-opening exploration of struggles on conflicted borders.

Get it on Steam or download it here