iPhone game like A Dark Room, but...not A Dark Room?
July 10, 2014 5:54 AM   Subscribe

I’m looking for a game, playable on my iPhone, with probably crazy specific requirements. I fell in love with and completed (twice, once with huts and once without) A Dark Room. If I could erase my memory of playing that game and do it again, that’s basically what I’m after.

The main time I’d play this yet-to-be-found game is during small moments at work - while waiting 45 seconds for a large file to save, while waiting for other people to join a phone conference, etc. Some of the main reasons I loved A Dark Room was because it was relaxing, enjoyable, had a simple interface, and could be played in very very small increments without needing to do anything other than press “stoke fire” to save.

So, key factors I’m looking for:
- Preferably an iPhone app (willing to pay for it, but I’d prefer paying some amount up-front rather than getting a “free” game that has a bunch of in-game purchases).
- Can be picked up and put down easily and quickly (i.e. I don’t need to, say, leave a dungeon and return to town in order to save).
- Minimal graphics (not absolutely necessary, but I’d prefer something text or ASCII based to super pretty graphics).
- Not dependent on sound for any part of the game (headphones are usually being used for music or video conferences). Not a problem if there are sound effects/music, but the game shouldn’t require them to be on for it to be playable.
- At least some semblance of a storyline (not looking for Candy Crush here).
- Single-player.
- Able to make progress (even minimally) in very small increments of time.
- Hard to explain this one, but somewhat zen-like…like if you could turn the proverb “chop wood, carry water” into a game.

Other games/apps I’ve tried and liked, but don’t quite fit what I’m looking for:
- Monument Valley: awesome game, meets a lot of what I’d like…but I’ve already beaten it. Not big on repeating games.
- Threes: very fun, but doesn’t hit that “I’ve made progress!” part of my brain.
- Spelltower: same as Threes.
- Dots/TwoDots: also same as Threes.
- Letterpress: also same as Threes (seeing a pattern?)
- Triple Town: ditto.
- Fluid Toy 2: fun for a bit, somewhat soothing, but again - no progress or storyline.
- I’ve also read through this question and this question but haven’t quite hit what I’m looking for.

Anyone have a magical game that helps smooth out the work day without really distracting them from, y’know, work?
posted by DulcineaX to Technology (11 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There's a list right here!

I really like the candy ones. Candy box etc.

posted by bbqturtle at 6:29 AM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

King of Dragon Pass has some similar story-about-a-civilization elements, and the turns are pretty short.
posted by Phssthpok at 6:33 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I find that advanced wars and pokemon gameboy games also fit exactly what your bill is. I would get GBA4IOS and play some of those games. You have to set back your device's date for GBA4IOS but because of the nature of apple phones, it's impossible for this sketchy program to cause harm to your device.

Also, I really like a game called "dummy defense" which is a physics based puzzler where you try to build bunkers and stuff to protect crash test dummies. The creator made 4 or 5 games of the same theme.

"Duet" was a good game that each level takes about 30 seconds, but it does take some serious concentration. You are flying two balls through a series of walls.

Stair dismount and Uniwar are both honorable mentions. Not as addictive IMO as the other options.

Source: I like the exact same games as you. I would love any tips for any other games you like!
posted by bbqturtle at 6:34 AM on July 10, 2014

Best answer: You might enjoy the old-school text adventures from Infocom (and others)

Download Frotz and you can play a good number of them.
posted by Mchelly at 6:42 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This doesn't exactly meet every requirement, but I think it hits the primary ones.

Out There is a fantastic game(found from Metafilter in fact). It does have an upfront cost but has ZERO in app purchases.

You are an astronaut who is stranded across the universe from home and you have to go from plaentary system to planetary system collecting resources. Primarily you need Fuel (in the form of hydrogen and Helium(?)), Oxygen, and material for the ship/Hull (Iron).

As you system hop you will encounter (randomly generated) planets. Gas giants, rocky planets, etc. Sometimes inhabited worlds. Different planets have different resources. Occasionally you will encounter abandoned ships that you can trade for yours.

I think it fits what you are looking for because while it requires input, there is zero timing based inputs required. It only moves forward when you want it to. It does have decent graphics (so isn't text based) but they aren't high def and sound is not required at all. It is Single player.

You will die. A Lot. So you will have to start over, but you certainly get a feeling of improving.
posted by Twain Device at 6:54 AM on July 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


posted by subajestad at 9:39 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is an old one, but Virtual Villagers can be played incrementally and put down easily. I really did check the app periodically to make sure my little pixel people were thriving.
posted by mochapickle at 10:08 AM on July 10, 2014

Response by poster: Please keep the suggestions coming - I have an endless need for amusement!

Through bbqturtle's suggestion I found one that is basically a Dark Room clone, but I thought would be right up the collective MeFi alley: Kittens! (warning: your kittens will likely not all last the first winter).
posted by DulcineaX at 11:29 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might like Dooors. It's free, the graphics are pretty light, the story is minimal, but it's a lot of fun, very easy to pick up and put down, and surprisingly engrossing. The sounds provide some hints, but aren't completely necessary. If you like Dooors, there's also Dooors 2 and 3.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:47 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not for the iPhone yet, but the first to come to mind is Motherlode.
posted by dekathelon at 3:25 PM on July 10, 2014

I downloaded A Dark Room last night and somehow didn't manage to come back to this question. Busy gathering wood!

It reminds me of Puzzle Craft, which is incremental and aggressively positive. More graphical but it's the same type of little levelling up in the town's collective ability to build stuff.
posted by heatherann at 4:15 AM on July 11, 2014

« Older Please recommend songs with sad/disturbing lyrics...   |   Looking for a child's bank account in Canada. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.