8 Great Stealth Games You Can Play on PC

If you like sneaking around the world, creeping up behind people and knocking them out (or taking their life), we’ve got some games for you to check out. These eight PC games let you indulge your inner thief, without all the pesky run-ins with law enforcement.

styx-master-of-shadows

Styx: Master of Shadows

Styx is a goblin thief who can use nooks, crannies, and shadows to conceal himself until the time is right to strike. You’d better bring your “A” stealth game as well, as the combat is a bit of an afterthought, and being forced to resort to it often leads to your demise. Luckily, the world is well-designed, with plenty of options for concealment and vertical movement. You can also check out the sequel, [i]Styx: Shards of Darkness[/a].

NFS 2017 to Feature Offline Single-Player, EA’s Ghost Games Reveals

EA-owned Ghost Games has confirmed that a new Need for Speed game will release later this year, with the return of a feature whose omission had infuriated many: the option to play offline.

“You will be able to play through a single player experience completely offline,” the developers said in an official blog post. “Before you ask, and we know you will, this does mean you will be able to pause the game.”

In two previous entries, Need for Speed had become an always-online experience, in a bid to merge the single-player and multiplayer experience. It seems EA is willing to backtrack on that mission, though there’s every chance that you will lose out on some single-player features while you’re offline. We won’t know for sure until EA Play, the company’s E3 off-shoot, rolls around in June.

On the face of it, it’s still a nice acceptance by the studio, after delivering two NFS titles – 2013’s Rivals, and 2015’s eponymous reboot – that essentially held you hostage.
Alongside, Ghost Games also revealed a few other details of their new racing game. For starters, the new NFS will be playable in daylight, as opposed to the 2015 instalment that took place entirely at night/dawn.NFS 2017 to Feature Offline Single-Player, EA's Ghost Games Reveals

Secondly, car customisation will stick around after making a return. “It’s not going away and it will play as strong a role as ever as we move forward into the next game and beyond,” it added.

In addition to that, it will stick with its open-world policy: “Whether you’re checking out your freshly customised ride or smoking the competition in an event up in the canyons, you’re going to want a world that not only looks beautiful, but offers you the space in which to do the things you want.”

And lastly, dirt racing also looks to be a part of NFS 2017. “We’re dialling up the action and allowing you to tear up the tarmac, and dirt, to your heart’s content,” Ghost Games said.

 

The best free PC games

 

‘Free-to-play’ has become a bit of a dirty word in gaming, mostly associated with rubbish smartphone apps and microtransactions designed to manipulate players into spending far more than they word on any other game.

Free games aren’t all bad though, and there are plenty that are worth a lot more than their non-existent price tag might suggest. Some still include microtransactions, while others are 100 percent free; some need to be installed, but there are plenty you can just play from within your browser.

These are our favourite free-to-play timewasters when we’re on a desktop, but we’re sure we’ve missed a few – let us know your favourites in the comments. And make sure to check out our favourite Android games – plenty of them are free too.

Dota 2

Described by the creators as a “competitive game of action and strategy,” Dota 2 is a hugely popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game that originated from the WarCraft III mod ‘DOTA’ (Defence of the Ancients).

In fact, the game maintains the title of having the biggest e-sports prize of any game on the planet, with ‘The International 6’ featuring a prize pool of a whopping $20 million.

The idea behind the game is pretty simple: players pick a hero and battle it out against the other team, and using tactical gameplay, bring down the enemy base. There are over one hundred heroes available and every hero has a variety of skills and abilities.

When combined with the skills of your teammates characters, the gameplay can be quite unexpected and ensures that no two games are ever alike.

Free to play and available for download via Steam.

League of Legends

Another hugely popular MOBA that’s free to play is League of Legends, a game that boasts a worldwide tournaments that fill arenas including Wembley with fans, and offer prizes in the millions.

The game is described by its developers as a “fast-paced, competitive online game that blends the speed and intensity of an RTS with RPG elements.” Two teams comprised of five players battle head-to-head across various battlefields and game modes, with the aim of destroying the enemy Nexus (which is pretty heavily protected as you might imagine).

However, the game isn’t over when the opposing team is wiped out – instead, players must think strategically to destroy the various inhibitors positioned throughout the map with the aim of wiping out the enemy Nexus. The inhibitors are protected by turrets which are best handled when you use minions to take the flack (top tip there), and if you attack a nearby Champion the turret will automatically focus on you.

There’s also a huge focus on customisation, as players are able to fully customise their champions to suit their style of gameplay – players can enhance their armour, magic resistance and health to take on the role of a tank, for example. It’s a game, like many other MOBAs, that won’t take long to learn but will take years to master.

Those interested in playing can sign up for free right here.

Spaceplan

If free-to-play games in general get a bad rep, then no genre is regarded worse than the ‘clicker’. These simple games encourage minimum player interaction, maximum wait times, and are ruthless in their use of microtransactions.

Except Spaceplan.

This whimsical browser title (later expanded into more comprehensive app versions) sees you as an astronaut in orbit around a mysterious planet. With most of your systems damaged, the only thing you can do is click to build up power, repair your solar panels to generate more power automatically, and create potatoes.

Yup, that’s right. Potatoes. You’ll use them to build potato probes to explore the planet, potato satellites to map out the system (Spudnik, geddit?) and eventually just start lobbing potatoes into the Sun.

Along the way you’re treated to a minimalist electronic score, hilarious writing, and not a single request for money.

The original browser game is still available entirely for free, but if you’re a fan you can pick up the massively expanded version for PC, iOS, or Android.

Play Spaceplan for free now.

World of Tanks

World of Tanks is a popular MMO (massively multiplayer online) game featuring early to mid-20th Century fighting vehicles. Players find themselves browsing a selection of armoured vehicles before being dropped into an epic battle on a random map.

The player has complete control over the movement of the vehicle, as well as its weaponry, and players are able communicate with team mate via both text and voice chat. The aim of the game is, basically, to wipe out the other team or capture a base (though this isn’t present in every game mode).

You’ll find six types of battle in World of Tanks; random battles, team-training battles, tank-company battles, team battles, stronghold battles and special battles. Random battles also offer missions which, if completed, reward the player with credits, higher crew experience coefficients, or new vehicles.

Though the game is free to play, players can opt to pay for the use of ‘premium’ features (like additional tanks).

The game is free to play, and can be played here (once you sign up).

Warframe

Warframe is a free-to-play third person shooter with co-operative capabilities, developed by Digital Extremes (and also available on PS4 and Xbox One).

Players are dropped into the virtual world as members of the Tenno, a race of ancient warriors (or space ninjas as we refer to them) at war with the Grineer, the Corpus, and the Infested.

The player characters are equipped with exo-armour called ‘Warframes’ and together with teams of up to four, the aim is to work together and complete missions. Missions vary from having to wipe out enemies to hacking terminals to retrieve data and even assassinating high ranking targets.

Players are equipped with three weapons; a primary weapon (rifle, shotgun, etc), a secondary weapon (usually a pistol but players can also opt for bladed weapons), and a melee weapon (again, bladed weapons including swords and axes).

Each piece of equipment can be upgraded, and these upgrades are usually found on the bodies of defeated enemies but can also be found by completing challenges and missions.

Warframe is free to play, and is available to download via Steam.

QWOP

QWOP is super hard, super funny and super addictive. In this classic browser-based game you are Qwop, your small nation’s sole representative at the Olympic Games. It’s like an old-school athletics SIM in that you have to use the QWOP keys to move your athlete’s legs.

It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. And with around 30 million users around the globe it’s pretty popular. With justification.

Play QWOP via your browser here.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is a hugely popular first person shooter developed by the creators of Steam, Valve. Though the game came out way back in 2007, it still receives regular updates to this day and is in fact the second most popular free-to-play game available on Steam right now.

The game is focused around two teams battling it out to achieve their primary objective, which is defined by game mode you’re playing.

If you think it’s simple, you’d be mistaken – players have a choice of nine character classes, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and weapons, which when coupled with the three weapons available to each character, makes gameplay a little hectic.

And that’s without mentioning that Team Fortress 2 features 16v16 matches that can be pretty intense, especially at first. The good thing is that whenever you reach a level/mission you’ve never played before, you’re shown a video on how to complete its objectives.

Team Fortress 2 is available to download via Steam.

Bejeweled Blitz

We couldn’t have any sort of list of free games without including the Bejeweled franchise, for franchise it now is. Bejeweled Blitz, one of the more popular games in the series, is easily playable via Facebook, but you will find others.

In all the objective is to swap one gem with an adjacent gem to form a horizontal or vertical chain of three or more gems of the same colour. Bonus points are given when chains of more than three identical gems are formed and when two chains are formed in one swap.

Gems disappear when chains are formed and gems fall from the top to fill in gaps. Sometimes chain reactions, called cascades, are triggered, where chains are formed by the falling gems. Cascades are awarded with bonus points.

But really all you need to know is that swapping gems and making them disappear is simple, repetitive and a lot of satisfying fun.

Play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

For those looking for something slightly different, we offer Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone is an online collectible card game developed by Blizzard, creators of World of Warcraft.

Released back in 2014, the game is available to play on Windows, OS X, iOS and Android devices with cross-platform capabilities and progress syncing. This means that you can play on your PC, then carry on where you left off on your iPad while battling an opponent using a Mac.

The game is, essentially, a digital collectible card game that revolves around turn-based matches, with a variety of game modes. While players start the game with a collection of basic cards, players can come across rarer and more powerful cards by purchasing packs of cards, as well as a reward for completing various Arena runs.

Unlike with other playing card games, your opponent has no influence over your action during your turns – which is a huge plus – although your foe can play cards that’ll automatically respond to your actions.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is available to download via the Hearthstone website.

Marvel Heroes 2016

Marvel Heroes 2016 is another free-to-play MMORPG where players can take control of various characters from the Marvel universe (players can unlock the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Deadpool and Wolverine) and play in an open world environment.

Players need not spend money to access the full game, although micro-transactions are available for those that want to spend some (real) money. There are hundreds of missions and activities available to take part in, with a main plot revolving around the villainous Doctor Doom.

As your character gains levels, they gain stat increases which help them obtain power points, which can be used to define the character’s abilities. Each character has three ‘power trees’ focusing on specific mechanics or gameplay style, such as Iron Man’s shields or Deadpool’s guns, for example.

Players also have access to a crafting system that allows them to upgrade gear and costumes, craft consumables and artifacts – and if all that seems boring, there’s a bit of PvP action too.

Marvel Heroes 2016 is available to download via Steam, and is also available for Mac.

Tribes Ascend

Tribes Ascend is a free-to-play first person shooter developed by Hi-Rez Studios and is available exclusively for Windows gamers.

The game features a class-based loadout system a la Battlefield, with each loadout offering different combinations of armour, weapons and items. Players can change loadouts when first joining a game, as well as when they respawn and when at an inventory station.

Like many games, Tribes Ascend features a level system but it isn’t based on performance, but instead is based on time spent on the game.

Interestingly, Hi-Rez haulted development back in 2013, and then released a new patch, the appropriately named “Out of the Blue” patch, on 10 December 2015. The patch brought with it dramatic changes to the underlying game, and hopefully symbolises a new era for the three-year-old game.

Tribes: Ascend is available to download from the Hi-Rez Studios website.

Threes!

The great thing about playing Threes! online is that you can play even faster with keyboard arrows than you can on your phone. The aim of the game is to build numbers up, which is certainly no easy feat.

You’ll start with some low tiles like 1s and 2s, which you can slide in any direction (but not diagonally). When a 1 and a 2 touch, they combine to form a 3. After that, you join tiles of the same number to form multiples of 3: two 3s make a 6, two 6s make a 12, and so on.

As you move your tiles, even if you don’t manage to merge any in that move, new ones can appear on the grid. Run out of space and it’ll be game over.

The original app for Threes! proved so popular that countless clones appeared, including the arguably better known 2048, but we reckon you should support the original – which you can also grab on iOS or Android.

Play Threes! online here.

Agar.io

Agar.io is incredibly simple to play, and is one of the most satisfying browser-based online games you’ll play.

You start off as a tiny cell, and by absorbing cells (both NPC and players) smaller than you, you gain size and become more of a threat to those around you.

When combined with mechanics that’ll let you split in two or shoot off excess cells (to help speed yourself up), you’re left with a game that’s can be both simple to play, yet incredibly strategic. Plus, XP and reward systems will make you come back time and time again.

 

Rockstar Games, Take Two seem to back off of PC game modders

 

Earlier this month, Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two angered the PC gaming community after sending a cease and desist letter to the developers of the OpenIV modding tool. OpenIV allowed people to create modifications for GTA IV and GTA V single player, but according to its creators, the letter said their tool could “allow third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two’s rights.” Facing the threat of legal action, they announced on June 14th that they would stop distributing OpenIV.

Now, after revolt by players including a campaign of bad ratings for the GTA games on Steam and a Change.org petition with over 77,000 signatures, Rockstar Games may have worked out a solution. A post on its support forum today said that Take Two has agreed that it will “generally” not take legal action against third party projects as long as they meet certain guidelines.

After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of third parties. This does not apply to (i) multiplayer or online services; (ii) tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or (iii) use or importation of other IP (including other Rockstar IP) in the project.

While it went out of its way to say that this is not a waiver, and “is not a license, and it does not constitute endorsement, approval, or authorization,” it may be enough for modders to breathe easy. Rockstar representatives have told PC Gamer and Motherboard that it is in contact with the makers of OpenIV, apparently to try to prevent people from using it to affect the GTA Online multiplayer. There’s no word from the team yet, but today the tool received an updated build.

 

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 was ‘just too ambitious’, says CI Games

CI Games’ Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 was delayed on two occasions in the lead up to its eventual April 25 release. Perhaps the writing was on the wall at that stage, given the developer has now admitted its plans were too ambitious—a fact galvanised by a small development team and pressing deadlines.

Since launch, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has suffered frame rate and load time issues and while CI promises to continue supporting its open world tactical shooter into the future, it suggests trying to keep pace with other big budget games hamstrung the team’s creativity.

“We’ve learned a lot as a team over the course of development for Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, much of which I believe has shaped the talented individuals within CI Games and the entire studio for the better,” says CI’s CEO Marek Tymiñski. “When we began development of SGW3, we decided on such a relatively large scale of the game with its open world that now we realise it was just too ambitious versus what we could have been able to deliver in any reasonable amount of time.”

Tymiñski adds: “We simply made the wrong math considering the size of our team and the originally given timeframe. By positioning the game in a AAA category, it took us away from what we could have done great. Instead we spent too much effort trying to catch up with other AAA titles in terms of their production values and features. That was a big mistake.”

The CI CEO continues to say he and his team have learned “huge” lessons from the process and as such have their eyes fixed on another shooter that will have depth “without the trapping of a large open world setting.”

It’s understood CI Games is also committed to developing a sequel to its 2014 action role-player Lords of the Fallen.

 

Jed Whitaker’s top lit and or turnt games of 2016 fam

 

ing cat dressed up as your favorite Nintendo characters that can drive a cat-sized tank, so there is that.

Boy, that sequel to Nier looks fantastic, eh? Well, what if I told you that there exists a budget-priced title that plays very similarly to the first game, has a nice big map, an incredible story, and tight combat? I’d imagine you’d be inclined to believe me since it is in my top games of the year and is called Anima: Gate of Memories. Just be warned, the first 30 minutes almost made me shut the game off, but after a rough start it hits its stride and is addicting.

I bought in hard to VR and I honestly regret it. Out of all the games I’ve played I’d say there’s one or two tops on each headset worth playing, but nowhere near the asking prices of the “privilege goggles.” The Gallery: Call of the Starseed is one of those games. It’s a dark fantasy adventure puzzle game that hearkens back to films from the 1980s, as another game on this very list does. If you get a chance to play it, take it. Rumor on the street is the rest of the series is going to be loosely based on classic dark fantasy films such as Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. I’ll dust off my Vive for sequels for sure.

The more colorful and fun (in my opinion) lovechild of Nuclear Throne and Binding of Isaac is the adorable yet difficult Enter the Gungeon. If you’re into randomly generated levels, hoping good weapons drop, and tons of secrets and unlockables in Zelda-esque dungeons, you gotta give this one a play. I especially love the dodge roll mechanic that makes you temporarily invulnerable and the ability to flip over tables to hide behind as you push them about. Simple but effective.

Oxenfree, the other 1980s-inspired dark fantasy adventure game on my list, has a killer soundtrack, gripping story with plenty of twists and turns, and the best writing of any game I played this year. This is the Stranger Things of video games, and sadly it seems most people passed up on it. The story is essentially The Goonies meets Stephen King’s It on an island with ghosts. Sold yet?

Surprise! One of the best games of the year is objectively Metroid Prime: Federation Force, regardless of any petitions for fans wanting some other mythical game they made up in their heads.

Check it, it has all the makings of a good game: an engaging story mode that can be played solo or with three other players (local or online), a frantic competitive online mode that combines soccer with a genre you wouldn’t expect (just like the highly popular Rocket League), and tons of unlockable skins. All things that people love in 2016! Plus it feels like the most authentic Metroid game I’ve played since the other Prime games, especially when played alone. You get that sense of wonder and loneliness the series is known for. Honestly, it’s the best FPS on the 3DS, though it doesn’t have strong competition.

You’ll notice that the microtransaction carrot dangler Overwatch isn’t on my list because obviously, Battleborn is better than it is. Thing is, they are completely different games in adjacent genres and play nothing alike. Battleborn is more of a MOBA with a story mode and various multiplayer modes without all the hassle of most games in the genre. The characters are chatty Cathys but oh so loveable with tons of much catchier and entertaining lines than Overwatch.

If only the publishers hadn’t pitted these games against each other and let them exist on their own without some stupid war like the whole “Halo killer” Killzone bullshit, Battleborn probably would have done alright. Now there is basically no one playing on PC and the console versions are hideous and hard to play at an ancient 30fps. Even so, I love Battleborn and I just wish everyone gave it a chance instead of doing what everyone was good at in 2016: picking sides and hoping the other one dies.

My personal pick for game of the year unsurprisingly goes to Owlboy, a game that I consider perfect, which is unsurprising thanks to its nearly 10-year development. The pixel art is some of the best I’ve ever seen, the soundtrack is up there with Zelda and Cave Story as one of my favorites of all time, the story is gripping, and the characters are memorable, lovable, and downright charming. I love Owlboy so much that I’d even go as far to say that not only is it the best game of the year, it is certainly in my top three games of all-time, if not my favorite game of all time. Please, buy it, love it, and support it. D-Pad Studio legit has earned and deserves your money.

So there we have it, another perfect list of games in a very shitty year. Some notable games are missing from this list other than Overwatch, but you can mostly assume I just haven’t had the time to play them like Doom and Titanfall 2. Also, Hearthstone is still one of my top games, but why tell you the obvious in a giant paragraph? I look forward to my list of games in 2017 that will surely include many Nintendo Switch games and a bucket-load of Steam games.

10 great PC games you may have missed in 2017

Now that we’ve taken a peek at the best PC games of 2017—so far, at least—it’s time for our other biannual tradition: Rounding up some of the top PC games of 2017 that might have escaped your notice. The smaller indie titles, the B-games, the ones that slipped between the cracks here at the site and maybe slipped through the cracks in your Steam library too. New PC game releases are a dime a dozen these days, after all.origin steam games

Some of these games have flaws, some are definitely suited for a niche audience, but they’re all interesting—and ultimately that’s what makes PC gaming itself interesting. All of these games can coexist on the platform. We’re living in a golden age for games. We’re spoiled for choice.

And here are 10 games that prove it—everything from a modern Where’s Waldo to a Monty-Pythonesque point-and-click to a sci-fi detective story, and more.

 

E3 2017: Sony’s PlayLink for PS4 Will Let You Play Games Using Your Phone

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PlayLink lets you play games on your PS4 via a smartphone
  • Titles vary from crime thrillers to quick-fire quizzes
  • PlayLink titles include That’s You!, Hidden Agenda

At the ongoing E3 2017 in Los Angeles, California, Sony announced some of its most anticipated games for PlayStation for the year including God of War, Spider-Man and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, to name a few. Console titles aside, the company also introduced PlayLink, which allows users to play games with family and friends using their smartphones and tablets.

PlayLink is aimed at creating a fun, interactive way to play games in a social setting. Based on a video Sony released showcasing the feature, PlayLink requires a smartphone or tablet, a TV, and a PlayStation 4 console, which, when set up, lets you and your group of family or friends play interactive PlayLink titles.

“PlayLink games turn your smartphone or tablet into a versatile controller – you can swipe, pinch, drag, tilt, rotate or even snap selfies and draw crafty doodles, depending on the game. No matter which title you choose from our PlayLink collection, it’s guaranteed to be a slick pick-up-and-play experience,” Sony said in a blog post.E3 2017: Sony's PlayLink for PS4 Will Let You Play Games Using Your Phone

PlayLink titles range from crime thrillers to quick-fire quizzes. In one of the videos, for example, you see a group of people playing That’s You! – a quiz-based app that “challenges you and up to five friends to get personal and find out what you really think about each other.” This will be one of the first titles for PlayLink and will be available for PlayStation Plus members for free starting July 4.

Another video shows a crime and narrative-based game called Hidden Agenda that allows up to six people to join in. The game requires the players to make tough, quick decisions as the story progresses, which will also influence the way the game moves forward.

Sony sees PlayLink as something that can come in handy during social gatherings as well as rope in new players to video games. It also reminds one of Jackbox Games’ Party Pack multi-platform social games. Some other PlayLink titles that can be expected soon include Knowledge is Power, Frantic, and SingStar Celebration.

 

The 6 Best New Android Apps And Games

 

The phone you have now might be more powerful than a supercomputer from the early 90s, but that won’t do you any good unless you have cool software for it to run. You need good apps and games. The problem, though, is figuring out which of the many new titles in the Play Store are worth your time. Well, here they are. After many hours of toil and testing, these are the best new apps and games you can get on Android right now.

Firefox Focus (Free)

The trend lately has been for browsers to do as many things as possible, but that’s not what Firefox Focus is about. This browser runs on the same engine as other versions of Firefox, but it eschews things like extensions, tabs, and even bookmarks in the name of privacy.

Firefox Focus

Ryan Whitwam

Firefox Focus

When you open Firefox Focus, all you have is a search/address bar. That opens a single tab, and that’s all you get. You can use the floating action button at any time while browsing to close the page and clear data. There’s also a notification that does the same.

Focus defaults to blocking all ads and most trackers. You can shut this feature off in the menu if that breaks a page, but most of the time it just makes pages load faster and use less data. And of course, there’s the privacy aspect. Firefox Focus is free to download.

Neon Chrome ($9.99)

There have been plenty of top-down shooters on Android, but I think Neon Chrome is the best one yet. This comes from the developers of the fantastic Crimsonland, and it takes the twin-stick shooter genre to a new place with randomly generated levels, amazing replayability, and deep customization.

Neon Chrome

Ryan Whitwam

Neon Chrome

Your goal in Neon Chrome is to fight your way through 20-something levels to take out the Overseer. This is a tough game, so expect to die a lot at first. Each time you die, it’s game over. However, you can use the credits earned to improve your character for the next run. The game doesn’t get stale, either. All the levels are randomly generated, and various character classes and perks encourage you to try different approaches to victory.

Neon Chrome has a rad cyberpunk style with lots of neon colors (duh), lighting effects, and cool character design. It’s an expensive game at $10, but it’s so worth the price.

Adobe Scan (Free)

You don’t need a scanner anymore, you have a phone. Well, you need an app to make your camera act like a scanner, too. There are several good apps that do that, but the new Adobe Scan might be the best one yet. To scan a document, just set it down and point your camera at it. Adobe Scan automatically finds the edges and captures the image.

Adobe Scan

Ryan Whitwam

Adobe Scan

You can add as many pages as you want to a document, and the app is very good about flattening, sharpening, and transforming the images into something vaguely page-shaped. You can manually re-adjust the crop if you want, but Adobe Scan is extremely good at doing it all automatically.

The documents you create with Adobe Scan can be instantly exported as a PDF, or you can upload them to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The app also runs text recognition on the documents you scan, making them searchable via the Acrobat app. Not bad for a free app.

Spaceplan ($2.99)

Clicker games are usually good for a few minutes of mindless fun, but Spaceplan manages to make a clicker game fun by dressing it up in a sci-fi package and tossing in some excellent writing. So what is the strange animal? As the description says, it’s  “based partly on a total misunderstanding of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.”

Spaceplan

Ryan Whitwam

Spaceplan

Spaceplan follows the exploits of a lone human (you) and the AI of the spaceship you find yourself stranded on. You’re orbiting an odd planet, and the only way to get home is to generate enough power to scan the surface, investigate your surroundings, and maybe travel through time a little. Amusingly, all the power comes from various forms of potatoes and tapping on the “kinetigen.” That’s the clicker aspect.

Spaceplan has simple geometric graphics, but the game feels very well-crafted. The dialog is witty and you’ll actually care about the story, wacky though it may be. This is the perfect game to play for a few minutes while you’re waiting in line someplace. The $2.99 price tag is a real bargain.

Audvel (Free)

Interested in some auditory entertainment? Podcasts are a good, free way to pass the time. The apps for listening to them often cost a few bucks. The new podcast app Audvel is completely free, though.

Audvel

Ryan Whitwam

Audvel

You need to log into Audvel with either your Google account or another email, but it automatically syncs your subscriptions between devices. That’s one of the essential features of a podcast app for me. No one wants to lose all their subscriptions when they switch phones. You can add new subs from the app’s discovery section, or search for your favorites.

You can stream new episodes or download them for offline playback. When listening, Audvel includes built-in support for increasing playback speed. It also compensates for the increase speed by lowering the pitch. It’s not the most full-featured app, but it’s still very new and completely free. There are supposed to be ads in Audvel, but I haven’t see any yet. A future in-app purchase to remove such ads seems likely.

Card Thief (Free, $1.99 upgrade)

As the name implied, Card Thief is a card game. However, it’s also addictive and hugely intense. That’s not usually something you’d say about a card game. In Card Thief, you play the role of a thief on a heist, and the only way to make off with the loot is to knock the other cards off the board until you reach the end of the deck.

Card Thief

Ryan Whitwam

Card Thief

Card Thief comes with a lengthy tutorial, which a good thing as the rules are somewhat esoteric. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to move your thief around the board, taking out guards, disarming traps, and eventually snagging the treasure chest before beating a hasty retreat. You remain alive as long as you have stealth points, but each actions like extinguishing lights and taking out guards use some of them. The key to success is understanding how to move strategically to maximize your stealth points and avoid the light.

Card Thief has a distinctive hand drawn “gothic” art style, and the animations are more elaborate than you’d expect from a card game. For example, the guard cards emote and change based on their alert status. Card Thief is an extremely well-made game, and you can try it free. If you like it, the ads can be removed for $1.99.

 

AbleGamers’ Player Panels could make future games more disability-friendly

 

Nonprofit charity AbleGamers has been helping gamers with disabilities get the technology they need to play since 2004. Now, the organization’s new AbleGamers Player Panels initiative wants to help games become even more accessible—from the inside.

AbleGamers and the University of York created Player Panels to connect gamers with disabilities with developers and researchers who want to tap into their expertise. The idea stemmed from frequent calls from game companies looking for testers with disabilities, and from conversations with Xbox and PlayStation officials about how to advance more accessible gaming, AbleGamers COO Steve Spohn told PCWorld in a Skype interview.

“It’s not just about doing the right thing [for developers], it’s about making sure that as many people as possible can enjoy the game you created and poured your blood, sweat, and tears into,” Spohn says. “In order to do that, they need to be able to test those games [for accessibility]…We’re trying to bring two sides together to make a better gaming environment.”

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AbleGamers

The only requirements for joining the Player Panels: You need to have some sort of disability, you need to love games, and you need to fill out this form.

AbleGamers then acts as a go-between, connecting developers and researchers with gamers able to assist in accessibility testing and studies. Rather than being a middle-man, Spohn says the charity is more like a security guard, ensuring the process remains “secure, safe, and happy” for everyone involved. AbleGamers doesn’t receive any money from gamers or game developers for Player Panels, though it does vet requests and make sure participants are compensated.

“We won’t let our community be used, and we like to think we’ve cultivated enough trust that they know we won’t let them be used,” Spohn says. But that compensation won’t always be in the form of cash—because it can’t.

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AbleGamers

“There are some very tricky things we have to navigate,” Spohn says. “Most of the people in our core group of disabled gamers are on Social Security or the U.K. equivalent, and if you take money, that can put your insurance in jeopardy. We’re uniquely qualified to be able to navigate [those concerns].” Gift cards to Best Buy and other popular stores could be one solution when accepting money becomes a concern for Player Panel members, Spohn says, “but you do need to compensate them for their time.”

Spohn wasn’t willing to divulge which companies AbleGamers is working with for Player Panels to avoid potential controversy. (Fanboy wars start over silly things!) But his hope is for the panel process to fully in place by the end of summer or early fall, at which point the charity would start opening up more about the names and needs of companies it’s working with. AbleGamers is already in touch with developers and researchers asking for gamers with specific disabilities, Spohn said.