Three weeks to A Maze. /Berlin's 2022 awards - Here are some of this year's 'Most Playful' mobile games
A MAZE. / Berlin is a long-running event now. The upcoming event (May 13-16 online, May 17 in person) marks the 11th time that people have gathered for the arthouse games - and interactive, playful media - event.
There's a high chance that if you love indie games ,or games and experiences that operate outside of the commonly accepted rules of 'what makes a game', then you've likely already heard of A MAZE - even though it's definitely seen more as a developer-facing event. If, however, you aren't aware of it, then you've been missing out.
In the organiser's own words, it's described as: "an international festival focusing on the arthouse games and culture of games and playful media. At A MAZE. the festival goers will experience inspiring talks and workshops, including live music and performances, and a life-changing and mind-blowing interactive exhibition of the medium of the 21st century."
Previous A MAZE. Award Nominations and WinnersBut, perhaps the best way to explain it is to talk about some of the mobile games which have picked up awards there in recent years. Last year the memorable Soviet Kitchen Unleashed was mentioned in the Human Machine Award (which, also mobile, Map to Utopia took home); Standstill took home the Most Amazing Award; Hitchhiker (Apple Arcade) was nominated for the Long Feature Award, and the phenomenal Blind Drive was nominated alongside Eastern Market Murder and Monster Hunt Vienna for the Explorer Award.
Elsewhere, Behind the Frame, which we reviewed and awarded with a platinum award, was an honourable mention.
2020's nominations featured a rich selection of mobile games too, including Nuts, Mutazione and Too Many Cooks; with Manifold Garden making it in as an honourable mention. Also, Suzerain (which is admittedly PC only at the moment, but is coming to mobile in future) was also in there as an honourable mention and that was probably one of my top games of the entire year. (So expect to hear a lot more about that as the mobile version approaches.)
Anyway. I wanted to take a moment to share with you a quick look at some of the nominated mobile games and honourable mentions for A MAZE. /Berlin 2022's awards.
A MAZE.'s 2022 mobile nominationsOne Hand Clapping
Beautiful, bright and colourful; but it's not even the visuals that kept people talking about One Hand Clapping. Nope, that's because your vocal tone is one of the input methods for the game. That's right, not your voice, but the actual pitch of your voice. Hitting high or low notes will move elements of the screen respectively, making this not only an interesting one to play, but a very entertaining one to watch.
SnackHunter is an interesting one. You host the game on your PC, but your mobile phone serves as the controller. This in itself might not sound too innovative, in fact, I've played board games which operate on similar logic in the last few months. Where SnackHunter stands out is in that it's both local and online multiplayer, which means you can squeeze 16 snacks, or hunters, into the same game at once. That's a lot of phones.
The idea behind it has been distilled down to a simple, familiar form. The food runs and hides, and the hunters hunt. There's some cool stuff in there though, like having to swipe your screen clear when you get splatted with juice and having to shake your phone in order to escape the hunter's grasp, but most of the fun comes from the simple, tense hide-and-seek formula.
A platform puzzler that we've had on our radar for a while now, Lost Twins 2 has you take control of, well, two lost twins, as they move objects, solve puzzles and more in order to find their way back to each other, and then home. There's some cool stuff going on here, including dragging and sliding around parts of the level; it's something we've seen done before, but never with the warming art style that's on show here.
An important story told as an interactive comic, Glasfäden tells the story of Vietnamese contract workers in Eastern Germany (GDR). From socialist country to socialist country, and from 'Eastern country' to Eastern Germany, it plays on Western terminology and informs and educates about some of the struggles faced by those who were caught up in an incredibly unique part of recent history. The narrative itself is actually based on interviews with people who lived through it, building that into a compelling, important documentary piece.
While not an App, you can run browser-based Dumpling.Love in your phone browser and it runs totally fine. Should you run it? In my opinion, definitely. It's a fun little journey through a wild forest, guided by a gaming chair seated capybara. It gets more bizarre and wonderful from there, but the most charming thing is that it all runs in little pop-up windows, reminiscent of Win 3.1 and old PC OS in general.
We love ustwo's Alba here at Pocket Gamer, having awarded it a tidy gold award when we reviewed it last year. It's an adorable looking game with a great message in it, one all about changing the world with small actions, in fact, you'll be transforming areas by cleaning them up, freeing them of rubbish and allowing ecosystems to repair themselves and thrive. It's a beautiful game with a beautiful message.
It's great to see mobile gaming so heavily represented, and bringing such strong themes, at such an expressive, artist event. If you're interested in finding out which games come out on top at the A MAZE awards then you can find out on Tuesday 17th May (8PM CEST) either live at the Silent Green venue, if you attend in person, or via their live stream.
For those who can't attend the event, you might also want to check out their A MAZE. / SPACE, which is a digital, immersive showcase - although you will need a computer to dive into that.