Late last year, Canadian indie Capybara Games released its inscrutable dungeon-crawler Below, more than five years after its announcement and after several agonising public delays. So it’s not surprising that the studio chose to wait to announce its next game, a smartphone puzzler called Grindstone, until the day before it was made available on Apple’s new game subscription service, Arcade. No hype, no mystery, no wait: instant gratification.
It is tempting to see the two games in the context of one another, because they make for such an arresting contrast. They have the same plot: warrior enters cave, fights monsters, plunges deeper. In almost every other way they are opposites. Below’s hero descends into the depths; Grindstone’s fights his way upward. Below is slow, dark, chilly and withholding. It has an air of mysterious self-importance. Grindstone is immediate, colourful, and revels in excess and snub-nosed rudeness. Its monsters are called creeps, slobs and jerks, and our barbarian hero Jorj chops them up into little fatty chunks as he slices a path through them.
There’s another game from Capy’s past that is more relevant here, though. In fact, there are two. The studio made its name in 2008 with a fine puzzler called Critter Crunch, an early hit on iPhone, so joining Arcade’s launch line-up is a kind of homecoming. And it followed that game up with Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, a brilliantly executed mash-up of match-three puzzler and tactical role-playing game that is
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