MacLife

Tiles - Photo Framer Review

There are so many different ways to interact with our photos on iOS, we barely need our Macs anymore to create refrigerator-worthy projects. Just about anything can be done on our iPhones and iPads, with countless filter, layout, caption and effects apps each opening wonderful worlds of creativity at our fingertips. Tiles - Photo Framer, the latest entry into the collage fray, brings enough to the table to set it apart from the crowd. Neat, modular frames keep your project clean, but Tiles still gives you the freedom to make your work your own, with a fun, gesture-based interface that offers boundless possibilities.

Each project starts with a single colored box. As you pinch, new frames are created in varying sizes and colors until your canvas kind of looks like a Windows 8 start screen. The extraordinarily clean UI – an invisible set of tools springs to life with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen – lets your imagination take over, as photos are cropped and split with wild abandon. Text can be added anywhere, and a fairly robust set of fonts nicely spices up your artwork.

Screen1

Tiles is more fun than other collage apps we've tried, but it suffers from the same constraints. Frame borders and edges can be altered using nifty sliders, but these are wholesale changes, so we had no control over individual boxes. Empty boxes add a bit of vibrancy to collages, but since colors are applied randomly, you may find yourself continuously deleting and pinching to get the look you want. And you can take photos within the app, but without any editing tools or filters, you probably won't be straying far from your photo library.

The bottom line. Tiles will help you make pretty collages, but they'll still look like they were made on a mobile device.

Review Synopsis

Company: 

Peppered Software

Price: 

$1.99

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later

Positives: 

Excellent interface. Good font library. Allows for countless layouts.

Negatives: 

No color palette or filters. Some frustrating design limitations.

Score: 
3.5 Good

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The Cave Review

If there’s one thing you should know before playing The Cave, it’s that appearances are deceiving. What at first seems to be a whimsical spelunking adventure gradually becomes a surreal trip through the depths of the soul. Cute, big-headed stock characters hide dark, twisted secrets. And what might at first seem like a straightforward 2D puzzle-platformer is in fact a clever throwback to classic point-and-click adventures of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Of course, discovering all that is a big part of what makes The Cave so irresistibly engaging.

At the outset of The Cave, you’ll be able to assemble a team of three explorers (who you can switch between at any time) from a pool of seven. Most of the game’s puzzles require at least two of them to work together, carrying around items or manipulating the environment to let each other through, but each character also has a unique skill that can make things a little easier. The Adventurer can use her grappling hook to swing across certain gaps, for example, while the Hillbilly can hold his breath indefinitely, letting him swim through long tunnels that would drown other characters. The team you pick determines not just how you’ll navigate the Cave’s imaginative challenges, but also the path you take through it.

The Cave 620

See, the thing about the Cave itself is that it’s sentient, possibly even omnipotent. Not only does it provide genuinely funny narration throughout the adventure, but it changes its layout depending on who’s exploring; and while some levels are the same every time, others are tailored to each character’s unique abilities (and to their murky pasts), and will only appear if the right character is in your party. This means you’ll have to play through the game at least three times with different teams to see everything — and you’ll want to, because the character-specific areas are some of The Cave’s most creative and rewarding sections, featuring unique gameplay twists like time travel and elaborate switch-driven death traps.

The upshot of repeat plays is that, once you know how to solve their puzzles, the familiar areas of the game can be breezed through quickly, and a playthrough that at first might take six to eight hours will be doable in two or three. The downside is that this turns familiar stages into rote obligations that you’ll want to slam through so you can get to the new stuff, and the big, twisty cave networks that make up each stage require a lot of tedious backtracking even if you know what you’re doing. Even so, The Cave's clever gameplay and goofy-yet-dark storyline are enough to keep us coming back for more.

The bottom line. While we could do without all the backtracking through huge, empty tunnel networks, The Cave packs in more than enough twisted charm and inventive gameplay to keep players riveted.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

The Cave

Company: 

Double Fine

Contact: 

Price: 

$14.99

Requirements: 

Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Intel Core Duo Processor, 2GB RAM, ATI HD 2600/NVIDIA 8800GT/Intel HD3000 or better card with at least 256 MB VRAM

Positives: 

Lots of reasonably challenging puzzles that change depending on which characters you've picked. Storyline deftly balances comedy with creepiness. Interesting enough to keep us riveted through multiple playthroughs.

Negatives: 

Backtracking through big stages to find items or hit switches is a drag. Some characters' special abilities feel superfluous outside of their specific stages. Replaying some areas can get tedious.

Score: 
4 Great

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