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Chris Donlan

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The Swapper's a cold, strange game. As it starts, low key lighting sets the mood in a series of deliberately-paced rotational shots: a small planet orbits an incandescent star; a space station orbits overhead, bathed in a melancholy blue; an escape pod launches, fleeing dangers unknown. The whole scene only lasts a minute and a half from fade-in to lunar landing, but the languid pace hearkens to the internalized mode of sci-fi films like Moon or Solaris, brooding and mesmerisingly obscure.

The ambient tone reflects The Swapper's atmosphere, cobbled together from a textured mash of real-life assets (the two-man team have created a uniquely constructional aesthetic using photographs of real world objects to get around the hassle of creating original art) and the game's primary mechanic, or rather its ethical implications.

The eponymous swapper is a cloning gun that lets you transfer your consciousness from one body to another. Rather than treating this as simply a means to a gameplay end, the narrative of this puzzle platformer delves into the ramifications that might arise from using such a device.

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Memory of a Broken Dimension has one of the boldest, most unique aesthetics of any game this year. An unsettling hodgepodge of jagged monochromatic lines, radio static, and cold, unsympathetic text puts one in mind of a world comprised of Joy Division album covers skipping through time.

Indie developer Ezra " Xra" Hanson-White demonstrated Memory of a Broken Dimension recently at the Sense of Wonder Night session highlighting experimental game design at Tokyo Games Show. A recent video shows off Xra's demonstration where we're able to gain at least a hazy notion of what the game is (thanks, indiegames.com).

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Prison Architect may look cute but the campaign content is not: build an execution chamber and send a man to his death - a man who's tale of murder and repent will challenge your beliefs and leave a lasting impression.

And that's just chapter one.

"It definitely starts on a dark note," creator Chris Delay told me. "I wanted it to start on a very dark note. I wanted you to feel a real shock of arrival in a different world when you first start playing Prison Architect.

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Editor's note: This is an import review of the Japanese edition of Gravity Daze, available now. The game will be titled Gravity Rush when it appears in North America and Europe, but no release date has been set for this version.

About two thirds of the way through Gravity Daze, the designers throw in one of the most entertaining mission objectives I've been given in a while: plummet. That's what it amounted to, anyway. Regardless of the exact wording, I was invited to spend the next 15 minutes falling through a magical Dickensian city perched in the sky, past gantries, tangles of piping and shimmering brickwork, and then deeper into honeycombed caverns filled with weird, fungal architecture.

Sure, there were enemies to fight along the way and glittering chains of collectables to race between - for a while, I was even joined by a sexy lady with some silly pants who really wanted to kill me - but the sequence didn't actually need any of that. I was happy just to follow the calm procession of waypoints, falling deeper and deeper through this strange world until a genuine sense of loneliness set in.

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Hero Academy - the new iOS game from the ex-Ensemble team at Robot Entertainment - is a nice piece of game design, but a truly great piece of spot-welding. As a turn-based fantasy battler, it's easy to play yet tricky to play well, it just about survives the implementation of micro-transactions, and it's delivered with a decent bobble-headed art style.

What makes it a little bit more special, though, is the fact that all of this is then stuck behind a front-end that comes straight out of Words With Friends. You search for pals to battle with or select a random match-up, you make a move against your opponent, and then you sit back and wait for them to make theirs. You can message players in-game if you particularly like them (or if you particularly loathe them, I guess), and while you're waiting for a rival to take their turn, you can start a new match with someone else, safe in the knowledge that the familiar scroll-down interface will keep track of everything.

The game itself is pleasantly simple, a multiplayer-only affair in which two teams face each other across a tiled pitch. The object of each battle is to destroy your enemy's crystal(s) before they destroy yours, and you take turns to play: dropping units onto the field, moving them around, attacking or throwing in items. Each turn allows you to make five moves, and that's always long enough to put a plan in motion - bring a new guy in, buff him and get him moving towards the front lines, say - but never long enough to ensure that you haven't left yourself exposed somewhere else.

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