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September 29, 2014

Story-driven Windows Phone games for your Lumia

Mobile gaming has evolved from simple puzzle and “shoot ‘em up” games to story-driven games whose plot twists and turns depend on you.

As a kid, role-playing and first-person shooter games were never my thing. And maze and puzzle games were fun, but I also got quickly tired of them.

But now, there are games that appeal to traditional and non-traditional gamers like me — games that act more like interactive novels that lead you into different worlds and whose story lines depend on which paths (both literal and figurative) you take.

This new trend is flourishing in part because of changing demographics. Digital gaming is no longer just a pastime of kids, teenage boys and twentysomethings with more free time than social skills. Parents, women and Baby Boomers like playing digital games on their smartphones or gaming consoles as much as your little brother.

Check out these statistics: The average age of a gamer in the U.S. is 31, while in the U.K., it’s 35 years old, according to industry research. Women also now make up almost half — 48 percent! — of the U.S. gaming population, and 29 percent of U.S. gamers are over the age of 50.

Rich storytelling on your Lumia

Some of those narrative-rich games have now come to Windows Phone and your Lumia.

One of them is The Veil. We wrote recently about the developers behind this cool game in which you navigate a submarine through icy underwater caverns to solve a mystery. The Veil features an original soundtrack, gorgeous graphics, and a 15 to 25-minute chapter format (two now exist but more are on the way) that makes it easy to play on the subway or whenever you have some down time.

Unbelievably, this award-winning game (WP 8.0 and above) exclusive to Windows Phone is free. Grab it while you can!

Another one you should check out is Lost Echo ($2.99, you can try before you buy), a spooky game with sci-fi undertones. Set in the near future, your girlfriend, Chloe, has vanished–and no one remembers that that she ever existed. Weird, right?!


You have to solve puzzles, play mini-games, and interact with other characters to solve the mystery around her disappearance. With an original soundtrack and immersive detailed graphics, Lost Echo (WP 8.0 and above) draws you deeply into a world far from your own.

How I wish that I had Tawkable Chinese a few years ago, when I was trying to learn basic phrases in that language! Released earlier this year, this story-driven game features video and uses voice recognition to help you navigate the streets of Shanghai.

The free app exclusive to Windows Phone (8.0 and above) helps you learn everyday greetings and useful travel-related phrases as well as the names of objects, such as “suitcase” and “car.” By the way, the developers behind Tawkable Chinese were funded and mentored by Microsoft and AppCampus (as were the folks behind The Veil).

Who knew there were zombies in Seattle?! Well, in Zombie High, the Emerald City is crawling with the Undead. Available for your Lumia device with WP 7.5 and above, this fun, free game is a guilty pleasure.

The premise: Unleash your inner Buffy by helping high-schooler Jane Valentine kick as much zombie butt as possible … and make Tommy Fernando fall in love with her.

There’s a lot of text, which makes Zombie High kind of like a mash-up between an e-book and a mobile game. I find it oddly addictive and apparently, so do many others. There are five volumes (and counting!) of Zombie High.

Here’s the video trailer for volume five of the game:

So maybe the next time your mom’s birthday rolls around, why not give her a Lumia and a Windows Store Gift Card so she can play some of these narrative-driven games?

If you do, then maybe she’ll stop hogging your Xbox.