It’s the 4th of July weekend here in the States, which means many of you will spend the three-day break with family and enjoying the outdoors. On the other hand, if you see the long weekend as an excuse to hunker down and savor some personal time with the Android device in your life, we’ve got you covered with five intriguing new apps and games.
Her Story leads the lineup this week, as the celebrated indie game challenges you to piece together a twisted murder mystery by watching police interviews, and it’s joined by Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius, a brand new role-playing quest in the legendary series.
Otherwise, we’ve got Google’s new Expeditions app for Cardboard VR, Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming television service, and Red Bull’s Clashem social video-battling app. Be sure to load up your device before the holiday rolls around!
Last year’s indie game sensation Her Story ($3) finally made its way to the Play Store this week, and it’s one tale you shouldn’t ignore. It’s a game with minimal structure: You sit at an ancient PC watching short live-action clips from police interviews with Hannah Smith (played by Viva Seifert) about her dead husband, popping in new search terms to uncover fresh videos. There’s no clear objective; you’re just trying to piece together the story of what happened.
That lack of traditional game mechanics and flow might drive some players mad, but Her Story tells a compelling narrative and puts the interactivity of games to good use by making you sort out the mess of half-truths and confusing details. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, and one worth savoring if you like totally unique, handcrafted games.
Google’s Expeditions program is a smart way to utilize VR for the classroom, making it possible for kids to use Cardboard viewers with Android phones to tap into a heap of virtual field trips guided by an instructor. While the app makes perfect sense for that kind of environment, now you can download it for yourself from the Play Store and go on your own little adventures.
Expeditions still isn’t meant as a solitary experience, so you’ll need at least two phones: One for the leader, who chooses the locales you view in the 360-degree VR viewer, and at least one other for the explorers who can experience the selections. Use it to go on a trip with a friend from the comfort of your living room, or entertain a community group using whoever’s phones you can get your hands on.
If you’ve cut the cord yet still have the urge for live TV, then PlayStation Vue might be an intriguing option. Despite the gaming brand, this streaming service is designed around offering packages of TV channels at a lower price than your overblown cable or satellite plan. You can get 60-plus top local and national channels for $40/month or bump up to as many as 100-plus channels for $55/month with no annual contract. Plus, there are optional premium channels and packages you can add on top of all that.
You’ll get the full experience with the new Android app, which lets you tap into all the live channels, pause and rewind the action, and browse the smart listings to find what you want at a glance. There is one catch: You can’t start using the mobile app until you activate your subscription via a home device, whether it’s a PlayStation 4, PS3, Roku, or Amazon Fire TV. But if you’ve got one of those, then Vue’s 7-day free trial may be worth a look.
Take a quick glance at the Play Store and you’ll find more than a dozen official Final Fantasy games for Android, although they fall pretty clearly into two camps: ports of the classics (like Final Fantasy VI) or spinoffs (like Final Fantasy: Record Keeper). But Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius is something different: an entirely new game in the series that was designed from the ground up for touch devices.
While I don’t have a great sense of the scope of the adventure or storyline from the little bit I’ve played, it does seem to do a nice job of utilizing classic elements while making them work better for one-handed play—such as the streamlined battle system. The graphics and music are nice and Brave Exvius makes a solid first impression, so hopefully the free-to-play approach doesn’t sour the experience over the long haul.
Sure, you’ve got a viral video that’s blowing up the Vine charts and making the rounds on social media, but can it hold up against an adorable cat or extreme sports trick? Find out with Clashem, a new video-battling app from Red Bull. Two clips are stacked on your screen and run in five-second loops, and it’s up to you to decide which of the videos is the winner by swiping one to victory.
It’s a simple concept, but one that could kill a few minutes here or there. If you choose to upload your own clips to the service, you’ll be able to fight it out for leaderboard positions and show off your Internet video prowess. Otherwise, if you just want to watch, Clashem seems to have loads of the tiny clips spread across a wide array of categories.