Five to Try: Minecraft continues its Story Mode, and Shake Shack is ready for Android orders

Be sure to check out this week's hottest new Android apps and games.

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Credit: Andrew Hayward/IDG

Need some new apps and games for your Android phone? Worry not, because our Five to Try column is here to spotlight the Play Store’s most enticing new picks. Minecraft: Story Mode’s second season leads the week’s offerings, as Telltale’s episodic affair builds a fun narrative from the block-building sensation.

Elsewhere, the official Shake Shack app is finally on Android for mobile ordering, Hinge puts a different spin on the familiar dating app, The Lion’s Song is an intriguing indie adventure, and freemium game Valerian: City of Alpha can get you ready for the upcoming sci-fi flick. Give these a look, and if you need even more recent picks, then loop back on last week’s column as well. 

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two

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More Minecraft shenanigans in Story Mode – Season Two.

Minecraft is beloved for its open-ended design, letting players build their own adventures in blocky worlds—but last year’s Minecraft: Story Mode handled most of the heavy lifting with a five-part episodic adventure series. Now Telltale is back with a second season, and you can start fresh with the new quest or carry over data from the first season to continue your own tale.

Like Telltale’s other adventures, including The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, you’ll make dialogue and story decisions that help shape the story ahead, rather than actively mine or craft. Season Two picks up with your now-famous fantasy hero or heroine facing a new threat after his/her hand gets stuck in a magical gauntlet.

As before, Minecraft: Story Mode shows a deep appreciation of the source game while crafting a tale that’s light, funny, and occasionally exciting to boot. The first episode is included with your $5 download, and you can pre-order the four remaining segments—which will release over in the coming months—for $20 in all. By the way: if you didn’t play the original season, the first episode is totally free.

Shake Shack

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Yes, I’ll have all of that for lunch, please.

Shake Shack might be a New York institution, but the speedy burgers-and-fries restaurant has been gradually expanding, with more than 100 locations around the world. And now 75 of those spots within the United States have mobile ordering available via Android, thanks to this week’s app launch.

The Shake Shack app lets you pick a nearby location and tap into the full menu, ordering yummy burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and shakes (of course), and scheduling your order for pickup—and you’ll get a text when it’s ready, too. It’s a slick-looking app with mouth-watering photography, and there’s incentive to check it out immediately: If you spend at least $5 in the Android app by this Sunday, July 16, you can get a free order of fries with your meal. Hit the official website for the coupon code and full details, as well as the list of locations that offer online ordering. 

Hinge – The Relationship App 

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What’s your story? Use it to try and find love with Hinge.

Looking for love can be difficult when dating apps encourage snap decisions and are packed with people eager to hook up. However, Hinge—which is back on Android after disappearing last year for a reboot—prides itself on being a "relationship" app. It focuses on building long-term connections over quick thrills and immediate gratification.

Does it work? Well, that’s for you to discover, but the app’s philosophy is built on having users create detailed profiles about themselves, and tell their stories. There’s no “swipe right” here, although does a change in UI really lead to a change in behavior and intentions from users? Give it a try and find out. You’ll need to link a Facebook account to use it, and while signing up is free, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to actually interact with other users.

The Lion’s Song

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The sepia pixel look is really distinctive.

Enjoy episodic adventure games, but not into Minecraft? Or are you just looking for something a bit more handcrafted or mature? Maybe The Lion’s Song ($5) will do the trick. This charming little indie game comes with a one-of-a-kind premise: Across its four episodes, it explores the beauty and frustration of creative expression via intimate profiles of early 20th-century Austrian artists and scientists. 

Surely you’ve never played anything else quite like it. You’ll see the tale of a brilliant young composer struggling with writer’s block and a romantic relationship with her teacher, or follow a mathematician struggling to make her mark in a male-dominated industry. And while the stories are enjoyed separately, they all come together in the end. All four episodes are bundled in with your $5 purchase, too, so you won’t have to buy anything else to get the full experience. 

Valerian: City of Alpha

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It looks neat, but it’s still mostly grinding busywork.

Next week’s Valerian and the City of Tomorrow looks like a sci-fi stunner, as The Fifth Element director Luc Besson’s latest film adapts a classic French comic with plenty of panache. So, if you’re intrigued by the dazzling worlds and odd alien beasts teased in the trailers, then you might want to dig into the Valerian: City of Alpha app before the flick hits theaters.

City of Alpha puts a new face on the familiar freemium management sim, as you try to maintain and expand the titular, floating city while dealing with threats and opportunities alike. There’s a bit of choose-your-own adventure narrative navigation here, as you deal with potentially dangerous aliens and other surprises—but for the most part it's a repetitive mix of tapping buttons and building resources. Since it’s set centuries before the film, however, there might be some deep lore worth mining from this freebie diversion.

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