It's that time of the week again. Time to shake off the weekend vibe and get back to work. But you can probably spare a few minutes to check out some new apps. This is the Tested Google Play App Roundup, which is where we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just follow the links to Google Play.
Google announced a new budget phone initiative at I/O last year called Android Go. The "Go" build of Android is intended to run on lower-specced devices and will include a special suite of Google apps. One such app is apparently the newly launched Files Go. This app showed up in the Play Store recently, and Google has now opened it up to almost all devices. It's not a full file manager, but it includes several features that could help keep your device storage tidy.
When the eventual Android Go phones launch, they will have a limited amount of internal storage. Thus, many of the features of Files Go have to do with clearing out old files that you no longer need. Even if your phone has plenty of internal storage, you may eventually run low. Files Go is a fine way to clear space on any phone.
Upon opening the app, you are greeted with a number of suggested actions in a vertically scrollable list. They're all based on the actual files on your device, not just general actions. For example, you might have a card that suggests you clear temporary files from your app cache to save a certain amount of space. On my phone, that's 500MB. The app also detects duplicate files on your internal storage, allowing you to delete one of the copies. If you grant usage access in the system settings, Files Go can also alert you to unused apps that you can safely remove from your phone.
That's all in the Storage tab, but moving over to the files tab reveals an entirely new set of features. You can tap on the various file type options to see a list of all matching files on your device. Again, this isn't a full file manager, but it offers essential tools to find out what's on your phone. There's also a built-in option to send files to other nearby devices with Files Go without using the internet. It uses Bluetooth, so it's not going to be fast. It's obviously more geared toward usage in places where mobile data is scarce or expensive, but you can use it simply as a convenience.
This app is still in beta, so Google is liable to add features and improve the ones that are already there. If this is indicative of what we can expect from the other Android Go apps, it'll be a fascinating platform to watch.
The original Monument Valley took mobile gaming by storm when it launched a few years back. There were several expansion packs for that game, and now we've finally gotten a true sequel on Android. Monument Valley 2 brings more of the same gameplay, but the experience is a little more refined. And of course, it's still gorgeous.
Monument Valley 2 follows the adventures of Ro as she teaches her child about the mysterious valley and all its impossible architecture. The basic gameplay mechanics are the same as they were in the first title. Monument Valley 2 makes use of forced perspective in a fascinating way. You can move and otherwise alter the world in ways that change how things are positioned. If two platforms or walkways are lined up in such a way that they appear to be connected, then they are connected. It's like a living M.C. Escher sketch.
Each level consists of several short puzzles, each one centering around a structure of some sort. It takes some time to get into the vibe of Monument Valley 2. You have to remember than gravity isn't a factor here. If a platform leads up a wall, you can probably keep walking all the way to the top. Likewise, just because two areas are on different sides of the level doesn't mean you can't connect them with a small tweak to the landscape. The game does a good job of introducing the handles and cranks that operate the world, but the real key is knowing where Ro and the child need to go.
You move the characters around by tapping where you want them to walk. If there's any way they can reach that spot, they'll make their way over. The character you control changes throughout the game. At first you only control Ro, but then she becomes separated from the child. The child mirrors Ro's movements so you can get them back together. Later, you'll start controlling the child directly.
The puzzles in Monument Valley 2 are clever, but they're not overly challenging. If you're looking for brain-busting puzzles, this isn't the game for you. The included levels can probably be completed in an afternoon. It's the look and feel of the game that sets it apart and makes it worth the $5 asking price. The world is bright and distinctive, and the story is actually rather touching.
Monument Valley 2 is definitely worth picking up, and there are no in-app purchases.
I tend to stay away from these collectible card battle games, but South Park: Phone Destroyer has gotten a lot of praise during its geo-limited beta. Now it's available for everyone, and I can report that it's a surprisingly enjoyable experience. There are in-app purchases, but they aren't in your face, and there are very few ads.
There are both singleplayer and multiplayer modes in South Park: Phone Destroyer. The story game actually includes some animation content created specifically for the game, too. The gist is that the kids decide to play cowboys and indians, but this socially insensitive framework is only the start. Eventually, there will be pirates, robots, and sci-fi versions of many of your favorite characters.
You progress through each level by playing characters that are randomly added to your hand from a pre-defined deck of 12 possible cards. There's Sheriff Cartman, Pirate Ike, Spaceman Butters, and so on. Each card costs a certain number of energy points, which regenerate over time as you play. By playing the right cards to battle through the level, you'll eventually reach a boss battle. If you can overcome this obstacle, you get some loot and access to the next level.
The PvP mode lets you do battle with other players in a quick 3-minute bout. You win by doing more damage to the other player during that time or outright defeating them before time's up. I feel like the matchmaking is overall good. Although, I don't like the requirement that you win a PvP match before playing the final stage in each chapter of the story mode.
The loot is usually where these games get annoying with upgrades and in-app purchases. While there are IAPs in South Park: Phone Destroyer, the game isn't designed to stymie your progress until you buy something. There's no energy meter or lives that need to regenerate, and the card upgrades are within reach simply by playing the game.
As for the visuals, it looks exactly like the show. This is one of the advantages of the South Park games we've been getting in recent years. It feels like you're playing an episode of the show. The writing is also very much on point—I've been chuckling to myself frequently while playing. My only qualm here is that performance could be better when you have a lot of characters on-screen. Even with a fast phone, the frame rate is going to dip a little at times.
South Park: Phone Destroyer is live in the Play Store now for all devices and regions.