Google Play App Roundup: Graphice, Tower Fortress, and Faraway 2

By Ryan Whitwam

Colorful tower puzzles.

Another week is upon us, and that means it's time to check out the state of the Google Play Store. Your phone is only a shadow of itself without the best apps, so it's a good thing we're here to save the day. Just click on the app name to pull up the Google Play Store so you can try things out for yourself.

Graphice

What color is that in your photo? It can be hard to say, what with the variance in display calibration and our own woefully inaccurate eyeballs. Graphice is a new app in the Play Store that can tell you, objectively, what colors are in a photo. It's free to try, but there's also a paid upgrade with more features.

Graphice looks and works a bit like your standard gallery app. Open it up, and you see all the images on your device. You can tap on any of the thumbnails to open in full-screen. At the bottom of the screen is a toolbar, which expands with a tap. It opens a full palette of colors from your image. Each one has a swatch and the hex value of the color. A long-press on any square copies the hex value, which you can then paste into other apps. As an aside, Google search understands hex values, so you can get more info on the color.

The toolbar also includes a share button, but this isn't just a regular photo sharing feature. This button brings up the image along with your color palette. You can tap on as many hex values as you like, which are then included at the bottom of the image. This new JPEG is what's shared via Graphice. You can send it to any of the apps on your phone that plug into Android's share menu.

So, that's neat, and it's all free. If you pay for the $2.49 pro license, the app gets substantially more useful. With the upgrade, you can specify areas of your photo to generate multiple palettes. These are all saved in the app, and you can do the same things with those palettes (eg. sharing and copying hex codes). The multi-palette options are grayed out if you don't pay the license fee.

Graphice seems like a solid way to obsess about colors. The free version will be fun to play around with if you're not super-serious about design. There are no ads, either.

Tower Fortress

Sometimes you don't need a deep story or believable characters—all you need is a gun and baddies to shoot. That's Tower Fortress, the latest title from Nitrome. A mysterious tower has appeared, and wouldn't you know, it's filled with monsters. You are the hero who can save the day, but it won't be easy.

Tower Fortress is basically a dungeon crawler, but you're going up instead of down. You begin at the base of the tower and progress upward through three distinct zones. There's a roguelike element to the gameplay, so be prepared to die. Each run at the tower is different, though.

Tower Fortress is played in portrait mode with simple on-screen controls at the bottom of the display. You can move left or right, jump, double jump, and fire your weapon (in the direction you're facing). The controls might be a little cramped for some people, but I like the portrait orientation as it keeps the buttons away from the action.

Your basic projectile weapon has unlimited ammo, and your double-jump can damage enemies. That's enough to get by, but the random power-ups are where things get interesting. The chests scattered around the levels will provide a lot more firepower, but the ammo is limited. You've got machine guns, lasers, shotguns, and more.

You can boost your chances of reaching the top of the tower by unlocking more powerful suits. The gems you collect from slain enemies are used to unlock the suits, each of which has one or more special abilities. Some grant you more HP, while others boost the effectiveness of your weapons. There are 25 in total, and you should be able to get a few unlocked after just a few levels.

Tower Fortress has retro graphics, which is no surprise given it's a roguelike game from Nitrome. The sprites and environment are roughly SNES-level. The game plays very smoothly, though. The graphics are simple, but it's worth mentioning I've had no performance issues on any devices.

Tower Fortress is free to play, as long as you don't mind the occasional ad in between levels. A single $4.99 in-app purchase gets rid of them forever.

Faraway 2

Developer Snapbreak has launched a handful of atmospheric puzzlers in the last year, the most popular of which was Faraway. Its latest game is a sequel called Faraway 2: Jungle Escape. The first game was set in a desert, and this one is (obviously) in a jungle environment. The gameplay is mostly the same, which is a good thing.

Faraway 2 is an exploration-based puzzler in the vein of Myst or (more recently) The Room. You navigate the lush world of Faraway 2 by tapping on the area you want to explore. Faraway 2 is a first-person game, so you can also swipe to look around in many parts of the level (indicated by the arched arrow at the top of the screen).

When you get in close to a puzzle, you often need to refer back to something you saw previously. That's why the game's built-in camera function is so handy. Whenever you see something you think might be important, tap the camera button to take a photo. You can tap on the stack of pics at the top of the screen to page through them without going all the way back to look at the object.

The puzzles are well designed, but I wouldn't put this on the same level as The Room in terms of cleverness. It's still a good time and challenging enough that you won't just blaze through the entire game. Many of the puzzles involve manipulating tiles or levers to line up objects in the world. Sometimes you need to collect objects that act like keys to unlock new areas of the level as well.

Faraway has a distinctive low-poly style with bright colors and great level design. You wouldn't think a game such simple textures would look so good, but Faraway 2 is gorgeous. I especially love the ruins that are filled with bizarre and esoteric contraptions.

Faraway 2 is completely free to play for the first nine levels. After that, you can unlock the full game with a single in-app purchase of $3.49.