We really are living in a Golden Age of online gaming. Our hardest task when compiling these new game round-ups is not finding titles that are good enough to be included, because there are literally hundreds. No, our biggest challenge is sifting through all the great new games out there to ensue that we pick only the most brilliant.
There are simply too many fantastic games being released, to make this an easy job. Take The Trader of Stories (the latest point-and-click game from the legendary Mateusz Skutnik and his studio Pastel Games) or Fragger: Lost City (the sequel to one of the most popular physics games ever). Both of these are seriously slick, well-produced games. But they don’t even make it onto today’s main list.
This is all, of course, good news for you, because each week you’re getting ever better quality games to play, as we hope the titles we have picked for today’s round-up testify.
1Gretel and Hansel 2
A follow-up to the hit 2009 point-and-click adventure game of the same name, Gretal and Hansel 2 does not - unlike so many sequels - disappoint. The exquisite water-colour-style graphics that made the first game so memorable are still there, and the game's storyline continues the dark, macabre ambience of its predecessor. You take control (via the mouse and WASD keys) of Gretel and her little brother Hansel as they try to escape from a scary forest full of nasty creatures and going-ons. Expect horrible things to happen at every turn as you try to solve the puzzles. Gretel and Hansel 2 can be played here. You can play the first game here.
2Warlords 2: Rise of Demons
The original Warlords game (see here) is one of the most popular Flash strategy games of all time, attracting tens of millions of plays. Now, the game's developer Ben Olding has released a sequel, Warlords 2: Rise of Demons, which promises even deeper strategy play than the original. The game includes more than 50 different fighting units, four different races for you to play as, and tons of special skills and spells for your units to learn. If you are a strategy fan and like fantasy-style settings, then you can't go wrong with Warlords 2: Rise of Demons. Play it here.
3Moby Dick: The Video Game
Moby Dick: The Video Game might not quite have the pizazz of underwater classics like Dolphin Olympics and (my personal favourite) Miami Shark but nevertheless it is a very solid game, featuring pretty visuals and fun game-play. The game puts you in charge of a baby whale who you must bulk up by getting him to eat as much as possible. As time passes, humans in boats start taking an interest in the whale, attacking him with spears and other weapons. Fight them off while at the same time ensuring the whale does not go hungry or run out of air. Moby Dick: The Video Game can be played here.
We always like games that bring something new to a genre. The quirky Birdish Petroleum certainly does that. The games has a similar mechanic to physics games like Splitter or CiviBalls, where you have to manipulate the environment (by cutting chains, rotating platforms etc) to make a ball roll to the desired destination. But in Birdish Petroleum, the balls are actually birds and each type of bird has a special power. One breed of bird, for example, can conjure up a hurricane when clicked, allowing it to sink nearby ships (sinking ships is the aim of the game), while another type explodes in a huge fireball when you click on it. This twist on the standard physics set-up makes for some interesting game play. Birdish Petroleum can be played here.
Kudos to the developers of Monster Slayers for making a strategy game that is an absolute doddle to play. There are no impenetrable menu trees of options to search through, there are no keyboard shortcuts to learn. The game is so simple you don't even need to read the instructions. Simply tell your squad of soldiers to do one of fours things: fall back, defend, attack or fast forward. That's it. We love games that make gaming accessible to everyone, and Monster Slayers does a great job of that. You can play the game here.
6Book of Mages: The Dark Times
In Nob Studio's latest casual RPG game Book of Mages: The Dark Times, you start off as a pathetically useless wizard. You wouldn't know a spell if it spun you around in a shower of sparks and transformed you into a wee frog. Of all 100 mages in the game, you would probably be the 150th best. But somehow you will have to transform yourself through study, practice and dedication into the best mage in the world. Book of Mages: The Dark Times is a fun turn-based RPG strategy game where you battle with rival wizards until you are listed as the number one mage in the legendary Book of Mages. The game can be played here.
This is a bit of an odd one but we think you might like it because it highly original, very well done and you might actually learn something. Haiku Hero aims to improve your poetry skills by challenging you write haiku. A haiku, for those who don't know, is a three line poem in which the first line must have five syllables, the second needs to have seven syllables and the third and final line again has five syllables. The final words of each line also often have to rhyme. They're actually quite easy and fun to create but this game makes things a bit tougher by setting a number of restrictions. For example, it might ask you to write a haiku featuring a particular word. Some game modes also give you a time limit. Haiku Hero can be played here.
Bunny Flags is a frantic tower defence style game that puts you in charge of a little bunny desperately defending his flag against wave after wave of evil critters. The game differs from the standard tower defence model in a couple of respects. For a start, you can't simply rely on your towers to defend your flag. You bunny also has to run around like crazy shooting creatures himself. Upgrading bunny's health and weapons is of equal importance to upgrading your towers. The other main difference is that when the creatures reach your flag, that don't start attacking it but will pick it up and try to take it off the screen. If you kill them while they have the flag, the flag will be returned to its original position. If they manage to escape off the screen with the flag, you lose. All-in-all, Bunny Flags is an interesting and effective take on the tower defence genre. You can play the game here.
9Wings of Genesis
I am not much of fan of side-scrolling shooting-type games, especially when you have to use a mouse, rather than keyboard controls. I usually play games on my laptop and the trackpad is simply awful, making games such as this almost unplayable. So I was not expecting to enjoy this side-scrolling fighty RPG game. However, begrudgingly, I was won over by the game's beautiful graphics, depth of story and numerous fun RPG elements. This is a really slickly-produced game that would work perfectly if ported to a console but which is just a little too fiddly to play for long on a laptop. Nevertheless, a very good game. Wings of Genesis can be played here.
10Road of the Dead
First-person perspective Flash racing games don't have a particularly good trackrecord. With the exception of a handful of games - Scenic perhaps being the best example - I can't think of many decent games of this type. Perhaps the browser does not have the power for all the computer-intensive calculations needed to make console games like MarioKart run so smoothly. Having said that, the developer of this game - Road of the Dead - has made a good fist of creating a decent first-person driving game you can play in your browser. You can play Road of the Dead here.
Best of the rest
There have been so many great games coming out recently that there is no way we can include them all in our main list. But we do not want to give all those we missed out no credit, so read on for our quick round-up of the best of the rest.
Firstly, a game that came so close to making the main list, Chase Goose 2, which requires you to use all your keyboard skills to help the goose escape the chasing monster.
Now, a couple of games for gun fanatics: Mr Schyzo, where you play a psycho hellbent on killing as many people as he can, and Gun Blood, where you take on fast-shooters from the American West in duels. For something a tad more relaxing, try The Trader of Stories, a pretty new point-and-click game from Pastel Games, which has also recently released Morbid Chapter 1, another point and click game. Fans of point-and-clickers will also want to check out Reincarnation: The Backfire of Hell.
For those of you who like physics games, we have Fragger: Lost City, where you have to kill enemy soldiers by carefully tossing grenades at them. Physics buffs might also enjoy Dynamic Systems 2, where you use gravity to direct balls to their correct destination, and Electric Box 2, a game about completing electronic circuits. Other fun puzzle games that have just come out include Max Connect 2, a light beam reflecting game.
Super Mind Dungeon is an unusual and interesting old-style platform game where you have to fling a ball to a portal, taking care to avoid spikes and other nasties that might get in your way. The neat thing about Impossible, another platform game, is that each level has a unique twist.
Now for a couple of RPG games. Let's start with Mamono Sweeper, perhaps best described as an RPG version of the classic Windows game minesweeper. More conventional RPG fare can be found in Apokalyx, a very polished looking game.
Other recently released games include LongAnimals's racing game Coaster Racer, a cool-looking vertical shooter, Notebook Wars, and Youda Survivor, a time management game about a man trapped Robinson Crusoe-style on a deserted island.
Finally, we finish off with a trio of defence games: Age of Defence, a defend-your-base game with a medieval theme, PC Defense, a tower defence game where you have to fight off computer viruses, and Tree Fender, where you have to defend The Sacred Tree against hordes or mad golems.
Have you been playing any fun new casual games of late. If so, please tell us all about them in the comments section below.