We’ve published close to a thousand app reviews over the last decade, and we’re feeling reflective – so we’ve asked our brilliant review team to look back over their old articles and each pick three favorites that stood the test of time. It’s a great chance to revisit some amazing titles you might have missed the first time around.
Note that this is not a selection of “the greatest apps ever,” but rather a subjective look at the reviews that felt important to the people who wrote them. Which apps stuck with our team long after the final verdicts were dished out?
Today, we’re looking at the top choices from resident gaming expert Jon Mundy. For each choice, he’ll explain what made the app so interesting – and we’ll include links back to the original reviews if you want to read more. Enjoy!
Donut County is one of the best games I’ve reviewed in my three years here, its gobble-everything-up-in-an-expanding-hole premise proving deliciously intuitive and satisfying. But it’s also a game that arrived with a story. Creator Ben Esposito endured a painfully protracted six-year development period, only to witness a cynical copy hit the App Store just prior to release. Thankfully, Donut County’s simple premise, beautifully polished cartoon art style, and oddly moving narrative ensured mainstream success when it finally landed. It’s a shining example of the old inspiration/perspiration split that goes into a work of genius.
Obscura 2 (or Obscura Camera as it’s also known) is a pro camera app that doesn’t bombard you with gimmicky features. It’s just a really tight, carefully thought through way to take your photos to the next level. Apple’s own dependable and uncomplicated Camera app continues to be good enough for most of my needs most of the time. But Obscura gives me full control over things like manual focus, shutter speed and ISO whilst retaining that crucial intuitiveness. It’s thanks to this composure that Obscura 2 remains my go to app whenever I want to get more hands-on with my snaps.
The process of reviewing games and apps is surprisingly distinct – one is all about enjoyment, the other utility. I think SoundForest stands out to me because it’s a rare app that straddles both worlds. This is a music creation tool that places immediate gratification above technical precision or musical skill. You construct your simple audio loops out of baboons and rainbows rather than instruments, with various themed packs giving you the necessary textural variations. The results are hardly chart-worthy, and your production efforts will end when you exit the app. But the whole experience never falls short of being delightful.