Rusty Lake Paradise is the App Store's Hot New Puzzler

After encountering jugs of blood, floating cubes, and frog flutes, things get weird.

Billing itself as "the first adventure game based around the ten plagues of Egypt," Rusty Lake Paradise (iOS download, Android download) has quickly spread across iOS gaming to become the App Store's most popular premium puzzler, which is no easy feat, with all that competition. We suspect that it's because mobile gamers love puzzles, the game's distinctively eerie artwork, and it's just $3. But there's gotta be more to the game's meteoric rise.

Billed as an adventure game but categorized by Apple as a puzzler, Rusty Lake Paradise (RLP) leans pretty hard towards the latter. The narrative is sparse and minimalist -- you may or may not stumble across a letter written to you, dated April, 1796, where your father tells you that your mother has recently passed away and that your presence back home at Rusty Lake is urgently needed. Before you is a fenced-in island whose waters are tinged with blood, and off to your left is a creepy guy staring at you expectantly. So you do what you do in every puzzle-heavy adventure game -- you collect everything you can find in all the areas you have access to, and you figure out what item does what where and when.

Some experimental tapping indicates that Mr. Creeps wants to fish for shrimp, and the fence's equally unwelcoming gatekeeper is hungry for the same thing. Luckily, you have all the tools you need to get everyone sorted, and then we can venture onto the island. Here you'll meet the rest of your family, who are generally terse, vacant, and quietly thirsting for blood. Thanksgiving must be interesting for this gang.

Some puzzles don't offer much guidance toward a solution, but if you're prepared to wander outside your comfort zone, you may find unusual ways to get past them. At various times, your tools will include a goat that drinks blood, a severed ear, a handful of gnats, and various sharp and pokey objects. Overall, it's not a vegetarian-friendly experience. But if you can get past the squicky factor, there are some clever puzzles and a memorably ominous atmosphere to recommend this game.

About Tom McNamara

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at