6 awesome new Android apps you should check out

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The rate at which new apps are being added to Google Play is astonishing, but the only thing more astonishing is how much time you could waste scanning the new release charts looking for just the right thing. Don’t bother with that — we’ve done all the hard work for you. Here are the best new apps and games we’ve come across on Android. (Check out the gallery above for images.)

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage

Physics puzzlers have been done almost to death, but Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage revives the genre with its sheer awesomeness. In this game you must find and free your Viking compatriots from blocks of ice, atop perilous cliffs, and other strange and dangerous locations. To do this you have a mighty hammer and the ability to slice through the arctic ice.

The goal in each level is to slice through the ice such that the Vikings slide, fall, and swing into your boat. The first few levels are quick and easy, but this title fast becomes very challenging with extremely clever and complex level design. There are also coins to be had in each level, which can be used to pay the toll to open up new stages. You can earn coins by directing the Vikings through them on the way to your boat. Of course, there’s also a par system that tells you how many slices it should take to beat the level if you’re really good. You’ll need a certain number of pars to advance past each area.

Icebreaker has over 100 well-designed levels with fun retro-inspired graphics. I say “inspired” because this isn’t a case of old-school design for the sake of simplicity. Icebreaker feels like an old arcade game that’s been pumped up with better animations and realistic physics. It also seems to play wonderfully on just about any device.

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage will cost you $2.99, but there are some in-app purchases too. However, they are completely optional and nothing to be worried about.

Yahoo News Digest

So you want to know what’s going on in the world, but who’s got time to read dozens of news sites to tease out all the details of a story? Yahoo News Digest is a surprisingly slick app that aggregates the big stories each morning and evening and displays them in a simple format with information from multiple sources.

You can open the app at any time, but Yahoo is pretty serious about the morning and evening editions. You can opt to get notifications when a new edition is ready for your perusal as well. There are 8-10 top stories in each update, each with a summary written by a Yahoo editor. Along with the text you get photo galleries, Tweets, and videos. This is all embedded in the story so you don’t have to go anywhere else to see what’s up. It’s also handy that the summaries are fully cited with links to the sources.

Each edition is loaded in a vertically scrollable list of the top stories. You can tap to open any of them and continue swiping to skip to the next one. You can’t refresh to get more stories, but the app does have additional content that didn’t make the cut below the top posts. It’s a remarkably smooth and responsive app with a distinctive look. It’s also free.

Monument Valley

Explaining the gameplay in Monument Valley only gets you part of the way to really understanding what makes it so cool. This is a puzzle game that relies on optical illusions and tricks of perspective to draw you in. The first level is a simple demo — a taste of what’s to come. The towers, platforms, and doors become more skewed and bizarre as you advance until you’re essentially navigating a virtual M.C. Escher drawing.

The goal in each of the ten levels is to get the princess through this geometric wonderland to the exit. Sometimes you’re in a crazy castle with doors on the walls, and other times it’s a completely abstract setting with platforms and elevators going every which way. The one constant is that you have to drag elements on the screen to change the way the world lines up. Because these are optical illusions, it is your perspective that matters, not your in-game avatar’s. If you rotate a platform such that it looks like it connects with another one, they are connected, even if they were in completely different planes before.

Monument Valley has a clean geometric art style with bright colors and very detailed worlds. There’s even one stage that takes the form of an amazingly intricate puzzle box that will seriously blow you away with its detail and design. This game manages to be absolutely gorgeous without a bunch of high-resolution textures and lighting effects.

It’s $3.99, which is a bit steep for a game with only 10 levels. You can beat it in an afternoon with no problem. It will be a really awesome afternoon, though.

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