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Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

Get spooked on your iPhone, boost your Wi-Fi and learn about the first world war

Tom Standage | January/February 2014

A GAME Papa Sangre II

It’s the time of year for ghost stories, so here’s a modern take on the genre, wrapped up as a game. And no, I don’t mean "Call of Duty: Ghosts", with its cutting-edge graphics, but something rather more unusual: an audio-only game with no visuals at all. Put your headphones on and "Papa Sangre II" plunges you into an immersive, 360-degree soundscape which shifts as you face in different directions, using your phone’s gyroscope. Trapped in a dark realm between life and death, you must navigate a series of creepy sonic environments to steal the memories you need to escape, avoiding dangers along the way. You are aided by a mysterious guide, voiced by Sean Bean, whose motivation is unclear. It’s a rare video game that becomes more absorbing and easier to play when you shut your eyes. The powerful new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may be flavour of the month, but "Papa Sangre II" shows that you don’t need fancy new hardware to enjoy an innovative experience this Christmas.
Papa Sangre II for iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and later models: £2.99

A GADGET TP-Link TL-WR702N

What on earth can the folks at TP-Link have been thinking? Could they not have come up with a better name for this gadget? Perhaps they decided that rather than hiring marketing people to devise exciting names, they’d just make their products cheaper instead. That would explain why this tiny box is just 15 quid. It performs a variety of Wi-Fi tricks, but its best feature is its repeater mode, which fills gaps in your home Wi-Fi coverage, seamlessly relaying and boosting the signal from your main hub. True, the set-up is a bit fiddly, but I now have rock-solid Wi-Fi from ground floor to attic. I’ve been recommending it to all my friends—or trying to. The problem is, I can’t remember its name.
TP-Link TL-WR702N around £15

AN APP Timeline World War I

The proper way to get ready for 2014, and the centenary of the Great War, is to read Margaret MacMillan’s magisterial "The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914". But children (and many adults) may find "Timeline: World War I" rather more approachable. It presents the events of war as a timeline, with interactive maps, photographs, original documents, poems, capsule biographies, newsreel clips and audio commentaries by Dan Snow. Diary extracts allow individual voices to be heard above the din of battle. You can zoom in to see what happened on a particular day, or zoom out to hear a summary of a whole year. From the Schlieffen plan to the Treaty of Versailles, it’s all here.
Timeline World War I for iPad: £6.99

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