Genshin Impact

The Game

Genshin Impact by miHoYo came out last week and it’s really something. The game is absolutely immense and best of all it’s free to play. Genshin Impact is an open world anime action RPG. The game features a character collection (the gatcha) element with a fairly familiar upgrade and ascension system whereby you can trade in gems and weak gear to upgrade and ascend the levels and ranks of your best gear or character. It starts out very story driven with a decent amount of questing to be done in order to get you up and running. But once you’ve got through most of that it really opens up in terms of questing and exploration that you can do. The world is big, not massive but with a packed good amount of treasures, mobs, side quests and collectibles.

The game is available on basically every single platform. I played it mostly on Android and that’s probably the most significant platform that it’s available on – this is a great game regardless, but for a mobile game there isn’t much quite like there. The game offers Zeldaesque pastel scenery and a really punchy, dynamic and fun combat system based around elements, weaknesses and combinations, forcing you to swap between characters to deal with different enemies. You are also accompanied by a Claptrap-level nuisance with a similarly annoying voice – Paimon your “trusted” assistant. Together you are on a mission so you may be reunited with your lost twin and help restore order to the realm (standard fantasy stuff here really). One feature that it could use is some sort of target lock system when in combat, especially on mobile as the camera can be a bit hard to control during an intense fight.

Worth it?

The game is free to play and from about 20hrs of playing I am yet to feel a real pay wall or gatcha element. There are no ads and there’s so much to do that I haven’t thought twice about any catches. Where I am sure this game will begin to challenge you is ascending your characters to the higher level and getting more of the rare ones. Nothing a bit of grinding can’t achieve – you get a decent amount of Primogems completing various tasks and quests – these can be exchanged for Wish, which can be spent on loot boxes for better characters or weapons. However you can also find rare loot in dungeons and from bosses, so there are definitely ways to get there without spending your hard earned cash. The game also offers cross-save for PC and mobile, PS4 sadly is not included in that.

Overall I’d say that this game has really elevated free open world RPGs especially for mobile. A massive open world, a great story, plenty of quests, regular updates, a lot more in the pipeline, events, the list goes on. Be warned it is a battery drainer, always requires a internet connection and is a hefty download. You can’t really have a proper play session in under 10mins on it so it’s definitely not a casual mobile game. If you are into RPGs and detailed open worlds and story with a lot of depth then definitely check this out.

Tips

  • You can heal your party at the Statues of the Seven
  • You can exchange your Primogems in the Shop for Wish which you can spend on loot boxes in the Wish section of the Paimon menu
  • Check your mail for rewards and daily login prizes
  • Learn the elemental weaknesses and combinations
  • Cook food and utilise the food bonuses you get off certain dishes before a big fight

Useful Links

Micro RPG

The Game

Micro RPG is an early access game by Dominic Hamelin-Blais with a unique and simple mechanic. The game is focused around fighting off hoards of monsters with your selection of weapons – short, mid and long range. The actual combat mechanic itself is based on a circle, which you are at the centre of, your weapons will have specific hit patters and you need to tap at the right time to execute the move and slay the incoming enemies. Each hit adds to your combo – constantly increasing the damage with each subsequent hit. This make is really fun hitting a huge amount of enemies and in general is what gives this game its uniqueness.

Each battle has a main and side quests, these give you points towards unlocking chests, which is where you get new cards for your weapons and characters from – this is quite a standard card collection type of mechanic where multiple duplicates will allow you to upgrade weapons and characters. There’s a lot of potential for expansion here with new characters with unique traits, more special and rare weapons – hopefully we see more added as the game moves out of early access.

Each world will challenge you to complete it without healing (or you can pay to heal). Each world ends with a boss fight that can be particularly challenging as each boss has unique powers and can deal some serious damage.

Worth it?

The game is free to play and a very fun casual game. It can get a bit repetitive after a while and the limited amount of weapons means that once you unlock most there’s not that much more to play for other than upgrading your existing weapons. Each world has unique enemies and you can go for quite a while before you hit your first wall.

Premium currency is available to unlock chests with more cards, you can also watch ads for chests. The premium aspect isn’t intrusive at all, which is nice, but overall I would say the game gets a bit monotonous after while, up until then though it’s a great casual game to kill 5-10 mins on.

Tips

  • Make sure your weapons are effective against your enemies
  • The sword is very useful as it pushes close enemies a step back – preventing them from hitting you
  • You can heal for cash between fights

Useful Links

#DRIVE

The Game

Looking for a relaxing drive and a great collection of cars? #DRIVE by Pixel Perfect Dude is a beautiful arcade driving game. Dodge through oncoming traffic, collect bottle caps, buy and upgrade new vehicles and unlock new regions to drive through.

The game has simple controls and even has 3 different control configurations if you’re not happy with them. The controls allow you to steer, break and drift around corners although you’ll find this isn’t needed in most of the early maps. The game gives you challenges to complete and rewards toy with new vehicles, of course you can also buy them yourself and the collection is definitely worth noting. Choose from various wacky vehicles, vans and cars. You can also upgrade them, recolour then and even apply a “coolness” mod, just because you can.

#DRIVE also features a zen mode in which you don’t have to worry about refueling and repairing your vehicle. There’s also less traffic and you can really enjoy the scenery and that scenery is worth mentioning – the game features 6 magnificent and unique locations that you can unlock with postcards that you collect for every town you visit.

Worth it?

The game is free to play and has an add free version for £3.49. Overall the ads aren’t very intrusive, you’ll get the occasional one after a drive but you can usually skip them. You can also watch an ad to double your caps collected, I tend to only use that after a very good run.

A great game for a quick session, but be careful because you may find yourself playing for ages trying to collect caps for new vehicles and upgrades. Awesome for any arcade fans. The game is also regularly updated with new cars and improvements.

Tips

  • Play in zen mode when you need to cover distance
  • You can break before you pass the police to avoid a chase
  • Hold off buying cars as you will have quests for specific ones, you’re better off upgrading what you have

Useful Links

Stardew Valley

The Game

Stardew Valley is a modern gaming masterpiece made by a single person – Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone. The game is one of the ultimate open world, farm, spelunking, life simulator RPG. Yes that is a lot of things and this game does them all. You start out having inherited a plot of land from you grandad – a farmer. Upon your arrival the farm is in quite a state, your long term goal is to turn it into a cash cow (you can have cows) and don’t forget the cash crops as well. From the very start the game allows you to do your thing and introduce yourself to the inhabitants of Stardew Valley, the first few days have a bit of guidance but from then on it’s mostly up to you to figure things out by exploring the world around you.

The primary game loop focuses around farming and spelunking in the caves where each level increases in difficulty. Some days there’s so much farm work to do that you won’t have much time to do anything else. In the winter you might find yourself spending a lot more time there. There are occasional quests on the town board with a time limit and there’s a series of main quests that develop over time and depend on your actions, decisions and interactions with the other townsfolk. The main quest alone will keep you playing for around 50 hours or upwards of 2 in game years – and that’s just the surface of the game.

This game is packed with mysteries and achievements to collect and discover. Your relationships with other townsfolk can get deep; you can even get hitched and have kids, if that’s your thing. You could also just string along all the singles in town until they all find out… If you’re not all about that you can just spend your days fishing and forget about the hustle and bustle.

Worth it?

Ranging from £7.99 on mobile to £34.99 on Switch the game is available on virtually all platforms and put simply it’s worth it. The game is frequently on sale and while the upper end of that price range is a bit too much, anything less than £15 is a steal. The mobile versions are extremely good and a touch cheaper, albeit a bigger phone is useful

The game will keep you in for hours and even after you play through the main story you can always start another farm on one of the other farm layouts. My first playthrough is over 70 hours long. The game is packed with secrets and unique interactions and scenarios. You will want to keep upgrading and improving your farm – it just keeps you coming back thinking “just one more day”.

Overall if you’re after a farm/life/dungeon RPG game this is it. The game is still regularly updated with new content and fixes. Put simply, this game is a must.

Tips

  • There’s so much to this game that I would simply recommend checking for specifics in the Wiki linked below.

Useful Links

BitLife

The Game

WARNING! This game is highly addictive. Don’t be fooled by BitLife’s (by Candywriter, LLC) simple appearance. This text based life simulator goes incredibly deep. Packed with obscure activities, oddly specific interactions, tons of achievements this one will just keep you coming back for more. The game also includes a few paid options, but more on those later.

The concept and delivery are simple – simulate a life, one year at a time. The game does this through simple random text messages and interactions in a diary type format. You can go to school, get a job, find love, have kids, die. But that’s only one way you could go, if you’re so inclined.

Alternatively you can break the law, kill people, cheat on your spouse, get hooked on drugs and ultimately die. Each year of your life you have hundreds of options to choose from at work, at school or with your friends and family. The replay value is amazing and the options are virtually endless, coupled with hundreds of achievements and challenges – it just keeps you coming back for more.

You’ll also have a record of all lives lived and a full diary of each your of their lives, if you ever decide to read back and have a laugh. You can also visit the family grave plot and check out your thousand year legacy.

Worth it?

The game has a free version, which does sadly come with quite a few ads at random intervals or for certain activities. There’s an add free option for £3.89, which will allow you to do a bunch of new things and remove all ads, most importantly you’ll be able to spend time with all of your friends and relatives without watching an ad – this is very helpful when you need to maintain them or get a happiness boost. It will also make you a Bitizen and allow you to join frats or gangs in prison. This paid version is absolutely worth it.

There is also a God Mode DLC option for £2.89, which will allow you to customise appearances and edit characters. Personally I don’t think it brings as much value as the ad free version, but can be fun if you want to recreate your own family or edit your character.

Overall a great game, the free version can get a bit tedious in terms of ads so I do recommend purchasing the ad-free version. It’s one of those games where you just keep thinking one more year and all of a sudden you realise you’ve lived 5 lives and spent 4 hours glued to your phone.

Tips

  • You only get 1 ribbon per life so if you are aiming for a specific one and you’ve achieved it, be weary not to end up getting another
  • Purchase the ad-free version so that you can easily spend time with all friends and relatives at once – a great happiness boost
  • Study hard to get scholarships
  • What you study at university will determine what kind of job you can get after
  • Experiment, try new things, explore

Useful Links

Reddit Tips Directory:
https://www.reddit.com/r/BitLifeApp/comments/a6y7xc/bitlife_guide_tips_tricks_from_level_winner/

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bitlife-life-simulator/id1374403536

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.candywriter.bitlife&hl=en_GB

Super Clone

The Game

Super Clone is an early access game by LeftRight. The game is essentially an action RPG set in the distant future where robots have taken over. You start off in the 2100 on a mission to stop the robots, but sadly you don’t manage, 10 years later you are reborn as a clone on a mission to save humanity and stop the robots. The game is bright and colourful, it features very simple controls – movement and action. Shooting happens automatically when within range of an enemy. Enemies vary with various shooting patters or melee attacks. Dodging, moving and shooting is slick and responsive and very fun.

At the end of each stage in a level you are given a choice of various upgrades that will last during this level. Once you have selected an upgrade you may have a choice of various routes to continue on – the route you choose will determine the type of upgrades available at the end of that stage. Look out for secret rooms as well as they will hold special items that can be turned in for various prizes. The game has 5 chapters currently, each featuring 7 levels with a varying amount of stages. For an early access game, there is definitely a lot there to get your teeth into.

Worth it?

The game is fast paced, fun, colourful and has some good audio. There is a lot to it and as it’s early access we can look forward to a lot more in the future like the Arena mode. You generally have 5 clones that take around 15mins to respawn – meaning that if you were to play 5 levels in quick succession you may need to take a break before you jump back in, although if you are really pressed you can watch a video. You can purchase an add free version for £5.99 along with some gems and while it’s not really needed – it’s not that big an amount for what the game has to offer, so definitely worth considering.

There are 3 tiers of chests, essentially the gatcha element, keys for the bottom two tiers are easy to come by, while the top tier costs premium currency and is only available for free once a week. The chests are needed to unlock new armour and weapons.

Overall this game has some serious potential and delivers quite a punch. I am very keen to see where it goes from here. There are some minor bugs, text issues and polish elements like being able to compare weapons or open multiple chests at the same time, but I would expect these and more to all be resolved in future updates.

Tips

  • If you’re short on cash repeat the last level in a world and try and get coin enhancements
  • Use and level up different weapons for different levels
  • Experiment with different upgrades and builds
  • Make sure to turn in lost items for nice prizes

Useful Links

Really Bad Chess

The Game

Bored of the conventional chess format? Really Bad Chess is a game by Zach Gage that will make you rethink everything you know about this all time classic.

There’s not a lot to it, but essentially it’s chess with randomised figures – you can play a game where you have 3 queens or your pawns are on the back row, the possibilities are endless. The game features several game modes:

  • Daily Board
  • Weekly Challenge
  • Ranked Mode
  • Freeplay
  • 1v1

Most of those are pretty self explanatory. One of my personal favourites is 1v1 as it allows you to play with a friend in the same physical space – it will simply flip the board whenever it’s their turn. The game also has ‘undos’ which allow you to go back one turn – these can be useful in the ranked mode when you are close to beating an enemy, however often times you’ll find you need a lot more than one undo to get it right. The undos can be purchased or gained through watching videos.

Worth it?

A great time killer, especially when there’s 2 of you together. The game also allows you to customise and change the colour palette allowing for a more personalised experience. The undos aren’t really worth it, but can be a nice way to support the developer of the game.

Overall it’s a fun twist on an all time classic, very lightweight and a great time killer or way to have fun with a friend.

Tips

  • Think ahead
  • Know how to play chess

Useful Links

Idle Brick Breaker

The Game

We’ve probably all seen a brick breaker of some sorts throughout our lifetimes – whether it be the original Breakout or even something like Bubble Burst. Idle Brick Breaker by Tech Tree Games is a little different. There’s no strategy or aiming involved here, simply upgrading your brick-breaking balls, collecting cash and gems and when the time is right prestige-ing to buy permanent upgrades.

As with most idle games there’s not a lot to it, just sit back and enjoy, log in regularly to upgrade and collect cash. Some idle games start you off very active and as you pick the game up they become more and more grindy – here there isn’t all that much for you to do from the get go other than upgrade your balls and if you’re so inclined you can watch a video for extra resources. The game also has a weekly challenge to see how much value your brick breaking world can accumulate within 24 hours, the challenge will award you with gems (premium currency).

Worth it?

If you’re looking for something to check in on every so often for 3-5 minutes at a time this may be the game for you. You can buy 150 gems and a permanent 2x to all coins for £9.99, but personally I don’t think that’s needed – you will occasionally come across gem bricks which you have to manually break, but challenges will also help you collect more. The ads are only necessary if you want to rush something ahead and even then they are not overly generous.

Overall there are some scaling issues in terms of cash accumulation and the game could be improved in terms of balancing or gaining a bit more out of prestige, however for a casual, “check in once every few hours” type of game it’s worth a shot.

Tips

  • Sniper balls are very useful as they will automatically focus onto a brick, ensuring that you aren’t just hoping for a random ball to hit that last brick tucked away
  • Cash balls are really good for generating vast amounts of money, however they do not break bricks
  • Spend your gems on unlocking new cards, which similarly to Prestige perks are permanent

Useful Links

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.TechTreeGames.IdleBrickBreaker&hl=en

iOS: https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/idle-brick-breaker-breakout/id1522164283

TAP! DIG! MY MUSEUM!

The Game

Tap! Dig! My Museum! by Oridio Inc is a simple but addictive game in which you dig up and collect dinosaur skeletons. Manage your museum by putting anything you find on display. The game has a very simple core gameplay loop in which you excavate bones on a hexagonal grid. Your pickaxe starts out fairly weak and you only have a limited number of taps to uncover all bones on the level. Once you start making money you will be able to upgrade your digging abilities. Upgrades are limited at first, but y There are also some premium boost items that can be used to help both in your excavations and in the museum, a little bit more on those later.

The are three tiers of dinos to excavate, various species and types ranging form marine life to therapods or pterosauria. You will gradually turn your dusty old museum into the most dino-packed building imaginable. Upgrade rooms, shuffle exhibits around, change the lighting and much more. The game offers a decent range of customisation for the rooms and you can group or theme your rooms as you please.

Worth it?

Overall this is a very addictive game, the completionist in me just wants to keep digging for more and more dinos. The game can be a bit repetetive, but that’s to be expected given the simplicity. When running low on cash or digs you may resort to video watching, and that can become quite a big part of the early game. I’m not against video watching as a whole, but the occasional free power up or an ad free version would be nice options. A few less videos to watch or a ad-free version could help.

I also feel this is a bit of a missed opportunity on an educational front, even just some bullet points with facts in the dinosaur book in-game. Overall though I would say a very fun, addictive and quite rewarding game – digging those massive dinosaurs out bone by bone and piecing them together really keeps you coming back.

Tips

  • Upgrade your digging ability as much as possible at first
  • Sell old exhibits or redo them when you can clear the level quite easily
  • For the secret fossils you can keep digging or reset as specific dinosaur until you collect all secret fossils from the specific location – check the wiki for more details on that.

Useful Links

Wiki: https://tap-dig-my-museum-wiki.fandom.com/wiki/Tap!_Dig!_My_Museum!_Wiki

Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tap-dig-my-museum/id1460645640

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.oridio.museum&hl=en_GB

Game Dev Tycoon

The Game

Game Dev Tycoon was released in 2012 by Greenheart games and was an instant hit amongst Tycoon-game players. The game lets you create and manage your very own Game Dev Studio (the clue is in the title). You start out as most start-ups in a dingy garage, coding away on your own, smashing out new titles every few months. You will be able to choose your platform and game genre and theme. Then you will need to manage your time spent on the various elements of the game – get all of these combinations and balances right and you might just land yourself a smash-hit success that gets 10s across the board. However, if you get something like the theme and genre combination wrong, you could be facing a serious loss that may even put you out of business.

The game allows you to research better game engines, features and themes. You will eventually be able to make AAA games, have a maturity rating and release on multiple platforms simultaneously. You will also grow your office and recruit new members of staff to help you build better games (and to keep you from overworking yourself – don’t forget that occasional holiday). In the late game you will be able to fund an R&D lab and give them special projects, as well as your very own Hardware lab, which will allow you to make and sell your very own console (and of course put games onto it).

Worth it?

The game costs £4.99 for iOS or Android and it is available for £6.99 on Steam (with the added benefit of mod support). Is it worth it? Absolutely. The game offers a good deal of replay value, especially as your first few companies may tank – all part of business, as long as you learn from your mistakes.

Having a PC experience on mobile for a 5er is money well spent, my only criticism would be that once you do get to the end-game and you’ve got your own hardware, there really isn’t that much more to do – you can train your staff and do all the research, but at this stage the game cycle is already a bit repetitive. However I would say there’s a good few days, possibly even weeks of play before getting to that point. Not only that but if you have the PC version you will be able to mod it to your hearts content.

Overall a great tycoon and management sim, reinvigorating the genre and a great PC-like experience available on your phone, should you opt for that version.

Tips

  • Don’t rush into upgrading your offices or hiring new staff – the bills can add up very quick and sink you before you know it
  • Train your employees – late game you will want specialists for each of the major game components, also don’t forget to send them away when they are overworked
  • Know what makes good game/genre combinations – use a bit of common sense and real life experience here
  • You can turn tips on/off for second playthroughs – can be very useful in knowing what’s needed to deliver a hit game as often as possible, it is based on your previous attempts and the analysis of what has worked and what not

Useful Links

Wiki: https://gamedevtycoon.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page

Developer’s Site: https://www.greenheartgames.com/app/game-dev-tycoon/

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/239820/Game_Dev_Tycoon/

Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.greenheartgames.gdt&hl=en_GB

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/game-dev-tycoon/id1162580001