Reigns

The Game

Reigns is the first game in the Reigns series, first released in 2016 – developed by Nerial and published by Devolver Digital. The concept of the game is brilliantly simple and effective. You are a king (if you would like to be a queen, you can always try Reigns: Her Majesty) at the head of an unruly kingdom faced with many decisions. Each decision is basically a Yes/No decision made by swiping left or right, reminiscent of everybody’s favourite dating apps (Tinder, Bumble, etc). Every decision will affect the 4 key factions that you need to keep in check – the church, the people, the army and the treasury. Deplete any one of those and you will be killed; allow any one of them to max out and you will be killed – dying will end your current reign and you will start as a new ruler. There are some really interesting characters, decisions and surprises that will keep you on your toes at all times.

Worth it?

Reigns is a wonderfully simple and yet surprisingly deep game. Some story lines and characters immerge after several lives or even the devil himself. The game will set you back around £1.99 (or $2.99), which is quite worth it, even more so if it is on sale. My single biggest issue with the game is the rotation on mobile – it doesn’t listen for the phone’s rotation (even if locked) and will auto-rotate, making it quite annoying when you’d like to keep the game in portrait, like if you are lying down. Other than that it’s really hard to fault the game. Occasionally if you close the game mid-reign it may not save your progress.

Overall it’s a nice looking game, with simple yet entertaining mechanics, a surprising amount of depth, loads of achievements and objectives to unlock. It’s cheap and has loads of replay value; perfect for either short time-killing sessions or lengthier runs.

Tips

  • The little dots above each of the factions indicate how big an effect that decision will have, however you don’t know if it will be a positive or negative effect
  • Decisions that continuously affect your standing with a faction will increment it constantly, meaning you can wait for it for a minute or two to fill/deplete before making a decision
  • Build the barn – this will come in handy if the people decide to turn on you, giving you an extra shot
  • Understand what adds to a faction’s standing and what detracts – over time you will get better at keeping them all in check
  • For tips on a long reign, check out the wiki: https://reigns.fandom.com/wiki/Strategy

Useful Links

Cats & Soup – Relaxing Cat Game

The Game

Looking for an aesthetically pleasing and chill idle game, love cats? Cats&Soup – Relaxing Cat Game by HIDEA is an amazingly beautiful and cute idle cat game. Purchase various stations – making soups or juices, prepping ingredients or places to relax and then hire some cute cats to perform those actions. As they make soups and juices you can sell them to start making some gold. As you make gold you can upgrade your existing stations or purchase new ones to add new ingredients. The game also offers some other ways to make money, including a grabber game or fishing. Your cats can also be upgraded, clothed and have their “rooms” with furniture, wallpaper or various other decorations.

The attention to detail in the environment, each station, each cat and its animations is really something amazing. The aesthetics are paired with relaxing music and sound effects making it a truly blissful experience. Apart from money there are also a few other types of currency: recipe points, furniture coins and gems (premium currency). There are ways to earn premium currency and furniture coins in game.

Worth it?

Overall a very relaxing and aesthetically pleasing game. However it suffers with some of the symptoms often seen in idle games – little to actually do (apart from checking in every so often). The mini-games are things we’ve seen before and get boring quite quick. Completing daily quests will require you to watch a good deal of ads too. You’re not necessarily forced to watch them but if you’d like to make quicker progress or unlock more you will need to watch your fare share. Progression is reasonably paced, however other than the cat customisation and the idea of unlocking new soups/ingredients there’s little to keep you coming back longer term. The game has some depth in terms of unlockables and new stations to build. The most interesting area of the game is combining various cats and their buffs with specific jobs and clothing – you can experiment by mixing and matching them to find the optimal setup.

Tips

  • Cat “room” customisation items can be bought form the “item” tab in the gift shop
  • You can use tickets that you earn in game in the “item” tab of the gift shop to get instant cash or recipe points.
  • Upgrade your stations using the button in the bottom left in order to improve their yields.
  • Focus on upgrading your stations rather than saving for new ones (you’ll earn gold faster if you upgrade).

Useful Links

Valthirian Arc – Hero School Story

The Game

Valthirian Arc – Hero School Story by Agate Games is a rather weird, but strangely addictive game available on PC, PS4 and Switch. A quirky art style and a mix of anime and cute characters make this quite an interesting game. There are two aspects to Valthirian Arc – on the one hand you are a principal managing a school for heroes. You will need to build and upgrade various classrooms and facilities around the school while also upgrading your students and crafting them new gear. At the end of each academic year you have to graduate some of your students in order to obtain a large lump some of cash and experience.

The second aspect of this game are the actual missions that your students are sent on. These are essentially little randomised dungeons in which you usually have to find some items or kill some mobs. This encompasses the core gameplay loop in which you go out on missions, find loot, gain experience, followed by levelling up your students and eventually graduating them and enrolling new ones to repeat the process with. As you advance the story and acquire more experience your school will grow, allowing you to place more buildings and unlock specialisations for your students.

Worth it?

The game is available on Steam for £11.99, I got it on sale on PS4 for around £2.50. Realistically, the game isn’t really worth much more than £5.00, but it does have an addictive quality about it where you keep thinking to yourself – “just one more mission or one more graduation”. The gameplay does get quite repetitive quite quickly, but the prospects of improving your students further and further and unlocking the various specialisations can keep you engaged for quite a while.

Overall the story isn’t anything overly compelling, although it does appear to have a couple of variations on the end result. There’s an interesting variety of mechanics, from managing and building the school, to crafting gear and upgrading students. It has a weirdly addictive side to it that does make you want to keep playing for some time. If you focus on doing only the main story line missions you can probably complete it in around 5-10 hours, however doing side quests and favours is a great way to earn more cash and upgrade your students even more. If you spot this on sale, it’s definitely worth a try if you fancy something a little bit more quirky.

Tips

  • Do not send all parties on idle missions (ones that play out on their own) as time advances really slowly when you are not out on a mission.
  • Always ensure you have on party with which to play out missions while the others can go on idle ones. You can use the main party to advance time by completing the missions.
  • Don’t get too attached to your students, you will have to graduate them at some point as newer students joining will have a higher level cap.
  • The dirk is a great weapon for the lowest class students.
  • Always buy everything you can from the travelling merchant.
  • There’s little point in crafting most of the lower class weapons as you’ll tend to find a lot while out on missions.
  • Invest in buildings and rooms that give you extra cash early on, you can always delete or replace them later on.
  • Item drop rate is capped, regardless of how many rooms you have that buff it.
  • Look out for students’ base stats when enrolling them – you can specialise them based on these. Focus on their strengths.

Useful Links

Botworld Adventure

The Game

Botworld Adventure by Featherweight is an mobile open world RPG games focused around collecting, upgrading and battling various bots in a huge open world. There’s an overarching main quest line and various contracts (as the game calls daily quests). You can unlock new areas and zones by upgrading your boat, which serves as your home base. As you progress you will unlock power ups, gadgets and various other aspects that will enhance your combat abilities. The main story isn’t something unique or new by any means, but the size of the areas and the variety of quests make this quite a solid open-world RPG, especially considering it’s an Android game.

You will be able to choose the appearance and race of your character before you start. Then in a Pokémon-esque fashion will need to pick your started bot from three available. Then your adventure truly begins. You can upgrade your bots, they will also gain XP and level up which will allow you to pick skills that will enhance them even further. There’s different tiers of bots and different classes – each with it’s own stats and abilities. If you get tired of battling wild bots and bandits you can take your bots to the arena and take on other player’s teams.

At the start of each battle you choose your bots starting position – placing 3 of them in the fighting area. They will then proceed to fight on their own, using their abilities against the enemy bots. You will have access to some special abilities that you can use to influence the battle – these specials can buff your own bots or damage/inhibit enemy ones. The game also makes it look like there are other players wondering around – although these are likely just NPCs made to look like other players.

Worth it?

This game is big. It has a lot to offer, especially considering it’s a free Android game. The low poly graphics and aesthetics are quite appealing, Botworld is brilliantly colourful and vibrant. The world is well designed, lots of nice details and well thought out. There’s a slight downside to contracts (daily/mini quests) as they can take quite a few hours to reset, but you can watch and ad to do so faster. However, it must be noted that there are no in-game ads and there’s no obligation to watch ads or pay for premium versions (there’s a premium currency and you can purchase the Mayoral Membership, which gives you access to extra rewards for around £7.49).

Another way that the game limits you is through battery packs – each time you venture out into the world you will use one up (you have about 5 to start with) – these take time to recharge, although they can be rushed by watching ads. I haven’t found myself needing to watch one. Finding materials for your boat and specific ones for your bots is where the game starts to get a little harder. I found the boat materials quite hard to find and was usually going out on missions solely for that purpose.

Overall the game has a lot to offer and given it’s a free game it’s absolutely worth checking out. Sessions on the game can last anywhere from 10-15 mins to a couple hours, depending on how many batteries you have. The ads aren’t intrusive and there’s no need to spend any money to get the most out of the game. The game itself is quite big (~490MB) and after some time it does tend to get a bit repetitive in terms of quests and offering overall. The combat, the upgrades and the variety in bots gives the game a considerable amount of depth worth exploring, there are also plenty of regions and a long main story line. It has enough elements that will keep you coming back to it every day for a good few weeks minimum.

Tips

  • Remember to always collect the free materials from the shop (sometimes it’s worth buying the ones on sale as well)
  • Pick your fights – there are ways to run around wild bots/bandits so you don’t waste your bots on pointless fights if you have a set objective
  • To get the most out of each battery pack (traveling out into the world) keep fighting till you lose as there’s no penalty for that
  • Your recruits will use the bots you haven’t got equipped – so make sure to upgrade them as well
  • Place your weakest bot last so that your enemy can’t put more of their own bots near it
  • Use auto-battle if you are just grinding familiar enemies or wild bots, however be weary of auto-battle as it doesn’t always place your bots very well
  • Run over critters to capture them
  • You can exit the game at any time and it will continue where you left off

Useful Links

Exponential Idle

The Game

Looking for a new idle game to play? Exponential Idle by Conic Games is a minimalist, maths-inspired idle game in which you upgrade and improve a mathematical formula as a way of grinding cash. While the game may seem quite basic at first, don’t be fooled by this appearance. The game has a bit of a story line too it in which you start out as an undergrad student working on this formula. The more you progress the formula, the more you progress through your phases of education – adding variables or expanding on the function every so often.

There are two primary things to spend money on – upgrades and variables – both of which accelerate the rate at which you acquire cash. Quite shortly after you are introduced to the prestige mechanic, which allows you to collect a new currency (μ), however soon you will find out there’s an even bigger type of prestige where you can even reset your μ currency for even more substantial upgrades. Throughout your gameplay you will earn stars – these are the truly persistent currency and upgrades that you want to invest in, but stars are hard to come by in the early game. Stars can be earned through tapping, automatically over time, through mini games or through the achievements. Looking at the list of achievements will give you a good sense for how deep and far this game can go.

Worth it?

This slick game will keep you coming back for quite a while. Overall the game offers a surprising amount of depth and new things to discover and add to your formula. There’s puzzles for active play or just the main game for passive (check your phone once in a while) type play. The depth on the objectives and new additions will keep you coming back for quite a while. There are no ads, unless you want to watch them to boost your earnings – for £1.39 you can purchase the ad free version, where you will get a permanent boost to your dt that you would normally get from the ads. The loose story and the quantity of achievements will keep you coming back regularly as you try to break through to the next phases of the game. I would recommend it as a great game for short sessions a couple of times a day when you’re trying to kill a few minutes or just to check up on progress.

Tips

  • In the early stages prestige as often/as early as you can
  • Prioritise buying the auto-buyers
  • Have a look at some of the formulas suggested in the Reddit/wiki for the auto-prestige and auto-supremacy
  • The Puzzles can be quite hard (if you don’t know the algorithms by which to solve them) and will require active play in order to farm stars
  • When you have the ability to get theories – focus on getting 20 graduates and then respec to get the first one, investing in theories will make it much easier to get more graduates
  • Try and stay on a theory long enough before graduating students in order to pick up the next theory immediately

Useful Links

The Final Earth 2

The Game

Looking for a slightly different city builder to play on your phone? The Final Earth 2 is just that. A game developed by one person (Florian van Strien), The Final Earth 2 lets you build a cubical vertical city on series of small floating platforms. The game revolves around various building types and resource management – ensure you’ve got a steady supply of wood, stone and food, adequate housing and keep adding to your never ending tower blocks.

The game starts you off with some simple scenarios which introduce you to the various types of building and resource. There’s a constant loop of creating housing, ensuring there’s enough work and providing happiness boosts to your population. This makes for some pretty addictive gameplay in which you’re constantly adding and expanding your city. The various buildings synergise with each other, have a variety of upgrades and some can even be customised aesthetically. The building synergies will challenge you to think about your layout and you may find yourself going back to redesign and rethink certain areas.

Worth it?

A simple but effective game. A very clever concept with huge potential for additions and growth. There are loads of new buildings to unlock as you build up your city and various upgrades and improvements to purchase. The game is quite light on ads – there’s a boost option (for watching an ad) that will temporarily increase your production. There are also some ads in between scenarios, but other that no annoying constant ads or gatchas. There’s an ad-free version for £2.69 or a premium edition for £4.49 which ads some new buildings, creative mode and removes all ads – this is definitely a great deal and is an awesome way to support the developer. The game is better suited for longer play sessions when you’ve got time to kill, because trust me you will find yourself glued to it. The game only plays in landscape mode – it would be interesting to see if it could also work in portrait (resources on top, controls on the bottom).

Overall a very satisfying game to play for medium to long play sessions, lots of buildings, upgrades and new things to discover. I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you like city builders.

Tips

  • When setting a job priority – if you want everyone focused on that job up the value to “Max” – that will ensure all these jobs are always filled first
  • Build lots of stone mines and rock teleporters
  • Focus on establishing your basic resources before adding new ones – you need a sold supply of stone and wood before starting to thing about machine parts and refined metals
  • Don’t worry about happiness too much at the start of a city, but don’t completely forget about it either
  • Surround labs with 4 farms or tree plantations to get the most out of them
  • The Living Research Center allows you to upgrade all generic houses to a specific type of house

Useful Links

Magic Survival

The Game

Magic Survival by LEME is a simple but addictive mobile survival bullet-hell(ish) game available for Android. The game concept is based and you (a magic being of sorts) surviving and ever increasing onslaught of evil squiggles. There’s only one control and that’s moving, everything else is automatic. As you navigate the world there are MP orbs to collect, these will help you level up. At each level you get to choose a skill (or to enhance and existing one). There are also chests with equipment dotted around the world. In a nutshell that’s the game and the core gameplay loop – survive as long as you can, while upgrading and evading the enemies.

There are also points that you accumulate after each attempt. These “experiment points” will help you unlock new classes of magical beings – witches, druids, shamans, you name it, they’ve got it. The difference between classes being that they start out with different abilities (the ones you get from levelling up). There are currently 24 classes to unlock. Whenever you pass a certain threshold on a map you will also unlock a new map with a different modifier or challenge. There are also different models you can pick from for your character, these will cost you points which can also be spent on permanent research skills.

Worth it?

Magic Survival is a very addictive game, perfect for killing time as most times you’ll survive around 10-20 minutes. There are some skippable ads (after an attempt) and you can revive for watching an ad. Other than that they aren’t very intrusive, I barely noticed them. There are a few purchase options – a 2x all rewards for $2.49 or an add free version for $3.99, both of which are nice ways to support the developers but not really required. It’s apparent the game has been translated and some of the abilities aren’t always 100% clear, but you can figure most of it out through play.

Overall I’d recommend giving it a go – as it can be played with 1 hand, it’s the ideal casual game. The simple scribble graphics make for a quite pleasing aesthetic. There’s also a good amount of unlocks, upgrades and things to try and collect/achieve. There isn’t much compelling you to return to it every day, but the game is there for whenever you need to kill 10-15 minutes.

Tips

  • After investing 2 points into an ability the next time it’s offered to you it will have a special upgrade option where you can “Manifest a talent” giving it a major upgrade
  • Ability Fusion makes things very interesting – this is a perk/ability that will rarely be offered to you upon upgrading, it allows fusion between two of your existing abilities
  • Getting at least 1 point in many abilities will ensure that you’re always using something and not a sitting duck
  • Purchase permanent upgrades/research between games

Useful Links

The Burnable Garbage Day

The Game

The Burnable Garbage Day by GameOn Co. Ltd is a casual mobile game with a powerful message and some really amazing graphics. The game is set in the distant future where you are a cleaning robot who has discovered that Earth has been covered in garbage, humanity has disappeared and nature is struggling. You quickly discover that some humans have been frozen away in settlements and you can help them rebuild society.

The core gameplay loop focuses around you tapping away the rubbish and completing quests for the various settlements you discover tucked away under all the garbage. Each city you unlock will come with a set of quests and its unique set of items that it produces. You are limited in the number of clicks you can do by your battery, which recharges over time, when you level up, clear an area or by using a battery pack. As you unlock more settlements you will have access to more items, which will in turn allow you to complete more quests. Completing quests will give you xp and level up the settlements. While it is a very simple and repetitive gameplay, it can be quite addictive as you unlock further regions, new settlements and upgrade yourself.

Worth it?

The game does have a bit of a gatcha side to it with the battery aspect, but you can find a lot of spare batteries during your adventures (or from quests), there are also some short ads whenever you level up (after level 10), but overall nothing too intrusive. There isn’t much to the game, but it’s nice and relaxing and something you can come back to for a few minutes every few hours. Town’s take around 5 minutes to reset their quests, once you unlock a few regions you can bounce between towns to get quite a longer session in. The story and the message of the game are quite relevant to the challenges we face as a species. The robot (you) is quite endearing and some of the dialogue with its voice assistant (Biri) can be quite amusing. It could be nice to have some sort of daily login reward or achievements. There are some minor text and translation errors, but they don’t detract from the overall experience.

Overall I’d definitely recommend it as a casual time-waster game, the ads are not intrusive, you can buy an ad-free version for £2.99, which is a great way to help out the developers. There are plenty of regions to unlock, each with its own set of challenges, resources and towns. It’s an aesthetically pleasing game with a great message, endearing and funny dialogue and story line, perfect for a quick session that will keep you coming back regularly.

Tips

  • Try and get the gold chests in each area as soon as you enter it
  • Once you encounter the vending machine it’s worth visiting it every time it appears to get more batteries
  • Many of the settlement upgrade quests are fairly easy to guess, if in doubt read the item descriptions – they are usually quite close to what the quest giver is asking for
  • The Dolphin in the tropic area needs Stone Axe to make him feel cool
  • The Octopus in the volcano area needs Honey Flavouring to help him calm down from his nightmares

Useful Links

Heroism

The Game

Heroism by MINMAXIA is an Early Access game available on Android. It’s a brilliantly deep roguelike(ish) action RPG game with some idle game elements (although it’s not really an idle game). The game has a cool retro pixel style, multiple classes to choose from when creating your hero including some more unusual choices like the Chicken King (and his army of chickens). If you’ve played games like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon you may notice some familiar elements. The game has a lot of classis RPG elements like attributes, active or passive skills, companions, randomised tiered weapons and armours. It’s got it all. There’s also an impressive variety of points you can gain in order to invest into upgrading yourself, your companions and your rewards. This is where the idle elements come in as you can just keep upgrading and upgrading so that when you’re exploring a dungeon you make more and more – you guessed it to spend on more upgrades.

The core game play loop is focused around you exploring dungeons in order to complete various quests a la collect an item, rescue someone or clear all monsters. You can use on screen controls or tap to go to a location – you will encounter mobs and loot on your way through the dungeons. If you play with some of the settings (there’s a lot of settings options) – you can extend the range of your auto attacks so that you path towards any enemy within that range. This allows you to play the game sitting back while your character does the hard work of chasing down mobs, however this may not be the fastest way to navigate the dungeon. As you explore the dungeon each grid space has a “Heroism” orb on it. Personally it took me some time to grasp how all of these various points (there’s also experience, kill streak, progress points, death points) are accumulated and I think I was a bit confused by the similar shape of the Heroism and Experience Orb. However once you do get the hang of it collecting them and investing them strategically is highly rewarding. Even death gives you points to invest in death driven events.

Worth it?

Heroism is a brilliantly simple and charming game that’s definitely worth a play. It’s good as both an active game or more of a sit back and enjoy the ride type of game (almost like an idle) as you watch your hero destroy enemies and explore dungeons. It would be great to see how much more can be done with the game – things like making the story missions a bit more special, almost like adding cutscenes or special events to them to make them feel a bit different. It would also be great to see some new types of missions added or even other towns with NPCs as more of the map is discovered.

Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out – it can be quite addictive as you keep thinking – just one more dungeon. There’s so many different types of points to upgrade and invest in, some really interesting settings and options too. It would be great to see even more done with the game as after a while the core gameplay loop does get a bit repetitive, but the increasing difficulty after each main story mission and the various types of dungeon will keep you on it for a while. There’s virtually no gatcha elements, you can watch ads if you like, but they are very non-intrusive, you can purchase an ad-free version for £3.79 as a great means to support the developer.

Tips

  • Extend the range of your auto-attack in order to go directly to any enemies within the dungeon
  • If enemies are very easy, you may want to increase the minimum enemy level
  • Invest in the range of your auto collects
  • Necromancer and Chicken King are great for passive play as their minions will do a lot of the dirty work
  • Progress the main story quest whenever you can
  • Get a companion as they’ll help collecting loot and clearing the dungeons faster
  • If you do a rescue mission you can then go into another dungeon and the person you rescued will help you out

Useful Links

NEO:BALL

The Game

NEO:BALL by Fil Games Ltd is a fun and fast paced online PvP game. NEO:BALL is currently only available on Android, but will give you a bit of a Rocket League vibe – it’s quite something. The game is simple – use your “car” to hit the puck into your opponent’s goal. There are various arena’s which represent different game modes – first to a certain score, time based and arena shape being the key differences between the various ones.

There are also tournaments and daily missions. Each match is different based on the arena being played in and players can customise their cars, their attributes and their selection of buffs and debuffs – which can all be earned from card packs.

The gatcha element is opening the above-mentioned card packs that you win from your games – each rarity level card pack will take a variable amount of time to unlock and you can only ever hold 4 – personally I found this a bit annoying as when you play a game and win a rare or special pack, if you have no space for it you will essentially lose that pack. You also can’t delete a pack so you may be stuck waiting for a while for rare pack to open – sometime forcing you into using your gems (premium currency).

Worth it?

The game is free to play and it’s quite an interesting idea. The PvP works well, but can be seriously infuriating (in a good way) when you are so close to winning or you accidentally turn and smack the puck into your own goal. Honestly I am not sure if I am not that good at the game or if it’s just not as easy as it looks but scoring an goal does happen more often than you think and it can actually be quite a challenge to pull off a good shout, especially taking the puck’s curl into account.

The gatcha element is a bit of an issue in that you can’t hold more than 4 card packs or delete ones you don’t want to open. Other than that there’s “login every day” type rewards and certain rewards for watching ads. The ads are very non-intrusive overall and are only really required if you’d like an extra bit of cash or to allow you tournament entry.

Tips

  • You can only ever hold 4 card packs – try to open common ones first as they’re faster to open
  • Different skins and different trails give different stats – see which work best for you
  • Go through the goal to come out on the other side of the map (your own goal)
  • You can choose which buffs/debuffs you’ll have access to in the customisation menu

Useful Links