Do you have that feeling that all mobile strategy games are just annoying gatcha games with loads of microtransactions to help you speed things up? Me too, but this one is something different. Abstrrkt Explorers (or just Explorers) by Abstrrkt is a free, turn based strategy game for android. The game is reminiscent of some familiar classics (live Civ 6) with its hex grid setup and conquest mechanics. The game is pretty much a fully fledged 4X game which lets you build, explore, develop and fight for control over the world. It has a campaign mode, single player and even a local multiplayer option.
The campaign serves as a tutorial and introduction to the game. It gives you series of increasingly challenging and complex scenarios. Things start out simple with a small settlement and 4 initial types of resource wood, stone, food and population. You need to build up your economy through farms, lumberjacks and fishermen or hunters, later on gold is also added. You can then expand your empire through barracks which you can later upgrade. This is where the combat element of the game is introduced.
The combat is a bit of a different take and is based around the influence zones of your barracks and taking barracks from your enemies using your units from your own adjacent barracks. The game adds a bunch of other buildings as you progress, including catapults, harbours and ships. All this and more is delivered in a nice pastel low poly style with simple and intuitive controls.
A beautiful game with a lot of depth. The various game modes will give you plenty to mess around with, the campaign has a lot of gameplay for you to get stuck into (6 missions total). There are 3 types of game you can run in single player (Fixed, Domination, Survival) and a bunch of other settings you can configure. There are some ads, mainly in between campaign missions or when you start a game, overall they aren’t that intrusive but if you’d like to help the developer out you can buy an ad free option for £3.09. The game has a lot to offer, but there are some drawbacks, personally I think the combat can get to a point where you are just trading buildings with the AI without making much progress and that can be a bit frustrating. It feels like maybe another dimension can be added apart from the catapults and you can only ever build one new soldier per turn per barrack. The research tree has a good amount to uncover and keep you busy and it could easily be expanded with new buildings or upgrades.
Overall a great game for short to medium length sessions, although the game definitely has that “one more turn” element that can keep you locked in for ages. The simple style and low poly aesthetics make for a very beautiful and chill experience. There’s a bit more to be desired in terms of the combat, but other than that it’s quite a solid game with various gameplay modes and even a local multiplayer option.
Focus on food the most (especially early game)
Try and place as many buildings as you can each turn
Reinforce your barracks with units – ideally build a unit every turn
If you set a barrack to receive units it will pull in units from all barracks which have the “deploy” option on
ABZÛ was made by developers Giant Squid Studio and is an underwater adventure experience. Similarly to Journey, the game plunges you into a beautifully designed world without much explanation and lets you figure things out on your own. In ABZÛ you’ll find yourself swimming with the most amazing see creatures as you make your way through a world that seems just a little bit off, and you’ll soon discover there is something disrupting life in the oceans. Venture through different areas and swim with whales, manatees, dolphins, sharks and many many more beautifully simply designed animals. There’s no combat, just exploring and interactions with the world around you. There’s a few simple puzzles, but nothing tedious or stressful. The simple gameplay and graphics accompanied by a brilliant sound track make for an unforgettable experience.
The game normally goes for around £15, but you can find keys or discounts for around £10. The game is currently free on PS4 as well. It will probably only take you a couple hours to complete the game, but those two hours will be one of the most relaxing and compelling experiences you’ve had.
Overall the game is a must see, especially if you can get it while it’s free on PS4. You won’t really get a lot of gameplay for the money, but there is a deal of replay value as there are a few collectables hidden in each of the main areas. It’s also a great game to let a friend play through when they visit and just to watch as they experience the vibrant world and help restore the ocean.
Look out for the coral portals (they have an orange interaction pyramid above them), they are dotted throughout the levels and will add/release a bunch of trapped animals
Hold L2 (PS4) or Shift (PC) to hitch a ride on an animal – you can also take control of that animal
ISLANDERS by GrizzlyGames is a beautiful city builder for PC. It’s minimalist in its approach to the whole city building genre but the options and combinations will challenge you to think about layout and efficiency.
The game starts you off on an empty island and begins by giving you a choice of 2 building types. The one you choose will give you a collection of buildings, in the late game collections include some of your previous choices. You’re then tasked with laying those buildings out in a way to accumulate points based on their position in the world and their surroundings – some buildings boost each other while others can incur a penalty from being near others. Collect enough points and you level up and be given another choice if two building types. As you progress you’ll get new building types, eventually you’ll run our of space and you can pack it all up and move on to a new island to start all over.
The game is done in a beautiful low poly style and along with the chilled out music it’s a perfect relaxing experience. The game is easy to play and sucks you in as you keep plopping down buildings and before you know it you’ve spent a few hours creating the perfect island settlements and hopping from island to island.
The game is available on Steam for £4.79 and it’s even on sale occasionally. The game is worth it. While it’s not necessarily something you’ll be racking up hundreds of hours on it still offers and amazing escape for a few hours as you’re engulfed into creating the perfect island society. It would be amazing to see this game on mobile and with the fairly simple gameplay it feels like it would work amazingly (provided the game doesn’t get bogged down with gatchas, rather just a free and an add free paid version).
Overall it’s a very relaxing and aesthetically pleasing experience. Trying out different building options and combinations gives the game a decent amount of replay value especially as you get to the late game buildings – you keep wanting to have designed your island a bit better so you can now accommodate all these buildings – nothing to do but start over if that’s the case. It makes for great casual or even medium length play and is a must for any city builder fans.
You don’t need to use all your buildings before getting new ones and vice versa – you can use all your buildings before getting new ones
Some buildings benefit from houses, others from mansions, some from both – plan your city and neighbourhood layout accordingly.
Sometimes the order in which you place things will allow you to maximise points gained – for example if you place a lumberjack who gains from surrounding trees first, then build something that replaces the trees.