ISLANDERS

The Game

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.

Worth it?

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.

Tips

  • 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.

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

Mini Metro

The Game

Mini Metro by Dinosaur Polo Club released in 2014 was an instant classic. With its clean minimalist design and simple gameplay it’s a great game for either a casual 5 minutes to kill or a longer more in depth session.

The game is a Metro (or Subway) system simulation game. The aim of the game is to set up and maintain your public transport network in the most efficient and effective way. You control the Metro lines and can manage the amount of trains and carriages each of them carries. The game features 4 modes: Normal, Extreme, Endless and Creative and also features a Daily challenge on a random map in a random mode.

The game is easy to pick up, but hard to master. Your network will quickly grow from 3-4 stops to a sprawling metropolis. Normal and Extreme mode will both end when you overcrowd any one of your stations. The difference being that in Extreme you can’t move tracks or trains. Endless allows you to tinker and aim for the most efficient set up possible, while Creative just lets you do whatever you want.

Huge selection of levels, game modes and a daily challenge.

Worth it?

Put simply – absolutely. However it’s worth noting the price differences between platforms – the cheapest you can get it is on Android, currently that will set you back around £1, whereas iOS is charging £3.99 and on Steam you are looking at £6.99. However, the game is frequently on sale as well so that’s probably your best bet.

For that price on Android/Mobile the game is absolutely worth it – a great time killer, works offline too – perfect for a flight. It can be played in short sessions or you can keep tinkering on your endless map to get it to the optimal efficiency, up to you.

Tips

  • Don’t have too many of the same type of station in a consecutive order
  • Try to vary the types of station present on a single line as much as possible
  • Try to keep lines short or doing very specific routes that cover a good variety of stops
  • Using circular lines can be very helpful in certain situations, but in those cases it’s probably good to have 2 trains running in opposite directions

Useful Links

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/287980/Mini_Metro/

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nz.co.codepoint.minimetro&hl=en_GB

Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/mini-metro/id837860959

Developer Website: https://dinopoloclub.com/careers/