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

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 Gauntlet: Roguelike Turn-based RPG

The Game

The Gauntlet by Cutlass is a minimalist turn based RPG. A simple, retro feel and a great time waster. The game is focused on combat over 100s of floors of monsters. You can also permanently upgrade your heroes or purchase new ones with your

You can pick what difficulty gauntlet you’d like to start, after which you select your fighters – initially there are 4 classes available and more can be unlocked through cash or in-game currency. The 4 base classes are Warrior, Thief, Mage and the Knight – each offering different stats and its own skill tree. Once you’ve selected your 3 fighters you are plunged into the gauntlet and you’ll start fighting waves of enemies. The game will cycle through your characters allowing to choose your moves – attack, defend, use items or cast spells. Beat all the floors and you’ll have mastered that gauntlet.

Worth it?

Overall it’s a brilliantly nice and simple game with a unique art style and solid gameplay. There is potential to expand on the game by having equipment for the different classes, more achievements, challenges or perhaps even some different game modes. Each new class costs $1.99 or 50 000 souls, which are fairly easy to collect from a few successful runs. This means there’s no pressure to actually purchase classes, but buying them is a great way to support the developers. There are also no ads, which is awesome. When you need to do something else you can just exit or pause the game and it will save your progress, convenient for when you’re out and about and just need something to do for 5-10 minutes. The game is worth a download, just don’t get too distracted because you will keep thinking “just one more floor” and we all know how that goes.

Tips

  • Use items to restore health/mana, also items are per character rather than a shared pool of items
  • Clear smaller easier units before focusing on the boss
  • Mage is useful against phantom characters, who don’t take damage from physical attacks (they do take damage from various spells though)
  • Knight has a “Provoke” (Taunt) ability that will make enemies more likely to target it

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

Minimal Dungeon RPG

The Game

Minimal Dungeon RPG by CapPlay, is just what the title says – a minimalist dungeon crawler with RPG elements for mobile. The game will present you with various blocks that you must tap in order to overcome the obstacle they represent. Sometimes they will be enemies, other times they will be some sort of resource. There are also blocks with padlocks on them, these are unlocked using either silver or gold keys, often these will have better loot than the standard blocks. There are also blocks which will offer you keys, loot or skill points in exchange for cash. Each dungeon level will have a series of rooms that you will need to navigate before reaching the final boss for that level. Beat the boss and you’ll progress.

Your character has 5 types of skill points, but you can only invest in 3 – HP, ATK or DEF – all of which fairly self explanatory. You will also be able to equip loot that you find, be it a weapon, chest piece, helmet or shoes. Equipment uses established RPG colour and naming hierarchy (Common, Rare, Epic, Legendary). There are also set bonuses for some legendary equipment that will give you extra bonuses. The game has a main story mode and every 5 stages you will reach some sort of base, where you can go on an adventure (independent of the story, for grinding), grow seeds (you can spend fruits on stats upgrades), replay old levels or buy items. You can also go on a one off adventure, which is essentially a single floor of a dungeon and you don’t regenerate health over time, sometimes these can end a lot quicker than expected.

Worth it?

Overall a brilliantly simple and fun game. The core game play loop focuses around tapping and exploring the dungeons, but the variety in layouts and available tiles, as well as loot, all keep you coming back for more. There are points where the story will become challenging and you need to break away to grind up a bit. The game is very non-intrusive when it comes to gatchas and videos, although could potentially benefit from a daily login type reward (currently checking on your seeds is your main motivation to check back regularly). Occasionally there are parts of the dungeon that may be locked off by a video, I’d say it’s really down to you on whether you feel like watching it at that stage, but if you don’t you aren’t really missing out on all that much. There are some premium currency options, but these are generally unnecessary. The game looks, sounds and plays great and is perfect for anything from quick time-killing session to an extended dungeon crawling marathon, as it has that “just one more room” appeal.

Tips

  • Don’t buy equipment from the random vendors unless you really need it
  • Always pay for extra skill points in dungeons
  • Explore the full dungeon before proceeding
  • Fish in multiple spots at once, while the animation plays out
  • You can leave a story mode dungeon and go back to the base without losing progress
  • If you are stuck you can grind levels and equipment in adventure mode
  • In adventure mode your health doesn’t restore, use springs and herbs to maintain your health points

Useful Links

Home Quest

The Game

Home Quest by codeSTREAM is a free to play mobile game that let’s you build cities, manage your workers, create an army and much more, all from the palm of your hand. This minimalist game is beautifully simple in its design, yet has a surprising amount of depth. You start out by creating a settlement and building houses and farms – all in order to gather resources. As you gather these resources you begin to unlock the other parts of the game, like assembling an army for example. As you battle other tribes and continue to grow your settlement you will add new types of resources, new buildings, new units and eventually further settlements. New settlements will have new types of resource that you will need to collect and manage.

The game also features a “Soul Harvesting” part, where your shamans harvest the souls of your dead enemies in order to produce resources. The depth the game offers in terms of military units, resources and buildings is genuinely amazing. Just as you think you’ve discovered most of what the game has to offer it throws some more enemies, buildings and units at you to keep you going.

Worth it?

The game is free to play, but also offers a paid option – for £4.49 you can have the “full” game. The paid version doesn’t give you all that much – it extends your building queue by 2 and allows you to have unlimited Soul Wells (otherwise you are limited to 3). That is probably the most worthwhile part of the paid version (along with supporting the developers), as Soul Wells can be quite crucial in getting you big lumps of resources, including some you can’t normally collect from the world. Free or paid version aside the game has so much to offer and there isn’t much to fault it on as a base. It is still being improved and worked on it – it could use some sort of achievements or integration to Google Play Games for Android to give it just that little bit more. Maybe something like daily quests. Another little pet peeve is being able to swipe away Soul Well notifications and some minor visual improvements – like a little exclamation mark showing free workers in a settlement or similar.

The game isn’t actually very long, but has good potential to be expanded on. It took me a couple weeks of regular play to complete v1.0 and I’m looking forward to any future additions or campaigns.

Overall this game is a masterpiece and it would great to see it developed further. Its brilliant simplicity, the seemingly endless depth and potential scale give it a lot of potential for growth. You are constantly encountering new enemies, unlocking new buildings, units and creating new settlements. The game is good for both an active session as you manage and expand your settlements and armies or for a more idle type of play where you leave your civilisation to gather resources while you are away. There are basically no gatcha elements and I cannot recommend giving this one a try enough – a definite must play.

Tips

  • Keep fighting enemies – you are limited to 4 sets in view, usually one of which is a boss, the others will give you new units, some will give you new buildings and the easier ones will give you resources
  • Send lower grade troops (after unlocking better versions) to Valhalla in order to add Valkyries to your army – they can revive other units
  • Move your workers around depending on what resources you need at the time
  • Once you unlock factories and villas you can really scale up your production and speed massively

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

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) and badges for your different ball types. These badges will permanently buff your balls.

Update: Recently there has been an addition of tournaments twice a week. In each tournament you compete with other players over who can clear the most levels with different rewards of diamonds and badges.

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. The regular events also give you something extra to keep checking in for as they’re a great source of premium currency.

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
  • Only prestige for a new challenge or tournament

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