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

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

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/

RollerCoaster Tycoon® Classic (Mobile)

The Game

An all time Atari Classic is now available on your phone! One of the first games I ever played and absolutely favourite of mine the RollerCoaster Tycoon series has had it’s ups and downs over the years, but this version takes you back to the golden age.

The game offers 95 classic scenarios to play through from RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and 2. Fully functioning custom rider builder, hundreds of ride designs, shops, stalls and of course most importantly Roller coasters.

For those new or who have somehow managed to miss RCT this is THE theme park simulation game. You manage your finances, your visitors demands and the maintenance of your park. Some scenarios are time constrained, others pose different challenges. Flex your design skills, make your parks look pretty an master the running of a successful theme park.

95 scenarios from the RCT 1 and 2, and additional DLC maps as well.

Worth it?

The amount of levels you get are 100% worth the money. At £5.99 it is a deal you cannot pass up, it’s cheaper than it is on Steam. The one tiny downside is there is no sandbox mode, however there are several maps that could function as such once the objectives have been met.

The expansion packs offer 14 and 17 new scenarios respectively. These scenarios are on massive maps, some of which heavily themed already – if you are still itching for a few extra scenarios they are worth checking out, although it would be nice to get something a little extra with the purchase.

Overall, this is a great mobile version of a classic and absolutely worth buying.

Tips

  • Pause the game to understand what’s required to win the scenario
  • Focus on small reliable rides before moving on to building roller-coasters – you want to ensure you’ve got a good cash flow and money in the bank
  • For attendance objectives make sure you are using advertising campaigns
  • Map out routes for your handymen in order to maintain a clean park, although also worth having 1-2 free roaming to pick up any missed areas

Useful Links

Wiki/Walkthroughs/Guides: https://rct.fandom.com/wiki/RollerCoaster_Tycoon_Classic

Google Play Store:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.atari.mobile.rctclassic&hl=en_GB

App Store:
https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/rollercoaster-tycoon-classic/id1113736426

Exiled Kingdoms

The Game

This one really took me by surprise – I kept seeing it recommended on the Google Play store, but didn’t think much of it. I had no idea what I was missing out on. Exiled Kingdoms is an action-RPG by 4 Dimension Games that pays homage to many classic isometric RPGs. The game is set in a fantasy world with hundreds of years of lore and history. On mobile there is a paid and free version. The free version is quite a lot on its own, but certain features and classes will be disabled. There are 4 classes to choose from in total – warrior, rogue, cleric (paid), mage (paid).

The game is based around completing quests and there are tens of side quests, in the paid version there’s an option to get randomly generated quests from the town hall that also give gold and reputation. The story is very well written, as are all side characters and lore. You have the option of recruiting a companion who will act as your sidekick – there are 3 to choose from and you can equip and upgrade their skills as well.

Each class has it’s own talents that can be improved, but there are also guilds that can teach certain advanced skills – some of these advanced skills aren’t specific to the guild, i.e. a Warrior could learn some advanced Rogue skills or vice versa – this makes for some very interesting builds. Quests often have multiple solutions with different effects o

An absolutely immense open world.

Worth it?

I don’t think there’s a game I would recommend more than this, especially for anyone looking to scratch an RPG itch on mobile – this offers the complete PC experience in the comfort of your hands. While the free version is quite decent in itself I would 100% recommend buying the full game – extra classes, town hall quests, more areas, the full story, the ability to travel using boats and best part is supporting the awesome developers.

For a game that could potentially offer you over 100 hours of gameplay the price is completely acceptable. Overall definitely worth the investment.

Tips

  • Save frequently!
  • Save wolf pelts to sell to the Varannari – white ones are exceptionally valuable.
  • Save emeralds to sell to the guy (Orduc) in Jabal.
  • Try and get one of the 3 companions as soon as you can, don’t bother with day hires.
  • Hirge is a great companion as she has a healing ability.
  • The Wiki has a lot useful tips and guides so definitely worth a check for more information.

Useful Links

Wiki: https://www.exiledkingdoms.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page