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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
There’s no way you haven’t heard of Sid Meier’s Civilization series (developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games). Civilization VI is the latest in the famous series and while the base game came out a few years ago, the developers have been rolling out a series of DLC and updates. They have also published the game on basically every console. I played both the PS4 version and the PC so I’ll cover some of the good and bad of both. Civilization V is one of my all time favourite games (I had over 1000hrs) so I had high hopes for this sequel, but I held off buying it until it came out at a more accessible price.
If you’ve never played Civbefore then you have been missing out (and probably living under a rock). It’s a turn based 4x strategy game that takes you and your civilization through history and the ages. There are several ways you can win the game – domination, culture, science, religion, score (or in Gathering Storm – diplomatic). You play on a hex grid map and build up your cities and armies and take on rival civilizations, or build alliances and friendships if you prefer a diplomacy heavy game. You decide whether you want to be a peaceful and fun loving leader or a warmongering dictator that drops nukes those who oppose them. If you’re coming from Civ V some of the most notable additions are districts (specialised neighbourhoods) and a civics tech tree. It’s not until the expansion packs and DLCs where the game really starts to feel like something innovative and new, like the addition of Governors and Loyalty.
The game offers tons of civilizations to play as and each DLC adds more, there are also a variety of maps and game modes to chose from. This in itself will give you much to experiment with and keep you busy for hours on end. The base game in itself feels a bit limited, it’s not until Gathering Storm that the developers really made it something special and moved it on from Civilization V. Rise and Storm adds mechanics such as Dark and Golden Ages, loyalty and governors, while Gathering Storm builds and expands on that by adding climate change, disasters, electricity and a new victory mode. Each DLC also gives a bunch of World Wonders, new Civs, units and buildings.
On its own the base game really isn’t all that much – you’re better off playing Civilization V and all its DLC instead. You can get the Civ 6 base game (on sale) for around £8.50, and each of the main DLCs will set you back around £10, with some civ packs for around £5. The console versions will set you back a little bit more, but try and get them on sale if you can. When it comes to deciding the platform, the obvious benefit of PC (apart from cheap CD keys) is also mods – the Civ modding community is great and there are some really great ones out there – from UI improvements to entire civilizations, units and modes. On the other hand, the console version will let you play from the comfort of your sofa, a potentially very dangerous combination as you probably won’t leave that sofa all weekend.
It’s got to be said that the DLC method does feel like a bit of a rip off, there’s a lot of additional content which can amount to quite a serious sum. The base game on its own is quite basic, especially when you learn about all the great additions in each of the mods. The main one worth getting is Gathering Storm as it includes much of what’s in Rise & Fall, although you can often find the two on sale together. The console version I played (PS4) had some issues worth noting – there are issues with the UI, various highlights and selections are hard to see, issues with scrolling in certain menus, some of the functionality available on PC isn’t available and of course, no mods.
Another couple of the DLCs worth picking up as they add a good deal of new content (secret societies game mode and a civ) are the Ethiopia pack and the Babylon pack (heroes and legends game mode and a civ) – each of those will set you back about £3.99. With all the DLC and various packs you will have so much content to play that you will definitely get your money’s worth – there are potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay there.
Overall Civilization VI didn’t start out as the strongest game on its own, but through a few years of updates, DLCs, new modes and civs it has become a truly epic game that will keep you locked in for hours, thinking “just one more turn”. The console versions aren’t the greatest, but strategies on consoles have always been a bit of an odd combo and considering that – it does do an ok job. Aim to get as much of the DLC as possible (ideally on sale) and you will have yourself something to keep you busy for a very very very long time.
Enable the ribbon UI option so you can keep track of your opponents’ yields
Enable the yields UI option to get an accurate idea of the individual tile yields
Don’t accept demands from the AI
Selling diplomatic favour can help if you’ve got cashflow problems
Think about the positions of various districts and yields when placing cities
Placing a city on a luxury resource will still give you that resource
On harder difficulty there’s less point in getting a religion
Domination victory is generally easiest
Science matters – regardless what victory you are going for
Gold can solve a lot of your problems too
Use the “Join Ongoing War” option to help get other AIs involved if you feel you need support (and distractions for the AI) – sometimes they will willingly accept for 1 gold, other times a spare copy of a luxury is enough to convince them
Settling on fresh water gives you more housing, coastal cities start with less, which is why granaries and harbours with lighthouses are important
Read the wikis and learn as much as you can about your civilization’s bonuses, but don’t force them into your game if it’s not right
The Wanderer is a mobile game made by Jamie Parish, an indie developer. The game draws inspiration from other post-apocalyptic titles (a few nods to Fallout), you will be challenged to survive and wander around the irradiated plains of what used to be a civilised world. At the beginning you are given a base camp where you can manage and store your resources, upgrade certain devices that will aid your survival and generally rest and reset between exploration missions. The core gameplay loop consists of you venturing out from your camp to various points on the map where you hope to find resources. Each hour of movement will cost you water and food, which you must replenish with the resources that you find. You will also have to maintain your health, illness and radiation levels as various foods or events can have an impact on those.
The game gives you some neat customisation options when starting out as well as a list of options that can make your playthrough even more challenging (should you choose to enable them). You will also have skill points to spend and you’ll earn more each time you level up. On your adventures you will often encounter random events where you will have a choice between several interactions – sometimes you may run into someone who requires some items, other times you may get attacked by irradiated monsters or bandits. When you arrive at points of interest you will be able to collect resources, these will reset each time you return to your home base. While there isn’t much to the core loop it can be quite addictive as you try to collect the resources you need to upgrade your tools and the ultimate goal is to repair the old van, which will massively aid you on your journeys.
The game has come a long way from its humble beginnings and there is really very little to fault on it. It’s great as both a casual game or something you spend hours on, trying to gather the right resources. There are some very minor gatcha elements like a log in reward, reward chests and you can watch videos to help boost XP or buy premium currency (which allows you to fast travel or respec), but for the most part these are completely unneeded and not intrusive at all.
Overall it’s a great little game and has all the key elements to keep you engaged for longer periods of time – things to build and upgrade, plenty to explore, some tricky resource management at times, quests, achievements, levels and even things like daily login rewards. It can be great for either a short play where you just go and explore a few locations or for extended sessions where venture much further from your home base or work towards building that van and upgrading your camp as much as possible. Definitely worth checking out as it is still being updated and actively improved,
If you are over exposed to radiation you will mutate – this will prevent you from getting radiation or illness from eating bad food, but you will lose health every hour. This can be easier to manage than constantly buying radiation masks
Revisit places near to your base – these reset every time you go back to your home base.
Focus on upgrading your backpack and base storage Recruiting the dog companion can be very useful as it can do really good damage at a higher level, however you will need to give it food and water
Don’t bother healing the dog as it will restore health provided it’s got food and water
Invest some points in Agility and Strength in order to increase the size of the hitbox in combat, as sometimes combat is pretty unavoidable
Ammo sells for quite a few caps
Karma will affect the sort of things that you find when scavenging – better karma, better loot
The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Islands by Xigma Games is a sequel to the quite compelling The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. If you’ve played the original you will be familiar with the general concept of managing your settlers and expanding your settlement around the ever-burning bonfire. The first game showed a lot of potential and could get quite challenging, it was also presented as a 2D “side-scrolling” game. In this epic sequel the game developer has moved from a 2D world into a full 3D one for something of a paper-cut out aesthetic.
The game will challenge you to grow and expand your settlement while ensuring you manage your resources and workers in such a way so as to maintain optimal food and resource supplies. Where The Bonfire games differentiate from some other city builders is the nightly attacks. Every evening various beasts – ranging from wolves to spiders and other quite scary monsters will swarm your village and attack your settlers. You will need to ensure you’ve always got enough guards on patrol and that they are all well equipped. The sequel adds even more depth to what was already a quite deep mobile game. There are a good variety of buildings and production chains which will challenge you to expand your settlement even further than before. You also keep unlocking more buildings with practically every building you construct.
Be weary though – some of your settlers may decide to steal from you or leave you! All settlers have unique characteristics and special skills. The skills combined with suitable tools will allow you to specialise your people for the role they were born to do, be it farmer or guard. The settlers will share their thoughts with you regularly and won’t hesitate to let you know when they are unhappy – something you really want to avoid.
A free version of the game is available, but you are only limited to 10 nights. Personally I didn’t really like this method of getting me to buy the full version for £4.49 on mobile and £9.29 on PC. I would have preferred limiting the number or types of buildings that can be created in the free version, because 10 days are up quite quick and you are essentially forced into the full version.
Free version aside, the paid version is – generally-speaking – worth buying. There are some slight issues, like some performance issues with bigger settlements, not being able to remove trees, some minor visual bugs and it can be quite battery intensive. As a mobile game this is definitely a great choice as there are no gatcha elements and you will find yourself thinking – just one more night for quite a while until you realise you’ve spent the last 3 hours on the game. The expeditions allow you to discover new islands and continue scaling up your resource production. I am unsure if I can justify the full price for PC, although I would also expect less performance issues. The game is also still being worked on and developed further so there will hopefully be future updates with even more amazing things to do with your settlement.
Overall definitely worth checking out, you can always play the demo/free version and if you decide it’s something you like, you will have to purchase the full version to play any further.
You can’t remove or move trees/rocks – plan accordingly
Make sure you can equip your workers with carts and appropriate tools (especially builders) – this will greatly speed up their work
Match settlers to their jobs based on their special skills
Always ensure you have more guards than you think you need – sometimes waves of monsters may attack from different sides
Build homes to house your settlers – they are less vulnerable to attacking beasts than if they sleep by the bonfire
You need a trading dock to be able to send your ships on expeditions
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.
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.
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
Infinitinode 2 by Prineside takes tower defence games to a whole new level. The game is a follow up on the quite successful Infinitinode, taking a lot of what made that game great and improving on it. Amongst some of its most notable features are the mind-boggling research tree, the custom map creator and editor, regular updates, daily quests and seasonal leader-boards.
In total the game has 15 unique towers, each with it’s own set of in-game upgrades which allow you to specialise that specific instance of the tower. From Tesla coils to flamethrowers, cannons to lasers – this game has them all. The game also features 9 regular enemies and several bosses – each enemy has specific tower’s it’s weak against, so it’s up to you to place the right towers in the right places.
If all the defending wasn’t enough the game also has mineable resources on each map. You can build special excavation units on these positions in order to harvest said resources. You will need these to upgrade your towers.
The game offers a series of pre-made maps as a campaign – especially challenging towards the end. If you complete the campaign you will unlock endless mode, which serves as the “endgame” – offering better prizes, infinite waves, harder enemies and even more research.
The game has an option to watch videos to increase a level’s winnings by 25%, it also has a chest decryption element that will give you prizes over time, once your chest has been decrypted. Other than these two “gatcha” elements, the game does a very good job of keeping you in without bombarding you with ads or crappy micro transactions. It offers you daily missions with rewards, I even missed a day and it saved my progress allowing me to resume from the last day I completed. There are some purchase options around double gains, personally I haven’t purchased any of these but if you’d like to support the developer this is probably a good way to do so (and reduce your grind time).
Overall this is an amazing tower defence game with excellent RPG elements – the skill/research tree is a really addictive element, wanting to constantly upgrade and improve your towers, buying global perks or improving your resource mining capabilities. The custom map editor, daily challenges and endless mode give the game insane replay value and will keep you coming back for more and more. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good tower defence game.
Set up a custom farming map on which you can grind papers and resources
Make sure you progress the story branch of the research tree in order to unlock levels
Get the BOUNTY modifier tile as soon as you can, this will help you massively when grinding coins in game
Ever wanted to play a city builder on the go? But you can’t deal with all the gatchas and pay to wins? Pocket City by Codebrew Games is exactly that. Its aesthetically pleasing isometric cartoon art style and the smooth delivery of classic city building mechanics make this a great choice for anyone looking to build some amazing cityscapes.
The game relies on familiar city building requirements such as zoning for residential/commercial/industrial, as well as maintaining services and resources for your citizens. Keep your city pretty with parks and various types of special buildings, make use of the sky rail, bus or airport to transport people around your city. The game does a nice job of providing a wide variety of specialist buildings from animal pastures to banks and some neat landmarks as well. You can also invest in various policies that will make your life easier. But watch out for the disasters (which you can inflict on yourself if you are so inclined).
The game also has an awesome quest system with objectives you can work towards. And once you have built up your amazing city you can start a new one in the same region and gain income from your neighbouring cities.
There are both a free and a paid version available, it’s £2.99 for the full version and it’s absolutely worth it giving you full access to all buildings and sandbox mode. There are no transactions in the game, no wait times, no BS.
The game plays great in both portrait and landscape, has a huge variety of buildings, models, events and quests. Grow multiple cities within the region. Overall it’s a solid city builder with nice graphics and good controls. The game has a lot to offer and for that price it’s a no-brainer.
Use events to gain decent chunks of XP.
Monitor your income and expenses through the stats tab – make sure you’re making more than you’re spending.
Keep an eye on your goods tab, because if certain goods can’t be sourced locally they will be imported, which can get quite expensive.
Having excess goods is a good thing as you will export any extra and help boost your income.
Complete quests for good chunks of XP or cash, some involve finding things on the map – so zoom in and look around, you’ll be amazed at the details.
Tiny Space Simulator by Cinnabar Games is an interesting and quite aesthetically pleasing space simulation game. The game is free to play with regular updates coming out (although last update was April, so may be affected by lockdown). It’s a nice take on the genre, not focusing so much on the launching and flying, but rather on colonising, tourism, research and resource management.
You start on earth and your first tasks is to set up base on the moon. Building things takes real time and jobs can be rushed for premium currency or video watching. Honestly I haven’t really felt a need to rush or boost anything in this way and in that sense the gatcha element isn’t very intrusive. However maybe the game could have made use of some sort of login reward system to at least keep you coming back.
As you research new ship parts and upgrade what you have you will be able to venture out further in space, build more and make more money.
Since it’s a free to play it’s definitely worth a play. I think the game still has room to grow quite a bit and some of the “coming soon” features do sound quite good.
Personally some of the waiting times are a bit tedious and keep me from playing the game for longer stints at a time. It would also be nice to be able to be able to set workers to do tasks automatically once completed.
Overall a fun game, good take on resource management and simulation. Mostly a casual game to be played in short bursts. It will be interesting to see how the game develops from here on out.
There is a series of tips and tricks in game to help get you started
Completing the basic missions when you first land on a planet/moon can be a great source of cash
Tourism can be a good source of income, but requires a 500 coin upgrade to start
Research better ships for more carrying/crew capacity