Another nice varied month, although admittedly I’ve still been mostly playing “Sorcery School”. Still, a couple of fun puzzlers!

The games are in descending order of “fun”, and might contain mild spoilers:

#1: Pawnbarian

A Play Store recommendation, this is actually a port of a very well reviewed Steam game. Considering how well this works on mobile, it should have been here first! Although, given how much better Steam’s recommendation system is, perhaps it’s best:


Pawnbarian by j4nw is a vaguely chess-inspired puzzle game, with your “Pawn” making his way through boards of enemies, each with various buffs. Every turn you’ll be dealt 2-3 chess pieces from your deck of cards, controlling what style of movement you can do (e.g. bishop = can move diagonally). These pieces will also have bonuses like granting an extra move, dealing surrounding damage, or protecting you from damage.

The complexity will quickly stack up, with enemies having various patterns you can damage them from, and patterns they can damage you from. This might mean you make a clever move towards trapping an enemy that needs 2 consecutive hits to kill, but unexpectedly have to veer away when an enemy you weren’t focusing on is about to deal you fatal damage.

One of the most challenging combinations of buffs an enemy can have is “Nimble” (dodge first attack) and immune to damage whilst you’re next to it. This means you need a minimum of 3 moves (or to trap it) to kill this enemy, which can be tricky when there’s area effects and other enemies hunting you down!

This is a slow, considered puzzle game. Each enemy type needs practice countering, but is extremely satisfying once you’ve worked out a counter. For example, clearing the first campaign took me 5-6 tries, but after that I could reliably clear it every time due to the knowledge gained. It’s not a roguelite, besides your brain gaining knowledge each time.

There are 5 classes to play, each with their own mechanics. Similarly, there are 3 campaigns, each with completely different enemy types. I’ve only played the default “Pawnbarian” through the first campaign (which are both included in the free demo), but have purchased the full version as there’s clearly enough complexity and skill ceiling here.

There’s also a friendly discord, and luckily there aren’t many spoilers since the enemy details etc are the interesting bits, and are all obscured in a screenshot!


The free trial gameplay contains plenty of depth, with a single payment unlocking the entire game. There’s no ads, no upsell, it’s very fair monetisation.


There’s a few very basic bits of UI that I missed on my first few attempts, oops!

  1. The red lines (or skull for lethal) in the corner of each tile indicate the damage you’ll receive if you’re standing on it next turn.
  2. Gold enemy = immune. This might be due to your location, other enemies still being alive, or other factors.
  3. You’ll receive no damage after killing the last enemy, so don’t worry about your final tile.
  4. Shields only protect you from damage on your current turn, they’re not permanent.
  5. The “Nimble” perk (enemy dodges first attack) doesn’t apply if the enemy can’t move away from you due to another enemy or an edge.
  6. Long press on each enemy to figure out their mechanics. Working through each one’s behaviour will eventually let you defeat them all.
  7. This will come down to personal preference, but I really relied on the “Cantrip” (lightning bolt). Having extra turns lets the passive attacks stack up and clear out enemies.


Campaign select Enemy stats Gameplay

#2: ShakaShaka

I found this app version of an obscure Japanese logic puzzle “Shakashaka” (by the creator of Sudoku and many more) by accident, and I’m still struggling to master it! It only has a hundred or so downloads, and is the only Shakashaka app on the store.


Shakashaka puzzles are complete when they meet 2 simple goals:

  1. Ensure every numbered tile has black triangles on the specified number of sides.
  2. Ensure the white spaces are square or rectangular, either rotated or straight.

That’s it!

Those 2 simple rules combine to make a surprisingly tricky game, where you’ll alternate between obvious, easy tiles, then be stumped on how to make a random collection of triangles form a rectangular white space.

The app implementation is very simple, just a tutorial, then the ability to generate and complete 5x5 - 15x15 puzzles with easy, medium, or hard solutions.

I’d have liked to see any sort of permanent progression, such as number of puzzles completed, difficulty levels completed, etc. Currently, there’s no real reason to play one more puzzle besides the simple enjoyment of the puzzling, which I’m not quite sure is enough for the long term.


There’s none whatsoever! No ads, no donation possible, literally nothing!


There aren’t really any tips available, since it’s a pretty simple logic puzzle. Good luck.


Tutorial Simple puzzle Complex puzzle

#3: Dice Tycoon

Dice Tycoon is a dice-based incremental from the same developer as Lone Tower.


I’m a bit torn on reviewing this. I downloaded it within a few hours of release, due to a ping on the developer’s discord. The Google Play Store even said 0 downloads! As such, this is a game very early in its life. However, it’s not in early access, it’s a full game, so needs to be judged as such.

Dice Tycoon has the basics of a good game. But, it’s not there yet.

Gameplay is just rolling dice, and picking a card to apply on each roll. You earn money that can be used on simple upgrades, or purchase bizarre “Collection” items. There’s no complexity, and once you’ve got 30-40 cards built up you’re just spam clicking.

The balance is particularly poor, with every roll earning you next to nothing, besides the occasional roll increasing your money 1000x. I’m not sure what’s even causing this, since it sometimes happens without cards!

The collection images are also particularly bizarre. They’re vaguely pixel art, but the sizes are completely off (e.g. “Motorcycle” and “Jet Ski”), and all images are clearly from completely different sources. The bonuses from these aren’t particularly useful.

Despite this, I still played it for a bit. You’ll finish the game in half hour or so (prestiging is pointless), yet I’ve played for a couple more hours to get up to prestige 9. There is the essence of something enjoyable here, but it’s just far, far too simple.

When the gameplay runs out after 30 minutes of casual gameplay, but adverts are already implemented, it can leave a negative impression of where the developer’s priorities lie. Still, I really hope this game goes on to improve, the developer’s past game was in a much better state.


Adverts can be watched for a small 10-roll bonus, but aren’t worth it.


  • Upgrade maximum card level, it will make you absurdly rich.
  • When grinding, just pick the card that displays the highest number.
  • The game is updated often, it’s probably better by now!


Collection Upgrades Gameplay