As always, I’ve ended up playing almost exclusively “casual” incremental / idle mobile games recently! Luckily I’ve found a few that have been deeply enjoyable. I’ve completed(ish) all 3 after a period of semi-addiction, so I’ve also added a few tips for anyone looking for a helpful nudge.
The games are in descending order of “fun”, and might contain mild spoilers:
Slots games have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure, to the extent that I even made an unsuccessful slot-based RPG Blacksmith Slots. Unfortunately most slots games are pretty predatory, forcing you to pay real money to make any progress, or just having a boring slick casino theme. Luckily, there’s a related genre of games where you build a deck of items that can appear in your slots, which tend to be a lot more creative and interesting: SpinCraft is an excellent example of this.
To summarise the gameplay, you are spinning a slot machine. After each spin, you can choose a new symbol to add to your deck. These items interact with each other (e.g. monkey eats banana, zookeeper collects monkey, potions improve drops), and every 10-20 spins you need to make a certain amount of money to progress to the next level. Each stage has a fixed number of levels, and the money required increases by 10-40% each level.
SpinCraft (subreddit) relies on multiple playthroughs, both to level up your permanent items and to experiment with item combos. My first few games were… pretty short, as I was just blindly picking items I liked the look of (cats!). After a few games though, you’ll learn which items work well together, and avoid wasting your picks.
This core gameplay loop is very smooth, with complex, layered interactions between items in the slot. For example, an arrow might multiply all scores in the row, whilst a cheerleader boosts a zookeeper who collects a monkey who has just collected a half coconut that has come from a coconut that came from a palm tree. And that’s just 1 item on the board! Item merging, dice rolling, and items dispensing items means every single spin is very unpredictable.
Of course, it’s also a roguelike. Whilst many items (e.g. +1 to every gummy bear) will be earned each game, permanent items are opened from chests instead, and can be extremely powerful. Permanent items typically massively boost earnings from certain items, provide free items every X spins, or improve chances of certain drops. These chests are earned idly over time, or from levelling up using XP earned from games.
The depth in the interactions is addictive, as is the improvement in both items and knowledge after every run. However once you know which interactions work, and which rare symbols you need for a successful run, all other runs feel a bit pointless. The first 15 spins are basically just killing time until the decent symbols start dropping. Luckily these interactions are very reliable and understandable, with the only bugs being UI based.
Overall SpinCraft has completely sucked me in, and I’m playing it waaaay too much currently! I’m currently on World 14 and have unlocked every symbol (140+!) and permanent item (50+!), unfortunately it looks like there’s nothing else to unlock.
The monetisation is very, very optional, and realistically there’s only 1 thing worth buying: The starter deal. For £2.69 ($3.40) you get 500 gems (worth £3.50ish), the highest level chest (worth £10 of gems), and the infrequent in-game adverts removed forever. An easy buy!
Whilst you can buy gems via microtransactions to buy more gems, you really don’t need them. It took me a couple of days to unlock all the content and hit the “wall” of level 13/14 where the money required ramps up insanely.
- There is another game called “SpinCraft” on the store! I originally downloaded that and didn’t understand all the hype… this one is much better!
- You need to be earning more every spin to keep up with payments. This means one-off payments are not helpful, you need to use things like egg basket / zookeeper / juice lady that pay more and more over time.
- For me, the best tactic was to try and get 2 of these “accumulator” symbols, then every spin dump more fruits / animals into them.
- Bowling balls & pins are amazing early-mid game, especially if you have “The Dude” item to double bowling ball effectiveness.
- Make sure every pick improves your earnings somehow. For example make sure you have the egg & seahorse collecting items, AND the ones that increase earnings with every skip. This way, even if none of the items work for you, you still get better.
- Save your rerolls for when going to a new level or spinning with a guaranteed epic.
- Delete old items if they’re not working, it’s fine to change tactics mid-game.
- Legendaries with negative trade-offs (e.g. Monk with gold cost, Dragon with negative symbols) are rarely worth it.
- The “First place” item (+8 every item) is bugged, and the animation will play 10 times. This means it might not be worth using, since it’s pretty frustrating waiting for the animation every time!
#2: Power Inc
Power Inc is a short and sweet incremental game. I actually spotted it on r/incremental_games with the 0.2 update that added half of the current features! The timing was definitely lucky, as without these new features it would have been a very different experience.
This game hit the perfect balance between grinding and the dopamine of new feature unlocking, keeping me pretty hooked for a couple of days. New mechanics and capabilities are unveiled slowly yet are achievable, with no “wall” being hit until the very end game.
In addition to the usual coins, it uses an interesting “power” mechanic whereby you need to balance power generation (and all the automation, boosters, upgrading you’d expect) and power utilisation (new houses, new products to customers). This ensures you always have multiple ways to progress, and need to engage with all the game’s mechanics. Finally, there’s also a science / research mechanic used to discover new products (income boosters) for customers, and of course upgrade the science generation itself.
The game is also full of little visual easter eggs, such as the automated workers becoming more “muscular” as you upgrade them, and various game elements having cute animations tied to their speed. For example, the coin icon “pulses” every game tick as new money is earned.
With this complex-yet-achievable progression system, and powerful prestiging, Power Inc is a very easy game to get very involved in. However, there is a downside. As a game still pretty early in development, you will reach the end of the game before you’ve stopped having fun. I reached it after ~2 days after 2 prestiges (at 1000 and 100,000 prestige points), where I ran out of new content to unlock, and could just infinitely grind if I chose to.
That being said, as a free game it’s totally worth the time in its current state. The developer definitely seems to know their way around balancing an incremental game, so I’m optimistic future updates will add features without negatively impacting the existing setup. Personally I’d really like a cloud backup or save export / import functionality, so that the game doesn’t have to stay installed.
The game is absolutely playable for free. I chose to watch a few ads throughout my experience, as they had reasonable rewards (10m earnings instantly, or doubling offline earnings). Alternatively, there is a “remove ads” purchase that is perhaps a bit too expensive (£4.69) for the current game length, if it had been around half the price I might have purchased it to get the ad boosts without watching.
- Most of your interaction with the late-stage game will be tapping the research claiming button. The autoclaimer is worth buying, but don’t save up ages for it as it only collects once per 30 seconds by default!
- You probably don’t need Nikola Tesla’s research power until the very end of the game, and certainly no need to upgrade him.
- Tap the “add house” icon if you seem stuck, it’ll tell you what you need to do to progress. Often this will be purchasing a locked area at the top of the screen.
- Prestiging often doesn’t seem a good idea, as the perks aren’t overwhelmingly powerful.
- The game has a surprisingly active Discord (and very active dev!) considering the low number of players, as well as a subreddit with updates.
#3: Skrimp Fall
I like idle games, and I like incremental games. Skrimp Fall is… a very basic example of both, yet it’s somehow addictive. The entire gameplay is watching “Skrimp” fall into your portal, and upgrading the gravity / skrimp count / skrimp value / portal size until you earn enough to progress to the next level. You can also move the portal but… that’s it, and for most levels you don’t need to.
As you can probably tell from the description, there’s really not much to review here. Play the game for 5 minutes and you’ve had a sneak preview of the next 20 hours!
The level variety is somewhat interesting, but they always end up being a few static / moving platforms, a few portals, and some “speed-up” pads. Once you figure out where the catching portal should go, there’s no challenge left. The game really needs a lot more. Achievements? Challenges? A story?
It does seem to be very actively developed (Discord server), with the developer also creating a couple of much more complex games in the past. New features and stages actually got added the day before I wrote this review, so I’m hoping more complex gameplay mechanics come sometime soon!
Skrimp Fall has 2 forms of monetisation. An advert can be watched to add an additional “Skrimp”, but this is rarely worth doing. In-app purchases are entirely cosmetic, with the cat one obviously proving irresistible to me.
- If your skrimps get wedged in a corner, you can go to the main menu and back to free them.
- Usually upgrading skrimp count & value are the best purchases, especially on levels where the fall position is static.
- Enabling gyro controls and holding your phone diagonally is very overpowered, and will make skrimps reliably fall into your portal.
Overall, only 2 of these are idle games, with SpinCraft being more of a roguelike. The idle games also both fall into the common trap of not quite having enough content, which is honestly a real shame for great games like Power Inc.
I’ll be sticking around on the Discord / Subreddit for these games to keep an eye out for future updates, I really hope to see them expanded much more in the future! Power Inc definitely has a ton of potential.