I have a confession: I’m a mobile gamer. And no, not intense 3D games that can at least claim to be exciting, but mostly incremental / idle games and puzzle games. Assuming you’re not judging my tastes too much, here’s the 4 games I’ve been playing this month.
With the type of games I tend to play, they don’t “end” as such. They tend to just… devolve into an unproductive grind, and stop being enjoyable. This series is going to be somewhere I can write about games before I’m sick of them and uninstall!
The games are in descending order of “fun”, and might contain mild spoilers:
#1: Words Collide - Download
In the past I’ve spent a lot of time with casual word games like Wordiest, that are essentially non-competitive scrabble.
The latest iteration on the Scrabble concept I’ve been playing is Words Collide. The core Scrabble concepts are all there, but with more of a focus on overlapping words, or “cascading” words that are formed when the end-of-turn rearrange happens.
The main selling point for me was no timer, and no competitive multiplayer. You’re either playing against your own high scores or working with someone to get the highest combined score! Very chill, very satisfying.
The first few games you’ll have very few letters, and not many turns to take. Luckily, the coins you earn from normal gameplay will let you upgrade all these pretty easily, as well as unlocking new gameplay features and modes.
I really, really liked the monetisation strategy in Words Collide, and spent £2 or so. Essentially the entire game is free, with no limits or adverts whatsoever, but additional letter designs can be bought using real money. These prices are quite steep, however there are “daily sales” where a few designs can be purchased very cheaply with real money or easily earned in-game currency.
This purchase was very much in appreciation of the game, and if I’m still playing in a couple of weeks I’ll probably buy another.
Collaborative games are where the really big scores will come from, as you essentially have twice as many turns to score highly. A few tips I’ve found that helped my occasional 100k+ score games were:
- If your multiplayer ally scores a word like “duplicated”, try and score “deduplicated”, “duplicates”, or other similar words. This halves the amount of thinking you both have to do!
- When looking at your letters, try and get an idea of longer words that could be spelled. There’s no downside to placing tiles on the board, so try it out and you might find another word along the way.
- If you see a “cascade” of 5-6+, it’s probably worth taking if you have upgraded your cascade bonus!
- If your turn is finished and you have leftover letters, try just dragging the letters through your matched words, and see if there’s an opportunity you haven’t spotted.
- Have 5-6 multiplayer games at a time, and pay attention to people’s levels! Higher levels will generally be better at scoring, so are worth responding to quickly.
|Upgrades screen||Multiplayer games list|
|A game with a high cascade (7)||My highest single word-score (77.8k)|
#2: Upload Simulator - Download
Why are incrementals so ridiculously addictive? Upload Simulator is a somewhat abstract idle game where you’ll be “uploading” real games.
I had a really, really good time playing Upload Simulator, albeit only for a week or so. It was one of those games you end up playing for half hour accidentally, just trying to get to the next upgrade, maybe whilst watching TV.
But… it was over much sooner than I expected. Bought all the upgrades, uploaded (almost) all the games, pretty much nothing left to do! It’s a real shame, as further depth definitely could have made this game last for many weeks more. With many idle / incremental games, I quit after the first prestige as there’s not enough progress. Upload Simulator however gave plenty to spend prestige points on, with some super powerful late game upgrades.
Luckily it looks like the developer is giving regular updates, so hopefully this great core gameplay loop can be expanded to have a bit more longevity.
Another great monetisation model… there’s no in app payments! There’s an optional ad to double your earnings, but that’s it. I watched maybe one advert early on, before realising the boost wasn’t really worth it due to the fast progress.
I’d love to pay to unlock a new campaign / alternate mode / something new, the currently essentially free model is too generous!
The game is relatively straightforward, so not many tips. However:
- Offline earnings don’t work when fully upgraded! At some point I stopped earning anything from them, not sure why.
- Pay attention to what you’re upgrading! If you’re trying to upgrade your base multiplier, you might need to focus on network more than storage so you’re completing as many uploads as possible.
- Use “hacks” tactically. For example, the “complete all uploads” hack should ideally be used straight after accepting a long, slow, high earning task.
- As with all idle games, automate ASAP. Automatic hacks, automatic artifact clicking, automatic purchasing, always prioritise them!
#3: Pocket Quest - Download
Even as someone who has never played or watched a second of the popular Loop Hero, I’m pretty sure Pocket Quest is heavily inspired by it. Your hero runs loops around the map, battling enemies and gaining loot. You place terrain on the map between loops, and upgrade your hero’s gear and attributes.
I had a great couple of days with the game, and it’s a real shame it’s not longer.
I found the strategy just deep enough for a mobile game, and eventually figured out a few traits that felt overpowered, and managed to push through the game pretty quickly. It has all the energy timer / equipment upgrade / coin buying / diamond microtransactions you’d expected, but… they forgot to make enough content!
There’s only 6 themes / maps, and once you’ve progressed through them all there’s nothing else. No endless mode, no challenges, no competitions, not even a congratulations screen. The equipment system seems… far too in depth for the length of the game. I didn’t see half the items, only upgraded a couple of things, and didn’t really interact with my equipment much.
Despite this, I had a really enjoyable couple of days with the game. It’s free, and worth playing, but don’t expect more than a few hours of fun!
The energy recharged fast enough to not be much of an issue, adverts were always optional, and no microtransactions were worth buying. I would have happily paid for an XP doubling one-off payment or similar, but none was available.
I did watch a few ads to resurrect at the end of a failed run, luckily as this is only possible once per run (and resurrects your hero with 50% health) it isn’t overpowered.
I found a few traits during runs to be extremely helpful:
- Heal on damage
- Heal on kill
- Wolf companion
These 3 combined meant you could place a treasure chest down, and get a decent chunk of guaranteed healing from it. Additionally, your wolf (which respawns within a hit or two) tanks a lot of hits for you, and can be upgraded to 2 wolves later on.
#4: Dice Life - Download
Okay this is an embarrassing one. Dice Life is a completely predatory game, that will try to convince you to spend money in any way possible. But… it hooked me for a while. Oops.
The core gameplay loop is you roll your dice (basically energy), then the numbers you get dictate which resource you earn. This resource is then used for crafting, to fulfill quests, upgrade buildings, and expand your town.
So, as mentioned, this is going to ask for money pretty often. You’ll run out of rolls frequently, and they recharge pretty slowly (5 per 30m or so), meaning you can only really play for 10-20m every 4-5 hours.
However I’m an absolute sucker for a loot / crafting / quest mechanic, and this one has a good one. Quests can be completed easily, but making the most efficient use of your rolls require a little bit of planning. Some items have a slightly complex supply chain, but unfortunately this usually just results in bottlenecks along the production line.
In the game’s defence, the item unlocks are pretty regular, and after a week or so of gameplay there’s still plenty left to unlock. There’s also a “thief” mechanic, but luckily it isn’t very important if you’re raided, yet stealing from others earns you a LOT of supplies.
Finally, the dialog during quests is fairly standard, but I do appreciate the effort that went into having a bit of story for missions instead of just generic “fetch 5 eggs”.
The in app purchase prices are steep, and clearly intended to feed off impatience. For example, the smallest in-app payment is £4.99, and the game uses a mixture of currencies (coins, dollars, and rolls) meaning a hefty fee if you want to skip a wait.
I did end up making a purchase of one of the “deals”, which are the only times the payments seem OK value for money! However the overall model didn’t feel very nice, and was a bit too aggressive for me.
- Save your green dollars, 130 of them will give you 80 rolls and there’s nothing better to spend them on!
- Ensure all your producers and shops are working towards a quest at all times, to avoid wasting rolls.
- Complete ship orders as soon as possible, since their rewards are needed for new buildings and are slow to earn.
- Place your buildings carefully, as purchasing new land is expensive and slow!
So, May’s games were 3 incremental games and 1 puzzle / word game. I spent money in 2 of them, and only watched 1-2 ads. A pretty average month, it’s a shame most of the games only lasted a week or so before running out of content!