Hearthstone is a free-to-play collectible card game that was released by Blizzard earlier this year. It is based in the Warcraft universe, so the spells, minions, and classes will be familiar to World of Warcraft players.
You can pick any of 9 different classes, each with their own unique ability; priests can restore 2 health, shaman can summon totems, etc. Craft your deck out of hundreds of class-specific and neutral cards. Win games and complete quests in order to earn packs of new cards.
After the whole ArcheAge failure, I renewed my WoW account for a month to see what had changed in the 2-3 years since I had played it last. I was disappointed by how old the game felt (and omg why are the gnomes so ugly now?!), so, still looking for a game to play, I decided to try out Hearthstone.
Hearthstone is a lot like Magic: The Gathering except digital, of course. With a smaller deck size than MTG (30 vs 60+ cards) and the computer performing calculations, I like that games are quick.
Today is the release of Hearthstone’s second expansion, Goblins vs. Gnomes. I’m hoping they also announce the release of Hearthstone for Android, too. It’s supposed to come out sometime this month.
Form a line of heroes and steer through endless levels fighting enemies. Just like in Snake, you can’t stop your heroes from moving forward and you have to avoid running into enemies and walls. Collect gems and power ups, avoid damage and obstacles, buy upgrades, and clear levels to unlock more heroes.
Simple and cute, Nimble Quest is a clever re-imagining of Snake. Levels start out easy and gradually get more difficult. On the downside, it can feel grindy and repetitive.
In addition to gems, there is a premium token currency. Before I figured out how levels worked and that tokens are rare, I stupidly wasted all of my tokens retrying levels (which the game prompts you to do). If you decide to play the game, don’t do that. 😛
If you’re looking for a game you can pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, this would be a good pick. I played the PC version, but I think Nimble Quest would work well on mobile devices (it was designed for them). Although the game is free-to-play on mobile, you have to pay to unlock red gems (worth 10x as much as normal green gems).
LYNE is a minimalist puzzle game in which you connect the shapes to move on to the next level. Each shape has to be used a certain number of times in order to complete the level.
There are hundreds of levels and a new puzzle gets released every day, so there is plenty of content to keep you entertained.
LYNE starts off very easy, but this simple game gets more challenging as it introduces new colors and mechanics. I really love the minimalism and the soothing audio. The game is beautiful, relaxing, well executed, and challenging.
I highly recommend picking it up (especially while it’s on sale). It’s also available on Android and iOS and while I haven’t played either of those versions, I can tell that it would do really well as a mobile app.
The other day, I was introduced to a brilliant and simple game called 2048. The concept is so simple and I’m kicking myself for not having thought of it myself. 😛
You start with a 4×4 grid in which two of the tiles have 2’s on them. You use your arrow keys (or swipe) to move all of the tiles on the board as far as they can go in the given direction. If any two tiles with the same number touch when moving, they merge into one and the number on the tile doubles (ex. merging two “4” tiles results in one “8” tile).
The goal is to get a tile with 2048 on it.
You can play the official version of 2048 for free in your web browser, which works great on both desktops and mobile devices.
10000000 is a hybrid RPG/Action/Puzzle game that combines match 3 puzzles with fighting monsters and improving your character’s gear and skills. You wake up in a prison and the goal is to score 10000000 points so you can escape.
Move rows and columns to match tiles while your character runs through the dungeon battling enemies, opening chests, and unlocking doors. There are several types of tiles and each have different effects when you match them:
Swords/Staves: physical/magical damage to the enemy you’re fighting
Shields: defense against enemy attacks
Keys: unlock chests and doors
Backpacks: chance at getting an item
Stone/Wood: gain some amount of that material (used for repairing and upgrading the castle)
Because of the different matching effects, you really need to pay attention to the board and what your character is doing or you could waste a good damage effect when you’re supposed to be unlocking a door. I like that twist on the classic match 3 game, because you have to plan and save your combinations. You still need to act quickly, though, because the game is time-sensitive.
You can also have up to 3 items at a time, which you get from backpacks and chests. They can be used at any time to do things like transform some of the tiles into another tile or give you more time.
At the beginning of each dungeon run, you’re also given objectives to perform a certain number of matches, acquire a certain amount of resources, etc. When you complete the objectives, it rewards you with resources.
Between dungeon runs, you can upgrade your character with the resources you’ve earned. Wood and stone are used to repair and upgrade rooms in the castle (blacksmith, trainer, staffmaker, etc.). You can then spend your gold and experience to upgrade your gear and skills in the rooms.
I bought 10000000 when it was on sale for 99 cents earlier this month and I started playing this morning. I’ve played primarily on my tablet so far, but I also briefly tried it out on my phone (it looked and played the same as on my tablet).
10000000 is a clever combination of match 3 and dungeon crawler and the result is a fun game that’s well-suited for mobile devices. It also doesn’t have ads or require any special permissions, so that’s a plus.
I played a bunch of new games this year and I’ve included my favorites below (I hope I didn’t forget any!). The games weren’t necessarily released in 2013; I just happened to play them for the first time this year. Click the links for my full reviews of each game.
Board & Card:
7 Wonders – strategy card game based on civilization-building
Lego Lord of the Rings – action-adventure game (I didn’t write up a review of this game, whoops!)
Game Dev Story – game company simulation game (review is forthcoming)
Star Wars: Tiny Death Star was released last week, a Star-Wars-themed version of Tiny Tower. In Tiny Tower, you build up a tower by adding floors of residential and commercial areas to attract virtual people (“bitizens”) to move there and spend money, so you can build your tower further. It’s a simple game, but it’s one that I was hooked on for a while. It also won iPhone Game of the Year in 2011.
Gameplay in Tiny Death Star is very much the same as Tiny Tower, but with a Star Wars theme. The “bitizens” take the form of pixelated ewoks, droids, and stormtroopers and characters like Leia, Lando, and Boba Fett make occasional appearances. Perhaps the biggest difference is the addition of Imperial floors, which let you build floors beneath the tower to interrogate rebel spies and create star maps.
Tiny Death Star is every bit as addicting as the original version (since it’s more or less a reskin) and I think they did a great job with the Star Wars theme. I’ve noticed a few issues with the game, though. Although you can link it to your Google+ account, you cannot sync the game across multiple devices. Bizarre. The game also continues to play sound effects even when you have them turned off in the settings menu. Hopefully, those will both get fixed in an update or something.
The wildly popular iOS strategy game was released for Android earlier this month. It uses the free-to-play model, giving players the option of buying gems (which allow them to buy shields, builder’s huts, etc.) without being obnoxious about it. Clash of Clans is more PVP-oriented than other city-building games I’ve played. There are trophy leagues that promote players for successful attacks of other players’ villages. You also steal other players’ resources when you attack their villages.
While I still “play” Clash of Clans, I’ll probably quit soon. Without using gems, you’re limited to 2 builders and upgrading buildings and defenses can take multiple days, so there isn’t much to do other than attack other people. Attacking involves selecting some or all of your troops and dropping them off somewhere on the map. You can’t control your troops at all, so they often do stupid things like ignoring the cannon that’s firing at them to destroy a worthless building. Granted, different types of troops behave differently, so there is some strategy in the order you send the troops, but the game is much too passive for me.
Plus, I felt like not enough information was given to the player and I found myself looking things up online all the time. How many resources can other players take when they attack me? Are some buildings more important to protect than others? How does donating troops to clan members work? My generosity got me kicked out of a clan for donating troops because they were apparently too low leveled. I had no idea.
Knights of Pen & Paper is a turn-based pixel art RPG that was modeled on Dungeons & Dragons. Sadly, I haven’t played D&D, so I can’t really compare the two. The player controls the dungeon master and up to 5 players at the table. You can customize the players by choosing from multiple classes (cleric, rogue, knight, necromancer, etc.) and personality types (nerd, little brother, hipster, grandma, etc.). You explore the map, completing quests and fighting monsters along the way.
Knights of Pen & Paper is a great little game. I love its sense of humor and references to other games and pop culture. The simple mechanics might get boring after a while, but you can switch things up by adding new classes that you unlock along the way. Gold is the currency in Knights of Pen & Paper and although you can buy gold for real money, the game never prompts you to and I haven’t ever felt a need to buy gold. There is plenty of content, too; I’ve spent hours playing this game and there’s still more to do.
Osmos is a beautiful, minimalist physics-based game. You control a mote and try to collide it into other, smaller motes to absorb them and become larger. If you collide with a larger mote, you get absorbed and lose. You lose mass as you move, though, so you want to be conservative in your movement. Features like antimatter and gravity/orbits keep things interesting.
I got Osmos after it was named #7 in Reddit’s Top 25 Android Games list. It’s well-designed, addictive, and manages to be both relaxing and challenging. After noticing that it supported multiplayer, I had my husband pick it up, too. Multiplayer is a lot of fun! The gameplay is the same, except the one of the motes is controlled by the other player, who is trying to absorb your mote.
After first releasing on iOS, Plants vs. Zombies 2 released on Android last week. Plants vs. Zombies 2 stays true to the original gameplay, while adding things like new plants and zombies and a new, less linear map. There are three themed worlds: mummies, pirates, and cowboys, each with its own levels and themed zombies. There are new mechanics, too, like plant food that briefly makes a plant more powerful and power-ups that use touch gestures to help you get rid of zombies.
Unlike the original Plants vs. Zombies, the sequel uses the free-to-play model. In the store, you can buy coins (up to $99.99 worth in a single purchase), plants, upgrades (increased slots, extra sun, etc.), and the keys you need to unlock certain plants, bonuses, and levels. I love Plants vs. Zombies, but I feel like PopCap is too aggressively pushing in-app purchases in this sequel. The keys that you need for progression are a rare drop, so it seems like you’ll have to do a lot of grinding if you aren’t willing to fork over the cash. You also need to pay to unlock several plants; there is no other way of getting them. The in-game currency (coins) is only good for purchasing power-ups (which are expensive).
Plants vs. Zombies 2 has a lot of nice improvements over the original game, which give the game more variety. I like the addition of the star challenges, which award stars for completing objectives in previous levels. I also like the plant food mechanic, but I’m not a fan of the power-ups, which feel cheaty and awkward to me. My biggest complaint about the game is the annoying in-app purchase system. Fortunately, most of the store purchases should be unnecessary with good strategy and tactics. I’m worried about having to grind for keys, though. At least the star challenges will provide variety when replaying old levels.
Rayman Jungle Run is a 2D sidescroller platform game. Unlike other similar games, it’s not a “run forever until you die” type of game. There is a goal at the end of each level that you need to reach before it sends you to the next level. While running, jumping, flying, and punching your way to the goal, you collect firefly-like “lums” to boost your score.
I just got Rayman Jungle Run today, so I haven’t played it enough to give it a thorough review. The graphics and music are great and the touch controls work well so far. There are 7 different sections, which each have 10 different levels, and each section focuses on a different ability. You unlock achievements and art as you play and the compulsion to get a perfect score on each level could keep people playing for a while, even after completing every level.
$2.99 on Android & iOS (Currently on sale for $0.99)
#22: Triple Town [Free] Super addicting match 3 game in which you try to build up a city. Fun fact: I almost worked on the development of this game (my former employer was the original developer).
#20: Angry Birds [Free] This physics-based action puzzle game has become a mobile gaming staple. You slingshot birds at pigs in the original version of the game, but there are other variations in the Angry Birds franchise that introduce other themes and mechanics.
#19: Kingdom Rush [$0.99] Although there’s nothing particularly innovative about this tower defense game, it’s made really well and is definitely worth the $0.99. If you’re interested, check out my review of Kingdom Rush.
#18: Dots [Free] This minimalist puzzle game is pretty addicting considering how simple it is. Match as many dots as you can, as quickly as you can. I didn’t get sucked into this game, but it was fun to play for a little while.
#15: Jetpack Joyride [Free] I’ve spent more time than I care to admit playing this endless side-scroller made by the folks who made Fruit Ninja. It’s a one button game in which you run through a laboratory collecting coins and avoiding hazards. The missions, achievements, and upgrades like gadgets and costumes keep things interesting.
#9: Terraria [Free demo; $4.99] While I haven’t spent a lot of time playing the mobile version of this action-adventure RPG, I loved the PC version. It’s like a 2D version of Minecraft. I wrote a more detailed review of Terraria when the Android version came out earlier this month.
#6: Super Hexagon [$2.99] This minimalist action game is equal parts frustrating and brilliant. Gameplay is incredibly simple; you steer your cursor through endless hexagons, but don’t be surprised if it’s “Game over!” almost as quickly as you began. I wrote a quick review of Super Hexagon along with the other games from Humble Bundle with Android 5.
#5: Plants vs. Zombies [$0.99] This tower defense game is another mobile gaming staple. Stop the horde of zombies from reaching your house by planting rows of zombie-killing plants. I love PvZ and its sequel is going to be available for Android soon.
#1: World of Goo [Free demo; $2.99] In this physics-based puzzle game, you build structures out of balls of goo. The various levels offer new and interesting challenges as you create bridges and towers to get as many gooballs as you can to the end.
The long-awaited 1.2 PC update will be released on October 1st (source). Possible upcoming features include waterfalls and fountains, paints and dyes, more types of ore, a minimap, new biomes and monsters, a revamped character menu, and a plethora of new weapons and decorative items.
I played around with the demo briefly on my tablet and it seems to work pretty well on a touchscreen. There are joysticks on the left and right that control movement and tools/weapons. Accuracy can be a little tricky sometimes, but you can zoom in and there’s also a zoomed-in view thing that helps. There was a glitch with the sound, though, where it stopped playing partway through the demo. That seems to be a common problem, so hopefully they’ll fix that soon.
From what I can tell, it seems like the mobile version is really close to the full game, not a dumbed down version – though I did hear that there is no hard mode.