Bored of Candy Crush? Here are 5 fresh casual games for you to try instead
Casual games might not grab the headlines like an action packed shooter or a tactically brilliant tower defence title, but they still remain as popular as ever with Candy Crush, Stack Ball, and Helix Jump consistently ranking high up in the top download lists.
That being said, those titles are pretty old now and most of you will have no doubt played them already. So we thought we’d show the genre some long overdue love and highlight five fresh, new releases that you should try...
If you fancy testing your colour perception and anticipation skills then Color Bouncer is the right game for you.
It's a delightfully simple 2D physics game that features over 120 levels and a nicely designed difficulty curve that won't leave you frustrated while you play it.
The layout is kept nice and straightforward with four coloured walls and a single ball bouncing between them (picture a colourful one player game of Pong where the ball is always in play!). Like the design, the objective of the game is straightforward too. At the start of each level your ball will have a set number of bounces, and your task is to match the correct color of each wall before the ball bounces off it. Get the colour right and you'll bump up your score and earn enough points to reach the next level.
As you'd expect the easy pace doesn't last too long and it gets a lot more challenging as you progress. In later levels you'll have to account for extra colour choices, new obstacles, and extra balls that change the colour of a wall whenever they strike it. Fortunately, if things do get a bit too challenging there are 5 handy power ups available to help you out, such as the Freeze power up which freezes everything except your ball for a short time, or the Reverse power up in case you need to change the direction of your ball to avoid disaster.
If puzzle games aren’t your thing then perhaps Gold Wagon will deliver the casual fix you’re looking for.
It’s a fast paced arcade title that challenges you to swipe your runaway cart from rail to rail, avoiding pitfalls whilst gathering precious gold nuggets.
Anybody that’s played Crossy Road will be on familiar ground when it comes to Gold Wagon’s isometric view, pixel art style, and lateral jumping mechanics. The big difference of course is that Gold Wagon doesn’t offer you the luxury of hitting the brakes and taking a second or two before deciding your next move. The pace is constant and the obstacles varied to really test your reaction speed.
There are 24 challenging levels to play-through with a number of fun themes and neat little obstacles to avoid. In Sawcity you’ll find yourself having to flip between tracks to dodge nasty looking sawblades, whilst in Swampland you’ll need to avoid being bashed by dipping oil derricks. Other fun level themes include Desert Rocks, SnowPike, Mushroom, and Lavaland. And we can expect plenty more on the way after launch.
Besides being very easy to pick up and play, some of Gold Wagon’s other notable merits are its unique wagons (each with their own special attributes) and its original music score - an often overlooked feature that’s soured many a casual gaming experience.
Gold Wagon is currently available to download for free from the App Store.
Covering the sports-front is 100% Golf. It’s an 8-bit retro style golf game that comes courtesy of UK based developer Alexander Johansson.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Johnson has delivered some very well received titles in recent years, including Corporate Salmon which we awarded a Silver rating.
100% Golf doesn’t attempt to reinvent the game of golf but it certainly puts a novel spin on it. Instead of the usual scoring system whereby you attempt to clear each stage in as few shots as possible, 100% Golf employs a percentage system restricting you to a finite amount of shots per hole.
You start each hole with a power meter topped up at 100%. and gradually reduce it with every shot you make. So if you decide on a hefty drive for your first swing using 80% power, you’ll be left with only 20% to try and send the ball into the hole.
Smartphone screens are a natural home for any game which requires tapping an object to a destination, so you’ll find the controls incredibly easy to pick up. All that’s required is to simply tap and drag back on the screen to adjust the power and angle of your shot.
There are 27 holes to play in total, with traditional sandtrap, water obstacles, and roughs, and - upon completion - an endless mode to truly test your skills.
100% Golf is free to play and available to download from the App Store.
For anyone that loves a more cutesy hypercasual experience, Kitty Cocktails is definitely well worth a look. It comes courtesy of Rogue Games, the same studio that brought us Sociable Soccer and Swift Knight. So like it’s feline protagonists, this game has plenty of pedigree.
The concept is extremely simple. You hold the bottom of the screen to fill a receptacle with milk and attempt to hit the perfect measurement. Failing to get the amount just right will cause you to fail the level, and you’ll have to spend in-game currency, or watch an ad, to try it again.
Besides the obvious appeal of its adorable art style and characters, Kitty Cocktail features numerous fun themes, skins, and a surprisingly tricky gameplay mechanic thanks to its wide variety of receptacles that come in all shapes and sizes.
Trickier still is the temptation to fill each glass to its sweet spot, indicated by the slightly lighter green band. There are extra points on offer for doing so but your timing will need to be spot on.
If there’s a downside to Kitty Cocktails, it’s that you’ll be forced to watch numerous ads to recoup your points if you’re no good at it. But that’s a small price to pay for the level of cuteness on offer.
High Rise (2020)
Those of you that love match and merge style games will find something very special in store with High Rise, a relaxing puzzler by smpl Games.
Unlike the usual gamut of match-3 puzzle games, High Rise offers an innovative 3D take on the genre, tasking you with matching and stacking up colourful blocks on a 5x5 grid, building them into an ever growing cityscape.
It features a minimalist art style and pastel colour scheme that’s very easy on the eye, and whilst it might seem a bit complicated at first you’ll quickly discover that the mechanics and controls are both simple and fun.
The gameplay involves placing coloured blocks on the grid which you must attempt to build up into taller structures to increase your score. To do this you need to add adjacent blocks of the same colour, which then merge together. As the structures increase in size, they’ll require the same number of blocks as they are tall in order to get even bigger. So for a yellow building that’s two blocks tall, a further two blocks will have to be placed beside it. Naturally as your buildings begin to grow into towering skyscrapers, you’ll need to be very attentive to where you place your next block. Play too carelessly and your grid will fill up fast, and once there’s no more space it’s game over.
High Rise ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to a casual puzzler. It’s inventive, rewarding, and encourages you to think strategically. But above all else it’s incredibly relaxing, thanks in no small part to its beautiful ambient soundtrack.
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