PT Guides: Like... Quick Games? You'll Love These!09 Mar 2017 2
There's nothing quite like sitting down to hours and hours of uninterrupted gaming. Well, there wouldn't be if you had the time. Much more often these days we grab what gaming time we can via our mobile devices while we wait in line for a burrito, in the checkout queue while grocery shopping, in the lobby at the dentist, or during a daily…uh… constitutional. For those times it is great to have a stable of what I like to call five-minute games. These are the games that you can pick up and play for 5-15 minutes and feel like you've made some kind of progress. The best of the genre are also playable for an hour or more when time permits. So, without further preamble, here are the best Pocket Tactics style five-minute games. Your mileage may, and probably will, vary so feel free to throw other options in the comments.
HALL OF (FIVE MINUTE) FAMERS
Card Crawl is the quintessential five-minute title. Gameplay is a compelling Solitaire-like experience where you play against a dealer and must equip and use swords, shields, healing potions, and special items to defeat a series of monsters. The goal of a game is to play through the entire deck of cards and survive. There is a huge amount of content between Normal, Constructed and Delve modes along with the Daily Dungeon and user-created scenarios in the Deck Merchant. As you play and win you gain currency which can be used to buy new cards. Deck creation is a lot of fun and completing Quests (basically achievements) can be quite a challenge. You can easily play a single game in just a few minutes or string together as many as you'd like when more time is available. You can check out this five-star review for more on the game. Card Crawl is available on iOS and Android and is a must-have for fans of fun and quick tactical gaming.
Released in early 2014, Hoplite is still my go-to recommendation for anybody looking for a great roguelike game. You play as an ancient warrior who has embarked on a hex-based quest to the underworld to recover the Golden Fleece. You must battle level after level of sword wielding, arrow firing, spell casting, bomb throwing demons equipped only with your trusty shield, spear, and a truly impressive long jump distance. The game's graphics are as Spartan as its theme, but the turn-based gameplay is full of really great tactical considerations, not the least of which is where you can move any given turn without losing one or more hearts (life). You can charge into enemies, throw your spear at ranged targets (though you'll have to retrieve it somehow), push targets away, or leap multiple squares away. Each level has a temple where you can regain life and acquire useful power-ups. A level of Hoplite can be completed in minutes, though recovering the Fleece, should you make it that far, will take significantly longer. The game earned five stars from this site back when it came out and is a can't-miss title for any fans of the genre.
Dream Quest (iOS)
Dream Quest is a deck-building, roguelike, dungeon delving, card battler where you explore level after level of randomly generated game world and slay monsters in Magic: The Gathering like duels. You pick one of thirteen different unlockable classes—each with unique cards and a different playstyle—and go adventuring. As you delve deeper and rack up the victories you level up and get gold which gives you access to more powerful cards and abilities as well as the opportunity to upgrade cards and thin out your deck by casting out your weakest cards. Losing means you die and have to start over in true roguelike fashion, although there are some persistent benefits across games. The art is pretty basic and frequently cited as a reason not to play. It was apparently created by the developers seven-year-old daughter so she could be involved in the project (check out the comments here for more on that). If you judge it based on the art alone you are doing yourself a disservice because Dream Quest's gameplay is fantastic. The choices you make matter and the deck-building strategy is surprisingly deep. You can play a full game of Dream Quest in under thirty minutes, though that can very easily be split that up into smaller chunks—a duel will take just a few minutes, for example. This is another of those games where you pay a couple bucks and get dozens of hours of entertainment. Simply put, Dream Quest is a no brainer for fans of Magic: The Gathering, deck-building games, and challenging tactical titles in general. If you don't own it you should rectify that immediately.
SUPER (SONIC) STARS
Lost Portal CCG (iOS)
Lost Portal is a single-player, premium CCG that is wrapped in an RPG adventure. You pick a color affinity (White, Blue, Black, Red, or Green), build a deck, and head off on a quest to open long lost portals between towns. As you adventure you'll encounter and duel enemy spell casters. Much like Dream Quest, you'll gain XP and gold with which to acquire new cards and steadily improve your deck. Unlike Dream Quest if you die you just lose some gold but don't have to start over. Lost Portal offers an excellent opportunity to satiate any Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone hungers to build decks and duel enemies without the need to buy a seemingly endless supply of boosters. The RPG touches, like ability scores that grant bonuses in duels, bring a lot of novelty to the experience as well. A duel will take just a few minutes and I've been sucked in to game sessions of several hours on many occasions, making this the best of both worlds. You can read my five-star review of Lost Portal and check out my interview with the developer for more info.
Many mobile games these days seem to mash multiple gaming mechanics together in an attempt to create something new. Take good old-fashioned Solitaire, for example, and blend in elements of a role-playing game and voila, you have Solitairica. The result is a thoroughly entertaining experience.
Solitairica is set in the goofy pun-heavy world of Myriodd. All of the hearts of the land have been taken by Emperor Stuck, a real buzzkill of a jerk, and it is your job to defeat Stuck and free the hearts of its hapless denizens. You can't just storm his creepy castle, however. To get at Stuck you must defeat a series of his minions at a game of combative Solitaire before they reduce your health to zero. If that happens it is game over and your heart joins Stuck's sick collection. You'll fight back by casting spells fueled by four flavors of energy—attack, defense, agility, and willpower—which you gain by clearing cards of the corresponding type. There are several different decks to unlock in Solitairica each based on a classic RPG class—Warrior, Wizard, Paladin, Bard, Monk, and Rogue. Each class specializes in two of these four energies and has their own spell specialties, which contributes to an amazing level of replay value. Games are quick, about two minutes each, and quite fun, especially once you get the hang of things. Be careful, though, this is another one that'll suck you in and make you wonder where the time went.
In Reigns you play as the King, or rather as a string of kings as your dynasty flows forth through time. You are presented with decision after decision and can make one of two choices (usually yes or no) by swiping a card to the left or the right. Your goal is to prolong your reign, and dynasty, as long as possible by balancing the needs of four constituencies: the church, the people, the army, and the treasury. Each decision will make one or more of those groups happy, and one or more of them unhappy. You can preview the effect of any given decision by sliding one way and then other but not fully swiping. The decisions you make affect future options through algorithmic goodness. There are tons of different events that pop up—literally, the cards pop up one after another—and you'll make allies and enemies, fight wars and judge witches, permit the progress of science or the rise of the church, engage in politics of all kinds, and meet the Devil himself. Reigns also has all kinds of challenges that when accomplished unlock new cards and make for a lasting legacy for the king who achieved them. The gameplay is fast, intuitive, wholly unique, and super fun. You can very easily play in five-minute bursts here and there, or longer if you like. Heck, one reign can easily start and end while you wait in the grocery checkout line.
Do you like tower-defense games? If the answer is yes, and you don't own Dungeon Warfare, go get it now. It definitely deserves to be part of your collection. If you kind of maybe like the tower-defense genre you very well may dig the game anyway. In it you are the lord of a dungeon and have worked really hard to build up a pile of loot Scrooge McDuck style. Then along comes those greedy loot-seeking heroes and other sticky-fingered adventuring folk, you doubtlessly know the type. The "Keep Out" signs didn't work so you have moved on to setting deadly traps and mechanized weapons to, well, you know…slaughter them. Your goal is to kill them all, no way to sugar coat it. There's no diplomacy in tower (or dungeon) defense. Gameplay is fast, fun, and intuitive. Just drop your traps wherever you think they'll crunch, stab, or slice the most adventurers and watch 'em fall, hopefully. If twenty of the thieving wretches get by your well laid countermeasures it's game over. There's 26 upgradeable traps, 40 different levels, and 12 difficulty modes. So you get your money's worth with this one.
Space Grunts is the perfect game for people who like to get an arcade action shoot 'em up fix without having to rely on fast-twitch reflexes. All of the action takes within the comfortable confines of a turn-based strategy game, but those turns are quick—under a second each—and combined with Space Grunt's explosive graphical style the action really does feel intense. You play as three different fighters, each with a different style, and go forth to blast aliens with a variety of different weapons. The design is very cleverly done and should appeal to turn-based strategy and action fans alike. Check out Tof's five-star review for more info and then pick this one up.
Imbroglio is a roguelike where you look to collect as many gems as possible in a constantly changing dungeon while being chased down by monsters. The game board is a four-by-four grid of tiles and on each turn you can move one tile or attack a monster. The game revolves around two types of life—red hearts and blue diamonds. Red monsters attack hearts, blue monsters attack diamonds, and your hero attacks either depending on the weapon depicted by the tile they are standing on. The key tactical consideration is making sure you are on the right weapon tile to attack a specific monster, which makes for some very compelling gameplay. As you play and collect gems you'll unlock new heroes with which to play as well as an option to edit the gameboard and customize what weapon tiles you want and where. Tof gave Imbroglio a well-earned five-star review and the game was made by the developer of 868-HACK (another five-star game worthy of this list) so there's a solid pedigree here.
SOLID (QUICK) STARTERS
I Keep Having This Dream (iOS)
This nightmare-themed tile-placement game is one of the most underrated games of 2016. Gameplay is challenging, compelling, and pretty quick. Tof gave it four stars and it is well worth picking up.
Hero Emblems (iOS and Android)
This match-three combat game is a satisfyingly compelling twist on a played-out genre. You match symbols to fuel attacks for your quintessential RPG-style party as they take on monsters, and evil, and evil monsters. The story's pretty rote but who's in it for the story? Check out this four-star review for more.
This fast paced RPG is crammed full of monsters to fight, traps to avoid, magic items to acquire, and loot to…well, loot. There's plenty of content here and the game is great for five minutes or an hour.
Check out my four-star review for more.
This tile-sliding game is like Threes, but with swords…and dragons. You combine tiles to craft tools and weapons and slay dragons. There are several modes of play and you can even create your own stencils for use in the game.
Do you need even more five-minute games? Of course you do. Who doesn't? Roguelikes are almost always good for quick play sessions, check out this guide for some great options. If there's a game you think also deserves a shout-out here, let us know in the comments below!