I don’t play a lot of mobile games, but when I do, I look for ones that get my brain working and reduce my tension level.
Since I’m writing all the time, I like to play something that lets me exercise the logic side of my brain. At the same time, if I’m riding a massively delayed train with a ton of people complaining about said delay, the last thing I need is a game that requires me to do something complicated before time runs out. I also don’t want to play a touch screen game with a complex control scheme. Touch screens in my experience are just not as responsive as a controller, so if I have to do button combos to win at a game, well … I’m probably going to turn it off in frustration halfway through level one.
Fortunately, I have come across a few winners, all of which are available on Android and iOS. These are all beautiful-looking games with simple concepts. Most importantly, they never punish you for looking up from the phone to check why everyone is yelling “Fire!”
This dream-like game by developer ustwo is all about the visuals. And I don’t mean it just looks pretty, I mean the visuals play a key part of the gameplay. In Monument Valley, Players guide a princess through an isometric world by raising and turning objects in the environment to create a path. The brilliant thing is that this world functions like an Escher painting, or those impossible shapes from geometry class, so that turning a platform on the lower level sometimes connects it to a higher level.
While there are occasional crows (possible band name?) that block your path, they don’t try to kill the princess. Players simply have to find a way around them. It’s also relaxing just to look at the game and listen to the music. The guy sitting next to you might think you’re a weirdo, but hey, that’s his problem.
My one complaint is the game is fairly short and there’s no incentive to replay completed levels. There are a couple of expansions available, but they only extend the experience by a couple of hours. Regardless, this game sticks in my memory as one of my favorites, on any gaming platform, of the last few years.
This monochrome puzzle game by developer Rainbow Train proves that a strong gameplay concept is more important than fancy special effects. In Hook, Players must find a way to remove all of the parts (in this case hooks) without bumping them against each other. It’s easy at first but gets more challenging as the game progresses.
Importantly for one’s tension level, no one yells at the player to finish in a certain amount of time. Just keep at it until the puzzle is solved. The very basic graphics and light music also keep things mellow.
And no, Peter Pan is not involved.
While it may not look quite as pretty as developer ustwo’s other game, Monument Valley, this puzzle game is another interesting concept that starts out simple and gets increasingly difficult as the player goes on. Blip Blup presents players with a grid that they must fill with light. When the player touches a square, light shoots out in all directions, but obstacles can stop the light from reaching every square of the grid. The idea is to cover every bit of the grid in as few moves as possible.
Like the other games in this list, there’s no time limit, and players can keep trying until they get it right. The music’s pretty relaxing, too. It also has a bit more replay value than the other games on my list because, while a given level might be passed in three moves, Blip Blup gives extra points for doing it in two.
So that’s my list! If you have any recommendations for other relaxing mobile games, please sound off in the comments. I’m eager to give it a try to calm my shattered nerves! Oh, and don’t forget to check out a game I made called Watched Sweeper. I don’t know if it’s clever or relaxing, but it is a game!