Strategy and word games
The best strategy and word game for iPhone and iPad: Mini Metro
For anyone immersed in the daily hell of a commute involving an underground, the notion of designing such a system – and for that to begin as a chill-out session – might seem unlikely. But Mini Metro is captivating from the first train you unleash.
It builds slowly. You connect a few stations by drawing a line, and passengers are ferried about, alighting at the first station that matches their shape. All along, your ears are serenaded by a tinkly generative soundtrack formed by the actions taking place on-screen.
The calm doesn’t last. As time passes, new passengers and stations appear, ramping up the tension and forcing you to juggle scant resources. Eventually, you’ll be overwhelmed and your subway will close. Still, a new one’s only a tap away. Just don’t lose yourself for too many hours in this minimal interactive underground.
You don’t get ‘proper’ games on an iPad, apparently. Which probably comes as a shock to anyone who’s installed Civilization VI. They’re probably also a bit gobsmacked that this really is the full 4X (eXplore; eXpand; eXploit; eXterminate) PC game shoved into Apple’s tablet.
It works really nicely, too, with smartly designed controls, and the kind of depth that can feasibly have a single game last for days. (Which might be a concern to Civ obsessives, now it’s on a properly mobile device.)
There are snags – no online multiplayer, some slightly fuzzy graphics on iPad Pros, and that whopping price tag. Still, if you want ‘proper’ games, you’d best get used to paying for them.
It turns out the newspaper crossword was ripe for subversion in the digital realm. TypeShift uses this ancient puzzle formula but reimagines it for mobile play. Instead of a static grid, you get columns of letters that move, the aim being to make a word in the central row. When all letters have been used, the puzzle is complete.
The tactile nature of TypeShift makes it perfectly suited to mobile play, and moves it beyond more traditional fare. And although there’s sometimes a temptation to brute-force solutions, the game rewards a lean-back, thoughtful approach – not least in the puzzle packs that twin the base game with brain-smashing cryptic crossword-style clues.
Although it’s since departed this particular list, we at Stuff remain big fans of Hitman GO, which cleverly reimagined stealth as turn-based puzzling. Card Thief does much the same, but adds Solitaire to the mix. This means all your sneaking about involves figuring out pathways across a three-by-three grid of cards dealt on to the table.
It seems reductive and can get repetitive, but there’s plenty of nuance here. You must take care to conserve your stealth points, depleted when tackling guards, while simultaneously looting everything within reach. Escaping with your life isn’t too tricky – doing so with a bag of swag is much tougher.