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.
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.
There’s no shortage of turn-based strategy titles on iOS, but Warbits is a cut above. It brings Advance Wars-style skirmishes to your iPhone or iPad, two factions duking it out on grid-based maps, lobbing projectiles at each other until one side emerges victorious.
The game is infused with quirky humour, and it fizzes with an energy its more staid competition would do well to ape. Warbits also has plenty of longevity — work your way through the tough single-player campaign, and you’ll be hardened enough to venture online. There, you can take on other virtual warmongers across a range of arenas, or rope in the computer AI if you feel the need to (try and) give it another kicking.
At first, SpellTower seems very simple and innocuous. You get a tower of letters, and drag out words. Tiles disappear and gravity reminds any floating tiles they should perhaps consider obeying natural phenomenon. Rinse and repeat.
But then you unlock Puzzle Mode, where every word you clear adds another row of letters. Finally, Rush Mode showcases the title’s devious streak, a timer relentlessly ticking, rapidly adding new rows of tiles, many of which come badged with numbers denoting the minimum letters a word needs in order to remove them. It’s a far cry from SpellTower’s sedate beginnings, and a perfect mash-up of word games and well-based puzzlers.
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.