The teachings of the 9 finest cell video games of 2019: first half

Throughout 2019, we noticed a really clear pattern. We’re not speaking in regards to the apparent rise of battle royale video games, self-chess or roguelike. We’re speaking about essentially the most delicate iterations, because the builders reorganize and refine their mechanisms.

This pattern is simplicity. So on this three-part sequence, Sarah, Chay, and I’ll cowl 9 of essentially the most intriguing developments this 12 months, why they stood out, and what we have to keep in mind in 2020.

To launch the sequence myself, I'm delighted to share with you my high three picks of 2019 – coincidentally, these are all story-based cell video games.

Heaven: the kids of sunshine

Developer: Thatgamecompany
Launch date: July 18, 2019
Out there on: iOS, Android and Apple TV
Worth: Free
Style: Journey | RPG

Lovely inventive exploration

Youngsters of the Gentle was a uncommon deal with for the trade. The participant strikes, meets the others, subtly helps them of their actions. It’s more likely to go down in historical past as proof that play might be an artwork. However what can we study from it?

Preserve your interface minimalist

It's simple to bombard our gamers with info and litter the display screen with prompts. The Youngsters of Gentle bypass it in two methods. To start with, the icons themselves are delicate and clear. However secondly, whenever you discover the seven realms, looking for spirits, the interface generally fades, permitting the participant to concentrate on the true sport expertise. This identical mentality runs by means of every little thing. The social system, for instance, is slowly introducing new methods to speak with these you meet. It doesn’t discharge .

This refined strategy helps immerse the participant on the planet and makes certain that he by no means feels overwhelmed. However that additionally retains us hooked, as we search to unlock the following step.

Concentrate on high quality, not on commercials

Monetization fashions are continuously evolving and builders are all the time on the lookout for the correct steadiness. Youngsters of the Gentle determined to ask for commercials, in favor of incomes cash from beauty objects. It’s a pattern that could be very profitable and doesn’t break immersion.

Path of journey

Developer: Keeweed
Launch date: December 19, 2018
Out there on: Android and iOS
Worth: Free style journey | Textual content-based Roguelike

An overhaul of a traditional format

I cheat a bit of by together with this one, as a result of it was on the finish of final 12 months that it got here out. However I couldn't ignore a sport that centered on mixing text-based tales, random encounters and humor.

Make your decisions actually tough

When making a text-based sport, it’s simple to imagine that a "tough" selection is an ethical selection: are you selecting the best or the fallacious choice? These choices can change the story, however they don't actually have an effect on the gameplay and might be fairly boring.

Keeweed took a special route. As a substitute, they’ve smaller decisions. For instance, do you select to assault along with your strongest weapon or use your fists? Attacking along with your weapon may assure dying, however the weapon may break. Likewise, are you utilizing your key to avoid wasting a trapped knight and get a small reward? However should you do, chances are you’ll not be capable of save your self later. These little decisions pile up till you get to the tip, and make your participant give it some thought extra.

A selection doesn’t should be difficult to be tough. Actually, it is just after we can perceive the direct penalties of our actions that they develop into significant. So the less complicated they’re and the better it’s to see the consequence, the more practical they develop into.

Make your funds a bonus, not a requirement

Path of Journey is free. However you possibly can cancel actions or revive your character should you die, for a small value. You by no means want to do that, and the narrator rigorously explains that the sport might be gained with out these security nets. (And it truly is.) Which means that the cost doesn’t interrupt the gameplay.

That is vital in a story-based sport. You don't need to all of a sudden interrupt your participant's immersion by posting an advert. As a substitute, Keeweed made the cost after the sport ended and made it a part of the story. They selected the correct monetization mannequin for his or her sport and didn’t develop into grasping.


Developer: Sirvo Studios
Launch date: November eight, 2019
Out there on: iOS, Mac and tvOS
Worth: Free with Apple Arcade
Style: Journey | RPG

Basic mechanics, trendy theme

Sirvo describes Guildlings as "a fantasy in a world of wizards and Wifi". That just about sums up the attention-grabbing mixture of previous and new. This is applicable to the plot, but in addition to the mechanics itself. As a substitute of well being, you’ve got battery life. And as a substitute of the same old dialogue, the characters write as in the event that they have been texting you.

However whereas that is an intriguing premise, it isn’t all that Guildlings has to supply.

Use your mechanics to information the participant

Guildings has all the same old RPG tropes, like preventing and speaking. However it additionally introduces moods. All of the characters have a present "temper". And so they can solely carry out sure actions if they’re in a great temper. This impacts the way in which they battle, but in addition provides the developer a reputable motive to dam areas of the map.

For instance, if Sirvo doesn't need the participant to progress to the following metropolis, he can merely change the character's temper. Now the participant will search for a method to reset it in order that it could possibly proceed. They’ll speak to characters they may have missed, discover the aspect alleys and study extra in regards to the sport. In the end, they get the temper they’re on the lookout for. Bingo. The participant now looks like he was sensible, quite than diverted. Such a easy method to management the actions of the participant with out his realizing it.

Making decisions for dialogue has an impact, however not an excessive amount of

Most video games, which let you select between snarky, assured or good, will are inclined to really feel quite hole after some time. We have now all performed video games like Mass Impact the place it’s a must to maintain selecting the identical fashion of dialogue, in any other case, you’ll not get the most effective talents.

Guildlings evade this downside; the place folks discover themselves caught in a sure fashion of play, arbitrarily selecting the identical kind of solutions. As a substitute, the dialog decisions improve your characters. These ranges merely improve well being, so it's not the tip of the world should you enhance the fallacious individual. However you possibly can by no means be fully certain how everybody will have an effect on your occasion. Will the thrill assist my finest buddy or sister? This forces gamers to assume extra about their decisions, with out spoiling the story or stopping folks from enjoying a task.

Keep knowledgeable in 2020

That's it for the primary half.

We will likely be again subsequent week with Sarah's record of the three finest cell video games of 2019. Within the meantime, you possibly can keep updated by subscribing to our e-newsletter. And should you assume we've missed "easy" masterpieces from this record, tweet us and we'll take into account including them to 🙂