Whatever your opinion is about casual games, there's no denying that they can be quite a delight at least every once in a while. Let's take a look at 5 recently released casual games for console and see if they're worth playing.
Red's Kingdom Review Switch ★★★★☆
Sliding around grid-based stages is nothing new when it comes to puzzlers. That being said, Red's Kingdom has you play as a squirrel trying to get a nut and it's an impressively enjoyable and unique adventure.
Red's Kingdom stars the titular Red who gets his fortune of nuts stolen from the maniacal Mad King Mac. That was the last straw for little Red so he decides to pursue the king and reclaim his stash just in time for winter to roll in. As I mentioned, the gameplay involves sliding Red within grid-based rooms and he can only stop when he rams into something. This may sound basic but the amount of variety that gets added throughout the campaign is superb. You'll find yourself searching for keys, toggling switches, rolling off ramps, and having columns rise up from the ground as you pass over them.
Being able to collect all the nuts while progressing through the surprisingly massive campaign is rather challenging and when you factor in the adorable visuals, goofy voices, and delightful audio; you're left with a super-fun game that's fantastic to play docked or on the go. My main complaint is that the gameplay can get a little repetitive, especially when you get stuck and can't figure out how to advance.
I thoroughly enjoyed Red's Kingdom and I can safely say that it's currently one of the best indie games on the Switch. If you like cute and casual experiences then it's definitely a must-play game.Red's Kingdom gameplay video → Similar game: Slayaway Camp
Doughlings: Arcade Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
Combining classic gaming formulas is something that indie developers constantly feel compelled to do. Doughlings: Arcade blends elements from Bust-A-Move within its Breakout-inspired core gameplay but is it any good?
Doughlings: Arcade is a typical brick-breaking game although it features quite a lot of variety. The basic gameplay involves bouncing a ball up at a collection of dough balls. Once a group is no longer attached, it falls. This and the fact that the dough balls are colour-coded reminded me a great deal of Bust-A-Move. However, whereas Bust-A-Move rewards you for isolating large groups, Doughlings: Arcade forces you to dodge them as they fall which is quite punishing. Shouldn't I be rewarded for doing that?
Anyway, you'll eventually be able to morph into various powerful transformations via power-ups that each has its own ability and "Show Off" special move. You can even permanently upgrade these forms which is pretty rewarding. When it comes to content, the campaign contains dozens of stages and there's a level editor, too, complete with downloadable community levels so there's surely a lot to do. However, the graphics and sound are super-cheesy, especially the annoying vocalizations.
If you love brick-breaking games then Doughlings: Arcade would be a decent addition to your collection. Its lackluster presentation and simplistic core gameplay weigh down the fun but it's still a rather enjoyable little game.Doughlings: Arcade gameplay video →
SubaraCity Review Switch ★★☆☆☆
Casual games don't get much more stereotypical than colour-matching puzzlers. SubaraCity is an incredibly simple puzzle game yet it requires some basic strategic thinking to master so get ready to create a bustling city.
If you've ever played Super Collapse or its SNES predecessor BreakThru! then SubaraCity will be a fairly familiar game. You essentially select squares that are connected to similarly coloured tiles in order to combine them to the square that you selected. Then, two things will happen: the building on that square will grow in size and more tiles will fall from the top of the playfield to fill the empty spaces. Your goal is to create the largest collection of buildings you can in order to accommodate for the city's growing population. However, all you can do is play the main mode again and again in order to beat your own high score. The visuals are simple and kind of cute but the music is strangely haunting for such a seemingly adorable game. Is something nefarious afoot? It's definitely weird stuff.
SubaraCity is a simple game that you can easily master after you learn the little bit of strategy that's required. After that, you'll likely never play it again. The fact that there are no additional modes is puzzling indeed.SubaraCity gameplay video →
Graveyard Keeper Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆
Day-to-day life simulation games have been popping up quite regularly since Stardew Valley became so popular. Graveyard Keeper may fit the genre but it's definitely a lot more disturbing than you'd expect so let's get digging!
Graveyard Keeper is made by Lazy Bear Games who also created the boxer training simulator Punch Club. Believe it or not, Graveyard Keeper is even grindier. Right off the bat, I was impressed by the pixel-perfect visuals and dark humour. That being said, as I progressed in the campaign, that delight turned into frustration and boredom. This is because Graveyard Keeper's progression system is very fenced off and generally requires you to grind for hours upon hours in order to unlock the next part of the story as well as additional gameplay elements. I didn't find any of the rewards to be worth the tedium it took to uncover them. This is especially true because at the end of the day, you're tending a graveyard, feeding beer to a skull, giving to a church that sacrifices people, and providing cannibals with sustenance. I don't know about you but those sorts of tasks don't make me feel like I'm accomplishing anything worthwhile.
To make matters worse, Graveyard Keeper has some serious bugs and performance issues. It's a completely 2D game yet the visuals regularly jump as you walk from point A to point B as if it's having a hard time loading what's to come. You may find yourself getting stuck, too, so hopefully, you'll have a save file that you can load. Let's just hope it isn't too far back!
Some gamers may appreciate Graveyard Keeper's grindfest of a campaign but those who are looking for something more immediately gratifying will likely become frustrated beyond repair with its convoluted systems and tedious tasks.Graveyard Keeper gameplay video →
Hero Defense Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
When it comes to tower defense games, you'd think it's all been done already. However, Hero Defense offers a much more personal take on the genre. Whenever you're ready, grab a friend or three and get ready to thin out hordes of dastardly creatures.
Most tower defense games have you build structures in order to slaughter encroaching enemies who travel down preset paths. Hero Defense is played almost exactly like that but instead of structures, you move around a party of heroes who work together to kill zombies, vampires, and all sorts of other monstrosities. This dynamic is a refreshing formula for anyone who has played tower defense games before because the ability to mobilize your defenses so effortlessly is a welcome change of pace. When you factor in mechanics such as being able to both permanently and temporarily level up characters and have them become stronger when they're closer together; you can imagine how much you'll have to change up your tactics if you want to emerge victorious.
My only complaints are that the visuals are too dark, the voice acting is pretty embarrassing, and the core gameplay is relatively simple and unchanging throughout. Even when you get new heroes, you'll still find yourself repeatedly going through the same motions.
Hero Defense provides a refreshing take on tower defense games but its gameplay remains mostly simplistic when you compare it to other games in the genre. Plus, the drab graphics and sound certainly don't make it any more fun.Hero Defense gameplay video →