If you liked Plague, Inc., Religion Simulator operates on a similar premise: a real-time strategy game involving taking over the world, one unit at a time.
This time, instead of infecting the population with deadly viruses, you're infecting it with viral ideas -- religion. You'll have to choose the best strategic position from which to launch, and the tools at your disposal include religious holidays, holy sites and buildings, prophets and other means to disseminate ideas.
You have several rivals vying for the population -- fellow fledgling religions that will overtake your territory if you don't fight back, which requires the aid of weapons, some earthly, some divine. It's a novel and cleverly conceived take on the global RTS.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.49 | £2.29 (Android); $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29
We'd never have thought to combine the voxel building mechanics of Minecraft with a hovercraft racer, but the proof is in the pudding: Hovercraft -- Build Fly Retry is splendid fun.
The racing part contains very few surprises on its own, and, of course, the game also has other vehicles that you can unlock via microtransaction and play with if you just want to race or support the developer.
But the part where you can build your very own vehicles, in whichever configuration you like, makes it something special. Each craft you build needs balance, a power core and evenly placed thrusters; once you've built a craft, you can take it out to see how she races, then continue to modify until you have the perfect vehicle.
Beautifully combining the casual solitaire CCG mechanic with the dungeon crawler, Card Crawl pits you against a nefarious dealer whose deck is trying to end you.Each game consists of 54 cards, and each hand can contain four cards; in the case of the player, that's their hero card, one item in each hand, and one item in a backpack, which can only be played when a hand is empty. The dealer will deal four cards on to the table, which the player then plays, using shields, weapons and special cards against the dungeon's monsters, and collecting gold and using potions strategically to heal.
The art is just gorgeous, and each game only takes a few minutes, giving you a fun and challenging card game experience in a more casual, bite-sized fashion.
Price: $1.99 | AU$2.49 | £1.49
Slitherine is known for its well-made historical strategy games, but we've never really seen one quite like this, developed in consultation with former astronaut and second man on the moon Dr Buzz Aldrin.
It's an entire strategy game revolving around the space race of the 1950s. You can choose to play as either NASA or the Soviet space agency, racing towards the moon, or the Global Space Agency completing smaller objectives -- a mode geared more towards exploration than competition. You can also play in either campaign or sandbox mode, while learning about the space milestones achieved in that incredible time.
Price: $9.99 | AU$12.99 | £7.99
Ultraflow combines a puzzle game with physics and a very simple premise. You have one shot to fling a ball into the hole, like a top-down golf game.
The catch is that not only do you just get that one shot, you have a very limited number of bounces for each level -- and if you don't flick the ball hard enough, it'll putter to a halt and it's "try again" for you.
It's minimalistic, uncomplicated and surprisingly hard to put down.
If you're not familiar with the magnificent "gamebook adventure" output of Tin Man Games by now, well, that's definitely more your fault than ours.
The result is an utterly hilarious, rollicking adventure which puts you in the shoes of either Hamlet, Ophelia or the recently deceased King Hamlet (investigating his own murder as a ghost, because of course), and you can either follow the plot of Hamlet as we know it today -- or create an entirely new adventure where the evil King Claudius gets his just desserts.
And to sweeten the pot, it's brilliantly illustrated by some of the best webcomic artists working today -- including Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Anthony Clark (Nedroid), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop), Zach Weiner (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) and a whole bunch more.
Price: $5.99 | AU$7.49 | £4.49 (Android); $5.99 | AU$7.49 | £4.49 (iOS)
We're not quite sure what the storyline of Stormblades is -- something about a warrior's rite of passage, it's hardly more than a wire hook on which to hang the gameplay anyway -- but that gameplay is pretty good fun, and the setting is highly polished.
It smacks a little of Infinity Blade in terms of gameplay -- an on-rails sword-battler where swipes, taps and perfect timing make up the combat -- but it's gorgeous to look at, and highly enjoyable (at least on iOS. Android users are reporting bugs. But as it's a free download, it can't hurt to try it out).
Sature is a weird turn-based board game based on colour (there's a colour-blind mode, but we're not sure how good it is -- it will probably vary, depending on the user's level of colour blindness).
Each player takes turns placing colour chips on a hex-grid board, with the aim being to position the little triangles to suck the brightness from your opponent's chips. How well each colour leaches from another is based on hue and saturation, with the winner being the player who has the most brightness on the board when all chips have been played.
It's an unusual concept, and takes a little bit of time to get your head around, but once you do, it opens up a game that's both fascinating and strategically challenging.
It's not fair to compare every graphically sumptuous game to Monument Valley, but Adventures of Poco Eco is definitely reminiscent -- not just for its gorgeous colour palette, but for the feeling of meditative calm the exploration gameplay produces.
In Poco Eco, you play a little guy travelling different landscapes across 12 levels, seeking to find and restore the lost sounds of his tribe. The game is gentle and forgiving as you locate switches to transform the environment, albeit in a much more straightforward manner than Monument Valley's Escher-like perspective puzzles.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29
This game is sort of a must-have for fans of the Final Fantasy series. It's kind of an ingenious premise: the key moments from the Final Fantasy series have been immortalised as artworks, which are your duty, as record keeper, to protect.
When a new threat comes along and steals away the paintings, you must relive the moments they depict to restore them to the museum.
Of course, this involves playing through the most epic battles from Final Fantasy, with your own custom party of characters and gear, mixing and matching across the games.
Silly Sausage is a side-scrolling platformer with a touch of Snake, only cute and charming and a little more involved.
Your mission, as stretchy hotdog Silly Sausage in -- yes, a land of meat -- is to… well, just go through it. To travel, you stretch your silly sausage body from one point to another collecting gems along the way.
Bumping into walls or your own body doesn't end the game, but the difficulty arrives in the form of obstacles, such as spikes, lasers and blades, that you have to avoid. This sometimes involves stretching into a very silly shape, or timing your movements so that, when you snap to the next wall, you miss a blade by a whisker.
We love the checkpoint system, too -- each one can either be unlocked with gems or by watching an ad, both of which pay the developer.
Heartbeats is simultaneously deeply challenging, mildly unsettling and visually breathtaking. It calls itself a "graphic puzzle," combining a sci-fi graphic novel with a puzzle game, where each page will give you very few clues to piece together how to get to the next page.
It's also fairly experimental, inspired by the experience of putting on a record and opening a book -- so the game is completely silent, instead including a Spotify playlist of selected tracks that you can play while you, well, play.
We loved the experience. It's not long, but it's both deep and deeply satisfying.
Three decades years after the events of the last game, Freddy's has faded into an urban legend -- on which the owners hope to capitalise for a grand reopening. However, while it's been a long, long time, there is still one animatronic remaining -- and someone has to keep watch overnight.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.88 | £2.39 (Android); $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29 (iOS)
From Aussie developer Many Monkeys comes this peaceful puzzle experience, based on the notion of a zen garden.
In it, you manipulate streams of light, channeling them towards lotus flowers to breathe life into them. This involves using stones to redirect the flow so that it is able to reach every flower on a given level. There are no scores, no timers: the game is intended to provide -- and, indeed, does provide -- small pools of calm in a hectic life.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29
Eisner Award-winning cartoonist James Kochalka has teamed up with indie studio Pixeljam for a somewhat peculiar mashup of Galaga, sci-fi and Saturday morning cartoons, based on Kochalka's graphic novel, and funded by Kickstarter.
Since you ask, yes, it is a bit silly, but it's also appealing in that fun, cartoony sort of fashion, with a slick and colourful visual style and a goofy sort of humour to it all.
Price: $2.99 | AU$3.10 | £1.88 (Android); $2.99 | AU$3.79 | £2.29 (iOS)