Casual games, social games or even free-play games: Whatever you call them, these types of games have become big business in recent years. With players finding new and innovative ways to play on traditional gaming platforms, Facebook and more, the market for casual gaming has boomed in the last decade. According to the stats, the market in Europe alone is worth an estimated $2.16 billion, while Statista’s stats show the global market is now worth more than $3.5 billion.
Put simply, if you’re looking for a way to pass the time, casual gaming has become the default method for an entire generation. With this being the case, we thought it was high time we previewed six of the very best games of this genre out there. Covering everything from gardening to gun fights at the OK Corral, these games will take you to some interesting places and, what’s more, they won’t cost the earth.
Grow: Wild West
Unlike another of our top casual picks featured below, Grow: Wild West is a story that you have control of. Developed by Armatur Games, this indie offering gives you non-linear control of the characters. In real terms, this means you can choose to activate anyone in the scene. Doing this allows you to alter the outcome and create any wild west scene that you desire. What’s more, like all the best casual games, there are plenty of achievements to unlock as you delve deeper into the storyline.
For those that love the bloom of spring but don’t want to get their hands dirty, Gardenscapes is the perfect alternative. Assuming the role of Austin the butler, your job is to complete a series of match-3 puzzles in order to build a garden fit for a king. As well as 2,000+ puzzles, the storyline and unlockable achievements are enough to keep you tend your patch of grass come rain or shine.
Castle: Jigsaw Puzzles
Bringing puzzles into the 21st century, this game might not be the most visually impressive game on the block, but it’s certainly taxing on the mind. Offering between 48 and 104 puzzles depending on the pack you download, this is a simple little game that strikes at the heart of the casual game’s core dynamic (i.e. solving puzzles).
EMMA The Story
Less a game and more a graphic novel, EMMA is a lifelike depiction of one man’s trepidation on the eve of his departure for a new planet. What’s neat about this game is that it combines genres. Although the user doesn’t have any direct influence on the story, they can control the pace of the action. With casual games being as much about the narrative as the gameplay, EMMA stands as a neat little crossover that’s worth a look.
StarSystemStudios’ Torture Chamber is a game that does exactly what it says on the tin. Naturally, because it’s been slotted in the “casual” gaming genre, the graphics aren’t very realistic. In fact, there’s an 8-bit vibe to this game. However, if you’ve ever wanted to play Jigsaw from the Saw franchise, this is your chance.
Adventures of Mike
If Super Mario was your thing back in the day, the Adventures of Mike is for you. Available via the Steam Network for all Windows devices, this Polina Medyanik product is your chance to enjoy old-school platform gaming with a modern twist. With each new level unlocking an achievement, you can keep score and beat your friends who may not have been quite the Mario master you were.
If you’re looking for a way to have fun and take your mind, our top picks should keep you entertained for hours.