Who has time to kill, these days? That’s what I used to think until casual gaming filled those rare voids I randomly find myself in from time to time. The truly perfect concept of a casual game is something you can pick up and put down without feeling the pressure of making it to the next save point or destroying your character’s hard-earned progress. I set out to find the most casual casual game in this week’s Casual Influence breakdown.

Mars:Mars

Pomelo Games

Mars is a hot topic for such a cold and desolate place, but this brave little guy is prepared. Whether or not he’s a martian is probably up to a poorly-kept government secret, but nonetheless, it’s our job to guide him to safety. Mars:Mars uses an interestingly backwards tap-float mechanic, relying on jetpack bursts to navigate you from platform to platform. Tapping on the left of your screen boosts him to the right, while tapping on the right of your screen boosts him backwards to the left. In addition to controlling your fall speed with both fingers on the screen, this backwards play style will twist you up until you remember to treat this game differently.

You can unlock and upgrade tons of new characters with different environments, characteristics and advantages with coins you collect in game and from watching opt-in advertisements. Mars:Mars is a very well made and reliable app with great visuals and plenty of upgrades that make you want to explore the changing scenery.

Sine Line

Third State Studio

You gotta love a game that opens with the disclaimer, “the game may be tricky in the beginning, but once you get used to it, you’ll love it.” which really couldn’t be more true. I had the unique experience of picking up this game and immediately scoring 100+ points, which I couldn’t beat again for another 20 to 30 attempts! There’s something about figuring out the game mechanic that makes Sine Line so addicting, which is the rewarding part of so many games that rely on unique mechanics like this.

One of my favorite aspects about this app is that crashing and respawning is quick, throwing you right back into the game without having to sit through an advertisement or an arbitrary home screen to restart. This makes you want to keep trying, not afraid of failing over and over again. This is what I was looking for this week, a game that invites you to play on your own terms. Sine Line does nothing to try and KEEP you engaged in the game, it lets you pick it up and put it down at your own leisure.

Alto’s Adventure

Noodlecake Studios

Alto’s Adventure has it all. It’s a beautiful game with some backstory, multiple objectives and fun gameplay. You’re a snowboarder trying to catch runaway llamas, what’s not to love? It’s simple but has depth, giving you objectives to complete and enough variety to mix up your runs down the mountain with tricks, collectables and plenty of things to smash into. There’s even a “zen mode” that lets you just blast down the mountain without worrying about restarting if you crash, so you can try all the crazy backflippin’ grinds you want, bro.

In increasingly popular fashion, video advertisements are used to help you respawn, which you can do several times to revive yourself during a sick run. I opted into every video advertisement I was offered, as it greatly helped increase my score, and was really the only way I was able to complete all my level goals. Alto’s Adventure is well made and we’ll most likely see some more big games like this from Noodlecake Studios soon.

Six!

Gram Games Limited

Six! is a truly unique casual game. You have to balance a hexagon on a tower of Tetris pieces that disappear as you click on them, making for a dangerous descent that often ends in failure. I struggled with it for a few rounds until I was able to get a hang of it and rack up over 1,600 points! Any wrong order of deconstruction will send you flying off the edge. The game is cleverly designed, with some very sensitive physics that can help or sabotage you, depending on your finesse and foresight. Plus, once you fail, it gives you last call, a chance to rapidly destroy as many remaining blocks as you can for extra points!

For a casual game, Six! does a good job of being entertaining, round after round, one session at a time. Games like this, with only one objective of racking up and beating your high score, need to be fun enough to draw players in and challenging enough to bring them back for more, which Six! has done nicely. The physics are well done and the challenge never gets any easier or any harder, you just get better at spotting the dangers ahead.

In search of the most casual casual game I could find, I found that even the most casual games are really beefing up their gameplay and mechanics, in addition to the countless other tactics being used to stand out in the massive world of mobile gaming. However, there are still casual games that use the game itself to draw a crowd, and even though not all of this week’s games were a good example of that, they all had addicting gameplay. A game that’s fun to play, fun to talk about and fun to share becomes a hit in our fast-paced, aggressive mobile gaming world.

Sine Line wins the title of the most casual game of the week, being a game that throws you into the action and instantly brings you back when you fail. You can basically keep Sine Line running in your pocket as you carry on throughout your day, filling any dark, lonely voids you find yourself in with a quick casual gaming session by yourself. There’s no better company than that!