The LEGO Star Wars series of games has been a juggernaut of kid-friendly action-puzzlers since its inception in 2005, putting you in the shoes of heroes and heroines battling through pretty much allmore
The LEGO Star Wars series of games has been a juggernaut of kid-friendly action-puzzlers since its inception in 2005, putting you in the shoes of heroes and heroines battling through pretty much all of the major locations of the movie franchise -- but they don't have the market cornered on games like this. Here are some of the best alternatives that we can find on the Google Play Store, with a minimum of ads and in-app transactions.
Causality is a sci-fi themed puzzle game that starts out simple but can get borderline mind-bending. At the beginning, you just have to figure out how to get one astronaut from the entrance of the maze to the exit. But eventually, you'll be juggling multiple astronauts, teleportation pads, rotating maze sections, and time itself; the slider at the bottom can rewind your progress at any time if you hit a dead end or get stuck in a trap. The game has a charming, minimalist art style and atmospheric ambient music.
Causality is just $1.99 on the Google Play Store and has no ads or in-app transactions. We recommend playing with headphones or earbuds to appreciate the ambient soundscape.
Most wilderness survival games have a few design choices that create hassle but establish some realism. Crashlands, however, makes two important changes to the formula: Your inventory is bottomless, and you can teleport back to your home base at any time. No more slogging back to camp every time your bag fills up, and no long and dangerous return trips. These features easily could have been implemented as in-app purchases, but they're baked right into the game. These two features allow you to wander Crashland's hostile alien landscape for as long as you like. There's also a respectable tutorial to walk you through the different systems in the game, particularly resource collection and item crafting. But even without an infinite bag and instant return trips, the game is engaging in its own right, with simple but meaty combat, vibrant artwork and animation, and steady progression of base building. You also get four difficulty modes to tailor to your experience
Crashlands is $6.99 on the Google Play Store, with no ads or in-app purchases. We recommend playing on a tablet to fully enjoy the vivid and expressive 2D artwork.
Hollywood has been making movies about bank heists and prison escapes for generations, so why not a game about breaking out of the slammer? The Escapists is that game, in a top-down 2D retro pixel art style that's both charming and likely to run decently on a wide range of Android phones and tablets. Also, you can't kill anyone; you can only knock them out, since this is more like a prison-shaped puzzle game than a prison simulator (You'll want Prison Architect [http://download.cnet.com/Prison-Architect-Mobile/3000-2115_4-77657440.html] for that. The Escapists is just $3.99 on the Google Play Store, with no ads or in-app purchases.
In the Scribblenauts series of games, you encounter a series of puzzles that can only be solved by conjuring things onto the screen, which you do by typing (scribbling) their names into a magic notebook. And the games demonstrate a dizzying variety of possible items and item combinations. Want a pink, chainsaw-wielding T. rex to help you chop down a tree? Or perhaps you need a pig to sprout wings and grow three sizes. Either way, solving these puzzles will help the characters in the game with various problems, so you get a warm fuzzy feeling as well as a sense of accomplishment. The art and animation are also packed with enough personality to charm even the stoniest of gamers. You can pick up Scribblenauts Unlimited for $4.99 at the Google Play Store, and it has no ads or in-app transactions.
Stranger Things: The Game (ST:TG) is a free promotional item for the second season of Netflix's acclaimed sci-fi/horror TV show, but it actually stands on its own as a full-fledged retro action-puzzler. You start out playing Sheriff Jim Hopper, who must go around town finding the missing kids. Each kid that you find has a special ability, and you can swap to that kid at any time to solve a particular puzzle or to unlock an area of the town map, just like in the LEGO games. ST:TG also tells a separate story from the TV show, so there are no story spoilers, though you are introduced to some new characters. There are also no ads or in-app transactions -- it's one of the few truly free games on the Google Play Store that's also quite good.