Candy Crush Friends Saga launched recently and everybody is getting incredibly hyped for the game. I can understand the appeal, but I personally think there are plenty of free puzzle apps better than Candy Crush.
In fact, I’ve made this article specifically to point out some of my favourites. To be considered for this list, I wanted to make sure each game had less of an in-app purchase presence and more skill based gameplay than Candy Crush.
I understand that most people enjoy Candy Crush because its simple and easy to wrap your head around, so I made sure I only chose games that reflected that trait as well.
#1 - Pokemon Shuffle Mobile
Pokemon Shuffle Mobile gets a mention on this list because I feel like it does the whole match 3 genre better than Candy Crush. In-app purchases are still a big part of the experience, but it’s not as in your face as it is in Candy Crush Friends Saga.
In Pokemon Shuffle Mobile, you start the game with a basic tutorial. A character takes you through the basics, but it’s not really needed as it’s quite straightforward.
You go through a trail of levels just like in Candy Crush, but after each level you have a chance to capture a Pokemon. The idea is that each level is essentially you using your own Pokemon team to launch attacks at another Pokemon in the wild.
You’re able to move cute little Pokemon heads anywhere on the board, unlike Candy Crush, which only allows you to candy one space. This changes the game up completely.
Your goal is to think carefully about how to position the Pokemon heads in the best position. Like in the real games, some Pokemon will have better damage against Pokemon types (This will be explained more clearly as you play).
You can also match 4 or more at once to do extra ‘damage’ to the Pokemon you are attempting to catch. Overall, your main goal is to complete each level in as few moves as possible. The fewer moves, the higher the chance you have to capture the Pokemon featured on that level.
In my opinion, Pokemon Shuffle Mobile gets the player more involved with the gameplay. Critical thinking and planning out moves is something that’s rewarded far more than it is in Candy Crush.
It still has some issues with in-app purchases, though. Most free mobile games unfortunately do. You’ll sometimes be pressured to buy special power ups or more powerful Pokeballs for a higher chance to catch Pokemon, but I found that in my experience it was still possible for me to complete a level I was stuck on with some careful thinking.
I can’t say the same about my Candy Crush experience. Overall, Pokemon Shuffle Mobile isn’t going to get your brain aching after long sessions, but it’s a little more engaging than Candy Crush.
#2 - Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
If you want something that actually tickles your brain a little, I’d suggest taking a look at Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. This game is by far one of my favourite puzzle games available in the app store for a number of reasons.
Let’s start with the game design and overall objective. In Killer Puzzle, each level is a small tile based area. You can swipe left, right, up, or down to move your character and he will slide in that direction until he hits a prop or a wall.
You play as the serial killer Jason Vorhees and you must swipe your way around your level to take down innocent bystanders. A strange concept, I know, but you mostly forget you’re in the shoes of one of the most feared killers in horror movie history. There’s also a PG version that removes any gory elements.
The levels are designed in a way that forces you to plan out your moves. You may need to perform a series of swipes to take down each bystander in the right order, or swipe to avoid traps whilst still making it to the end tile after finishing your killing spree.
What I really love about Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is the progression - levels start off quite easy, but the difficulty curve slowly ramps up. It’s been perfected in such a way that you somewhat know what to expect in terms of difficulty for each subsequent level.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is also filled with many stages that are themed on different Friday the 13th movies. You can unlock cosmetic weapons and unique outfits, and there are regular challenge modes to keep things interesting if you finish every level.
Finally, Friday the 13th is very easy on the in-app purchases. There are no power ups to buy that’ll fast track you through levels, although there are YouTube tutorials if you really get stuck. Instead, you can spend money on more cosmetics or new level packs.
Ultimately, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle will definitely be a killer workout on your brain in the later levels, but it’s a refreshing change from the usual free to play mobile games swamped with in-app purchases or adverts.
#3 - Mekorama
Mekorama is a charming puzzle game that puts you in control of a small robot as he stumbles through 50 challenging puzzle levels. The goal in Mekorama is simple - guide your robot to the end point in each level. Along the way, you’ll need to interact with different elements on each level to help your robot friend reach the end.
Immediately you’ll notice that Mekorama is relaxing and slow paced. It’s a puzzle game that’ll get you thinking a little, but it’s no Sudoku. What’s even better about Mekorama is that it’s completely free. Later in the game, you’re given the freedom to spend how much you think the game is worth, if anything. If you want it for free, you just need to leave a review in the app store.
It’s a very honourable revenue model for the developer behind Mekorama and it immediately makes it stand out. Mekorama is a passion project and it wasn’t built from the ground up as a business opportunity.
Another big thing that should be mentioned about Mekorama is its user generated level system. You can create your very own level and with it you’ll be given a digital card and QR code that you can share with other players.
Thanks for taking a look at these great puzzle games. I personally think you’ll enjoy these much more than Candy Crush, so why not give them a try if you’re looking for a fun mobile game to fill the time?