Mobile games have long been snubbed by "real" gamers for how they cater to the lowest common denominator and are filled with ads and in-app purchases that detract from the experience.
The need to monetize mobile games—and the unwillingness of mobile users to pay for games—has resulted in a very different kind of design philosophy amongst mobile games: shorter sessions, simpler gameplay, lower commitment, etc.
Yet while many mobile games could be considered casual, the last few years have seen a big spike in games that are hypercasual.
What's the difference between casual and hypercasual games? Are hypercasual games any good? And, most importantly, which hypercasual games are worth playing? Here's what you need to know.
What Are Hypercasual Games? Explained
It all started back in 2013, when Dong Nguyen introduced the world to Flappy Bird. This one-tap game had almost no depth to it and was little more than an endurance test to see how long you could survive—yet somehow it went viral and garnered millions of downloads.
And that's really the essence of the hypercasual game: minimal interaction (easy to learn), minimal depth (easy to play), with a short and tight gameplay loop (low commitment). You can easily load up the game and play for a few minutes in between real-life obligations.
Why Are Hypercasual Games Popular?
Most so-called casual mobile games have trended toward greater complexity in an effort to stand out from their competition. In doing so, they've become mid-core mobile games (a step below hardcore).
Mid-core game mechanics require more attention, dedication, and investment—things that many mobile gamers aren't really looking for in their mobile games. In response, hypercasual games came in to fill the void left behind by mid-core games.
If you're looking for quick and easy pick-up-and-play mobile games, then hypercasual games are the ones you want. Here are some of the best free hypercasual games worth checking out!
15. Rise Up
Rise Up is a game all about protecting your precious balloon. As your balloon constantly rises up into the air, it's up to you to make sure nothing touches it—and you do that by dragging your finger around.
As you climb up in levels, the obstacles change and force you to adapt your play, but the general idea is always the same. Rise Up does a great job with creatively building a game around the one-touch mechanic.
14. Grass Cut
Grass Cut is a satisfying mobile game with one simple goal: mow all the grass! The challenge is navigating the space via the spinning blades, making sure you land on grass and not in the water. Just tap to move to wherever your always-spinning blade goes.
Watching an overgrown lawn turn into a freshly mowed yard is super satisfying, and doing it yourself is even better—even if it's just a game.
13. Helix Jump
Helix Jump was one of the first big games that helped pioneer the explosion in popularity of the hypercasual genre back in 2017/2018, and it still remains one of the most popular of its type.
The goal of Helix Jump is to spin the platforms so that your ball falls unimpeded. Every time your ball hits a platform, it bounces and your streak resets. The longer your streaks, the more points you get!
Stack is a mesmerizingly chill hypercasual game that's built on a one-tap mechanic: blocks fly in from the edge of the screen and you tap the screen when the block is positioned over your tower. The overlapping part is added to your tower and the excess is lost.
The game gets progressively harder as you gradually lose more and more space to capture blocks. How high can you stack your tower?
11. Troll Patrol
Many match-3 games fall under the hypercasual genre, and most match-3 games pretty much play the same way. Troll Patrol stands out for its theme—you're the last troll defending your den—and for its lightweight mix of RPG elements to keep you hooked.
This one is borderline hypercasual, as the RPG elements might be slightly more complex than you'd expect in the genre. But it's really lightweight and certainly serves the same purpose. It's worth a try!
10. Knife Hit
Knife Hit is a surprisingly simple concept: tap to throw knives at a spinning chunk of wood. The challenge is making sure you don't hit a knife that's already stuck in the wood. Easier said than done.
As you progress through the game, the wood spins faster and sometimes even speeds up and slows down. You also get more knives, making it more likely that thrown knives will clash!
Dune! takes the one-tap mechanic and transforms it into three actions: hold to get your ball rolling, let go to jump when you roll up a hill, and hold again while in the air to start diving down.
The trick is all in the timing. If you mistime it, you'll crash into a hill and that's game over; if you land on the downhill side, you'll earn points and keep rolling. It's fast-paced but chill and a great way to kill time.
8. Paper Fold
Paper Fold is a relaxing hypercasual puzzle game where you're presented with a sheet of paper and several possible folds. Your goal is to figure out the correct sequence of folds to make the intended image.
Simply tap your way to victory and climb up to progressively harder (but not too hard) paper folding puzzles. You'll be surprised by how captivating this simple and cute game can be.
7. Downhill Smash
Downhill Smash is a high-octane one-tap game where you play as a man in a ball that rolls across vast stretches of terrain. Tap to jump over obstacles and hold to roll faster as you decimate hordes of zombies.
Along the way, you'll collect coins that you can spend to upgrade various aspects of your ball—like its max speed—and those upgrades will come in handy because you're also outrunning an avalanche. If you slow down or crash into too many obstacles, you'll die!
6. Vertical Adventure
In Vertical Adventure, you control a ball that needs to jump against gravity and touch the goal point. Depending on where you tap on the screen, your ball will jump in that direction—but beware because there are many obstacles you'll need to avoid.
While this game is surprisingly more skill-based than most hypercasual games, it still has the same appeal: fast gameplay, bite-sized levels, minimal controls, and that nagging need to keep going.
Wordscapes remains the premiere hypercasual mobile word game, presenting challenging enough puzzles that keep it interesting without ever being so annoyingly difficult that you want to quit.
You're given a set of letters and you must use them to spell out words and complete the crossword board. Simply swipe from letter to letter to spell your word, and try to win without using any hints!
4. Vector Pinball
If you're old enough, you probably remember Space Cadet Pinball that came with various versions of Windows. Well, if you're nostalgic for old-school pinball, consider checking out Vector Pinball.
This game is completely open-source and built using an accurate physics library for precise simulation of play. The graphics are all vector lines, but the hypercasual gameplay is one of the best for mobile pinball.
3. Crossy Road
With over 100 million downloads, Crossy Road is insanely popular and you've probably heard of it before. All you need to know is that this game is popular for a reason: it's a flawless example of hypercasual success.
Inspired by Frogger, Crossy Road has you playing as a duck that's on a mission to go as far as you can—across roads, rivers, fields, train tracks, and more. It's randomized every time, and you can collect coins to be spent on unlocking different characters.
Orbia is my personal favorite example of a great hypercasual game. You just tap to move from predetermined Point A to predetermined Point B. The challenge is timing is right and not colliding with moving enemies.
Not only is it minimalistic yet aesthetically pleasing, Orbia makes the most of its simple premise with the ability to unlock different characters that have different bonuses. And even when you fail, it's right back to trying again so you're never drowning in frustration.
Postknight is a fun, lightweight mobile RPG that straddles the line between hypercasual and casual. The main gameplay involves auto-running to the side and using your three abilities to defeat enemies and stay alive.
Outside of each level, you can spend coins to level up, increase stats, and buy items. You can also complete miniature side quests given by people of each town. Oh, and did I mention that you're basically a postman with a sword? That concept alone makes Postknight a winner!