Short on time? Looking for quick, fun entertainment in a flash? Well, then the casual gaming genre is absolutely perfect for you! With this in mind, here’s our guide to the genre and, more importantly, the top 10 casual games for 2023 (according to us...).
Casual games are simple, sometimes ephemeral, offerings that cater to a mass market audience. The best way to describe casual games is to compare them to so-called hardcore games like RPGs. Take, for example, an RPG such as Elden Ring. This game requires a significant time investment - you can’t just dip into Elden Ring, play for two minutes, and stop. There are missions to complete, things to explore, and much more.
In contrast, the best and most famous casual games, such as Angry Birds, can be played completely on the fly. The aim and mechanics are fairly simple and there isn’t a complex overarching storyline that you need to follow. You can pick up the game, play for a few minutes, stop and then restart at will. That’s the definition of premium and free casual games. Then, within this genre, are hyper-casual games. Hyper-casual games are a subcategory of the casual gaming genre and take the ephemeral concept to the extreme.
Some people might disagree with the notion that casual games are more entertaining than those from other genres, but there’s no denying that they’re great fun and loved around the world. They also challenge us in certain ways. For example, free casual games that are puzzles require you to be mentally dexterous i.e. you need to think logically and piece together parts of the puzzle. That’s what makes them fun - it’s really that simple.
Now it's time to deep-dive into our list of the 10 best casual games for 2023:
A real oldie but an undoubtedly goodie. Being one of the most successful casual games of all time, Candy Crush Saga is always in the spotlight of the genre. The game was released in 2012 and, within five years, it had been downloaded more than 2.7 billion times. In 2022 alone, there were 138 million downloads.
It’s one of the best casual games because it epitomizes the genre’s best qualities. You swap colored pieces of candy to match three or more. Each matching sequence removes candy from the board and earns you points. It’s simple, quick, colorful, and enjoyable. What’s more, it’s free, making it one of the most successful free games casual fans can download.
Among Us is another top pick when it comes to free games casual players should download. Released in 2018 and now available for cross-platform play on iOS and Android, you join other players in a quest to find the imposter. Each player has a task to complete but someone is a fake. If you’re the fake, try to evade detection. If you’re a real worker, try to sniff out the imposter. The popularity of Among Us kept increasing over time, making it eventually also available for PlayStation and Xbox.
You can’t compile a list of the best casual games in 2023 and not include Minecraft. Even if you don’t want to play the original, there have been so many spin-offs that you’ll always find a theme that ticks your boxes. Minecraft is a sandbox game, and your goal is to explore your surroundings in order to discover and use resources and to build structures. It’s simple, fun, and by now - it’s definitely a classic.
Pac-Man is a video gaming classic and, ever since its release in 1980 (that's over 40 years ago!), it’s never ventured far from the front of our minds. The original is still one of the greatest casual games ever made, and strikes a chord with many a gamer. The simple act of guiding Pac-Man around a maze while he eats fruit and avoids ghosts is always engaging. Listing the best casual games in 2023, we can’t ignore PAC-MAN WORLD Re-PAC. This platform game is a little more involved than the original, but it still has a certain charm that's worth trying.
If hyper-casual games are your thing, finish reading this guide and try Crossy Road - seriously. This game is a cross between Frogger and Pac-Man, where your job is to guide a character around certain obstacles and across roads without dying. It’s that simple, and so much fun! Does it show how much we like it?
Puzzle casual games don’t get much better than Monument Valley 2. The 2014 original introduced us to Ro and her kid, where the aim was, and still is, to guide them through mazes. Monument Valley 2 added extra layers to the series in 2017 with new optical illusions and almost impossible objects to navigate. The panoramic edition makes the mazes even more immersive which, in turn, makes it hands down one of the most visually impressive casual games out there.
Award-winning casual games are few and far between, but Portal 2 breaks this mold. This 2011 offering has won more than 70 awards for its innovative design and animations. A puzzle game, Portal 2 sees you as a puzzle-solving robot, moving through space and time of what seems like a never-ending universe. Making it all the more unique, the playing perspective is of the first-person - which is much more common in action or FPS games. Add to this the various extras that can help you complete the level, such as lasers, and Portal 2 is a casual game with real depth.
Physics-based golf games have been casual gaming hits for years. There are plenty of free games casual fans can download but, if you can afford it, we suggest paying for What the Golf? This game is as much a golf game as a parody of the genre. That means you’re not just swinging clubs and hitting balls on golf greens - this is crazy golf like you’ve never seen before! Trust us - it's worth swinging by.
The original Angry Birds redefined the mobile casual games market in 2009 and now, 14 years later (yes, it's been around for that long), the franchise is still going strong. Angry Birds Journey stays true to the original - meaning that you’re firing birds at towers to release Hatchlings and solve a puzzle. With new puzzles, animations, and special powers, this is a casual game that anyone who likes a good casual game should try.
What do you get when you combine the spirit of Monopoly with simulators such as Roller Coaster Tycoon? You get one of the top casual games out there, AdVenture Capitalist! Released in 2015, this game sees you assume the role of entrepreneur, starting with a lemonade stand and then - well, it’s up to you to build an empire. Can you do it? Only time will tell.