The Best 5 Games on Google Home
Free-to-Play Voice Gaming Fun via Google Assistant
Before I got a Google Home Mini, I had no idea how convenient smart devices could be. After picking one up during a half-off sale, I was quickly blown away by its utility, as well as its capacity to make life a bit more pleasant, by way of the ambiance Google Home’s routines can add. There’s something to be said for walking in the door, saying “OK Google, I’m home,” and immediately having the mood set in as little time as it takes to remove your shoes and slide into some slippers. When I get home, I’m greeted by my British digital assistant, who addresses me as “Milord” and then applauds and compliments me as it adjusts the lights. All this, shortly before giving me the time and the charge percentage of my phone, and then gently lulling me into a sense of coziness via a piano rendition of the song ‘Kakariko Village’ from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
With such strong routines in place, it did not take long for me to find that there were actually several games that can be played not only with Google Home devices, but with anything that has Google Assistant on it, like my Android smartphone. Since getting the “Mini” I have begun to use the assistant on my phone much more regularly, because of the games that I can play with it, using only my voice. There are so many things that can be done with Google Assistant for the sake of productivity and convenience, but I must admit that the reason I even think to use it as often as I do is because I’ve used it so often for gaming.
In preparation for this article, I did my best to branch out and play games I otherwise wouldn’t (and a few that sounded right up my alley), but unfortunately it seems there are even fewer games available than there used to be. For whatever reason, many articles online point to commands that no longer work with Google Assistant. However, I did my due diligence and found several games through the assistant that I actually did not find during my search online. As such, it’s my hope that you will find my recommendations especially helpful. I truly love voice command games, because they are entirely hands free, making them perfect to play during drives or while cleaning. So, if you have never played one, maybe a selection of some of my favorite Google Assistant games will inspire you to try.
Prior to making my recommendations, I would just like to point out that several games on Google Assistant are actually more playable on devices with screens. While we do play these games with voice, often games will speak information that is better comprehended when displayed visually. Hearing game stats, inventory, and other various scores and numbers can be hard to grasp on the fly, while also being expected to respond immediately. So, having a smartphone or smart TV with Chromecast will make many of these games more accessible, though it will still require brief glances to ascertain game information. That said, I would advise against using the visual aspects of any of these games while driving or operating heavy machinery, for obvious reasons.
Without further delay, here is my list of the top 5 best games available on Google Assistant, none of which require a purchase to have fun!
“OK Google, talk to Song Quiz.”
This is the only quiz game on assistant that I actually like. Song Quiz is just good, clean fun and it doesn’t really have a point at which it wears out completely; it’s evergreen. For its namesake, Song Quiz is a quiz over pop music song titles and their artists, with hits ranging in era from the 60s to the 2010s. You get points for getting either the song or the artist correct and, of course, more for getting both. Sometimes you also get bonus points awarded. You can play locally, with your friends or family on game night, or 1-on-1 online against a real, live opponent.
Quiz games need little explanation, so I’ll simply say this is as good of a song quiz game one could ask for. It has never taken long to connect me to opponents, it has a ranking system if you want to sign in with Google, and is worth playing if you like the genre. Visually, everything that is spoken is displayed on screen, and you can select responses instead of speak. It’s good fun in general, but I like to add an extra layer of fun by giving the AI a silly name to call me and an obscure location when prompted, as this information is relayed to the other player at the beginning of the match (and the name is repeated every round). Give it a try, it’s worth a giggle.
“OK Google, talk to Castle Master.”
In Castle Master, you play as a lord of a land within a larger medieval kingdom. Your advisor will present you with game events, measured in turns, during which your “yes” and “no” answers to these questions will determine the outcome. The game is scored on a scale of 100 for 2 stats, Wealth and Influence, in that order. If your wealth or influence reaches either 0 or 100, it’s game over and several ill fates could befall you. Too much wealth and the king will storm your castle and kill you for your fortune, too little and he will exile you for your lack of frugality. Too much influence and the king will feel threatened and execute you, too little and he will banish you for your incompetence.
The king is one finicky ruler, so you will want to stay within 10-90 on both wealth and influence. This being the case, the safest score you can have during a game of Castle Master is 50-50, since this provides the maximum room for error, in either direction of either scale. The goal is to survive for as many turns as you can and, when you lose, the game stores your best score for you to compete against yourself later. It sounds easy enough to stay within the point balance, but there are many different events, each event will have many different outcomes, and each outcome for a given event is not all worth the same amount of points. You might stand to gain 10 influence, lose 30 influence, gain 20 wealth, or lose 30 wealth, all in the same question. Some events even span multiple turns and don’t add or subtract points until the end of the event.
When you start Castle Master, your first goal will be to reach 25 turns, at which point you will get a naval advisor. This advisor adds many more scenarios to the game, is free, and remains your advisor in future games, from the start. However, there is still paid content and in-game purchases. Any time you lose, you will be asked if you want to speak with someone who can fix your situation, for real-world cash. There are other advisors you can also purchase, which are expansion packs, and you will be asked if you want to purchase an expansion at the beginning of every game, but otherwise the game is able to be played for free and is a ton of fun for all its simplicity. I play Castle Master quite a lot and have never made a single in-game purchase, so purchases are not required to have fun. As far as visuals go, Castle Master has no frills; every response shows you the same Castle Master logo over a castle backdrop. There’s no text on screen, but you can select responses instead of speaking them on mobile.
The Three Percent Challenge
“OK Google, talk to The Three Percent Challenge.”
This game is based on the Brazilian dystopian thriller TV show, 3%, which is available on Netflix. I’ve followed the show since the first season, so I was absolutely delighted there was a game in the same universe. It doesn’t follow the same characters as the show, but the game is mainly a story where you go through “the process” for yourself. If you have never seen 3%, in it the population is split into the 97% who live in poverty in the slums on the mainland, and the 3% who live in a technologically advanced utopian island called the offshore. Those on the offshore are the ruling class and keep the masses placated by hosting a yearly test, called the process, during which the candidates get their one and only shot to earn a chance to join the offshore. The rest are destined to live their days out in poverty, having no legacy but hoping their children one day pass the process.
While this is quite a bleak future scenario, it makes for very interesting television that is well worth the dub. As for the game, I have not played much of the storyline, because you have to purchase it past the first chapter. I do like 3%, but I’m not so interested that I’ll shell out for it. What I do like about The Three Percent Challenge is that it has several fun minigames in what it calls “the simulator,” which is basically training for the challenges within the main game. However, I’ve found that these minigames are actually incredibly enjoyable and, what’s more, they are all games that are logic and puzzle games based around improving memory and critical thinking.
My personal favorite of these is The Traitor, which you are interrogating three subjects and you have to determine who is who by asking them about each other individually. The Traitor, along with the other challenges, all have three difficulties, each changes the minigame a little bit. All in all, I think The Three Percent Challenge is a decent amount of fun without any in-app purchases and it comes completely guilt free knowing that I’m exercising my brain. If you like the TV show, or just like brain teasers, you should at least play each of the six challenges available in the simulator section of the game. Visually, there is an appealing look to the images on the information displays, but nothing you can't be just fine without.
“OK Google, talk to Warrior’s Land.”
If you are a fellow certified RPG junkie, you will absolutely appreciate this pick. Warriors Land is a really fun role-playing game, staged in the medieval-fantasy setting we can all easily imagine. Take any elements from Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons that you like, weave them together and what do you get? Something like Warrior’s Land every time. If you like the whole epic role-play fantasy deal, you probably won’t be disappointed. I mean, it has elves and a wide-open world with a live map… What’s not to love?
Oh yeah... About that live map:
THE GAME IS ALWAYS ON!
If the world is a vast continent and some islands, you could grid it out and stand in a single block. This is standard tabletop RPG figurine stuff, which the creators of Warrior’s Land took to heart in this game. This means whenever you are standing in the world, you are somewhere with latitude, longitude, and cardinal directions and your position is constantly updated. This is Middle-earth with full-blown GPS and when you log out you set a camp. You don’t. Leave. The. Map. When camped— logged out— other players can happen upon your campsite and rob you of your gold! And yes, you can also do this to them, but there are random encounters as well, so this makes the world seem more alive and it keeps things interesting. There’s actual stake involved. You have things to lose, so earn your gold and spend it, or hide well before you log out so you don’t lose your precious loot.
With all of the good things that Warrior’s Land has going for it, there are certainly some considerations. First, it requires an account setup with your email in order to play. This is because the game tracks your progress in several ways, from your character info like stats, gear, and inventory, to their position in the map as well as progress in quests. Second, Warrior’s Land can be played with voice only, but the game really lends itself to the visual aspects, being that there is a map and it’s otherwise hard to keep track of where you are. The game’s audio feedback would need to be drastically improved to refer to points on the grid before audio-only play would be feasible. All in all, a pretty good game, but there are some typos in the text here and there, but that can be forgiven when not amusing.
“OK Google, talk to The Vortex by Doppio.”
This is one of those games that I knew I would love the moment I started it. The Vortex is a science-fiction game, in which you find yourself awakening from a cryo-chamber aboard a spaceship, just after some unknown catastrophe. While you are no longer frozen, you are still trapped in the chamber. You also appear to be the only survivor on the vessel, aside from a few artificially-intelligent robot companions. The plot of the game can be described as a mission to uncover what caused the damage, repair the ship and, hopefully, escape your cryo-chamber, all with the help of your robot friends on the outside.
As a huge science fiction fan, especially of the Star Trek franchise, so The Vortex was right up my alley. To any of my fellow sci-fi nerds out there, I have to say that I have never felt more like the captain of a starship. I found myself pacing around my apartment as I requested the status report and deliberated on the appropriate course of action. Channeling my inner Picard, I stood upright, shoulders back and, when the opportunity presented itself, I glanced sharply at my Google Home Mini and said “Make it so.” The lights on the device blinked left to right as it processed my command. I wanted in anticipation. Would this phrase work as an affirmative? Could life be so grand? My friends, yes, it can. The developers knew exactly what they were creating, what we nerds desperately wanted, and they delivered. That level of attention to detail says it all, in my book.
Now, I would hate to give too much away and spoil the storyline, so I won’t, but there are certainly a few other important things to know about this game. First, there are in-app purchases and you can play the game without making any, however, without paying you will find that you have to play the game maybe once every day or two, instead of multiple times per day. The reason for this is because you have to harvest the supplies you need, called multigel, from the ship and surrounding space debris in order to have the ability to complete tasks. You can only harvest multigel once per day from each location and harvesting supplies, along with every other in-game task, takes real-world time to get done, unless you spend even more multigel to speed it up.
The waiting periods required for most tasks in The Vortex are often a matter of 4-6 hours, meaning that this is a game that is meant to be played slowly, over the course of days and weeks, not hours. However, that’s not to say this is a bad thing, just something to be aware of when beginning to game. I loved the game so much right away that the wait made me impatient at first, but, over time, I have come to appreciate the long-haul approach. It hearkens back to my tabletop gaming days, feeling somewhat like a campaign spread out over several sessions. The long waits required also makes perfect sense for immersion into the game. Your character is stuck in a cryo-chamber and is guiding robots via commands to get free. Sometimes, all they will be able to do is sit, wait, and sleep. Consequently, a valid exit command for the game is to say “Sleep,” when the robot prompts you with the question “What do you want to do next?” When you log back in, the robot characters greet you from your sleep. Brilliant.
Overall, I say The Vortex is one of my absolute favorite games for Google Home and probably the first one I would recommend to someone who loves any kind of science fiction. As mentioned, the multigel harvesting time makes buying Multigel Packs enticing, but some of them get rather expensive, up to $50, and it isn’t necessary. You regenerate about 3 multigel a day when you log in and the number of places that you can harvest supplies from increases as you progress in the game, meaning less dependence on it later on. The Vortex is a fun game that has a lot of great characters and attention to detail. As far as visual aspects of the game, there is text on screen of what you hear, your status report items are on a list view (very handy), and you can select your responses instead of having to speak.
Into the Future
"OK Google, crystal ball."
The Google Home is a great household tool and is made more fun with the many games available. I hope you have found something out of these selections that sparks your interest. What excites me the most about Google Home is the massive amount of value it can bring to our lives if we use it correctly. As the technology progresses, it will only get better. That’s why I am so enthusiastic about the concept of voice games via artificially intelligent assistants. Right now, these games are in their clunky, retro phase. These are the original NES games to the future of an entirely new genre of gaming. In the future, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be playing entire D&D campaigns with an AI dungeon master, and AI characters. I think that would technically be an AINPCPC, or Artificially Intelligent Non-Player Character Player Character; and it’s the future. So strap into your rocket ship and enjoy the ride.