The top casual games to play on a weekend

Promoted Content 28 June 2022

Being a ‘gamer’ is not what it used to be.

Gone are the days when – in certain circles – the mere mention of video games would (wrongly) conjure up images of a particular type of teenager, hermitized from the real world. Gaming over the last decade has had a major image update and successfully shirked any residual semblance of stigma around the term.

The video game renaissance owes to the fact that most of us now play games in some form or another. A smartphone in nearly every adult’s pocket has paved the way for swathes of society to engage in a type of entertainment that they previously overlooked.

Gaming participation of people in their sixties grew by 3% in a single year, with most who played stating they did so daily; 35–54-year-olds now make up the largest percentage of people playing video games. Gaming can now share its rightful place alongside film and music.

And while squeezing in a quick level on the commute is the perfect distraction, there’s nothing like dedicating a longer play session at the weekend to really making some progress with your favourite title, without disruption. If you are looking for inspiration for your next game to become engrossed in, thankfully there are no shortage of options.

FIFA (PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Google Stadia, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)

When it comes to cultural impact, you would be hard pushed to find a game series that has had more influence on society than the FIFA series.

Widely recognised as one of the best sports games in the business, FIFA has sold more than 330 million units since it was first launched in the 1990s.

FIFA’s authenticity is what makes it so appealing, with the game recreating real-life football like no other game on earth.

If you can hang on until September 2022 to buy the latest edition, FIFA 23 will feature several exciting new developments that will improve the game even further.

A revamped Career Mode is expected to incorporate a new Stadium Builder and Editor section, which will allow player to make FIFA more personalised.

Players will also be able to interact with their club’s supporters via social media, thus replicating what happens in the sport itself.

With cross-play capabilities also expected to be introduced, players will be able to test themselves against more opponents than ever before.

If you love sport and want to enjoy a weekend-long gaming session, investing in the FIFA series makes perfect sense.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)

The original game in the Animal Crossing series came out in 2001 for the Nintendo 64 and was an instant hit. On the surface it might look like a game only for kids and its PEGI 3 rating means that people of all ages can enjoy it, but Animal Crossing has fans from all walks of life, notably in the female 19-24 bracket.

Former president of Nintendo Satoru Iwata credits some of the franchise’s success to a 50/50 gender split among the developers working on the games. And games that appeal to female players only encourage more women to consider a career in the field.

New Horizons, available for the Nintendo Switch, puts players in control of a human character that moves to a deserted island in order to create a community filled with lovable anthropomorphic personalities. The feeling of the game is laid back and relaxed and the stakes are very low, so players can enjoy the content at their own pace as they craft and collect items and customise the magical world that they live in.

Nintendo Switches are a popular gaming device with a range of casual games available.

Chess

It may have roots dating back to 7th century India, but chess is seemingly more popular than ever. Netflix hit series The Queen’s Gambit and a number of ebullient grandmasters within the community have helped propel the original game of war strategy to dizzying new heights.

Two apps stand out, the polished and fully comprehensive chess.com and its open source competitor Lichess, both are available on desktop, iOS and Android platforms. Chess.com is the industry standard of chess apps and is used by the majority of professionals and amateurs alike but to enjoy a fully unrestricted experience, a premium plan from as little as £2.50/month gets you access to more puzzles, game reviews and lessons.

Lichess is a non-profit association, and the app is completely free but they do encourage patronage if you’re able to support their cause. It has been developed by a series of volunteers and is surprisingly refined, more than giving chess.com a run for its money.

Fast-paced modern variants of the game, bullet and blitz have been gaining support especially among younger players but unless you have committed many moves to muscle memory, a traditional chess bout can be quite lengthy. This might be perfect for lazy weekend afternoons but when you are pressed for time, chess puzzles are a great way to hone your skills.

Players are now able to access a game of chess on their mobile devices and play against other opponents or a computer.

Sudoku

“Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru” or “the numbers are limited to only one occurrence” in Japanese, is from where the portmanteau word Sudoku hails, and is the number puzzler’s equivalent to a crossword. There’s a unique thrill to successfully completing one of the 9x9 grids – and an equivalent feeling of frustration to find you’ve inputted at least one number incorrectly.

Dozens of great (and free) Sudoku apps are available for all platforms so you can puzzle away no matter where you are. As you progress, there are more advanced Sudoku techniques to learn. Sudoku wizard and YouTuber Cracking The Cryptic recently solved a puzzle with only two starting numbers!

When you next find yourself with a spare afternoon, perhaps take a minute to pick up one of the games on this list and try your hand at a new skill.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.