Gubbins from Studio Folly initially seems like a fairly innocent Scrabble-like app, offering you little companions (called Gubbins) on your screen as you string together words in a satisfying fashion. But, between trying to beat your high score, collecting various little creatures, and getting hooked on completing its daily challenges, chaos reigns supreme.
I picked up Gubbins after my friend recommended it, having sent me a series of hilarious ‘postcards’ (images that you create with stickers, backgrounds, and whatever words you unlock in a session) she’d spent hours making out of the words she discovered. After giving it a go, I quickly found myself obsessed and, soon, I joined her in recommending it to others.
There’s no way to play against others, no leaderboard to climb up, and unless you’re saving and sharing your scores, there’s no means to announce your score and how well you’re doing. But, despite not having competition to fuel a desire for improvement, there are still numerous ways Gubbins sinks its claws into you and keeps you coming back; one of which is its funky little mascots.
Almost similar to Pokémon, the further you ‘progress’, the more Gubbins (the game's mayhem-inducing mascots) you unlock. While some of these are incredibly useful and perform actions like separating your tiles into individual letters to free up whatever vowels and consonants you have in your hotbar, others will wreak havoc on your game by locking certain squares or going as far as removing letters from your words. As infuriating as these often are, they sure do keep you on your toes and looking for a solution.
A little chaos never hurt anyone
This is the chaos I spoke of above, and it’s central to the charm of Gubbins. You essentially have to hand-pick how you want your day to be either improved or ruined at irregular intervals within your session, and the temporary feeling of control granted by being responsible for selecting which Gubbins are active is a key part of the experience. You might think that you can strategically make your negative Gubbins work in your favor, but not being able to do so is what will make you dissatisfied enough to come back tomorrow for a second chance rather than throwing in the towel.
Every morning I now follow a routine of waking up, making sure I haven’t missed anything important notification-wise overnight, and then descending into the all-consuming mayhem of today’s session of Gubbins. In fact, I’ve made an entire dedicated channel in my most active Discord server so we can share our scores and any hilarious graphics we’ve made with the words we’ve found in today’s session, which is far more entertaining than just sharing your score. Rather than being a constant competition, it’s just a wholesome slice of fun where you try to make one another laugh by creating the most ridiculous ‘postcard’ we possibly can.
You can play once a day on the free version, which is perfect since it’s a simple enough premise to engage your brain at any time of day without being too strenuous. Plus, you get that extra assistance from your Gubbins. Even for people who don’t often pick up mobile games, or games in general, it’s incredibly easy to get to grips with and just play for an hour or so. You also don’t need to devote huge amounts of time to it, and you can always come back to it later if you need to. There’s no battle pass or anything to work through, either. It’s as stress-free as you could get for a game that is built upon wreaking havoc on the player, making it the perfect little pass time without being something you need to practice to perfect.
If you haven’t been playing Gubbins, you really should be. Completing a round is essentially the same satisfaction as you’d get through a really good run at Brain Training or a similar (probably more up-to-date) game. It’s just a really simple yet satisfying loop that will have you entertained each time you pick it up. If you have been looking for a simple mobile game to play around with during your daily commute or your break, or even just something fun to have on your phone rather than having to rely on a console, then I wholeheartedly recommend Gubbins. I promise you won't be disappointed with the amount of chaos tiny illustrations can bring to what seems like a fairly innocent game.
We’ve got all the best free games if you’re looking for the next title to sink into without splashing the cash. However, if you want something specifically mobile-oriented, then check out the best Android games and the best Apple arcade games.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.