Google Play App Roundup: Grammarly Keyboard, Ticket to Earth, and Dash Quest Heroes

By Ryan Whitwam

Grammatical sci-fi quests.

You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

Grammarly Keyboard

Thankfully, spell checking is now standard on most Android devices. However, spelling is only part of the problem. Grammar is much harder for computers to correct, and your phone mostly doesn't bother. Grammarly is a desktop tool that aims to improve all aspects of your writing. Now, it's available on Android as a keyboard app.

Getting Grammarly up and running is the same as any other keyboard. Just enable it in the settings and switch your input method using the notification. At first glance, Grammarly looks like the Google Keyboard, which I assume is not an accident. The basic functionality is mostly the same, but there's no swipe input. That's a real bummer for me, but not everyone uses it so heavily. As you start typing, that's where things get interesting.

As a keyboard, Grammarly can see all of the text you add to a field. Thus, it can offer corrections based on its understanding of the English language. Potential revisions appear in the space directly above the keyboard where most apps have suggestions. These boxes might suggest you add, change, or remove a word. It can also catch various punctuation problems. Just tap the box, and Grammarly will make the change in your text.

You'll be asked to log into the app when you set it up, but that's optional. However, you should consider doing so if you use Grammarly on other platforms. If you have a premium subscription, you definitely want to sign in. Premium users get access to the full suite of Grammarly corrections just like on the desktop. It can pick up on things like passive voice and sentence structure.

The correction features seem mostly accurate to me, but machines still have problems with some elements of language. Grammarly is better than most, though. My only issue is with the keyboard part of the keyboard. It'd be nice to see more features like themes, swipe input, and additional layouts. I'm looking forward to seeing what we get in future updates.

Ticket to Earth

In the indeterminate future, the human colony of New Providence is on the decline. With only one remaining ship heading back to Earth, the situation has become desperate. This is the backdrop for Ticket to Earth, an engaging RPG-puzzler with a solid story and strategic gameplay.

It's hard to pin down exactly what sort of game this is. It has basic combat mechanics that remind me of titles like The Banner Saga, but there's a robust puzzling aspect as well. Each battle in Ticket to Earth takes place on a game board composed of tiles in four different colors. In each turn, you can perform two actions consisting of moves and attacks. You can move as many tiles as you want, but only within a single color. This is where the puzzle aspect comes into play. Each square you pass through boosts your attack by one. So, for more powerful enemies, you need to make sure you've charged up before you move in to attack.

So, what of the RPG aspect? Early on, you gain abilities that charge up when you pass over tiles of different colors. When they're charged, you can activate to perform a special attack or buff up your character. By completing missions, you earn coins that unlock additional abilities and improve the ones you already have. The game is mostly linear, but there are missions not part of the main storyline—I guess you could call them sidequests? These just give you more cash, but you can ignore them if you want.

Visually, Ticket to Earth is a polished experience. It has a clean style that's reminiscent of anime or a 1980s cartoon. The action is easy to follow with clean lines and beautiful animations, too. I also love the muted color palette, and the comic-style dialog cut scenes are great.

Right from the start, I felt connected to the storyline in Ticket to Earth, and that's incredibly uncommon in mobile games. The writing is better than I'm used to as well, but there are still some slightly awkward spots of dialog. My biggest concern here is the story isn't done yet. This game includes episodes one and two. Episodes three and four are coming at a later date.

The regular price of Ticket to Earth is $4.99, but it's on sale for $3.49 right now. Either of those prices is a bargain for how much style and substance this game offers. There's also not a single in-app purchase to be found.

Dash Quest Heroes

Not all quests need to be undertaken at a leisurely pace. Dash Quest Heroes, as the name implies, is all about dashing through quests. Your ultimate goal is to defeat the Goblin Queen, but there are man, many minions between you and her.

In Dash Quest Heroes, your hero is always running forward. It's played top-down, you can swipe left and right to move between three different "lanes." The monsters approach from the top of the screen, giving you two options: you can attack (tap on the right side of the screen) or block (tap on the left side). If you're lined up right, a quick swing of the sword might be enough to take them out, but blocking will be required to avoid taking damage while you wear down more powerful enemies. In both cases, careful timing is required.

You simply progress in that manner, taking out monsters until you run out of HP. There are checkpoints that save your loot, but anything you're carrying upon dying is lost. Each run starts you from the beginning, but more paths open up as you level up, opening new parts of the game. The monsters also become much more powerful. You're looking at around 5-10 minutes for most runs, which is perfect for a bite-sized mobile gaming experience.

This is a retro-inspired game, so all the backgrounds and sprites are don in a pixel-art fashion. It looks like an SNES title on the surface, but the animations are smoother than that. I appreciate that there are so many different environments in the game, but it's annoying you always start off in the same pastoral outdoor area. I'd like to be able to restart where the patch branch off into more interesting lands.

This is a free-to-play game, but the upsell doesn't seem too bad. There's no timer or life system, so you can play as much as you want. There are also no automatic ads. All the ads are optional (a free revive), and the in-app purchases aren't strictly necessary to progress. You can buy more gold or gems (the premium currency), but most items are attainable without paying anything. The starter packs look like a good deal, though.

Dash Quest Heroes is fun, and the monetization isn't too troublesome. Take a look, and it may surprise you.