Pokémon Go has shown the world just how big games are on mobile devices. Since those critters landed with a bang last month, there’s been a renewed sense of interest around the mobile gaming marketplace with more developers doubling down on bringing top-quality titles to mobile. Many of these games, especially on Android, are free to play, some want you to pay upfront. That’s why we’re here to keep you informed about which games are really worth your hard-earned cash.
In the early days of Android it was rather easy to figure out which games you’d be spending your money on. Back then there were so few titles actually available on Google’s mobile OS as many developers felt it was easier to go straight for iOS before tackling the minefield that was Android. Now though, you can pick up a wide array of quality mobile gaming experiences on your Android phone, tablet or even TV.
It should be noted that, unlike many games on iOS, a lot more titles are offered up for free on Android. You’ll find that many either contain in-app purchases (denoted as IAP in our list) or supplement their free download with in-app adverts. While Google always warns you of these things before installing – with Android Marshmallow even allowing you to switch specific features on and off – it’s always worth bearing in mind when purchasing a title.
One of the most graphically-challenging games available on any mobile platform, Vainglory takes the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre and brings it to your phone. MOBAs are, as the name suggests, games which allow small teams of players to compete against each other, fighting around a fixed arena to achieve wins, points and prizes.
MOBAs are also huge business: PC-based Defence of the Ancients 2 (known to all as DOTA 2) is a massive esport, with last year’s world championships attracting an online audience of over 120 million viewers watching a competition with a prize pool of $26 million dollars.
Vainglory has a long way to go to match DOTA 2, but it already has a big enough audience to have its own world championships and some major teams playing in highly-competitive leagues. Yet it’s also managed to combined graphical complexity with game play that’s easy enough for casual players to pick up. You might not end up at this year’s world championships, but Vainglory will supply plenty of adrenaline-fuelled game time for you, and all for free.
2. Monument Valley
Created by Ustwo Games, Monument Valley is like playing through MC Escher artwork. It’s truly a beauty to behold, and the mind-bending platforming puzzles are fantastic fun: you scratch your head wondering what to do until a eureka moment occurs and everything falls into place.
It may not be the longest game around, and you may find little reason to revisit once you’ve completed it, but you won’t come across another game as beautiful and satisfying.
3. Lara Croft Go
Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider franchise go hand-in-hand, you literally cannot have one without the other. However, Square Enix has been experimenting with Tomb Raider spin-offs over the last few years and Lara Croft Go is its latest attempt.
Following in the footsteps of Hitman Go, Lara Croft Go is a turn-based puzzle adventure game set deep in the heart of a forgotten land. Tasked with exploring the ruins of an ancient civilisation, Lara has to avoid traps, solve puzzles and kill enemies that get in her way.
Its pace may be slower than that of Crystal Dynamics’ new Tomb Raider games, but Lara Croft Go is an excellent puzzler for those looking for a little bit of action thrown into the mix.
Created by Asher Vollmer, Threes is a simple puzzle game that challenges you to match up numbered tiles in pursuit of a high score.
The game ends when you fill up the 4 x 4 grid, but there’s a catch: you can shift only an entire row or column of tiles at a time, so you can’t simply move individual pieces where you want them.
Also, you can only match together identical numbers (or the 1 and 2 tiles) to create white 3 tiles. With every movement, a new piece joins the board, so you need to keep matching and removing the tiles as quickly as possible.
It sounds confusing, but it’s one of those games you’ll grasp in moments. Thanks to its unique charm, you’ll quickly be sucked in.
Free clones exist, but they lack the polish and character that Threes has in spades.
As a recreation of the fantastic ‘90s puzzle game Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, Zoombinis brings back the mind-bending logic puzzles that stumped adults and children alike 26 years ago.
Lovingly recreated with new visuals and polished audio, Zoombinis tasks you with solving problems to guide all of these blue creatures to safety. Not only is this great for helping educate young ones in the family, it’s also brilliant at challenging yourself to work out its fiendish puzzles. A must for anyone looking for a mental challenge along with a cutesy story.
6. Deus Ex Go
Just like Hitman Go and Lara Croft Go before it, Deus Ex Go takes the boardgame, turn-based puzzle formula that worked so well and puts you in command of covert agent and cyborg Adam Jensen as he unravels yet another terrorist plot. Drawing upon elements that make both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and upcoming sequel Mankind Divided so engrossing, Square Enix Montréal has brought in new enemies that require strategic thinking along with hackable turrets and more. You’ll also never run out of content as each week a new puzzle challenge is added for you to sink your teeth into. It may not be as comprehensive as the full-fat PC and console games, but it sure is good fun.
7. Final Fantasy IX
Finally, Android users can play a PlayStation Final Fantasy title! While Final Fantasy VII is still strangely absent from Android since its iOS release, being able to sink your teeth into something as meaty as Zidane and Garnet’s journey is fantastic.
Final Fantasy IX for Android plays out exactly like the PlayStation original but with improved graphics and polished audio. Interestingly, Square Enix has also included some shortcuts for those wanting a more laid-back approach to play – including fast battles and no encounters.
£15.99 may sound like a steep price to pay for a mobile game, but this really is the 80+ hour adventure that made so many of us keep hold of our PlayStation controllers when the new-and-shiny PlayStation 2 had just launched.
8. Möbius Final Fantasy
What’s that, TWO Final Fantasy titles in the same “best RPGs” list, what is this madness? Well, for those who don’t want to cough up for the rather high price that Square Enix is asking for Final Fantasy IX, you can pick up the made-for-mobile Mobius Final Fantasy for free.
While its story is largely shoruded in mystery – and I won’t spoil it because that’s part of the joy of playing Mobius – you start as an unnamed man washed up on the beaches of Palamecia. You, along with other ‘blanks’ who washed ashore begin a journey inland as they try to uncover their past and strive to become the ‘Warrior of Light’ that the land of Palamecia so sorely needs.
Final Fantasy fans will be pleased to know that Mobius brings back the series’ much-vaunted Job System and is one of the most stunning mobile games on the market right now. Even the turn-based battles work well and have the level of complexity you’d expect from a Final Fantasy title – even if it is on mobile.
It’s not currently clear exactly how Square plans to monetise Mobius as early stages are skewed to let people sink into the game as a whole before forking out for items, cards and buffs. Don’t be surprised if Square updates Mobius to skew things in its favour.
9. Hitman: Sniper
While it’s not quite the new Hitman game on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, Hitman: Sniper takes the assassination formula and turns it into an addictive arcade game.
Take out targets with skill to gain points and hit the high-score table. Rack up points to unlock new weapons and go up against your friends. It may only take place across one map in Montenegro, but with varying contracts to complete, Hitman: Sniper is a great bit of arcade shootery fun.
10. Pokemon Go
It’s no secret that Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. Not only has it gone on to become one of the most downloaded and played mobile games ever made, it’s also become a cultural phenomenon unlike the world has ever known (that may not actually be true). While its gameplay isn’t actually all that revolutionary or overly enjoyable, there’s something undeniably addictive about Pokémon Go. Once you’ve started playing, you’ll start to wonder which Pokémon could be around the corner and start exploring parts of your hometown you’ve never seen before. Heck, once you unlock and understand the potential behind battling in Gyms, you’ll never want to give up.
The journey of a Pokémon trainer isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication and a want to catch a whole lot of Pidgey. But unlike many other collect-em-all games, Pokémon Go will keep you coming back.
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