50. Osmos HD
Price: £2.19/$2.99 for the full game
Osmos HD is beautiful, from its entrancing electric soundtrack to its colourful cell-like “motes”. You control one such mote, and your aim is to eat other, smaller motes around you to get as big as possible. To move, you must eject matter behind you, which in turns makes you smaller. It remains relaxing despite this tension, but the threat of bigger motes ready to gobble you up gives you a constant reason to make progress.
The mobile version is simply the best edition you can buy. The touchscreen controls are perfect for its freeform, floaty movement, and you tap in the direction you want to eject matter to propel yourself forward. You can pinch to zoom in and out, and swipe to slow time, which lets you glide past bigger motes with ease.
With 72 levels across eight themed worlds, it’s not the kind of game you finish in a hurry, and its simple gameplay loop will keep you tapping away until you’ve completed every single one.
49. Death Road to Canada
Charming and cruel in equal measures, rogue-like Death Road to Canada is a game about starting a road trip, dying, and restarting, over and over and over again. The journey from Florida to Ontario, Canada in is long and full of zombies, which you’ll fight in confined spaces with crunchy melee combat, but it’s the text-based events between these fights that take up most of your time. You might have to fend off a group of nasty bandits, take part in a drag race, or heal an injured moose on the roadside, and you get to choose how to approach each situation.
Often, the outcomes feel harsh (one wrong move and the moose will maul you) but Death Road to Canada’s cast of more than 60 characters, each with different backgrounds, skills and personalities, keep it feeling fresh even 20 hours in.
48. Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Like a magical version of Pokémon Go, but with more things to do. We can’t currently recommend Wizards Unite for those in remote areas because there aren’t enough points of interest to recharge your spell energy, which you need to do pretty much everything in this exploration game. But if you live in a city, you’ll find an endless supply of icons on your map and several different systems to play with, which means you’re never doing the same thing for long.
If you’re bored of collecting magical items by tracing spell patterns on your screen, you can team up with other players to take on a fortress of powerful enemies. Then, you can visit local greenhouses, gathering ingredients for potions and planting seeds for other players. If that doesn’t excite you, you can collect portkeys, which use your phone camera to generate an Augmented Reality world where you find hidden objects. Once you’ve booted up Wizards Unite and started walking, it’s hard to stop.
47. Leo's Fortune
Leo’s Fortune is a AAA-quality platformer in your pocket. It looks brilliant and the controls are responsive, but what’s most impressive is how it keeps finding new ways for you to use its physics-based mechanics.
You control Leo’s speed by tapping and dragging left or right, but you can also inflate or deflate him. Early on, you’re sucking in air to slow down your descent and dodge between traps, but later you’ll be using it to move platforms, plug gaps by expanding to twice your normal size or sinking to the bottom of a river to collect more coins.
It makes more effort than its story with most platformers: it’s not full of twists and turns but the cutscenes before each chapter are well-written and give you a reason to keep playing. Basically, if you wanted to show somebody a complete mobile-first platformer, this is it.
46. This War of Mine
This War of Mine is rarely enjoyable. It’s a grim life (and death) management sim about the realities of war in which you control a group of people pinned down in a house, struggling to survive. Snipers watch the roads outside, so you have to stay indoors during the day, making use of whatever meagre resources you’ve gathered during the night. When darkness falls, you can sneak out in stealth segments to scavenge supplies. You can never see more than six feet in front of you, and heavily-armed raiders wait around every corner. When the ordeal is over you return home, only to find that another survivor has hung themselves. It can be depressing but living on the edge, knowing that failure could strike any minute, makes it compelling. The small victories mean a lot.
45. Meteorfall: Journeys
Genre: Roguelike card game
Meteorfall: Journeys is one of the most welcoming card games on Android. You don’t need to worry about complex deck-building—you just pick an adventurer, find monsters and swipe left or right on a card to either use or discard it. Swiping right on an attack card deals damage, while swiping left will recover stamina needed for further attacks, for example.
That doesn’t mean its always easy. Before you meet a monster you can decide whether to fight them or avoid them entirely—steering clear will save your life, but you’ll lose the chance to win XP, and levelling up gets you new cards. It’ll push you into tight corners, and you’ll agonise over these decisions.
Its short fights and continuous stream of encounters means it’s a card game you can play in ten-minute spurts, which is rare. But once you start running through events it’s hard to tear yourself away: you’ll go straight from fighting a Filthy Gobloid to considering a trade with a well-dressed demon, and levelling up to build the deck you want is an addictive loop.
Vignettes makes you feel like a child again. Its puzzles are a series of objects to be poked, tapped and rotated until they morph into something else entirely. An hourglass transforms from blue to purple when you tilt—and then, when you stand it on its end, it turns into a jewelled chalice, which then becomes a bird cage with butterflies flitting inside.
Each puzzle can be solved in seconds, so the joy comes more from finding unexpected interactions, like tapping on a doll so that it opens to reveal a key. The sound is wonderful, too, and reacts to what you see on-screen: a band will start up when you discover a trumpet, for example.
If you want, you can rush through it in half an hour. But it’s the kind of game you can prod at for hours, not caring about making it to the end, and it has enough secrets that you’ll want to play through more than once.
One of the original darlings of the Xbox Live Arcade, platformer LIMBO remains a tense, atmospheric and irresistibly dark game. The visuals and sound design still create a sense of foreboding, even on a small screen, and with headphones in it’s genuinely unnerving.
Its hostile world of bear traps and giant spiders is oppressive and unwelcoming, which makes it easy to get inside the head of the scared young boy you’re controlling. Touchscreen isn’t the ideal control scheme to solve some of its puzzles, but the interactions are fairly simple, and working out the solutions remains satisfying enough to keep you rolling towards its finale, the meaning of which is still being debated to this day.
42. Mushroom 11
Mushroom 11 is quietly one of the best puzzle-platformers of the past 10 years. It came to PC first, but mobile feels like its natural home thanks to its tactile movement system. You move a gooey blob by destroying bits of it: smear one side of it with your thumb and the blob will change shape, the material you’ve arreased appearing on the other side, propelling you forward.
It’s intuitive, and the puzzles are clever. In one, you split your blob in half, sending one part to weigh down a power button while the other half slips through a door that’s just opened. In another, you morph your blob into a ramp to send a rolling bale of hay across a gap, slithering across after it.
Developer Untame knows exactly how and when to vary the pace—some puzzles require you to stop and think, while in others there’s no time for planning because you have to quickly transform your blob to stick a tricky landing, or avoid explosives shot out of a menacing, spiked wheel. It never stops surprising you for its full five hours, and you’ll want to go back and play it again to see if there were other ways you could’ve passed each challenge.
41. Pocket City
Price: Free or £3.49/$3.99 for the full version
A flexible city builder that’s powerful enough to let you build the town of your dreams but still easy to pick up and understand. The touch controls are simple and intuitive, and it never bogs you down with needless icons and menus, only presenting you with what you need to know at any given moment. Buildings and services unlock quickly, so you always have a new toy to play with, and once you get a picture in your mind about what you want to build it’s dangerously hard to rip yourself away. It’s like the mobile version of Sim City that EA never gave us.
Turn to page 2 for the top 40 best Android games...