The Google Play library has more than its fair share of Clash of Clans rip-offs - but there are diamonds in the rough. The best Android games can both help you kill time between meetings or take up whole evenings as you stretch out on the sofa, phone in hand, ready to get lost in another world.
Finding these gems is no easy task given how many new games come out every week, but don’t worry: we’re here to do the hard work for you, and we update this list monthly to make sure you’re not missing out. From epic fantasy RPGs to bright and breezy platformers, here are the best Android games you can play right now.
Each month, we review a major new Android release in the hopes of finding new entries to this list. Some will make the cut, others won’t, but all the games we’ll review are at least worth knowing about. For the full list of the best Android games, turn to page 2.
May Android Game of the Month – Golf Blitz
I’m genuinely worried that Golf Blitz, a 2D golf game where you can dress up as Little Red Riding Hood, is bad for my blood pressure. That’s partly down to the way its addictive multiplayer battles make the finals shots of every hole feel like a frantic race. But it’s also, sadly, down to how unfair its ranking system can be, and how frustrating it is to grind for XP.
In each round you compete against three other players on a series of holes. If you win a hole you get three points, and the first player to nine points is declared the champion, shooting up the rankings while fourth place tumbles.
All players hit at the same time, threading their golf balls over colourful hills and bunkers, down narrow chutes and past spinning, sticky obstacles. You’ll reach the green in three or four whacks, and seeing other players lining up their shots forces you to go fast. I like that you whip through a round in less than five minutes, and I’ve never waited more than 10 seconds to find my next game.
The controls are simple, and it’s easy to line up your shots by tapping and dragging on your screen. Shot selection has a welcome dose of strategy, too. All four golf balls can collide with each other, sending shots awry: you can push opponents off edges, or deflect your ball off theirs to reach the green first.
When I’m on the green and an opponent is between me and the hole, my favourite trick is to wait for them to hit their putt and then immediately smash my ball as hard as I can. Usually, my ball catches up to theirs and bumps it past the hole, keeping enough momentum to trickle in behind.
The inherent chaos in having players hit simultaneously is exciting, and I’ve genuinely punched the air when I’ve won on a fluky deflection. But it can also make losses feel unfair because you can play a near-perfect hole and still lose because of an unlucky bounce.
I suppose painful losses only make wins more satisfying, and I could live with Golf Blitz’s randomness if it weren’t for how grind-y it is. You gain XP by finding items in card packs, and when you’ve amassed enough XP you’ll level up, letting you upgrade your golfer’s distance, accuracy or shot speed. The higher your level, the farther and faster you can hit the ball. When I’m matched with a player double my level, which often happens, I feel powerless.
Golf Blitz is stingy with its handouts, too. Basic card packs take two hours to unlock, and you can only have four in your inventory. You can get card packs for winning, but these ‘star packs’ take ages to reset after you’ve opened them. I’ve had hour-long sessions where I’ve won repeatedly but made no progress because I haven’t had any packs to unlock.
Basically, it’s set up so that the only way to level up fast is—you guessed it—to spend real money on more card packs, which in turn will let you boost your stats. The more you pay, the better your character gets, and the more rounds you’ll win. As a free player, that model makes bad beats feel even worse. I can take accept losing holes because I missed a putt, but it’s harder to take when you’re facing players that can hit more accurate shots simply because they’ve bought more packs.
It’s a shame, because I’d happily pay a fiver for the actual golf in Golf Blitz if it meant I could level up just by winning holes, but its progression system is too rough for me to recommend it. Look for somewhere else to tee up.
Golf Blitz makes a good first impression because it’s fun, free and fast—but its pay-to-win progression system is reason enough to avoid it.
Turn to page two for our pick of the top 45 best Android games to play right now...