55. 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.
54. Marching Order
Marching Order does just one thing, and does it flawlessly. As a marching band of rhinos, ducks, lions and elephants stomp across your screen tooting their instruments, you’re presented with a set of rules, and you have to re-order the band so that all the rules are fulfilled. Perhaps a rhino wants to stand directly in front of a duck. Perhaps a parrot wants to stand between two animals with fur. Perhaps an elephant wants to be somewhere behind the clarinet. And so on. It’s a series of logic puzzles, basically, dressed up in adorable outfits.
The puzzles keep getting harder as you progress, adding more band members and rules. Despite the cute animals and catchy music, some of them are real headscratchers, especially if you want to finish in the fewest possible moves to net a bonus. If you’re feeling sadistic you can play hard mode, which gives you a 60-second timer for each puzzle. Good luck.
53. Harry Potter: Wizards 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.
52. Love You to Bits
Intergalactic explorer Kosmo has seen his robot girlfriend blown to bits in front of his eyes, and he won't rest until he's gathered her body parts from outer space and bolted her back together. It’s a cute premise for an adorable point-and-click with a lot of heart, and although the puzzles can feel a little random, the wonderful animations and colorful levels will keep you tapping on.
Each level is short and sweet, so it's ideal to play in five-minute burst. It's not afraid to take risks, either: the third level in the entire game is set on a small planet that you can walk around the entire circumference of, experiencing all four seasons in 30 seconds. Don't worry too much about solving the puzzles — just click on everything you see and enjoy the surprising interactions. Eventually, you'll find the solution.
If you enjoy it, check out developer Alike Studio's other game, Bring You Home.
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.
50. 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.
Price: First chapter free, then £4.99/$4.99
Mobile platformers are notoriously difficult to get right. Touchscreens simply weren’t designed for precise jumps, and controlling big leaps on a small screen always feel slippery. Somehow, Oddmar nails is. You control a cartoon Viking bouncing and smashing his way through colorful levels, finding hidden gold and solving physics-based puzzles as he goes. It looks brilliant, the animations are smooth and, most importantly, the controls feel tight. It’s a AAA console-quality platformer in your pocket.
It’s made in part by the team behind Leo’s Fortune, another brilliant Android game—this is essentially more of the same, but with a Nordic theme and an extra layer of polish. You can play with a controller, but trust us, the touchscreen controls are shockingly good. The first chapter is free, too, so you have no excuses.
48. PUBG Mobile
Genre: Battle Royale
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
The accessible Fortnite is the Android battle royale king, but PUBG isn't far behind. It's a more realistic, slower-paced take on the genre, and the mobile version manages to pack nearly all the bells and whistles of the PC original onto your touchscreen.
The UI looks messy, the pages of paid-for loot can feel overwhelming and you'll run into occasional bugs, but you'll forget about all that when you manage to pull of a headshot from 400 feet, accounting for bullet drop. Longer round times and the large map lets you think more tactically about your loot and positioning, while the need for patience makes victories feel—at least for us—more satisfying than in Fortnite.
47. Raiders of the North Sea
Genre: Digital board game
Board game adaptations are hard to get right on mobile, but Raiders of the North Sea nails it. The source material helps: Raiders is a simple, elegant board game where each turn consists of placing a worker on a given building, performing that building’s action (such as getting armor for the armory) and then picking up a previously placed worker. Eventually, you’ll have amassed a well-resourced crew of Vikings ready to raid nearby settlements.
The art looks stunning on an Android phone, and brings to life the physical game with flowing rivers and soaring birds. It also feels like Raiders was made for touchscreen, and that arguably makes it better, not to mention cheaper, than the PC version. Asynchronous multiplayer and an extra campaign mean that it’s – whisper it – almost as good as the physical edition.
46. A Good Snowman
An oldie, but a goodie. In A Good Snowman, your only goal is to make snowballs of three different sizes—small, medium and large—by rolling them around in piles of the white stuff and stacking them on top of each other, like you did when you were a kid. It sounds simple, but the puzzles are smart and gradually get more difficult, with more snowmen to build in each garden and more possible ways to fail.
You can hug the decorated snowmen after you've built them, which would melt even the coldest heart. It came to PC first, but the effortless touch-and-drag controls, which let you preview a move before you commit, make mobile the best place to play it.
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.
44. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Price: Free, with in-app purchases
The endless charm of Animal Crossing distilled into bitesize form. Pocket Camp hands you less freedom than other games in the series, but the crafting and decorating are still in-depth, and lots of fun. You collect resources and build furniture to freshen up your camp, and as different animals come and go it will begin to feel like your home.
The restrictive design is to its benefit on mobile, in some ways. Sectioning off activities like fishing and picking fruit makes them feel more manageable, and lends itself to short, punchy play sessions. Rotating goals, bonuses and events give you a reason to come back, and once you've planted your roots in your camp you won't ever want to leave.
43. The House of Da Vinci
The brilliance of The Room games — which you'll read about in this list's top five — have inspired other developers to create detailed, tactile puzzle games in which the player moves from scene to scene, manipulating the environment. The House of Da Vinci is the pick of the bunch: you can expect 10 hours of twisting dials, turning cogs, flipping switches and combining ornate objects in its Renaissance world, each challenge trickier than the last.
It looks and sounds excellent, and the story, which follows the work of the enigmatic Leonardo Da Vinci, pulls you in from the start with sharp writing and an urgent pace. Some of the items you find are fiddly, but the pay-off of solving its clever, mechanical puzzles is always worth it.
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...