30. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a corker: one of the best games of 2019, in fact. But Knights of the Old Republic, in our mind, is still the best Star Wars game ever made. This is Bioware at its storytelling peak – a vast world crammed with side quests and fascinating characters to meet, pulled together by a main questline that’s worthy of the franchise’s name. You could easily sink 35 hours into your first playthrough and still feel like you need a second run at it, perhaps with a different character build: a blaster specialist is equally as viable as a Jedi Master.
If you never played it on PC or console, this is a perfect chance to clear a classic from your gaming backlog. It’s essentially a 1:1 port of the original, so you’re not missing out on any detail, and the early ‘00s
The reason it’s not higher on this list is the controls, which can be fiddly. They work fine most of the time, but minigames are tough to get to grips with on a touchscreen, and it makes the combat – which already feels clunky, 15 years on – more frustrating. Knights of the Old Republic on Android is still a must-play, but just do it on as big a screen as you can manage.
29. Samorost 3
Genre: Point-and-click adventure
A charming puzzler with environments that come alive as you touch them. You control a gnome travelling through space to find the origin of a magical flute, but the fun in Samorost 3 isn’t figuring out how to progress in your journey—it’s in tapping on everything you see, just to find out what happens.
Tap on termites to make them sing in harmony. Tap on a branch to interrupt a monkey’s natural hot tub in the canopy of a forest. Tap on some ghostly mushrooms sprouting from a bush to make them play musical notes. Tap, tap, tap.
It looks and sounds beautiful, from its bouncy music to the sound of your footsteps. The solutions to puzzles are occasionally obscure but each challenge is unique, whether you’re arranging cards to help stickman catch their prey or pulling on levers to move platforms between stony outcrops.
28. Lumino City
Even if Lumino City’s world was completely devoid of interaction, it’d still be worth downloading. Everything you see in the game is hand-made out of paper, card, miniature lights, and motors—and the results are unforgettable. Every scene is a masterpiece, every building a marvel, and we go wide-eyed every time we boot it up.
But on top of that stunning setting is a charming puzzle game in which you poke at gorgeous machines to make them work. The story follows Lumi’s attempts to rescue her kidnapped grandfather, from whom she’s conveniently inherited a handbook to every mechanism in the city. If you ever get stuck, you can always find a relevant page to help you out. It’s therefore never frustrating, and the puzzles never distract from the gorgeous backdrop.
An RPG based on Steven Jackson’s brilliant choose-your-own-adventure books, developed by inkle, the team behind the 80 Days. It’s a mouth-watering recipe for good writing, and Sorcery! delivers as brilliant a story as you’d hope—and more.
You move around a hand-drawn map, encountering friend and foe, casting spells and slipping into combat when necessary. But it’s the words that make Sorcery! so engrossing—in two sentences, it will paint a picture of the town that lays just beyond the hill ahead, and that impacts the choices you make when you make it into the town itself.
Those choices come thick and fast: every 30 seconds you’ll be asked to decide whether to fight or flee, greet or ignore, pick a bright red flower or leave it alone. You always have three or four options in dialogue, each of which will open up a new line of inquiry. It allows you to create a story that’s entirely your own—and best of all, you can transfer your character and all their choices onto the sequel, Sorcery 2!.
26. XCOM: Enemy Within
If you didn’t know that XCOM: Enemy Within was a mobile port, you’d never guess. It’s a turn-based strategy game that plays like it was made for touchscreen, and it’s easy to move around your virtual soldiers, telling them to attack Earth’s alien invaders with a few quick taps.
Some of the maps are scaled down and the visuals aren’t as sharp as on PC or consoles, but the depth of the tactical combat remains. The soldier customisation, and the impact that one squad member can have on a fight, will make you fond of specific characters, right up until they’re horribly murdered by a swarm of sectoids. It’s cruel, but you won’t be able to stop playing.
Enemy Within is the expanded version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with new weapons, aliens, and abilities. Basically, it’s the best version of XCOM, and now you can play it in your pocket. It works well on both tablets and larger mobiles.
A busy roguelike platformer about constantly falling down a well, stomping on enemies and firing customisable gun boots. You’re in constant fear of dying to one of many on-screen obstacles, but Downwell always wants you to go faster—the more enemies you beat in a combo, the more gems you’ll earn to spend on items at a shop.
At the end of every level you gain an upgrade, of which there are 20. They range from a drone that shoots bullets to a rocket jump that gives you more height when you fire your boots, and the way they interact means that your build changes as you progress. Add in different characters, colour palettes, ammo types for your boots and procedurally-generated levels and you have a platformer that just gets better with every run.
24. Data Wing
Data Wing’s looks are deceiving. You might think, from screenshots or video, that it’s just another arcade racer. But while turning and drifting feel slick—you gain speed by grazing the outside of the tracks—it’s the brilliant writing that sets it apart. You control a Data Wing, a carrier of information from one point to the next inside a computer, and the bulk of the story comes from your interactions with an all-commanding AI called Mother. We don’t want to give anything away, but suffice to say it’s more complex than it first seems, and has plenty of twists and turns. Play it without reading spoilers.
Thumper is a gnarled nightmare in rhythm game form. It’s a thrashing trip into hell that never wants you to sit comfortably, and beats you over the head with doom until you plead it to stop. You control a metal beetle screaming along a track, jumping over obstacles and skidding around corners in time to the beat. One mistimed tap can end your lift.
What makes Thumper so unique is not its flawless touch controls, but its oppressive atmosphere. The music rumbles and screeches, tentacles flail in the background and red eyes stare at you from the abyss. It wants you to know that you’re not welcome, and every beaten level comes with a wave of white-knuckle relief.
It’s on PC, PS4, Switch and VR headsets, but the one-button controls make it a perfect fit for your mobile or tablet.
Machinarium (opens in new tab), from decorated developer Amanita Design, is one of the best point-and-clicks of our generation, and its move to touchscreen is flawless: controls are responsive and the mobile interface is easy to understand. Its grungy, unforgiving world is beautifully drawn, and all the rusting metal and whirring contraptions create an immediate sense of place. Just by looking at this harsh environments you’ll start to feel for your little robot protagonist, lost in a wasteland and searching for his lady-robot love. It’s a tricky puzzle game, but a clever two-tier hint system is on hand to help you out.
21. Super Hexagon
Super Hexagon is one of those games that picks a simply concept — navigate a cursor through a rotating tunnel of shapes — and executes it impeccably. Each shape has a gap in it somewhere, and by moving your cursor into that gap you'll avoid annihilation, and be free to continue enjoying the rockin' techno soundtrack. It starts slow, but quickly becomes manic: the screen shifts and tilts, colors flash, and shapes fly at you faster and faster until you’re dead. It’s impossible to resist having just one more go. Okay, maybe two.
Turn to the next page to find out what made our list of the top 20 best Android games...