The 15 Best Offline Games for Android – July 2017

It’s no secret that online multiplayer games have long ruled over the Play Store. Games like Pokemon Go or Mobile Strike are immensely popular—not to mention massively successful financially. One of this year’s biggest launches in mobile gaming, Fire Emblem: Heroes, has a huge online component attached to the game requiring your phone to be online, and similar titles like Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius are quite similar in their online duel strategies. Even single-player games like Super Mario Run sometimes require you to be online just to ensure you haven’t pirated the game. And while all of this is manageable most of the time, sometimes you just don’t want an online experience—you want a  game that can be played while fully offline. Whether you’re in the backseat for a long car ride, travelling on a WiFi-less plane, or simply tired of running up your mobile data cap, there are times where the only games available to you are those featuring an offline mode.

You’re in luck. We’ve rounded up some of the best experiences in mobile gaming on Android, focusing entirely on games playable in single-player, offline mode. These aren’t just random pickings from the Play Store either; each game has been tested to guarantee a positive experience both in terms of graphics and gameplay. So next time you find yourself flying coach from New York to Los Angeles, don’t let yourself get sucked into the in-flight movie. Pull out your phone and let the hours melt by with one of our picks of the best offline games you can find on Android.

Everyone else
Alto's Adventure

Alto's Adventure is a variation on the endless runner genre where you play as a snowboarding llama herder named Alto. Alto's on a quest to gather his llamas from running amok—and at the same time, to shred some serious snow. First things first, this game is absolutely gorgeous, with an incredible art style that borders on Material design in appearance. The music consists of smooth, relaxing piano and strings, with the whole package coming together to set a lovely atmosphere. The controls are incredibly simple here: press on the screen to make Alto jump, hold down on the screen to keep him rotating and performing tricks in the air. Tricks make Alto move faster, allowing him to crash through barriers like rocks you might miss while sledding through the countryside.

It's not a perfect game. The presentation is flawless, but it's missing a certain complexity that makes players want to return to the game. Alto's Adventure uses the same profession system as every other endless runner before it: a level system designated by completing "challenges" like travelling a certain distance or collecting a specific number of dramas. In this sense, it's the visuals that set it apart from games like Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run, not the gameplay itself. Still, the game is an excellent time killer, and with a sequel coming out later this summer, we're excited to see where the series goes from here. Alto's adventure is free on Android with ads—and it's absolutely worth picking up.

Bouncy Hoops

To some, Bouncy Hoops may seem like an odd addition. Despite being released just this past June, Bouncy Hoops takes its controls and inspiration straight from Flappy Bird, the hottest game of 2014 and a complete afterthought in current mobile games. Still, Bouncy Hoops manages to make the game feel fresh again, just by tweaking the goal of Flappy Bird from a strange mobile platformer into something more closely resembling what we've seen in other mobile basketball games. You tap on your device's screen to bounce the ball, just as you would inside of the original Flappy Bird game, but instead of dodging platforms and keeping your player token inside of a specific area, you're trying to score on two opposing basketball nets back and forth.

The game starts easy enough, but with the timer quickly limiting how often you have to get the ball inside the basket, it becomes a hectic race to get your score as high as possible. The best way to raise your score is to use tricks, including clean shots, high shots, buzzer beaters, and off the backboard to increase your multiplier. As you perform tricks, each trick will raise your multiplier, maxing out at 5x, allowing you to raise your score so long as you keep shooting trick shots. When you finally do lose your streak, your multiplier drops back to one and you have to start your streak over. The game is free with ads, and we found the in-app purchases to be a bit too expensive for our tastes, but it's absolutely worth checking out if you're interested in a new Flappy Bird-like competitive platformer.

Card Thief

Card Thief, like Solitarica, is a card-based role playing game, the sequel to fan-favorite Card Crawl, and of our favorite new games on Android from 2017. While Card Crawl focused on dungeon crawling, quickly defeating your enemies and powering up your abilities and weapons, Card Thief focuses its attention on stealth-based gameplay, a new entry for card-based video games. You have a stealth rating in the upper-left hand corner of your player card, acting similar to a health rating in games like Solitarica or Card Crawl. The goal of the game is simple: clear the entire deck of cards, eliminating unknowing enemies, disabling torches, gathering gold and other treasures, all without getting caught. Once the deck's been cleared, the exit will appear, and you can make your way out with your bounty.

The game is far more complex than it lets on at first glance. Every move takes place on a grid-based system, where you move your thief character card around the guards and light sources on the board. The goal is to clear the cards as quickly and efficiently as possible, using a combination of luck, skill, and ability cards kept in your deck at the bottom part of your screen. The challenge comes from the enemy guards, who notice you moving, extinguishing torches, and will move in a direction that they heard your movement coming from. We found the game to be incredibly rewarding, though it is a bit difficult to learn at first glance. If you're at all interested in stealth games—or card games, for that matter— you should absolutely check this one out.

Downwell

Downwell is a shmup-platformer where the goal isn't to jump, but to fall with style, grace, and machine-gun shoes. In this delightfully retro 8-bit game, your goal is to make your way down the well you've fallen into, shooting and avoiding enemies and collecting loot and gems along the way. Downwell is one of those games that casual and hardcore gamers alike can find joy in: the simple controls and fast-paced gameplay give casual players a reason to come back, but the difficulty and insanity of the game will keep most gamers satisfied for hours on end.

And make no mistake, this game is difficult. You'll need to have lightning quick reflexes, or learn to adapt quickly, because you're falling down that well fast and enemies will not stop coming. A robust upgrade system between levels and tons of secrets and hidden rooms will keep you playing for hours. Despite a general dislike for virtual D-pads, we found the game's controls to function well, a testament to Devolver Digital's own developer skills. Downwell costs $2.99 in the Play Store, without ads or in-app purchases, and is absolutely worth the cost of a small coffee from your local cafe. It's an incredible twitch shooter, and anyone looking for something with a bit more complexity than another endless runner will really love this game.

Duet

Duet is a hugely popular game on Android, closing in on 50 million downloads on the Play Store since its launch several years ago, and it's easy to see why. Everything from the presentation, the art design, the music, and the gameplay make this an excellent addition to your offline arsenal. The graphics are simple and beautiful, with the paint splatters when the dots crash specifically standing out as an excellent design choice. The music is lovely, but manages to produce the exact opposite reaction of Alto's Adventure. Instead of offering a beautiful skyline accompanied by soft piano music, Duet is a cold, harsh reality, with deep techno and electronic beats guiding you through a maze of fast-moving, rotating lines of destruction.

All of this makes for an experience that essentially represents the videogame equivalent of chugging an energy drink: it makes you jittery and a bit stir-crazy. This game oozes personality, but the gameplay was compelling to. Levels are presented in short, easy-to-accomplish goals, but with enough challenge that by the time level three rolls around, you'll be dying a lt before you move onto the next level. There are a couple flaws in Duet, however. First, ad breaks are way too long and happen way too often. Every few levels, the game will ask you to upgrade to the paid version of Duet, and if you refuse, a fifteen-to-thirty second, unskippable ad will begin to play. It takes the player completely out of that caffeine-like rush, eliminating the focus you feel while playing. We don't encourage the overuse of ads, but if you enjoy playing the game, we'd say it's worth ponying up the few dollars you'll need to buy the premium edition.

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

Unlike most of the games on this list, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, is a full-price $11.99 console port on Google Play. While this may sound well out of your budget, you absolutely get what you pay for with FFT. This is a classic SRPG from Square, and it's worth every penny if you've never played the game before.

If you aren't familiar with this spin-off of the classic Final Fantasy series, FF Tactics is a tactical role-playing game similar to Nintendo's Fire Emblem series, first released to the United states in 1998 on the original PlayStation. Though sales were initially small, it was eventually remade into Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions for the PSP, recreated in widescreen mode and featuring a new translation with improved dialogue. The game has become a cult-classic both in Japan and the United States, praised for its tactical gameplay and the dark and creative storytelling. Among many fans of the RPG series, it's now considered one of the best entries in the Final Fantasy lineup. Famously, Darius Kazemi, game designer at Bocoup, once told Kotaku, "Saying Final Fantasy Tactics is your favorite Final Fantasy game is like saying [West Wing president] Jed Bartlet is your favorite U.S. president. It is at once obviously correct, and obviously cheating."

So how well does FF Tactics play on touchscreen devices? Surprisingly well, it turns out. It's not the game with the best controls on this list, but overall, the game feels pretty good. You tap on the 3D-based grid system to control your party, rotating the map using arrows along the side of your display and swiping premade gestures to select options throughout the menu. It's a pretty slick system, a good compromise between traditional video game menus and tapping on virtual D-pads. The gameplay holds up as well. If you're a fan of the SRPG genre and haven't checked out Final Fantasy Tactics, you're doing yourself a disservice. Square's efforts here are a cult classic for a reason. The story's still as satisfying as ever, and despite their age, the cutscenes looked studding on our test devices. $12 is a bit expensive for a mobile game, but remember this is a full-fledged console Final Fantasy game, and one of the best at that. If you're more of a traditional RPG fan, check out Final Fantasy VI, also available for purchase. You won't be disappointed.

Hitman GO

Part puzzle game, part board game, and part RPG, Hitman GO is unlike everything else on Android in a major way. A totally new Hitman game designed from the ground up, GO represented an entire new strategy for Square Enix's mobile games when it launched a few years ago, and while plenty of other GO titles have been launched since, including Lara Croft GO and Deus Ex GO, none of them have quite hit the highs of what we've seen from the first Hitman title. The art style is what catches the eye first—these games look like real-world board games, complete with small figurines and set pieces around the board.

Each level represents a new puzzle, with you working to move the Agent 47 piece around the board, taking out your opponents without getting caught by bystanders or anyone else nearby on the board. The game uses a simple swipe mechanic as you make your way around the board killing enemies by bumping into them. You can use rifles, hiding places, and secret passageways in the level to get around easier, hiding from your prey before finish the job. All things considered for a Hitman game, GO is surprisingly non-violent, without any sort of animated blood and only rated 10+ on the Play Store for Suggestive Themes and Fantasy Violence. The models are excellent, and the game is perfect for the sort of offline play that makes up so many road trips or plane rides. Definitely check this one out if you're a puzzle board game fan, or missing out on some classic Hitman gameplay. The game typically costs $4.99, but is routinely on sale for just $.99.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition

At this rate, no one is going to be surprised by Minecraft. You know what it is, we know what it is. Basically everyone and their mother knows what Minecraft is. The game is a bonafide phenomenon around the world, and has been for well over half a decade now. Minecraft's continued success is owed to plenty of factors: positive word of mouth, a buzzing online community, popular Let's Players streaming the game online for entertainment, and of course, the presence of Minecraft on nearly every game console or mobile device on the market today.

Just because Minecraft is an established property doesn't mean you shouldn't play Minecraft: Pocket Edition. The portable version of the game has seen consistent updates from Mojang and Microsoft, bringing the Pocket Edition closer than ever to the desktop and console versions of the game. Recent updates have added The End, finally bringing one of the most commonly-requested areas to the mobile game. And although this article is focused on offline games on Android, we shouldn't discount the ability to work in tandem with the Windows 10 counterpart for online play. Overall, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is just Minecraft on your smartphone or tablet, available for only a $6.99 upfront fee. Whether you like or dislike Minecraft is probably established already, but if you're a fan, there's no reason not to pick this up on your device of choice. The novelty of exploring a large, randomly-generated world that can fit in your pocket is enough of a reason to do so today.

Monument Valley

Continuing a trend of absolutely beautiful games being put on display here, Monument Valley is a stunning puzzle game that depends on you, the player, being able to guide a princess through a world full of difficulties, trials, and tribulations. From castles and countrysides to dreamscapes and surreal environments, Monument Valley is jam-packed with interesting environments and puzzles, and the game feels largely similar to something like FEZ, where you traverse through environmental puzzles around a 2.5D world. Much of the game draws its appeal from the sights and sounds—we can't overplay how truly beautiful this game is, with incredible graphics and design and a painting-like world in every stage. In many ways, the puzzles are simply excuses to explore the world.

There is a bit of a story here, though it's mostly told through unspoken cues spread throughout the world. This isn't the type of story that's being told through dialogue or cutscenes. It's hidden away, ready for those who want to see what's happening inside the world of Monument Valley. The game isn't super long, with most playthroughs clocking in at about an hour to an hour and a half, but that doesn't mean Monument Valley isn't a must-play. Rather, it means you should absolutely grab this one and play it as soon as you can. At $3.99, it is a bit steep for the limited gameplay time, but we still loved the game anyway. A sequel was recently released on iOS, and we hope to see it arrive on Android later this summer.

Pocket Mortys

Fans of Nintendo and Game Freak's Pokemon series were ecstatic last year when Pokemon Go launched to much fanfare and to a huge community of users, but for those looking for traditional Pokemon gameplay, the game was a letdown to say the least. Despite Nintendo's ongoing push into smartphone games, Pokemon seems to be doing its own thing, with Pokemon Duel and Magikarp Jump coming in as fun spin-off games but not much else. Unfortunately, anyone looking for classic Pokemon gameplay is going to have to look elsewhere, and luckily, Adult Swim has what you need—featuring characters and settings from popular adult cartoon Rick and Morty.

Pocket Mortys is a free ad and in-app purchase-supported game set within the universe of Rick and Morty. You play as Rick, the titular drunken-Doc-Brown-esque main character of the show, as you and Morty enter the multiverse. To no one's surprise, Rick begins collecting other universes' Mortys with his Mortypad, a Pokedex-like contraption, and using them to battle with a game system that is almost an exact take on what we've seen from Pokemon. Overall, the whole thing is pretty silly. But the writing matches the tone of the show, and the game uses a simplified version of Pokemon's type-system by literally identifying Mortys as rock, paper, or scissors-type. It's not the deepest gameplay you'll find on this list, but if you're a fan of the show, it should keep you occupied until season three returns this summer.

Punch Quest

Punch Quest combines a bunch of fan-favorite genres with—you guessed it—an endless runner-styled video game. Rogue-like elements? You'll find them here, with each retry leading to new enemies, new bosses, and new map layouts. Arcade-style fun? That's here too, from it's pixel-stylized art to its combo-based point system. The game almost forces you to remember the good ol' days of challenging your friends to Street Fighter championships. Brawler elements? Oh yeah. Punch Quest's main objective is—awesomely—to punch everything. Skeletons. Bats. Cyclops. Cyborg-robot-cyclops. Dinosaur eggs. This game is ridiculous in every element, and it is so, so very cool.

One of the greatest elements of Punch Quest is its simplified control system. Tap on the right-side of your screen to perform a dash punch (which destroys many any enemies in one hit), and tap on the left-side of your screen to perform an uppercut (which also adds a platforming element to your brawling—you will have to jump over gaps as you run along destroying everything in your path). In boss-battles especially, you'll have to perform both actions at the right time, while also blocking enemy attacks but pressing on both the left and right buttons. The game's controls feel tight and intuitive: easy to learn, but challenging to master. Down the road, you get loadouts and unlockable abilities to make taking down powerful enemies easier than simply punching. The game eases new players in, but there's enough depth and challenge to keep hardcore gamers and inexperienced players alike coming back.

Really Bad Chess

Really Bad Chess is, in one app, the complete package. It's a tutorial for traditional chess, the worst chess game you've ever played, and the chess app you didn't know you wanted. The game is a simple idea—so simple, in fact, it's incredible Really Bad Chess represents the first time the idea was created as a mobile game. Here's the gist of the app: instead of featuring a traditional game of chess, Really Bad Chess rearranges and scrambles the board, giving you an entirely new set of pieces each time. In the first game, you might have three pawns, five queens, and a single bishop. Meanwhile, the next game might have seven pawns, two queens, and four rooks. You never know what's going to happen in Really Bad Chess—your only constant is the singular king, with the goal of RBC still to be capture your opponent's king through checkmate.

The pieces received at the beginning aren't entirely random; they're based on your past experience playing the game. The better you do, the worst your pieces will get over time, making the game infinitely more challenging and eventually causing you to either get better at the basic strategy of chess to overcome the restrictions placed on you by the game, or fail and lose your winning streak. Though the subtitle, "a definitely balanced chess game," is certainly tongue in cheek, the game works as well as it does because of its imbalance, not in spite of it. You or your opponent will always have an upper-edge, encouraging the player to learn advanced chess strategies to complete the necessary plays to win. Your first couple games of Really Bad Chess might seem incredibly easy, but it's a trap—albeit one encouraging you to keep playing the game to get better. The free version of Really Bad Chess allows you to play against an AI in ranked or daily challenges, while an in-app purchase of $2.99 unlocks versus mode for co-op with another person and removes ads.

Ultraflow 2

Ultraflow 2 is the sequel to Ultraflow, the hit minimalist puzzle game from a few years ago. Much like the first title in the series, your goal is simple: get your puck to the target within a certain designated number of bounces. If you've played the original, you'll pretty much know what you're getting into with Ultraflow 2. The puzzles are really clever, and the game is designed so that you're gently eased into the difficulty curve, so it never feels like it's getting too difficult. The controls, too, feel phenomenal. You're just pushing your puck in the proper direction and hoping that you've done it correctly. Our favorite aspect of the controls is actually how you start the game over: two simple taps on the screen will reset the level, meaning you never have to pause the game, and you can do it at any time.

If you're not one for puzzle games for fear of being , there's nothing to worry about here either. The game will occasionally serve you hints if you failed a level too many times, meaning almost any player can feel clever and progress while playing the game. And unlike a game similar to Angry Birds, you feel a ton more control over your actions in pushing the puck. It never feels out of control or unpredictable. The game's been out since last year, but if you beat all 180 free levels, there's good news: in February, developer Ultrateam removed the in-app purchase to unlock the additional 180 levels. So whether you're a new or returning player to this one, you'll find plenty to do here.

Posted by William Sattelberg on July 18, 2017

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