The Best Offline Games for Android – April 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. Even one of this year’s biggest launches in mobile gaming, Fire Emblem: Heroes, has a huge online component attached to the game, and similar titles like Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius are quite similar in their online duel strategies.

Sometimes, though, you don’t just want a single-player 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 playable offline.

You’re in luck. I’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 LA, 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 an endless runner where you play as Alto, a snowboarding llama herder, on his quest to gather his llamas from running amok—and at the same time, shred some serious snow.

This game is absolutely gorgeous. I love the simple art style; it's almost material in terms of appearance. The music consists of smooth, relaxing piano and strings, and the whole package sets a lovely atmosphere. Bravo to the game designers, too, because the controls—or control, rather—are incredibly simple. Press on the screen to make Alto jump; hold down on the screen to keep him rotating and performing tricks while in the air. Tricks make Alto move faster, and allows him to crash through barriers like rocks you might miss while sledding through the countryside.

It's not a perfect game though. I love the presentation, but there isn't a whole lot of complexity to this game. Alto's Adventure basically uses the same progression system as every other endless runner before it—a level system designated by completing "challenges" like traveling a certain distance or collecting a specific number of llamas. In this sense, it's the visuals that set it apart from games like Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run. To me, this game is the perfect kind of game I'd want to play in the back of a long road trip. It'll take your mind off the hours, and relax you in ways other games on this list might not. And since it's free with ads, it's definitely worth keeping on your phone for when you have a few minutes during your lunch break.

And if you've already played Alto's Adventure, keep an eye out for Alto's Odyssey, coming this summer. Platforms have yet to be announced, but since the first game was such a hit on Android, we'd be shocked not to see the sequel end up on the platform sooner rather than later.

Welcome back to the list, DevolverDigital. Downwell is a shmup-platformer where the goal isn't to jump, but to fall, albeit with style and grace and machine-gun shoes. In this delightfully retro 8-bit game, your goal is to continue falling down the well you begin the game at, shooting and avoiding enemies and collecting loot and gems along the way. Downwell is one of those games that causal 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 even the most picky gamer satisfied for hours on end. And make no mistake, this game is difficult. You will either need to have lightning quick reflexes, or learn to adapt quickly, because you're falling down that well fast, and enemies do not stop coming. A pretty great upgrade system between levels and a ton of secrets and hidden rooms will keep you going for hours. Despite my distaste for virtual buttons, I actually found the game's controls to function pretty well; a testament to how good of a developer DevolverDigital truly is. Downwell does cost $2.99 in the Play Store, but contains no advertisements, and as far as I could tell, no in-app purchases. It's a decidedly-wicket retro arcade twitch shooter, and I think anyone looking for something with a bit more complexity than yet another endless runner will have fun with this one.
Duet is a game that, despite reaching over ten million downloads on the Play Store, I've somehow never heard of before I began looking into the best offline games for this article. So let me begin by saying the one word on my mind while I played through Duet: Wow. This game absolutely blew me right out of the water. I love the presentation, the graphics are simple and beautiful (the splatter of paint along the barriers when one of your small dots crash - it's the little things in this game). The music, too, is lovely, but it's pretty much the exact opposite of what's offered by Alto's Adventure. Whereas Alto offers a relaxing, if not semi-complex endless runner accompanied by a beautiful skyline and soft piano music, Duet is a cold, harsh reality, with deep techno/electronic beats guiding you through a maze of fast-moving, often-rotating lines of doom. All of this makes for an experience that essentially represents the video game equivalent of drinking an energy drink: it makes you jittery and and a bit stir-crazy. This game oozes personality, and the presentation sucked me right in, but the gameplay was compelling too. Levels are presented in short, easy-to-accomplish goals, but with enough challenge that, by the time level three rolls around, you're gonna be dying a lot before you move on to the next level. I will say, ad breaks are a bit longer than I'd like them to be. 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 rolling. It takes me out of that caffeine-like rush, and at the same time, out of my zone. While I'd hate to encourage the over-usage of ads, if you're enjoying the game, I'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
If you're looking for budget or free ad-supported games, you'll want to look elsewhere: Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, is a full-price, $11.99 purchase on Google Play. That might sound well out of your budget, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And for this classic SRPG, you absolutely get what you pay for. 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 Fire Emblem, first released to the United states in 1998 on the original PlayStation. Though it didn't initially sell well, it was eventually remade into FFT: War of the Lions for the PSP, with the game remade in widescreen mode and featuring a new translation to replace the original. The game has become a cult-classic both in Japan and the United States, praised for both its tactical gameplay and its 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, you're getting a full-price console experience from a AAA developer for only $12. Sounds like a pretty good deal, but since it is a port, how well does it play on touchscreen devices? Well, surprisingly, not too bad. It's not the best-controlled game on this list, but overall, the game feels pretty good. You tap on the 3D-based grid system to control your party, rotate the map using arrows along the side of the display, and use swipe gestures to select options throughout the menu. It's actually a pretty slick system, and a good compromise between traditional video game menus and tapping on displays. And the gameplay, by the way, holds up. It's a classic SRPG, and if you're a fan of that genre and you haven't checked out FF Tactics, you're doing yourself a disservice. This game became a cult classic for the reason, after all. It's challenging, but not too overly difficult, and there's hours and hours of content and levels to explore. The story is still satisfying as ever, and even after all these years, the cut-scenes look absolutely stunning rendering on my Nvidia Shield Tablet. If $12 is a bit too expensive for a mobile game, that's understandable. But this is a full-fledged console Final Fantasy game, and one of the best Square Enix offers on the Play Store. And if you're more of a traditionally RPG fan, check out Final Fantasy VI, also available for purchase. You won't be disappointed.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition
Look. We know what Minecraft is. You know what Minecraft is. Everyone and their mother knows what Minecraft is. The game is a bonefide phenomenon, and has been for over half a decade now. That's nothing to shake your head at, either. Mincraft's continued success is owed to plenty of factors: positive word of mouth, a buzzing community, popular Let's Players streaming the game constantly, and of course, the joy of assembly virtual Legos. But just because Minecraft is old news doesn't mean you should turn your head away from Minecraft: Pocket Edition if you're looking for a fun time-waster. For one, the portable version of the game has seen constant updates since its launch in beta years ago, bringing it ever closer to its PC-based counterpart in terms of features. A recent update even added the end-game portion of Minecraft, The End, finally bringing one of the most commonly-requested areas to the mobile game. And although we're covering offline games in this article, that doesn't mean we should discount its ability to work in tandem with the Windows 10 counterpart. That's right; you and a friend can get together in your own virtual worlds to build, no matter whether you're playing on Android or Windows 10. That's pretty cool. When it comes down to it, you know what Minecraft is. It's either for you or not for you, but if you enjoy the game and you haven't plunged down the $6.99 for the Pocket Edition, you should do so without reservation. Even this virtual D-pad-hater was won over by the sheer novelty of exploring a large, randomly-generated world in their pocket. Without having to worry about the controls or the updates, this one is worth having on your phone at all times.
Pocket Mortys
Looking for Pokemon on Android? Well, unless you're looking for Pokemon GO, you probably aren't going to find it. But what if I told you Adult Swim not only made a great Pokemon-clone, they made it in conjunction with one of the best adult-animated shows in years? Would you believe me? If you've played Pocket Mortys before, I bet you would. Pocket Mortys is a free (with in-app purchases and ads) game set within the universe of Rick and Morty. You play as Rick, the titular drunken-Doc-Brown-esque main character of the show. You and Morty enter the multiverse and, to no one's surprise, Rick begins collecting other universes' Mortys with his Mortypad (think Pokedex) in order to battle enemy Ricks. 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—plus, 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. If you're still not sold on the wicked-fun Punch Quest offers, the game's free supported by ads and in-app purchases. And did I mention you can ride laser-shooting-dinosaurs in this game? 'Cuz you can.
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. In some ways, the game is almost like golf, if golf had a minimalist line-based art style and a cool techno-beat backing the track. 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. My favorite control aspect 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 the type who isn't into puzzles because you get stumped a bit too easy, there's nothing to worry about here either. The game will occasionally serve you hints, if you've failed a level too many times, meaning almost any player can feel clever while playing the game. And unlike something like 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 April 14, 2017

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