The 25 Best Offline Games for Android to Play without Wi-Fi [February 2020]
It’s no secret that online multiplayer games have long ruled over the Google Play Store. Games like Clash of Clans and Mobile Strike are extremely, immensely popular—not to mention massively financially successful. One of this year’s biggest launches in mobile gaming for example, Fire Emblem Heroes, has a huge online component attached to the game and requires your phone to be online while you play, 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 these persistent online requirements are typically acceptable, sometimes you don’t want an online experience—you want a game that can be played while fully, completely offline. Whether you’re in the backseat for a long car ride, travelling on a plane lacking WiFi, or simply tired of running up your mobile data cap, there are times where the only games available to play are games with fully offline modes.
Well, 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, fully offline mode. There are 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 a terrible 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 today.
Devolver Digital’s award-winning Reigns is difficult to explain, but once you figure out the main draw of the game, it’s a perfect game for offline play.
In Reigns, you begin the game as a king, the ruler of a kingdom where you have to make decisions for the good of the people and for your own rule. If any of the four metrics used to keep track of your own kingship fall to zero—faith, well-being, defense, and finances—you’ll be booted from your position as king by poisoning, beheading, banishment, or any other number of terrible outcomes. To control your country, you’ll be presented with cards that give you a choice, in a similar fashion to the swiping mechanism we’ve seen in Tinder. You swipe left or right on the incoming cards to make your decisions, typically either answering with a yes or no answer with occasionally more complex choices appearing within the game. The key to Reigns: when you die, a new king takes over, and you begin playing as the new ruler.
The game has a dry sense of humor—the deaths, especially, can be pretty funny—while the gameplay is far deeper than it might seem initially. With every swipe you make, your actions have consequences throughout the kingdom, and the health of your rule is represented by four diagrams at the top of the screen. Each decision represents year of rule, and you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make your reign last until your natural death. Ensuring that each category is as high as can be is the key to winning, but it isn’t quite so simple. Raising one factor in your kingdom almost always lowers another—growing your army, for example, will undoubtedly spend some of your savings, and trying to pinch pennies can cause your kingdom to be invaded or your people to starve. If any of these factors hits zero, it’s your head—sometimes literally. Thankfully, the game allows you to check what attributes each action will affect by slowly sliding the card to either direction.
Luckily, it’s just a fictional monarchy, so there’s no need to worry about your actual head being on the chopping block. Because of the sliding mechanic, the controls feel simple and intuitive, a game anyone can pick up without much confusion. It’s a truly interesting game, and we haven’t seen anything else like it on the Play Store. If you’re tired of endless runners or console ports, you might want to look into Reigns. At $2.99 with no ads or in-app purchases, it’s a great price for a fantastic offline game.
If you already beat the first Reigns game from Devolver Digital, you can pick up the brand new Reigns: Her Majesty, a brand new follow-up to the original Reigns in which you fulfill the role of queen in a kingdom undergoing a brand new renaissance era. With you as the head of state, you must guide your country through strife and danger to success, making the correct political decisions while simultaneously managing personal relationships and suitors. Reigns: Her Majesty is available for the same $2.99 asking price on Google Play, and if you’ve already played the hell out of the original, there’s no reason not to pick this one up.
There are plenty of games on this list with download counts in the millions, but it’s worth using the runner-up position to highlight a smaller game that we think is well worth your time
Unlike most of the other games on this list, we’re willing to bet you haven’t heard of Solitairica. It’s one of our newest games to be featured here, and since we posted about the game back in April, it’s finally reached over 50,000 downloads on the Play Store. Solitairica is a completely new twist on the card game genre that Hearthstone currently holds power over, and while we don’t foresee Solitarica overtaking the mass popularity of Blizzard’s online trading card game anytime soon, there’s enough going on here that Solitairica is more than worth the download to check the game out for yourself.
Solitairica combines elements from both solitaire and turn-based RPGs to make something completely new. Instead of using the gameplay we’ve seen previously in Windows 95 versions of the solo card game, Solitairica takes the basic functions of that game and uses them to create an entirely new form of gameplay. In Solitairica, you battle enemies one at a time, taking them on in one-sided card duels. Your goal is simple: eliminate all the cards on the field, similar to the original task in Solitaire. To do this, you begin by using the face-up card in your deck as a starting point. For instance, let’s say you’ve been dealt a 6 as your starting card. The available cards in front of you consist of a Queen, a Jack, a 4, a 7, and a 2. Tapping the 7 pulls the card into your hand, eliminating it from the field, and reveals a 6 where the 7 previously sat. You can tap that 6, too—unlike in traditional solitaire, you can go up or down in numbers here and there’s no red or black suits to match.
Once you’ve hit a dead-end, with no cards to draw from on the field, you can flip a card over from your deck to try again at eliminating additional cards. At the same time, your enemy can also draw an effect card, causing turmoil or some kind of negative attack to hit the field—after all, this is a duel. The attack might damage your hit-points, or add additional cards to the table. Anything it can do to keep you from winning, the enemy cards will attempt to try. Fortunately, you aren’t completely unarmed. When you gather cards from the table, you also fuel your abilities, which allow you to add additional defense, attack and eliminate cards on the table, add hit-points back to your health, and even see what card you’re going to get next. These abilities get even more complicated as you progress and level through the game, and each duel gets more and more challenging as you progress towards the final boss.
Solitairica was one of our favorite mobile games of 2017, and continues to be great two years after its launch. The complex card game mechanics are perfect for wasting time in the back of a car or on a plane, and the thrill in seeing your opponents eliminated as you progress through the game is excellent. The card designs look clean and lovely, and as a free download, there’s no reason not to grab the app. Definitely check this one out.
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. A sequel, Alto’s Odyssey, is also available on Android.
Before Telltale Games shut down, it was nothing if not an established game developer on PC and consoles. Originally known for developing Sam and Max Save the World in 2006 and its assorted sequels, Telltale achieved worldwide success with The Walking Dead in 2011. Since then, the developer has published numerous comic-style episodic games for various recurring series, covering everything from Game of Thrones to Borderlands and even Minecraft with its Story Mode adaptation. As with any series, some of these entries are stronger than others, with Tales from the Borderlands often considered one of the best games from the company ever released, and Minecraft: Story Mode largely considered to be skippable by anyone who isn’t already a fan of Minecraft. With Batman: The Telltale Series, Telltale takes on one of their biggest games yet, working through the Batman mythos in an all-new tale ported to Android.
In The Telltale Series, you take control of the Caped Crusader, faced with an all new dilemma: his deceased father’s legacy has come into question. As Bruce Wayne prepares to face the growing accusations surrounding his family line and possible collusion with the Falcone crime organization, he’ll also have to deal with the Penguin’s return to Gotham. Meanwhile, the Children of Arkham gang, now led by the mysterious Lady Arkham, grows larger by the day. What makes Batman: The Telltale Series work so well, outside of its twisty and unexpected story, is how it truly puts you into the shoes of the World’s Greatest Detective. Instead of fist-fighting enemies, you’ll solve puzzles, look for clues, and generally perform the tasks of Batman in his everyday life as you make your way through this touch-friendly point-and-click adventure. If you already finished Batman: The Telltale Series, you’ll want to check out the sequel, Batman: The Enemy Within.
To some, Bouncy Hoops may seem like an odd addition. Bouncy Hoops takes its controls and inspiration straight from Flappy Bird, the hottest game of 2014 and a complete afterthought in current mobile games. Despite coming years later, 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.
Portal has been largely dormant since 2011, following the release of the critically-acclaimed Portal 2, a game that built on the puzzle thrills of the original entry with brand-new puzzles, a new story that went deeper into the world of Portal and Half-Life, and a co-op mode that allowed for split-screen play, making for a great experience that helped to make Portal 2 one of the best games of the year it came out. When Bridge Constructor Portal was announced near the end of 2017, combining the gameplay of both Bridge Constructor and Portal, the fanbase of the latter game took to disliking the trailer out of sheer spite. You shouldn’t, though, because while Bridge Constructor Portal may not be a continuation of the original series, it’s a ton of fun, and well worth playing on your phone on long car trips.
The gameplay is simple enough, combining the physics engine of Bridge Constructor with the puzzle elements of Portal to create a game where you need to move trucks from one end of the map to the other, all while using portals to finish your task, and while being yelled at by GLaDOS, voice once again by Ellen McLain. The game includes three modes, including construction mode, test mode, and vehicle mode to help solve the solution to the puzzle at hand. While the Bridge Constructor elements people have come to expect from the game, but the true start of the show are the puzzle elements you might expect from Portal. The game requires you to use bridges, portals, buttons to open doors and perform other actions, avoid turrets just like in the actual game, and even includes propulsion and repulsion gels and, of course, launching pads. Bridge Constructor Portal is well worth the money to play the game. For just $4.99, you unlock an excellent mobile strategy and puzzle game that will keep you busy for hours on end.
Card Thief, like Solitairica , is a card-based role playing game, the sequel to fan-favorite Card Crawl, and of our favorite 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 Solitairica 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.
Color Switch has a specific kind of addictive quality we very rarely see outside of a few notable titles. The moment you begin playing this, you’ll likely think of a game like Super Hexagon, where you controlled a small triangle trying to navigate through a fast-moving series of hexagons closing in on you, or perhaps you’re more familiar with Flappy Bird, a game where tapping and the timing of obstacles became a must-play style of platformer. In Color Switch, you take control of a small colored ball that aligns with one of four predetermined colors. Once you tap on the screen, you must tap repeatedly to raise the ball, stopping only to have the ball fall or to make it retain a relatively-stable position on the screen. In your way of ascending up the display, you’ll find rotating circles, triangles, lines, and other objects made up of different colors, only one of which matches the color of your ball. Using exact timing, you must manage to move the ball up the display to make its way through colors matching the ball’s own, as touching a non-matching color will cause your ball to explode—and your game to end.
It might sound simple, but the game is deceptively difficult. Hitting a high score on the game will fill you with an immense feeling of pride and success, but dying due to a cheap shot or a barely-missed entrance will cause you to hit play all over again. For extra fun, find some friends to compete with in real life next to each other. When one of you finally beats the high score of the other, you’ll be able to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment like no other. Color Switch is basically designed to take up the mantle from the abandoned Flappy Bird and its clones, and it does a fantastic job. Definitely grab this one for your offline collection.
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 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 lot 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.
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. For those unfamiliar 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.
It’s tough to translate a retro RPG from the 1980s or 1990s to mobile platforms, so full credit to Square Enix for figuring out a way to translate the entire saga of Final Fantasy XV to mobile platforms in 2018, a game that takes the best elements of the 2016 action RPG and translates them into a game that can be played in full on your smartphone or tablet. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is a demake of the game of the same name, featuring new graphics for less powerful devices, that gives players the full-featured FFXV experience on their phones. Of course, a 100-hour RPG would be nearly unplayable on mobile devices, so Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition also manages to remove additional storylines that aren’t necessary to tell the tale of Prince Noctis and his friends. The game also simplifies combat to make it something that can properly work on a mobile device.
However, outside of those changes mentioned above, Pocket Edition gives players a full Final Fantasy experience right on their phones. Players who have journeyed through the world of FFXV will likely find the journey through Pocket Edition to be familiar. Just as we saw with the original title, Pocket Edition opens on the flash-forward through time, showing Noctis and his friends in a time of peril, before flashing back to the quest given to Noctis by his father.
Despite the downgraded graphics, the voice acting is still here, and still fantastic. Anyone who has spent time in the world of Final Fantasy XV will find themselves right at home. While Square Enix often offers expensive mobile ports of their games (or original free-to-play titles that are difficult to actually play without dropping tens of dollars, if not more), Pocket Edition gives you the first chapter for free, the second and third for just $.99, and the remaining chapters for $3.99 (or a one-time purchase for all content for $19.99). It’s not the cheapest game in the world, but it’s the best balance between paid and demo applications, and it’s the cherry on top of a mobile port done right.
First, we should note that Florence is not a game for those who prefer their games action-oriented, or don’t care for plot-heavy video games. Florence comes closer to TellTale’s episodic adventures or, perhaps more fittingly, games like Gone Home and Edith Finch. Hardcore gamers might call the game a new entry in the “walking simulator” genre, but indeed, you don’t actually do all that much walking here. Instead, Florence plays like a cross between a living, moving graphic novel and a WarioWare entry. The first chapter of the game, “Adult Life,” puts on full display what you should expect from the game, introducing players to the titular character and following her throughout a full day of her life. As you play the game, you’ll be asked to perform minor tasks on your phone screen to continue the narrative. Tapping on alarm clocks, brushing Florence’s teeth, and so on, helping to create a sense of interaction within the game.
As you continue through the story, you’ll learn more details about Florence’s childhood, her relationship with her mother, and how every event in her life helped to push her to where she is when the game begins. Everything changes, however, when Florence meets a cello player named Krish near the end of the first act of the game, and suddenly, Florence becomes a heartwarming—and possibly heartbreaking tale—about relationships, about how the people around us can change us for good, and how to become a better person by working together with your loved ones. Florence isn’t long, and it’s not designed for someone looking for endless play. The entire game takes about an hour at most to accomplish, but it’s an unforgettable experience. For just a couple bucks, it’s absolutely worth experiencing this interactive graphic novel, a story about love, creativity, and the human spirit. Florence is affecting, touching, and a gorgeous story well worth your time.
In Getting Over It, an Android port of the hit PC game released in December 2018, your main goal is simple: reach the top of the mountain in a side-scrolling platform. There’s only one problem: you’re stuck in a cauldron, with only your arms and a hammer to help you up into the world. Oh, and by the way, this game is from Bennett Foddy, the developer of QWOP, the viral hit sensation that had everyone screaming in frustration for how difficult the game it to control. That’s what you’ll see here too, as you use your finger to swing the hammer around the world, latching onto objects while working through trial and error to navigate the world and climb the mountain. Needless to say, the game gets frustratingly hard very, very quickly, and if you don’t have a solid sense of patience, you’re probably going to find the game infuriatingly difficult to play.
While you work through the game world, a voice will begin talking to you early on. Those dulcet pipes are Bennett himself, effectively playing a character as the designer of the game. Foddy discusses various topics while you’re playing his game, typically focusing on a number of philosophical ideas about what you’re trying to do and the various ineffectiveness of it all—not to mention your major failures. The entire idea comes off as something of a joke, but there’s a real message here, narrowing down to Foddy’s love of older, extremely difficult titles (as well as a 2002 Czech game Sexy Hiking, on which Getting Over It is based on).
The gameplay, as described, is simple enough: you make your way around the mountain, attempting to climb over your various minutes, hours, or days playing the game (the game can be completed in under two minutes if you’re good enough; you probably aren’t). No matter how calm you try to enter the game, you’ll likely feel enraged at certain points, especially if Foddy’s philosophical musings manage to get under your skin. At $4.99, Getting Over It is an innovative title, something absolutely worth playing for its unique outlook on games as a whole, for its high level of challenge, and for the sense of success you’ll feel when you hit the top of the mountain. Just try not to break your phone in the process.
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.
Suggesting Minecraft at this point might be a bit of a cliche, but the game is a phenomenon for a reason. Everyone knows what Minecraft is, which makes describing the game both challenging and a breeze. For nearly a decade, Minecraft has entertained everyone, from children to adults, boys and girls alike, for its survival-based gameplay and it’s creation tools that make building virtual things exciting. The mobile version of Minecraft (formerly Minecraft: Pocket Edition) started as a testing-only project from Mojang in 2011, with a limited featureset and as an exclusive for the Sony Xperia Play, a phone that crossed Sony’s mobile efforts with their Playstation line of products.
When the game finally came to Android, it was only available in an early alpha build. At the time, the game lacked basic features of the traditional desktop game, including the Survival mode that most players use when playing the game traditionally. Slowly but surely, the game rolled out updates and features, pacing well behind the desktop version of Minecraft but nevertheless becoming a more viable option for players who couldn’t play the standard game. It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when the game finally added the endgame called The End, thus upgrading the game to version 1.0 and finally becoming a standard port of the title.
Under the Bedrock Edition, Minecraft on Android can be played on the same servers as almost every other copy of the game, allowing multiple people to interact on a single hosted server and generally improving how the game plays. It also introduces the Marketplace, a one-stop shop for skins and other themes for the game, allowing you to share your content between different versions of the game. Ultimately, the important takeaway here is that Minecraft for Android has never been quite as powerful as it is now, and recent updates have made it one of the most enjoyable and flexible games on Android for both online and offline enjoyment. If you’re a fan of the title and haven’t yet picked up a copy of the game for mobile, you should absolutely do that. The novelty of exploring a large, randomly generated world that can fit in your pocket is enough of a reason to do so today.
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, Monument Valley 2, is also available on Android for the same price of $3.99. If you already played the first Monument Valley and you’re hungry for more from this team of designers, you’ll want to check it out.
HAL Laboratory is best known for their work in gaming with, of all companies, Nintendo. Founded back in 1980, the Japanese gaming company has been a mainstay on every Nintendo console since the Nintendo Entertainment System, helping to create games like Kirby, Mother (also known as Earthbound in the United States), and Super Smash Bros., the classic Nintendo-themed party fighting game for the Nintendo 64. While HAL Labs does remand independent of Nintendo, they tend to stick to creating games for Nintendo’s lineup of consoles, rarely venturing outside of their partner’s line of products. Part Time UFO represents the developer’s first crack at a mobile title for Android and iOS, and it’s finally available in North America for English-speaking gamers everywhere.
The basic gameplay is simple: you control a tiny UFO designed a single a claw, similar to what you’d find in a claw machine at your local arcade, which can be used to move and pick up objects of all sizes and shapes. The controls are just as simple as the gameplay loop: you hold your phone in portrait mode, moving your small ship around the screen with a virtual joystick and using a claw button to drop the claw on boxes, fish, tools, and more. Once you have them with you, you can hit the claw again to release the object onto wherever you need it moved. The missions are timed, though retrieving and moving the correct objects scores you some bonus time, depending on the level.
The game starts out easy, but grows progressively harder, adding additional objectives like certain height requirements. Overall, it’s hard not to be won over by Part Time UFO’s charm, even as the difficulty begins to rise. While Nintendo has their own collection of mobile titles out on Android, it’s Part Time UFO that truly feels like a continuation of what the company sets out to do.
Fans of Nintendo and Game Freak’s Pokemon series were ecstatic in 2016, 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 four returns sometime in the future.
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 its 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 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.
We get it. Everyone and their mother has played Solitaire sometime in their life, either with real physical cards or, more likely, while wasting the day away at work on a classic Windows 95 computer. Solitaire is perfect as a mobile game for wasting away some time with while you’re on the go, whether it’s to work or to a friend’s house on a Saturday night. The game is perfectly designed for smartphones, with most games only taking up ten minutes or less of your time, and the card interface able to be perfectly transitioned to a mobile platform like Android. Unfortunately, most Solitaire ports on both iOS and Android are filled with advertisements, often loading an ad every single time you refresh the game. Not so with Solitaire: Decked Out, a completely ad-free port of Solitaire that manages to make what doesn’t work on most other ports of the classic single-player card game and completely make it work.
With a cartoonish style and cute sound effects, Decked Out puts every other Solitaire port on Android to shame, with the only non-free aspect of the app being some of the skins and card packs for the entire game. Plenty of these card decks can be unlocked by playing the game repeatedly, and considering the entire game is free outside of these entirely cosmetic packages that go towards supporting the development team, it really makes it feel light years above some of the other games on this list like Injustice 2. If you’re a fan of Solitaire, don’t sleep on this one—it’s the perfect offline app to keep you busy no matter where you are.
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 2016, 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.
Directly inspired by Spelunky, classic SNES RPG Secret of Mana, and the developer’s own game Mage Gauntlet, Wayward Souls is a hack-and-slash top-down action-adventure game that tasks you with making your way through a randomly-generated dungeon that forces you to tap quickly, dodge, and use special attacks that activate your battle system, with both offensive and defense blocks. At $6.99, the game’s pretty expensive compared to the rest of this list, but you get a lot for the price. This game is near-endlessly playable, with the same roguelike battle and level systems we’ve seen placed in games like The Binding of Isaac and the aforementioned Spelunky.
In the game, you play one of six heroes, each with different abilities, powers, and controls, allowing you to change-up the gameplay on a whim. As you battle through the arena, using the left side of the screen to move with an invisible joystick and the right side of the screen to unleash powerful attacks. Three of the characters are locked at the start of the game, though without a single ad or in-app purchase, the characters are instead unlocked through the actual gameplay. There are 13 full area types, including areas that have scaled difficulty settings that allow you to face more and more difficult challenges as you make your way through the game. With so much content, constant updates adding new settings, game modes, and more, plus additional features coming soon in the form up controller updates and boss health bars, this is a must-have game in 2019.
While not the newest game in the long-running turn-based tactical game, XCOM: Enemy Within is the reworked expansion to 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a reboot of the popular tactical series and a great addition to your gaming library, especially on mobile. For those unfamiliar with the series, XCOM takes place in a world where aliens have invaded Earth, and as the commander of XCOM, or Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, you must begin leading your organization against the global hostile invasion, despite being far worse off in terms of technology and weaponry than your opponents. As you battle your way through each level, you’ll have to make dangerous calls to fight against enemies far more powerful than you.
For those unfamiliar with the gameplay of the XCOM series, it’s another take on the popular tactical genre, somewhat similar to games like Final Fantasy: The War of the Lions, but with a focus on team-based composition and using percentages to assume whether or not your soldiers will hit a specific target. Like many of the games from this genre, XCOM: Enemy Within features permadeath, meaning your characters will stay dead when murdered in the game, possibly causing you to reload from an older save if you want to save every individual hero on your team. The game also manages to work well on your phone, with a friendly touch interface that has your finger used like a mouse cursor on a PC. Enemy Within, as the expansion to Enemy Unknown, takes the original base game and adds all new features, abilities, weapons, and more to create the ultimate XCOM experience on your mobile phone or tablet, and considering you can take this PC and console game anywhere you go for just short of $10, it’s a great addition to your collection.