Sorry, but mobile gaming is the biggest player in the video game market. In 2018, it accounted for almost half of the industry’s global sales. Smartphone games used to exist separately from console and PC titles, but in the context of titles like Fortnite, all this is a bit blurry. In our selection, you will find several games available on your home consoles and personal computers. Still, most of them sing on your smartphone, and the fact that you can play them anywhere compensates for all the other disadvantages. Whether it’s Android or iOS, here are some important games to start with. This list is updated regularly – this time, we welcome Pocket City to the flock.
80 Days is an interactive fiction game (think, choose your adventure) based on the Jules Verne novel Around the World In Eighty Days. You play as a faithful servant of Phileas Fogg, tasked with helping her master on a journey from London to London… London. However, this is not the Victorian world of the original book: the game starts with an underwater train ride from London to Paris. After that, you will ride all sorts of steampunk-inspired creations as you try to circumnavigate the globe.
Of course, you will make decisions along the way. With limited money and luggage space, any decision is difficult: should you pay a large fee to take an earlier train? Should you sell your coat to make room for a schedule? Are you talking to the train guard for more information, or are you grooming your master’s beard? The sheer number of choices would be overwhelming were it not for the game’s excellent writing and its upcoming replayability. There is no such thing as a perfect journey, and with nearly 750,000 words written for the game, you could play eighty times for 80 days and never have the same experience.
The witness puts you on a strange island full of riddles and questions. You can only solve puzzles on the island, collect clues and try to get home. The more you dig up, the more you appreciate how damn well-designed this is – unlike any puzzle game you’ve played before. Also, there aren’t many games that make you feel as smart as The Witness.
Playing a threesome is like being wrapped in a warm towel after a hot bath on a rainy day. It’s captivating, with tile-swiping and number-adding gameplay that makes the minutes vanish into thin air, and besides, it’s adorable. The number tiles have personalities and backstories, and they make adorable cooing sounds to encourage players as they swipe away. Threes is the original tile-based adding game, with a handful of popular imitators introduced after its launch, but none of them can compete with the style, strategy, and depth that this game offers. Oh, and amiability, of course. JB
Reigns: Her Majesty
This narrative strategy borrows a Tinder-like interface that allows you to flip through decision cards and queries from your subjects. Every decision affects different aspects of your kingdom, including finances, church, public affection, and the military. If your score gets too low or too high in any of these topics, you will be killed (usually in a brutal way) and start again as the new ruler. It may sound like a simple balancing act, but things don’t always go the way you expect – and you have to learn your lesson in the next generation. Despite the simple controls, the world of Reigns has a strange, wonderful story that will enchant you. And since progress is made swipe-by-swipe, it is ideal for killing time.
Pocket City is best described as a reduced SimCity 2000, with the same basic electricity/water system and the balancing of residential, commercial, and industrial zones. Part of the simulation will be discarded or simplified. However, you will still manage crime, traffic, pollution, education, and the like and expand your city to fill a gigantic map.
We’d slam Pocket City in another timeline as a blatant rip-off. But EA has treated its series so badly that this game – which costs $4 upfront but doesn’t include microtransactions or advertising – feels necessary. If Cities: Skylines represents what EA should have done with the SimCity series, Pocket City is exactly what a mobile version of the classic city-building game should be.
Both Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 deserve a place on this list. The casual puzzle games have a unique and really stunning art style inspired by the Dutch graphic designer Maurits Cornelis (M.C.) Escher. The graphics are also tied to the gameplay, which revolves around twisting and turning geometrically impossible structures. It’s a clever concept that is slowly getting into trouble with a subtle, dialogue-free plot and a soothing soundtrack by Stafford Bawler, Obfusc, and Grigori. You can complete each game in a single session – perfect for a long train ride or an evening in bed.
Life Is Strange
Dontnod’s legendary episodic adventure has appeared on the main consoles and PCS and is now available on iOS and Android devices. The reduced aesthetics of the game have certainly seen better days, but Life Is Strange was never about realistic skin textures: it’s a story about friendship and trying to figure out where you belong. The touchscreen controls are cumbersome, but this is a critically acclaimed series where you must play through them completely. And if the controls are too frustrating – it’s still available to play elsewhere.
The journey is an iconic, award-winning game that first appeared on PlayStation 3 – something it shares with another recommendation, Life Is Strange. However, this game is harder to classify, and you can find it almost spiritual. No, I can’t believe I just said that, either.
You play as a hooded figure heading toward the top of a distant mountain. Occasionally on your trip, you will meet another nomad who can communicate only in melodic tones – you can only do the same. These are other human players making their journey, so expect unpredictable behavior from them when jumping and gliding through deserts, underwater tombs, and snowfields. There are no really big puzzles to solve or monsters to kill, and the journey is short – expect to finish the whole thing in just a few hours once you know what to do and where to go. But what a ride it is. Remember to plug in your headphones to make the most of the game’s rousing scores.
Fortnite Battle Royale
Fortnite is a cultural phenomenon that is responsible for popularizing a new shooter genre and doing it in a way that has millions playing on mobile devices, PCs and game consoles like the Switch – you will see that this particular game appears in several of our lists. It all started with a simple idea: survival. (Actually, it started with a tower defense-like game where you built a fortress to protect human survivors from zombies, but hey, it’s evolved.) Fortnite has a low Barrier to entry (It’s free!), and the sheer momentum behind the fact that everyone is playing it makes resistance futile. Parachute into the field, grab supplies, weapons and ammunition, build a defensive shelter if you want, and make it to the end. Sounds simple, but the best game ideas are. PUBG, Apex and the rest have a tough battle ahead of them.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is just as good on iPhone and Android devices as on PC. This tactical role-playing game involves humans, giants, centaurs, and the sinister scum, with each tribe capable of different attacks, abilities, and tactical flourishes. Like the gloomy plot, it is a tough tactical role-playing game that rewards careful thought. Supplemented with a mature, illustrated visual style, rousing music, and voiced characters, some difficult decisions await you as you lead your caravan and your band of warriors through the North…ish world and try to survive the apocalypse. This game is all about the journey, not the destination.
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