The 12 Best Games For Android

Droid: It's not just a robot from a galaxy far, far away. It's also a good option for anyone who wants a mobile device unshackled by the closed operating systems used by certain other smartphone manufacturers.

Illustration by Sam Woolley

There are a bunch of great games available for Android phones and tablets, including lots of the best games that are also on Apple's iPhones and iPads. Below, our list of the 12 best games for Android.

Hitman games are famous for their open-ended sandboxes. At their best, they let you creep around a party or a museum, find your target, and creatively take them out. Hitman GO... doesn't really do that. What it does do, however, is offer a bunch of smart, tightly designed puzzles that gradually become more complicated as you go, but are never too complicated to finish off in the space of a single bus ride.

With its stripped down board-game aesthetic and abstract violence, it may not look much like a Hitman game, but it still manages to capture the series' meticulous, satisfying nature.

A Good Match For: Hitman fans, puzzle fiends, people who like imagining what it means when one board game piece "assassinates" another board game piece.

Not A Good Match For: Those looking for an actual portable Hitman game.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

In Super Mario Run, Mario runs forward of his own accord. Your primary job is to tap the screen to make him jump, which you'll have to do to help him collect the hundreds of coins strewn throughout each level. That may sound simple, but the creative designers at Nintendo have added a healthy amount of depth to that basic formula.

There are touch-pads that stop Mario in his tracks, multiple paths to each objective, and each level can be replayed several times with increasingly complex coin configurations. The more you put into Super Mario Run, the more you'll get out of it.

A Good Match For: Mario enthusiasts, fans of touchscreen platformers like Rayman Run, those who like replaying levels and perfecting them.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for a Mario game with traditional controls, people who only want to spend a buck or two on phone games, anyone who can see themselves blowing through each level once and never replaying them. Also, anyone who plays a lot on planes or subways: Super Mario Run requires a data connection to work.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

You're alone on an island, surrounded by puzzles. That's The Witness, an extremely complicated game that is really very simple. Some of the puzzles are obvious: They're on screens right in front of you, stacked in orderly rows. Other puzzles are much less easy to find. All of them will stymie and confound you, but over time you'll gradually dismantle them until the game's grand design is laid out in front of you like the workings of a finely crafted watch.

Some games make you level up your character to access new areas; this one makes you level up yourself. There are few more satisfying feelings in gaming than when you finally realise the solution to a puzzle in The Witness. With a click, a new door opens. The Witness carries over all its brilliance to mobile devices, and works well on the go.

A Good Match For: Puzzle fiends, people who like a challenge, anyone who likedMyst and wants to see what a modern evolution would be like.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone wanting action, the easily frustrated, people who don't like puzzles in games and generally just go look up the answers.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Purchase From: Google Play

Rymdkapsel is a real-time-strategy base-building game with a Tetris twist. It's simple. Place odd-shaped floors of different colours on a plane in outer space. Command little rectangular men to farm on or work in these spaces to generate resources to build more spaces and feed more workers. Rally the little men to defend the base against alien invaders every so often. Survive and repeat.

This is a minimalist game, a stripping down of the real-time-strategy genre that went baroque with visually and technically complex games like StarCraft and Company of Heroes. Rymdkapsel makes its more ornate competitors feel needlessly garnished.

A Good Match For: Gamers looking for a portable real-time-strategy game. There ain't much to choose from, and this one has the bonus advantage of being good.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want a lot of action or complexity. This is a mellow game with a single unit-type and a handful of rooms to create. Players won't be progressing through complex skill trees.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Google Play

Threes is basically a game about kissing. And maths. You slide a bunch of little numbers around a tiled pad, trying to get two like numbers next to each other. If you can do that, they will get friendly and combine to form a new, bigger number. Keep on moving, keep on combining and your score will climb and climb.

Threes is an immaculately designed game made all the more winning for its aesthetics. Charming, musical, and deviously addictive, it will become a new obsession.

A Good Match For: People looking for a simple puzzle game to play on a commute, anyone who likes competing with their friends for high scores.

Not a Good Match For: People hoping for a deep story, those who prefer sub-standard clones.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Study our tips for the game.

Purchase From: Google Play

Remember Magic: The Gathering? Sure you do. Blizzard's card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a lot like that, albeit streamlined and easier to pick up and play... and way more addictive. Hearthstone began on PC but seemed destined for mobile devices and boy oh boy does it fit right in.

After an hour or two you'll be building your own custom decks and challenging your friends and strangers to matches, either online or, if you've both got phones in the same room, in person. Each match is over in a matter of minutes, making it easy to fit into your everyday life. And while eventually you might feel tempted to start paying for the random card booster packs, you can wring a whole lot of enjoyment out of Hearthstone without paying a cent.

A Good Match For: Fans of card games like Magic: The Gathering, people who like Blizzard games, anyone looking for a fun (free!) online multiplayer game for iPhone.

Not a Good Match For: High-level perfectionists who don't want to pay extra, people hoping for an offline option. Hearthstone will do a good job of matching you up against random online players of a similar level, but if you want to build a deck full of rare, powerful cards, you'll have to sink in some cash.

Read our thoughts on the iPad version.

Watch it in action.

Download From: Google Play

The Room: Old Sins is just the latest in Fireproof Games' tremendous Roomseries. While it expands the "puzzles, except creepy" aesthetic of the first three games, it's really just the latest in a series that we think you should check out in its entirety.

The very first Room is just as fascinating as it was when it came out, and you can't go wrong downloading the entire collection. Old Sins builds on the sturdy foundation laid by The Room Three as you explore yet another spooky, puzzle-filled old house. Play this game, but really, play all of them.

A Good Match For: Puzzle fans, people who like occult stuff, those who liked any of the other Room games.

Not A Good Match For: The easily frustrated, anyone looking for an action game, those looking for a video game adaptation of a Tommy Wiseau film.

Watch us play the game, and read some initial impressions.

Purchase From: Google Play

By boat, by land, by airship, by giant mechanised city with legs, do you have what it takes to make it... Around the World in 80 Days? That's the question at the heart of 80 Days, a fantastical re-imagining of Jules Verne's famous novel that casts you as Passepartout, manservant to the gentleman Phileas Fogg.

As a valet, you are responsible for packing the bags, negotiating at markets, and planning the itinerary on your journey 'round the globe. Each trip will be different from the one before it, and thanks to the game's peppy writing and frequent surprise detours, each trip will be great deal of fun. 80 Days captures the joy and melancholy of travel with unusual wit and humanity.

A Good Match For: People who like interactive stories, geography buffs, fans of travel.

Not a Good Match For: Anyone looking for a low-investment, pick up/put down action game. Also, those who hate to read — the majority of 80 Days is text-based interactive fiction.

Watch it in action.

Purchase from: Google Play

Framed 2 replaces its predecessor Framed on this list for an obvious reason: it takes all of the original's ideas and expands on them, usually with terrific results. The basic game is the same: you're watching a series of mysterious, noir-inspired events play out from left to right as if in an animated comic book.

However, you have the power to rearrange the panels and cause events to play out differently. The puzzles start simple but quickly become more complicated, forcing you to think creatively and rearrange and even rotate panels on the fly to get each character through their scene safely. Framed 2 makes for a great pairing with the original, despite being the stronger and more fully realised game. Just play 'em both.

A GOod Match For: Puzzle fans, comics fans, goofy noir fans, Framed fans.

Not A Good Match For: Anyone looking for an involved story, people who prefer more action in their mobile games.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

You wouldn't think that a game that stitches together fishing and firearms would be a sublime mobile experience. Well, maybe you would think that... and if you did, you're right, so good for you. Everything about Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption is both as ridiculous and as great as the title suggests. You'll be playing, fishing and shooting for many hours to come.

A Good Match For: Anyone who's ever been bored with real-world fishing. All that quiet and waiting and patience that usually comes with the ol' bait-and-line pastime gets thrown overboard in Ridiculous Fishing. Thank God.

Not a Good Match For: Those who want tilt-free gameplay. You're going to look a little silly with all the turning and twisting your 21st century smartphone in pursuit of crazy levels of fish death. But it's worth it, by God.

Read our review.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

You're in a cold, dark room. First, you get a fire going. Then, you head out in search of wood. After that… well, things develop. To say more would be to spoil what makes A Dark Room special, but suffice it to say: This game grows far beyond its humble origins and the journey from here to there is an engrossing one.

A Good Match For: Fans of management/RTS games, anyone who likes a little mystery in their games.

Not a Good Match For: Anyone hoping for cutting-edge visuals or production values. A Dark Room is text-only, with no audio or visuals to distract you.

Purchase from: Google Play

Easily one of the most celebrated video games of all time, Final Fantasy Tactics feels right at home on a mobile phone. It's a sweeping saga, but individual turn-based battles unfold in manageable chunks, which makes it a fantastic commuting game.

The mobile port brings over the dialogue enhancements from the PSP version, but with none of the frame-rate issues. If you haven't played this classic, it's absolutely worth downloading it. And even if you have, it's never a bad time to play it again.

A Good Match For: Fans of turn-based games or tactics games, anyone who loved the original and wants a good way to replay it.

Not A Good Match For: Those who prefer simple mobile games. FFT is a complex and challenging game that requires learning and mastering a ton of different abilities, classes, and strategies.

Read our impressions of the port, and our retrospective about the game's legacy.

Watch it in action.

Purchase From: Google Play

How has this list changed? Read back through our update history:

Update 5/31/2018: Time for another mega-update. We've taken off Knightmare Tower, Drop 7, Framed, Super Hexagon, Alto's Adventure, Hoplite, and The Room 3 (all great games!) and replaced them with The Witness, Framed 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Mario Run, Hearthstone, A Dark Room, and The Room: Old Sins.

Update 2/18/2016: Now with video!

Update 2/11/2016: We've done another large round of cuts and swaps to bring our Android list close to its comparable cousin, the iPhone list. Hitman GO, 80 Days, Alto's Adventure, Framed and The Room Three all enter, while Angry Birds Star Wars II, Rayman: Fiesta Run, Plants vs. Zombies, Asphalt 8 and The Room Two say goodbye.

Update 11/26/2014: Again our Android list has gone far too long without an update. (Sorry!) We've remedied that by completely overhauling it, bringing it much closer to parity with the generally similar iPhone list.

Update 10/04/2013: Way past time for an update, so we're playing catch-up. We removed Arcane Legends, Muffin Knight, Fruit Ninja, Dead Space, and Angry Birds Star Wars. We've added Angry Birds Star Wars II, Reaper, Temple Run 2, The Room, Rymdkapsel, Super Hexagon, and Dots.

Update 12/25/2012: Angry Birds Space and Need for Speed Most Wanted, Arcane Legends and Hamlet all land onto the Bests.


Comments

    needs more Candy Crush

      Really it doesn't. The gameplay is old and the monetisation is abusive.

    Psh. REAL non-conformist rebels use Symbian.

    Fieldrunners 2 has been taking up alot of my time lately!

    The swarming effect is pretty cool.

    10,000,000

      Came here to post this. I finished it for the third time this morning.

      They also made a sequel called You Must Build a Boat.

        Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to check it out.

    And don't forget, now that you're a proud Android phone owner, it's your duty to post, "iOS only? Ugh. No sale," or similar on any app reviews for iOS only games! It's the only way devs will realize how high-value a market they're missing out on!

      As someone who only recently got in on the whole android smartphone thing, I actually am guilty of this...Though I only think it.

    Osmos HD is worth checking out.

      Osmos is one of the better puzzle games I've ever played. Thank you for reminding me that I need to reinstall it.

    Mini Motor Racing. I can't put that down. It's been a few years now.

    I'm personally not into action games like FPSs on mobile devices. I consider the touchscreen controls to be terrible for this sort of thing. Yes you could plug in a controller but you can also just play it on a console or something.
    I do however LOVE puzzle games. They are the perfect match for causal play and doing a few levels while waiting for a train etc...
    Cut the rope, Angry Birds etc. are great.

    Please ad Bad Piggies to the list. It's an awesome game where you get to build vehicles for the pigs to steal the Angry Birds' eggs. It's a fantastic contraption type game, And it's free.

      It's free? Is that "free" as in all the other "free" games on Android?

      (you want to play longer than 5 minutes? Oh I'm sorry, you'll have to wait until tomorrow)

    That list is a sad, sad indictment of smartphone gaming.

    No need to throw out my consoles just yet.

    Was I the only one who was amazingly unimpressed by this list?

    Needs more Alien Hive. Maybe instead of Triple Town which is similar and already enjoyed its time under the sun.

    No Kairosoft, crappy list

      Has there been a new Kairosoft game that feels new and improved? The last one I've played was around the F1/Horse Racing/Mall/Hot Springs one. Didn't play the ninja/adventure town ones.

        Sorry friend, my comment was from 2013, unfortunately Kairosoft isn't what they used to be. At best they're basically reskins of old games, which is okay if it's a game you liked. Unfortunately they do a lot of online, limited stamina free to play nonsense these days.

        Last edited 09/06/18 1:58 am

          Ah, I didn't notice the date thing :p

          It's a shame the direction they went. I followed the company so closely back, looking for each new game they'd release.

    Super Hexagon is excellent and worth getting

    Where are the poker games? With the sexy, sexy ladies? I wanna lose money!

    I know it's getting old, but real Racing 3 is very good for a racing sim on a handheld. Has a big roster of cars and also tracks - all licensed and not quite as accurate as Forza, but still very good all the same.

    My daily go-to games on Mobile are Last Day On Earth & Fire Emblem Heroes. The former in particular is the kind of grind-fest I can lose hours to without even spending a single dollar.

    Florence. Although best on a slightly larger screen.

    I think it should be mentioned The Witness is an NVIDIA Shield exclusive and therefore not compatible with 99.5% of Android users.
    I really wanted to try that out too... :(

    Been playing Girls' Frontline recently. It's like a better version of Kantai Collection.

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