Mobile gaming has progressed a long way over the past five years, especially on Android devices. Once seen as the poor relation of gaming and a convenient but sub-standard alternative to PCs or consoles, mobile games are rapidly becoming as good as or better than anything else on the market.
Similarly, the perceived gulf that once existed between iOS and Android has all but disappeared. That’s down in no small part to the efforts developers have put into developing games especially with the Android ecosystem in mind, as opposed to porting preexisting games across and “making them work” as best they can.
What follows is more than a simple review of the top Android games – you can take a look at any one of 100 other sites for that. Instead, we consider the most impressive game apps that provide a natural user experience and give the feel that they just wouldn’t be the same on any other platform.
Monument Valley II
From the moment of its release in 2014, the original version of Monument Valley won hearts and minds with its strange world, consisting of impossible objects and bizarre optical illusions. The sequel continues the tradition, and while the essential gameplay is similar, the game is more story-driven than its predecessor, containing a mother named Ro and her daughter instead of the single character of Princess Ida in Monument Valley.
Physics and controls are simple, logical and easy to grasp, and while it will cost around $5, most players feel it is well worth it. The game is refreshing for its lack of advertisements or in app purchases. Some additional downloadable content is available, but it is neither essential nor intrusive.
If you grew up in the 1970s or 80s, you probably remember receiving one of those game compendiums as a Christmas gift. They used to contain everything from chess to checkers to mysterious games that nobody had ever heard of. Playamo is the modern-day equivalent, aimed at those who still enjoy a big choice of games, all these years later.
Now we all know there are dozens of online casinos with Android apps out there in cyberspace, and that as a general rule, they offer similar slots games and table games. So what makes this one stand out? For one thing, it is the sheer choice of gaming experiences on offer under one virtual roof. At the last count, the app provided access to an incredible 1,115 different casino-style games. These include more than 500 slot games, as well as all the familiar and popular table games like roulette, blackjack baccarat and so on, in various different versions.
For another, this is an app that is truly forward-thinking. It feels as if it is designed with mobile users at the forefront of its mind, and what’s more, it is seeking to future-proof itself with its cryptocurrency focus. The site also has a range of introductory and bonus offers, which have made it a firm favorite among online gamblers and gamers, despite it being a relatively new entrant in this crowded and competitive niche.
Fire Emblem Heroes
Slowly but surely, Nintendo is consigning its handheld console days to the history books and is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Android gaming sector. We could justifiably have selected any number of the developer’s offerings here, including Super Mario Run or Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.
However, Fire Emblem Heroes is a game that encapsulates that “Designed for Android” feeling, despite being a spin-off of the original Fire Emblem series that first appeared almost 20 years ago. The player controls a team of heroes and pits them against enemy teams on an 8×6 grid. Each character has different abilities and restrictions in terms of how far they can move and what areas they can occupy. Gameplay alternates between a player phase, in which the player can attack and an enemy phase in which it is the AI’s turn.
The game is highly strategic and deterministic, in that there is no random element. Position the right hero in the right place, and victory is ensured. But one false move can as easily lead to disaster. If someone invented chess today, it would look a lot like this game.
It’s impossible to discuss the game app phenomenon without giving an honorable mention to the one that changed the mobile gaming landscape. The whole point of the game is based on mobility, and given that it uses your smartphone’s GPS, camera and Bluetooth connectivity, it’s a game that you simply couldn’t play on any other platform. Three years after Pokemon GO’s initial release, the hype might have quieted down a little, but it has certainly not died out, and interest is being kept alive with regular updates and releases.
The game is also remaining in the public eye thanks to the continuing controversies it provokes. As if inappropriate Poke Stops in locations ranging from Arlington Cemetery to Auschwitz, or gamers absently strolling into busy traffic were not bad enough, Pokemon Go has once again hit the headlines with another controversy. Last week, a Seattle man was caught parked on the hard shoulder of Highway 518 and playing the game on eight different handsets at once. Astonishingly, he was let off with a warning.
The Room: Old Sins
The first iteration of The Room was released on iOS in 2013. In line with the etiquette of the day, the Android version followed a respectful six months later. At once, it was clear to gamers that this was no ordinary puzzle game. In fact, its impressive graphics, quirky surprises and multiple endings signaled a new level for the genre.
The latest version demonstrates that the team at Fireproof Games in the UK are still among the best in the business when it comes to this subgenre. Set in a creepy and beautifully detailed dollhouse, the game adds a new level of complexity to previous versions, as now, the puzzles and their solutions can be spread across multiple rooms and even the exterior.