Twas two weeks before Christmas, when all thro’ the site,
Not an app was stirring, not even a Flappy Bird;
The lists were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that app users looking for great games soon would be there.
Nintendo has entranced us for years with such whimsical titles as Mario and Legend of Zelda. Their jump to handheld devices caught many by surprise, but Mario manages to leap to victory with this one-touch runner inspired by the most recent iteration of the Super Mario Bros. formula. While the extra cost for full access to Super Mario Run‘s content, the wealth of levels and continued support by Nintendo ensures it’s well worth the asking price.
Downgeon Quest blew us away with its charming presentation, sharply designed rogue-like mechanics, and deep gameplay variety. On a platform overpopulated by generic masochist games, Downgeon Quest remembers that games, even challenging ones, should be fun first and foremost. The constant jokes are just the icing on the monster slaying, basement diving cake. You owe it to yourself to have Downgeon Quest in your library.
OXENFREE awed audiences on consoles and PC alike with its brooding atmosphere and sharp wit – and we’re proud to say the experience remains just as compelling and tense on mobile. Offering a hybrid premise of Poltergeist meets The Goonies, its Telltale style choices and vivid audio-visual landscape make for a distinctive and engaging experience that’s hard to put down. With top-tier writing and voice acting, the story keeps you traipsing further into its web of mystery. There’s even been a new game plus mode added, letting you unlock even more endings and truly explore all OXENFREE has to offer.
Cover Fire is, in contrast to OXENFREE, a game reliant on compelling gameplay, rather than story. Set in a world run by corporate overlords, you take charge of the revolution against them through a liquid smooth on-rails cover-based shooter. Cover Fire‘s gameplay hook of focusing all in on aiming and maintaining safe cover removes many issues mobile Gears of War style games struggle with, and it flexes its well-armed muscles to great effect. Plus, the emphasis on single-player is a welcome turn in a market over saturated by free to play competitive shooters.
Trust me, we’re as shocked as you are that a mobile tie-in game to a middling blockbuster movie made it in our Top Games list, but Power Rangers: Legacy Wars earned its spot. It’s a fighting game for both fans of traditional fighting games and those who have never been able to pull off a quarter-circle A+B combo in their lives. While the Power Rangers setting isn’t used massively beyond visual aesthetic, this multiplayer fighting game manages to outdo much of the competition through smart execution and great accessibility.
Titanfall is not a series one expects to see on handhelds, but Titanfall Assault captures the sci-fi western twang and aggressive gameplay stylings of its console brethren with aplomb. From the mighty pilots parkouring around to the towering titular titans going to blows, Titanfall Assault wisely adapts a familiar setting to a genre practically built for mobile. Built-in esports features like a direct video capture option are also welcome additions that other apps should look to going forward. If you’re looking for a new Clash Royale-like, there are few better than Titanfall Assault.
This War of Mine has always been one of the weirdest games to recommend. It’s not action-y, nor does it have an aggressive pacing. This War of Mine is a morbid, slow-burn survival management sim where you try to keep your civilians alive in a wartorn country. It’s not fun, but it makes up for that in genuine conviction, marvelous execution, and gripping moral choices that you’ll keep thinking about for days after. As more interactive entertainment aims to grow beyond simply being fun, This War of Mine stands as a vanguard worth experiencing.
Feeling down after This War of Mine? Well, there’s few games as ready to pick up your spirits as Vikings: an Archer’s Journey. Play as a young viking archer on a quest against frost giants in one of the freshest infinite runners released this year. In addition to traditionally jumping over and around enemies, Vikings: an Archer’s Journey blends in archery skills to help you conquer the beasts that stand in your way. It’s like Brave but with less plot and a lot more beast sniping. The skill ceiling is deceptively high if you’re willing to learn, but even the most casual adventurer can have a blast.
The Talos Principle is another impressive current-gen puzzle-adventure title making its way to mobile devices, and for fans of Portal and Myst, this is a wonderful arrival. Much like both of those classic titles, expect to send most of your time methodically exploring new environments as additional puzzle elements grow to envelop you in an intriguing web of challenges deepening the experience. The mobile port takes a visual downgrade, but the aesthetics and gameplay hold up regardless, making The Talos Principle a must-buy for the most ardent brainteaser fans.
Still need more to scratch that brain of yours? Well the original Monument Valley is considered one of the greatest mobile games to date, and we’re proud to say its sequel carries on its tradition of M. C. Escher puzzles and positively gorgeous landscapes. Nothing here differents from the award-winning start, but with game design this intuitive and a world so captivating, Monument Valley 2 is still indubitably worth adding to your library.
By comparison to many games on this list, Fire Rides might seem incredibly simple. Fire Rides is all about timing and skill, pitting the player as a ball of flame swinging from a beam of light as they transcend an ever changing cavern. The key to what made Fire Rides impress us so much? The sheer intuitive design and learning curve. Fire Rides demonstrates that even a small set of mechanics can provide an intriguing, satisfying experience on the go.
Ticket to Earth ($4.99 on iOS)
Ticket to Earth is the rare case of a role-playing puzzle game rhythm game. The story centers protagonist Rose, who maintains the sole Earth-bound ship remaining on her faded boomtown of a home planet. Facing pirates, venomous aliens, and corrupt government G-men, you’ll have to navigate battlefields styled after a match-3 game, taking turns to outwit your opponents. While Ticket to Earth is technically still waiting on its final two episodes, the first half is available to try, and loaded with personality and impactful presentation.
Stealth games are a rarity on mobile, and few are quite as distinct as Card Thief, a solitaire inspired stealth game where you navigate a Tim Burton-esque medieval fantasy world. You have to economize your pool of stealth points across the deck on hand, ensuring you don’t overplay your hand with each steps forward. It’s as much a game of clever mathetmatics as it is maze to navigate. It captures the tone of classic stealth games like Thief: The Dark Project perfectly with its gothic inspirations, and is a worthy successor. At the price point of free, it’s practically a steal.
Slayaway Camp is a game for slide-puzzle fans with a dark side. Styled like Friday the 13th, you put on the skull-mask of a deadly slasher chopping his way through some meddlesome campers. Everything’s framed through a Minecraft-esque, low-poly voxel aesthetic and cheeky humor that keeps the cartoonish gore from becoming too much. There’s even mid-level bonus targets where you take down individual campers in a quicktime event. There’s even a chapter that parodies Friday the 13th‘s space-based sequel, so if you’re a fan of slashers and sliding, Slayaway Camp was made for you.
Riptide GP: Renegade is another home console tier title ported perfectly to mobile, offering a high speed, white-water race in the far future. Riptide’s handheld controls are slick and simple, getting you right into the race – while also supporting traditional control schemes if you’ve got the addon. Lush graphics rush past your eye as you charge home to victory, all while pulling off stunts both online and offline. A great graphics showcase and the latest in a strong series of racing titles for handheld gamers.
Years ago, Temple Run introduced everyone to a wonderful melding of 3D platforming and infinite runners. While many have aimed to top Temple Run’s success, few do it quite as evocatively as Sky Dancer. Bringing in a descending race to the bottom with elements of Doodle Jump and the visuals of Thatgamecompany’s Journey. Like Fire Rides, there’s not a grand narrative or elaborate world to progress through, but the meditative platforming and gorgeous landscape more than make up for it.
Beholder is a management sim conspiracy thriller. Not only is its core conceit unconventional, but your role in the conspiracy is just as curious, with you caught in a Papers Please-esque communist regime where you weigh the risks of shilling for your comrades or defending free thinkers. Your brutal introduction is witnessing the fate of your predecessor, before taking control of a tenement as landlord. Do you spy on your tenants? Do you protect rebelious thought from prying eyes of the government, at the risk of your family? Beholder is truly a unique title to behold.
Guntai ($3.99 on Android/iOS)
Guntai is the 3D answer to Badland that we never knew we wanted until it existed. The focus this time around is far more on survival than solving physics brainteasers, but this proves to the game’s benefit, as Guntai is unrelenting in its challenge. With deft hands and a firm grasp of your mobile device’s gyroscope, you can guide your flock of birds for thousands of meters. The road to achieving that precision is written with the inky remains of many failed flocks, but with a peaceful soundscape and instant replayability, Guntai is more than happy to encourage you along the way.
Breakneck is like Race the Sun’s older, punk-ish brother. Set in an apocalyptic wasteland, your speeder craft through the world across multiple stages in a bid to travel as far as you can. Rather than simplistic shapes, Breakneck utilizes its sci-fi setting for inspiration not only in visuals but gameplay. You might be pursued by an orbital satellite and need to burst away, or navigate opening and closing canals with snap reflexes. Its got a speed that lives up to its name, and if you’re in for a rogue-racer to pedal to the medal, Breakneck is ready and roaring to go.
Noblemen 1896 is not a conventional mobile game. It’s a steampunk third-person take on the Battlefield games specifically built for handheld devices. Maps can be vast open ranges as you and your troops charge to victory from cover to cover. There’s even a metagame between matches with your own headquarters to maintain and enemy bases to strike at through a strategy layer. It’s an incredibly ambitious game and is one of the sleeper hit new games of 2017. You owe it to yourself to give Noblemen 1896 a go.
This year has given us many great games across all genres, and we look forward to exciting new titles on the horizon. To keep up to date with the best apps to play, be sure to check in here at Appolicious.