The best iPhone and Android games

Apple Arcade has changed at least some of the rules for mobile gaming by offering a large number of high quality mobile games for a single subscription price. And that meant big changes to our list of the best mobile games without forgetting our friends on Android devices.

It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest – which has to do with the constant flow of new touchscreen games – but there are some extraordinary and exciting experiences in the middle of the deluge. With that in mind, we’re introducing our 22 absolute favorite games for cell phones, all designed to entertain whether you’re on the go, curled up in bed, or just want to kill for a few minutes.

But why 22 games? Science! Somehow. It is a solid selection of titles in different genres with a selection for families, children and adults. But 22 games are not enough to be overwhelming and we wanted to focus on the best of the best.

And if the list of 22 games above isn’t enough for you, check out a few additional recommendations we’ve given below.

For once, we’d like to encourage you to take out your phones and tables to try something new!

grindstone

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Capybara Games’ first exclusive Apple Arcade game is a return to the colorful puzzle areas the studio developed about a decade ago, like Critter Crunch and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – but Grindstone has a very entertaining and shocking twist.

Here you play as a bloodthirsty warrior aiming to kill every crazy animal on its way up Grindstone Mountain. You’ll accomplish the task at every stage by connecting rows of neighboring monsters of the same color … and then watching him brutally cut them into bloody, cartoonistic pieces.

The initial, hilarious shock level gives way to a gripping puzzle that gradually adds complexity to unlock in the form of boss fights, treasure chests, and more advanced weapons. Capy’s characteristic charm is just as intact here as his talent to deliver a match-based puzzle game that manages to feel fresh and original, even though it’s played on seemingly well-worn terrain.

Available for iOS through Apple Arcade, subscription required

Sayonara Wild Hearts

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Sayonara Wild Hearts is the latest game from the popular indie games Simogo Games that produce popular cellphone hits like Device 6 and Year Walk – and it’s like nothing the studio has ever done before. To put it in the words of our reviewer Jenna Stoeber: “Sayonara Wild Hearts is the nasty bisexual neon fever dream of a pop album that I didn’t know I needed.”

This may not tell you much about how the game works, but it should give you a feel for the strong reactions it can provoke. Gameplay is not the focus of Sayonara Wild Hearts. The game is more of a slightly interactive music video than a particularly rich game experience, but wow, what a breathtaking vision.

Sayonara Wild Hearts is like nothing on your phone with its catchy, original pop soundtrack, stylish characters, dream sights and even the story of Queen Latifah.

Available for iOS through Apple Arcade, subscription required

What about golf?

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What about golf? may seem like a game of golf, but the appearance in this absurd reef deceives the familiar sport. This makes sense if you hit the ball and instead of seeing it fly towards the green, your golfer will be thrown forward like a rag doll.

In other cases, it is the club that flies, or a house or an office chair. Sometimes the game becomes soccer or archery, or a tribute to Super Mario Bros. or Portal. Often you don’t know what to expect when you take a shot, and that’s the joy in this increasingly bizarre game. It could start with a proven sport, but what about golf? turns very quickly towards screwed up over realism.

It’s a casual prerequisite that continues to be useful when the game changes themes and formats as you browse a lab to unlock new levels. And while the core levels are mostly airy, each one has several, tougher variations that often shake things up – in case you are looking for a real challenge amid the amusing chaos.

Available for iOS through Apple Arcade, subscription required

Call of Duty: Mobile

Activision / Tencent

Call of Duty: Mobile is not the kind of game I would expect on a 6-inch touchscreen, but surprisingly it is excellent. Following previous posts that focused on single-player missions or applied the franchise brand to an unrelated game style, Call of Duty: Mobile is the first mobile game in the franchise to showcase the classic multiplayer experience on touch devices.

It is a card pack with the greatest successes from previous Modern Warfare and Black Ops games, coupled with fast hit lengths and effective control options. There’s even a 100-player Battle Royale mode and other time-limited modes like zombies. It looks fantastic on high-end mobile devices and runs smoothly even on medium-range phones if a little detail is negotiated.

The free game approach only convinces with numerous advertisements that are displayed when the game starts. Otherwise there are no game restrictions and no annoying video ads between fights. It’s really a free, authentic Call of Duty that you can play anywhere for a few minutes.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases

Heaven: children of light

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thatgamecompany is known for doing magic on the PlayStation gems Journey and Flower, but Sky: Children of the Light shows what the team can do with mobile devices. Fortunately, it is increasing.

Sky: Children of the Light is “like a theme park created by Pixar”, as our EIC Chris Plante wrote under the premise of Journey, in order to deliver an ethereal multiplayer experience without annoying components such as voice chat, open storytelling or mission goals. It’s a dreamy world where your little winged characters can run around, slide and fly and interact with others through small gestures and charming animations.

There are easy puzzles to solve, but Sky is much more adventurous and constantly draws you into breathtaking environments populated by other online players. Even on the small screen of a smartphone, Sky is immediately appealing.

Available for iOS and Android (early access), free on in-app purchases

Tell lies

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Most of us are already using their smartphones to watch video clips, but Telling Lies turns the story into a game. As an FBI agent, you search a treasure trove of archived videos to find clues and solve the mystery behind it. What’s the secret? You won’t know … at least not from the start.

This is the catch of Telling Lies, a greatly expanded and intelligently enhanced version of the style of play that Sam Barlow introduced in Her Story. It is an unmistakably free form to record a story because the hours of live action video clips ultimately lead to something compelling, but you have to look for them when you cross-reference names and places and stumble upon unexpected clues along the way. Enter the job and you will be richly rewarded.

Available for iOS, $ 6.99

Get down

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For a relatively small, exclusive mobile indie, Holedown attracted a lot of attention when it was released – and for good reason. Holedown comes from Grapefrukt Games, the studio behind the equally strong Rymdkapsel and Twofold Inc., and relies on the classic brick-breaking formula with some new ideas and an addictive progress system.

Here you throw balls into a tunnel rather than into the sky and try to remove the obstacles between you and the core of the planet. And you won’t just fire a ball and try to keep it moving. Instead, incremental upgrades give you the ability to detonate up to 99 balls at a time and fill each block filled with blocks with frenetic, zigzag projectiles.

Even with this type of enviable firepower, Holedown remains compelling thanks to the strategy of removing certain types of blocks before they reach the top row at the end of the game. I’ve been returning to unlockable endless mode for months and still haven’t found a good reason to remove this game from my main home screen.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 3.99.

Donut County

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As delightful as they are, raccoons are trouble – and that’s definitely the case in Donut County, even if it isn’t traditionally. In this wonderfully fancy indie, the raccoons have taken over the donut shop … and for some reason, holes swallow up every building, object and living thing in the city. Funny what?

You will gradually learn what happened at the bottom of the pit beneath the city as human Mira, her disgusting raccoon buddy BK, and other animal dwellers remember their encounters with the hole. And then you control the hole yourself by solving clever puzzles and sliding it across the floor as it gets bigger and bigger with every object it consumes.

Donut County is one of the most charming games of late. Reviewer Ashley Oh called it “the hole in my heart that I never want to fill”. And it plays out just as well with one finger on your iPhone or iPad as with a controller in another location, with the full experience included on iOS at a fraction of the cost of the console and PC. Even better, the bite-sized missions are ideal for quick sessions on the go.

Available for iOS, $ 4.99.

Altos Odyssey

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Like the original from Alto’s Adventure, Snowmans Alto’s Odyssey is a game of simple joys: sunbathe in the glow of the sunset while driving down a desert slope, dragging a strip of bunting between two hot air balloons or just landing a double backflip instead of breaking your head. Admittedly, none of this sounds particularly simple or easy, but that’s the beauty of Alto’s Odyssey. Even with soaring antics, the game maintains a wonderfully reserved tone and never feels remotely complex, frustrating or confusing.

Odyssey mostly sticks to what worked so well the first time, combining the gameplay with one tap with fabulous sights – now sand instead of snow – and dashing background music, but the little tweaks really add up here. Actions such as grinding along rock faces, bouncing and bouncing off of swimming lakes and catching the air from a spinning tornado only serve to lengthen combos and introduce more nuances without complicating the landscape jumps. It is a pleasure.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 4.99.

Three!

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Three! deals with basic arithmetic operations, but this puzzle with minimal numbers is hardly easy. Adjacent 1 (blue) and 2 (red) tiles add up to 3 when you swipe them, and from there you can merge a multiple of three tiles with a similar number: two 3 tiles become 6 tiles, a pair from 6 to 12 and so on.

Play fast and easy with your addition and threes! can be punished quickly. Every time you swipe the screen and the tiles move, the game adds more tiles to the tight grid, regardless of whether you are actually merging something or not. If you make sloppy moves, you’ll quickly find a claustrophobic area that limits your play – and will most likely result in your death and a meager score.

Computed, methodical play is important to push your game forward as you build bigger and bigger numbers and thereby increase your score. Three! is a numbers game worthy of obsession … which makes sense since you need a great deal of attention to detail to really thrive in developer Sirvo’s indie gem.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 5.99 (ad-supported free-to-play version also available).

Clash Royale

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Clash Royale is one of the most exciting competition games you can find on a touch device. In contrast to mobile MOBAs like Vainglory and Arena of Valor, which mimic the cinema experience very well (up to games of more than 15 minutes), Clash Royales skirmishes are short, sweet, strategic and sensational.

After building the best eight-card deck out of a bunch of goblins, witches, fireballs and golems, you have three minutes to try to overthrow your opponent’s base before doing the same to yours. But clever deck constructions only take you so far: you have to manage your limited resources and try to counter your rival’s tactics to have a chance of winning. The frenetic result is difficult to resist.

Clash Royale is also a nice free game, although being able to spend real money to quickly buy more chests and cards (and thus upgrades) could harm some players. Nevertheless, matchmaking by developer Supercell does a solid job by matching you with qualified and / or similarly equipped opponents.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

Pokémon Go

Do you know what Pokémon Go is? The massive mobile game fashion in summer 2016 that has made Pokémon the world’s largest platform? Did you know that Pokémon Go is not only going well, but better than ever?

What Pokémon Go lacks depth compared to the traditional series is more than compensated for by an authentic sense of discovery when you explore real spaces and find the digital Pokémon that is hiding around you with your phone.

It’s an uncomplicated but compelling game round, especially with new monster waves, fun community events, and research tasks to keep things interesting. With the latest update of the game, you can also adventure and take care of a friend, a Pokémon that follows you and plays Pokémon Go with you.

No other mobile game has produced such an unforgettable or exciting experience as the first few weeks after its release, when millions and millions of people were involved in the Pokémon Go fever. But even after this busy start-up phase, developer Niantic keeps finding new ways to lure fans back.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

Gorogoa

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It took a few years to make Gorogoa, and that is evident everywhere. Gorogoa’s handmade beauty shines at first glance when the title monster roams through a city, in detailed illustrations and extremely clever puzzles. It’s not quite like you’ve ever played it before.

Gorogoa relies entirely on these little works of art to solve his puzzles and tell his story while you focus or retract a scene or drag and drop the images across the grid. When certain images are placed one on top of the other, they interact and drift along the story – like when doors are synchronized between scenes to send the character from one place to another, or when an action is created in which an object moves from one image to another another falls under it.

The often fascinating approach of developer Jason Roberts has a unique feel and flow. Gorogoa is also available on other platforms and can be played wonderfully on a touch device. As Polygon’s Charlie Hall wrote when the game was released, “I’m not sure I played a game that so far has only tied me with my thumb.”

Available for iOS and Android, $ 4.99.

Florence

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It only takes Florence 40 minutes to deliver an emotional wallop that hits harder and lasts longer than anything I’ve ever played. In the end, I was a wreck – partly over the painfully realistic lows of the young relationship that I portrayed, but more because of the resonance it had with my own life and experiences. This is a special, unexpected reaction to every game, let alone an exclusive smartphone or tablet.

Florence looks into the life of the 25-year-old defending champion, who struggles with the boredom of her office work and an arrogant mother, but then gets into a hurricane relationship with a cellist named Krish. Love blooms quickly, but boredom and frustration eventually wedge between them. Developer mountains drive every phase home with absolutely perfect and occasionally hard-hitting mini-games that reflect the emotions of every moment.

Florence is a short experience, but an immensely strong one – so with the heavyweights of the year, it’s on our rolling list of the best games of 2018.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 2.99.

80 days

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Jules Verne’s literary classic “Around the World in 80 Days” is the basis for one of the most fascinating narrative adventures of the mobile game. The steampunk adaptation by the developer Inkle ensures that things stay light and compact while you travel quickly around the world.

As a passepartout, Valet by Phileas Fogg, you determine the best course between cities, oceans and continents to win your master’s ambitious globetrotter bet. In 80 days, narration and navigation are completely intertwined, as each side of the game influences the other. By branching dialog trees, you can have conversations that entertain and often illuminate the characters, but occasionally lead to unexpected routes or helpful details. Likewise, each new locale offers the opportunity to undertake your adventure in an unknown way, whether good or bad.

It’s what makes 80 Days so wonderfully replayable: Trying to shorten the days and win the challenge with every new run is entertaining, but the chats and fun story twists are just as compelling. No two trips feel the same.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 4.99.

Super Stickman Golf 3

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Real-life golf can be slow and tedious, but Super Stickman Golf 3 is not one of those things. The developer series from Noodlecake has not only established itself as one of the best mobile sports games, but also as an indispensable multiplayer experience on the go – and this is the best edition so far.

Super Stickman Golf 3 summarizes the sport like a puzzle platform, believe it or not. Every side scrolling course is littered with unique obstacles, be it jagged ice cliffs, portal-like portals or sticky surfaces. It is your job to overcome and / or avoid the myriad of dangers to reach the cup under par. Powered balls help your cause by pushing typical physics to the side of the road. There are also exciting golf hats to unlock.

And while Super Stickman Golf 3 maintains as a single player experience, it is even better with friends, thanks to fire shots and asynchronous turn-based duels that cause different competitive situations to fail. With 20 unique free golf courses and more than 20 courses available to paying users, as well as countless unlockable items, the Super Stickman Golf 3 is of lasting and lasting swing satisfaction.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

monument valley

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Monument Valley is downright dreamy – not only because of its fabulous views and dazzling sights, but also because of the surreal nature of its challenges. Every level is impossible, M.C. Escher-inspired architecture with side stairs, distant platforms that are miraculously connected from a certain perspective, and even a memorable mission that takes place entirely in a box that unfolds again and again.

But while the geometry is complex, the puzzles are rare. Instead of putting too much strain on your brain, Monument Valley pleases with its playful nature and prompts you to play around with its strange switches and knobs to guide Ida to your goal in every phase. It is also always intuitive, even when new wrinkles appear. As Danielle Riendeau wrote in her 2014 review: “It felt effortless and that feeling was refreshing.”

The expansion “Forgotten Shores” and the sequel “Monument Valley 2” expand the conditions for tempting new ways. Both are worth exploring. However, the original from developer Ustwo still feels like a perfectly precise mobile experience. It is a typical example of what is possible when an artful studio designs an adventure with the strengths of a platform.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 3.99.

Ridiculous fishing

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Catching fish in a barrel may be easy, but catching fish that move past the clouds after you have freed them from the depths? Well, that’s … actually not too difficult either, but ridiculous fishing makes the premise very entertaining.

Developer Vlambeer’s fancy mobile gem delivers a precise arcade-style loop that can withstand many, many attempts. You will throw your bait under the boat, but instead of trying to catch the first fish in sight, you should drop it as far as possible. Once there is something attached, you will try to add as many sea creatures as possible on the way up. And when the bait breaks through the surface, every angler, crab and sea snake is thrown into the air so that you can shoot with an absurdly overpowering firearm.

This outrageous concept is only underpinned by fascinating equipment and weapon upgrades, entertaining social media updates, new and interesting creatures and this lively, unique aesthetic. Ridiculous fishing could have been lost forever in an unfortunate clone saga. Instead, it is one of the most important things for the cell phone.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 2.99.

Reign: Your Majesty

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Tinder meets monarchy? That was the premise of the developer Nerial’s Original Reigns, who was caught in tiny spurts thanks to his sharp writing and twisty twists. But rule: Her Majesty turns out to be even more gripping by shifting her focus.

As the title suggests, Her Majesty makes you Queen of a Fantasy Kingdom, and any decision you make will inevitably lead to your demise. Governed: Her Majesty plays in all the reactions to countless situations in which your Queen finds herself and lets you swipe left or right to make a call. Each choice affects how different factions view them and their role as companions to the king.

It is not an easy life for the queen, amidst innumerable threats and omnipresent sexism, but that ensures a gripping, bite-sized story with targeted dialogues and curious detours.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 2.99.

hearthstone

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Hearthstone was an incredible experience back in 2014, and now, after four years, several expansions, and more than 1,000 additional cards, it’s better than ever. Although the Warcraft trading card game spin-off started on a Windows PC, the mobile versions of Blizzard Entertainment are pristine ports that keep the magic going.

Franchise fans will get a kick out of history, but Hearthstone remains extremely attractive to those who have never played World of Warcraft or the classic RTS. It’s an impressively deep but surprisingly engaging experience that makes it easy for newcomers to the genre to get started with competitive card-based mechanics, and then opens up a world of possibilities by building decks and advanced strategies.

The robust esports scene that has formed around Hearthstone in recent years is a testament to the high possibilities. While the pros compete against each other on PC, Hearthstone offers the same experience on smartphones and tablets – and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this CCG gem.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

Impossible road

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The developer Wonderful Lasers makes no secret of the immense challenge of Impossible Road: it is exactly the right thing in the title. While this could scare off some potential players, the hard test of this minimal game is offset by the intense joy of finally starting a successful run.

Every attempt begins with a straight fall like a roller coaster ride – and that’s the only moment you can take a break. The procedural path instantly turns, narrows, and occasionally runs almost sideways as you continually adjust to roll past the next checkpoint. They inevitably fall off. But that’s not the end.

In fact, it can be an opportunity. Impossible Road gives you a few seconds to try to land below, and enterprising players can even deliberately roll off to jump on. Plan a perfect jump and you can dramatically improve your score. Botch the landing and … well, there’s always the next time.

Available for iOS ($ 2.99) and Android ($ 1.99).

The room: old sins

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The space is one of the most reliable and impressive experiences for mobile games, and the developer Fireproof Games always delivers. Old Sins is the fourth game in the series and like the others, it’s a deliciously atmospheric insane.

As with the previous entries, The Room: Old Sins is a remarkably tactile touchscreen experience that prompts you to fight your way through an elaborate puzzle box by twisting, rotating, and solving every physical puzzle. This time, everything takes place in an eerie dollhouse, and for each challenge you need to examine objects carefully, look for clues, and fiddle around until you find a solution.

The previous three room entries remain essential for fans of clever on-the-go adventures, but The Room: Old Sins is registered as the newest and best entry in the series – and you won’t miss a lot in the storytelling if you start looking back here before past games.

Available for iOS and Android, $ 4.99.

Other notable mobile games:

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

Available for iOS and Android, free with in-app purchases.

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