There have been plenty of great mobile games released this year - including massive battle royale titles, smart puzzlers and incredible ports of some amazing games from console and PC. Here are our five absolute favourites that you ought to try, most of them are available on both Android and iOS.
5. The Room: Old Sins - iOS & Android (£5)
The long-running The Room series has you finding items and solving puzzles to escape a series of rooms, hence the name. Old Sins takes this fun foundation and dials up the spooky factor, as you get transported inside a doll-house to foil a diabolical plot. The puzzles start small and slowly become more complex and challenging, but never to the point of frustration or unfairness. There’s always a twisted logic to the proceedings, and finally cracking a long-tested puzzle feels great. It’s also a good-looking game, with detailed environments backed by a suitably creepy soundscape. All in all, a great game to test your wits against - just don’t play it alone at night without an iron will!
4. Stardew Valley - iOS & Android* (£8)
Stardew Valley, an incredibly addictive farming sim in the style of Harvest Moon, arrived on iOS earlier this year. The game is the full PC and console release, rebuilt with a new touch interface so that it’s easy to play on an iPhone. The core gameplay loop - planting, watering and harvesting crops to sell at market to expand your farm - is immensely satisfying. There are also plenty of other options to keep things interesting, like crafting, fishing, combat and even romance. That means you can easily play this game for hundreds of hours without getting board, and you can even transfer save games from other platforms onto iPhone so you don’t have to start over if you don’t want to.
*The Android version has been announced, but no release date has been given just yet.
3. Alto’s Odyssey - iOS (£5) & Android (free)
Alto’s Odyssey is an incredibly zen snowboarding game set in sand, with simple controls that belie the depth of movement possible in the game. While the endless runner genre is a crowded one on mobile, the artwork, soundtrack and overall style of this game are beyond compare. The game has been nominated for dozens of game of the year awards in 2018, garnering critical acclaim wherever it goes, so even if it looks a little outside your comfort zone, it’s still well worth trying.
2. Civilization VI - iOS (£56)
Civilization VI is a faithful port of the critically-acclaimed PC game to the iPhone and iPad, providing an incredibly deep strategy experience that blows mobile titles out of the water. The game includes a famously addicting turn-based gameplay as you build cities, research technologies and try to out-do rival nations. The game’s progression from early history to manned spaceflight remains interesting hundreds of hours in, and the game as a whole is incredibly polished and surprisingly easy to control, whether you’re on a tablet or phone. The only downside? That price above wasn’t a typo - this is a full PC game ported to mobile, and unfortunately that means it’s available for a full PC price. The game actually launched at £23, so hopefully we’ll see it available at a discounted price again at some point. The first 60 turns are free, so it’s worth playing it through and then keeping an eye out for a special offer if you liked it.
1. Fortnite - iOS and Android (free)
With this game’s incredible success in 2018, it was always going to be a lock for the top spot. Fortnite has become one of the few games to transcend gaming and enter popular culture, and it’s completely warranted - this is a hugely fun to play battle royale game that remains just as good on mobile. The combination of Minecraft-style building, increasingly intense battle royale gameplay and constant updates have made it a firm favourite worldwide. More importantly, it’s also a free-to-play game, although you’re given the opportunity to spend real money on in-game cosmetic items. Regardless, it’s easy to see why Fortnite has become such a fixture of mobile gaming and will presumably continue to be for some time.
Bonus: Older games worth your time
While we found some cracking 2018 titles in compiling this list, we also came across some great games that were released a few years ago but have been improved by recent updates. Two that we’d like to mention here as a little bonus are The Battle of Polytopia, a strategy game in the mould of the Civilization but with a greater focus on combat, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic, a ported version of a much-loved 90s theme park simulator with content from the first two games in the series. Both don’t strictly fall within our criteria, but we’d be foolish not to mention them as they seem to have attracted strong fan followings in the few years since their release.
Thanks for checking out the article! We hope you’ve found some great mobile games that you can enjoy over this holiday period. Here’s to more great games coming in 2019!
Title image credit: AppySpot.