My Favorite Mobile Games

Over the last few years I’ve downloaded a lot of mobile games: on iPad, iPhone, and Android. Most aren’t worth playing. Some are good, and a few are fantastic. This is a list of the games which I enthusiastically recommend. Almost all of them are available on iOS and Android but the links below are to the iOS App Store.

Almost all of these are games which cost money. In general, paid games are better. It comes down to economy: most mobile game developers have only two methods for earning income: sell games for an up-front cost or monetize free games through annoying and often underhanded tactics.  Ads will pop up which you have to pay to remove, artificial blocks will be introduced into the game to incentivize a small purchase, and so on. A good game is worth spending a few dollars on. Enjoy.

Note: Another great list of iOS games to check out is this one. Updated April 2018

Mario RunOvivo

Ovivo is an unconventional platformer set upon a black and white landscape filled with metaphors and illusions. Open to interpretation and thoughtful in a way that is rare. Link

Lost in HarmonyLost in Harmony

Part running game, part rhythm game, Lost in Harmony is one of the most unique, ambitious mobile games. Included in Apple’s prestigious “Best of” awards in 2016. Link

Mini MetroMini Metro

This award winning “sublime subway simulator” has won dozens of accolades for successfully fusing depth and accessibility. Design subways for growing cities. Link

Really Bad ChessReally Bad Chess

A variant of chess created by indie developer Zach Gage, wherein pieces are rearranged at random, depending on the player’s skill level. The result is both novel and familiar. Link

GorogoaGorogoa

Rearrange illustrations which operate like puzzle pieces to solve puzzles and link together a very novel narrative experience. Not just a game, Gorogoa is art. Link

ReignsReigns

Manage a medieval empire through a series of yes/no choices presented like Tinder. Lead through benevolence or malevolence and experience the consequences. Link

VignettesVignettes

A puzzle game without text or characters where through perspective changes, objects shapeshift and reveal hidden functionality. Kaleidoscopic, intuitive, and beautiful. Link

GnogGnog

A visually stunning 3D puzzle game where you manipulate interactive monster heads. Includes some great augmented reality functionality using ARKit. Link

DownwellDownwell

Among the best action games on mobile, Downwell is a vertical shooter where your ghost-like character (wearing “gunboots”) descends deeper into a mysterious well. Link

Monument ValleyMonument Valley

Award winning puzzle game which utilizes M.C. Escher-esque “impossible geometry”  to guide a female protagonist named Ada through obstacle courses. Stunning. Link

Ridiculous FishingRidiculous Fishing

Developed by much-loved Dutch developer Vlambeer, Ridiculous Fishing is a “handcrafted game about fishing with guns, chainsaws & toasters.” Link

Dark EchoDark Echo

“Trapped in darkness, you must use visualized sound to guide your way through threatening environments.” Dark Echo is like a blind simulator. Play with headphones. Link

Super HexagonSuper Hexagon

Among the most simple and difficult games I’ve ever played. Hugely influential, having inspired many similar games. Runner up for App Store 2012 game of the year. Link

Alto's AdventureAlto’s Adventure

Alto’s Adventure is a Zen-like obstacle avoidance skiing game. “Above the placid ivory snow lies a sleepy mountain village, brimming with the promise of adventure.” Link

PrunePrune

“Prune is a love letter to trees. A game about the beauty and joy of cultivation.”Tap and drag to prune your tree to guide it toward the sunlight it needs to prosper. Link

_Prism_Prism

 “Touch shapes and patterns to unfold sacred geometry and reach the ethereal soul.” Mesmerizing geometric puzzles in space. Link

80 DaysWave Wave

“Wave up and down to survive the gauntlet of geometric doom.” A brutal challenge created in the mold of Super Hexagon. Play with headphones and try to survive. Vexing. Link

Device 6Device 6

“Plays with the conventions of games and literature, entwines story with geography and blends puzzle and novella.” Link

Super Arc LightSuper Arc Light

Minimalist retro arcade shooter featuring a one button control mechanism. Your ship rotates around an arc and you survive by eliminating incoming ships. Link

You Must Build a BoatYou Must Build a Boat

A mash up of the endless runner genre (Temple Run) and match-3 (Candy Crush) presented in Atari 2600 style. Legitimate difficulty, witty humor. Survive the flood. Link

Star CommandStar Command

Build and command a starship across the galaxy and “watch your crew die grizzly deaths all at your command” in pixelated space.  Link

80 Days80 Days

Circumnavigate the globe in 80 days or less, like in Jules Vernes’ Around the World in 80 Days. Interact, trade, and navigate obstacles in exotic locations. Link

Plague IncPlague Inc.

“Can you infect the world? Plague Inc. is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation.” Design a pandemic which eradicates human life on earth. Link

HopliteHoplite

Dungeon crawling, turn based strategy which focuses on tactical movement around small maps. Like chess with spears and magical abilities. Link

InksInks

Pinball with an artistic twist: as the ball moves, it leaves paint trails behind. As you complete each stage of increasingly difficult pinball, you finish with an art print. Link

Papers, PleasePapers, Please

“A dystopian document thriller” that takes place in a fictional communist country called Arstotzka. Accolades from The New Yorker, Wired, and more. Well deserved. iPad only. Link

SpaceteamSpaceteam

A cooperative party game played with 2-8 players where you shout technobabble at each other. One of the funniest games I’ve played in the last few years. Link

Threes!Threes!

A small puzzle which takes 30 seconds to learn but hours to master. Beautiful minimalism which earned it numerous prestigious awards. Link

Hitman GoHitman Go

Critically acclaimed puzzler set in the Hitman game universe. Assassinate targets by taking turns to occupy key positions in diorama-themed 3D stages. Link

Tiny WingsTiny Wings

“You have always dreamed of flying – but your wings are tiny.” Award winning endless runner where you tap to guide a hand drawn bird through rolling landscapes. Link

Kingdom Rush FrontiersKingdom Rush: Frontiers

The gold standard for tower defense games on mobile. Build and upgrade defenses to suppress an onslaught of enemy troops. Link

Her StoryHer Story

Interactive detective puzzle where you discover the truth behind a murder by reviewing 1994 VHS footage of a female suspect’s recorded testimony. Link

Battle of PolytopiaThe Battle of Polytopia

Colony expansion strategy game which plays like a 20 minute compressed version of the epic PC strategy series Civilization. Link

Pacman 256Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man turned into an endless runner. Navigate ghosts through the familiar Pac-Man stage with the exception that it never ends. Pay to remove ads. Link

Does Not ComputeDoes Not Commute

Navigate cars, trucks and school buses and play with time in a “temporal paradox in which you have no one to blame but yourself”. Link