Here are some of the best games for Android right now (pictures)
February is upon us, and the end of winter is in sight. But there are still a few more cold weeks ahead of us; let's brave the chill by avoiding it entirely and cozying up to some cool Android games.
We'll start with Alto's Adventure, a game about snowboarding, llamas and pulling off sweet tricks. I swear, sometimes I feel like developers are just pulling nouns and verbs out of a hat. But in this case, that's OK: it's a endless runner (or is that endless boarder?), so your only concern is staying upright as long as possible as you scoot down a mountain, scooping up llamas and coins for extra points.
My top score in Color Switch is a 7; I imagine the average score is a little better than that. But this one's trickier than it looks. Tap to juggle your bouncing shape past the barrier with the same color. The trick, of course, is that the barriers are constantly spinning, and come in different shapes and sizes. The color also shifts every time you pass a shape, but I'm starting over so often I don't really get attached to any particular hues. This one's free, but ads will pop up after every few losses -- prepare to see a lot of ads.
I'm a bit out of touch with whatever's going on with Cartoon Network these days, but OK K.O.! is a game based on the pilot to a show that never came to fruition. It's a bit of a standard beat-em-up: you're one of the employees of a hero supply store, which sells goods and accessories for the heroically inclined. This largely boils down to a lot of punching and kicking, to save friends who've been inadvertently turned into bad guys. The combat is broken up by little interactive comic books, and the art style is fun -- occasional ads keep this one free.
Ys Chronicles 2 continues the story of Adol, a mysterious swordsman who fell from the sky one day and could be the answer to a small village's woes. The story makes a little more sense if you've played the first game (also available on Android), but feel free to dive in here. Combat is a little unorthodox: bumping into baddies from the side or rear hurts them. It takes a fight or two to get used to but once you're up and running it's a fast, fun take on the old RPG formula.
I've only seen an episode or two of Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty," but I'll be rectifying that as soon as humanly possible because this game is amazing. It's a Pokemon clone: you've got to travel through portals to other dimensions, capturing alternate versions of Morty and forcing them to fight each other. For reasons. Morty isn't really a fan of this whole arrangement, but sacrifices must be made for my amusement -- I for one will be catching them all.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is eerie, and haunting, and a little hard to play on a mobile phone. But don't let that stop you: it's a classic point-and-click based on Harlan Ellison's seminal post-apocalyptic short story. The game is over 20 years old and as such is a little rough around the edges, but this port handles itself well, once you get used to working your way around the menus. I hesitate to say more: this is one you'll really need to experience, warts and all, especially if you're a fan of classic adventure romps.
I'm not much of a "Star Trek" buff, but fans of the series will likely recognize quite a few of the faces here: in Timelines, bizarre temporal anomalies result in characters from across the various Star Trek series meeting up, or facing off to do battle. It's a turn-based ship combat game at heart, but you'll run into constant away missions that'll see you putting together a squad to tackle challenges. I'll admit a lot of the dialogue goes over my head, but there's still plenty of fun to be had.
This one is reminiscent of those point-and-click adventure games I used to play when I was young, back in the '90s. You're wandering a derelict facility and, if the corpses are any indication, things aren't going too well. Puzzles abound, requiring you to scan the areas around you, corralling seemingly unrelated elements in a scene into MacGyver-esque contraptions that'll help you escape a room. I do occasionally find myself tapping all over the screen to find the next mystery bit I'm supposed to be interacting with, but it's still good fun.
Digfender is a neat take on the tower defense genre. You'll dig tunnels under the foundation of your castle, crafting a turret-studded maze to take out your foes. Traps and support towers are tossed in to keep things interesting -- there are some in-app purchases to help you buy a few power-ups, but I've never felt the need to use them.
Soda Dungeon is largely a hands-off, number-crunching affair, so it might not be for everyone. You play as... let's call it an entrepreneur, hunting for dungeon loot but unwilling to actually put themselves in harm's way. Instead, hire fighters from the local tavern, attracting them with "soda" (wink wink), paying a marginal fee, and then keeping a chunk of the loot they stumble upon as they slay monsters.
Galaxy of Heroes is part RPG, part trading-card collect-athon, and packed with onerous free-to-play drawbacks. But it's still quite a bit of fun. You'll fight in battles for the light and dark side of the Force, earning currency you'll spend on new characters, or training to make existing ones stronger. Take things slow and steady, and don't get sucked into the morass of microtransactions, and you'll have a good time.
Harbinger isn't exactly a narrative tour de force, but stick with this one. You'll scoot around a randomly generated solar system, blasting bad guys and collecting resources to augment your own ship. The interface isn't exactly straightforward, but there's a surprising amount of depth packed in here.
Octodad is ludicrous, but also fascinating. You play an octopus masquerading as a human; I have no idea how he managed to woo a human mate, or spawn children, and those details are all pretty much glossed over. Not that you'll care: I suspect that you, like me, will be primarily focused on keeping Octodad upright. It turns out it's pretty tricky for pants-wearing cephalopods to make coffee or navigate messy houses. And while you might be tempted to let physics take the wheel and make a mess, the more damage you do, the more suspicion you'll raise that maybe, just maybe, you're not a totally normal human being after all.
I was a big fan of Hitman Go, so it's great to see the legendary Tomb Raider getting much the same treatment. The formula is similar: you're moving across a grid, solving puzzles that're largely based around flipping switches in the right order, or taking out foes from behind. As befitting a Lara Croft adventure, the game feels focused on exploring your gorgeous surroundings. But dangers are still lurking in the dark...If you liked Hitman Go, you'll want to pick this up.
If someone told me that Fallout would make its mobile debut as a free-to-play Vault-building simulation, I would've been really, really confused. And I still am. But that's exactly what Fallout Shelter is: design a Vault, populate it with new citizens by recruiting folks from the post-apocalyptic Wasteland or through more...traditional means, and fight off incursions from raiders, mutants and far worse. It's a bizarre way to kill some time until we can play Fallout 4, but it's quite a bit of fun.
I'm a huge fan of the Borderlands series, so anything that builds upon that experience is worth a look in my book. Tales from the Borderlands does not disappoint: it's an adventure game in the classic point-and-click genre, which sees you fighting to survive on the dangerous and oft-hilarious world of Pandora. I won't spoil things, but if you like a light-hearted narrative and don't mind a fairly slow pace, you'll do well here. Price could prove troublesome, as spending $5, £4 or AU$6.49 just gets you the first episode -- you're going to have to pony up the same again every episode after that. If you're really smitten, you can save some cash and grab them all in a bundle.
I was hesitant to recommend this one, as it's pricier than my usual fare. But This War of Mine is something that needs to be experienced. It's a survival game that offers a haunting take on the horrors of war. You'll take control of three survivors as they try to cobble together a living, scavenging for supplies, shoring up their shelter's defenses and generally trying to steer clear of the excessively violent survivors that inhabit their shell-shocked city. I hesitate to call anything this gloomy "fun," but it's an engrossing experience that's well worth the price you'll have to pay.
Knights of the Old Republic is the quintessential "Star Wars" game, and after a year of iOS-exclusivity it has finally arrived on Android. Affectionately known as KOTOR, you'll find everything you could possibly want in a Star Wars game: namely, lightsabers and the occasional Jawa. The Sith are characteristically up to no good, and you'll need to choose between the light and the dark side as you take on a mysterious murderous foe that's seeking... something. I'll refrain from revealing too much: suffice it to say, it's well worth a look, especially if you've never played it before.
You're probably asking yourself, "Do I need to buy yet another copy of a role-playing game released in 1998?" I was like you once. But this is Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition we're talking about, one of the greatest games ever made. Better still, this rather solid port of the recently released "enhanced" PC version serves up new content, quality-of-life improvements (hooray for higher resolutions!), and a touch-friendly interface. You can also copy your saved games between the Android and Windows versions and literally never stop playing; 13-year-old me is swooning so hard right now.
As previously discussed, Baldur's Gate is one of the greatest games of all time. Baldur's Gate II happens to be better: the adventure continues with revamped mechanics, updated visuals and a quest that will take you around the world of Faerûn and out to the mystical Outer Planes, as you take on the very gods. As with the last game in the series, you can copy your saved games between the Android and Windows versions, should you desire to take your adventures on the road. Better still, if you own the original, you can load your character into the sequel without too much effort, continuing the adventure.
And when you're ready to take a break from the Baldur's Gate's world of magic, intrigue and elves, feel free to step into Shadowrun Returns, which is...well, much of the same actually. But in the future! Shadowrun's gritty cyberpunk setting has been captivating folks for years, and its return to video game form on the PC was nothing short of stunning -- the mobile version is pretty great too. Sure, you're missing out all of the brilliant user-created content that's available on the PC, but being able to wander its intricately detailed world and fight heady turn-based battles on a mobile device is pretty awesome. Be forewarned: while the game will likely run on your phone, you're going to have a really squinty time navigating the interface -- best to stick to tablets.