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Subterfuge is one of the best multiplayer gaming experiences you can get. It’s challenging, it’s nerve-wracking, and best of all it’s perfectly suited to smartphones.
Subterfuge is a strategy title where each game takes place over the course of a week. You are charged with taking control of the ocean using a fleet of submarines: the more outposts and factories you control, the more submarines you can generate, which means more firepower to seize further outposts. It’s a familiar setup, but because the events take place in real time there is a constant threat that opponents could be sending submarines toward your bases even while you sleep.
It’s a race to see which player can generate enough ‘Neptunium’ (one of the game’s resources) first and, to succeed, your diplomacy skills and interactions with other players are as important as your tactical prowess. Don’t miss it.
Clash Royale comes from the creators of the ever-popular Clash of Clans, and it’s sure to steal more hours from your life. It plays something like a cross between a MOBA and a tower-defense title, and it’s a highly addictive concept.
In Clash Royale, you take part in one-on-one battles with other players from around the world. You must throw down troops to destroy three of your opponents towers before they do the same to you. However, these towers are only accessible via two lanes which your army must travel along.
The majority of Clash Royale’s gameplay revolves around trying to use resources effectively. Each creature has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, so it’s your job to pick the right guys for the job and make sure your opponent doesn’t outmatch you.
The Battle of Polytopia
The Battle of Polytopia is both a really great free-to-play game, and a genuinely challenging experience if you crank up the difficulty and number of opponents. That’s not always the case in turn-based games, and rarely do they look as good as this one.
In short, you are one of a number of tribes that share a square game board that starts off covered in ice and snow, which means you can’t see where any of the pickups – or your opponents are – on the map. Each tribe starts the game with slightly different specialties in their skill set, but these can ultimately be developed by any tribe, so it’s not a blocker to progress.
By exploring the board, researching new skills and converting new settlements to part of your empire, the aim depends on which game mode you opt for – ‘Classic’ or ‘Domination’. In classic, you get 30 turns to get as high a score as possible, and in domination it’s the last tribe standing that wins.
There are some in-game purchases available – for additional tribes, which thereby let you play against more AI opponents – they’re not required at all.
Dead Trigger 2
Following the success of their first game, MadFinger Games released Dead Trigger 2, which is so zombielicious you’ll be asking for more blood and guts after just a few minutes of playing. You must travel through various undead-infested areas of the world, killing as many zombies with your jam-packed artillery of weapons. It’s positively disgusting, and that’s why we love it.
Hopeless: The Dark Cave
Horror, comedy and cuteness combine to great effect in this shooter about a small group of incandescent blobs in the middle of a dark cave, trying to fight off an endless horde of dark-dwelling monstrosities.
There is no end to the game as such, you just collect coins to upgrade your weapons arsenal for the next go, and do your best to keep the cute little fellas alive. The game is not for the faint-hearted because watching the brave blobs get swallowed up one-by-one by the darkness can be heart-rending.
SHADOWGUN is the best multi-player shooter on Android, and will push powerful Android devices to the limit because of its demanding graphics. There are several classic shooter modes, including Deathmatch, and the Battlefield–style Zone Control. There is also an easy-to-use multiplayer voice chat, to help you better coordinate your team – or yell insults at your enemy.
The name of some games leaves you wondering what exactly to expect. War Robots is not one of those games, and what you’re going to get if you download it is a variety of different robots and weapons to upgrade and battle with against other players online.
The game throws you into online matches – there’s no single player option to hone your skills – right from the start, but thankfully the controls are straightforward and easy to pick up.
Each robot has different abilities (some move faster, some can jump really high, etc.) and there are a whole load of different weapons to unlock and upgrade too. There’s nothing revolutionary in the upgrade mechanics, but blasting robot foes sure can be fun.
Give hydrogen the Midas touch with this captivating little puzzler. Simplicity is often best when it comes to puzzle games, and Atomas works on this very simple foundation. You start with some measly hydrogen, and use plus and minus atoms to turn it into helium, then lithium and so on, until you end up with some of those good old precious metals like silver and gold.
It’s easy enough to start out with, but it will soon having you Googling the periodic table in a bid to learn where best to place your atoms to trigger the most satisfying chain reactions.
Angry Birds 2
After what seems like endless variations on the original, Roxio is back with a whole new iteration of Angry Birds. The game itself is free, but it’s attracted some controversy over its approach to in-app purchases: while some reviews say the game is a hoot even in its free incarnation, others say that Roxio is more interested in making you pay than having you play. We’d love to know what you think.
Plants vs Zombies 2
Sequel to one of the most successful free-to-play games ever, EA’s Plants vs Zombies 2 retains the spirit of the original while adding more zombies, plants and power ups. This colorful tower defense game will suck up a lot of your time (and potentially money, if you want to make use of its in-app purchases), but you are guaranteed fun along the way.
Many puzzle games on Android are of the therapeutic variety; take your time solving a puzzle while everything in game patiently waits for you. You can forget about all that in Wire Defuser, a tense, time-limited puzzle game in which you must dispose of bombs before they blow.
There are more than 80 levels in the game, and once you’ve conquered it you can unlock a hardcore mode. It’s well presented too, with the bomb dials and knobs looking like something straight out of 80s action movies.
Puzzle games that look like they belong on trendy design websites have been pretty commonplace since the fantastic Monument Valley, and ZigZag is the latest to jump on the bandwagon.
Despite its looks, ZigZag is more of a reflex-based game than a puzzler; you guide a ball along thin zig-zagging paths and have to time your taps right to stop it falling off the edge. It’s a simple, great-looking game for those quick-fix sessions.
Falling somewhere between Frogger and infinity runners Temple Run and Subway Surfers, Crossy Road is a cute game that’s great for quick-fix sessions. So great, in fact, that it won a Best quickplay game award at the International Mobile Gaming Awards.
The longer you survive, the more gold you earn, which allows you to unlock new characters to traverse the endless 3D pixel-blocky world. It’s old-school and new-school, charming and challenging, and we love it.
It may look suspiciously similar to the wonderful Monument Valley, but give Skyward a chance (it’s free, after all) and you’ll see that it offers something quite different.
You control a red and a blue circle, which you must rhythmically guide through Escher-like levels that are falling away behind you. If you take too long, the circles shrink to nothing. It looks fantastic, and there are no in-app purchases, so you get the full experience for free.
We hope you haven’t forgotten how to connect the dots since your childhood, because this game asks you to use that set of skills all over again.
TwoDots is an Android favorite (and sequel to the immensely popular Dots) in which you have to combine a certain number of colored dots in a limited number of moves in order to progress up the ladder of levels, which currently carries an absurd 510 rungs. The game design is really nice and minimalistic.
Fruit Ninja has also been around for years now, but it is still just as addictive as it was when it first hit the scene. Swiping your finger – sorry, ninja sword – across the touchscreen to dish out deadly attacks to, erm, fruit, and watermelons, bananas, peaches will fall by your blade.
Slice your way through your five a day while creating combos and making high scores in this infinitely satisfying arcade game.
Cut the Rope series
Cut the Rope is a veteran game by Android standards now. The aim is to feed the monsters by cutting free the candies that are teasingly hanging on ropes over their heads. Sounds weird? Yes, it is, and it’s utterly brilliant for it.
Cut the Rope 2 adds a host of new characters and locations, while Cut the Rope: Experiments adds 200 new levels. All for free. You can’t say no to that, can you?
The first person motorcycle game that rewards you for close calls. The handling feels realistic and is achieved by moving the device as if it were a steering wheel. The settings are incredibly detailed with a crisp picture even at high speeds.
Once you finish a circuit under the time limit, you unlock a new map. As you progress, you can unlock up to 20 motorcycles with different handling, power and braking.You get extra time for getting close to other drivers, so it pays to take some risks.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
If you are into racecar driving, look no further than Asphalt 8: Airborne, a favorite arcade game among Android users. Why do we love it so much? It’s free for a start, and you get to choose between real-life cars that you’ve always dreamed of driving – from Lamborghinis to Ferraris – ripping them down courses in various stunning locations.
If you have a competitive streak, you can drive in career mode, which takes you through eight seasons and 180 events.
Angry Birds Go!
Angry Birds has more or less taken over the world, taking the form of soft toys in our bedrooms, breakfast cereals, and now Mario Kart-style racing games. In Angry Birds Go! you choose from a variety of Angry Birds characters and race your way through fanciful terrains while shooting random objects at your opponents.
Just like with Mario Kart, the controls take some time to get used to at the beginning, but soon you’ll be slinging those birds down the race track with ease.
Driver Speedboat Paradise
We don’t know what speedboat racing and the mafia have in common, but these two things get thrown together in Driver Speedboat Paradise. Made by Ubisoft (who also made the Driver games, hence the odd title) and featuring the kind of vibrant graphics that’ll make the most of a pretty Galaxy S6 display, Driver Speedboat Paradise is a fun little thrill ride which can be enjoyed for free.
As you win races, you get the chance to customize your boat to make it ride faster and look better, and you can even unlock new clothes and houses for your rider (though we should warn you that some of these things come as in-app purchases).
Derby Destruction Simulator
If you’ve already got a racing game you like from the list above (or perhaps another like Real Racing 3), then spending a little time destroying cars while getting as many points as possible can be a fun way to spend a few minutes.
With a few different arenas to check out and a pleasing lack of need to consistently upgrade components on your cars, all you need to work out is how to smash up your opponents without exploding your own car first. As you play, you earn in-game money based on your performance, which can then be used to unlock new cars and arenas.
With short bursts of gameplay and a straightforward approach to destruction, the only real downside to Derby Destruction Simulator is the number of ads – there’s a short five-second one after each game, but any in-game purchase removes all the ads forever.
Skiing Yeti Mountain
Skiing Yeti Mountain has all the hallmarks of free Android classics such as Flappy Bird and Timberman, namely Lo-fi graphics, excellent controls and addictive gameplay. In Skiing Yeti Mountain, you control a skier as he or she navigates a mountainside course, by tilting your finger at the bottom of the screen.
The challenge comes from staying between the right and left posts, avoiding obstacles and trying to reach the bottom of the course as fast as you can. It’s easy to learn and difficult to master, and the short nature of the courses ensures that you fail often and keep coming back for more.
This hilarious and beautifully minimal game sees you control a flailing ‘Wrassler’ made up of about 20 pixels, competing in an endless royal rumble match. It’s all against all in the ring, as opponents keep jumping in, and attempting to throw their rivals out by windmilling their arms around.
The Commodore 64-style graphics and haphazard-looking gameplay make this game both charming and hilarious. As you reach certain scores, you can unlock hats for your wrassler and fight bosses, on your path to becoming the wrassling champion of Slamdovia (the home of Wrassling, apparently).
Touchgrind Skate 2
If you want a seriously challenging sports game, Touchgrind Skate 2 is going to keep you busy for a long time with its variety of skate parks, tricks and challenges. Admittedly, if you want to go beyond the bounds of the free version to new areas, you’ll need to pay to unlock them, but it’s only a few dollars to unlock every location and there’s plenty to do in the free version first. You’ll definitely want to play that before handing over any money to ensure it’s the sort of frustrating challenge you enjoy.
In what should be a simple sounding exercise, you propel yourself along just by holding two fingers on the board and perform a range of tricks that vary in difficulty by placing, sliding, flicking or otherwise moving your fingers in just the right way. But before you get to the more advanced options, you’ll want to really nail the basic ollie, flips and grinds, which you can do in the freeplay mode, rather than learn as you go along with challenges.
With realistic graphics rather than the cartoon, retro appeal of so many games now, Touchskate Grind 2 is well worth a look for anyone that wants to spend a really long time mastering a skating game.
Final Fantasy: Record Keeper
Despite its clunky menus and the fact it sometimes feels like a loading-screen simulator, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper provides some great Final Fantasy nostalgia. It lets you replay some of the most memorable moments from previous games in the franchise in a bid to restore the records that uphold the kingdom, which are inexplicably fading from existence.
It’s a no-frills role player game with energy-based play that lets you build a team of five characters using familiar faces from all over the Final Fantasy universe. There are tons of different weapons, armor and abilities to acquire and customize your characters with, and the retro graphics and music are sure to evoke some favorable memories. Just enter with a little patience, because those loading screens are a blight.
Tapper RPGs are an acquired taste, but if they’re right up your street, Sudden Warrior has got hours of tapping waiting for you. The focus of the game is mostly on ensuring you’ve levelled up your equipment and skills enough to take on the oncoming waves of enemies. If you don’t want to pay any money, you are going to end up watching a few ads to get the gems and coins you need, though there are frequent rewards every few minutes for prolonged sessions.
Gameplay is largely focused on ensuring you’ve levelled up and unlocked all the items required to face the next wave of attackers – at the end of each ‘level’, there’s a boss to defeat. And how do you do this? Just tap attack or heal to ensure you best your foes before you die. There’s different gear and abilities to unlock as you progress to help you out too.
Dungeon Hunter 5
The most recent installment in the demonically popular Dungeon Hunter series offers an interesting new twist on the dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash formula. It has a similar main quest to previous games, as you and up to three of your friends slash and spell-blast your way through piles of monsters to save the Kingdom of Valenthia.
There is spellcrafting, leveling-up and boss-fighting in abundance. However, the most interesting new feature is the new ‘Strongholds’ multiplayer mode, in which you build a base, train a monster army, and then take on other players and their strongholds. Clash of Clans had better look out!
Words With Friends
This Scrabble clone changes the classic board game from something you sit down and play with your grandparents, to an online experience where you can play several people simultaneously and take your turn whenever you like.
The new version tracks your performance, showing you your scores relative to other people, the longest words you’ve played, and your overall win-lose record. There is now also an in-built dictionary feature, so next time you gain points with a two-letter word you don’t understand, you can find out what it actually means.
Words On Tour
The second wordy Zynga game on this list is a bit less conventional. Think of it as a free-for-all word search meets Tetris. You complete levels by creating words out of letters that are adjacent to each other in the grid.
You don’t have to create words in straight lines either, which means your mental muscles will be flexed if you want to gain maximum points. There are power-up tiles and traps hidden in the game, and you can take your progress online to compare yourself against your friends and rivals.
Another cult classic: Icomania is simple, but keeps you entertained. The game shows you a series of icons and you have to guess which movie star, cartoon, place or other type of thing in the world it is. If you get stuck, we’ve got all of the answers in our forum.
QuizUp landed like a bomb in 2014, revealing that everyone’s a sucker for a good trivia game. The sky’s the limit for the number of categories, with new ones added daily. It’s not just your usual ‘sports, films, history’ fare either, with categories ranging from Android, to Harry Potter, to Batman. You can also play against others from around the world to compete on the global leaderboards.
Guess the Song
If general knowledge quizzing and word games aren’t really your speed, perhaps a music quiz is more up your street. If that is the case, and you know your Beyonce from Bach, Guess the Song will deliver exactly what you’re expecting.
Just choose from a category (you can pick by genre or by collections by decade – 80s, 90s etc.) and you’ll be bombarded with short clips from songs that you (hopefully) recognize. The quicker you answer, the more points you get for each question, and thus overall. By achieving certain (mostly score-based) challenges, you can unlock the next level of questions.
It’s a simple and free (providing you don’t want to pay to unlock other additional categories), and also has a two-player mode that splits the screen in two, to allow you and a friend to race to answer first. There’s no online two-player mode though.
Hardest Game Ever 2
Hardest Game Ever 2 is not the hardest game ever, but it is one of the most fun. It’s based around a series of frantic mini-games such as Mario Party or the WarioWare titles.
It’s great in short bursts, but it’s not ideal for tablets because the resolution is quite low. Also, it’s kind of crass, and might be a bit unsavory for some people. If you can stomach it, give it a try.
Psych! Outwit Your Friends
If you’re a fan of the Balderdash board game, you’re going to enjoy Android version you can play at home with friends. In fact, you can only play it if you have a few friends in the room with you.
Each person will need to download the app to play, then input the goofy password displayed on the game leader’s screen. Once you’ve picked a category, each player needs to make up fake answers to real trivia questions and gets points for either picking the correct answer, or successfully selling a lie to one of your friends.
If you end up playing it a lot, you’d probably want to purchase new categories, but it’s free to download and you get a few free ones to play around with first.
Piano Tiles 2 (Don’t Tap 2)
If you want a challenge with some fun music that you create, then Piano Tiles 2 is your game. It’s easy to get started and the rules are real simple, hit the black tiles as they fall down the screen. This updated version of Piano Tiles (Don’t Tap the White Tile) allows you to play against other players around the globe in Hall mode. You can start competing against others the minute you start playing.
You can make a perfect harmony if you master the rhythm. The game has a ton of fun songs like Jingle Bells or Happy New Year, as well as traditional classical songs from Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and many more. You can play it without sound, but where’s the fun in that?
If you’re looking for a serious challenge, Twist might be for you. The goal is to get a ball down a tunnel that you must twist so that the ball stays on the tiles. But you have to be quick with your clicks and very accurate as well. Twist is easy to learn but hard to master; get on a roll and you will really have a blast.
Super Monsters Ate My Condo!
This Jenga-meets-hyperactive-Japanese-arcade-game is as crazy as it sounds, which can largely be attributed to the fact that it’s made by Adult Swim games (creators of the legendary Robot Unicorn Attack). In Super Monsters Ate My Condo! apartments floors of various colors drop down from the top of the screen, and it’s your job to swipe them away into the mouths of the correspondingly-colored monsters sitting in wait.
If you leave the monsters unfed for too long, they get angry, and you don’t want to see them angry (well, you probably do, but it’ll lead to you losing the game). There are power-ups such as acid, nuke and dog to help and hinder you, as well as various game modes, unlockables and online scoreboards.
Winter Walk / Autumn Walk
These two games have a simple gameplay premise – you need to keep a Victorian gentleman’s hat on his head as he goes for his afternoon constitutional – but are immediately endearing, thanks to the pixelated art style and the top-hatted protagonist himself.
As the weather conditions worsen, you’ll find it more and more difficult to keep his hat on, even though mechanically all you need to do is hold your finger on it. The two games are similar, although in Autumn Walk you have to hold onto an unruly dog on a leash too, and you can buy new outfits to make your gentleman look quite the dandy!
Egg, Inc is described as a classic incremental clicker game, but that belies the effort that’s been put into this many-levelled strategy and development game that has a clicker at its heart.
Your task is to grow your burgeoning egg farm into a business set on global domination by researching the right skills at just the right time – all while occasionally knocking drones out of the air to earn a little extra cash. It’s the cutesy 3D graphics and lack of menus that really help deliver a top-rate game though.
Once you’ve ‘completed’ the game, there’s even a prestige system that gives you extra bonuses for restarting the game. If you like clicker games in general, go and download it now.
Have you discovered any free Android games that we should mention here? Let us know, and it might just make the list one day.