The 35 best games on Android right now
Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. There are loads of fantastic free games on Android, but spend a little bit of cash and you can enjoy a mobile gaming experience that's every bit as good as it is on an iThing.
And when we say 'a little bit', we mean it. Only one of the games in this list costs more than a fiver and most can be had for less than the price of a pint. Many are free, with in-app purchases available if you choose to take them.
So what should you be playing? While Android used to be not so much a poor relation to iOS but more of a penniless acquaintance, these days the Play Store is pretty well stocked.
Most of the big developers' AAA titles eventually find their way into Google's virtual shopfront, albeit sometimes a little later than they arrive on iOS, and there are plenty of quality indie games to be found if you hunt a little harder.
Anyway, enough of this talking - you want to get gaming. So here's our list of the 35 best games we've played on Android.
Lara Croft GO (RM15)
Lara Croft GO
We can imagine the meeting room when someone piped up with: “Hey, why don’t we turn Tomb Raider into a turn-based puzzle game?” But any doubt must have instantly evaporated on playing Lara Croft GO.
The game is gorgeous — rivalling Monument Valley in terms of breathtaking beauty — but, more importantly, it’s smart. Each step of the quest is a tiny puzzle, where you figure out a path, flick switches, grab swag, and try to avoid being mauled by giant scuttling spiders.
The mechanics might be new, but Lara Croft GO nonetheless feels like those early Tomb Raider efforts — full of wonder and tension, with a sense of isolation in being somewhere no-one else has seen for aeons.
Horizon Chase (RMfree)
A love letter to classic 1990s arcade racers, Horizon Chase channels Lotus Turbo Esprit Challenge and Top Gear, fusing them with a decidedly modern take on old-school visuals. The result is an intoxicating and vibrant blast through 73 tracks located in 32 cities around the globe.
Realism’s broadly ignored in favour of speed as you battle from the back of the grid (every time, just like in the old days), bumping rivals aside to try for the chequered flag. The difficulty curve’s smooth; the soundtrack’s head-noddingly cheesy; and the game is fast. You’re basically dead inside if you don’t plonk down £2.29 for the full-game unlock once you’ve bested the initial handful of free tracks.
Pac-Man CE DX (RM10)
Pac-Man CE DX
If you’d visited Stuff HQ in early 2015 and told us mere months later Android would receive the best Pac-Man game ever made, we’d have laughed so hard you’d have been blown out of the window. But the joke would have been on us, because CE DX is marvellous.
Following on from the original Pac-Man Championship Edition, this sequel is a fast-paced time-attack game, where you manage mazes split in half. Clear one side and a special object appears in the other; eat that and the now-empty section is refilled with a new dot configuration.
All the while, you graze sleeping ghosts that awake in a bad mood and follow your every move. The result is the best of Pac-Man and Snake, smushed together and sped up, across ten unique zones.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (RM49)
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
One of the most criminally ripped-off games of recent years, Threes! is simple but ingenious; easy to play but infuriatingly difficult to master.
A four-by-four grid and a series of sliding numbered tiles are your tools. Each numbered tile can only combine with one other type of tile, at which point it becomes a single tile whose values add up to its constituents.
The idea is to keep playing long enough (a full grid will result in your game ending) that you can create a fabled 2048-valued tile. The music, sound effects and clean presentation are merely icing on an already delicious cake.
Somewhere along the way, a great many games forgot how to be exciting. But ALONE… remembers those days of seat-of-the-pants roller-coaster gameplay, where a moment’s distraction spelled game over. Here, you’re piloting a tiny ship through deadly caverns at breakneck speed. Occasionally, alarms blare, to warn of incoming projectiles. All you have is your wits and reactions as your sliding finger directs the ship up and down, before it inevitably comes a cropper on the rocky face of one too many giant asteroids.
There’s no depth here, but there doesn’t need to be — ALONE… has tons of replay value simply by virtue of being relentlessly thrilling, no matter how many times you play.