There are hundreds of fantastic games available for Android, and a lot of them cost nothing. Whether ad-supported or based on a ‘freemium’ model, these titles are free – and guaranteed to make your morning commute a little less painful.
To help you find just the sort of thing you’re after, we’ve grouped the games into sections, so you can quickly grab the best platform games, endless runners, arcade games, shooters, puzzlers, strategy games, adventures, racers and sports titles.
If you can't find something you like in all that lot, you must hate games. In which case, this is an odd article for you to be reading.
The best free Android platform games
Super Cat Tales 2
This follow-up to our previous favourite Android platforming freebie somehow manages to improve on its predecessor. You get that whiff of classic platforming, directing a band of moggies through brightly coloured settings. They leap about, grab bling, avoid nasty enemies, and occasionally slide down walls with that look cats get on biting off more than they can chew.
The controls are superb – two thumbs are all you need to run (double tap), jump (leap from a platform), and wall jump (tap in the opposite direction). It’s so good, you’ll want all virtual D-pads summarily banned. But the game itself is even better, with smartly designed levels and surprising moments aplenty. (Suffice to say, Stuff is never letting the office cat near a tank again, just in case.)
Before all games had to be 3D by law, the 2D adventure-platformer reigned supreme. You’d scoot about a vibrant world with a suspicious number of floating platforms, nab bling, and occasionally kick the living daylights out of monsters daft enough to get in your way.
On touchscreens, these games are usually a bit rubbish, due to iffy design and even worse controls, but Swordigo bucks the trend. You get a huge magical realm of monsters to fight, treasures to find, and towns to explore. Any whiff of nostalgia is rapidly expunged as you become engrossed in the plot, give giant spiders a serious kicking, and do your best Harry Potter impersonation with the aid of enemy-troubling spells.
Drop Wizard Tower
This one’s a love letter to 1980s arcade games like Bubble Bobble. Having been locked in a dungeon, the titular and heroic wizard vows to give the bad guys a serious kicking, which means climbing the tower, duffing anyone up along the way.
But instead of traditional move/jump/fire controls, Drop Wizard Tower is an auto-runner – and an auto-blaster. Your sprinting wizard can merely be told to go left or right, and blasts magic when he lands.
Initially, this disorients, but you soon realise it’s a clever, streamlined control method for touchscreens, and it brings a freshness to this type of game. Something a bit different than you’d expect then, but still worthy enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the games that inspired it.
This deceptively simple platform game strips the genre right back, placing a firm emphasis on learning levels, timing, and exploration. Your jumping bean never stops bouncing, and you simply guide it left or right. The usual platform-game tropes are evident: monsters to jump on; fruit and gems to gather.
But Bean Dreams cleverly adds replay value by way of missions that can’t all be completed on a single run: sticking to a bounce count; finding hidden pet axolotls; and collecting all the fruit. What first seems simple and reductive is really a big challenge, but the straightforward controls are perfect for touchscreens, rather than you spending most of your time battling a hideous virtual D-pad.
It’s full of Sparks
Life is tough if you’re a firecracker. It’s also short when your fuse is lit – unless you can leap into a body of water to stop yourself exploding all over the shop. That’s the ongoing mission in It’s Full of Sparks – sprint for the drink, to stop yourself going boom.
Only this isn’t Canabalt with explosions and a swimming pool. Levels gradually increase in complexity and size, meaning you initially have no idea where to head. You also gradually unlock three sets of natty shades that toggle chunks of the landscape.
Pretty soon, you’re performing deranged finger gymnastics as a tiny firework in a panic scoots about the place, trying desperately to survive. Odd, frenetic fun.
The best free Android endless runners
The average cat wouldn’t think twice about nonchalantly swiping a priceless heirloom to the floor. But the moggies in Crashy Cats have far more ambition, embarking on a rampage of destruction that would give even the most loaded tech billionaire kittens.
You get to be the cat, tapping the screen to leap and, well, that’s about it. As with every endless runner from Canabalt onwards, this one’s all about timing as you bonk dogs on the head, collect kitty chums to form a smashy, furry conga, and occasionally find yourself in a blissed-out bonus round where you zoom through space, trailing rainbows and collecting coins.
In Alto’s Adventure, the titular hero was supposed to be capturing escaped llamas. But mostly he performed show-off stunts on snowy slopes, and tried to stay ahead of spoilsport elders with sticks, angry at Alto’s maverick nature and distaste at sitting in a pen full of llama poop.
This sequel retains the original’s elegance and gorgeous aesthetics. Again, one thumb controls fling Alto into the air and trigger tricks. But now Alto’s blazing through a vast desert, peppered with colossal dunes and death-defying valleys.
It at first feels like a reskin, but Odyssey soon opens up, offering new ideas like bouncing off of hot-air balloons and wall-riding along cliffs. And should you want a more meditative affair, there’s a Zen mode, which pits you against an endless landscape, Alto picking himself up whenever he comes a cropper.
Disney Crossy Road
Endless Frogger meets Disney in a rare example of an indie dev/movie house tie-up that works perfectly. The mechanics will be familiar to anyone who’s played the excellent original — tap and swipe to have a blocky protagonist weave through traffic and deftly jump across rivers.
But the addition of Disney characters finds you battling your way through retro versions of famous animated worlds, dodging tumbling blocks in Toy Story, filing memories for bonuses in Inside Out, and avoiding a psychotic suit of armour in Haunted House.
Even if you have your sea legs, you might think twice about mimicking the hero of this splashy tale of survival. Armed with what appears to be a sheet nailed to a twig rammed into a log, the hardy protagonist braves the high seas – and even higher waves.
By way of tapping, pressing, and swiping, you try to avoid drowning or getting clonked by vicious sea life, all the while trying to outpace a massive, hungry whale determined to make you a lunchtime snack.
Still, if the tension ramps up a bit too much, you can at least gawp at the lovely visuals, shortly before your sailor meets their untimely demise.
Hero of the hour Will is a bit of a square – but so is everyone else in this amusingly over the top mash-up of platforming, endless running, and wanton violence.
You use a single thumb to have Will bounce forwards, the aim being to land on enemy heads, avoid pits, and not get sliced in half by surprisingly deadly windmills. But grab a chest and you’re suddenly heavily armed, unleashing everything from missiles to giant axes.
The gameplay’s fast, furious and demented, but it doesn’t wear thin – this hero’s got plenty of missions to complete, and helmets to find, each of which bestows special powers.