The best Android games

by Simon Sage

Maybe you’ve got a new Android device, and you’re ready to fill it up with some grade-A gaming. Maybe you’re a grizzled mobile gaming veteran and have played everything in Google Play and are looking for something new and exciting.

You’re in luck! We’ve put together our very favorite Android games, free and paid. Take a look, get downloading, and if you find something better, leave a comment!


Contre Jour

Contre Jour is a polished, classy, innovative puzzler with an absolutely sublime soundtrack. Seriously, take a listen. The gameplay is a really interesting mix of elements that you might find in World of Goo, Cut the Rope, and Portal. Players have to use various elements to move a tiny cycloptic blob creature around to gather up blue orbs scattered around the level without falling prey to pits, spikes, and other dangers. The art style is both dark and cute, and will leave a definite lasting impression.

Contre Jour offers a good mix of thoughtful and reflex-driven gameplay in a truly unique package.

Fruit Ninja

There’s an indescribable sense of satisfaction from slicing open juicy fruit with ninja-like precision - a satisfaction that has stood the test of time and remains highly accessible. Halfbrick has remained extremely diligent in keeping their original fruit-cutting game up-to-date with new content. Yes, in-app purchases have been implemented for certain power ups, but the starfruit you earn through normal gameplay can be also used to buy these bomb deflectors, bonus fruit, and new blades. There are plenty of achievements to earn over time, too. If playing on a bigger screen, there's even an option for local multiplayer.

Fruit Ninja may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie.

Ingress

Ingress is a location-based game made by Google’s Niantic Labs, and odds are if you’re a hardcore Android fan, you’ve at least tried it out. Players take one of two sides in an attempt to take command of real-world landmarks using an Android app, and connect them with other landmarks in order to claim large swathes of territory. Players gain resources over time, so long as they can hold onto these landmarks against the attacks of the other side. The premise is that there's a whole other world invisible to the human eye, full of an alien resource called XM. The Enlightened are trying to use the resource as a means of reaching the alien race and entering a golden age of technology through them, while the Resistance is a little less optimistic about the situation, and is trying to defend the resource. We like to think of Ingress as competitive geocaching with a sci-fi twist.

If you’re looking for an excuse to explore your town, or somewhere you’re visiting, Ingress is a great way to do it. Beyond that, Ingress is really setting the bar for location-based gaming in the future.

Rymdkapsel

Rymdkapsel combines Tetris-style base building and real-time strategy resource management, in a minimalist and finger-friendly package. Players have to build residences, feed the populace, and expand towards objectives, all while fending off wave after wave of progressively more difficult enemy air strikes. There are objectives that can be obtained to make your base more resistant to the attacks, but just aws the attacks get harder to defend, expanding your base that far fast enough isn't easy either.

Rymdkapsel is distinctive in both its abstract art style and polished, pared-down gameplay.

Spaceteam

Spaceteam is a decidedly unique local multiplayer game. Players gather together with their various Android devices and connect over either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They’re then presented with ridiculously-labeled spaceship consoles, with all manner of sliders, knobs, switches, and buttons. Each player then has a message flashing telling them which control needs to be tweaked in order to save their ship from exploding. The thing is, that control could be on anybody’s device, so what ends up happening is everybody starts barking ludicrous orders at one another with straight-faced urgency. Random events can have players in a panic trying to wipe goop off their controls or re-attaching broken panels while going through these frenzied episodes.

Spaceteam will be one of the most fun party games you play, and thanks to cross-platform compatibility with iOS, everybody can get in on the fun.

Splice

Splice is an absolutely beautiful puzzle game with an amazing soundtrack. You get to play god by moving branches of cells into target formations in as few moves as possible. Each cell can only branch off two other cells, though you can drag any cell you want to another, and move forward and backwards in your move sequence with a simple gesture. Things get complicated when you’re presented with cells that shoot out another one after it, split into two, or delete all other cells further down the branch. You have to use all of those, and you can’t have too many or too few cells to make the blueprint.

Splice is a meditative and polished experience. The soundtrack alone is likely to keep you playing for awhile.

Star Command

Star Command is a sci-fi strategy game with a retro pixel art style. Players take command of a spaceship that vaguely looks like it could have been pulled out of a Star Trek movie, and recruit a crew, upgrade facilities, and embark on intergalactic adventures that usually end in a firefights with grotesque aliens. Battles take place between ships with different mini-games for each weapon system, or against boarding parties, where you need to move crew members into position, put out fires, and make sure your people don’t get sucked out into the cold void of space when there’s a hull breach. Over time, your crew increases in skills, enabling them to man the ship’s various stations with increasing effectiveness.

If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted single-player experience with great writing and a lot of long-term progression, Star Command is where it’s at.

Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon is an insanely difficult abstract twitch response game where players have to navigate through a geometric maze that's continually spinning and collapsing in on itself. The pulsing rhythm and constant spinning of the play area make this really, really hard, plus the fast-paced soundtrack isn't likely to calm your nerves at any rate. There are three difficulties to start, and as you beat each stage, a new version of the level unlocks that has the same track go at what feels like twice the regular speed. It gets a little ridiculous in no time.

Super Hexagon is perfect for when you have less than 30 seconds to play something, and is an absolutely fantastic game for gluttons of punishment.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is an odd mix of old and new in a number of ways. In terms of mechanics, it’s a point-and-click adventure game with the occasional reflex-driven mini-game thrown in. This is a fairly old genre that hasn’t seen a lot of traction on consoles, nevermind the latest mobile devices. The graphics consist of chunky, stylized pixel art in an age when 3D reigns supreme. The classic fantasy setting is contrasted by modern character language and an overarching pseudo-scientific meta-narrative. Aside from that the game is doing some pretty neat stuff associated with real-world lunar cycles. Optional in-app purchases give you new ship controls and crew outfits.

If you’re looking for something new and different, Sword & Sworcery is definitely a good place to start.

You Don’t Know Jack

You Don’t Know Jack is an amazingly-written trivia game with a long-standing tradition of bizarre wordplay and general smart-assery. Players compete against Facebook friends for the high scores in themed episodes. Many of the questions adopt a standard multiple-choice format, but there are also Dis or Dat questions where you have to categorize terms, and the harrowing Jack Attack in the final round. The tokens earned through gameplay can unlock new hilarious parody commercials in between rounds or spent on consumable performance enhancers. In-app purchases can get rid of ads and give you all the tokens you could want.

You Don’t Know Jack is an absolutely hilarious game, even for those of us that are way too dumb to do well with trivia titles.

Honorable Mentions

Asphalt 8: Airborne

It skips all pretensions of realism and provides an over-the-top, high-octane racing game with all the fixings.

Badland

A beautiful side-scrolling game with believable physics.

Dead Trigger 2

The quintessential zombie-shooting experience on Android.

Modern Combat 4

Widely regarded as the best first-person shooter on mobile.

Plague Inc.

A rather dark global virus simulation game.

And those are our favorite games for Android. It's a wide universe for games on Google Play, so you can be sure we'll be revisiting this list and keeping it updated with all the latest and greatest in Android gaming. And, of course, we've got the comments below for you to sound off in support of your favorite Android games.

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