Skip the IAPs with these outstanding Android games
Are you tired of being nickeled-and-dimed by freemium Android games? Had enough of gems and timers and boosts? That's certainly the impression we get when we talk about freemium, so we've rounded up our favorite titles that do away with all of that, and provides the absolute maximum of product up-front. There's a healthy mix here of action, puzzle, strategy, RPG, so go ahead, dive in, and let us know what you think.
Shadowrun Returns is an old-school role-playing game set in a gritty sci-fi setting. In the first campaign, players are hot on the trail of a series of murders, and have to uncover who the murderer is and his grisly purpose. The game is full of important dialog decisions, traditional turn-based combat, and a signature mix of technology and magic. Shadowrun Returns does a beloved franchise justice with solid RPG mechanics and fresh, riveting visuals.
Splice is a gorgeous puzzle game with a serene soundtrack. Players move branches of cells into outlined formations in as few moves (or splices) as possible. Every cell only branches to two other cells, though you can drag any cell you want to another, and undo or redo moves 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 with an amazing soundtrack. Sometimes Splice shows up in the Humble Bundle, so keep an eye out.
- Download Splice now - ($2.99)
By sliding a board of numbered cards in four directions, players in Threes! aim to get adjacent and identically-numbered cards to stack on top of one another. Every turn introduces a new tile on the board, which means you've got to keep stacking to make room for the next. When the board fills up and you can't slide anywhere else, you're given a score based on the value of the cards left, which in turn gets posted on the Play Games leaderboards. Without a doubt, Threes! is one of the most elegant, fun, and challenging games on mobile right now.
Contre Jour is a beautiful puzzle game with an enchanting soundtrack. Gameplay is best described as an amalgam of World of Goo, Cut the Rope, and Portal. Players have to use various bizarre mechanism to move a small blob with one eye around an otherworldly landscape to gather orbs scattered around the level without falling prey to various dangers, including spikes and predatory flora. The visuals are both dark and cute, and will leave a definite lasting impression. Overall, Contre Jour is a great mix of thoughtful and reflex gameplay.
- Download Contre Jour now - ($1.99)
Osmos at first feels fairly slow and plodding, but its tenuous pace demands a lot of intuition. Players control a cell that drifts through an organic soup, absorbing cells. The catch is that propelling yourself in a given direction ejects mass in the process, which in turn makes you smaller, and more susceptible to getting absorbed by larger cells. Things get particularly interesting when you try your hand at multiplayer mode. If you're interested in picking up a thinking man's action game, Osmos is it.
- Download Osmos HD now - ($1.99)
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is a point-and-click adventure game with the occasional reflex-driven mini-game thrown in. The the signature retro pixel art used throughout will immediately strike you, but remains very smoothly animated. The classic fantasy setting is contrasted by modern dialogue language and a bizarre pseudo-scientific meta-narrative. You'll also be dealing with real-world lunar cycles to solve certain puzzles, which is particularly interesting. Sword & Sworcery is an altogether different role-playing game that you should try out at least once.
The Room Two
The Room Two is a highly polished, award-winning puzzle game. Players are presented with various types of elaborate puzzle boxes, and must figure out how to open them to get from one room to the next. To that end, you're provided a lens which can see things that the naked eye can't and a few scraps of text from other wary souls that tried to uncover the same mysteries as you. Solving puzzles in The Room Two will often require shifts in perspective, noticing minute details, and good old-fashioned logic muscles. Trust us that The Room Two is a haunting and unique experience on mobile.
Minecraft - Pocket Edition
Minecraft - Pocket Edition is near-flawless mobile iteration of the hugely famous sandbox game. Players are plonked in the middle of a blocky 3D world, where they need to harvest resources and assemble them into various objects. You'll want to build shelter quickly, since zombies will come shambling out to eat your brains, though the main fun is just building whatever you like. Shared servers allow players to build collaboratively. If you spent way too much time playing with Lego as a kid, Minecraft will surely keep you entertained.
- Download Minecraft: Pocket Edition now - ($6.99)
Super Hexagon is an absurdly difficult action game where players have to navigate through a geometric maze that's continually spinning and collapsing in on itself. Simply put: get hit by a wall and you lose. The pulsing rhythm and constant spinning of the play area are a huge challenge, and an outstanding soundtrack will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are three stages plus alternate, insanely hard versions of each level after hitting certain goal times. Super Hexagon is a fantastic game for gluttons of punishment.
World of Goo
World of Goo is a charming and original physics puzzle game where players have to build wobbly structures that reach from point A to point B. They do this by using various types of sentient goo balls and tools, such as balloons, to keep structures upright enough to get any remaining goo into a suction pipe. Players are scored based on how much goo they transfer from the beginning to the end via this structure, though that gets progressively more difficult as levels themselves begin moving and goo becomes shorter in supply. World of Goo's odd and colorful premise is charming, but also affords very challenging gameplay.
- Download World of Goo now - ($4.99)
Your favorite Android games without in-app purchases?
Those are our picks, but there are a bunch out there, and many more on the way. Which IAP-less Android games have you really enjoyed? Leave a comment! Be sure to swing by Honest Android Games for a healthy selection if you're looking for more. More importantly, we have a whole series of game round-ups that include awesome premium and freemium titles alike. Take a look!
- Read our picks for the best Android games
- Read our picks for the best free Android games
- Read our picks for the best free Android racing games
- Read our picks for the best Android RPGs
- Read our picks for the best Android shooter games
- Read our picks for the best Android strategy games