The best free Android games

by Simon Sage

Did you just pick up a new Android device? Maybe you’re looking for a new, cheap way to kill time? You’re in luck - we’ve got some games here that look and play great on the big and small screen alike, and they’re all available for the low, low price of free.

It’s worth keeping in mind that just about all of these employ in-app purchases of some kind or another. We know there are plenty of you that would willingly pay up front for a quality game, but there are plenty of good free games out there too. We’re trying to avoid “lite” games, since you won’t get a lot of replay value by only having the first couple of levels and being pestered to upgrade (pay) for the rest. That said, if the freemium model is a dealbreaker, this probably isn’t the round-up for you. Developers gotta eat.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best free Android games. Don’t be shy to sing out in the comments with your favorite free games for Android.


Asphalt 8: Airborne

Asphalt 8: Airborne is our favorite racing game on mobile right now. It skips all pretensions of realism and provides an over-the-top, high-octane game with all the fixings. Players can work their way through the career mode, unlock new rides, upgrade the ones they have, or take the competition online in staggered or live multiplayer. The usual race modes are there, plus a new Infected one where players have to tag other racers before succumbing to an explosive virus.

The incredibly polished graphics and outstanding soundtrack make Asphalt 8 an adrenaline trip you won’t soon forget.

Dumb Ways to Die

In Dumb Ways to Die, players have to successfully get through a gauntlet of simple mini-games for as long as possible, though they progressively grow more difficult. These can range from shooing piranhas away from your crotch, swatting bugs, and holding onto balloons so you don't dive onto the tracks. You get three failures before it’s game over. The art style fantastically morbid - cute little characters are constantly getting maimed in new and exciting ways. As you play, you unlock more of the victims/idiots for your collection. The best part about this game is that it's actually a kind of public service warning by the Melbourne transit association to make sure people don't do stupid things near the tracks. There's even a music video. Well-played, Australia. Well-played.

For a dark-but-cute test of reflexes, Dumb Ways to Die is fantastic.

Dead Trigger 2

Dead Trigger 2 brings rootin’-tootin’ first-person-shootin’ back to the zombie apocalypse. Despite the altogether realistic visuals, Dead Trigger 2 remains chock-full of tongue-in-cheek humor. Controls use a fast and natural auto-fire mechanism which keeps the focus on moving and aiming. More notably, there’s a robust hideout and crafting system where you get various assistants to build stuff for you, though it takes time. There is a premium currency in place, but it’s used almost exclusively to speed up building times; all weapons can be created and upgraded using the currency you earn throughout gameplay. Regular events bring players to new parts of the world, with collective rewards if goals are met.

If you’re looking for a high-quality shooter, you’ll have a hard time finding something better than Dead Trigger 2.

Dots

Dots is a light, casual, and addictive puzzle game where players need to line up same-colored dots as quickly as possible. You’ve got a limited number of time or moves to gather up these dots by matching them, get bonuses for tracing closed loops, and once you run out, the dots you’ve gathered can be spent on consumable power-ups. There’s also a local multiplayer mode if you want to see how your friends stack up.

Dots is fun, sharply designed and highly accessible - give it a shot!

Dungeon Hunter 4

Dungeon Hunter 4 is a fast-paced action-RPG that plays like butter. Players hack and slash their way through an extensive single-player campaign, gather loot and gear, level up their abilities, and eventually take the fight into online multiplayer, both co-operatively and competitively. The graphics, particularly during boss battles, are sure to suck you into the world. For those that get particularly enamored, there’s a premium currency available if you want to pick up the swankiest gear.

Dungeon Hunter 4 brings some of the best action-RPG gameplay you’ll find out there.

Galaxy on Fire 2

Galaxy on Fire 2 is a sci-fi RPG that has players blasting through a beautifully-rendered universe. Quests range from hunting down space pirates to mining asteroids and everything in between. There’s plenty of trading to do, and you can always upgrade your ship and buy new rides with the riches you amass. There’s a rich storyline to enjoy, and expansions available through in-app purchases.

Galaxy on Fire 2 is a rich, exciting, wide-open RPG perfect for sci-fi fans.

Plague Inc.

Plague Inc. is a rather dark global virus simulation game. Players gently guide a disease from a modest cough to a deadly worldwide pandemic by evolving it with new symptoms, means of transmission, and resistances. Over time, players unlock new disease types with their own unique traits. World events also randomly pop up every game, forcing you to change your evolution path. With an in-app purchase, you can get rid of ads and add a fast-forward option, or shortcut to new virus types.

As morbid as it may be, the Plague Inc.’s gameplay is truly infectious.

Plants vs. Zombies 2

Plants vs. Zombies is a venerable mobile franchise for a good reason. The bizarre premise of protecting your back lawn from hordes of undead with sunflowers and peas is certainly part of that, but there’s a lot of tactical thinking in terms of plant choices before the attack begins, and placement. In Plants vs. Zombies 2, you’re taken back in time to defend against zombies dressed in era garb, and try out all sorts of new mechanics. The zombies are getting smarter, and challenge your reaction speed in a number of ways, though you also have a whole new complement of plants to use. Stages also have new terrain features to keep every round fresh. Plant food can be collected to super-charge any plant and gesture-based special abilities can make short work of a wave when things get especially hairy.

All in all, Plants vs. Zombies 2 presents deep strategic gameplay in a fun, colorful package.

Spaceteam

Spaceteam is a decidedly unique local multiplayer game. Players gather together with their various 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 while going through these episodes. In-app purchases unlock new skins, panels, and crew member graphics.

Spaceteam will be one of the most fun party games you play, and thanks to cross-platform compatibility, everybody gets to give it a go.

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 be 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

Major Mayhem

A fast and furious senseless shoot ‘em up.

Into the Dead

Run endlessly with the zombies.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Collect your favorite super heroes and have them beat the snot out of each other.

The Sims FreePlay

Build your own little slice of virtual paradise.

Ready Steady Bang

A stylish take on western shootouts.

Those are our picks, but what are you really enjoying playing on your Android device? Do you prefer paid games, or are the free ones good enough for you?

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