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The best Android action games without in-app purchases

Are you tired of being nickeled-and-dimed by freemium Android games? Had enough of gems and timers and boosts? That's certainly the popular opinion we get when we talk about freemium, so we've rounded up our favorite action games in the Google Play Store that do away with all of that, and provides the absolute maximum of product up-front.

We're focusing on reflex-driven games here, but we've got a few others kicking around in our global roundup of the best non-freemium Android games. Go ahead, dive in, and let us know what you think of our top ten action Android games without IAPs in the comments.

Super Hexagon

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.

Modern Combat 5

Modern Combat 5 boasts bar-setting graphics, rich multiplayer, familiar first-person shooter experience and achievement progression, a dazzling array of weapon customization, and top-notch voice acting. You'll find hardware controller support here too, for those really looking to emulate the console experience. That's great and all, but there is one distinct difference in Modern Combat 5 which could easily stand as the sole selling point: there are zero in-app purchases.

Modern Combat 5 is without a doubt the best first-person shooter available on Android.

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. Well-played, Australia. Well-played. There are a few ads to put up with between games, but at least the game's free.

Dumb Ways to Die is a fantastic, dark (but cute) test of reflexes.

Unpossible

Unpossible is a fast as hell racing game where players have to steer around a stark tube and avoid incoming obstacles as long as possible. The fluid gameplay and sharp, slight Tron style to the game's visuals are both immediately impressive. The challenge ramps up to Super Hexagon levels very quickly. You can also try your hand at new daily challenges, or take it easy in zen mode.

Unpossible is a gut-wrenching ride that will have you constantly coming back for more.

Osmos

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.

Alone

The premise of Alone is simple: drag up and down on a the screen to pilot an escape pod through a deadly gauntlet of galactic debris. You get two levels of shields that can soak up a bit of punishment. Go for as long as possible in order to unlock higher difficulty levels. The controls are razor-sharp. You drag behind the ship to push it up or down (the direction is inverted by default and feels great, but you can flip that in the options). The sensitivity for this is really high, so you're just rolling your thumb on the screen rather than swiping. This is perfect for playing on small screens, but scales up to tablets just as well.

Alone is a modern, fast, and polished endless runner you won't soon forget.

Wave Wave

Wave Wave is an insanely difficult abstract one-touch runner game. Players are guiding a line through a gauntlet of triangular obstructions by tapping and holding the screen to climb, and releasing to dive. Constant flickering and warping effects pose a significant challenge and the intense 8-bit soundtrack won't be soothing your nerves. Despite its obvious influence from Super Hexagon, Wave Wave stands very much on its own thanks to a more fleshed-out progression structure, varied disorientation effects, and a two-player mode.

If Super Hexagon isn't quite challenging enough for you anymore, Wave Wave will kick things up a notch.

Eliss Infinity

Eliss Infinity is a simple retro action game where players need to drag colored planets into target zones before the screen gets too cramped with new ones appearing. Every planet can be stacked on with like-colored ones to make it bigger, or split apart to become smaller, which is necessary to fit within the different target areas that pop up randomly. If different-colored planets are touching one another, it will take a bite out of your health, and of course if you lose too much health, it's game over. There's a campaign with a 25 levels, and an extremely challenging infinity mode.

Though the gameplay is simple, the frantic pace and minimal wireframe graphics of Eliss Infinity are a great hook.

Dropchord

In Dropchord, players create a line that cuts through a circle by placing two fingers on the outside of it, denoting either endpoint. Players have to move their fingers around in order to push the line through goal points that appear for a limited amount of time, while avoiding cleverly-laid obstacles. Throw in a thumping soundtrack and some altogether electric visuals, and you've got a challenging, unique, high-energy game.

Impossible Road

In Impossible Road, there are no power-ups, no in-app purchases, and barely any colors or shapes. All you have to do is keep a ball on a downward-spiraling track for as long as possible using left and right tap controls. If you fall off, you've got a moment to land on the track further down, but if you free-fall for too long, you've got to start all over. Players are scored based on how many checkpoints they pass through or skip by falling off the edge and recovering. The high contrast art style and minimalist music keep tension high for the fleeting seconds you manage to stay on the track.

If you have any unresolved childhood issues with Rainbow Road from Mario Kart or have an innate fear of heights to revel in, Impossible Road is a good place to start.

Your favorite Android action games without in-app purchases?

Finding great games that don't try to upsell you is hard enough, nevermind ones that sit squarely in the action game category. Give a shout in the comments with your favorite action games on Android without the microtransactions.

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Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at simon@futurenet.com.
29 Comments
  • Even Dead Ahead by Chillingo International is great. It gets a little hard but isn't impossible. IAPs aren't compulsory.
    My fav game lately. :) Posted via Android Central App
  • Awesome info. I literally only search for IAP free games. As soon as I see 'in app purchases' I'm happily on to the next search. (OK Dead Trigger 2 gets a pass, but that's it for me). It'd be cool if Google Play had a tab section for IAP and IAP free games. Posted via Ash William's Boomstick
  • This is a great feature by AC.
  • My favourite Non-IAP action games?
    Last Fish and Continuity 2.
    I love playing those!
  • Interstellar Pilot (freelancer like) https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F... is still my fave, its only iap is for the open world campaign and its only like $1.60, one of the best free space games on playstore
  • Its osmos hd and its the only mobile game i have purchased and played all the way through. Loved it Posted via Android Central App
  • Fantastic Game!
  • is modern combat 5 worth it for &6.99 or wait for a sale?
  • A lot of reports say its worth it, I should also note I've rarely seen negative reviews. Posted via Android Central App
  • It is a "console quality" game in ur pocket. If it were released in 2004 it would be a $49-59.99 Xbox title, maybe. Dunno, I quit PC and console gaming years ago for emulation of my old favs and app store games. Too bad dummies keep spending $100s if not $1,000s on IAPs, ruining the possibility of a one time outright purchase for a game nowadays. I would never spend more than $60 on a game unless it was an IMPORT... Posted via Android Central App
  • I remember paying $60 for Shadows of the empire on N64. i look back and think it was worth it lol, but now i'm wondering about $7 games haha
  • The on screen controls aren't the best but if you get yourself a bluetooth controller it's definitely worth the price. I play on a note 3 and a note 8.0 so I don't know how other devices would handle the graphics.
  • Modern combat 2 & 3 were good, so I'm guessing yes, especially with an updated engine and graphics. Going to wait till the Android Box is out with a game controller before I get it.
  • Osmos was one of my first android purchases, and it's still one of the best values. It's really polished, with a simple, responsive control scheme, excellent graphics and sound, and features an interesting variety of different twists on the game's mechanics. Level difficulty ranges from extremely simple to fiendishly hard. Can't recommend this highly enough...
  • I have played a lot with Osmos some months ago, i will try some of these, i just love the music of these apps, she remind me of my Amiga era.
  • I'll add in my vote for Osmos as well. I got it through a Humble Bundle a while back (along with Osmos HD for my tablet), but if I hadn't I'd gladly pay $3 for it now. It and Angry Birds were the first Android games I played that actually felt like they were designed from the ground-up for a touch screen (unlike so many games that tried to adapt a gamepad or joystick model to the screen).
  • Little Big Adventure!
    AKA Relentless Twinsen's Adventure. Classic PC game, new controls for Android.
    https://www.androidcentral.com/e?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.anrdoezrs.net%2F...
  • Loving this Non-IAP section!! I've been obsessed with Flappy Pong (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shawnkfinn.flappyponggame) . It's dumb but fun and easy to play if you only have a few minutes.
  • Keep this up. Iap games recently has been unplayable unless you hand over fortunes Posted via Android Central App
  • Surprised no one has mentioned The Room or the Room 2. Wonderful games with great graphics. Only games I have actually finished.
  • Sure are, but they're basically the opposite of action games.
  • VVVVVV is an awesome game that is also without IAPs. Ridiculously addicting. Posted via Android Central App
  • pAcman... ... ( 0ppo F5) ...
  • Simon- After reading this yesterday I downloaded Dumb Ways to Die. It's a fun game, but I kind of hate you a little for mentioning it. If you unlock the original video and play the thing it's like riding 'It's a Small World' at Disney; that song keeps popping up on repeat in my brain!
  • Great read, I wanna try ALONE, as it looking like a good game for beginners.
  • Ingress has no in app purchases, but it does require you to GO places!
    (It's also a great way to meet new people and see historic places around your community)
  • Hello, i like all games but specially i like Super Hexagon game!! thanku so much for giving best android games without purchases.
  • Good choice for the list.
  • I don't mind IAP games as long as it's OK here you go, try my game, like it, then buy it, one time IAP and done. This way you get to know if you like the game or not by going thru a training session or level or three, by then one should know if it's what they want or not. If they do, they'll fork over the $7-10 for it and maybe any sequels to it.