Not everyone wants to commit hours of their day to playing games on their phones. That's why casual games exist! These games have proven wildly successful, championed by iconic mobile games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. They're designed to be played on the go and at your own pace — as laid back or competitive as you want.
Most casual games are free, offering in-app purchases and some ads. Some may cost you a dollar or two, but they're worth it. We've collected some of our favorites from the past, along with some newer games that are great to keep on your phone for a little gaming break during your day. It should come as no surprise that you'll find quite a few of these on our list of best Android games.
AI Factory Limited games
AI Factory Limited pushes out the traditional games a lot of us grew up on — chess, checkers, backgammon, and so on — but it does so in great ways. AI's chess, for example, is my go-to chess game on Android, and I've had it installed on my phone for many years. I'm featuring their library here because, frankly, the games are so good that's it hard to pick just one.
Each of these games is perfect for the casual gamer. You can also pick up some card games, sudoku, tic-tac-toe, and more. If you like the classic stuff, AI Factory Limited has you covered. Most, if not all, of the games have free versions available, or you can pay a couple of dollars to unlock the ad-free versions if you so choose.
Alto's Odyssey is a simple endless runner game that has you dashing down desert dunes, wall riding rock formations, and exploring ancient ruins. However, the gorgeous sound design, soothing soundtrack, and shifting color palettes will keep you coming back for more adventure.
As much as I love Alto's Adventure, it was important that Odyssey offer enough new content to justify itself. Fortunately, there's a ton to unpack and discover for hardcore fans and anyone coming into the franchise fresh. The main game mode is back with plenty of goals to go after each run and characters and features to unlock, and the fan-favorite zen mode is also included here for those times where you just want to kick back and relax.
Among Us is an extremely popular social deduction game. Like Mafia or Werewolf, it challenges you to unearth the impostor among the crewmates. However, the Impostor, selected at random at the beginning of a match, will be trying to kill all of the crewmates and/or sabotage the mission.
The Impostor will need to use all sorts of nefarious means to slay everyone, including using the ventilation system to quickly get about, spacing corpses, and misleading the other players to throw the blame off of themselves. It's a fun, oftentimes casual game of whodunnit, and while it's not as popular as it was, there's still plenty of players ready to murder and deduce. It's a free download and there's crossplay between the mobile and the PC versions, although if you want to play on PC it's $5.
Angry Birds 2
The Angry Birds franchise is one of those iconic smartphone games that has reached heights that even the developers couldn't have envisioned when the first game landed on mobile over seven years ago. What started as a simple game pitting upset birds battling the green pigs that stole their eggs has spawned several spin-offs and sequels — and even a freaking Angry Birds movie!
If you've never played it before, here's the skinny. Every bird comes with a unique skill, designed to ruin the evil pigs and restore order. You fling the birds at obstacles, power up their skills with features like a Birdquake (hint: it's exactly what it sounds like), or make a one-time purchase of the Mighty Eagle and show those pigs who the real bosses are. It's loads of addictive fun for gamers of any age or skill level. Angry Birds 2 is the sequel, which adds more birds, more powerups, and more fun!
The Battle of Polytopia
If you love in-depth strategy games like Civilization 5, but don't typically have 10 hours to burn playing through a full campaign, you should check out The Battle of Polytopia. It's a casual strategy game that borrows heavily from the Civilization franchise but offers a fresh take on the genre for Android.
Upgrade your technology tree, explore new lands, and decimate your enemies in solo and multiplayer modes that are great for quick pick-up-and-play or lengthier gaming sessions. Everything is wrapped in colorful poly graphics, and it's surprisingly robust for a free-to-play title.
Candy Crush Saga
The Candy Crush franchise is the most popular casual puzzler for phones. In the latest twist on the Candy Crush game, you match three of the same candy on the game board to create, spread, or clear away jelly. Your nemesis is the Jelly Queen and you can battle her alone or test your skills against your friends.
The game has added new candies you'll wish you could buy and eat in real life. If you're connected to Facebook you'll have access to a leaderboard that shows you how well you're doing and who your biggest competition is. There are over 100 levels of sweet, silly fun to be had, and the games are as short or as in-depth as you want them to be.
Cats are Cute
A simple game of collecting cats and building a town around them, Cats are Cute is strangely addictive. With a charming black and white doodle-like design, the goal of the game is to find as many cats as you can, build homes and businesses for them, and then upgrade everything into a booming cat city. You start out with just one cat and a house that generates a certain amount of fish per hour (the in-game currencies are fish and cat grass), which you then use to purchase upgrades for your cat and their home.
This game may be painfully simple at surface level, but that's exactly what makes it an ideal casual game. While you're waiting around for your town to generate more fish, you can play rock-paper-scissors with your cats, play hide-and-seek, pet and feed them, and even chat with them.
Cats are Cute is completely free and is monetized through ads and in-app purchases. However, the IAPs and ads are both pretty non-intrusive, and it's easy enough to progress without ever spending real-world money. This is the perfect pocket game for killing a few spare minutes a day.
Chessplode is chess with explosions! It drastically changes the way you'll play chess. If you're bad at chess (or don't know how to play), you actually might be at an advantage over someone who's more skilled. When you capture a piece, the whole row and column go boom, except if there's a king in the way. In that case, the move will turn into a regular capture.
This game changes up the whole chess paradigm to the point where it's almost unrecognizable from the original game. Even the boards can be weird (even user-generated). The game also throws different challenges at you, multiplayer, and that level generator I just mentioned. It's a blast of a game and perfect for chess noobs or veterans alike. It does, however, contain IAPs to add undos (with infinite undos being a one-time purchase of $1.99).
Data Wing is another incredibly enjoyable game that's 100% free with no-nonsense. It's a racing adventure bathed in neon and it looks fantastic. It also has a great soundtrack and excellent gameplay. You pilot a triangle around a track, ferrying bits of data as you go.
It's a racing game at its heart, but it feels like so much more. There's a fun story behind Data Wings that's reminiscent of the original Tron. This is quite apt given the visual style of the game. Touch controls are on point, too, and the levels are awesome to look at. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
The Fishercat has a lot going for it that makes it unique in the broader category of fishing-related games. Unlike Fishing Life, which is very much grounded in reality, The Fishercat has you quite literally shooting fish with a harpoon gun at crazy fast speeds. Wrapped up in an extremely adorable cartoony style, this is the high octane fishing trip you didn't know you needed.
The cats themselves are ridiculously cute, but the art style makes the fish you can catch even more fun to collect. Set against some beautiful aquatic backdrops, harpooning fish like you've got a submachine gun, this is one game that's just fun. There's really no arguing with that. There are over 150 types of fish you can catch with simple drag and release touch controls to aim and fire your harpoon. On top of that, there are many different types of harpoons you can play around with and optional items that can make some catches easier.
This free title does include ads and in-app purchases, but in comparison to Fishing Life, the ads are much less intrusive. If you're up for a fun, silly fishing game, this is the one for you.
Fishing Life puts you in the shoes of a man trying to recapture that childhood joy of fishing with your dad. It's a sincere premise for a very sincere game. The controls couldn't be easier, you just hold your cast until your gauge is full and then release to drop a line. The real meat of the game comes from selling your catches to upgrade your gear. You'll need to improve your rod, tackle, line, and even your boat itself to reach the bigger fish dwelling beneath the waves. You can catch whales, sharks, penguins, and of course, many, many fish.
A relaxing soundtrack, the sounds of lapping waves, day cycling into night, and a calming color palette all add to the laid-back feeling of real-life fishing. You can even keep some of your catches in your aquarium! The only big drawback to this free title is that the ads are incredibly frequent and quite intrusive. You can, however, make a one-time purchase to remove ads from the game. This game is definitely geared toward the fishing purists among us.
Fruit Ninja Free
Enter the world of Fruitasia, where your Sensei is waiting for you with fruit fight missions. All you need to know to get started with Fruit Ninja is to slice the fruit, not the bombs; once you master that, you'll be slicing and dicing like an old pro in no time.
As your game improves, you can upgrade your blade and join new Dojos. Learn how to handle bananas and multi-slice pomegranates, not to mention the rare 10 fruit Great Wave. It all sounds funny and a little on the ridiculous side, but it's also all for fun and distraction; that's the perfect casual game.
The basic premise of Mini Metro is to design a metro system for a growing city by creating lines and stations. The goal is to keep going as long as you can with your limited resources. It's quite fun and each playthrough has you take a new approach. You have to strategize on how you want your system to function. Can you improve a line you already created and make it more efficient, or is creating a new one the best option?
I enjoy this game for some casual strategy/puzzle action. This is another one of those time-waster strategy games that is quite fun, funnily enough, while riding the metro. It's only a buck, too.
Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector
Neko Atsume was everywhere back in 2014. It's still something of a mystery how it came to be so popular in such a short amount of time, but the appeal of this adorable little game is undeniable.
Neko Atsume asks you to do just one thing — create a perfect paradise for cats! This ultra-casual idle management game gives you a space (a garden, for example) where your only goal is to attract and observe cats. You do this by putting out all kinds of treats, toys, and accessories for them to enjoy, like feather wands, yarn balls, and boxes. Once your "trap" is expertly laid, you can leave the app and go do anything else. When you eventually come back, you'll have a whole clowder of new cats to meet.
Grateful guests will leave you fish in return, which you use as currency to purchase more items to improve your feline utopia. Different cats like different types of toys and treats, so the challenge of Neko Atsume is encountering all of the possible cats. You can also take pictures of your kitty friends for your album and even save them to your phone to use as wallpapers.
This low-key casual game is perfect for bored cat enthusiasts. There are in-app purchases, which may help you get the really good items faster, but you can still get a lot out of this free game without ever spending a single cent. 10/10 cats would recommend this game to their hooman.
Piano Tiles 2
Building on the popularity of the original Piano Tiles game, Piano Tiles 2 lets you play along with the band to classical music and modern pop songs. Use your fingertips to tap the black keys as they scroll down your screen to the music.
Play in friendly battle of the bands-style competitions against your Facebook friends or other music lovers from around the world. In-app purchases unlock additional songs. A tremendously popular game with a beautiful built-in soundtrack? That's an absolute must-have.
Shoot Bubble Deluxe
I have had many phones over the years and you know what game has made it through to each and every new device? Good ol' Shoot Bubble Deluxe. The bubble shooters of the world get a bad rap, and I can understand why when you look in the app store. Searching for "shoot bubble" will pull up what seems like hundreds of nearly identical-looking games, but Shoot Bubble Deluxe has what others wish they had: simplicity.
There are no extraneous or annoying characters floating around here, and no grating sound effects or blaring alarms to pain your ears. It's just you, your bubbles, and your bubble cannon. You shoot bubbles at their like-colored counterparts to pop them and if you aim carefully, you can down whole sections with just one well-placed bubble. It's a simple concept that does not need further explaining.
Shoot Bubble Deluxe has just two playable modes, Puzzle and Arcade. Puzzle features levels that you have to clear to move on, while Arcade is a never-ending stream of bubbles that you have to keep up with to avoid catastrophe.
Some users advise downloading the older 3.7 version of the game to preserve features that were later done away with, like the "don't rush me" setting and the ability to turn certain sounds on and off. I play the updated version, though, and have no complaints about it. It's a perfectly simple, mind-numbing casual game that I will probably still be playing another 15 years from now.
Unwind in your downtime by breaking virtual glass in Smash Hit. No consequences, only loads of points when you shatter the glass obstacles in your path in beautifully designed game levels.
The music and audio effects change as you progress through the game's stages, over 50 of which are available in the free download. An optional in-app purchase gives you premium perks, such as the ability to save and access checkpoints, new game modes, and access cloud saves across all of your devices. If you have a Samsung Gear VR, you'll want to check out Smash Hit VR, too. Less casual, but a super cool VR experience to say the least!
Super Mario Run
Everyone's favorite turtle-stomping plumber is back on Android in Super Mario Run. While Super Mario Run might be a bit of a disappointment for those of us dreaming of a full-fledged Mario game on a non-Nintendo handheld device, it's a great casual game that's sure to be a hit with Mario fans young and old.
Most of the Mario mechanics you know and love from the classic side-scrolling games of the past is here: you're running your way through eight different worlds made up of three levels and a boss battle as you try and rescue Princess Peach from the scaly claws of King Bowser. But rather than giving you full control over Mario, he's automatically running to the left, and you control his jumps. It's a game designed to be played with one hand while you're riding the subway, which is the goal of most casual games.
The game is free to download and play the first world, but then you'll need to pay $9.99 to unlock the full game.
Words With Friends 2
Fancy yourself a wordsmith? If so, get on board with Words With Friends, the Scrabble-based game you play at your own pace, whether it's one word an hour or one word per day. Just check your gameboard whenever you have a few free moments and play tiles to earn points and climb the real-time leaderboard.
The in-app chat feature lets you converse with your friends as you play, so you can send them an innocent taunt or gentle reminder that you're waiting for them to take a turn, or you can congratulate them on a complex play. You'll also be able to access your game from your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, so your game can just keep on going.
Update October 2021: Added Cats are Cute to our list!
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