There are loads of great games available for Android, but how can you pick out the gems from the dross, and amazing touchscreen experiences from botched console ports? With our lists, that’s how!
We cover the best titles on Android right now, including the finest racers, puzzlers, adventure games, arcade titles and more.
We’ve tried these games out, and looked to see where the costs come in – there might be a free sticker added to some of these in the Google Play Store, but sometimes you’ll need an in app purchase (IAP) to get the real benefit – so we’ll make sure you know about that ahead of the download.
Check back every week for a new game, and click through to the following pages to see the best of the best divided into the genres that best represent what people are playing right now.
Android game of the week: Where Shadows Slumber ($4.99/£4.59/AU$7.49)
Where Shadows Slumber pulls no punches – and that’s literally the case for the protagonist, who early on finds himself horribly assaulted by nasty bipedal animal creatures who want his lamp. It’s a surprising event – not least given that you might initially assume this will be a sedate puzzler along the lines of Monument Valley.
Between the cutscenes, Where Shadows Slumber dials down the unease and engages your brain. You must figure out pathways to exits, often forging them by casting shadows that refashion the very landscape. It’s a clever conceit, and one that never really grows old. Nor does the game’s visual clout, sense of pacing, and ability to surprise with its mix of beauty and darkness.
The best racing games for Android
Our favorite Android top-down, 3D and retro racers.
Horizon Chase (free + $2.99/£2.79/AU$4.09 IAP)
If you’re fed up with racing games paying more attention to whether the tarmac looks photorealistic rather than how much fun it should be to zoom along at insane speeds, check out Horizon Chase. This tribute to old-school arcade titles is all about the sheer joy of racing, rather than boring realism.
The visuals are vibrant, the soundtrack is jolly and cheesy, and the racing finds you constantly battling your way to the front of an aggressive pack.
If you fondly recall Lotus Turbo Esprit Challenge and Top Gear, don’t miss this one. (Note that Horizon Chase gives you five tracks for free. To unlock the rest, there’s a single £2.29/US$2.99 IAP.)
Need for Speed: Most Wanted ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)
Anyone expecting the kind of free-roaming racing from the console versions of this title are going to be miffed, but Need for Speed: Most Wanted is nonetheless one of the finest games of its kind on Android. Yes, the tracks are linear, with only the odd shortcut, but the actual racing bit is superb.
You belt along the seedy streets of a drab, gray city, trying to win events that will boost your ego and reputation alike. Wins swell your coffers, enabling you to buy new vehicles for entering special events.
The game looks gorgeous on Android and has a high-octane soundtrack to urge you onwards. But mostly, this one’s about the controls – a slick combination of responsive tilt and effortless drifting that makes everything feel closer to OutRun 2 than typically sub-optimal mobile racing fare.
Riptide GP: Renegade ($2.99/£2.99/AU$3.99)
The first two Riptide games had you zoom along undulating watery circuits surrounded by gleaming metal towers. Riptide GP: Renegade offers another slice of splashy futuristic racing, but this time finds you immersed in the seedy underbelly of the sport.
As with the previous games, you’re still piloting a hydrofoil, and racing involves not only going very, very fast, but also being a massive show-off at every available opportunity.
If you hit a ramp or wave that hurls you into the air, you’d best fling your ride about or do a handstand, in order to get turbo-boost on landing. Sensible racers get nothing.
The career mode finds you earning cash, upgrading your ride, and probably ignoring the slightly tiresome story bits. The racing, though, is superb – an exhilarating mix of old-school arcade thrills and modern mobile touchscreen smarts.
Mini Motor Racing ($2.99/£3.19/AU$4.49)
Mini Motor Racing is a frenetic top-down racer that finds tiny vehicles darting about claustrophobic circuits that twist and turn in a clear effort to have you repeatedly drive into walls. The cars handle more like remote control cars than real fare, meaning that races are typically tight – and easily lost if you glance away from the screen for just a moment.
There’s a ton of content here – many dozens of races set across a wide range of environments. You zoom through ruins, and scoot about beachside tracks. The AI’s sometimes a bit too aggressive, but with savvy car upgrades, and nitro boost usage when racing, you’ll be taking more than the occasional checkered flag.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit exists in a world where the police seem to think it’s perfectly okay to use their extremely expensive cars to ram fleeing criminals into submission. And when they’re not doing that, they belt along the streets, racing each other to (presumably) decide who pays for the day’s doughnuts.
It’s a fairly simple racer – you’re basically weaving your way through the landscape, smashing into other cars, and triggering the odd trap – but it’s exhilarating, breezy fun that echoes classic racers like Chase H.Q.
And once you’ve had your fill of being one of the nitro-happy fuzz, you can play out a career as the pursued as well, getting stuck into the kind of cop-smashing criminal antics that totally won’t be covered by your car manufacturer’s warranty.
Final Freeway 2R ($0.99/79p/AU$0.99)
Final Freeway 2R is a retro racing game, quite blatantly inspired by Sega’s classic OutRun. You belt along in a red car, tearing up a road where everyone’s rather suspiciously driving in the same direction. Every now and again, you hit a fork, allowing you to select your route. All the while, cheesy music blares out of your device’s speakers.
For old hands, you’ll be in a kind of gaming heaven. And arguably, this game’s better than the one that inspired it, feeling more fluid and nuanced. If you’re used to more realistic fare, give Final Freeway 2R a go – you might find yourself converted by its breezy attitude, colorful visuals, and need for truly insane speed.
Rush Rally 2 ($1.49/99p/AU$1.99)
Rush Rally 2 is a curious rally racer, in part because it at first comes across as an unforgiving and simulation-oriented affair. It initially feels too easy to crash, and you too often find yourself pointing the wrong way or rather inconveniently having embedded your car in a tree.
As ever, though, Rush Rally 2 is about clicking with the feel of the game. Slow down a bit and take a touch more care and you’ll figure out how the physics works, and the layout of the courses.
The game will reveal its fun side – an arcade edge that won’t allow you to zoom along without ever using the brake pedal, but that nonetheless is quite happy for you to use other cars in rally cross skirmishes for slowing down instead. For the tiny outlay, it’s a bargain.
Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 ($3.99/£3.99/AU$6.49)
Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 is a racing management game without the boring bits. Rather than sitting you in front of a glorified spreadsheet, the game is a well-balanced mix of accessibility and depth, enabling you to delve into the nitty gritty of teams, sponsors, mechanics, and even livery.
When you’re all set, you get to watch surprisingly tense and exciting top-down racing. (This being surprising because you’re largely watching numbered discs zoom around circuits.) One-off races give you a feel for things, but the real meat is starting from the bottom of the pile in the career mode, with the ultimate aim of becoming a winner.
It’s all streamlined, slick, and mobile-friendly, and a big leap on from the relatively simplistic original Motorsport Manager Mobile.