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12 Mobile Games That Are Actually Good

Browsing games on any app store yields three kinds of results: blatant timewasters that are hardly games, promising games overrun by sleazy microtransactions, and the occasional mobile gaming gem. It's often easier to download something mediocre rather than dig through all the shovelware — after all, a brief session of Candy Crush can hold players over before they get to their PC or favorite console where the "real" games are.

With that said, there are plenty of mobile games that are downright excellent. For this list, we're going to take a look at some reliable gaming experiences that you can play on your phone without the hassle of never-ending ads or totally invasive microtransactions. They don't need to be mobile exclusives or brand-new releases. They just have to work on your device, and they just have to be fun. Here are 10 Mobile Games That Are Actually Good.

Updated on April 26th, 2022 by Geoffrey Martin: Mobile gaming continues to thrive in both the indie and AAA market. Services like Apple Arcade have also helped to bring more top-tier mobile gaming experiences for those hoping to avoid the "free-to-play" trappings that many mobile games find themselves caught in. While there are certainly plenty of mobile games simply there for a quick cash grab, without offering a substantial game experience, there are others that stand tall about their counterparts. This list continues to be fleshed out with some excellent mobile games that deserve your time and attention.

12 Butter Royale

While battle royale games certainly aren't for everyone, mostly because of a high skill ceiling, what if I told you there was a cartoony version of the genre all themed around food? Hopefully that premise alone gets you excited since Butter Royale is a fantastic food-centric battle royale that you can play right now through Apple Aracde.

Butter Royale is essentially a wacky, off-the-wall food fight where your weapons are all centered around food. The standard battle royale formula is in this game replete with a closing zone and ultimately trying to be the last person standing, however, the quirky characters and goofy weapons make this a fun and lighthearted mobile game that's easy to get into.

11 Cat Quest 2

Cat Quest 2, as you might guess, is the follow-up to the beloved "meow-vellous" action RPG, Cat Quest. Cat Quest 2 picks up where the original game left off, with your cat adventurer, along with a doggo companion, off to save the day in the lands of Felingard and the Lupus Empire.

Cat Quest 2 is a super vibrant RPG that can be played solo or with another player alongside for the journey. You are able to pick up a bounty of quests, filled your coffers with loot, and, of course, defeat a host of cartoony baddies, all while trying to save the day. Cat Quest 2 is incredibly polished and just a lot of fun. Don't miss out on this mobile game if for some reason it has passed you by.

10 Dead Cells

Dead Cells will give your mobile device an action game for the ages. The "Metroidvania" gameplay has plenty of depth, while still maintaining the addictive accessibility that makes you want to pick it up again and again.

Dead Cells has players fight through a dungeon with gruelingly twitchy combat, upgrading and unlocking new abilities with every death. Each new life comes a new dungeon, and because of the game's challenging difficulty, you'll always want to come back for another run.

It's the Dark Souls of side-scrollers, and that may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you're looking for something similar with a more arcade feel, try picking up Tower Fortress instead.

9 Oxenfree

If you haven't played Oxenfree yet in the many years that it has been out, give it a download and kick yourself later. This story-driven indie darling is atmospheric and cinematic, and not enough people have given it a try.

You play as Alex, a teen caught up in a supernatural mystery on a spooky island. The game consists of exploration and dynamic dialogue, where the player can have free-flow conversations with other characters. If you enjoy coming-of-age stories and have the time (a very long commute, per se), try Oxenfree and experience the mystery for yourself.

8 Alto's Odyssey

Dozens of games are similar to Alto's Odyssey, but none of them are quite as compelling. This relaxing endless runner has players snowboarding down gorgeous, ambient vistas while providing enough gameplay variety for every kind of player.

There are plenty of goals to work towards and mechanics that shake up the gameplay, but it also allows for totally endless playing. It's simple, pretty, and satisfying on any level you're willing to engage with it. If you play mobile games for simple, relaxing fun, then this one is for you.

7 Monument Valley 2

With no shortage of puzzle games on mobile storefronts, Monument Valley and its sequel are some of the most unique experiences in the genre. Players must guide the protagonists from one end of the level to the other — simple in concept. However, every level is like a living M.C. Escher piece, full of optical illusions that can be difficult to navigate.

Navigating these mazes makes for a fun brain teaser, and the game's presentation only adds to the experience. It's all so pretty… and confusing. The series is definitely worth checking out if mobile puzzle games are starting to feel the same.

6 Shadowgun Legends

Look, it's tough to find a shooter on mobile that isn't awful… or something you already own on a console. However, sometimes you just want to play a shooter on your phone, and this scratches that itch.

If you put every looter-shooter in a blender and garnish it with Halo, Destiny, and Fortnite, then you'd get Shadowgun Legends. It might seem obnoxious at first, with text boxes and ads for premium currency flooding your screen, but it has everything shooter fans might want.

It has single-player quests, co-op, PvP, surprisingly impressive graphics, and gameplay that manages to feel satisfying on mobile. It definitely has a lifespan for players who are unwilling to shell out actual dollars for premium cash (as most of these do), but the progression system showers players in enough loot to keep them coming back anyway.

5 Spaceteam

Of course, some of the most popular mobile games are the ones you play with the people around you. Instead of recommending a reliable game of headbands or charades, you might want to try Spaceteam. It's pretty old, but it is still one of the best party games on mobile devices.

Once all participants have downloaded the game, they can engage in some of the silliest cooperative experiences they will ever have. Spaceteam has players commandeer a spaceship, with each player manning ridiculously named controls. The only way to keep things running smoothly is to call out commands to the rest of your team. Soon, you'll be surrounded by friends shouting gibberish at each other in total chaos. It's great!

4 Gris

Gris is a puzzle-platformer with the aesthetics of a hand-drawn animated film. The narrative is open to interpretation, but the gameplay follows a girl named Gris as she navigates surreal watercolor environments.

There are plenty of great platformers on mobile devices, but Gris is a standout for its stellar sound and animation. Put some headphones on, immerse yourself, and let Gris wash over you. It's a game that will stick with you, which is increasingly hard to find on the mobile market.

3 Pokémon GO

Say what you want — Pokémon GO was an inherently great concept when it first launched, and the game has only improved since. It's the closest thing fans of the series will ever get to an authentic mobile experience, and it encourages healthy physical activity and urban exploration.

With new Pokémon, community events, and several additional features, the game is objectively better than when it started and — despite its obnoxious popularity — is still a solid mobile game.

2 Pocket City

Plenty of city builders and "idle" games flood app stores week to week. While most of them are just vehicles for advertisements and microtransactions, Pocket City is probably the closest thing to a proper Tycoon game on mobile that won't waste your time. It's a micro-manager's dream come true.

You won't have to worry about premium currency or arbitrary build times. Simply build your city, manage your economy, and create without the constant annoyances featured in similar mobile titles. It doesn't necessarily have the depth of a PC copy of Sim City, but it feels perfectly downsized for a satisfying experience on your phone or tablet.

1 Anything From Supergiant Games

At first, Bastion made the list, but it seemed a little too old. It was replaced with Transistor, which might be better on other platforms, and then Pyre, which is their most recent release. However, Supergiant Games develops some of the most compelling games around that don't require oversized hardware to play.

Whether it's the action of Bastion, the tactics of Transistor, or the reimagined sports of Pyre, this studio develops unique, atmospheric games that are just as engaging as they are accessible. Arresting visual and sound design, meaty gameplay mechanics, and the ability to play them anywhere — why haven't you tried these yet?

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