75 Mobile Games You Should Be Playing Right Now

Delete Words With Friends. Forget Flappy Bird. And for goodness' sake, get rid of Candy Crush. These are the mobile games you want on your phone

It's easy to get into a rut of mobile game-playing, trying over and over again to raise your score in Crossy Road or conquer the world in Clash of Clans. But there's a whole world of great games out there waiting for your to try, some of them decidedly under the radar. It's time to load up your smartphone or tablet and get ready for some better gaming.

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Xenoraid

You may think you've played shoot em' up games like Xenoraid before, piloting a spacecraft through oncoming waves of enemies. But Xenoraid offers a delightful and game-changing twist on the genre. You control not one, but four separate spacecraft—which you switch between. 

As the game progresses you upgrade and evolve each craft to your liking. So you might find yourself swapping between a clunky monster brimming with missiles, a quicker craft adept at dodging, a ship built for spraying shotgun shells, and one that takes forever to overheat. Or, you know, just four clunky monsters. It's up to you. 

Be warned, when one of your spacecraft loses all its health, it's gone for good. And it's devastating. You will be missed, Ensign Hubble. 

Platform: Android and iOS

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To The Moon

This will likely be the least mechanically complex but most narratively rich game you'll ever download on your phone. Because To The Moon is a point and click story (not quite a game with only a few puzzles sprinkled along the way) spoiling the plot here would be remiss. So we'll just tell you how it starts. You are in the future, employed by a company that has the technology to rewrite a person's memories. You arrive at the deathbed of an old man, ready to travel into his mind, starting at his most recent memories, reliving and reworking them, then moving farther backward into a mercurial past. 

Platform: Android and iOS

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Steredenn

A pure and beautiful side-scrolling shoot em' up from start to finish with enough punch and story to make the whole experience feels like an epic space opera. You navigate your starship through a maze of randomly-generated barriers, enemies, and oncoming ordnance, upgrading your ship as you go and fighting from boss battle to boss battle. 

Steredenn has just one peculiarity that makes it shine above others in the genre. The very few, randomly dropped weapons each boss releases are often...weird. Like a literal boomerang of blue energy, or a short-range flamethrower—and they're the only weapons you get. So much of Steredenn revolves around mastering what you're randomly given and not what you want. 

Still, this is the best pure shoot em' up we've ever played. 

Platform: iOS

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SPACEPLAN

The year is 2017, and evil game developers across the world have developed life-draining software that transfigures a person's time and physical energy into absolute nothingness. The software are called clicker games—and they're super addicting. 

SPACEPLAN is definitely my favourite so far, a weird mix of idle and active incremental game that slowly unfolds a story. For those new to the genre, a clicker/incremental game is where you perform something inane over and over again, like clicking on a screen, to gain currency. You use that currency to make your clicks more productive. 

In SPACEPLAN you are growing potatoes, the currency, and unraveling why the Earth has been destroyed. The game won't take you more than a few days to beat, and it gets weird rather quickly. Eventually you're building potato-based towers and Spud-nik satellites, and inventing potato time travel.

Platform: Android and iOS

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Slayaway Camp

Peel away layer after layer of disconnected themes, and Slayaway Camp would be a ridiculously good sliding block puzzle. After a lot of careful thinking, you repeatedly swipe your character across a board, bouncing off walls and obstacles to navigate to various waypoints. But it's the excessively weird theming that sets Slayaway Camp apart: it's a 1980s, cinematic, blocky, horror game. 

Seriously. Each puzzle's waypoints are innocent block characters (à la Minecraft) which you aim to brutally murder. Your characters are '80s horror film villains/monsters, and the game's levels are chapters of a VHS tape, which you have to cinematically rewind. Seriously strange, but definitely worth your time.

Platform: Android and iOS

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Planescape: Torment

Eighteen years young, Planescape: Torment was not a commercial success when it popped out in 1999, but it has since become a cult classic—and for good reason. Like a late-night pen and paper role playing session, it's unabashedly dorky and unforgettably fun from start to finish. You are The Nameless One, an immortal being who inhabits the Dungeons & Dragons' unearthly planes of existence. Your quest: to learn who you are, and why you can not die.

Sure, the game is light on combat, but it's basically a D&D campaign with throwback 2nd Edition rules. Who doesn't need more D&D in their life?

Platform: Android and iOS

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Old Man's Journey

This platform adventure game is as visually arresting as they come. From one scene to the next, the idyllic, hand-painted backgrounds vary from gorgeous to breathtaking as you walk your way through sun-drenched hills to quaint countryside towns. Because beyond the visuals and slowly unraveling narrative, there's little 'game' in Old Man's Journey

Sure, there's a few light puzzle elements, almost all of which involve finding ways to manipulate the background to create a walkable path for your elderly protagonist. But with no tutorial or game text Old Man's Journey feels more like a picture book than a mobile game. Oddly, that's the main reason we love it. Sink even a moment of time into this relaxing game, and you will be whisked away into the story.

Platform: Android and iOS

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Death Road to Canada

Like Oregon Trail meets Shaun of the Dead—yet somehow better than both—Death Road to Canada is undoubtedly the greatest zombie survival game there is. You're embarking on a journey from post-apocalyptic Florida to the save-haven of the cold north, and as each day passes this 16-bit sprite RPG throws everything at you. You're constantly running low on medical supplies, ammunition, food, and fuel, which you find by breaking into shops (with names like Y'all Mart) and fending off zombies.

Adding more refugees to your journey helps immensely, but each new addition quickens the pace at which you run low on supplies. You'll run into trials on the road, like breakdowns and traps, which you solve according to each of your character's skills. You'll be sieged by zombies, where you'll lose ammunition, break your melee weapons, and lose beloved characters. Your original character will probably die. But the doom and gloom is counterbalanced by hilarious dialogue, offbeat characters, and one ludicrous shop name after the next.

Platform: iOS (Coming soon to Android)

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Causality

With its sheer complexity and obtuse logic, Causality is a brain melter of a puzzle. Each round, you guide multi-colored astronauts from their starting squares to properly colored ending squares, as fast as possible. Rather than moving the astronauts directly, you alter their ever-forward paths by changing the directions of arrows on the game board. 

Here's where the mind melting comes in: Causality leverages weird time-travel logic, where you're constantly speeding up and reversing time, and transporting your astronauts through portals to moments earlier or later on the timeline. The logic's not immediately rational in the least. Beating all 60 levels requires the level of insight of someone who understood Primer after only one viewing. 

Platform: Android and iOS

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Card Thief

Here's a game best described as a distant, darker relative of Solitare. In Card Thief you play the role of a medieval rogue that's slipping around a 3x3 mat of trading cards, which is continuously replenished from a deck of 46 cards. Your goal is to eliminate cards, and eventually steal a treasure chest hidden somewhere in the deck. 

To eliminate cards, you move into them. Some are challenges: you can cold clock castle guards and extinguish lamps, but this costs you stealth points. Run too low on stealth points and nearby guards can spot you and end the game. Luckily, you can regain stealth points by moving into special sneak cards, ending your turn on hiding cards, or clearing the board in one go. 

Like Card Crawl, the aesthetic is sleek—Dungeons and Dragons meets a colorless Adventure Time. As the game progresses, you can assault new castles and you gather new helpful thief tools, giving Card Thief hours and hours of replayability.

Platform: Android and iOS