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With hundreds of thousands of Android games on the Google Play Store, it can be tricky to find ones that are suitable to play. Often, the games we see advertised the most for Android phones and tablets are also the most predatory. Avoiding games designed more to take our cash than to entertain us is difficult, but we can help by recommending five of the best Android games that break the mold and still provide plenty of fun.
Super Auto Pets is an answer to auto-battling games like Hearthstone: Battlegrounds, Riot’s Team Fight Tactics, and Marvel Snap. The game has a clear monetization scheme and instantaneous unlocks, yet still holds onto the addictive gameplay loop the aforementioned auto-battlers have. But the obsession comes from fun and achievements, not grinding out currency and unlocks.
During gameplay, you’ll assemble a team of cute animals (including a dinosaur or two), feed them, and head off to battle. As the primary game mode is asynchronous, it’s a perfect game for busy adults. You won’t have to hurry through turns if you dip into play intermittently throughout the workday. If you have time, however, you can sit down for a ranked match, which plays like more typical multiplayer online games. What animals (and food) you play with are determined by sets, which can be purchased in full with a single direct purchase, no “gems” or other in-game currency required. The first set is free and you can eventually play with all animals for free via weekly random and/or curated sets.
Super Auto Pets is free, and you can buy additional packs in the app.
Vampire Survivors became a cult classic on PC during the summer of 2023. With graphics that can be described as “1998 DOS freeware” and a user interface defined by only one word—chaotic—this is definitely a stylized game. The effect is outstanding, however, and a satisfying game loop quickly seals players within its grasp.
Each session starts with a character and a weapon or two, automatically flying about the screen. As your weapon hits enemies who increasingly crowd around you, numbers begin to fly everywhere, levels rise, and resources accumulate. Regular pauses in the action give you a chance to breathe and plot, while also giving you access to items that will improve your build. As time progresses, so does the intensity of the opposition, with the final bits of action proving the true power of your build and if you’re worthy of unlockables.
Vampire Survivors is free with in-app purchases.
Dominion is a classic board game. Now, it has a new Android app edition, suitable for both new and recurring players. Dominion is a deck-builder that emphasizes trade-offs and long-term planning. Each turn, you collect cards that either boost your score or your potential to grab even better cards later. Grabbing early-game, high-point cards while you can will always feel good, for example, but seeing those cards (dead weight in your hand) again and again throughout a match can feel exhausting.
As mentioned, this game originates from older source material. However, this digital rendition is a fairly new implementation of the game, and at the time of this writing, it remains in early access. As a result, if you’ve been put off by other mobile implementations of board and card games of this era, you should strongly consider coming back for Dominion to see if a new generation of graphics, UI innovations, and controls can get you in the game.
Dominion is free, and you can buy expansions in the app.
Take PopCap’s Peggle, toss in a Slay the Spire overworld and character development system, and throw in some unique thematic arcs of its own and you have Peglin. Essentially, the game’s core loop is you—depicted as a green goblin with pointy ears—throwing rocks and orbs through a board to hit pegs. To oversimplify greatly, the more pegs you hit, the more damage you do to oncoming monsters. It’s a hit-or-be-hit world. After battles end, you get to add a new rock or orb to your backpack and, potentially, get the chance to attend an event or obtain a game-changing artifact.
While the opening act of the game, set in a forest, feels like Peggle with RPG mechanics on top, that feeling doesn’t last. By the time you’ve prevailed past a castle and into the void, gravity and gameplay will both be significantly different. Mastered all the areas? You’ll still have the “cruciball” challenge, which tilts the odds against you, and new characters to play with as well. Plus, the developerss keep updates coming, both improving upon the game and adding new orbs to fight with. Peglin is a fully-contained offline adventure.
Peglin is free with in-app purchases.
If you want a traditional, adventure roguelike Android game, then Shattered Pixel Dungeon is worth your time. Ditching awkward numpad controls and step-by-step movement, Shattered Pixel Dungeon takes you on a finger-accessible journey with mobile sensibilities. Collecting items, discovering the unknown, and bashing enemies with swords and spells are all still there in all their traditional roguelike glory for you, though.
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You may already be familiar with part of the title of the game, and that’s because it comes as a fork, or separate branch, of the open-source code of Pixel Dungeon. While other forks of this game exist, Shattered Pixel Dungeon is generally favored above others for its consistent development, plethora of extra items and entities, and nearly 10 years of independent history. If you like this game, other Pixel Dungeon variants may also be worth a spin.
Shattered Pixel Dungeon is free to play.
While these games are meant to be best enjoyed on an Android phone, the fun doesn’t have to stop there. If you’d like to get them on a bigger screen, check out our guide on how to use Android games on PC.