Christmas is in the air, and PocketMeta is anxious to share the list of our favorite mobile games of the past year. We like to take a personal approach to the games, include the indies, and rate them based on our gameplay experiences and not on the size of the developer’s marketing budget. Without further ado, here is our roundup of 2015’s 50(+2) mobile games we think you should be playing.
Odd Bot Out
Odd Bot Out launched in January, and it’s still on my device, even though I’ve rescued it from the robot factory many times, where it was dumped into the trash because it was a little shorter than the standard robots. A combination of vivid colors and a minimalist white background, realistic sounds and movement effects, complex and mind-boggling puzzles make this game one of the best puzzles this year. It’s also a touching story, and an adorable protagonist with its cute companions that make it so unique. Adults and children love Odd Bot Out – it’s a great brain teaser and an artsy delight. Read our review.
Does not Commute
Coming from Mediocre, the developer of Smash Hit, Does Not Commute is a unique mix of a puzzle and the driving wrapped in fantastic design. You control a car from the top-down perspective, and your aim is to drive it from point A to point B. Next, you control the second car, only that it takes a different route, but leaves point A simultaneously with the first car. And so on, until you get all cars of the town where they are headed. When the level is done, you watch them all drive at the same time, and it looks hilarious. As you play, drivers’ stories unravel in the form of short texts. Unique and challenging, Does Not Commute is also a visual masterpiece. Read our review.
Room 3 launched on iOS, and the Android community is anxiously waiting for its turn. The art work and the game’s decorum is absolutely dazzling and atmospheric. Spice it up with engaging and mind-bending puzzles, awesome sound effects, smooth transitions and animations, you get one of the finest mobile games ever. The fluid and intuitive controls complete the overall imaginative and compelling story. We can’t recommend it enough.
Google Play, iTunes, $9.99
A gorgeous adventure for the families, Broken Age released the second act this year, making even more loyal fans among the players. Great puzzles, heartfelt story, amazing voice over by the Hollywood actors, hand-drawn animations, this adventure is about the two teenagers who are going through similar situations, but are in different worlds. As you play, you switch between the two worlds to solve the puzzles and help the kids take control over their lives. This is an amazing work of art totally worth the $10, and an all-around delightful game with a big heart.
A unique brain teaser, the Sequence has you mastering a completely new system of interrelations between dots and multicolored boxes. It’s seriously complicated, sports a steep learning curve and does very little to help you when you’re stuck. Hard and beautifully minimalist, the Sequence is for the serious puzzle devotees only. Read our review.
You Must Build A Boat
You Must Build A Boat is a superior sequel to 10000000, where you have to keep matching the elements as fast as you can to keep moving. Your aim is to build a large boat, recruit the crew and travel the world. Along the way, as you keep matching those tiles frantically, you’ll be capturing various monsters and taming them to be your battle companions. Spells, quests, procedural dungeons and random dungeon modifiers, this game is different every time you play. It’s addicting and ridiculously fun. Read our review, tips.
It’s December, and still no sight of Shadowmatic on Android. Oh well, let’s hope for the best because it’s a unique, gorgeous and creative puzzle that sees you rotating different objects in the air against the light. So that their shadow on the wall resembles a required object. Read our review.
Freeze 2 Brothers
A fantastic sequel to the famous Freeze!, 2 brothers adds another eyeball, the younger brother of the protagonist. Together, they must find the way out of the hellish prison and escape the captivity of the evil planet. Creative and smart puzzles and a dark, haunting art work make for one of the best puzzles of 2015. Read our review.
A delightful and atmospheric puzzler, Tengami appeals to those looking for a Monument Valley-like experience. Gorgeous Japanese-styled design, complicated, perhaps even too hard at times, puzzles and a beautiful story make this game a must-have for the right player. Read our review.
Google Play, iTunes, $4.99
Another Monument Valley-ish puzzler, Magic Flute is based on the classical opera by Mozart. A unique low-poly art style, timeless music and complicated tile-moving puzzles will keep you busy for a long time as you help the hero save the princess. Read PocketMeta’s Review.
Lara Croft Go
Square Enix had a fruitful year, with Lara Croft GO being one of its mobile gems both in visual and gameplay departments. The game looks sleek, polished and eye-pleasing, with its soft colors and beautiful grid-like level layout. The turn-based puzzle action works just fine in Lara Croft, something we did not expect. In the end, it’s one of the best adventure puzzles that appeals to not only Lara’s fandom, but any devotee of the excellent, premium mobile games. Read our review, tips & tricks.
Even though the iOS game launched last year, the Android port was released in 2015, and the game entangled in its spy games of logic and mystery a huge Android crowd. Classy design, mind-wrecking sequence-based puzzles and a mystery that keeps you hooked till the end make Framed one of the best mobile games ever, not just this year. Read our review.
Prune was highly anticipated ever since IMGA 2015, where it got rewarded as one of the best upcoming mobile games, and it did not disappoint. A beautiful, meditative, atmospheric and unique game, Prune sees you cutting the branches of growing trees so that they can reach the sunlight and shed some seeds. The world of Prune, the obstacles, the atmosphere and the music create a silent narration that keeps you wondering if there is a hope for the life in the end. Read our review.
Google Play, iTunes, $7.99
NBA fans rejoiced when this game launched not too long ago, and even though it’s a substantial purchase for a mobile platform, NBA 2K16 is jam-packed with features, gorgeous visuals, awesome soundtrack, and intense gameplay. You will love the My Career, Blacktop and Seasons modes, realistic player models, smooth movement effects, intuitive controls – all of which makes playing NBA on mobile a bliss.
Sol Invictus Gamebook
Google Play, iTunes, $3.99
A sequel to the Heavy Metal Thunder gamebook, Sol Invictus is a perfect sci-fi read for the long, cold winter nights. A sinister, desperate fight of the leftovers of human kind for survival against an alien invasion is narrated from the standpoint of Cromulus, a human fanatic, fearless warrior of Black Lance Legion. Masterfully written, the book takes a firm grasp of your imagination while the choices you make shape the success or doom of your adventure. It’s not just the gore of war and the horrors of the deep space. The book is ruthless to the vices of the humanity drowning in greed, so it’s a splendid adventure with deep meaning. Great artwork, too. Read our review.
A philosophical tale, MechaNika is one of a kind. I, for one, can’t compare it to anything on mobile. Nika is a little girl whose parents neglect her. She hates her school and her dumb teacher. Nika finds the world quite a repulsing place, and devises a plan to build a machine that would remove “all the wrong things and people.” So, she takes her bag, her cognac concoction that helps her think, and walks the streets to collect the parts of her devious machine. Along the way, she meets regular people – pimps, junkies, satanists, perverts. You know, the usual mix. Her musings are philosophical and unexpectedly mature, as she questions the creators about the world they made. Read our review.
Get a flock of birds home, as you start with one bird, and get it through a series of fabulous areas. You can slow down when you see other birds, and they will join you, or you can fly with the wind and go wild. Accompanied by a real symphonic music, the game features hand-drawn graphics and the overall impression is that this is more of a work of art than a game. A wonderful emotional climax completes the heartfelt journey of a flock. It’s a game to keep for ages, but it appeals to the connoisseurs of art and beauty rather than fans of the endless runners. Read our review.
Cloud Chasers Journey of Hope
A game with a meaning and a message, Cloud Chasers comes from the developers of the First Strike. This time, their game puts you in the shoes of two migrants, a father and a daughter, who had to abandon their once wealthy farm because of the climate change. A horrible drought emptied the rivers and wells, so the only source of water on the planet is in the clouds. People harvest their water in a variety of ways, and our heroine flies a hand-made glider. As they travel on their feet, the family needs to make tough choices that often lead to their deaths. Did you think migrating was fun? Read our review.
Gogle Play, iTunes, $19.99
Game of Thrones fans don’t have many options on mobile, and Telltale’s series have been quenching their thirst for GoT content while they’re waiting for the next season of the legendary show. It’s fairly deep, engrossing and you will definitely want to complete the series, even though the climax is a bit questionable. Yet, it’s the deepest GoT game on mobile, and coming from the masters of the genre, it is certainly a must-have for the fans of the seven kingdoms and their restless kings and queens.
A sci-fi adventure at its finest, Lost Echo is both a visual masterpiece and a mind-boggling puzzle-based escalation to the uncertainty as to what really happened to Chloe. You play as a guy whose girlfriend gets disintegrated by a giant red beam in the plain daylight, in front of other people. Nobody remembers her; there are no traces of her in your hi-tech apartment, but driven by love and fear, you set out on a long and dangerous adventure to recover her. Hi-tech gizmo, conspiracy theories, surveillance, philosophical questions and some more await you, if it sounds like your cup of tea. Read our review.
A pixel-style, atmospheric, metroidvanian exploration, deep, complex and content-rich, Nub’s Adventure is an indie gem, one of the brightest this year.
Minecraft Story Mode
Google Play, iTunes, $4.99
Minecraft is a drug for the masses, and this year the Minecraft buffs got a whole new Minecraft game that explores a different side of the world. Instead of letting you build stuff, Minecraft Story Mode has you playing an interactive story Minecraft-style, where your decisions shape the story. Plenty of references Minecraft fans-only would be able to appreciate and a fairly deep and engrossing gameplay over the course of five episodes take you and your friends on a dangerous journey through Overworld, the Nether and beyond the End to revenge the Order of the Stone, as something terrifying is about to destroy your entire world.
Mortal Combat X
Google Play, iTunes
If fighting, gore, and card collecting is your thing, Mortal Combat X must be on your list of this year’s mobile impressions. You get to collect a team of MK warriors and fight your way through endless tournaments of bone breaking, crushing and smashing. The visuals are jaw-dropping, with the special focus on the fatalities and the way the bones and intestines explode from the mighty blows. The Faction Wars offer an online team versus team battle ground, with winners getting great loot. Read our tips and tricks.
Google Play, iTunes
Care for shooting some repulsive zombies and all sorts of creeps resulting from the genetic experiments gone wrong on a space station? Dead Effect 2 sports some impressive graphics, heart-thumping action and plenty of gore spiced with friendly chit-chat with a voluptuous blonde on the deck. The RPG system is fairly satisfying, while the high-end graphics deserve to shine on the highest settings. Read our review.
Console-quality graphics, excellent voice over, great sound effects and soundtrack, intuitive touch-based controls are only the few virtues of this awesome action game that sees you defending the scarce leftovers of the human race from an alien invasion. Your main weapon is a war-mech battle suit enforced with hi-tech weaponry, upgradable via ARK Kernel UI, and is basically a human-machine fusion. The game looks fabulous, and is worth every possible praise. Read our review, tips & tricks.
The movie Agent 47 failed to impress, so those who needed more of their favorite iconic character, could satiate the thirst with the Hitman Sniper game from Square Enix. This time, Agent 47 is armed with a plethora of high-range sniper rifles. From his perfect vantage point, Hitman has to take down a slew of high-profile targets. Chic looks, smooth performance, fluid controls and a very addicting gameplay make it one of the best Hitman games on mobile. Read our review, tips and tricks.
Google Play, iTunes, $1.99
A minimalist design can be creepy as hell, and Dark Echo proves how black, white and red can create visions of nightmares without giving them a definite shape. A top-down perspective lets you see nothing more than the sound waves resonating off the walls of a long corridor as your protagonist walks or runs to the exit. Make a lot of noise and you will be able to see more of your surroundings, but the sound will also attract the things that feed on your flesh. Headphones are highly recommended for this immersing audio-visual horror game. Read our review.
Dungeon crawling, anyone? Legend of Grimrock delivers some of the best old school dungeon crawling RPG for iPad. Tactical real-time combat combined with grid-based movement makes for an impressive, intense action where puzzles, deadly traps and grizzly secrets may either help you fight your way through, or spell doom on your team. You play as a crew of prisoners sentenced to perish in the depths of an ancient mountain and its endless dungeons filled with the things you never want to see. The game requires a sharp mind more than a mighty sword, so be prepared to enjoy the lovingly crafted gem of a game. Read our review, tips and tricks.
Google Play, iTunes, $1.99
A masterfully crafted horror adventure, Indigo Lake mixes familiar elements of the genre, like the dead girls with long black hair and white dress, the ghosts, the flying pianos, with the maddeningly scary sound effects and puzzle-based progression. You have to unravel a mystery of unnatural disappearances and suicides, and the evil force behind them. Quite a few jump scares are guaranteed while the graphics are superb, and the controls are smooth and make the island exploration, with walking and driving a bliss. Read our review.
One of the best horror adventures on mobile finally launched on Android in 2015, and the game keeps occupying the top charts worldwide. A haunting, atmospheric and dark horror game, Limbo has a way of getting under your skin. A work of art, indeed.
Google Play, iTunes, $0.99
Fotonica is the best endless runner on mobile ever, period. It’s not some toon style kid’s game where a squirrel collects nuts, no! Fotonica is a classy, stylish, engrossing experience. You play from the first person perspective, as a runner in what seems to be a super-charged bio avatar. It’s capable of developing neck-breaking speeds and jump like a leopard. The obstacles vary from one vector graphics environment to another – platforms, corridors with layers, jungle, abstract scenes. Each scene comes with a standalone soundtrack, and the sound effects of your avatar breathing, gulping for air and gasping in awe as it misses the edge and falls to its doom – it’s breathtaking. Read our review.
Google Play, iTunes, $2.99
If you played the previous seasons of SBK, you know what to expect, only this year the game comes with even better offers. The free version lets you get the feel of the game and enjoy a gorgeous Mission Impossible Rogue Nation bonus, where you drive a black BMW as Ethan Hunt against the black-clad agents of the syndicate. MV Agusta, Honda, Kawasaki, Ducatti, Aprilia – burn the tires racing against former champions, as you push through the championships conquering tracks. High-end hardware recommended.
Need for Speed: No Limits
Even though as a racing game, No Limits is quite simplistic, its multilayered system kind of sucks you in. A long-time addiction, NFS No Limits sees you partaking in a multitude of racing series to collect the parts, the cash, the car blueprints, upgrade your vehicles, and unlock some of the most impressive models. You race against other players, take part in events, different tournaments – there are so many areas to race you are always busy. IAPs and energy caps are still there. Read our review.
Horizon Chase: World Tour
An excellent racer, Horizon Chase World Tour does not trick you with the easy tracks and beatable competition. No, you will work hard to be the first in every single race, and grind the track to master its every turn and use the boosts in most efficient ways. The game sports vivid graphics, fluid controls and a fair IAP system that does not stand in your face. Overall, Horizon Chase World Tour is the racing game done right. Read our review, tips.
Alpha Squadron 2: Edge of Oblivion
Google Play, iTunes, free-to-play, $4.99 full game
Neck-breaking and dizzying space combat sim in gorgeous locations – in space and in the atmosphere, the sequel to Alpha Squadron looks darn impressive in motion with its high frame rate. The ultra detailed spaceships are fantastic while the gameplay is deep and engrossing. You can get the feel of the gameplay with the free demo, which is a welcome courtesy from the developer, especially for the fragmented Android devices. When looking for a space combat sim with tons of options, look no more than Edge of Oblivion. Read our review.
Who doesn’t like sci-fi these days? Better yet, a high-end sci-fi RPG with stellar design, a mysterious weapon of terrifying power and an impressive futuristic city. Transistor delivers on every level – fluid touch controls, gamepad support, deep combat mechanics, great room for strategy, fast-paced action, a multitude of configurations to craft the functions you need and a mysterious story to unravel. Transistor is a must-have for the sci-fi and RPG buffs. Read our review.
Templar Battleforce made one of the strongest and the most long-lasting impressions this year. The genre devotees will appreciate the depth, complexity and freedom of the tactical and strategical choices this game offers. Templars are knights in mighty exosuits that have to fight the aliens through a variety of areas. Grid-based movement, a set number of tiles you can cover per move, overwatch, a multitude of weapons, special abilities, character stats, skill trees, and classes will seem overwhelming to a newcomer, but the hardcore folks will feel at home. A must-have for any serious player. Read our review.
One of the best free action RPGs this year is Angel Stone, with its drop dead beautiful graphics, fluid controls, fairly deep RPG elements and a good replay value. It may not have the blockbuster franchise behind its belt like Star Wars Uprising has, but it certainly gets many things better than the mentioned title. If you are looking for an enjoyable combat RPG, try Angel Stone. Read our review.
A game that appeals to a wide audience, Marvel Future Fight is easy to pick up, offers intuitive and challenging gameplay, plenty of avengers to collect, upgrade and set out to battle. The game features all the classic freemium elements, but still, you can kill several hours a day without having to spend your money on IAPs. The time has proven this game is one of the best in its niche this year. Oh, and it’s an eye-candy, too. Read our review, tips.
TWD had a good year, with several mobile games harnessing the love from the multimillion fandom, but No Man’s Land is our favorite. Fairly deep RPG system, a great deal of areas to clear, tolerable IAP system and a slew of survivors to battle the walkers tactically make for a decent time killer any TWD fan can indulge in. Read our review, tips.
Star Wars: Uprising
Google Play, iTunes, free-to-play
Movie tie-ins can be very bad at times, but the Star Wars franchise saw many fine mobile games released this year. Star Wars Uprising is one such massive release that sees you advancing through sectors alongside your fellow combatants. You choose from one of the available 4 classes, and level up by completing the missions, grinding for loot, ammo and training your skills. Quite a typical action RPG, but with tons of SW content, which ultimately makes for a very good freemium game. Read our review, tips.
Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes
One of the best SW mobile games released this year, Galaxy of Heroes turned out to be a massive time killing black hole thanks to its friendly approach to the inevitable grinding – SIM tickets that let you replay the 3-star battles in a second and get the loot. The zest of the game lies in unlocking, collecting and upgrading the heroes – a total of 90 SW characters, including Anakin, Obi Van, Bobba Fett, Luminara, and many more. The game is huge, with lots of sectors you can battle. It is also fairly balanced in its IAPs, so non-paying players can eventually level up and grind for their preferred characters over time. The Arena is dominated by heavy spenders, though. Read our review, tips.
One of the most outstanding games of 2015, Battlestation: Harbinger is a breathing universe for the fans of the hardcore tactical space combat. Offering three levels of difficulty, the game sees you taking control of a spaceship from the selection of quite a few. The map is different every time, and you need to clear it from the hostiles, completing the missions as you go. You travel from sector to sector, strategically outrunning or fighting the hostiles, earning your cash to upgrade your ship, build more spaceships and eventually lead a space armada to victory. It’s hard, with a steep learning curve, but it’s worth the effort. Read our review, tips.
Mammoths in flying saucers is what we missed all along; we just didn’t know it until we saw them. The fluffy elephants can be darn good at tactical space shooting combat, and what do you know – they happen to possess the weapons far more advanced than Pentagon. Move your team of mammoths on a tiled grid, master the variety of weapons, enhance your aiming and geometry skills because the nearby planets and suns affect the trajectory of your missiles in most dramatic ways. It’s like Angry Birds, but chic. Read our review.
This War of Mine launched on mobile this year, marking the new episode in its successful history. A game of a questionable moral value, TWM has you controlling a group of civilian survivors hiding in the basements and feeding on the scarce supplies they can find in the devastated city, or by scavenging the empty houses. The variety of tasks you have to mind is mind-blowing. Besides health, emotional state and security of your survivors, you need to tend to their dwelling, their abilities and strength, and make complicated moral choices. Pass by a gang of rogue military assaulting a woman, or risk to interfere? Who gets to eat the last can of soup? Complex, deep and realistic, This War of Mine is no fun. Seriously. Read our review, tips.
Fallout Shelter needs no introduction because all Fallout fans are already playing it. The mobile game sees you building the vault, inviting the dwellers and managing all the building, infrastructure, gear, food, relationship aspects to make a very happy and thriving community under the circumstances. Addicting and visually dazzling, Fallout Shelter is a big-name release of 2015. Read our review, tips.
Google Play, iTunes, free-to-play, $2.99 full game
We couldn’t skip Artificial Defense, a visually superior TD that takes place in a computer, where RAM is your currency, honeypot is your target and malicious programs are your enemy. Deep and complex, AD offers a refreshing and challenging take on TD that provides an excellent gameplay and tons of content. Read our review.
It’s Pac-man year, and if you are serious about your ghost-munching skills, look no further than a collector’s edition from Bandai Namco. A gorgeous collection of grids, skins, challenges and styles, Pac-man CEDX is the best gift to any fan of the decades-old game. Read our review.
Pac-man 256 Endless Maze
Pac-man 256 is the best free-to-play Pac-man game on mobile this year, which comes from the developers of the Crossy Road, and it shows in the novel design and the layout of the grid. It’s an endless craze, I’d say, of mind-blowing, frantic swiping and weeping. Read our review.
Race the Sun is worth its price, being one of the best racers that launched on iOS this year. A dazzling and insanely fun game, Race the Sun lets you control a solar energy-powered hi-tech glider that rushes through alien landscapes, trying to chase the sun. Upgrade your glider, dodge the trees, unlock worlds and enjoy how great it is to play with procedurally generated worlds that reset after 24 hours. It lets you learn the layout of the world, but does not let you abuse the system.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Google Play, iTunes, $4.99
A visually stunning, frantic and mind-blowing arcade shooter, Geometry Wars launched its third installment in the series. You battle huge waves of the enemies on 3D grids of geometric shapes. It’s an uncontrollable slaughter when you look at it from the outside, but when you start playing and honing your speedy multitasking skills, the game offers a great deal of content, with 12 battle modes, 15 grids, companion drones, super abilities and controller support.
Another iOS beauty that takes forever to land its skis on lonely Android slopes. A fascinating endless skiing tale, Alto’s Adventure is one of the best-looking games this year, with an addicting gameplay, a set of characters with personality and a mystery that hides somewhere in those ivory snow mountains. The soundtrack is fantastic, too.
What is your favorite game this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share and like PocketMeta on social networks. Have a great holiday season and may the force be with you!