There is something refreshing and low-stress about playing mobile games that aren't designed to get you to spend a lot of cash on in-app purchases. I can say a lot for spending a couple of dollars upfront to get an entire game that you can enjoy from beginning to end without being hounded to buy coins or gems, having to open crates, card packs, or whatever.

I will spare you the soapbox rant. We went through the Play Store and picked out a few games that are worth every penny. Here are the best games on the platform.

80 Days

Phileas Flogg made a bet with the world that he can go around the globe in eighty days. As Passepartout, your job is to keep your master healthy, keep the expedition financially on track, and choose which paths you will take as you hop from place to place.

The makers of the acclaimed Sorcery! series will give 80 days an A+ narrative. Every decision you make here matters, as each choice can either speed up or slow down your adventure.


Can you make it around the world in eighty days? Will you fail and go unrecognized? You can answer that question on your own.

The Banner Saga is a character-driven tactical game. The choices you make in this game and its sequels matter. It feels like a version of Fire Emblem that I got when I was playing.

The art style is wonderful, from the character design to the vistas. This isn't baby's first tactical game. It is pretty intense and requires a lot of strategy. It's nickname is the "tactical" moniker. Your choices matter from how you approach battles to how you interact with the cast of characters.

Both The Banner Saga and The Banner Saga 2 are excellent. They are $10 each, but if you are a fan of tactical RPGs, then you should try them. The Banner Saga is a great place to start playing a tactical game. The game is beautiful and the story is moving.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania Symphony Of The Night

Source: Google Play Store (Image credit: Source: Google Play Store)

You could have knocked me over with a feather when this game was on the Play Store. Metroidvanias is a genre that was created in the 90s and is still seen today, along with Symphony of the Night.

The charm and nostalgia of Symphony of the Night is what makes it great. I found the game to be better played with a controller than with the touchscreen controls. The team behind the port did a great job of making the old game work on a new platform and the touchscreen controls let anyone play it.

The few dollars it costs is worth it. I love seeing old classics brought to modern systems so that younger players can try them out. If you want to play a game, Symphony of the Night is a must.

Dead Cells

Dead Cells is one of the best games of the last decade. This game is a masterpiece, and it came to Android with an excellent port. It is hard to find fault with this game because it works so well together. I think some people might dislike the intense challenge.

The best way to play is with aBluetooth controller, while the best way to play is with a touchscreen control. The port is done well. In many hours of play, I have not encountered any issues or bugs. The art style, including player and enemy designs, is something you can write about.

Death is permanent. If you fail, you will have to start over in your cell. You have to be prepared for each run because things won't be the same when you head back out. If you die, you lose all the loot you made. Don't let that deter you.


You can jump down the well with your gun boots. This retro-styled roguelike game is very challenging, with a steep learning curve as you learn how to defeat the enemies and figure out which weapon upgrades work best for your playstyle.

Since your character is falling, enemies and shops come from the bottom-up, so you need to be strategic in your freefall so you don't accidentally land on an enemy and lose a heart. You can change the way end-of-level upgrades work, and slightly alter how your sprite falls down the well if you play through repeated play.

The goal is to survive as you fall down the well. When you die, you must start at the entrance of the well again because there are no in-app purchases, save points, or continues.

Evoland 1 & 2

One of the premium games that you will not be able to put down is Evoland. The first Evoland was created as a game jam and was a nostalgic nod to the evolution of the RPG genre, with the sequel expanding both the depth of the story and the variety of video game and pop culture references.

I enjoyed the first game in the series, but was disappointed by how long it was. That is not the case with the game, which has over 20 hours of game time.

If I had to recommend one game, it would have to be the first Evoland, which is only $3. Play Pass subscribers can get both games for free.

Final Fantasy VIII

It's a premium game. Final Fantasy VIII is pushing premium mobile gaming to $21. You get a lot of game for that kind of dough. Final Fantasy VIII is a divisive entry in the long line of Final Fantasy games. It breaks dramatically with the standard JRPG format in a couple of big ways, so keep an open mind when approaching this unique title.

FFVIII follows the adventures of the main character, Squall, and his motley crew on an epic quest across time and space to save the world. The typical Final Fantasy plot is more or less. The story of FFVIII is truly bananas, because it takes some novel turns with its character development. It is not a true Final Fantasy game if the end game is not completely insane and VIII really delivers on that front.

If you are bored of the standard JRPG mechanics, give Final Fantasy VIII a try. It will surprise you.


Grimvalor is a side-scroller that features tight controls, excellent movement abilities, and pretty graphics. You need to level up your character by being tactical about how you approach enemies. There are lots to explore, with secrets hidden throughout the map. You have a pretty good picture of Grimvalor if you think of Castlevania and Dark Souls.

It has a soft paywall, meaning that you can try out the game for free and then pay to get the rest if you enjoy it. The game starts with very simplistic controls, three buttons for jump, attack, and dash, and the game layers on new ways to attack as you progress and level up your character.

Grand Theft Auto franchise

If you are a fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, then why not add it to your phone? You can go wrong with any of the great games that Rockstar Games has to offer. Liberty City Stories, Vice City, and Chinatown Wars are all available on mobile.

The price is not bad if you get the full game without any in-app purchase schemes in place. It is worth it to go back and revisit these classic games on your phone, because they are worth more with microtransactions on console and PC. The games will load much faster than your PS2 ever could, and there is support for the new wireless controls.

If you want to play full Grand Theft Auto games on your phone, go to the Play Store.


It is hard to find a fun puzzle game that does not try to sell you on power-ups or extra lives. Holedown is a great game because of that. You will have to strategically blast through to the core of the stars, using the classic gaming formula of bouncing balls off blocks. Each brick has a number that represents the number of hits needed to destroy it, or you can ruin a supporting block to clear out everything above it.

This pick-up-and-play game is an easy concept to grasp, but you quickly learn there is a lot of strategy and skill involved. The curved bricks allow you to clear out large sections of blocks in one go. The screen will move up one row after every attempt. The game is over if the blocks reach the top of the screen.

You will accumulate crystals along the way that will allow you to spend more money on upgrades that will give you more balls per shot and more shots per round. These upgrades are crucial to completing the later planets and allow the earlier levels to become more of a distraction for your subway commute. It will take you a while to max out all your statistics in Holedown, but that is mostly because it is so hard to stop playing this game once you start. Holedown is worth the money if you are a fan of physics-based puzzle games and are looking for a new obsession.


Huntdown is reminiscent of the heyday of action-arcade platformers. You'll be hooked on this title instantly, with intuitive touchscreen controls, gorgeous 16-bit graphics, and a pumping synthesizer-wave soundtrack. Play as three optional characters, each a bounty hunter in their own right, to take down a city that is overrun with scum.

Pick up all manner of guns and weapons along the way, as well as blaze a trail to the big boss on the huntdown. A few levels are free as a demo, but you have to pay $8.49 to get the full game. With a single-player story mode and endless arcade mode, you can spend hours playing this addictively fun platforming game.


The game developers at 10tons have mastered the art of the twin-stick top-down shooter for the phone. I prefer the predecessor to this, Neon Chrome, but I have to admit that the developers really hit their stride with JYDGE.

In a futuristic world where violent cyberpunk gangs are a real problem, you play as the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel. Each level has different challenges that you need to complete to progress through the game. This game has a bit of a rogue-like element to it where you can replay levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the medals.

There is a deep upgrade system that was not developed around in-app purchases. The game rewards you for completing goals, replaying levels, and ransacking enemy hideouts for loot that you can spend on cybernetic upgrades. The only thing not to like about this game is the obsession with replacing U with Y in the title and throughout the game.

Mini Metro

Mini Metro is a puzzle game where the in-game music is set to the movement of the subway cars, and it is pure joy to play.

You can get a sense of the game's flow by watching the trailer. It is a perfect game to play on your commute, and the newly added Challenge mode will give you a reason to check in and play a quick game every day.

There are no in-app purchases or ads to distract from the simple design. Our full review of this game can be found here.

Monument Valley 1 & 2

Monument Valley 1 and 2 are very popular in mobile gaming. Monument Valley has over two hundred and thirty thousand reviews, with an average of a whopping 4.8 stars, and it is not hard to see the appeal of these gorgeous puzzlers.

Monument Valley is a great place to fire up your creativity and challenge your critical thinking skills because of it's gorgeous geometric art style, lovely color scheme, and quirky architectural designs. Your goal in the first entry is to guide a silent princess, Ida, through maze-like, mysterious monuments while also staying one step ahead of the Crow People. The second game features a mother-daughter duo for you to assist as they explore the mysteries of this seemingly impossible realm.

Monument Valley 1 and 2 are the must-haves for every mobile game player. I cannot recommend these games highly enough because they are the kind of games that must be seen and experienced to be believed.

Muse Dash

There are two rhythm games that keep me coming back for more: Cytus II and Muse Dash. The rundown is that Muse Dash rules. I own Muse Dash on both mobile and PC. Muse Dash is a 2D rhythm game with simple two-tap controls that features gorgeous, bouncy graphics, cute characters, and lots of amazing songs.

You are likely to level up every few songs, which in turn unlocks more songs. The difficulty levels help you get used to things before you try to tackle the punishing difficulties. The learning curve can beSTEEP at times, but with practice all things are possible.

Some of Muse Dash's risque content may not be suitable for young audiences and the mobile version's audio may be a little off at times. Thankfully, the option to manually offset audio effects to match them up better is built right in, but it can still be annoying at times.

Muse Dash is 1.62 gigabytes and you have to purchase any of the DLC tracks. The base game will cost you a small discount for Play Pass subscribers, but the additional DLC purchases make this game truly premium. If you want to unlock every song pack, you can spend a lot of money, but fans of the game will happily pay more for more.


A group of teens are on an island outside of town. They will soon discover that Edwards Island is hiding more secrets than they could have imagined. Alex's decisions during the narrative affect her friends, the world around her, and the ending of Oxenfree, a text-based adventure game.

Oxenfree is a point-and-click adventure with some light exploration aspects that is perfect to play on a dark and scary night. It is just the right amount of spooky. It got me to jump a few times while I was playing, and it builds some excellent tension through its character interactions.

It has great replay value, as most players will tell you that you have to play through the game twice to uncover the real mystery at the center of the game.

Oxenfree is premium priced for premium quality at just $4.99, which is a steal considering how memorable this one is. I cannot wait for the second one to come out because I have played the first one.

Reigns: Her Majesty

If you have always wanted to be king for a day, you will definitely want to check out Reigns or the sequel. Both are stylish games with simple mechanics. You try to keep your kingdom running smoothly by interacting with people in your kingdom. It is one of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but instead of flipping to some page, you swiped left or right.

You have to manage four resources: religion, citizens, the army, and your kingdom's treasury. If any meter reaches zero, your reign is over. You become your successor and try to last longer in your reign than the king or queen before you.

It is a great pick-up-and-play game for killing some time, and you will enjoy the dark humor found throughout.

The Room series

Some of the best puzzle experiences you can play on the internet can be found in the Room franchise. Each game has a series of three-dimensional puzzles that you have to solve.

If you are new to the series, you may want to start with the first games, which are reasonably priced.

The entire series is one of the best mobile games of all time, so you can be sure that you are in for something special here. These games are complex and require a lot of attention.

Stardew Valley

The entire game of Stardew Valley has been designed to play on the mobile device of your choice. If you've never heard of or played Stardew Valley before, it's a farming simulator built atop a robust 16-bit open-endedRPG that lets you play and develop your character and farm as you choose.

The story begins when you decide to take over your grandfather's family farm in Pelican Town. The freedom to make your own game is what makes Stardew Valley so enjoyable to play. If you focus on building up your farm, the game is mostly about crop and resource management, which will scratch a certain itch for mobile gaming, but with Stardew Valley, there is so much more.

Between planting and harvesting your fields, you can level up your character's skills with different tools. You can either head to town to socialize and build relationships with the townsfolk, or you can go off on a more traditional combat-basedRPG adventure complete with quests to accomplish and monster-infested mines to explore.

It lacks the PC version of the game, but it is a good port that most of you will not notice. There are no in-app purchases to distract you from the game.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

You had to be aware that this was about to happen. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, better known as KOTOR, is one of the best Star Wars games of all time. I prefer the sequel, but not here nor there.

Star Wars fans may not know about the Old Republic timeline. It is thousands of years before the first film in the trilogy. The conflict between the Jedi and the Sith was stronger. The story of koTOR is very well written and is sure to please any Star Wars fan.

I don't want to ruin the game for you. The port is well-done, with excellent touchscreen controls, a new mobile-friendlyUI, gamepad support, and achievements, and you should pick it up!

Thumper: Pocket Edition

Have you ever tried combining rhythm games and psychedelic experiences? If you do that, you will get Thumper, a game that is hailed asrhythm violence by its developers. It has an aggressive track and skull-pounding beats.

You are a space beetle, trying to destroy a floating head. It sounds weird when you lump in the elements of horror and you don't trust your reflexes to see you through. It is practically a euphoric experience when Thumper is firing on all cylinders.

The soundtrack is important to us. It is awesome. It is worth seeing the game alone. A new game+ mode increases the challenge and speed, and there are nine levels for you to enjoy. If you can, use your phone's or tablet's speakers or wired headphones because wireless headphones add audio latency.


Unmaze is based on Greek mythology and depicts the plight of a young girl who is missing her brother and boyfriend. While search parties try to find them, Ariadne discovers a mystical crystal that allows her to see and speak with her lost boys. Light and shadow shift your focus from one character to another as you help guide your loved ones through the maze.

Be warned. Forsaking the other means turning the neglected party into a monstrous beast.

Unmaze is an excellent choice for the more artistically inclined mobile game player, with stunning graphics, exciting game mechanics, great writing, and some deep themes to uncover. The first chapter is free to play as a demo, followed by a one-time in-app purchase of $5.49 to unlocked the entire game.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Night Road

Vampire: The Masquerade - Night Road is a text adventure. You have a lot of choices and they affect the game in different ways. This game is large and the writing is excellent. If you don't like reading, you won't be able to play this game. As you read through the story, you can make choices.

The developer says the game has 650,000 words. You can try out the game for free with ads, or you can pay 10 bucks to get the full experience. If you want to play as a Caitiff, you have to fork over a dollar.

Whispers of a Machine

A Nordic noir point-and-click adventure called "Whispers of a Machine" has a cyberpunk flair. The murder mystery turns into a discussion on ethics of advanced technology. The setting is an excellent contrast to the rural aftermath of a disaster and the cyberpunk futurism we see represented by the main character.

Vera is a special detective augmented with enhancements. She can see things other people can't, and you can decide her personality based on your dialogue choices. If you enjoyed the point-and-click adventures of the 90s, then you will like this game.

The game is worth the few dollars even if the story is a letdown. I loved the atmosphere and the art. It is a short game that lasts a few hours, but it encourages you to replay it since you can make different choices on the next game.

Better mobile gaming IS possible

I recommend great games to friends, family, and strangers all the time, but as soon as I mention that a game costs a couple bucks, the all-too-common reaction is a crying shame. The majority of the games on this list cost less than a fast food combo meal, so why not spend a couple dollars for a vastly superior experience?

Everyone loves getting stuff for free, but when it comes to mobile gaming, it's not always free. I would rather spend money to be able to play top-tier games without ads or in-app purchases.

Does that make me crazy? I think it makes me the sanest person in the room.

Added 80 days to our list.