Cutting-edge consoles like Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox One, Sony’s (SNE) PS4 and Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Switch might score more headlines and pump out flashier games, but when it comes to sheer size, no gaming platform on the planet can compete with that smartphone in your pocket.
With an astonishing 6 billion mobile devices expected to be circulating worldwide by 2020, there’s an exceedingly good chance you have a smart something or other a few yards away right now. That also means you have access to the largest – and fastest-growing – segment of the gaming market.
But with hordes of mobile games arriving with little fanfare on a weekly basis, trying to figure out what, exactly, you should be playing on your iPhone or Android device is a daunting task. Still mindlessly crushing candy? Tired of catching ‘em all? Then put your thumbs to good use and try something new.
Here are the 10 coolest mobile games of the month:
‘Oddmar’ (iOS | $4.99)
Platformers are a dime a dozen on the App Store, but there’s nothing typical about “Oddmar.” Produced by the developers of the stellar “Leo’s Fortune,” this Viking-themed action romp is gorgeous, funny and flat-out fun. Featuring colorful graphics that recall the exemplary “Rayman: Origins,” “Oddmar” bursts off the screen as players run and jump their way through 24 inventive levels. Sure to be in the mobile Game of the Year conversation, this is a steal for $5, and a can’t-miss slice of gaming Valhalla for fans of the genre.
‘supertype’ (iOS | $0.99)
What’s in a word? Letters, that’s what. And in the brilliant “supertype,” the consonants and vowels are used to solve clever physics puzzles. The dot over an “i” becomes a valuable ball, while the odd weight of “g” can be used to nudge an “s” down a hill. Though it occasionally boils down to trial-and-error, “supertype” is a smart diversion from your never-ending game of “Words With Friends.”
‘LightSlinger Heroes’ (iOS, Android | Free)
This slick mix between the old gem puzzler “Bust-A-Move” and a freemium role-playing game is exactly as addictive as it sounds. Match up gems to make your heroes swing swords, deflect attacks, and heal the party. Delightful graphics and sound recall classic JRPGs, and the urge to fight just one more battle will keep you playing until you deplete your energy. And there’s the rub – a consistent push to spend cash offers a decidedly un-delightful reminder that you’re playing a free mobile game.
‘Brew Town’ (iOS, Android | Free)
Grow a scratchy beard, throw on a plaid shirt, and start sniffing hops in this beer-based building game. Develop hearty lagers, smooth pilsners, and pungent IPAs as you turn your cozy beer farm into a boozy monopoly. With great customization options (including extremely stylish bottle labelling tools) and excellent delivery, it’s a mobile brewmaster’s dream come true. Next to a free case of Pliny, that is.
‘Ava Airborne’ (iOS | Free)
Fly for free – and forever – in this attractive endless runner, er, flier. Ava uses all sorts of gizmos to sail through the sky, from a glider to a yo-yo (which seems extremely unsafe). Part of the fun is seeing how long you can last before hitting the ground, but with loads of upgrades, there’s a great sense of discovery here, too.
‘MMX Hill Dash 2’ (iOS, Android | Free)
Terrible name aside, “MMX Hill Dash 2” is a surprisingly cool little app. It’s essentially a four-wheeled version of the absurdly hard “Trials” motorcycle series, tasking you to drive, flip, and somehow not crash through devious physics-based obstacle courses. A steady drip of upgrades and increasingly challenging courses will keep you driving (and exploding, most likely) for hours.
‘The Room: Old Sins’ (Android | $4.99)
Look familiar? That’s because this beautiful, diabolical puzzler was a must-have game when it launched for iOS devices back in January. It’s now out for Android and is just as must-havey. Tweak levers, press buttons, and manipulate objects to uncover the secrets within a mysterious manor. If you’ve never played a “Rooms” game, stop waiting and start downloading.
‘Ovivo’ (iOS | $1.99)
This artsy, minimalist platformer lets you toy with gravity by flinging a cute little ball between black and white spaces. At first almost meditational, “Ovivo’s” serenity quickly fades when you hit the trickier levels. Though it also appears on the PC, this is an excellent mobile game: great in short bursts and with mechanics perfectly tailored for touchscreens.
‘Sdorica – Sunset —’ (iOS, Android | Free)
One of the prettiest mobile games of 2018, this puzzle-RPG’s production value is off the charts. Gorgeous anime styling and whimsical character design make it an immediate stand out, though the interesting gem-matching combat system is equally cool. It’s also pretty generous for a free game, giving you plenty of play time before asking for some cash.
‘Project Highrise’ (iPad | $3.99)
Originally released in 2016 for the PC, this deep management game lets you build, expand, and maintain a towering skyscraper. Despite a wealth of menus, it’s made the move to mobile largely intact, giving players a great deal of control over their burgeoning landmark. It’s not just about building, either – a “Sims”-like simulation layer means you’ll have to manage the concerns of the building’s feisty tenants, too.