Smartphones are the new gaming console. Where once they might have been looked down upon by gamers as the domain of casual games, like Candy Crush or Angry Birds, smartphones have become the number one gaming destination for just about any kind of gamer. Do you want to play a shooter? Google Play has those. Do you want a puzzle game? Throw a dart and you’ll hit one. Do you want the full narrative RPG experience? You can have it. We’ve put together a list of forty of the best Android games of 2021.
Navigate this article:
Best Android ShootersBest Android RPGsBest Android Puzzle GamesBest Android Card GamesBest Android SimsBest Android Rhythm GamesBest Narrative Android GamesBest Android Arcade GamesOther Great Android Games
Shooters on phones have come a long way. Not so many years ago, the concept of using touch controls on a fast-paced first-person shooter would have been unthinkable (to say nothing of unplayable), but that’s changed a lot in recent years. You can play any of the games below with touch controls and not miss a traditional game controller.
Fortnite might be the leading battle royale on PC and consoles, but PUBG Mobile dominates the mobile battle royale genre! PUBG Mobile takes the complete experience from the popular PC version and adapts it to the small screen. PUBG Mobile offers a control scheme that is a step above most mobile games, and it’s free to play to boot! We even have some great PUBG Mobile tips and tricks to get you started. Download QR-CodePUBG MOBILE – Traverse Developer: PROXIMA BETA Price: Free+
Not a fan of battle royales? Call of Duty Mobile is created by the same developers as PUBG Mobile but offering a different type of first-person shooter experience. You’ll get the same great controls, but instead of purely battle royale gameplay, you’ll also get classic Call of Duty modes like 5v5 and Zombies. The battle royale is, of course, still there if you want to spice it up though! Download QR-CodeCall of Duty?: Mobile – Season 5: In Deep Water Developer: Activision Publishing, Inc. Price: Free+
Online multiplayer is all well and good, but suppose you want a good single-player experience? Dead Effect 2 is a first-person horror game with RPG elements made in the same vein as System Shock or Dead Space. If you like scary space games, or even if you want a single-player Android shooter then you’ll want to give this one a try — as long as you don’t mind a little off-beat voice acting. Download QR-CodeDead Effect 2 Developer: App Holdings Price: Free+
This game is a little different from your typical shooter. You’re not going up against characters who can shoot or hit back, for starters. In Hitman Sniper, you play as Agent 47, tasked with assassinating targets with a sniper rifle from a rooftop. It’s not as simple as pointing and pulling the trigger, however, and there’s a puzzle element to the hits that will be familiar to players of the mainstream Hitman series. Download QR-CodeHitman Sniper Developer: SQUARE ENIX LTD Price: $0.99+
Role-playing games might not seem like a genre well-suited to phones, given how large and in-depth they usually are. Yet there are plenty of games in the genre that have made the transition to mobile extremely well. Here are a few of the games we recommend you try.
Taking the world by storm, Genshin Impact is an action RPG with exploration elements strikingly similar to Breath of the Wild. With a ton of content released at launch and more coming, this is a title that will provide a lot of entertainment to come. Although it is a gacha/loot box title (as in you need to pay for dice-rolls to try and obtain new characters), you can play all of the content and still get some paid characters without having to spend a dime. Download QR-CodeGenshin Impact Developer: miHoYo Limited Price: Free+ If you are looking for some help, we have compiled some Genshin Impact tips for beginners, as well as tips and tricks for more advanced Genshin Impact players.
An MMO? On Android? It may seem like a strange idea, given what you may know about World of Warcraft-style MMORPGs, but Runescape Mobile pulls it off well. The game is still in Early Access, but you can give it a download for free and begin exploring the world now. Runescape Mobile is cross-platform as well, so you can easily switch between playing the PC version and logging into the app when you want the mobile experience. Download QR-CodeRuneScape – Open World Fantasy MMORPG Developer: Jagex Games Studio Price: Free+
As it turns out, older RPGs that were point and click port pretty well to smartphones! A number of classic WRPGs have made the jump to Google Play, but if there’s only one you’re going to buy, you’ll want to make it Baldur’s Gate II. One of the most popular of the early Bioware titles, Baldur’s Gate II is a Dungeons and Dragons-style RPG, with a lot of micromanagement and difficult challenges. You need to pay to play, but it regularly goes on sale! Download QR-CodeBaldur’s Gate II Developer: Beamdog Price: $9.99+
While the Fire Emblem series is often as much about tactics as it is about role-playing, this mobile title takes the best elements of both and optimizes them for mobile, letting you plan your battles and optimize your team. While Heroes celebrates the series’ long history with its exhaustive list of characters imported from the main games (over 600 of them at the time of this writing), you don’t actually have to know anything about Fire Emblem in order to get into Heroes. Download QR-CodeFire Emblem Heroes Developer: Nintendo Co., Ltd. Price: Free+
The best smartphone games are the ones that can be picked up and put down when life calls. Slow-paced and methodical, puzzle games are the best in that respect. Match-3s are the classic phone puzzle games, but there are lots of other options out there for those who want to try different flavors. What they all have in common is simple mechanics that will occupy you for hours of playtime.
A big hit on Apple devices when originally released, Monument Valley is also available at the Google Play Store! Offering a unique style, Monument Valley tasks players with manipulating and navigating the architecture around them in order to progress. The first game in the series is just $4, and if you end up liking it, you can grab the sequel for $5! The games also go on sale from time to time, so keep your ears to the ground. Download QR-CodeMonument Valley Developer: ustwo games Price: $3.99+
Taking the Match-3 genre to its literal conclusion, Threes! is a very simple puzzler about matching numbers into multiples of three. Like any good puzzle title, it’s easy to learn but exceedingly difficult to master. You can pick up the free version to give the game a try, and the full, ad-free version is just $1. Download QR-CodeThrees! Developer: Asher Vollmer Price: $0.99
I Love Hue is the puzzle title I keep installed on my phone at all times because it’s just that relaxing. This puzzle title tasks you with rearranging colors in order to make a color spectrum swatch. It’s fun and colorful. The peaceful music and the inability to lose also provides a relaxed experience. I Love Hue is free to play, and the ads are restricted only for getting more prisms, so they aren’t forced upon you and interrupt your experience. Download QR-CodeI Love Hue Developer: Zut! Price: Free+
Built upon the simple premise of shadow puppets, Shadowmatic is a game in which you manipulate objects in front of a light in order to get particular shapes. Like the rest of the games on this list, it’s a simple premise that’s been refined to perfection, with the in-game lighting effects being some of the best we’ve ever seen and the touch controls are actually better suited to the game than any controller could be. Download QR-CodeShadowmatic Developer: Triada Studio Games Price: Free+
Card games are another genre that plays very well on mobile — the games can be played in a few minutes, and yet there’s enough variety in them to keep you playing for hours. The games listed below are some of the best available to Android gamers.
Blizzard’s collectible card game is arguably one of the best around, and it’s free to start on Google Play! You don’t need to know any World of Warcraft or Blizzard lore to get into Hearthstone (trust me, Hearthstone is the only Blizzard game I put considerable time into), and the developers keep the game fresh with new card packs and retiring old cards to prevent power creep. You can play against people online, or have fun and learn new strategies with the Solo Adventures. Download QR-CodeHearthstone Developer: Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Price: Free+
Yu-Gi-Oh, in 2021? It may seem like a surprising choice, but Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links is a very strong card game on Google Play. The show was always the most visible aspect of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, but the actual card game is still going strong, and Duel Links provides a great entryway into it. While the game does have premium currency to buy booster packs in new cards, Konami regularly gives out this currency for free and is more generous than most games of the trading card genre, so you will have plenty of cards to use to build a deck and duel with. Download QR-CodeYu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links Developer: KONAMI Price: Free+
Anyone who has played The Witcher 3 likely knows about Gwent, the card game hidden within the massive RPG. The card game became massively popular with fans, so eventually, a standalone game was released on mobile devices. Witcher themes besides, this is a fun card game with a different flow than most card games out there. If you’re looking for something a little different, but still popular enough to play online with others, Gwent is your best choice. Download QR-CodeGWENT: The Witcher Card Game Developer: CD PROJEKT S.A. Price: Free+
Deck builders and card RPGs are all well and good, but what about something more in line with traditional card games? Exploding Kittens is one of the more fun options, being described by its creators as “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.” The point is to draw cards until someone draws the Exploding Kitten, in which case you either need to defuse it or it’ll explode and knock you out of the game. It’s good, cat-based fun that can be played either with friends or against strangers online. Download QR-CodeExploding Kittens? – Official Developer: Exploding Kittens, Inc Price: $1.99+
Simulation games, a staple time sink of PC and console, have made their way to smartphones in a big way. Now, instead of looking up from your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series S controller and wondering where all the time went, you can look up from your smartphone and wonder how you managed to sink hours into these games.
If you enjoyed the Harvest Moon series and wish you could get something similar on your phone? Stardew Valley is your answer! This indie title has all of the farming and romance of the Harvest Moon series, with additional mechanics that will keep you coming back. Being on your smartphone means that you can easily play a day while waiting or bored, then get back to your day. Download QR-CodeStardew Valley Developer: Chucklefish Limited Price: $3.99
Cultist Simulator is a little different from the average sim game, and it’s not just from the name. A card-based title, Cultist Simulator tasks you with attempting to become the leader of a cult. Cards and actions must be played properly to succeed, and there are many ways to do so. If you’re looking for something different in the genre, this is the game to try. Download QR-CodeCultist Simulator Developer: Playdigious Price: $6.99+
Minecraft is, quite possibly, one of the most popular games of all time. It’s popular for a good reason too, being a great sandbox sim game. You can even build and play in your dream sandbox on Google Play, and it’ll only cost $6. The mobile version of Minecraft can also be brought online, so you can play with others on the go! Download QR-CodeMinecraft Developer: Mojang Price: $7.49+
Ever wanted to live the life of a game developer? Game Dev Tycoon lets you, as the name suggests, build your own game and release it to the world and then manage the aftermath. It’s an interesting take on the tycoon sim subgenre, effectively a slice-of-life story rather than a huge business-building simulation. Nevertheless, it’s surprisingly deep sim, in which you have to create your product and sell it to the world in order to succeed. Download QR-CodeGame Dev Tycoon Developer: Greenheart Games Price: $4.99
Rhythm games never died — they just migrated to mobile. These games will get you tapping on your phone screens in time to the music, a miniature version of the old Rock Band and Guitar Hero games.
My personal go-to Android rhythm title, BanG Dream is a super sweet rhythm game starring some girls working to become idols. Taking a bit of a Guitar Hero rhythm game approach, you’ll tap and hold notes for each of the idols. While the gacha mechanics can be annoying at times, you can easily get by without spending money, and playing online with friends is a blast. Download QR-CodeBanG Dream! Girls Band Party! Developer: Bushiroad International Pte Ltd_ Price: Free+
Want to listen to your own music when playing rhythm games? Beat Hazard 2 turns your tracks into shoot-em-up levels, tasking you with dodging bullets and defeating bosses to the beat. It’s a neat concept, and shoot-em-ups are a perfect mix for the smartphone. Give this a download and start shooting to the beat! Download QR-CodeBeat Hazard 2 Developer: Cold Beam Games Ltd Price: $5.99
Yes, not one, but two of the best rhythm games on Android include cute anime girl idols singing cute songs at you. Part of the Love Live! franchise, you don’t need to watch the anime to enjoy the gameplay. Similar to Hatsune Miku titles, you’ll tap to the beat and perform certain actions while the idols dance in the background. It’s a lot of fun, but difficult if you’re easily distracted. Download QR-CodeLove Live! School idol festival- Music Rhythm Game Developer: KLab Price: Free+
This game combines rhythm and platformer gameplay, as you guide your little shape over an obstacle course in time to the music. You’ll face hazards and obstacles in the form of spikes and moving blocks that can end your little guy’s song in a hurry. In addition to the jumping levels, there are also flying levels and inverted gravity sections. It’s designed to keep you on your toes, so if you want a game with a little bit of a challenge, give Geometry Dash a try. Download QR-CodeGeometry Dash Developer: RobTop Games Price: $1.99
So far we’ve discussed games with solid gameplay loops, but what about stories? Not every game focuses on its story, but there are plenty of games on Android that offer great stories to experience. A good game story, told well, really sticks with you. The below are some of our favorites.
Think you have what it takes to rule? A simple narrative title, Reigns has you controlling a line of kings or queens as you try to hold onto your rule (which never lasts long). You need to balance the favor of four separate groups–have that favor be too low (or high!), and you’ll end up with your head on a spike, most likely. All three Reigns titles–Reigns, Reigns: Her Majesty, and Reigns: Game of Thrones–are all worth giving a try. Download QR-CodeReigns Developer: DevolverDigital Price: $2.99
Based on the classic novel Around the World in 80 Days, 80 Days has you… trying to get around the world in that time period. It’s more interesting than just that, though–being an Oregon Trail-like title (without dysentery), each playthrough is a different adventure, and different challenges will block your way around the world. Download QR-Code80 Days Developer: inkle Ltd Price: $5.99
A Normal Lost Phone is a game that pretty much says what it is. You find a lost phone, and it’s up to you to figure out who the owner is so you can return it. A Normal Lost Phone has you solving puzzles and digging through a stranger’s personal data in order to solve the central mystery. Who is Sam–and where are they? Download QR-CodeA Normal Lost Phone Developer: Plug in Digital Price: $3.49
If you want to experience another game in the “lost phone” genre that’s not quite as cartoonish and more realistic than A Normal Lost Phone, give Simulacra a try. Be forewarned: It’s a horror game, and it’ll be scary right from the word go. But if you want to experience a creepy story that takes full advantage of the mobile platform, this is a game you need to try. Download QR-CodeSIMULACRA – Found phone horror mystery Developer: Kaigan Games Oü Price: $4.99
One of the oldest and most satisfying parts of gaming is getting a high score. Arcade games are still alive and well on the Play Store. Here are few games to try.
Canabalt is a title that helped to start the entire auto-runner genre, and now you can get it in HD for Android! Run and jump through the cityscape, attempting to escape destruction. The simple controls of just tapping to jump and nothing else make it ideal for mobile devices, and a lot of fun for a quick play while commuting. Download QR-CodeCanabalt HD Developer: Kittehface Software Price: $2.99
Pac-Man, one of the oldest popular games around. Pac-Man 256 is a very interesting take on the classic formula. The pellet chomping formula is mixed with an auto-scrolling twist, and you need to outrun a glitching board. It’s all about getting that elusive 256 pellets eaten in a row, and its arcade-like gameplay keeps you coming back for another playthrough. Download QR-CodePAC-MAN 256 – Endless Maze Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe Price: Free+
Jetpack Joyride is a fast-paced auto-runner that’s a blast to play. You need to learn the unique physics of your jetpack in order to avoid enemies and obstacles and get even farther down the path before you eventually fail. With the incentive to get coins to unlock new upgrades and looks, Jetpack Joyride will keep you coming back for a while. Download QR-CodeJetpack Joyride Developer: Halfbrick Studios Price: Free+
If you ever wanted to play a modern version of Frogger, Crossy Road has you covered. Free-to-play, Crossy Road lets you play as hundreds of different characters, with the default being the Chicken, and you have to cross as much of an endless highway as you can. It might sound basic, but you can play for hours and not get bored. Download QR-CodeCrossy Road Developer: HIPSTER WHALE Price: Free+
These are titles that don’t neatly fit into a specific genre but are still more than worthy of your attention. Give them a download!
Once just a simple indie, now one of the most popular games in the world, Among Us is essentially a digital version of the traitor genre of board games. It’s up to your party to keep an eye on the spaceship and successfully complete tasks. However, there’s an alien imposter (or imposters!) looking to murder your crew, and they’re doing their best to remain hidden. Among Us is best played in big groups of friends, and it’s free to download on Android! Download QR-CodeAmong Us Developer: Innersloth LLC Price: Free+
Who knew urban planning could be so stressful? Mini Metro tasks you with creating working subway lines on a limited budget. Balance your money with the need for more trains, stops, and lines. Have too much of a bottleneck, and you’ll lose! The simple art style plays well to the slowly quickening gameplay, and keeps you from stressing out… well, too much. Download QR-CodeMini Metro Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club Price: $0.99
Draw it is basically Pictogram taken to its digital, online conclusion. Quickly sketch the words on the screen and fight for the top spot! It’s simple, quirky, fun, and doesn’t require you to host a whole party to enjoy. Download QR-CodeDraw it Developer: Kwalee Ltd Price: Free+
The auto-chess title that made waves on PC is now available on Android! Teamfight Tactics relies way less on twitch reaction times and more on understanding synergies and proper planning. Without the need for quick reactions or overly flashy graphics, TFT easily made the transition to mobile devices and is perfect for Android. Download QR-CodeTeamfight Tactics: League of Legends Strategy Game Developer: Riot Games, Inc Price: Free+
An oldie but a goodie, Lara Croft GO takes the Tomb Raider heroine and puts her in a turn-based puzzle platformer. As far as single-player games go, it’s pretty much perfect, with challenging levels, a strong central goal, and side challenges. It’s one of those games you need to try, even if you’re not a Tomb Raider fan. Download QR-CodeLara Croft GO Developer: SQUARE ENIX LTD Price: $5.99+
Hidden Folks is a fun little black-and-white hidden object game. There’s really not much more to it than that. Find the people, animals, and objects using your eyes and the cute hints! It’s only $5, but you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. Download QR-CodeHidden Folks Developer: Adriaan de Jongh Price: $4.99
Looking for a good racing game? Look no further than GRID Autosport. A direct port of the PC and console title, GRID Autosport doesn’t cut corners, offering tons of cars to race and tracks to race on while looking great to boot. If you’re disappointed with most mobile racers, be sure to give this one a try. Download QR-CodeGRID? Autosport Developer: Feral Interactive Price: $9.99
The incredibly successful series for the Nintendo 3DS made its way to mobile a few years ago. Sure, Curious Village and the other Layton games are a little more expensive than the other games on this list, but you’ll be getting the full game for that price, and it’s a classic you shouldn’t pass up if you haven’t already played it. Download QR-CodeLayton: Curious Village in HD Developer: LEVEL-5 Inc. Price: $7.99
This list might seem exhaustive, but we’ve really only scratched the surface of the games that are available for Android. No matter what you’re in the mood to play — in-depth RPG, quick card game, or engaging story — there are multiple games on the Play Store to suit your needs.
If you ever decide you don’t want to play these games on a smaller screen, you’re in luck. Several of these games — not all, but a good percentage — are also available to play on PC, meaning you can pick up a good, cheap gaming laptop and play some of these titles just as easily.