It’s always nice to be able to take a break from work or school (or the general existential dread of life) and escape into another world. Mobile gaming has made that even easier, as you no longer need to be tethered to a bulky console to play a round.
We’re long-time gamers here at Review Geek, and as such, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite mobile games that we think you’ll like. They range from strategic dungeon crawlers and first-person shooters to quest-laden fantasy adventures and clever card games, so we’re pretty sure you’ll find something you like.
Note that our links and availability are based on the United States—games may (or may not) be available through these or other services in different countries.
Historically speaking, I haven’t played many mobile games, but I’ve been testing the Nubia Red Magic 6R gaming phone, and it has really opened my eyes to how great the mobile gaming scene is these days. I’ve spent a lot of time digging through some of the more popular titles like Call of Duty Mobile (outlined below), which display how powerful mobile hardware is now. Modern phones can easily output some graphics that would’ve been limited to consoles or PCs just a few short years ago. It’s honestly kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.
However, as fun as those games are, I think puzzle and atmospheric games like The Room series are some of the best pick-up-and-play mobile titles out there right now. Despite being several years old at this point, the original Room is still a fantastic game that has been imitated time and time again by other developers.
Call of Duty Mobile
I don’t usually like first-person games, and I especially don’t like first-person shooters. Or at least I thought I didn’t before I started playing Call of Duty Mobile. I originally fired this game up to test on the Red Magic 6R, but it didn’t take long for me to get hooked. The fast-paced action works surprisingly well on mobile—much better than I would’ve guessed before playing the first time.
The controls scheme is laid out very well for such a complex game, making it easy to pick up and play. There are plenty of different game modes, including ranked matches, online multiplayer, and battle royale. There are also several different modes within online multiplayer, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
Whether you’re a fan of the Call of Duty series in general or have never played it before, CoD Mobile is a pretty fun pick-up-and-play title that’s great when you have a few minutes to kill. Pun intended.
Call of Duty Mobile is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android. It’s free to play with in-app purchases.
The Room Series
Puzzle games are some of the easiest to play on mobile, but they often lack any real immersion. That’s where The Room series from Fireproof Games differs. This mystery puzzle game is captivating, challenging, and has a story that makes you want to keep digging. The puzzles are complex and will work the ol’ noodle, so this is a great choice if you need something to get the juices flowing.
The best part is that there are currently four games in The Room series, which should keep you occupied for a while. All games are available on Android, iPad, and iPhone for various prices, though the original The Room is called The Room Pocket on iPhone.
I tend to prefer something I can pick up, play for a few minutes, and then leave when it comes to mobile gaming. Something for the downtime moments that don’t require much commitment and won’t trap me when I want to move on. So to me, Alto’s Odyssey is the perfect mobile game. It has a low learning curve, you can play it for just a few minutes, and it’s beautiful—to look at and listen to.
You’ve probably heard of Alto’s Odyssey, but just in case you haven’t, here’s the skinny. You play a sand-boarder (like snowboarding, but for other places) in an endless run-style procedurally generated level. You’ll make your way through several “biomes” that consist of sand dunes, canyons, and ancient temples. You’ll avoid obstacles, pull off tricks through backflips and grinds, and even unlock hang-gliding. And naturally, you have goals to complete, like travel a certain distance without crashing.
And if that sounds like too much, Alto Odyssey even has a no-stakes Zen Mode where crashes don’t end your run. The game is simply beautiful, too, and you can play through the literal day (and night), as the sun rises and sets, followed by the moon. It will even rain while you glide through, too. And the more you play, the more you unlock, including new characters with new powers (like faster backflips or double jumps).
Alto’s Odyssey is one of the very few mobile games I’ve played long enough to complete every single goal and unlock every character. And that’s probably because it doesn’t ask too much of me—just some spare time whenever I have any. And best of all, you can play it on iOS and Android. It’ll set you back $5.
I’ve been trying my best to get into mobile games and haven’t had much luck. Maybe I’ll follow some of my co-writers’ recommendations once this group article gets published, but in the meantime, I’m going to play PAC-MAN Party Royale. It’s the only mobile game that’s really held my attention (in recent memory), and it’s pretty easy to get into.
PAC-MAN Party Royale
Party Royale is basically a Pac-Man deathmatch. You and three other players race around a maze to pick up dots and weapons. If players are still left standing after a set amount of time, the maze starts to glitch out and fall apart. This all happens in the span of about two minutes—maybe less if you run into a crazy skilled player.
Unfortunately, PAC-MAN Party Royale is an Apple Arcade exclusive. I initially signed up to try Fantasian (a mobile game from the Final Fantasy guy), but it didn’t really mesh with my short attention span. I’ve kept my Apple Arcade subscription because I want to try Monster Hunter Stories+ … despite my short attention span.
Video games are simply fantastic and have kept me entertained since I was a kid. Naturally, mobile games are a hearty yes for me, and I’ve played virtually every type of game out there. But out of all the many titles, however, these two simple games are my favorites. They’re cute and engaging, yet easy to set down, so I can enjoy them little by little whenever I have downtime.
My go-to right now is Dungeon Boss—it allows me to scratch my dungeon-crawling itch whenever I want without making me hop on my gaming PC (or call up my D&D group) to do so. The colorful strategy-based RPG has you build teams of powerful heroes based on classic fantasy classes (like fighters, casters, and other mythical beasts) and work to upgrade them as you play through each turn-based level.
You can join a guild, race to complete quests, prove your might in PvP battles, and collect gold and other materials to upgrade things like your hero abilities, gear, moves, and so on. In the game, your heroes will fight against enemies with similar powers, and you’ll have to learn all the many tricks needed to defeat them to emerge victorious. You can chat with other players, swap out hero skins for cool new looks, and participate in tons of weekly quests and events. And don’t be fooled by the game’s cute art—it is truly challenging!
Dungeon Boss is free to play with in-app purchases.
I’ve also been digging a quirky little game called Solitairica for some years now. It’s a mashup of a roguelike RPG and the iconic card game Solitaire, and has a fierce art style that I love. In the game, you’ll play through increasingly difficult levels as one of the six class types (warrior, monk, rogue, paladin, bard, or wizard) and slowly unlock stronger items and moves as you go.
Each level offers a new foe to go up against, who is just as well-armed as you are. While you might be able to increase your shields, slice through two at a time (instead of just one), or remove all effects with the press of a button, they can do things like stun you, inflict massive damage, or shuffle your cards to ruin any planned runs you might have had.
Enemies and upgrade items shuffle every time you play, so you won’t be able to bank on any particular items being available to you. And even if you can beat each level, you’ll still have a final boss to defeat; you’ll need to bring your A-game and hope that you can snag all of the helpful upgrades you want to capture the crown!
Solitariica is free to play with ads and in-app purchases.
A mobile game doesn’t have to be new for you to enjoy it. This title came out in 2012, but it’s still one of my favorites.
Vector is a unique parkour-inspired platform game with neat tricks, stunning visuals, and just enough difficulty to keep you engaged for hours. It’s like hit games Canabalt and Mirrors Edge. Vector is loads of fun. You can play it offline, and when you finish, try Vector 2.
Vector is free to play with in-app purchases.
I’m not a big mobile gamer in general, but two games stick out to me when I have some downtime while away from home. SongPop Party and NBA 2K21 mobile. Both are iPhone exclusive on Apple Arcade (sorry, Android folks).
Kicking things off with SongPop Party, this game is for all my music lovers out there. It’s a simple multiplayer song trivia/competition game. Simply choose the genre/era you want, and the game throws you in a lobby of four. You gain points for picking the right track the fastest. You run through five rounds, and each game runs between one to two minutes, depending on how fast everyone is. It’s perfect for when you have a few minutes to kill.
On the other hand, NBA 2K21 mobile (Apple Arcade version) is a great sit-down game. Historically, mobile NBA 2K games have been watered down, downright different versions of the game. But, outside of a few oddities, such as lack of voice commentary, 2K21 plays almost identically as the console versions do. Especially because it supports external game controllers.
Hook it up, slam it down, and you’ve got yourself a near console-like experience with myCareer, myTeam, Black Top, or a simple exhibition mode. Finally, a console-like experience on mobile.
For me, the perfect mobile game is one that you can easily pick up and play for ten minutes or sit down with it for an hour or two. You often can’t do both with a lot of mobile games. And I’m not one who minds in-game purchases as long as the game doesn’t make you feel like you need to spend money to progress. All that said, this is my favorite mobile game at the moment.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
I love the wizarding world of Hogwarts, and this game (Android/iOS) lets me get my Harry Potter fix without having to binge the movies or reread the books every weekend. There are main quests and side quests that’ll keep your attention while you’re in between events. You use up energy to complete quests and then have to wait for your energy to refill (unless you want to pay to keep playing).
Some people hate these types of games, but I love them because it gives me a short break in between tasks throughout the day without keeping me tethered to the game. Plus, as I said, I get my Hogwarts fix. And until Hogwarts Legacy comes out on the PS5, I’m going to be obsessed with Hogwarts Mystery.
The game is free to play with in-app purchases.
I’ve spent a fair portion of my life traveling, so mobile games have been an absolute lifesaver. Travel sounds exciting on paper, but I was sitting down waiting for a train/plane/bus most of the time, then sitting down for even longer after finally on the thing. Luckily, the nightmare rectangle we all insist on keeping with us at all times has a fair number of entertainment options, and most of them are really cheap. Along with all ad-based content, you can get a decent paid mobile game for about $5. That’s about half the price of a pint at an airport bar.
I’m not moving around as much now, but here’s what I’m currently turning to when my friends start getting boring:
This one involves taking a character from birth to death via a series of text-based choices and the occasional mini-game. As basic as it looks, it actually offers a surprising amount of depth and freedom. One of my recent playthroughs involved me taking the role of a San Francisco-based porn star. After a ten-year stint in the industry, she decided to call it a day, emigrate to Monaco, and bag herself a royal—like a kind of X-rated Grace Kelly. She then divorced the Marquess of Versace after two years and took half of his fortune to Puerto Rico before subsequently dying of a mescaline overdose. Give BitLife a bash, and this could be you! It’s free to play with in-app purchases.
Okay, so Exiled Kingdoms is not the best RPG I’ve ever played, but looking at the amount of time I’ve spent on it, it can’t be that bad. Everything aside from the plot, which I won’t spoil, is pretty generic. You have a standard RPG setting, standard classes, side quests that involve killing X amount of Y or collecting some Z. But it does all of those things pretty well, and it will kill a lot of time.
It’s free to play with in-app purchases.
This isn’t a direct port of the MDickie game every YouTuber and their dog seems to have done a video on; it’s 2D, and it actually functions to some degree. What better way to kill some time than playing a game based on a prison, where everyone involved has a lot of time to kill. There is no strict plot to Hard Time, so I often find myself just beefing my stats up then trying to make friends. That never works, so plan B involves beating everyone who is bullying me to death with a roll of toilet paper as soon as I can get them to a spot with no guards.
As with all the others, Hard Time is free to play with in-app purchases.
As you can see, that’s a pretty big variety of games spanning fantasy, sports, scenic adventures, and battle royales. We love gaming, even when it’s just on our phones, and we hope you found a new game or two to play.