Best Mobile Games of 2017 So Far

The Nintendo Switch may be poised to usher in a new era of gaming on-the-go, but as most of us can’t just spring for a new console right out the gate, and the few who can can’t even find a Switch for sale, that dream of playing AAA titles untethered might need to be deferred for a minute.

Fortunately, the silver age of mobile gaming is already happening on iOS and Android devices. With major developers pumping resources into developing quality content for the App and Play stores, as well as indie darlings porting their PC hits to phones and tablets, there’s never been more captivating content out there to keep your mind off Zelda.

Here are just a few of our favorites to debut in 2017.

 

SPACEPLANiOS/Android ($2.99)

Clicker games, where the gameplay hinges on the player mindlessly tapping at the screen so as to upgrade future tapping abilities are all the proof I need that we are living in a Black Mirror episode. On top of that, these games are a dime a dozen, each new release in the app store somehow more craven and soulless than the last.

However, Spaceplan breathes new life into the tired genre, not only with its humorous, compelling writing, but by altering the tired clicker equation with upgrades and goals that require both tactics and timing to execute properly. Finally, challenges within the genre.

The gorgeous art direction, atmosphere, and intense ending make up for the relatively short play time, when measured against the infinite but empty expanses of its peers.

 

Card ThiefiOS ($1.99)/Android (FREE)

In this card game/puzzle hybrid, players send their thief around a spread of cards, looting treasure, pickpocketing guards, and silently escaping into the night. The polished graphics and sound production, add depth to what could easily feel 2-dimensional if published by a lesser developer.

While the gameplay takes a bit of time to get used to, those who stick with it will feel an immense sense of satisfaction as they begin to devise perfect infiltration plans, unlock new equipment and upgrades, and successfully pull off heists, each bigger and ballsier than the last.

 

Vignettes – iOS ($2.99)

It never hurts to look at things from a new perspective. In fact, finding new perspectives is the entire point of Vignettes. At once both a casual time-filler and challenging puzzler, Vignettes has the player swiping at familiar objects to turn them around in mid-air, distorting them into abstract silhouettes so that a new object may emerge from the other side.

The psychedelic electric color palette and quirky ambient electronic score stand as artistic triumphs on their own, but when coupled with the fresh gameplay and secrets peppered throughout the levels, Vignettes earns its admission price and offers a unique gameplay experience that is hard to describe.

 


Oxenfree – iOS ($4.99)

Having already enjoyed critical acclaim in the PC space last year, Night School Studio was kind enough to revamp its spooky coming-of-age indie game for the phone and tablet market. With its stellar character development, dialogue, and story, Oxenfree highlights the importance and impact of great writing in games.

Oxenfree is an acquired taste and one that will certainly not be for everyone. It’s a game that moves at a slower, contemplative pace as you follow teens around an island, gradually uncovering their interpersonal relationships and the supernatural mystery affecting them. If you feel like a walk is taking too long, or your character doesn’t really have much to do at that moment, stop to consider the greater point the game might be trying to convey with that frustration.

Hidden Folks – iOS ($3.99)

To call it Where’s Waldo for adults would be a disservice to the brilliance of Hidden Folks. The monochrome hidden object adventure slowly unfolds a sumptuously illustrated world before the player’s eyes as people and objects are tapped with satisfying results.

There’s no timer, so take your time exploring the intricate details of this world and attempting to unlock its countless whimsical little secrets and animations. Created by Adriaan de Jongh, the game gets even more twee when you realize that the over 960 sound effects that accompany the taps are coming from his own lips.

Old Man’s Journey – iOS/Android ($4.99)

Another story-heavy pick for the list, it’s better to think of Old Man’s Journey as something akin to a movie or ride you’re paying for the privilege of experiencing.

That said, with as deep and moving a storyline as you might find in any Oscar season drama, Old Man’s Journey is a powerful, but relatively simple adventure puzzler about one man’s path to atonement that will have you thinking about it long after you’ve put down the game. Were that not enough to pull you in, the graphics are nothing short of breathtaking, with each new scene the titular character wanders into being soaked to the bone in detail.