By this point, we have access to so many mobile gaming apps it’s hard to know what to do with them all. The good news is that this means gamers tend to have everything they need right in their pockets; the bad news is that with such a huge selection, it’s easy — if not inevitable — to overlook some really enjoyable games. So for this piece, rather than just looking at the new games, the best in a certain category, or anything like that, we’re taking a stab at identifying five great games you probably haven’t tried before.
1. Grow Castle
If you’re interested in mobile gaming, chances are you’re familiar with the tower defense genre. It’s produced a number of popular games, perhaps most notably those in the Plants vs Zombies series (which we mentioned in a previous look at 50 free offline gaming apps). But most of the time, the games don’t involve actual towers.
Grow Castle does. In this game, instead of placing characters, weapons, and defense towers along some winding path, or at the end of a given expanse of terrain, you’re essentially populating a tower with defenders to stop oncoming enemies. That’s unique and fun in and of itself. Throw in more than 100 heroes to use though — each with different capabilities — and this really is a one-of-a-kind game hiding within an over-crowded category.
2. Tiny Rails
There’s just something endearing about a heavily pixellated game you can dive into for hours at a time, and that’s just what you get with this delightful, unsung train arcade. In this game, you start off operating a single train car and attempt to grow a railroad empire. You ferry passengers, add train cars, venture to new destinations, and enjoy gorgeous pixel settings all the while. There aren’t many mobile games that are so purely pleasant to play.
3. PokerStars Casino
If PokerStars Casino sounds like something out of the past — well, it sort of is. The heyday of professional-caliber poker gaming of this sort, at least in the U.S., is a few decades past at this point. However, we’ve begun to see casino gaming trickle back into U.S. states of late, and Pennsylvania’s selection of games in this category includes those on the PokerStars Casino app.
As an overview of Pennsylvania’s budding mobile casino category describes this app, “all varieties of table games are offered,” and the app can be used for “online casino gambling” and “poker and sports betting.” What really stands out, though, is the pure quality of the games within this app. This is a beautiful, competitive digital poker at its best, whether or not you’re one to gamble real money on gaming. And while it’s only available in select markets where real-money mobile gaming is allowed (which is why we’re betting most readers won’t have tried it yet), the hope is that casino games expand beyond Pennsylvania (and New Jersey) in the coming years. If that’s the case, PokerStars Casino will be among the category’s leaders.
4. Horizon Chase – World Tour
You’ve probably tried your fair share of racing games if you’re a regular mobile gamer. And if you’re like a lot of other gamers, you’ve probably deleted most of them. This is a category that tends to produce a lot of pretty graphics and promising game descriptions, but which often disappoints with actual gameplay. But Horizon Chase – World Tour is a refreshing exception.
That’s largely because it’s more reminiscent of old-school racing arcades than, say, the latest PS4 or Xbox One racing title. One review of this racing game put it perfectly, stating that it will “revive your nostalgia for Outrun and RoadBlasters.” Whether or not those specific titles mean anything to you though, you’ll feel a pleasant connection to a past era of gaming once you boot this mobile racer up. With a slightly modernized version of an intentionally retro look, it draws you in somewhat playfully while still presenting excellent game action. You’ll have to pay a few dollars to unlock the game (the free version is a glorified demo), but with upwards of 70 tracks to race on, it’s worth it.
We’ll wrap up this list with ENYO, which is a difficult game to adequately describe in words. In theory, there’s an adventure element to it. You control the goddess Enyo in a quest for sacred artifacts, through a series of levels packed with villains. but in practice, it’s almost like a twisted version of free-for-all chess. You move on a grid, attacking opponents with a hook in “a unique take on combat”, and you have to think a few moves ahead to succeed. The game is artistically appealing (it looks sort of like how you imagine art on ancient Greek pottery), surprisingly complex, and inexplicably intoxicating to play.