2017 was a great year... for games at least. Putting together list of 10 of the best mobile games out there was somehow even harder than it was last year. After playing 350+ games this year and reviewing 213 of them for 148Apps though, I've somehow been able to put together a list of ten games that were my absolute favorites from this year. Check them out below.
I don’t know if the developers of Gorogoa set out to make a better version of FRAMED, but that’s basically what they did. Gorogoa takes the fundamental mechanics of moving individual frames around to solve puzzles and advance a narrative, but it does so with such elegance, beauty, and creativity that it’s a game that’s hard to put down once you pick it up.
Arena of Valor makes my list because of how it smartly streamlines MOBAs for mobile while still feeling like a game packed with content and depth. It might be a lighter take on the genre than something like Vainglory, but that’s much more my speed. Matches are faster, there’s less micro management, and there’s a ton of characters to try out. Those things help make Arena of Valor my new favorite MOBA.
Death Road to Canada is an interesting mix of game genres that succeeds because it makes failing fun. Of course, you want to get to Canada to escape the zombie outbreak, but it’s also fun to recruit travelers that turn out to be serial killers and telling highway robbers to “COOL IT” and suffer the consequences. The game creates fun even if things aren't going your way, which is a rare quality and part of what makes Death Road to Canada so special.
Real time strategy games are hard to pull off on mobile, but when done well, they are amazing. This is most definitely the case with Iron Marines. It’s a game that borrows heavily from the right places (i.e. Starcraft), but is also careful to streamline the experience in such a way so that it still works well on mobile. As a bonus, the game has a really nice and colorful art style that is also packed with sight gags and references to other sci-fi fiction, which further adds to the fun.
I don’t care about motorsports, but when Christian West and Playsport Games put out a game, I suddenly do. Motorsport Manager is an incredibly beautiful and fun management game, and this sequel improves on the first in almost every imaginable way. It’s a game that’s easy to get lost in and watch hours fly by because you want to do “just one more race,” and I found myself doing exactly that for most of this year.
Halcyon 6 ranks highly on my list because it’s a game that borrows a lot of the best mechanics from some of the best games that work well on mobile and molds them into a game that feels like a new, original experience. There are clear inspirations here from XCOM, FTL, and Civilization, but—instead of feeling like a re-hash of old ideas—it ends up feeling like a newStar Trek game that you didn't even know you wanted.
Age of Rivals is the ultimate multiplayer card game for people that don’t want to grind to unlock cards. It’s a deck-building game that focuses on tactical decision-making, and—although it may not be much to look at—it has a ton of depth and replayability. As a big fan of tabletop deck-builders like Dominion, Age of Rivals takes those concepts and brings them to a digital stage in a form that is both fresh and innovative.
Sometimes, a game is just so cool and stylish that it bowls you over. This is exactly DATA WING’s whole deal. It has this amazing blend of cyberpunk, retro arcade, and vaporwave aesthetics that makes it one of the most striking experiences I’ve had this year. It also helps that DATA WING happens to be a really neat game that starts out as a basic racing game and evolves into so much more than that by the end.
When I first started playing Ticket to Earth, I kind of hated it. Its mix of match-three and turn-based tactical combat felt random and overly punishing, at least at first. This is one of those games where you really have to make some mistakes and learn from them in order to start having fun, and I’m glad I did. Learning to overcome Ticket to Earth’s specific brand of challenge was one of the most satisfying experiences I had all year.
I used to like Hearthstone, but I don’t anymore thanks to a little game called Faeria. It too is a free-to-play collectible card game, but it breaks a ton of traditionally hard and fast CCG rules to make for a game that feels totally unique. It’s almost a mix between a card game and a turn-based strategy. In addition to regular one-on-one online duels, Faeria also features a ton of single-player content and co-op campaigns that make sure there’s always something to do with your cards besides trying to grind your way up the ranked ladder. For these reasons, Faeria is easily my most played game this year, and takes the top slot as my game of the year for 2018 as well.