There are tons of mobile apps that are great for wasting time, and some games are the worst offenders. Many mobile games want to nickel and dime you with in-app purchases, and they force you to progress slowly if you don’t pay up.
If you want meaty gaming experiences on the go, you probably feel cheated with these apps. Let’s take a different look and examine games that offer a lot of content even though they’re free.
While these games are all free to download, not all of them are totally free of in-app purchases. However, these seven titles do not require microtransactions in any way to enjoy; I’ll note which games contain them and what they’re for.
Note: Some of the free titles on Android contain ads but also offer a paid ad-free version. Unfortunately, many of these apps do not have a free version on iOS and must be purchased.
Doom & Destiny [Android | iOS]
There are some awesome role-playing games (RPGs) on Android, and Doom & Destiny deserves a spot on the list. Despite being made in RPG Maker, it’s a unique title that any RPG fan should try.
As a satire of the RPG genre, you play as four nerdy friends who get sucked into an alternate world and have to save it. Common RPG tropes such as taking items from people’s houses, using food to restore health, and using magic to summon attacks are all joked about; this is definitely a game that will make you laugh.
Depending on how thorough you are, you could spend 10 hours or more with this game. There’s also some post-game content to check out after you beat the final boss, which is a nice bonus. Overall, if you’re a fan of SNES-era classic RPGs likeChrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI, this game is perfect for you.
Note that this game contains some mature content — due to some swearing and innuendo, it isn’t recommended for children.
Little Alchemy [Android | iOS]
Alchemy is an addicting puzzle game that starts off simple but quickly blooms into something much more complex. You start with four items: wind, water, fire, and earth — by combing these, you create new items (up to 550 in this version!).
You’ll have to try tons of different combinations, and while some make sense, others might require a bit of imagination. The developers also have a good sense of humor; items such as Batman or McDonald’s can be created when you find their ingredients.
If you like puzzle games and don’t mind a few far-fetched combinations, Little Alchemy will bring you a ton of fun. It’s as easy to play for a few minutes at a time as it is to marathon for an hour.
Stardash [Android | iOS]
Last year I examined the Mario copycat games on Android; most of them are terrible, but Stardash was one of the awesome alternatives. It’s a game that would have been at home on the Game Boy due to both its graphics and gameplay.
In each of the 40 levels, you can earn three stars: one for collecting all the coins, one for beating a specific time, and one for completing the level backwards (which can be tough). There are also four hidden temples to unlock by finding secret keys in each level of a given world. If you try to complete all this game has to offer, it will last you a long time.
If you like Stardash, be sure to check out Meganoid (Android | iOS, $2) andMeganoid 2 (Android | iOS) from the same developer — these games are similar in gameplay style and offer a lot of content as well.
Fallout Shelter [Android | iOS]
Fallout Shelter was unveiled at E3 this year, and while it’s unlike the main Falloutgames, Rachel found it to be worth playing. Instead of wandering around a post-apocalyptic world, you play the role of a Vault Overseer in charge of keeping the people safe and happy.
This game isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Fallout or management simulators, you’ll find a lot of depth in managing your citizens, expanding your vault, and sending people out on adventures. Fallout Shelter does contains in-app purchases to give you quicker access to items, but they’re not necessary to advance the game.
You’ll probably know whether this is a game you want to spend a lot of time with in the first few minutes of trying it. Once you get going, though, it might be hard to stop.
Gurk, the 8-Bit RPG [Android]
Gurk is an RPG like Doom & Destiny, but it has an even older feel. With a grid-based movement system and an archaic inventory screen, Gurk feels akin to the first Final Fantasy game on NES.
Gurk has a neat battle system where you can choose to move a character or have him attack. Using a swordsman, archer, and wizard, you must defeat strong enemies to progress and find new gear.
This game doesn’t give you a ton of direction, so if you get lost easily it might be best to skip this one. As a barebones RPG in a tiny package, it’s a good fit if your phone doesn’t have enough storage space for larger games.
You can grab two sequels to Gurk if you want more. Gurk II is available on Android for $1, as well as Gurk III for $3. If you’re on iOS, the only available game is Gurk IIIfor $2.
Slice It! [Android | iOS]
Slice It! is a different kind of game — a geometry puzzle. Your goal is to slice various shapes into equal pieces. While this starts out easy, the game throws more complex shapes and requires more cuts as you progress.
With 200 levels, a time trial mode, and a rating system based on how close you were to equal segments, Slice It! offers plenty of content to keep you playing. It’s simple to grasp but offers a lot of tricky puzzles for those who like a challenge. The cutting controls are perfect for touch screens; both kids and adults should enjoy this fun title.
Slice It! is totally free on Android. For iOS, Slice It! Begins is free and contains less content than the full $1 version.
Commander Pixman [Android | iOS Demo]
Another retro-styled platformer, Commander Pixman features 135 levels of sci-fi action. You’ll need to run, jump, and shoot to avoid all kinds of traps and enemies to reach your goal at the end of the level.
While mobile controls usually aren’t great, this game makes the best of the touchscreen and gives you natural-feeling controls. If you thought that you couldn’t play a platformer on your phone, this is one to try. As for length, like other games on the list, each level gives a rating based on how fast you complete it, so completionists will have plenty to work on.
Pixman features in-app purchases on Android that are only for purchasing extra levels. On iOS, Commander Pixman — First Blood serves as a 20-level demo, while the full version is available for $2.
Plenty to Play
Unfortunately, many apps available for free on Android cost money on iOS, but there’s still a good selection for either platform. If you’re going on a long trip or just want a game that lasts more than an hour, now you have plenty of games to load up your phone with.