When I mention mobile gaming in conversation with friends and colleagues, I’m usually met with skeptical looks, apathetic shrugs, or confusion. For the uninitiated, references to mobile games usually conjure flashbacks to pay-to-win games like Clash of Clans, endless runners, or Hearthstone; and while that’s an accurate reflection of what resides in the app store, there are so many interesting and thought-provoking experiences that are worthy of people’s time – they just need a push in the right direction. So, I compiled a list of my favorite mobile games from 2017, and I hope you’ll give a few of them a shot. Let’s get started.
This list just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t start by highlighting Monument Valley 2, the sequel to an ethereal puzzle game that was largely responsible for opening my eyes to the potential of touch-based gaming. The experience is nothing short of cerebral, weaving ambient sounds, thoughtful color palettes, and alien architecture to create an ethereal playspace which attracts attention. Monument Valley 2 is an absolute gem, and it’s out-of-the-box puzzle design deems it worthy of your time.
Old Man’s Journey released on Steam & mobile platforms earlier this year, and it’s an absolute standout.. I was completely awestruck by Broken Rules’ art direction throughout the entirety of this 2 hour experience. Old Man’s Journey is equipped with an aesthetic that lies somewhere between watercolor and acrylic pastel, often utilizing softer palettes that give off a dreamlike glow.
At its core, Old Man’s Journey is a relaxing puzzler set in what seems to be a world largely inspired by naval exploration. You’ll guide the Old Man through pastures, towns, empty country roads, and a seaside that’s teeming with Mediterranean influence. While the narrative is somewhat predictable, all of the cutscenes are presented as old vintage paintings, with subtle animations that push each scene forward. All of this culminates into an incredibly memorable experience – one that’s only enhanced by the touch-based platform it resides on.
To briefly spare all of you from my pretentiousness and to help diversify this list, I asked OK Beast’s editor-at-large, Ian Preschel, to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, a free-to-play card game that released earlier this year:
This year has been great for mobile games and especially those with very popular IP behind them. Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links released November 17th of last year and was a major hit with over 9 million downloads and counting. Fans of the series fell in love with the homages to the earlier seasons of the anime while also being able to play the game on the go.
It’s obvious that this title was trying to learn from Hearthstone and I think that made the game better overall. This game features Deck Captains that feature popular characters from the show that you use that have special abilities and advantages that you can use in battle. This created a special experience that I have never encountered in a previous Yu-Gi-Oh game. Also, the game had a significant amount of content to invest in. Duel Links featured various challenges that rewarded the player for using different cards and deck leaders. This was a great incentive for me to come back daily and compete and earn new cards. As a fan of online card games and the original anime, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links quickly became one of my favorite mobile game experiences of 2017.
While they’re two totally different games, Miracle Merchant and Card Thief are two standout titles that released in 2017, and both were developed and released by TinyTouchTales, the team that created 2015’s Card Crawl. The pair initially pulls inspiration from Solitaire, but subsequently branch off in two completely different directions.
Miracle Merchant takes the classic card game formula and brings it inside the walls of a potion master’s storefront; wherein players have to satisfy customers’ alchemic orders by mixing and matching cards from four different piles. After successfully managing their card counts and winning a game, users are rewarded with new potion recipes that will help bolster their future highscores.
Card Thief on the other hand sets its gaze on the stealth genre, and I’m of the opinion that it nails the interpretation. Playing as the titular Card Thief, you’ll need to manage your stealth points and discover the correct movement path to properly dispose of enemy guards, extinguish torches, and eventually steal the castle’s treasure.
Originally released on Steam a few years ago, Chromasquad is a tile-based combat RPG in which you’ll play as 5 stunt actors who – after quitting their day jobs as the titular Super Rangers – decide to start their own television & broadcasting studio. Right off the bat you’ll notice an uncanny resemblance between the Chromasquad and a certain group of 90’s action television heroes. Fortunately, Behold Studios manages to do Saban’s Power Rangers justice through fun writing, satisfying combat, & hearty offerings in regards to customization & progression. You’ll complete contracts to level up your studio, compete in challenging combat scenarios, & customize a team of rangers worthy of your studio’s name.
Despite holding a completely different tone, Chromasquad should find success in the hands of Banner Saga & FF Tactics fans. While it doesn’t hold a candle to those classics, Chromasquad DOES provide hours of entertainment through its quirky story, satisfying gameplay, and nostalgic homages. They even have a giant brain.
So those are my favorite picks of the games that released this year. I think all of them effectively utilize the touch-based platform which they reside on, and stand out among the droves of surface level free-to-play games that surround them. For the sake of time, I couldn’t mention every interesting game that I enjoyed, such as I Love Hue or TypeShift, but I think if you give any of the aforementioned games a shot, you’ll certainly enjoy your time with them.