Ashworld is all about surviving with limited supplies, with a gameplay hook that includes different control schemes for the top-down action of the open world and the side-scrolling action it shifts to when the player character enters buildings.
As is the case with Neko Atsume, Tabikaeru is incredibly adorable, with very chill gameplay that doesn’t ask a lot of users. Gameplay comes in the form of light interaction with the space around you as you send your frog out on various adventures.
In the fall, HQ Trivia launched on iOS and took the world by storm, but Android users were left out. Finally, the app is now available on the Google Play Store in its Early Access section, meaning the app is unfinished and probably buggy.
The popular way to describe the first Reigns is something along the lines of a combination between Game of Thrones and Tinder. The same can be said for the sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty, a game where you take the role of a monarch — in this case a queen, unlike the king in the first game — and you have to make choices by swiping right or left.
Monument Valley is one of the best mobile games ever made, and one that is extremely important to the development of mobile as a platform. It’s one of the first truly huge single-player games on phones, and the sequel, Monument Valley 2, is better in just about every way.
Ironhide Game Studio probably doesn’t need to innovate much to continue producing quality games. Kingdom Rush is fantastic, as are both of the follow-ups, despite not changing much with the formula. As I said, they don’t need to make big changes … but they did with their latest release, Iron Marines, and it’s worked out fantastically.
Thimbleweed Park is an adventure game made in the style of the classics and made by a pair very familiar with the classics in Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. It’s a noir mystery set in 1987, and has shades of Twin Peaks in its bizarre but charming story.
There are shades of Monument Valley, Journey and even some Legend of Zelda, at least from where I’m sitting. It’s an inspired world, carefully built from end to end, and visually, stands out above all else this year.
The whole thing is a tribute to the VHS era of horror/slasher films, and it nails the aesthetic in a big way. There are multiple killer skins you can find (or purchase) and the game features some of the silliest killing animations out there. It’s not subtle, but it’s also up-front about that. This is as silly as an overly bloody game can get, and it feels great to play.
Card Thief is a card-based stealth game from TiNYTOUCHTALES and Arnold Rauers, the second such game from those developers to appear on our list this year. The first was Miracle Merchant, which we called the No. 16 Android game of 2016, but before that game came out, Card Thief was taking up all of our time.