There’s nothing more annoying, in the world of mobile gaming, than getting to a good bit in a game just as your connection drops out. It’s frustrating that a lot of mobile games, even ones that you play on your own, for some reason require constant internet connections.
Let’s take a few minutes to celebrate some offline-friendly offerings for Android owners, then. We’ve compiled a bunch of options in the article below, covering everything from familiar franchises like Minecraft and Fallout to cool new concepts that you’re sure to enjoy. They’re all perfect for playing in aeroplane mode, or in an underground section of your commute, or in any other situation when you don’t have access to the web.
Basically, if you’re unsure which Android games work best offline, you’ve come to the right place! If you’re fed up of needing a connection to play games on your phone, you’ll want to try some of these…
On the surface, InstLife seems like a simple text-based game. You follow the life of a randomly generated character and make decisions for them, influencing the direction their life takes in small ways. As you play you begin to notice the small decisions you make have various branches leading to big, life-changing decisions. Once you truly understand InstLife you start to relate to your character in a way rarely seen in games; they’re your avatar, one you’re living vicariously through. Then, one day, they go on a cruise and die at 40, right before their new album hits #1, and you’re left feeling just as melancholy as if they were a real friend.
Occidental Heroes (free)
Occidental Heroes is an old-school top-down RPG, where the joy of playing it comes from its simplicity. Split between an overworld and turn-based battles, you take control of a company of three warriors as they explore the land while trying to earn money. Things aren’t always that simple, though, as Occidental Heroes features the wonderful roguelike charm of permadeath. Between worrying about your entire squad being mauled by bears, or being angry that you lost everything because said bears mauled your squad, Occidental Heroes is an immersive and interesting RPG you’ll find yourself starting over again and again.
Ark: Survival Evolved (free)
The mobile port of Ark: Survival Evolved, a dinosaur-themed survival game, is one of the most enjoyable portable gaming experiences you can have. Ark is a blend of first-person survival and exploration, placing you on a large island full of dinosaurs. To survive you must collect resources and craft structures, clothing, weapons, and gear. There’s also a story hidden away in there too. Be warned, it’s a rather hefty app, and so you’ll need Android 7.0 or higher to run it, but if you can run it – what are you waiting for?
Minecraft: Pocket Edition (£6.99)
Minecraft took the gaming world by storm on release, and developer Mojang has done its best to port it to every device with a screen. At £6.99 the Pocket Edition is rather pricey, but it’s still cheaper than on PC and has most of the same features. If you don’t know what Minecraft is (where have you been since 2009?), it’s an exploration and survival game set in a procedurally generated world with a distinctive blocky art style. It’s so wildly popular that it holds a number of world records, and is a favourite amongst younger gamers.
Plague Inc (£0.79)
As one of the most well-known mobile games, Plague Inc is definitely worth playing. It’s inexpensive, endlessly replayable, and reasonably educational – its creator was invited to the CDC in 2013 to talk about using games as a learning tool. Plague Inc tasks you with designing and evolving a disease in an attempt to wipe out humanity. By successfully infecting and eradicating countries, you earn funding to evolve the plague with new symptoms, means of infection and modes of transmission. One darkly enjoyable aspect also comes from being able to name your disease, resulting in notifications like “Minions have eradicated the UK”.
XCOM: Enemy Within (£8.99)
Another popular PC game ported to mobile is XCOM: Enemy Within. In XCOM: Enemy Within you take charge of XCOM, the Earth’s last line of defence against an alien invasion.
You respond to UFO sightings and alien attacks, research materials acquired from enemies, and command and upgrade a squad of soldiers as they face ever-growing threats. Gameplay is slick and intuitive, remaining hard enough to stay engaging without being too tricky to be fun.
Battle Of Polytopia (free)
Battle Of Polytopia is a lovely little 4X game that’s gradually becoming a cult hit. Playing similarly to the Civilization series, its retro art style and a shorter, easier session length make it more accessible to newcomers of the genre. In Battle Of Polytopia, you’re tasked with building an empire on a small, randomly-generated world map, using the terrain to collect resources, explore the world to find new building sites, and battle neighbouring tribes. Gameplay is broken up into turns where you’re given points to spend on a variety of activities. The points you have depend on the towns you own, and each game is capped at thirty turns, so games tend to be relatively short – great for a boring bus ride.
Fallout: Shelter (free)
Fallout: Shelter has become more popular than the game series that spawned its creation, with more downloads under its belt than the best-selling entry has had sales. In this base-building RPG, you’re tasked with designing an underground fallout shelter. To look after a growing roster of dwellers you must provide enough power, water and food to survive – you’ll even have to send inhabitants out into the wasteland in order to collect items to aid in the defence of your shelter. Fans of the series will love Fallout: Shelter, but it’s also entertaining for those without prior knowledge, and there’s enough content and endearing humour to keep you coming back.
Star Realms (free)
Nearly every card game on mobile requires an internet connection in order to sync card collections and challenge other players. Fortunately, Star Realms can be played offline, and it just happens to also be one of the best card games you can play. There’s a very challenging AI that keeps you coming back for more as you desperately try to perfect your strategies and beat it. Originally released as a physical deck-building card game, it’s seen a second life as an app. Although you do have to pay to access the expansion packs and campaign, so you could burn through money if you’re not careful.
Looking suspiciously like a maths game from the outset, Colonizer is actually a strangely compelling action experience. Tasked with colonising new planets on a star map, it’s your job to fire off rockets towards them in order to colonise them. Each planet is designated a number and requires that many rockets to be fired at it to make it yours. As you’re doing this, you’ll be facing off against other opponents also trying to colonise planets, if their rocket is the last to hit a planet you’ve been gunning for, they’ll take it – but the same works in your favour too.
Its premise may be simple, yet its blend of perfect difficulty level and ease of play makes the game endlessly enjoyable.
Alto’s Odyssey (£4.99)
Sometimes it’s worth playing a game simply for how it looks, and Alto’s Odyssey is a great example. It’s a snowboarding game with more emphasis on the world and story than the snowboarding itself. The world, music, and its striking design make it atmospheric and involving. That’s not to say it’s dull, far from it. Alto’s Odyssey is the perfect antithesis to some of the more high-octane titles on this list, perfect for when you want to unwind.
If you’ve got a top tip for an offline-friendly Android game, let us know in the comments below. Or if you’re looking for some further reading, check out the 20 must-play games of 2020…