Let’s face it, there are more addictive games to play on mobile than there are on any other gaming platform. Whether you’re riding on the bus or even sitting on the toilet at work, it’s easy to just grab your phone, start one of them up, and enjoy the dopamine rush that follows.
As we all know, the most addictive games tend to be free-to-play as well. After all, that’s how they make their money – if they weren’t addictive, nobody would ever be tempted to pay to climb over those paywalls. On the flip side of that though, managing to get ahead in a free-to-play game without spending a penny can feel extremely satisfying. Understandably, many of the games featured in this list as free-to-play, but we do have some paid games in the mix too.
We’ve gathered together a whopping 27 games here in this article, each of which gets the official Pocket Tactics recommendation. We’ve got word games, farm games, strategy games, and countless others, and we’re sure that, no matter what your taste in games, there’ll be at least one game on this list that tickles your fancy.
The most addictive games on mobile:
Puzzles & Survival
Have you ever wanted to merge the zombie survival and tile-matching genres? What would a game like that look like? Puzzles & Survival is what that would look like. You and a team of survivors head out into the ruins of a city, fighting against zombies as you do so, with matching tiles helping you to make successful attacks on them.
In all honesty, the game draws a lot from the 2012 classic, Puzzles & Dragons, so if you’ve ever played that game, you’ll know what to expect. However, if you prefer the zombie aesthetic over the anime fantasy one, and you want to revisit that winning formula with a new coat of paint, we definitely suggest you take Puzzles & Survival for a spin, as it’s well worth a go.
We’re sure you’ll have seen the trailers that show a hero in a precarious situation, with sliding doors blocking gold, monsters, lava, water, or whatever. The player then opens them in the wrong order and the hero dies, leaving you thinking “You fool! I could have done it properly” and then you download the game to prove it.
Except, when you download Hero Wars, you get a completely different game (though the puzzles do occasionally show up as bonus levels). Fortunately, the real game, which sees you assembling a team of heroes and then having them plough through countless foes in different levels, is still pretty fun. If you’re someone who’s prone to collecting things, Hero Wars is sure to prove a highly addictive experience. “Just five more minutes” you say again and again as you try and grind enough to win the next level, or get just one more hero.
Raid: Shadow Legends
This is one you’ve probably heard of before – Raid: Shadow Legends is probably one of the first games that many gamers think of when they heard the words “free to play” and part of the reason for this is that it provides an experience which can be genuinely fun, but is also highly addictive.
For those who don’t know, the general premise behind it is that you put together a team of champions so that you can make your way through dungeons that are made up of turn-based RPG battles. It’s one of those games where you mostly just sit back and let the game take its course, but watching your team level up through the grinding, making your way through the dungeons, and unlocking more and more powerful champions can be wonderfully moreish.
Magic: The Gathering Arena
Magic: The Gathering has cemented itself as one of the most popular trading car games of all time – and you know what? It works really well as a free-to-play mobile game as well. If you’ve ever wanted to give MTG a try, this would be a great place to start, because it provides tutorials which make it easy for you to get to grips with the intricacies of the game.
Then once you’re a pro, the multiverse of MTG is your oyster. You can play with other people online, you can play against CPU players for practice, and you can unlock booster packs so that you can build up your collection and create the ultimate deck. MTG is such a well-crafted game, and Magic: The Gathering Arena captures all of its charm.
Mafia City is a game that many people will have already heard of. It sees you taking on the role of a mafia boss, which means that you get to build constructs throughout the city, while also sending out bikers, and other loyal gang members to go out and defend your territories from enemies.
It’s a nice mixture of crime and strategy, which is a wonderfully unique mixture. If you enjoy games with a social aspect, you’ll be pleased to hear that you have opportunities, not only to come up against other players, but also to work cooperatively with them. If you and a group of friends all started playing at once, it could be a good opportunity for you to each help one another to make your way in the crime world.
Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles
Something for those with an appetite for more cerebral games. Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles is exactly what it says on the tin. Each and every day, you’ll be treated to a new crossword puzzles to complete. If you’re looking for something to do during your daily commute, this might just be it.
You can earn coins by watching adverts, and these coins can then be used to unlock new puzzles or even to buy clues if you’re stuck. While some may consider that cheating, it’s actually a pretty good way to stop things getting boring after you’ve spent ages trying to figure out a particularly cryptic clue. Before long, you’ll wonder how you ever did without your daily crossword puzzle.
Even though running and managing a farm in real life is extremely hard work, when you do it in a mobile game, it becomes a super relaxing experience. In Sunrise Village, you play as somebody who has just started up their own farm in the titular village, and it’s a classic example of the age-old farm game formula.
You gather crops and produce so that you can complete orders, then you use the money you accumulate to create new buildings around your farm, and over time your farm expands more and more, allowing you to complete larger orders. It’s a simple premise, but one that definitely becomes addictive – watching your farm grow is a very satisfying experience.
Next up, we have a fantasy strategy game. In Elvenar, you decide whether you want to play as humans or elves, and then after that, it’s up to you to develop their civilisation. As your kingdom expands, you will inevitably come into contact with other empires with clashing interests – when this happens, the gameplay shifts and instead sees you leading strategic battles against your enemy.
It’s great because, on the one hand, it’s one of the best city-building games, but on the other, it gives you an immersive fantasy experience where you have to think strategically. There’s a lot of depth to it, and it’s very easy to lose yourself in it.
Forge of Empires
When reading about Elvenar above did you think to yourself “gee, that sounds good, but wouldn’t it be even better if it was more grounded in reality?” Well, that’s exactly what Forge of Empires does. At the start of the game, you create the most basic of settlements all the way back in the Stone Age, and then you get to develop it throughout all of human history.
Advancements in technology occur as you move forward through history, allowing you to build new types of buildings within your towns and cities. Following the course of real history is probably going to appeal to history buffs too – and it even reaches the modern day, before moving onward into the imagined era of future history. Most of all, Forge of Empires is remarkable in its scope.
Rise of Cultures
We’ve got another historic strategy game here. What makes Rise of Cultures unique, is that there’s a much more human-centric focus than you often see in this genre. While you’re still looking down on your civilisation from above, in Rise of Cultures, it’s important to make sure that your people are happy.
When you create your cities, you need to add buildings that will give the people cultural fulfilment. These need to be spread around too, so that they’re accessible to people working and living in all the different parts of your city. You also have to be conscious of their energy levels, because they’ll reach their limits if you over-work them. It gives a unique perspective on empire-building games.
Magic Jigsaw Puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles have been providing people with a satisfying pastime since as far back as the 18th century, and Magic Jigsaw Puzzles brings that classic formula into the modern era. In this free-to-play game, you’re treated to a new puzzle every single day, ranging from cute animals, to iconic landmarks, and even popular Disney, Marvel, and Nickelodeon characters.
It’s a game that’s as therapeutic as it is addictive, and it’s something that you’ll easily pour a lot of hours into. Unlike real puzzles, you don’t need to worry about losing pieces or finding the room to put it together. If you want to create a fun, personalised experience, you can even turn your own photos and artworks into puzzles too. It’s a simple game, but one with a very broad appeal.
This is the second crossword game that we’ve included in this list, but it offers a very different experience to Daily Themed Crossword Puzzles. Not everybody has time to do a whole crossword puzzle, so Crossword Jam gives you bite-sized crosswords that you’ll be able to complete in just one or two minutes.
In this one, all of the words in a given puzzle will be made up of just three or four different letters. At the bottom of the screen, those letters will be visible in a little circle, then you just need to connect them in different ways to create the words the puzzle requires. Nicely, you still get rewarded for using those letters to make words that aren’t in the puzzle. If you’ve got a competitive flare, you might be interested in its leaderboards too.
Do you enjoy a good Agatha Christie-style murder mystery? Give June’s Journey a go. In it, you play as June Parker, a woman who is investigating the murder of her sister and her brother-in-law. She needs to find certain items in order to get an idea of what happened, so you’re given various scenes where you have to look for certain items, with a timer in place to reward you for finding things quickly.
When you’re not searching for clues, you’re looking after June’s stately home, buying items and expansions to make it as nice as possible. It’s a multi-faceted experience and one which deserves a place in your mobile gaming library.
Chances are, you’ve already heard of Wordle, because this puzzle game has been taking the internet by storm. Earlier this year, if you logged on to Twitter, most of the tweets you’d see would be people sharing their Wordle results. It’s such a simple premise, but one which has a huge dedicated fanbase who are ready to complete the new puzzles each and every day. There have been countless games like Wordle released too, as other developers try and get in on this new type of game.
For those not in the know, in Wordle, each day you’re given six guesses to get a five-letter word. Each new guess should be a little easier because it tells you whenever you get a letter that’s in the actual word, and whether or not that letter is in the right place. Getting it right in just two or three guesses is very rewarding, so it’s no wonder that people love to boast about their results. (Although, please note, it can be a bit challenging for colourblind players.)
Mario Kart Tour
It still feels awesome that you can play Mario Kart on your mobile phone. Though the game is slightly different from its console counterparts (focusing on you getting points through combos, rather than simply winning the race), it remains a highly enjoyable and addictive game that should appeal to many gamers, regardless of how much experience they have with the Super Mario series.
Mario Kart Tour brings back tons of iconic race tracks from the series’ history, as well as introducing new ones based on real-life cities from around the world. Winning races gets you coins and rubies, and these rubies are used to unlock new characters and vehicles through a gacha mechanic. There’s a huge selection of characters to unlock, including lots of alternative costumes. It even has Funky and Dixie Kong, and no game that has them in it could be bad.
Tracky Train is a lesser-known indie game that sees you laying down the tracks for a train which is speedily chuffing along behind you. You have to see how long you can keep things going before the train catches up to you and crashes. There are various locales that you pass through, and if you pass by a group of passengers, the train will stop to pick them up, giving you a bit of a lead. You have to be sure to guide the train into stations so that it can drop them off too, otherwise, it will fill up and won’t be able to pick up anyone else.
It’s a simple premise, for sure, but playing over and over again to out-do your high scores and to unlock bigger, better trains is very addictive. You’ll also want to encounter all of the different passengers that the game has to offer, all of which reference various figures from popular culture. Fun fact: Tracky Train is the debut appearance of popular indie character Yooka (of Yooka-Laylee fame).
Fire Emblem Heroes
This game takes the turn-based strategy gameplay of the Fire Emblem series and condenses it to give you scenarios that take place on single-screen maps. At the same time, it acts as a celebration of Fire Emblem at large, with characters from every single game in its history unlockable through its gacha mechanics.
Because you’ll be building a team of characters who appeal to you, everybody’s experience of Fire Emblem Heroes is going to be very different. Maybe you’ll use a team of characters from Fire Emblem Awakening – or maybe you prefer the case of Three Houses? Maybe you’re even a Genealogy of the Holy War kind of person, either way, taking all these characters from the countless battles the game providers can get crazily addictive.
The game that encouraged people to go out and walk in ways that fitness apps could only ever dream about. Pokémon Go is probably the closest we’ll ever get to going out into the world as a Pokémon Trainer, and exploring new areas around where you live, just in the hopes of finding new Pokémon, or getting those extra steps in to hatch your egg, is absolutely amazing.
Then, of course, if you prefer the competitive side of Pokémon, you can try and hold the top position in a gym and enjoy the lucrative rewards that follow. It was an amazing game when it launched, and Niantic has just added more and more content ever since. Indeed, they’re still adding new content to this day, and with new Pokémon and features becoming available all the time, the experience is only going to get better and better.
The game that put social deduction on the map. In the few years since its initial release, Among Us has been so successful, that the astronauts from the game are so iconic, that they’re pretty much on the level of Mario, Pikachu, Sonic, or Minecraft’s Steve.
If you’ve never played Among Us before, this is a game that sees you and a group of astronauts working to figure out which one of you is a murdered – meanwhile, if you are a murderer, it’s your job to keep slaughtering your colleagues without being detected, because there are periodic votes to determine who is the killer, and if they vote for you, you’re getting ejected into space. It’s fun with strangers, but especially enjoyable if you have a group of friends to play with.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Animal Crossing is another Nintendo series which has received the mobile game treatment. While other Animal Crossing games have seen you cultivating your own town or island, this one is about creating the ultimate camp. You do this by crafting different furniture and items to go in your camp, while also building relationships with villagers to persuade them to come stay.
Each day, you catch bugs, mine ore, catch fish, gather fruit, collect shells, and run errands for the animals who appear around the map. The animals will need you to do different things for them, and by doing so, you get them to give you valuable resources, while also solidifying your friendship with them. It’s not as comprehensive as something like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but it’s still a wonderful experience of its own, and one that will appeal to both old fans of the series, as well as newcomers.
Plants vs. Zombies
Oh no! It’s a zombie apocalypse and the zombies are headed your way. Thank goodness you’re an expert gardener who has an army of plants read to protect you. As zombies walk toward you on the grid-based map of your garden, you plant plants in different spots so that they’re ready to defend you.
You can plant Sunflowers that generate ‘sun’ so that you can grow more plants, Peashooters, who spit peas at the zombies, making them slowly fall apart, Wall-nuts who act as walls for the zombies, and countless other quirky plants who help to defend you from a hoard of strange and bizarre zombies. Unlike many strategy games, which can be daunting at first, Plants vs. Zombies is really accessible, but it still manages to provide impressive amounts of nuance.
If there’s any gaming franchise which is well-suited to the infinite runner genre, it’s Sonic Dash. You play as Sonic, or one of his many friends, as they make their way through endless courses, attacking or dodging enemies, avoiding bottomless pits and spikes, and even fighting bosses every now and then. It’s simple, but as you work to unlock all the characters, you’ll soon find yourself playing it every single day.
There are actually three versions of this game. The first, regular old Sonic Dash, is the original and features all the main Sonic cast (Knuckles, Shadow, Amy, Tails, Big, etc), with special events having made characters from Angry Birds, the Sonic movie, and the Sonic IDW comic available. A second one, Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom, is based on the Sonic Boom sub-series, and the third, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, incorporates a large selection of Sonic characters and locations from different sources.
Next up, we have another iconic one: Fortnite! Sitting on its throne alongside Among Us, Minecraft, and Roblox, Fortnite is one of the biggest games among the current generation of gamers, and sure enough, you can download and play Fortnite on your mobile devices.
It’s easy to see why this game has become so popular. Already, the idea of a hundred people battling it out in an ever-shrinking arena where they can build structures for self-defence is very appealing, but when you add to that the fact that this is one of the biggest crossovers ever created, and that you could see anyone from Darth Vader, to Batman, or Stranger Things’ Demogorgon, it’s easy to see how it cultivated such a following.
Though much older, Tetris is easily as recognisable as Fortnite. Since its first iteration was released in 1984, millions of people have been drawn to this simple block stacking game. Different shapes appear at the top of the screen, and you have to place them carefully at the bottom so that they make straight lines and then disappear. Anybody can understand it and anybody can enjoy it.
Over the years, there have been countless versions of Tetris released, and, of course, that includes a free version for mobile. If you want to have one of the most popular and addictive games ever made in your collection of mobile puzzle games, then you should definitely download Tetris today.
If you’re a huge Tetris fan, you might like to take a look at our guide on the best Tetris games on Switch and mobile.
Pokémon Shuffle Mobile
Have you ever played Candy Crush before? (Now, there’s a game that just narrowly avoided being on this list.) Well, Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is essentially the answer to the question “what if Candy Crush were a Pokémon game?” you have to slide around Pokémon faces so that you can match them up and attack wild Pokémon, and at the end, you’re given a chance to catch them, allowing them to be added to your rotation.
Of course, Pokémon often escape when you try to catch them, and you’ll probably find yourself replaying certain levels over and over again. Also, for what it’s worth, out of all the Pokémon games, there are more than you can catch in this game (without trading from others) than in any other instalment. That’s pretty impressive for a simple puzzle game.
If you’re looking for an intense, free and fun addictive game, Crossy Road is the game for you. Crossy Road is a mobile game that was released in November 2014, since its release, it has had over 150 million downloads. In it, you have to earn coins to earn characters, and to get those coins you need to be able to stay alive for a long period of time without being hit by a car, train or eaten by an eagle.
You tap your phone screen for your character to move forward and you can drag it to change direction, you have to think carefully about when to go and when to turn, but you also have to be fast, as you also are being chased by an eagle so if you stand still for too long it will catch up and eat you. It’s one of those games that doesn’t require data or wi-fi to be played, this means that you can enjoy it anytime anywhere.
Clash of Clans
Clash of clans is a free-to-play game where you build the biggest village and become a very powerful threat by cultivating a large army. The game was created by Finnish developer Supercell in 2012. In it, you start with a town hall and basic defences you then get the ability to collect two of the three in-game currencies. You get gold out of mines, then you use it to build more mines. To store it you need a gold store which you can upgrade to store more gold. It is the same with the other currency elixir which you get with an elixir collector and store in an elixir store.
In the game when you upgrade your town hall you get access to lots of new things such as new defences and more mines and stores. To upgrade your town hall you have to meet some conditions such as barracks level 7 and a certain amount of walls placed. The barracks in Clash of Clans allows you to build an army costing different amounts of elixir depending on what types of troop you get. There are lots of different types of troops in the game which do lots of different things; you unlock the different types through various upgrades.
You’ll find yourself wanting to keep coming back to it so that you can upgrade your village even more all the time. The game keeps getting new content too, so it always stays fresh.
Subway Surfers is a never-ending game where you have to dodge trains and obstacles while collecting coins and power-ups. This endless runner was released in mid-2012 and since then it’s been downloaded approximately 3 billion times, which makes it one of the most popular high score games on mobile ever. The developers, Kiloo and SYBO, constantly release updates which take you to new locations, with fresh challenges, boards to buy, characters to unlock and policemen to chase you.
The fast-paced game speeds up with the higher score you have, making it enjoyable but difficult to play for long periods of time, creating less time to react to jump, roll, or dodge. You can even match your high scores against friends with online leaderboards that connect through Facebook. The many boards have different effects, such as “smooth drift” which allows you to stay in the air for longer, or you could choose “super jump” which lets you jump higher onto the trains. The variety of ways to play, the competitiveness and constant updates will keep you hooked and you’ll soon be playing every day.
(content on Subway Surfers provided by George Thompson)
We hope you liked looking through these addictive game recommendations. Want more? Have a look at our articles on the best mobile games, the best iPhone games, and the best Android games, to find even more games to sink your teeth into.