Update June 2017: Added the futuristic Neon Chrome and the sadistic Penarium to our list of best Android games of 2017!
If you're looking for the best new games available in the Google Play Store, you've come to the right place. Whether you're new to Android and need some fresh, new games to start building out your Google Play library or simply looking for the latest trendy games that are worthy of your time and attention, we'll break it all down for you with recommendations that are sure to ruin your productivity.
If you've always dreamt of being king for a day, you'll definitely want to check out Reigns. It's a stylish game with simple gameplay mechanics and razor-sharp wit, wherein you try to keep your kingdom running smoothly by interacting with advisors, citizens, witches, and other characters in your kingdom. It's best described as one of those "choose your own adventure" books, except instead of flipping to some page, you simply swipe left or right.
Each decision you make has an effect on four resources you must manage: religion, citizens, the army, and your kingdom's treasury. Balancing these resources is key, as if any meter maxes out or reaches zero, your reign is over. But the game doesn't end — you instead become your successor and try to last longer in your reign than the king before you.
It's the perfect pick-up-and-play game for killing some time, and you'll definitely enjoy the dark humor throughout.
Despite being released and celebrated in 2016, Reigns gets top billing on this list for 2017 for being the winner of Google's inaugural Indie Games Contest.
Also highlighted as a finalist for the Google Play Indie Games contest in February, The Battle of Polytopia is a great game for anyone who's a fan of turn-based strategy games, like the Civilization franchise. The game features multiple game modes, including the rarely seen pass-and-play option for playing against friends. With multiple tribes to choose from, this plays like a full-fledged strategy game packaged with cartoony graphics and scaled down perfectly for playing on a mobile device.
The turn-based gameplay against the AI is brisk and you can add more opponents or up the difficulty level if you're in need of a bigger challenge. Best of all, it's a free download from the Google Play Store!
This games feels perfect for your daily commute on public transit or really any time you got time to kill — if you start a Domination game (last tribe standing wins), you can save and resume your game at a later time as needed.
Causality is a mind-blowing puzzle game that's all about manipulating time. This is just a brilliant game where you control time and make adjustments to the level and alter the sequence in such a way that you help your stranded astronauts reach their goals.
Set in simplistic-yet-beautiful alien landscapes, this stylish game will have you wracking your brain as you try to figure out how to guide each astronaut to their color-coded exit within the allotted time. Of course, you have full control over the timeline and can jump to any point in time and change an aspect of the level. There are 60 mind-bending puzzles to unlock and complete in this outstandingly polished and challenging game.
Island Delta is a very stylish top-down action-adventure-puzzler developed by Mantisbite out of Finland. Explore the mysterious retro-futuristic island lair of Doctor Gunderson as our heroes, Zoe and Baxter.
Using your anti-gravity gun, you must work your way past mechanical minions, traps, and guards as you solve puzzles to make it through to the end of each level. At its best moments, Island Delta feels like a stripped down, third-person version Portal, which is something I wasn't aware I needed in my life. The cartoony graphics and outstanding level design will immediately draw you in.
You can read our full review here before deciding to buy it. It's available for $2.99 from the Google Play Store.
After the End: Forsaken Destiny is a really beautiful puzzle game set in a mysterious desert world. The story follows a father-son duo who are on parallel paths at different times and must work together across time to help each other progress past obstacles and puzzles.
The wonderful art style will draw you in. The controls are fairly simple to pick up: you use the left half of the screen to control your character, tap the button that appears on the right side of the screen to interact with switches and objects, and you will also need to frequently rotate the camera by swiping across the screen.
The puzzles here are varied and increase in difficulty as you progress further through the game. There's many secret areas to explore and relics to collect throughout the game. It's a paid game, so there are no ads or in-app purchases to distract you from the beautiful graphics and challenging puzzles.
Will the father and son ever be reunited? There's only one way to find out.
Fire Emblem: Heroes represents Nintendo's first foray into developing games for Android (ignoring last year's Miimoto app) and is the eighth title in the popular strategy-RPG franchise to be released on North American shores.
Heroes brings all of your favorite Fire Emblem characters together for a brand new story that pits the noble Askran Kingdom against the power-hungry Emblian Empire, which wishes to rule all worlds. You play the role of a mighty summoner who has the power to bring Fire Emblem's best heroes together to help defend the kingdom. Battle takes place in arenas where you must strategically move your Heroes around to attack and defend against your opponents.
Play through the Story Mode to unlock new game modes, including Special Maps, Arena Duels, and the Training Tower. Arena Duel is the multiplayer aspect of the game that will keep you busy beyond the single player campaign.
Heart Star is a cute puzzle platformer with a simple concept: you swap controls between two characters who can only walk on certain surfaces. You must use teamwork to make it through the 50 mind-bending levels included here.
Featuring wonderful retro graphics and an 8-bit soundtrack, this is just a really complete game that offers a decent challenge as you progress through the later levels. You will have to contend with the occasional ad that pops up when you fail or complete a level, but it's worth the minor distraction to play this fun little game for free.
Star Wars: Force Arena is arguably the best Star Wars game you can play on Android. Combining the card-casting mechanic from Clash Royale with MOBA-style gameplay, it's an extremely exciting game that couples fast-paced action with deep strategic elements as you step in as general for the Empire or the Rebellion.
Choose from your favorite Star Wars heroes and villains from the original trilogy and Rogue One and lead your army into battle against online opponents. There's a freemium model in play here, meaning you'll be tempted to spend real money to help unlock and upgrade new characters and troops more quickly — but you can move up the rankings just fine by being strategic in battle and patient opening card packs. You can battle one-on-one or team up with another hero for epic 2 vs 2 skirmishes.
At its best, Star Wars: Force Arena lets you recreate your own epic battle scenes on your phone. Rally your troops and take down the enemy turrets on your way to victory!
I know, I know. You're asking what is Pokémon Go doing on this list in 2017.
Well, love it or hate it, Pokémon Go is still widely popular, and Niantic still has big plans to support it throughout the year. They've added the second generation of Pokemon with another five generations of Pokémon still in the bank, and as our pals over at iMore have reported, there are a bunch of global and region-based events in the works and the potential for a bunch of new and revamped features.
Also, winter is nearly over so we may see a resurgence of Pokémon Go during the warmer months. Will it ever reach the heights that it did during the summer of 2016? Probably not. But it still represents one of the best and most popular games available for Android.
Neon Chrome is a must-own game in 2017. It's a top-down twin-stick shooter with super stylized visuals and procedurally generated levels. Initially released in 2016 on Steam and then later for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it arrived on Android earlier this year and is available for $9.99 from the Google Play Store.
This is a really polished game that's designed with replayability in mind. Each playthrough is going to present unique challenges and weapons, as you work your way through the compound on your quest to bring down the Overseer. Nearly everything you see is destroyable and there's a ton of loot to collect, which you can use to upgrade your character
For those who love a great platforming challenge, you need to check out Penarium. Developed by Self Made Miracle and Team17 — the folks behind the celebrated Worms franchise — Penarium tells the tale of a simple farm boy, Willy, who is trapped in an evil circus forever.
This game looks and plays beautifully, with all the action contained within a single screen — all you have to do is follow the circus master's instruction and survive for as long as you can. Penarium features a story mode with 30 increasingly difficult levels to play through, along with an "endless mode", which tests your skills as you challenge yourself to see how long you can last while collecting coins, which can be spent on character upgrades to help you collect more coins in future playthroughs.
The touch controls are very simple and kept near the bottom of the screen so as to not distract from the action on screen. You'll need to develop lightning-fast reflexes to dodge everything this game throws at you. It's a paid app, so you never have to deal with ads or in-app purchases. It's a really polished game that's perfect for those who are gluttons for punishing platformers.