Navigating the Play Store can be a minefield, but it's been made easier now that the store distinguishes between truly free games and free games with in-app purchases. However, it turns out that there really aren't that many completely free games out there. Some games with in-app purchases can still be enjoyed without spending anything though, and there is even the occasional game out there that is totally free – no strings attached.
This list includes both categories of games, with the conditions for entry being that you don't need to spend anything to enjoy them (and of course that they're incredibly, relentlessly fun). Read on for our list of the best free Android games to play on your device in 2015, so far.
Final Fantasy: Record Keeper
Despite some clunky menus and the fact it sometimes feels like a loading-screen simulator, Final Fantasy: Record Keeper provides some great Final Fantasy nostalgia. It lets you replay some of the most memorable moments from previous games in the franchise in a bid to restore the records that uphold the kingdom, which are inexplicably fading from existence.
It's a no-frills RPG with energy-based play that lets you build a team of five characters using familiar faces from all over the Final Fantasy universe. There are tons of different weapons, armor and abilities to acquire and customize your characters with, and the retro graphics and music are sure to evoke some favorable memories. Just enter with a little patience, because those loading screens are a blight.
Give hydrogen the Midas touch with this captivating little puzzler. Simplicity is often best when it comes to puzzle games, and Atomas works on this very simple foundation. You start with some measly hydrogen, and use plus and minus atoms to turn it into helium, then lithium and so on, until you end up with some of those good old precious metals like silver and gold.
It's easy enough to start out with, but will soon having you Googling the periodic table in a bid to learn where best to place your atoms to trigger the most satisfying chain reactions.
Angry Birds 2
After what seems like endless variations on the original, Roxio is back with a whole new iteration of Angry Birds. The game itself is free, but it's attracted some controversy over its approach to in-app purchases: while some reviews say the game is a hoot even in its free incarnation, others say that Roxio is more interested in making you pay than having you play. We'd love to know what you think.
Skiing Yeti Mountain
Skiing Yeti Mountain has all the hallmarks of free Android classics such as Flappy Bird and Timberman. Lo-fi graphics, excellent controls and addictive gameplay.
In Skiing Yeti Mountain, you control a skiier as he or she navigates a mountainside course, by tilting your finger at the bottom of the screen.
The challenge comes from staying between the right and left posts, avoiding obstacles and trying to reach the bottom of the course as fast as you can.
It’s easy to learn and difficult to master, and the short nature of the courses ensures that you fail often and keep coming back for more.Skiing Yeti Mountain
Noodlecake Studios is known for Android hits Devious Dungeon and Zombie Road Trip Trials, and Brickies is another great game in its roster.
As the name suggests, brickies is a 'brick-breaker' title where you control paddles on the top and bottom of the screen and are tasked with bouncing a ball against objects in the center to destroy them.
Featuring a plethora of levels, power-ups and a three-star rating system like Candy Crush and Angry Birds, it’s certainly got that addictive free-to-play quality, but what sets it apart from the competition is the visual design.
It houses a wonderfully consistent cell-shaded aesthetic, and though you could be forgiven for thinking it simplistic, the carefully selected color palette, shapes and effects reinforce the quality in the production.
Though it 'only' has 50,000 downloads, brickies has the long-lasting formula and strong design to make it a classic.Brickies
This multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) is as good to play as it is to look at, and while there are the inevitable in-app purchases, the core game is free to play. The game makes it across to Android after a successful run on iOS, and if there's a better developer name than Super Evil Megacorp, we'd love to know what it is.Vainglory
Hardest Game Ever 2
Hardest Game Ever 2 is not the hardest game ever, but it is one of the most fun. It’s based around a series of frantic minigames such as Mario Party or the WarioWare titles.
It’s great in short bursts, but it’s not ideal for tablets because the resolution is quite low. Also, it’s kind of crass, and might be a bit unsavory for some people. If you can stomach it, give it a try.Hardest Game Ever 2
Many puzzle games on Android are of the therapeutic variety; take your time solving a puzzle while everything in game patiently waits for you. You can forget about all that in Wire Defuser, a tense, time-limited puzzle game in which you have to dispose of bombs before they blow. There are more than 80 levels in the game, and once you've conquered it you can unlock a Hardcore mode. It's well presented too, with the bomb dials and knobs looking like something straight out of 80s action movies.Wire Defuser
Forsaken World Mobile
Forsaken World is an Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that's been a huge hit on PC, and it's a sign of just how far Android has come that it's just as exciting on mobile devices. It delivers everything you'd expect from the genre – loot, dungeons, classes, loot, fighting, loot, boss battles and loot – but you'll need to allow plenty of time to download it: the file's massive and the developers recommend that your device has 2 GB of RAM for best results.
Luna League Soccer
Big football game franchises like FIFA and Pro Evo have failed to convert their brilliant big-screen games to mobile. So rather than trying to replicate the beautiful game on the small screen, why not just go all out in the opposite direction and create a crazy arcade game filled with power-ups and magic kicks? That's the philosophy at play in Luna League Soccer. There's actually a sort-of story too, as you control one of six competing factions vying for world domination... by playing football. OK, it makes about as much sense as Space Jam, but it's still great fun.Luna League Soccer
This hilarious and beautifully minimal game sees you control a flailing 'Wrassler' made up of about 20 pixels, competing in an endless royal rumble match. It's all against all in the ring, as opponents keep jumping in, and attempting to throw their rivals out by windmilling their arms around. The Commodore 64-style graphics and haphazard-looking gameplay make this game both charming and hilarious. As you reach certain scores, you can unlock hats for your wrassler and fight bosses, on your path to become the wrassling champion of Slamdovia (the home of Wrassling, apparently).Wrassling
Driver Speedboat Paradise
We don't know what speedboat racing and the mafia have in common, but these two things get thrown together in Driver Speedboat Paradise. Made by Ubisoft (who also made the 'Driver' games, hence the odd title) and featuring the kind of vibrant graphics that'll make the most of a pretty Galaxy S6 display, Driver Speedboat Paradise is a fun little thrill ride which can be enjoyed for free.
As you win races, you get the chance to customize your boat to make it ride faster and look better, and you can even unlock new clothes and houses for your rider (though we should warn you that some of these things come as in-app purchases).DRIVER SPEEDBOAT PARADISE
Silly Sausage in Meat Land
Silly Sausage has the same visual style as Flappy Bird, so you'd be forgiven for thinking it was another basic game that combined addictive gameplay with rudimentary graphics. But Silly Sausage is actually a varied and challenging platformer with much more in common with indie classic Super Meat Boy.
You control a very stretchy sausage dog, winding its elongated body through levels filled with spikes, pipes, keys and treasures. This game may not be easy, but it's unique and very rewarding.Silly Sausage in Meat Land
Puzzle games that look like they belong on trendy design websites have been pretty commonplace since the fantastic Monument Valley, and ZigZag is the latest to jump on the bandwagon. Despite its looks, ZigZag is more of a reflex-based game than a puzzler; you guide a ball along thin zig-zagging paths, and have to time your taps right to stop it falling off the edge. A simple, great-looking game for those quick-fix sessions.ZigZag
'Clicker' games are synonymous with smartphones, and there is an absurd number of them out there. RPG Clicker is the latest in a long line, but its charming pixellated visual style and fantasy-RPG elements make it stand out. Take your hero out on quests, hunt for treasure, and take on bosses when you're ready. As you'd expect, the gameplay is all about the tapping – tap to move, tap to fight, tap to level up. A compulsive combo of classic RPG and relentless touchscreen-tapping.RPG Clicker
Super Monsters Ate My Condo!
This Jenga-meets-hyperactive-Japanese-arcade-game is as crazy as it sounds, which can largely be attributed to the fact that it's made by Adult Swim games (creators of the legendary Robot Unicorn Attack). In Super Monsters Ate My Condo! apartments floors of various colors drop down from the top of the screen, and it's your job to swipe them away into the mouths of the correspondingly-colored monsters sitting in wait.
If you leave the monsters unfed for too long, they get angry, and you don't want to see them angry (well, you probably do, but it'll lead to you losing the game). There are power-ups such as acid, nuke and dog to help and hinder you, as well as various game modes, unlockables and online scoreboards.Super Monsters Ate My Condo!
Winter Walk / Autumn Walk
These two games have a simple gameplay premise – you need to keep a Victorian gentleman's hat on his head as he goes for his afternoon constitutional – but are immediately endearing, thanks to the pixelated art style and the top-hatted protagonist himself.
As the weather conditions worsen, you'll find it more and more difficult to keep his hat on, even though mechanically all you need to do is hold your finger on it. Both games are similar, although in Autumn Walk you have to hold onto an unruly dog on a leash too, and you can buy new outfits to make your gentleman look quite the dandy!Winter Walk Autumn Walk
Dungeon Hunter 5
The latest installment in the demonically popular Dungeon Hunter series is here, and it offers an interesting new twist on the dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash formula. It has a similar main quest to previous games, as you and up to three of your friends slash and spell-blast your way through piles of monsters to save the Kingdom of Valenthia.
There is spellcrafting, leveling-up and boss-fighting in abundance. However, the most interesting new feature is the new 'Strongholds' multiplayer mode, in which you build a base, train a monster army, and then take on other players and their strongholds. Clash of Clans had better look out!Dungeon Hunter 5
Falling somewhere between Frogger and infinity runners Temple Run and Subway Surfers, Crossy Road is a cute game that's great for quick-fix sessions. So great, in fact, that it won 'Best quickplay game' at the International Mobile Gaming Awards. The longer you survive, the more gold you earn, which allows you to unlock new characters to traverse the endless 3D pixel-blocky world. It's old-school and new-school, charming and challenging, and we love it.Crossy Road
It may look suspiciously similar to the wonderful Monument Valley, but give Skyward a chance (it's free, after all) and you'll see that it offers something quite different. You control a red and a blue circle, which you must rhythmically guide through Escher-like levels that are falling away behind you. If you take too long, the circles shrink to nothing. It looks fantastic, and there are no in-app purchases, so you get the full experience for free.Skyward
Subway Surfers takes over from the venerable Temple Run as the top infinity runner on Android, and rightfully so. Subway Surfers takes you to the subway and railway tracks of colorful, cartoony versions of famous places like Miami, Las Vegas, London and Bangkok. The idea is simply to run (very fast) along the railway tracks, avoiding trains and other obstacles, and picking up coins. Earning enough coins lets you unlock new characters and powerups. It's great fast-paced fun!Subway Surfers
New Words With Friends
This Scrabble clone changes the classic board game from something you sit down and play with your grandparents, to an online experience where you can play several people simultaneously, and take your turn whenever you like. The new version tracks your performance, showing you your scores relative to other people, the longest words you've played, and your overall win-lose record. There is now also an in-built dictionary feature, so next time you gain points with a two-letter word you don't understand, you can find out what it actually means.Words With Friends
Hopeless: The Dark Cave
Horror, comedy and cuteness combine to great effect in this shooter about a small group of incandescent blobs in the middle of a dark cave, trying to fight off an endless horde of dark-dwelling monstrosities. There is no end to the game as such, you just collect coins to upgrade your weapons arsenal for the next go, and do your best to keep the cute little fellas alive. The game is not for the faint-hearted, because watching the brave blobs get swallowed up one-by-one by the darkness is a heart-rending experience.Hopeless: The Dark Cave
Plants vs Zombies 2
Sequel to one of the most successful free-to-play games ever, EA’s Plants vs Zombies 2 retains the spirit of the original while adding more zombies, plants and power ups. This colorful tower defense game will suck up a lot of your time (and potentially money, if you want to make use of its in-app purchases), but you are guaranteed fun along the way.Plants vs. Zombies 2
This one's been around for a while, but that doesn't stop it being one of the most addictive and intense multiplayer games on Android. Set in an abstract galaxy (presumably far, far away), you use a fleet of spaceships to fight for control of planets against the computer or other players. The more planets you control, the faster your fleet grows. The single-player campaign is OK, but the real fun starts when you play against others over Bluetooth or online.GalaxIR
Fruit Ninja has also been around for years now, but it is still just as addictive as it was when it first hit the scene. Swiping your finger – sorry, ninja sword – across the touchscreen to dish out deadly attacks to, erm, fruit, and watermelons, bananas, peaches will fall by your blade. Slice your way through your five a day while creating combos and making highscores in this infinitely satisfying arcade game.Fruit Ninja Free
Words On Tour
The second wordy Zynga game on this list is a bit less conventional. Think of it as a free-for-all word search meets Tetris. You complete levels by creating words out of letters that are adjacent to each other in the grid. You don't have to create words in straight lines either, which means your mental muscles will be flexed if you want to gain maximum points. There are power-up tiles and traps hidden in the game, and you can take your progress online to compare yourself against your friends and rivals.Words On Tour
Clash of Clans
Clash of Clans has a simple, highly addictive concept. Build a town and its defences, then train your troops to fend off attacks from other players. As it's a persistent multiplayer game, its duration is basically never-ending, and is one of the most popular games on the Play Store. Your progress syncs to your Google + account, so you can continue your game across multiple devices.Clash of Clans
Candy Crush Saga
Candy Crush is beyond a game, it's a cultural phenomenon. The game is based on the concept of Diamond Mine, where you connect colors together in series of three to make them explode. It's a tried-and-tested idea dating back to the days of Bejeweled, but something about the psychedelic world of Candy Crush has caught millions of peoples' imaginations. What’s more, Candy Crush Saga often gets festive for holidays, so you'll have unique features for Christmas, Valentine's and Easter.Candy Crush Saga
Asphalt 8: Airborne
If you are into racecar driving, look no further than Asphalt 8: Airborne, a favorite arcade game among Android users. Why do we love it so much? Well, it's free for a start, and you get to choose between real-life cars that you’ve always dreamed of driving – from Lamborghinis to Ferraris – ripping them down courses in various stunning locations. Plus if you’ve got a competitive side, you can drive in career mode, which takes you through eight seasons and 180 events.Asphalt 8: Airborne
Angry Birds Go!
Angry Birds has more or less taken over the world, taking the form of soft toys in our bedrooms, breakfast cereals, and now Mario Kart-style racing games. In Angry Birds Go! you choose from a variety of Angry Birds characters and race your way through fanciful terrains while shooting random objects at your opponents. Just like Mario Kart, the controls take some time to get used to at the beginning, but soon you’ll be slinging those birds down the race track with ease.Angry Birds Go!
Dumb Ways To Die 2: The Games
Dumb Ways To Die was originally created as an educational game to teach you and your kids a lesson about foolish things that people do that often lead to embarrassing deaths. The sequel doesn't have the same educational slant as the original, instead throwing the colorful characters into dangerous athletics games-style scenarios. You must jump over electric fences, unclog doorways, and ride dolphins for as long as possible. The game gets faster and faster, then after you've lost three lives, you're dead. Simple, and hilarious.Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games
Dead Trigger 2
Following the success of their first game, MadFinger Games released Dead Trigger 2, which is so zombielicious you’ll soon be asking for more blood and guts after just a few minutes of playing. You must travel through various undead-infested areas of the world, killing as many zombies with your jam-packed artillery of weapons. It’s positively disgusting, and that’s why we love it.DEAD TRIGGER 2
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We hope you didn’t forget how to connect the dots from your childhood, because this game asks you to use that set of skills all over again. Dots is an Android favorite, in which you must combine as many same-colored dots as you can in just 60 seconds. There are also some other game modes, such as endless mode, no-limits, un-timed (which counts the number of moves), and so on. The game design is also really nice and minimalistic.Dots: A Game About Connecting
QuizUp landed like a bomb in 2014, revealing that everyone's a sucker for a good trivia game. The sky’s the limit for the number of categories, with new ones added daily. It’s not just your usual 'sports, films, history' fare either, with categories ranging from Android, to Harry Potter, to Batman. You can also play against others from around the world to compete on the global leaderboards.QuizUp
Badland has been lauded by games critics, ourselves included. It's an adventure game where you tap the screen to guide a group of forest dwellers through strange, swampy forests full of eerie shadows and obstacles. Think of it as the connoiseur's Flappy Bird. Aside from compelling gameplay, the graphics are great, there's a multiplayer mode, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.BADLAND
SHADOWGUN is hands-down the best multiplayer shooter on Android, and will push powerful Android devices to the limit because of its demanding graphics. There are several classic shooter modes, including Deathmatch, and the Battlefield-style Zone Control. To better coordinate your team, or just yell insults at your enemy, there is also an easy-to-use multiplayer voice chat.SHADOWGUN: DeadZone
From the creators of Clash of Clans comes Boom Beach. Like in Clash of Clans, you must build and defend your base while building up your forces to attack and conquer enemy territories. The battles that go down on Boom Beach are among the best you can get on Android, because the order and the type of units sent really make the difference between victory and defeat.Boom Beach
Another cult classic: Icomania is simple, but keeps you entertained. The game shows you a series of icons and you have to guess which movie star, cartoon, place, or various other category of thing in the world it is. If you get stuck, we’ve got all of the answers in our forum.Icomania
Cut the Rope series
Cut the Rope is a veteran game by Android standards now. The aim is to feed the monsters by cutting free the candies that are teasingly hanging on ropes over their heads. Sounds weird? Yes, it is, and it's utterly brilliant for it. Cut the Rope 2 adds a host of new characters and locations, while Cut the Rope: Experiments adds 200 new levels. All this for free. You can't say no to that, can you?Cut the Rope FULL FREE Cut the Rope 2 Cut the Rope: Experiments FREE
Original Angry Birds series
This iconic series could not escape the list. There are so many versions of Angry Birds now (Space, Rovio, Epic, to name just a few) that they'd take up too much of our list if we added them individually. The basic premise is that you slingshot the birds (we assume they volunteer for this suicidal strategy) and knock down forts created by the green pigs.Angry Birds
Bonus: Try new apps and get rewards
If you're looking for more great free games for Android, download Buzzinga!
Buzzinga is an app that recommends new games for you to discover and review. Best of all, you get rewarded for it. The premise is simple: the more games you download and review, the more points you accumulate. You can exchange those points for the chance to win prizes, including Ultra HD TVs, the newest smartphones and other gadgets, or you can redeem them for Amazon, Starbucks and GameStop giftcards. Buzzinga is developed by App Media, which is owned by Fonpit, the publisher of AndroidPIT.Buzzinga: Rewards for Reviews
Do you agree with our list? Have you discovered any free Android games that we haven't mentioned here? Let us know about it, and it might just make the list one day!