Some of the best things in life are free, and by applying a little discretion, we can certainly apply this to Android games. There are a whole ton of free games on the Play Store but this selection is for games without in-app purchases and no ads.
Just because a game is free with no IAP doesn't mean it has to be poor quality. Some of the best free games out there can take on the big-budget giants with nothing but passion, great design and goodwill. These top free Android games won't cost a single cent. Enjoy them without any strain on your wallet or annoying ads!
Battle for Wesnoth
Battle for Wesnoth is an unofficial Android port of a turn-based fantasy strategy game that already has a dedicated community on PC. The free game has several story-based campaigns, and a ton of different units from various fantasy races. You can play vs AI or other players.
Battle for Wesnoth has been around for years and doesn't boast lush graphics, but it has plenty of depth and still receives regular updates from the developers and community. A real work of passion, the Android version handles well and isn't too demanding at all on a modern phone, though you'll want a decent sized screen for a good view of the action.
In this free deck-building game, you take on the role of the leader of a spooky Lovecraftian cult on a mission to summon your chosen eldritch abomination into the world. As you play your cards, you also draw new ones representing unexpected events that can help or hinder your progress.
The audio provides a suitably creepy atmosphere, with a nice touch being the in-game radio that reports on how the world is being changed by your actions. Underhand is a complete game, if a little short, the random elements afford some replayability.
Gamers of a certain age will remember losing many hours of precious youth to brutal first-person shooter pioneer Doom. This game is effectively a Doom port made with an original set of assets and game levels to avoid falling foul of copyright.
Freedoom basically plays just like the classic, as the assets are different but still recognizable in the style of the original. You're still blasting ugly creatures in a vaguely industrial wasteland, and all the fun action, atmosphere and tension of Doom is right here in a not-so-different skin.
As an added bonus, you can always load your old (legally owned, of course) original Doom WAD files into the app's config folder, if you want to play the real thing on your phone. Fantastically, this also goes for related games on the same engine, such as Heretic, Hexen, and Strife, or the various mods of these games available online.
This game puts you in the evil shoes of what is normally the enemy in video games - a dungeon boss. Tasked with building your lair of evil and filling it with monsters and traps to destroy the pesky do-gooders who insisting on invading and disturbing your peace. Make them pay, because you won't have to.
The various Pixel Dungeon titles are roguelike dungeon crawl games with primitive graphics (but great gameplay), that punish failure harshly, but were so easy to pick up and play again after every character death that I stopped worrying and learned to love restarting.
It's a simple tap to control everything, and although the 'basic' Pixel Dungeon game by Watabou has unlockable character classes and tons of items to enjoy the game with, there are plenty of other addictive versions such as Shattered Pixel Dungeon, Pixel Dungeon Unleashed etc., that offer twists and different features based on the original.
Unciv is an open-source reimplementation of the classic Civilization-style game of empire building, expansion, resource management, economic and technological development. It basically plays like Civilization V, but with very simple graphics. Nonetheless, the strategic depth is impressively preserved and Unciv is a small and lightweight app that runs like a dream even on low-end smartphones.
This sweet little shoot-em-up puts the old-school spaceship 'bullet hell' scenario in a neon-clouded skin with simple but attractive graphics, but the real draw is the fast paced action. It's basically blasting stuff, in different ways, unlocking rewards and basking in the moving colors and sounds: what more do you want for free entertainment?
Pathos Nethack Codex
This game is roguelike dungeon crawling game with random area generation and a variety of different classes to choose from, items to collect and monsters to slay. Based on the old school Nethack ruleset, Pathos is still being updated with quality of life fixes, and offers a choice of graphical tiles and hours upon hours of play time.
Warfare Incorporated is an old school favorite, originally for Windows Phones and PalmOS devices, but its style hearkens back even further to the Command and Conquer real-time strategy games. You must build up base and produce an army to control resources on the newly discovered planet of Icarus. Sure, Warfare Incorporated looks dated by now, but the experience stands the test of time and you won't find a more fully featured mobile RTS for completely free.
Gloomy Dungeons 2
The Gloomy Dungeons series of indie games are first-person shooters in the classic Doom/Wolfenstein mold with some modern additions like sniper rifles and dual-wielding weapons. Note that while Google Play does say it has ads, it's only a single small banner on the main page for advertising the other games from the studio which are also free, so I'll allow it.
The game is free and even comes with built-in cheats, if you just want to give yourself all the weapons and powerups and let 'er rip. While it's on the Google Play store, fans of alternative open-source repositories can also find it as one of the few games on F-Droid.
Still on the hunt for great mobile games?
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- Play freely without Internet with the best offline Android games
- Feast your eyes on the most graphically gorgeous games for your smartphone
Have you discovered any free Android games that we should mention here? Let us know, and it might just make the list one day.