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12 min read 133 comments

Best new Android games to download in February

Update: Added Uciana, Morphite, Skullgirls

Android has an awful lot of games, and each month new ones are released. Knowing which ones are any good can be tricky. So we've put together a list of the best games that we've discovered on the Play Store—just three each month to ensure that only games we've played make it onto the list. This month we've added Uciana, Morphite, and Skullgirls for your gaming pleasure!

February

It's the shortest month of the year, so you don't want to waste your precious time playing boring games. Here are my top three recommendations to make the most of those minutes this February.

Uciana

A space 4X game for Android? As if I wasn’t spending enough time already on Endless Space 2 and Stellaris on PC, now I can be a galactic space emperor on the subway, too. Uciana is a new indie game that delivers a fantastic amount of depth for your $0.99. There’s no IAP either. What you get is effectively a mobile game version of sci-fi Civilization descendants, such as Master of Orion 2.

There are several distinct spacefaring civilizations to choose from. Good ol’ humanity is an option, but I’m a fan of the more exotic types, with the crab-like Sothren Federation being my current favorites. Through the graphics are basic, each comes with distinct bonuses and ship design to give them a different flavor.

The goal is galactic conquest, which is accomplished via exploration, expansion, economic growth, technological research, and of course, diplomacy and war once you start bumping in to your rivals. Right now, it's only possible to 'win' the game by conquest but the developer has mentioned adding in different victory conditions further down the line.

Although the turn based system makes the controls easy enough on mobile, this isn't a casual game. Uciana doesn't dumb down the 4X genre at all, and you'll struggle at first to keep track of all your resources and statistics, and what exactly they mean. Though there are a couple of tutorial videos from the devs up on YouTube, mostly you'll be learning through trial and error in game.

Nonetheless, once you've spent time getting the hang of it, Uciana stands out as one of the best strategy games out there on mobile that isn't tarnished by pay-to-win monetization or predatory IAP. Given that it's early days yet for the game, it's got great potential.

Uciana Install on Google Play
  • App version: 1670
  • App size: 39.04 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.2 and up
  • Price: $0.99

Morphite

From the abstract galactic exploration of Uciana to something much more up close and personal, we come to Morphite. Morphite is an action/exploration/puzzle game that was recently ported to Android, and it's low-fi (but pretty) polygon graphics and relaxed, exploratory gameplay make it a great fit for mobile.

Morphite's has you take on the role of Myrah, a space explorer who investigates alien worlds, scanning the exotic flaura and fauna for information and resources. In some respects, this is reminiscent of controversial space sim No Man's Sky, except that the gameplay is only focused on exploring the surface of plants, not the space in between them, and the environments are generally smaller and more like platformer levels.

Although Morphite does feature weapons and combat with hostile alien critters, it's not a high-octane action game. Rather, the real pleasure is in casually exploring the stylized alien environments, admiring the scenery and enjoying the absorbing soundtrack and quips from Kitcat, a wisecracking feline robot.

In between the occasional challenging aggressive beast or tricky platforming puzzle, Morphite generally has a calming, almost zen-like casual vibe. To get through the story, you'll eventually need to upgrade your ship, weapons and armor to overcome late-game challenges. 

But the first late game challenge may be more psychological, as the full story mode is locked behind an IAP. So in essence, what you're getting for free is a demo version of a game that is priced at $15 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One. Morphite was good enough to convince me to fork over of the full version, but for anyone who isn't sure, it doesn't cost anything to give it a try, and there more quality out there in exploring the procedurally generated planets than there is on a lot of free games cluttering the Play Store

Morphite Install on Google Play
  • App version: 1.01
  • App size: 350 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free demo, IAP to unlock full story

Skullgirls

Skullgirls mobile, much like its PC cousin, is a fast paced fighting game with a darkly humorous anime-inspired art style that will be somewhat familiar to fans of classic series like BlazBlue or Guilty Gear. It recently received a major update that won it praise for its balance and depth. I took it upon myself to find out if Skullgirls mobile is a worthy sibling to the acclaimed PC version.

The freemium mobile version of Skullgirls is a prequel to the main fighting game with a familiar mobile-oriented twist—RPG elements to level up your character, and daily missions and story elements to keep you coming back and kicking ass. Ready to run for the hills? I was too. But being a fan of the PC version, I decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised.

Skullgirl's fantastic soundtrack and art style make it a winner right off the bat (think sci-fi anime meets the gothic art deco stylings of Batman: The Animated Series), and surprisingly deep beat 'em up gameplay provides a solid core to the game that skilled players can really get in to. Sure, for those with no honor there's an auto-fight mode you can switch on which takes care of basic moves, but if you just save it for a crowded subway, Skullgirls offers a frantic feast for the fingers.

Annoying free-to-play elements are present in that you'll constantly end up upgrading your fighters, and using in-game currency to unlock new ones randomly. If you're dead set on using your favorite characters from the PC version of Skullgirls, this could really put you out.

But having not yet reached a point where I'm tempted to shell out hard earned cash, I'm impressed at how much I can get out of the game gratis. Compared to other popular mobile fighters like Marvel: Conquest of Champions, or even another favorite of mine, Shadow Fight 3, Skullgirls manages to be less predatory when it comes to monetization and still oozes character and fun.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 2.0.1
  • App size: 718 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: In-app purchases

January

2018 is here, and with it brings the promise of another entire year of awesome Android gaming. While there are a few exciting upcoming titles on the horizon to look forward to, we've been busy gaming over the holiday season to recommend some fresh titles to kick off the new year.

Run Sausage Run!

Run Sausage Run! Is an endless runner with a culinary twist. As a plucky sausage attempting to escape your fate on the dinner table, you've got to dash through the kitchen dodging deathtraps like knives, tenderizers, searing hot grills, and various whirling blades.

The bloody but cartoony visuals and tongue-firmly-in-cheek humor makes Run Sausage Run! stand out from the many endless runners out there by force of personality. The fantastic soundtrack and variety of power ups help keep the high-score chasing gameplay interesting over time and there are various outfits and skins to unlock to personalize your sausage.

Although free to play, the game is supported by ads, which, once you get engrossed in a particularly tricky section of traps, can feel quite frustrating. An in-app purchase exists to remove them.

Run Sausage Run! Install on Google Play
  • App version: 1.2.0
  • App size: 98.25 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Economic model: In-app purchases

Reigns: Her Majesty

In the game of thrones, you swipe or you die. And sometimes you still die, but it's always fun. A sequel to Reigns, which was an entertaining mix of kingdom-sim and Tinder-style swiping, Reigns: Her Majesty puts you in the queen's fancy shoes this time, but the basic premise is the same—using a selection of cards and items (new to the sequel), you make decisions that attempt to balance various factions in your kingdom, such as the people, the army and the church. And of course, your own desires.

Reigns: Her Majesty works best played in roughly 15 minute sessions that give the impression of an episodic progression through a story of intrigue, tension, and unexpected twists. Although it's a game that makes you think if you want to work for a perfect ending, I never got too stressed with the decision making because of the clever writing which delivers even missteps and misfortunes with a delightfully dark humor.

Reigns: Her Majesty Install on Google Play
  • App version: 1
  • App size: 126 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.3 and up
  • Price: $2.99

Arena of Valor

Arena Of Valor is a 5v5 MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game developed by Tencent games, makers of the smash hit League Of Legends. In China the game has been available in various incarnations, but it has only recently made its way to western markets.

Although Arena of Valor shares many characteristics with League of Legends, it benefits from many tweaks that optimize it for mobile play. Matches on Arena of Valor are only 10 minutes long compared to the more established MOBA games which can often run to around 45 minutes per match. The controls are simple and easy to learn thanks to a comprehensive tutorial. 

This makes Arena of Valor both a great introduction to MOBAs and perfect to pick up and play in short bursts. Since it's easy to learn and matches don't take too long, you won't lack for teammates (and opponents) among the game's huge and fast-growing userbase. As someone who's normally turned off by both the complexity and time-sink of more established MOBAs, Arena of Valor still managed to hook me in with its accessibility.

Another selling point for Arena of Valor are its playable DC universe characters. But if you want to get this game just to pit Batman or Wonder Woman against the game's roster of original heroes, be prepared to grind (or pay), as it requires a lot of gaming time to unlock the DC heroes.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.19.1.1
  • App size: 548 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Economic model: In-app purchases

December

Thimbleweed Park

Thimbleweed Park is a serious game of the year contender, at least where mobile gaming is concerned. This adventure game by Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert spins a compelling yarn, reminiscent of the X-Files and Twin Peaks, about a pair of idiosyncratic FBI agents investigating a murder mystery in an equally idiosyncratic town.

The puzzles are challenging, and the ability to control multiple characters offers some creative and complex solutions. But if you just want to drop the headscratchers and enjoy the stylish retro graphics and quirky sense of humor, there's an easy mode too.

For fans of story and puzzles alike, Thimbleweed Park is a delight, and well worth the money.

  • App version: 1.0.4
  • App size: 0.92 GB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $9.99

Get in on the Play Store

Shadow Fight 3

The Shadow Fight series has always stood out as one of the best examples of the fighting game genre on handheld devices, and we've bigged up Nekki's Shadow Fight 2 before. The sequel brings all the action into the light, dispensing with silhouettes and fleshing out the warriors with great graphics and a variety of fighting styles, armor and weapons (swords, axes, spears, hammers etc.) for the clash of steel.

The gameplay is intelligent enough so that you won't get far with button-mashing in this game. It's kind of like a 2D Soul Calibur title. Winning Shadow Fight 3 requires proper form and timing to succeed, especially if you resist the in-app purchases. 

Progressing, on the other hand, is annoyingly locked behind a loot-box style system that reward you with currency and items. Thankfully, they are unlocked with time as well as money, so if you're just willing to put down the game once in a while, the goodies will come to you automatically.

Get it from the Play Store

  • App version: 5.2.3
  • App size: 551 MB
  • App compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Economic model: In-app purchases

Lineage II: Revolution

Lineage II: Revolution is a mobile version of a hugely popular Korean MMORPG, a genre most familiar in the West from World of Warcraft and Everquest. Netmarble have really been pushing their mobile game internationally with high-budget ads (how much does Conan O'Brien go for nowadays?), and I checked out Lineage II: Revolution to get a taste of the game beyond the hype.

Visually lush and richly detailed, it's a sumptuous feast for the eyes and boasts of epic battles with over 100 fighters on the field of battle, or defending a fortress.

There's a strong social element where able to join clans and fight alongside your buddies against your rivals. RPG class and race character options are pretty traditional - be a human warrior, elven mystic, etc, but there are higher level options that unlock additional professions.

Since Lineage II: Revolution is still pretty new, there's a chance to get in early to this MMO and rise to power as a in this seriously pretty fantasy world before the first players start to dominate. If you're going to fight to the top though, be prepared to grind—a lot—or shell out for those ubiquitous in-app purchases.

Lineage 2: Revolution Install on Google Play
  • App version: 1.00.06
  • App size: 216 MB
  • App compatibility: Android 4.4  and up
  • Economic model: In-app purchases

What were your favorite games from the last month(ish)? Let us know in the comments below and we'll try and check them out!

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