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Best new Android games to download in August

Update: Life is Strange, Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 , and Alto's Odyssey!

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 Life is Strange, Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2, and Alto's Odyssey!

August

It's been a fantastic few weeks for Android game releases, and we've selected the cream of the crop to bring you the best Play Store releases for August, including Life is Strange, the first Shin Megami Tensei mobile game, and a zen-inducing endless surfer.

Life is Strange Mobile

Life is Strange broke a lot of hearts back when it released for PC and consoles in 2015, but in a good way. The emotional story game was ported over to iOS at the beginning of this year and now, finally, it's ready to reach a new audience with its release on the Play Store.

I’m coming to this review after having previously played Life is Strange on PC, and it’s good to see that the port doesn’t cut too many corners. Graphically, Life is Strange looks good on mobile, even if keen eyed PC gamers will notice a few lower-res assets textures here and there. But all the important story content is there, and the overall game experience hasn’t been pared down for phones.

Life is Strange puts you in the shoes of Max Caulfield, a high-school girl with a passion for photography who just recently moved back to her hometown of Arcadia Bay.  After she witnesses a girl get shot in her school, Max discovers that she can rewind time, allowing her to change what happens in the past, hopefully for the better.

The girl you save turns out to be Max’s former best friend Chloe, a charismatic but troubled teenage rebel who’s gotten in way over her head. As Max, you team up with Chloe to solve a mysterious disappearance, all the while our heroine is haunted by visions of a terrifying storm sweeping in to destroy Arcadia Bay.

Life is Strange is a story game where your choices matter. You guide Max around the scenes, interact with objects and characters and make decisions that advance the story. The ‘rewind’ ability lets you play around with these decisions, and reverse your choices and check the consequences of different actions (at least in the short term...the far-reaching consequences will still come back surprise you).

While the supernatural weirdness adds some big-picture tension and interesting gameplay mechanics to Life is Strange, it’s the game’s more down to earth depictions of human relationships and interpersonal drama that make it so compelling. As you play through the story, you’ll interact with fellow students, parents, teachers, and various other residents of Arcadia Bay, many of which have their own agenda and secrets that you have to negotiate to pursue your goals. Most affecting is the relationship between Max and Chloe, two estranged friends who still care deeply for each other

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Life is Strange shines with cinematic storytelling. / © AndroidPIT (screenshot)

Life is Strange isn’t an accurate portrayal of the life of a teenage girl by any means, and the dialogue can sometimes come across as unrealistic or corny. But by and large, there are more hits than misses over course of the story, and when the emotional beats hit hard, they really work. Dontnod’s cinematic scene-setting and touching indie score carries the storytelling over the rough parts.

Life is Strange is definitely worth playing, but what sacrifices to we trade for the convenience of playing it on mobile? Well, the controls for one thing. Point-and-click gives way to drag-and-tap, and this can get frustratingly clunky and slow on the small screen, especially when the story demands urgency.

Another source of annoyance is that there’s no manual save in Life is Strange, instead, the story simply autosaves at predetermined checkpoints. Fine when you’re spending an evening gaming at home, but not ideal for playing in short bursts when you have to stop playing to step off the subway or take an important call. Playing on the go, I had to repeat myself a few times because I’d been interrupted before the checkpoint. For the mobile version, I’ve have appreciated more frequent autosaves.

Overall, Life is Strange remains a worthwhile game and essential for fans of a well-developed story. Your mobile device still isn’t the best way to experience it compared to PC or console, but if you lack a home console/PC or just prefer handheld gaming, then this stands up as one of the best titles available on Android.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.00.258
  • App size: 1.25 GB 
  • Compatibility: Android 6.0 and up
  • Price: First episode free, $8.99 for the complete game

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 sees the cult Japanese RPG franchise come to mobile devices, but rather than a port, this title is developed natively for smartphones, and rather self-aware about it. You take on the role of an Devil Downloader, or Dx2, who has the ability to use their smartphone to see and control demons and spirits, and must use these demons, Pokemon-style, to battle rivals Dx2s in a shadow war between the Liberators (good guys) and the Acolytes (bad guys).

From the music to the character outfits to fourth-wall-breaking, Shin Megami Tensei Dx2 Liberation is self-consciously stylish to the point of parody sometimes, but often pulls it off with flair. The story is a simple good-vs-evil affair where you complete regular missions for rewards, but the goofy-yet-endearing cast of characters that make up the motley crew of Liberators kept things entertaining in between battles, even if NPC interaction is pretty shallow compared to the other Shin Megami Tensei titles on PC.

It's not just your teammates you get to chat to either. The 'demons' (actually almost any kind of being from world mythology, including deities, fairies, and monsters) can be spoken to at random points during battle, and you can negotiate with them, charming them with words and offering gifts to win them over to your side. The demons showed a decent amount of personality in these interactions, and punctuate the battles with interesting and often humorous dialogue choices. Despite the jokes in dialogue, this game with demons in it has some dark themes...corruption, drug use, etc, will come up. It's all part and parcel of the series.

Through negotiations and summoning, you'll amass quite a collection of demons, which you can then fuse together to create even more powerful ones. This gotta catch 'em all aspect is appealing to completionists, but of course, since this is a free to play game, you can make in-app purchases for instant access to the resources you need to summon more powerful demons more quickly without completing missions.

While the main story isn't too demanding in terms of difficulty, there's a PvP mode present where you can battle your friends and rivals around the world with your demon team. This is likely where the big spenders will be able to delight in the powerful rosters that their investment has provided. Another nice perk to collecting as many demons as possible: you can even show off your demon collection in the real world and pose with them in your surroundings using AR.

Liberation Dx2 is thankfully not just a trap for your money (though it will throw various offers in your face quite often), it's clear that real effort has gone into the story and mechanics, and it's nowhere near as frustrating with monetization as many of its rivals on the Play Store. As a good-looking free-to-play JRPG and as an easily accessible entry point into the world of Shin Megami Tensei, it's well worth a try.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.4.0
  • App size: 1.25 GB 
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

Alto's Odyssey

Finally, the long awaited sequel to Alto's Adventure has arrived on Android! Especially long awaited, since the game has already been out iOS for some time. A familiar sad story, but let's not dwell on that. We've got some sandboarding to do.

Sandboarding? Yes, it's a real thing, and soon to become one of your favorite things. Basically snowboarding for the desert, this is how your character will be speeding through the lush levels of Alto's Odyssey. Aside from the change of environment, Odyssey is very much like Adventure, but more. More variety in levels, more movement tricks, more worlds to discover and secrets to find.

Suffice to say, fans of the first game will find a lot to love in the sequel. It's main appeal over other endless runner type games is atmosphere. The levels are truly beautiful. Desert dunes, ancient temples and rock canyons are painted with rich, evocative colors that give an impression of vastness beyond the 2-dimensional plane that you're racing down. A day-night cycle and weather effects not only add variety to the palette, but add a sense of life to the fantastic world. Music also plays a key part, with the relaxing yet driving rhythms absorbing you into the game.

As you concentrate on the environment around you to time your jumps, flips and tricks, it's easy to zone out and forget the outside world. Alto's Odyssey isn't exactly a rhythm game, but it shares something in common with rhythem games in that, after some practice, the pleasure will come from your mastery of timing, and feeling the right moment to act without thinking.

You can be pulled back to harsh reality all to easily when you mess up a jump and crash, it's true, especially if you fail at scoring your goal for the level. But if you're just playing to relax, you can select "zen mode", which frees you from the pressure of completing challenges and just lets you dust off and pick up again whenever you wipe out. 

Alto's Odyssey is free to play, but you'll get ads in between levels that can be removed for a couple of bucks. If you're impatient, you can also outright purchase the coins that you normally collect in the different levels, which can then be used unlock special items and bonuses, like a wingsuit or compass that provide powerups.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.0.2
  • App size: 161 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: Free, ad-supported, in-app purchases

July

While we wait for the eagerly anticipated Fortnite: Battle Royale to arrive to our beloved Android, plenty of quality games have landed on the Play Store to occupy your time. For your gaming pleasure, we present a genre-hopping RPG, a literary puzzler and a cuboid Pokémon adventure.

Evoland 2

The world of gaming spans many genres. Fighting games, RPGs, strategy games, shooters etc. But what if one game could be all games? Well, this ultimate game may well resemble something like Evoland 2, an intriguing title that pays homage to a whole range of classic video games, not just with references, but in the game experience itself.

The original Evoland was an exploration of the evolution (geddit?) of video games through in-game references and a progression of graphical style from Gameboy-style pixels to full blown 3D rendering. The sequel, which has already been around for a couple of years on PC (and more recently, iOS) builds on this concept but in a much more satisfying way.

At first glance, Evoland 2 appears to be a typical top-down RPG in the style of Legend of Zelda, and it's true that you'll navigate a large share of the game this way. But in this story of a hero thrown back in time, the action will shift to Mario- or Sonic-style platforming, Street Fighter-style martial arts battles, card games, puzzles and so on. Evoland 2 once more pays tribute to video game history, but in a much more expressive way...by actually having you play through video game history.

To beat Evoland 2, you'll have to be prepared to switch up your gameplay style and control setup as the game throws you into different situations. By and large, the side games and genre styles are well done even if some of them are quite short, and keeps the game fresh and engaging.

Another strength of Evoland 2 is in the story. The 'journey through video game history' is a nice gimmick but it would fall flat if there wasn't a good context for it. But in this tale of a hero lost in space time, you'll find plenty of well written dialogue, interesting characters and a driving plot that makes Evoland 2 stand proud as a game on its own terms, not just a tribute.

Get it on the Play Store.

  • App version: 1.0.7
  • App size: 403 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $7.99

The Franz Kafka Videogame

Kafkaesque is an often undesirable adjective to see in front of something, but sometimes, it's exactly what you're going for. That's the case in this literary adventure/puzzle title published by Deadalic Entertainment, well-known for the Deponia adventure games. Are you ready to confront the absurd?

How well the game works as a real tribute to Kafka is debatable, a debate best had with your lit-grad friends in a cafe somewhere (but if you want to thrash that out in the AndroidPIT comment section, be my guest). The pointlessness and frustration of Kafka's writings might not sit too comfortably in video game format, if the creator had decided to go all-in on the concept.

What The Franz Kafka Videogame definitely is, however, is one of the more unique and interesting puzzle games out on the Play Store, artistically attractive and heavy on absurd and surreal elements. This doesn't mean, however, that there's no method to the madness, and you can definitely think your way through the challenges logically (and the game will drop useful hints if you can't). 

The story of the game follows our protagonist, only known as K., through an absurd adventure where he finds himself thrust into bizarre situations of which he has little understanding of and not much control over either. So far, so Kafka, and yes, there is a bug transformation at some point for Metamorphosis fans.

There is a problem with this game and that is, much like life, The Franz Kafka Videogame is both confusing and short. But, that might be just how Kafka aficionados like it. Just be warned that puzzle game veterans could easily finish it within a couple of hours. But, it is beautiful and quirky enough to play through multiple times, just to appreciate its style.

Get it on the Play Store.

  • App version: 1.0.1
  • App size: 199 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $3.99

Pokemon Quest

As smartphones continue to evolve, the line between phones and gaming consoles is starting to blur. This can be seen in the new trend of ultra-powerful gaming phones, but also in another ways, with many modern PC and console titles also manifesting on iOS and Android.

This is the case with Pokémon Quest, a game that originally launched on the Nintendo Switch, but is perfectly at home on your smartphone. A free to play adventure in the Pokémon universe, Pokémon Quest is Pokémon with a twist-or should that be with a corner? The main artistic gimmick of the new game is its Minecraft-esque blocky art style, which serves as a kind of cute factor, but also affects gameplay in the way you control space.

The blocky style isn't the only weird thing about Pokémon Quest. The game breaks with tradition by ditching the Pokéball method of catching the titular pocket monsters. Instead, you have to attract the beasties with the scent of food. There's no real story to speak of. Just, y'know, catch Pokémon. Catch 'em. Catch 'em...all.

Food makes the world go round in Pokémon Quest. You cook meals at your base camp to attract Pokémon until you have a team of three, which you can then lead on expeditions around the island and battle the wild cubic Pokémon that dwell there, collecting ingredients for new recipes along the way.

So cooking and expeditions provide the main gameplay, but hardcore fans may be annoyed at the game's monetization scheme, which basically works on 'energy', You see, the player character explores the island with the assistance of a drone, which can run out of battery, limiting your playtime. You can wait for this battery to recharge, or you can fast-track it by paying real money, which also upgrades your base with more cooking pots to attract more Pokémon.

If you really absolutely just gotta catch 'em all, be prepared to take it slow and steady, or shell out some cash to speed it up. If you don't have time or money, Pokémon Quest is still an attractive time killer. All the original 151 Kanto Pokemon including Mew and Mewtwo are findable in cubic form, so fans of the classics have their work cut out for them.

Get it on the Play Store.

  • App version: 1.0.0
  • App size: 219 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

June

Which games will shape up to be the feel good hit of the summer? Some strong contenders have already landed on the Play Store in June, from a casual endless runner to a full-fat premium RPG from Square Enix. Let's take a look.

Surfatron

Surfatron is an endless runner-style line surfer game that puts you in control of Dusty, a sentient video game console from the '90s that's trapped inside the Pixelverse - the space and time that exists between the hardware and his currently loaded game cartridge - and who must battle through the bugs and corrupts left by slacking game devs.

Sound familiar? Fans of PC and PlayStation 4 platformer 'Rad Rodgers: World One' might recognize Dusty as the epynonymous Rad's sidekick/weapon. These same fans might also like to know that powerups collected in the Pixelverse can also be passed between the two games.

Surfatron itself is a fun, stylish line racer where you have to surf long glowing lines collecting coins and power-ups, take risky jumps across space to discover different routes, and avoid both enemies patrolling the lines and a giant monster hot on your tail.

The gameplay is simple to learn but tricky to master. Levels contain lucrative hidden lines that require sticking your proverbial neck out to discover, but you can only spend a finite time in between the lines before you die, so knowing when and where to accelerate can get quite tense.

As an additional incentive, levels have objectives that you can complete for gear rewards: basically upgrades that can give Dusty additional shields, longer reach for powerups, etc. There's a social element too, as you can compete with your friends on Facebook to beat each other's high scores. 

Surfatron's mechanics are well-crafted and make for a great casual diversion, but what really gives the game its charm is the attractive design, engaging music and cheeky references to classic games in the powerups and also in the snarky quips (and curses) of Dusty, courtesy of Jon St. John, the voice of Duke Nukem.

  • App version: 1.0
  • App size: 76 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

Homo Machina

The new game from highbrow European media group ARTE has an intriguing concept. The name is composed of Homo (man) and Machina (machine), which clues you in to the premise. This game reimagines our squishy, leaky, throbbing flesh-vessels as mechanical contraptions. Basically, wheels, cogs, pipes conveyor belts and valves take the place of biological veins and organs.

The developers at Darjeeling cite as inspiration the work of Fritz Kahn, a doctor and scientist who described the workings of the human body using machines as metaphors. Playing through Homo Machina, it also reminded me of another famous figure: Rube Goldberg, the artist whose illustrations of complex mechanical contraptions are evoked in the game.

If the human body is a machine akin to a giant factory, the player is tasked with managing the staff: little people-within-a-person whose job it is to keep everything running smoothly. The game's story presents several situations to navigate as game puzzles, from as simple as eating a meal to more complex ones like a date. As with the real human body, everything is connected, so solving one problem requires you to make sure several puzzles in different parts ot the body have been completed.

The art style and old-timey newsreel sound effects in Homo Machina are a delight, and as is typical with ARTE, the game has an educational element. While not exactly a realistic depiction of the body, in the spirit of Fritz Kahn, it does manage to sneak a few teaching points through the metaphor, making it a nice gift for kids (so long as they don't take it literally).

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.0.2
  • App size: 487 MB
  • Compatibility: Android 5.1 and up
  • Price: $3

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

Square Enix has been playing with my feelings lately. I was initially disappointed in the company earlier this week following the news that there would be no more installments in the Go series of games (Hitman Go, Deus Ex Go, Lara Croft Go), my heart leaped up when Valkyrie Profile, a classic from the golden age of JRPGs, hit the Play Store this week.

The mobile port of Valkyrie Profile is based on the PSP version, with a few modernizations such as sharper graphics and the ability to save freely anywhere in the story. In-app purchases have been added, which seems cheeky, but don't worry: you buy the complete game, but the IAPs are basically just cheats such as double XP.

The game can be played with touch controls, virtual buttons or an external controller. Because the game has a fair amount of side-scrolling platformer-style movement (the origin of the name 'profile', as in facing sideways), precise jumps can be awkward but most of the time the controls have been very well-implemented.

Valkyrie Profile is a cult hit largely thanks to a combination of unconventional story and mechanics. The narrative is based on Norse mythology. You play as the titular valkyrie, Lenneth. Your mission? Help prepare for Ragnarok by gathering powerful souls to become Einherjar, the warriors of the afterlife. To do so, you need to find them on Midgard and train them before sending them up to Valhalla to join the final battle.

The game's story is genuinely great, with multiple endings depending on your choices, who you send to Valhalla and when. It's a tough balancing act to consider whether to keep a useful new warrior in your party to help you advance through the game, or send them to Valhalla as per your stated mission. Different choices lead to different narrative results, adding plenty of replayability to this RPG.

Combat is also interesting, relying on timing your party attacks to create powerful combos that can break through enemy defenses. Naturally, equipping the best items gained from exploring towns and dungeons is essential for this. A little tip from a veteran: be sure to select hard mode for your game, as it unlocks several extra areas and items that can actually make the last stages of the game more manageable than on easier difficulties.

For eighteen bucks, Valkyrie Profile is asking for a lot. But with a fantastic story, engaging characters, beautiful (if dated) spritework and a great soundtrack, RPG fans will get more than their money's worth.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.1
  • App size: 0.94 GB
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $17.99

Already played the best new Android games this month? Why not take a look at what's coming next, in our round-up of the most anticipated Android games coming this year!

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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