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18 min read 69 comments

Feast your eyes on the Android games with the best graphics

Gone are the days when mobile gaming meant only 2D puzzles and primitive pixels. Modern smartphones often boast impressive specs and advanced displays that go to waste on the average user. Yet, they really come into their own when it comes to running games. This is why we've rounded up the most graphically gorgeous Android games for your visual pleasure.

Good graphics are great, but they're no replacement for well-designed gameplay. The good news is, you don't have to choose. While there are plenty of shiny HD games out on Android clamoring for your attention, I've sorted through the bunch to pick the ones that both look great and play well. Beauty is only skin-deep, after all. 

To get the most out of Android games with good graphics, you'll want a higher-end phone too. Flagship phones with big screens and good GPUs, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note9, Razer Phone 2 or the Asus ROG Phone, are the best fits for gaming devices, but you'd be surprised by what smaller or older phones can be capable of.

I've also curated the list with an eye to variety - genres like RPGs or adventure games lend themselves more to mobile, but they aren't the only ones available in the top graphical range. These are my pick of games that boast brains as well as beauty.

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Nimian Legends: BrightRidge

This single-dev project has been a long time in the making, but still offers one of the most graphically impressive titles on Android to date. This open-world adventure game offers an extensive settings menu to dial up graphical fidelity to suit your smartphones, and the maximum quality on high-end smartphones can be breathtaking.

Nimian Legends: Brightridge offers a couple of story modes to play through this lush fantasy world. There are quests to complete and enemies to overcome, and it's also possible to free-roam the game's environment, taking snapshots and shapeshifting your character from different types of humans to creatures like wolves, butterflies, birds or even mighty dragons and Lord of the Rings style tree-men. For 3 bucks with no in-app purchases, there's plenty of keep you entertained, whether you like a challenge or just want to casually explore and discover the beautiful game areas.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 8.0
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $2.99

Returner 77

Puzzle games aren't usually known for their fantastic visuals, but Returner 77 is a headscratcher that packages its conundrums in an absolutely beautiful sci-fi world set in a futuristic Earth after an alien invasion. You're tasked with exploring an alien spaceship - you have to figure out how to operate advanced technology with the potential to restore the human race.

While the story provides plenty of atmosphere, it's mainly an excuse to pose some puzzles for you to ponder (seriously, do the aliens really need such complicated doors?). The alien technology in question is built around crystals and light projections which are portrayed with plenty of graphical flourish. The game costs $4.99 , but if that sounds like a lot you can download a demo version and try the first two levels for free.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.0
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $4.99

Asphalt 9: Legends

Gameloft's Asphalt series has established the standard for realistic-looking racing games on Android. The latest iteration, Asphalt 9: Legends, certainly doesn't disappoint when it comes to visuals, featuring the prettiest vehicles for you to live out your automotive fantasies. 

The wide selection of famous cars (about 50) includes Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and more. Collect prized models such as the Aston Martin Vulcan, Ford GT, Nissan GT-R Nismo, Ferrari 488 GTB, LaFerrari and the McLaren P1, and then drive them around exotic locales. Don't worry about hurting your beautiful car though, Asphalt 9 Legends still encourages aggressive, hi-octane racing where you'll slam your rivals off-road, but always look good while doing it.

New circuits are present, as are new online features like the 7-player multiplayer mode. For the first time in the Asphalt series of games, you can also create your own online community of racers with the Club feature. 

Gameloft has perfected racing with touch controls, and the incredible graphics really give you an immersive feeling as you speed along the tracks and admire your car. As is tradition with this game series, you can download and play for free, but in-app purchases are there to tempt you if you want the coolest cars straight away.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.0.1a
  • Compatibility: Android 4.3 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases 

Darkness Rises

We all know the stereotype of the shallow person who you can't help but like because they are seriously really good-looking. Darkness Rises is a free-to-play action RPG that fits this to a T. It's far from the deepest RPG out there - the world is generic and story/levels are basically on-rails, but boy does it have eye-candy in spades.

The main selling point of Darkness Rises is the character customization 'beauty' settings, which give you fine-point control over your characters with sliders to control all the little details including brow height, cheekbones, weight and hips, limb length, and so on, to create your perfect avatar. Then, of course, endless variations of extravagant armor, weapons and accessories come into the mix. You'll always find new ways to make this beautiful game even prettier and tweak it to your liking.

There are four archetypal classes to choose from: warrior, sorceress, assassin and barbarian. The game encourages you to have all four on the go. Each class has a different feel and playstyle, as well as different looking weapons and armor. Be warned...only your first character can have their 'beauty' fine-tuned for free (and only once)...after the first time, it costs in-game resources.

So it looks good, but how does Darkness Rises actually play? Well, it's basically a linear hack-and-slash fest where you beat up wave after wave of baddies and bosses with axe, sword and spell. Plenty of special moves can be unlocked and deployed, including slo-mo finishing moves. Add to that the ability to control large creatures, such as fire-breathing wyverns and trolls and rampage through hordes of enemies with them, and you've got a ton of cool-looking ways to slay in style.

If you're looking to enjoy some nice-looking fantasy set-piece battles, it's hard to take your eyes off Darkness Rises. Just be warned, this free-to-play game is aggressive with advertising IAPs, although the single player content isn't too difficult to complete without spending money.

Get it on the Play Store

  • App version: 1.2.0
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases 

Shadowgun Legends

Shadowgun Legends is the latest offering from Madfinger Games, the team behind the graphically impressive zombie apocalypse shooter Dead Trigger 2. 

It's a first person shooter that boasts beautiful, colorful visuals. Shadowgun Legends is a real treat for the eyes, with lush graphics and a futuristic setting that will remind gamers of classic AAA PC/console titles such as Destiny and Halo.

You play a futuristic mercenary, or 'Shadowgun', that can be tricked out which an impressive variety of loot for an edge in battle, but also with an eye to cosmetics. Your tricked out hero will strut their stuff in front of other players, and skilled warriors will be honored with public statues of their avatar in the game world.

The emphasis given to visuals fits in with the game's economic model, which offers in-app purchases for cosmetic items. However the meat of the game: an extensive single player campaign, as well as multiplayer, versus and co-op team challenges, still looks gorgeous without coughing up dough for the pimp-out loot. 

  • App version: 0.4.3
  • Compatibility: Android 6.0 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases 

Tekken Mobile

Tekken Mobile brings the hugely popular fighting series to mobile, and looks real good doing it. While not the most technical fighting game out on Android, it's certainly the most graphically impressive.

Be warned, Bandai Namco's offering for mobile devices is a different beast from Tekken on other platforms. Nominally free, the game is full of micro-transactions and fiddly in-game currencies and stat-building. The sophisticated controls that characteristic the Tekken games have been scaled down to a limited repertoire of taps and swipes, with 2D movement only. 

Yet despite these limitations, there's no denying that Tekken Mobile is gorgeous to look at. A veritable bevy of beautifully rendered biceps. The characters are rendered in fine detail and movements are fluid. Tekken Mobile is built to take full advantage of what modern high-end phones have to offer. 

  • App version: 1.1.1
  • App compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases

Sdorica Sunset

Rayark is known for developing high quality premium paid mobile games, but Sdorica Sunset is the studio's take on that ubiquitous but much-maligned concept, the free-to-play mobile RPG. It's a genre oversaturated with poor-quality offerings, but fortunately, Sdorica Sunset manages to make the free-to-play model shine with a combination of charming design and well-crafted mechanics.

Sdorica's main appeal is in its distinctive colorful drawn visual style, which is cartoony without seeming childish. Lavish animated cutscenes serve to flesh out the story and bring the world to life. Even though I usually prefer a more gritty style in my games, I can't help but admit that Sdorica sucked me into its cute fantasy. This is helped by evocative character design and voice acting, which tease more character out of the paperdoll protagonists. 

The storyline is essentially told through episodes of conversation between battles, which is where the meat of the gameplay is. The combat has elements of a puzzle game. The two sides line up and face each other, and the player matches colored orbs with their finger to trigger different attacks, spells and abilities. 

Battles involve a surprising amount of strategy - discovering what moves different matches perform for which character, and then deploying them at the right time, countering the enemy attack patterns or deploying a character's specific action when it has the most impact. 

What about the monetization? Well, although it's possible to play through the game's story missions with the characters you get for free, unlocking extra ones (and costumes) is done through a 'gacha' or random reward system. So you spend your in-game earnings and get a randomly selected character.

If you have your heart set on a particular one, or the urge to collect them all, that's where the temptation to spend comes in. All-in-all though, the IAP scheme is relatively restrained, and after a few days of playing, I haven't felt like the game was really turning the screws on me to spend money.

  • App version: 1.1.2
  • Compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

PUBG Mobile

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, popularly referred to as PUBG, is one of the most played video games on PC and Xbox. Now it has finally arrived on mobile devices. One of the most impressive things about it is that it looks just as good on the small screen as on desktop, without many graphical sacrifices in its journey to mobile.

The gameplay is the same addictive battle royale scenario that made the original such a hit on PC. 100 players parachute onto an island, scavenge weapons and equipment and engage in a winner-takes-all fight for survival, as encroaching death zones push them ever closer to the enemy.

While controls are not as precise as on PC or Xbox, you're only pitted against other players on mobile devices, which keeps things fair. The graphics are fantastic and so far PUBG is free-to-play with an in-game currency, which mainly allows you to purchase cosmetic items.

  • App version: 0.3.3
  • Compatibility: Android 4.3 and up
  • Price: Free 

Lineage II: Revolution

Lineage II: Revolution is a mobile version of a hugely popular Korean MMORPG. One of its main selling points are the lush visuals: it's a sumptuous feast for the eyes and boasts of epic battles with over 100 fighters on the field (hopefully your phone can handle it).

The RPG character options are pretty traditional - be a human warrior, elven wizard, etc, but additional professions can be unlocked at higher levels. Annoyingly, races are currently gender-locked. No female humans, or a male elves, for example. Nonetheless, all the character models are rendered beautifully in the Unreal engine.

Lineage 2: Revolution is free to play, but offers in-app purchases to advance faster. If you're going to fight to the top without shelling out real money, be prepared to grind - a lot. Thankfully the game is aware of this, and has an auto-quest mode for repetitive tasks.

  • App version: 1.00.06
  • App compatibility: Android 4.4  and up
  • Price: In-app purchases

Warhammer 40, 000: Freeblade

If you'd like to see Games Workshop's popular Warhammer, 40, 000 gothic military sci-fi universe brought to live in all its grimdark detail on your phone, then this is the game for you.

In Freeblade you take on the role of an Imperial Knight - a walking humanoid mecha, packing a variety of devastating weapons including guns, missiles, and whirring blades. Your mission? Blast your way through hordes of savage aliens and demonic forces of chaos in a fun and viscerally violent on-rails campaign.

Aside from great graphics, the Freeblade's tap and swipe controls make controlling the clunking colossus feel easy and intuitive. You can upgrade your Knight with in-app purchases for advantages in the PvP multiplayer, but the single player campaign is long enough to provide hours of free ultra violent entertainment.

  • Version: 5.2.3
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Ads, in-app purchases

Dead Trigger 2

Fragging zombies might be a gaming cliche, but done right, it remains incredibly satisfying to shred the shuffling, moaning meatbags with heavy firepower. Dead Trigger 2 does it right, and looks real nice doing it too. One of the most graphically impressive games available on Android, this FPS from Madfinger Games boasts hundreds of missions with a wide variety of weapons. 

Dead Trigger 2 may be an action shooter but it's not all about guns. There's a visceral satisfaction (or maybe it's my own vicious streak) in delivering a beatdown on the undead with a hammer, or slicing them up with a machete. Then there are more unconventional ways to bring the pain, such as with a boat motor or with...exploding chickens. Yes. 

Of course, there's a variety of enemies with different types of attacks and weaknesses to keep the player challenged, too. I was afraid that Dead Trigger 2, for all its good graphics, would be relatively mindless repetitive blasting, but fights are well-designed - enough to keep me on my toes, unsure of whether the next zombies would try and bite, grab, or puke on me.

While I'm more of a lone wolf type, there's a well-supported multiplayer for those who want to frag a friend. Rather considerately, there also are various control set ups, including an intuitive touch target system and a virtual joystick, which might suit veteran console gamers better. It supports gamepads too.

  • Version: 1.3.3
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Galaxy Reavers

There isn't a huge amount of strategy games on offer for Android besides cartoony tower defense titles. Yet, Galaxy Reavers managed to scratch my armchair commander itch by offering decent strategic and tactical gameplay, wrapped in a shiny package of cool ships battling against an attractive space backdrop.

The battles themselves are between relatively small teams of ships, with an aesthetic that (no doubt intentionally) resembles the massively popular Eve Online. However, Galaxy Reavers offers an engaging single player experience, as you upgrade your ships, capture enemy ones, or plan what kind of fleet to take into battle.

The battles are somewhat slow-paced (think deliberate capital ship combat, not starfighter dogfighting). Which is just as well - part of the fun is zooming in and out of the battlefield to enjoy the view. But there's still scope for advanced tactics. For example, you can issue commands before the battle starts to gain an advantageous position, or concentrate your fire on the rear end of enemy ships to destroy their engines, leaving them stranded and vulnerable.

In the late game, deployment of shields, superweapons and huge powerful units called Titans expand tactical possibilities and keep the game fresh beyond the basic "line 'em up and shoot 'em up" setup.

  • Version: 1.2.19
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Hack and slash fans will love going against fantasy gaming's favorite fanged foes - the orcs, in the mobile version of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Released ahead of Monolith's AAA version, the free mobile game is a meaty offering all on its own. Essentially a strategy game with action RPG elements, you control heroes drawn from Shadow of War, its predecessor Shadow of Mordor, and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy in a series of small scale battles. Similarly to the PC/console version, the game uses the Nemesis system to improve enemy tactics. Talion can also enslave orcs and use them for the cause of good.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's battles aren't terribly hands-on to begin with, which is just as well, as it gives the player more time to enjoy the spectacle. The heroes and villains of Middle Earth are rendered in the distinctive cinematic style. The tactical challenge comes in choosing your team for battle, and deploying crucial abilities and summons when the time is right.

At higher levels, the player's timing and skillful deployment of these abilities becomes more critical, and further heroes and orcs are made available to keep things interesting. Heroes are also upgraded with various loot items and rewards, which can get overly finicky and immersion-breaking, but worth it you're a Middle Earth fan wanting to see your favorite characters kick orc butt.

  • Version: 1.3.3.40900
  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)

Samorost 3

If you're not familiar with the Samorost series of games, the latest installment is a really good place to start. It has utterly stunning visuals. Samorost charges you with completing puzzles and tasks in an immersive, ethereal-feeling world. This isn't your typical point-and-click adventure game, though.

Completing tasks in Samorost is almost secondary to exploring every inch of the gorgeous virtual world and drinking in the scenery. It's a pay-to-download single player game, so you'll have plenty of time to amble along at your own pace.

Part of the game's charm is that often you won't really know what you're doing, what you're supposed to be doing, or what actually just happened. It might sound annoying, but trust me, it's more of a feeling of mystery than frustration.

The actual controls are simple, you just tap the screen where you want to go and investigate - your character will waddle his way over. You also have a magic trumpet thing that can be dragged onto the screen to interact with certain objects. It's not always entirely clear what has happened in these events though. 

If you want to wander around a gorgeous point-and-click puzzle game, then you could do a lot worse than Samorost 3. It's nice not to be bugged about in-game purchases or bombarded with ads, though it does mean you'll need to cough up $4.99 up front. 

  • Version: 1.4.463
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $4.99

Broken Age

Broken Age is one of the most laid back but still fun adventure games available on Android. It's one that's made all the more fun by the presence of voice acting from Elijah Wood, Jack Black and Masasa Moyo. It is by no means new, but that doesn't make it any less fun. 

The game's split into two acts - you jump between characters as the game progresses to fill out the storyline, and that's really what the game is all about. Where others might stumble, Broken Age succeeds by delivering the traditional point-and-click adventure game with a witty script, excellent voice acting and stunning artwork.

Some people won't like the repetitive nature of some of the Broken Age's puzzles, particularly the more difficult ones, but there aren't too many adventure games that manage to engage and entertain in the same way, even Broken Age doesn't try to break the mold in terms of game format. 

All the adorable artwork and Hollywood voice actors come at a cost though - in this case it's $4.99. However, if you're willing to put in the time, it'll be money well spent.

  • Version: 2.2.2
  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $4.99

These are our current favorites of the games we've tried, in terms of graphics, at least. But I'd love to hear your recommendations on some great-looking games to review in the future.

What do you think are the best-looking games on Android? Let us know in the comments below! 

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