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From assembling Avenger cards in Marvel Snap to discovering the joy of embroidery in Stitch, these five mobile games were some of the best entertainment you could access straight from your pocket.
If you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket or a tablet device on charge, then you’re more than ready to enter a world of mobile gaming that has grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. 2022 has been another big step forward for mobile games across iPhone and Android, as developers have used the medium to craft unique experiences, put fresh twists on familiar genres, and improve on established games with feature-packed upgrades.
One of the biggest shifts in this space was Netflix’s entry into the mobile gaming market, as the streaming giant is laying the foundation for its future by offering its subscribers access to some of the best games on the market. With 55 games in development, the construction of a brand-new studio in Finland, and development on a “AAA” game having kicked off, Netflix is betting big on interactive entertainment.
Elsewhere this year, Microsoft continued to improve on its cloud gaming initiative with more day-one releases through its Game Pass subscription service and improved touch controls, Apple Arcade continued to be good value for money, and Google announced that its Stadia platform will be shutting down in early 2023. We’ve seen plenty of great games released between the headlines this year, while revenue from the Google Play and Apple App Store has reached new record-breaking highs.
For the best mobile games of 2022, we’ve looked at those games which look, play, and feel best on this platform (excluding any cloud-based games). These are games that are designed to be accessible, provide quick bursts of fun, and deliver imaginative ideas that you may not see on PC or console.
The beauty of Marvel Snap is that it intelligently streamlines the appeal of assembling a deck of cards and seeing how it stacks up against an opponent. A free-to-play digital card game that draws inspiration from the mighty Marvel universe, Marvel Snap manages to simplify the deck-building genre without feeling like a dumbed-down approach. This makes for an incredibly easy-to-play game–one filled with countless ways to win and complex strategies, thanks to the use of unique zones that add a wide variety of modifiers in any given round.
Want to use a field advantage to summon multiple Thors, transform Bucky into the Winter Soldier instantly, or risk the wrath of the Time Variance Authority and force a match to end two turns early? All that and more can happen in Marvel Snap, a game that knows its audience and provides incredibly authentic entertainment one card at a time. With a flexible deck, some quick thinking, and a little forward planning, you’ll soon find yourself losing hours of your time to a game that draws you in with its fine-tuned mechanics and slick presentation.
The best part though? Each match is a digestible showdown between similarly matched players, seldom lasting more than a few minutes. In a fast-paced world where time is valuable, Marvel Snap is a delightful distraction that’s always pushing you to try out new cards and tactics while you’re on the go.
“The advent of digital collectible card games has led to an explosion of different approaches to the genre. Mostly, though, new games have adapted the fundamentals of physical CCGs. With Marvel Snap, Hearthstone veteran studio Second Dinner has reduced the collectible card game to its most essential pieces and reimagined them, creating a combination of systems that are elegantly simple without ever feeling simplistic.” — Steve Watts
Some of the best mobile gaming experiences come from the unlikeliest of places, and it’s a good bet that few people were expecting digital embroidery to be as captivating as it is in Stitch. Stitch takes the art of embroidery and uses it as a foundation to create a delightful game that plays like Picross fused together with intricate stitchwork. It is delightfully easy to find your footing in, and with Lumen developer Lykke Studios at the helm, the controls are easy-to-grasp and intuitive.
The real joy in Stitch comes from the breathtaking attention to detail on display. Every thread, button, and stitch is on full display here, and weaving them together into a unique creation feels blissfully relaxing as you combine your resources to slowly transform your canvas into a work of art. While there are tricky moments that will make you think twice before you make your next move, Stitch feels consistently relaxing and makes clever use of its touchscreen controls to deliver needlework catharsis.
With games like Wordle reigniting a hunger for pure logical fun, we’ve seen a rebirth in games that test your mental might. Knotwords is a great example here, as while it may look like your standard crossword puzzle given a new coat of paint, it manages to put a fresh spin on one of the longest-running brain-teaser activities still in print circulation today. A mix of word and logic puzzles, Knotwords kicks the traditional crossword clues to the curb and arranges the available letters into a “knot” that can then form valid words.
It’s a deceptively simple formula during the first few games that grows devilishly more challenging the more you play and are forced to shake your brain for the right answers. It’s essentially a more complex game for anyone that finds Wordle too simple for their tastes, and with an eye-catching design, a generous number of puzzles to work through, and an extra-challenging mode for anyone looking to spend all day staring at their screen while every cog in their head turns, Knotwords is a terrific whetstone to sharpen your mind with.
Into The Breach: Advanced Edition
Imagine if Pacific Rim met chess and you’d have a good idea of what to expect from Into The Breach. One of the best games on PC since its release back in 2018, Into The Breach finally made its long-awaited debut on mobile this year with an Advanced Edition that throws an entire timeline’s worth of extra content into the original’s mechanized frame. It’s still an elegant game of tactical positioning, situational awareness, and making some very hard decisions in the heat of battle, but enhanced with thoughtful tweaks and additional content that deepens an already thrilling experience.
The sheer joy of canceling the apocalypse with a rocket-propelled fist or lining up kaiju in a row before you atomize them with a laser is still there, but the options for a deeper strategic experience–one with new squads, pilots, abilities, and modes–is on full display with this well-optimized mobile version. Whether you’re using a tablet or a phone, Into The Breach shines on these smaller screens with its quirky pixel art and freedom to plan every single step you’ll take in your turn. If you have a Netflix subscription, it’s an essential download that’ll keep you entertained for weeks and months to come.
“Into the Breach is a game of epiphanies and triumphs just like that one. By limiting the size of maps and the number of units and actions you have, it avoids ever becoming overwhelming, while still giving you a wide-enough possibility space that your path forward is full of potential, rather than feeling preordained. All of this holds true in the new, Netflix-exclusive mobile version, which controls well and never feels cramped, even when played on a much smaller screen than ever before.” — Chris Pereira
A prime example of Netflix making all the right moves as it establishes a library of original games, Poinpy offers maximum entertainment and requires just a single digit of interaction from you. Onwards and upwards is the theme of this game, as you propel your bounce-happy protagonist through cleverly-designed levels in an attempt to escape the gigantic maw below you that hungrily gobbles up anything of nutritional value that falls into its digestive abyss.
To escape the Blue Beast, all you need is a downward swipe that propels your blob away from danger and into some nearby fruit that will calm the monster below you. It’s an easy-to-learn mechanic that’s also challenging to master, and with each level regularly throwing new obstacles at you, Poinpy remains a tense race against time as you climb toward the finish line. It’s effortlessly charming and not too demanding with its simple one-handed gameplay, making this fun and vibrant puzzle-platformer perfect for some cozy gaming on a cold night.
“Poinpy represents my favorite kind of mobile game. Bouncing Poinpy around is a simple, repeatable, and fun mechanic, and I never once had to think about currency of any kind. It can be played with one hand and is both rewarding and challenging without demanding too much input from the player. With its soft ending, it is clear this is not a game you are expected to play forever.” — Kyle Hilliard