May 19, 2022

Best premium Android games 2022

By Jordan Palmer Marc Lagace Rachel Mogan published 20 days ago

Believe it or not, sometimes the best games cost a little bit of money.

Muse Dash Hero

Muse Dash Hero (Image credit: Rachel Mogan / Android Central)Jump to:

There’s something refreshing and low-stress about playing mobile games that aren’t designed solely to get you to spend a boatload of cash on in-app purchases. Honestly, I can say a lot for spending a couple of dollars upfront to get an entire game that you can enjoy from beginning to end without sitting through ads, being hounded to buy coins or gems, having to open crates, card packs, or whatever.

I’ll spare you the soapbox rant. Instead, we’ve gone through the Play Store and picked out a few games that cost a bit upfront but are worth every penny. So here are the best Android games without those pesky IAPs!

80 DAYS

The year is 1872 and adventurer Phileas Flogg has just made a bet with the world that he can circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days. As his loyal valet, Passepartout, your job is to keep your master healthy, keep the expedition financially on track, and choose which paths you’ll take as you hop-skip your way from place to place.

Coming from the makers of the famed and acclaimed Sorcery! series, you know that 80 Days is bound to have an A+ narrative. Every decision you make here counts, as each choice can either speed up or slow down your adventure. RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…Huawei P50 Pro mini-reviewHuawei’s new flagship has some of the best cameras we’ve seen, but there’s a catch…https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.516.0_en.html#goog_20354723930 seconds of 1 minute, 3 secondsVolume 0% PLAY SOUND

Can you make it around the world in eighty days? Or will you fail and fall into obscurity? For $5.99, you can answer that question yourself!

Buy from: Google Play Store

80 Days

Take on the world, literally, in 80 Days, a heart-pounding race to traverse the globe before time runs out. 

Buy from: Google Play Store

THE BANNER SAGA

The Banner Saga is a character-driven tactical RPG set in a Norse-like setting. Your choices truly matter in this game and its sequels. It feels a bit like a Norse version of Fire Emblem — at least, that’s the vibe I got when I was playing.

I adore the art style, from the character design to the breathtaking vistas. This isn’t “baby’s first tactical RPG,” either. It’s pretty intense and requires every ounce of strategy you have. It earns the “tactical” moniker. But, again, your choices matter, from how you approach battles to how you interact with the cast of characters.

I highly recommend both The Banner Saga and The Banner Saga 2. Yes, they’re $10 each, but if you’re a fan of tactical RPGs, then you should give them a try. However, even if you’ve never played a tactical RPG before, The Banner Saga is a great place to start. The story is moving, the characters are excellently written, and the game itself is gorgeous.

Buy from: Google Play Store

The Banner Saga

Embark on an epic journey in The Banner Saga, a Norse-inspired fantasy adventure. Save your people and engage in the tactical combat that will require your best strategies.

Buy from: Google Play Store

CASTLEVANIA: SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT

Castlevania Symphony Of The Night
Source: Google Play Store (Image credit: Source: Google Play Store)

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You could have knocked me over with a feather when this game dropped on the Play Store out of the blue and with no fanfare. However, Symphony of the Night is a classic game from the 90s and, along with Super Metroid, defined a whole genre dubbed “Metroidvanias,” which we still see today.

Besides just the charm and nostalgia, Symphony of the Night plays excellently on Android. The touchscreen controls are fine and certainly workable, but I found the game best played with a controller. The team behind the port did a great job translating a very old game to a new platform and, while I had some gripes with them, the touchscreen controls let anyone hop in.

This version of Symphony of the Night is excellent and well worth the few dollars it costs. I love seeing old classics ported to modern systems to let younger gamers (or those who never had the chance to experience them in the games’ heydays) try them out. If you want a good platformer, Symphony of the Night is a must for your Play library.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

There’s a lot of hubbub around the mobile release of Symphony of the Night for good reason. A lot more people can now experience this fantastic game in its revised glory.

Buy from: Google Play Store

DEAD CELLS

Dead Cells is one of the best indie games of the last decade. This rogue-like Metroidvania with Souls elements is truly a gaming masterpiece, and it finally came to Android with an excellent port. Everything about this game works so well together that it’s hard to find true fault with it. I guess some might dislike the intense challenge, but that’s subjective.Advertisement

There’s the choice between Bluetooth controllers (the best way to play) and excellent touchscreen controls. The port is excellently done. I haven’t encountered any issues, hiccups, or bugs in many hours of play. The art style, including player and enemy designs, is something you can write home about.

Being a rogue-like, death is permanent. If you fail, you’ll start over in your cell and be forced to begin anew. Things won’t be the same when you head back out, though, so you have to be prepared for each run. There’s a lot of different loot to make other builds, but if you die, you lose everything. Don’t let that deter you, though.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Dead Cells

The amazing Dead Cells has come to Android, and it’s fantastic. This is one of the best games available on the Play Store right now.

Buy from: Google Play Store

DOWNWELL

Grab your gun boots and jump down the well in Downwell. This retro-styled roguelike game is extremely challenging, featuring a pretty steep learning curve as you learn how to defeat the enemies and figure out which weapon upgrades work best for your playstyle (Hint: It’s the Noppy).

Since your character is falling, enemies and shops come from the bottom-up, so you need to be strategic in your freefall so you don’t accidentally land on an enemy and lose a heart. There are several different “styles” you unlock through repeated play, which give you certain numbers of hearts at the start, change the way end-of-level upgrades work, and slightly alter how your sprite falls down the well.Advertisement

The goal is to survive as you fall deeper and deeper down the well. Unfortunately, there are no in-app purchases, save points, or continues, so when you die, you must start at the entrance of the well again.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Downwell

This tough-as-nails retro rogue-like game has you strap on a pair of gun boots and blast away enemies as you fall further down the well. How far can you make it?

Buy from: Google Play Store

EVOLAND 1 & 2

Evoland is one of those premium games for Android that you just won’t be able to put down. The first Evoland was created as a game jam and was a nostalgic nod to the evolution of the RPG genre, with the sequel expanding both the depth of the story and the variety of video game and pop culture references.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Evoland game for Android and was only disappointed by how short it was. However, that’s not the case with Evoland 2, which features well over 20 hours of gameplay.

Both games are great, but if I had to recommend just one, it would have to be the first Evoland which you can get for just $3. However, let it be known that Play Pass subscribers can get both games for free!

Buy Evoland 1 from: Google Play Store

Evoland I & II

If you’re keen to learn what the Evoland franchise is all about, the best place to start is with the first game, a short but satisfying experience for any RPG fan.

Buy Evoland 1 from: Google Play Store

Buy Evoland 2 from: Google Play Store

FINAL FANTASY VIII

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Talk about a premium game. Final Fantasy VIII is pushing the upper edges of premium mobile gaming at a whopping $21. But in its defense, you get a whole lot of game for that kind of dough. A massive JRPG (the main story alone will take you close to 40+ hours to complete), Final Fantasy VIII is a divisive entry in the long line of Final Fantasy games. It breaks dramatically with the standard JRPG format in a couple of big ways, so keep an open mind when you’re approaching this unique title.

FFVIII follows protagonist Squall and his motley crew on an epic quest across time and space to save the world. So your typical Final Fantasy plot, more or less. What makes FFVIII special is that it takes some novel turns with its character development, and the story is ultimately truly bananas. For me, it’s not a true Final Fantasy game if the end game isn’t completely insane and VIII really delivers on that front.

This particular JRPG isn’t for everyone, but if you’re bored of the standard JRPG mechanics, give Final Fantasy VIII a try! It’s bound to surprise you.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII is wild in almost every way. The story is wild, the gameplay is wild, and the vibe is wild. If you’re bored of other JRPGs, give this unique JRPG a try.

Buy from: Google Play Store

GRIMVALOR

Grimvalor is a side-scrolling action RPG that features tight controls, excellent movement abilities, an interesting albeit familiar story, and pretty graphics. You need to be tactical about how you approach enemies and level up your character. There’s plenty to explore, too, with secrets hidden throughout the map. Think Castlevania meets Dark Souls, and you’ve got a pretty good picture of Grimvalor.Advertisement

It does have a soft paywall, meaning that you can try out the game for free and then pay to unlock the rest if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve played. You start with very simplistic controls — three buttons for jump, attack, and dash — and the game layers on new ways to attack as you progress and level up your character.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Grimvalor

Grimvalor fills that action RPG itch while being a fun platformer. Enjoy the excellent combat and exploration. You even get a trial demo before purchasing.

Buy from: Google Play Store

GRAND THEFT AUTO FRANCHISE

If you’re a console or PC fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, then why not extend your fandom to Android? Rockstar Games has quite a few great GTA titles for you to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. You’ve got Liberty City StoriesVice CityGTA III, and Chinatown Wars available for all your shoot-’em-up, blow-’em-up, car-stealing desires on mobile!

The price here isn’t so bad, considering you get the full game without any in-app purchase schemes in place. What with Rockstar milking GTA Online for all it’s worth with microtransactions on console and PC, it’s totally worth it to go back and revisit these classic games on your phone. There’s support for Bluetooth controls, and best of all, the games will load much faster than your PlayStation 2 ever could back in the day.

If you want full Grand Theft Auto games right on your phone, hit up the Google Play Store and enjoy.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

There are many GTA titles to choose from in the Play Store, but we’ll recommend Vice City here because let’s face it, the 80s are still totally back, baby. 

Buy from: Google Play Store

HOLEDOWN

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It’s hard to find a fun puzzle game that doesn’t try to sell you on power-ups or extra lives or something. But that’s just one of the reasons why Holedown is a standout game. It will have you strategically blasting through to the core of celestial bodies — starting with asteroids and working your way up to the Sun — using the classic gaming formula of bouncing balls off blocks. Each brick has a number that represents the number of hits needed to destroy it, or you can ruin a supporting block to clear out everything above it.

This pick-up-and-play game is an easy concept to grasp, but you quickly learn there’s an amount of strategy and skill involved. All the bricks are curved, allowing you to set up tricky bank shots to clear out massive sections of blocks in one go. This will become quite important as the screen move up one row after every attempt. If the blocks reach the top of the screen, it’s game over.

Along the way, you will collect crystals which you spend on upgrades that give you more balls per shot and more shots per round. These upgrades are crucial to completing the later planets and let the earlier levels become more of a mindless distraction for your subway commute. All told, it won’t take you too long to max out all your stats in Holedown, but that’s mostly because it’s so hard to stop playing this game once you start. If you’re a fan of physics-based puzzle games and are looking for a new obsession, Holedown is well worth your money!

Buy from: Google Play Store

Holedown

Holedown is a clever take on the ball and brick genre where you launch balls to excavate down to the core of asteroids, planets, and stars. It offers simple gameplay while delivering an endless challenge mode.

Buy from: Google Play Store

HUNTDOWN

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A riotous good time, Huntdown harkens back to the heyday of action-arcade platformers like Contra. With intuitive touchscreen controls, gorgeous 16-bit graphics, a pumping synth-wave soundtrack, and nonstop action, you’ll be hooked on this title instantly. Play as three optional characters, each a bounty hunter in their own right, to take down a city infested with hordes of no-good scum.

Traverse a neon-lit future falling to ruin, pick up all manner of guns and weapons along the way, and blaze a trail to each level’s big boss on the huntdown. This stellar platformer has a few levels free as a demo and costs $8.49 to unlock the full game. With a single-player story mode and endless arcade mode to rack up your high score, you’ll have no trouble spending hours in this challenging, addictively fun platformer.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Huntdown

The future isn’t looking so bright, but you’ve got a whole arsenal at your disposal to restore order. Now get out there and hunt down your targets!

Buy from: Google Play Store

JYDGE

Kudos to the game developers at 10tons Ltd out of Finland, for they have mastered the art of the twin-stick top-down shooter for Android with JYDGE. I prefer the predecessor to this, Neon Chrome, but I have to admit that the developers really hit their stride with JYDGE.

In a futuristic world where violent cyberpunk gangs are a real problem (and the letter “U” has inexplicably been replaced with “Y”), you play as the JYDGE, a cybernetic enforcement officer who uses his Gavel (see: big freaking gun) to dole out justice. Each level features different challenges you’ll need to complete to progress through the game. In that way, this game has a bit of a rogue-like element to it where you may keep replaying levels with different upgrade combinations until you complete all the medals.Advertisement

There’s a deep upgrading system here that thankfully wasn’t developed around in-app purchases. Instead, the game rewards you for completing goals, replaying levels, and ransacking enemy hideouts for loot that you can spend on cybernetic upgrades. Frankly, the only thing not to like about this game is the weird fixation on replacing “U” with “Y” in the title and throughout the game.

Buy from: Google Play Store

JYDGE

JYDGE is straight-up one of the most badass shooter games you’ll find in the Google Play Store. This is a twin-stick top-down shooter that features many ways to upgrade your weapons as you dole out justice with your Gavel.

Buy from: Google Play Store

MINI METRO

Mini Metro is a pure joy to play — a puzzle game based around building subway routes across an expanding city where the in-game music is set to the movement of the subway cars.

Just check out the trailer to get a sense of the flow of this game. It’s a perfect game to play on your commute, and the newly-added Challenge mode will give you a reason to check in and play a quick game every day.

There are no in-app purchases or ads to distract from the simple design and addictive gameplay. Check out our full review for a more in-depth look at how great this game is.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Mini Metro

Mini Metro is one of the most chill games you will ever play. Build the most efficient subway system that gets people where they need to go.

Buy from: Google Play Store

MONUMENT VALLEY 1 & 2

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Monument Valley 1 and 2 are practically ubiquitous in the mobile gaming scene by now. With over two hundred and thirty thousand reviews, with an average of a whopping 4.8 stars, Monument Valley is doing something very right, and it’s not hard to see the appeal of these gorgeous puzzlers.

Boasting a stunning geometric art style, lovely color palettes, and whimsical architectural designs, Monument Valley is as good for firing up your creativity as it is for challenging your critical thinking skills. Your goal in the first entry is to guide a silent princess, Ida, through maze-like, mysterious monuments while also staying one step ahead of the Crow People. The second game is similar but features a mother-daughter duo for you to assist as they continue to explore the mysteries of this seemingly impossible realm.

At $4 and $5, respectively, Monument Valley 1 and 2 are equally considered must-haves for every mobile gamer. These are the kinds of games that must be seen and experienced to be believed, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Buy Monument Valley 1 from: Google Play Store

Monument Valley 1 & 2

Considered to be one of the best puzzle games around, Monument Valley forces you to think outside of the box to reach your goal.

Buy Monument Valley 1 from: Google Play Store

Buy Monument Valley 2 from: Google Play Store

MUSE DASH

There are two rhythm games in this world that consistently keep me coming back for more: Cytus II and, more recently, Muse Dash. The short and sweet rundown is that Muse Dash absolutely rules. I love Muse Dash so much, I own it on both mobile and PC. A 2D side-scrolling rhythm game with simple two-tap controls (your left and right thumbs respectively), Muse Dash features gorgeous, bouncy graphics, cute characters to unlock, and loads of amazing songs.Advertisement

Progression is fast and you’re likely to level up every few songs, which in turn unlocks more songs. The various difficulty levels help ease you into things before you start trying to tackle the truly punishing difficulties. The learning curve can be STEEP at times, but with practice all things are possible. 

A couple of warnings, some of Muse Dash’s risque content may not suitable for young audiences and the mobile version’s audio may be a little off at times. Thankfully, the option to manually offset audio effects to match them up better is built right in, but it can still be a tad annoying at times.

Also, Muse Dash is a beast at 1.62 GB before you purchase any of the DLC tracks. The base game will cost you $2.99 (there’s a small discount for Play Pass subscribers), but the additional DLC purchases are what makes this game truly premium. You can wind up spending quite a chunk of change if you want to unlock every song pack, but diehard rhythm fans will probably happily fork over the cash for more of this excellent game.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Muse Dash

All the EDM rhythm gaming you could ever want with simple two-tap controls and adorable characters. What more could you want?

Buy from: Google Play Store

OXENFREE

A group of brave teens roll up on an island outside of town for typical teen weekend shenanigans. But what they’ll soon find out is that Edwards Island, a decommissioned military outpost, is hiding more secrets than they could have ever imagined. This text-based adventure game, Oxenfree, puts you in charge of Alex, and her decisions during the narrative affect her friends, the world around her, and the ending.Advertisement

A point-and-click adventure with some light exploration aspects, Oxenfree is the perfect game to play on a dark and scary night. It’s moody, atmospheric, and just the right amount of creepy. It even got me to jump a few times while playing and builds some excellent tension through its character interactions and backstory. 

It also has great replay value, as most players will tell you that you have to play through the game twice to truly uncover the real mystery hiding at the center of the game.

Oxenfree is premium priced for premium quality at just $4.99, which is a steal considering how memorable this one is. It’s getting a sequel for good reason, and now that I’ve played the first one, I cannot wait for the second one to come out.

Google Play Store

Oxenfree

A narrative-driven adventure game, Oxenfree follows a group of teens trapped on one seriously haunted island. Stick together and choose your path carefully to make it to dawn.

Buy from: Google Play Store

REIGNS: HER MAJESTY

If you’ve always dreamt of being king for a day, you’ll definitely want to check out Reigns or the regal sequel Reigns: Her Majesty. Both are stylish games with simple gameplay mechanics and razor-sharp wit. You try to keep your kingdom running smoothly by interacting with advisors, citizens, witches, and other characters in your kingdom. It’s best described as one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books, except instead of flipping to some page, you swipe left or right.

Each decision you make affects four resources you must manage: religion, citizens, the army, and your kingdom’s treasury. Balancing these resources is vital, as if any meter maxes out or reaches zero, your reign is over. But the game doesn’t end — instead, you become your successor and try to last longer in your reign than the king or queen before you.Advertisement

It’s the perfect pick-up-and-play game for killing some time, and you’ll enjoy the dark humor found throughout.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Reigns: Her Majesty

Step into the role of regal leader of your own nation, interact with your advisors, and send out royal decrees just by swiping left or right. Just be sure not to let things get out of hand, or it’s your head on the chopping block.

Buy from: Google Play Store

THE ROOM SERIES

The Room franchise represents some of the absolute best puzzle experiences you can play on Android. You have to solve a series of three-dimensional puzzles set up by the mysterious Craftsman in each game.

The latest game in the series is The Room: Old Sins ($5), but if you’re fresh to the series, you may want to start with the first games, which are reasonably priced:

The entire series is rightly celebrated as some of the best mobile games of all time, so you can be sure that you’re in for something special here. These games are engaging and require your full attention to complete complex puzzles.

Buy from: Google Play Store

The Room

The Room series offers some of the most beautiful gaming experiences on mobile. Solve intricate puzzles and unlock the secrets hidden within these mysterious contraptions.

Buy from: Google Play Store

STARDEW VALLEY

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Stardew Valley is one of the most celebrated indie gaming releases in recent years, and the entire game has been optimized to play on Android. If you’ve never heard of or played Stardew Valley before, it’s a farming simulator built atop a robust 16-bit open-ended RPG that lets you play and develop your character and farm as you choose.

The story begins with your character’s arrival in Pelican Town, where you have decided to take over your grandfather’s simple family farm. What makes Stardew Valley such a joy to play is the freedom granted to the player to make the game your own. If you focus on building up your farm, the game is mostly about crop and resource management, which will undoubtedly scratch a certain itch for mobile gamers given how popular that genre of RPG is on mobile — but with Stardew Valley, there’s so much more for the player to explore.

Between planting and harvesting your fields, you can level up your character’s skills with different tools by going fishing or foraging in the woods. You can also head to town to socialize and build relationships with the townsfolk (and even get married, if you choose) or go off on a more traditional combat-based RPG adventure complete with quests to accomplish and monster-infested mines to explore.

It lacks the multiplayer of the PC version, but it’s such a good port that I doubt most of you will notice. And, of course, there are no ads or in-app purchases to distract you from the game.

Buy from: Google Play Store

Stardew Valley

One of the most celebrated RPGs of the last decade has been optimized for mobile and is a must-play for gamers of all ages.

Buy from: Google Play Store

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