We’ve all played free mobile games. I mean heck, they’re free, right? What’s not to love?
Well, a lot of things actually. Ads every sixty seconds, interrupting gameplay. Glitches and malfunctions. Bad graphics. And pay-for-play structures that make the whole experience seem cheap and unfair. Sound familiar?
Coughing up a few bucks is worth it if it makes your gaming experience better, and ultimately makes you happy. But the risk of spending your hard-earned cash on a dud is real. So to help you avoid that, here are five of the best games that cost money that are 100% worth the dough!
The Worms franchise is a turn-based artillery tactic series starring cute worms with funny accents and odd weapons. It’s been around since the 90’s. I fondly remember playing my neighbors on their LAN when I was in middle school. So imagine how thrilled I was when I stumbled upon it in mobile form one day!
How could a PC game with keystroke controls and dozens of weapons translate to an app that you only need two fingers for? Quite well actually! Keyboard commands have shifted to in-game buttons, and all your favorite weapons like grumbling exploding grandmas and psychotic homing pigeons are here. And while there is an option to make in-game purchases for weapons and special powers, someone with actual skill at the game would still win against a newbie big spender.
Perhaps the best part of the game is the multiplayer aspect overall. While there is plenty to do for one player, you can engage with people from around the planet in online tournaments, or simply turn to your roommate for a pass-the-phone deathmatch. Before you know it you’ll be hollering with glee at the wacky cartoon antics Worms 3 has to offer.
This sandboarding sequel to the snowboarding original is simple at first glance. It’s an endless runner type game, and you do tricks and survive the various desert environments, unlocking achievements along the way. So what sets it apart?
To start, the audio in this game is mesmerizing. The sandboard sounds rough against the sand, and the whooshes of wind and birds and jumps are perfect. The music compliments the action all throughout. And then the graphics, while minimal in some ways, are very pleasing to the eye. The gameplay promotes a hypnotic effect that pulls you completely into this universe, and the scenery you see in the background as you complete tricks looks both otherworldly and familiar at the same time.
But the best part of this game is the sheer playability of it. You paid for it, and there are no ads, no interruptions, no major updates that keep making the game shut down if you haven’t updated your phone in a while. It’s a fully immersive experience, and an easy escape for either a quick trip to unlock a new character or a marathon run to see how long you can survive.
The most expensive game on this list is also the most simple. You have a grid of cards, and you shuffle them into each other to combine them and make bigger and bigger number combinations, a bit like solitaire perhaps. So what makes this worth the whopping SIX DOLLARS they charge for it?
For one, it’s timeless. The second you open it, the design is so stripped-down and clean that it looks instantly familiar. For another, it’s utterly addicting. Once you have a good strategy in place, you’ll want to keep grinding down those cards until your board is full. But perhaps the best reason is the synergy of smartphone-style swiping. The only control in the whole game is the swipe. And while the game looks so good that you could imagine that it came out in a physical form in the 90s, or was a default Windows game in the 2000s, it’s clear smartphones and tablets are the ultimate devices for this cute little never-ending deck of cards.
There’s no timer, no multiplayer, no ads, no need for internet connection, no in-app purchases, no upgrades, no levels, no bosses, no sequels. Just the game and you. And while there are a lot of rip-offs and imitators, nothing beats the original version. Perfect for a one minute distraction or one hour binge, and a great non-gamer game as well. You could hand this to grandma and she’d probably be into it within a matter of minutes.
Oh Klocki. How many mornings have I cursed myself for finishing one of these puzzles instead of sleeping? The gear-like layout and the circuitry feel make this 3D puzzle game feel super sleek and contemporary. You can spin the boards, and a bit like Monument Valley, manipulate the features to trigger switches and mechanisms that solve the problems.
Everything about this game is perfect if you’re looking for a puzzler. It’s design is like something from an MC Escher painting. The controls are just swiping. It builds in difficulty as it runs along, and you’ll reach points where you think the jig is up, just to finally crack the code and move to the next level.
I want to say this game strengthens brain synapses, improves cognition and memory, and soothes anxiety. But I can’t back any of those claims up! Guess you’ll just have to try for yourself. And at 99 cents it’s honestly a steal.
Kingdom Rush: Origins
Last but not least, good old Kingdom Rush. Magicians, elves, goblins, demons, dragons. If this sounds too nerdy for you, A, you’re wrong, cuz all those things are super cool. And B, you’re wrong again, because this game is not about the setting, it’s all about the strategy!
In a tower defense game, the basic idea is you build structures that defend against attacking hoards. The strategy lies in what types of towers you use, how you spend your in-game currency on leveling up your structures and special powers, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Kingdom Rush Origins offers all of this in a mobile game format.
While you can make in-app purchases of game currency, you can also, you know, just play the actual game to earn that currency as well. Remember those days, back when games like this were built on skill and experience and not who has more money? This game can be played like that, the old-fashioned honest way, and it is still beatable.
There are other games in this series, but in my opinion, Origins one is the best to get started with because of how balanced all the towers are and how well the difficulty flows as you progress. It’s a total time-suck in the best way possible. So kick back and enjoy!