It’s the time of pumpkins and fireworks, then a long run-in to Christmas filled with ever-intensifying sales and excesses of pop music. We can only deduce that it’s also a time to plonk yourself down on the bed or sofa and play the latest wave of new iOS and Android games out this month. In store for November are Lovecraftian monsters, fortress fighting, and the arrival of one of the great old-school MMOs on mobile.
Here are our mobile gaming picks for November 2018.
Before there was Minecraft or World of Warcraft, back in ancient times before MMOs rose and fell, there was Runescape. The classic free-to-play MMO remains one of the most satisfying and grindtastic online worlds to explore, letting you create a hero from scratch and ply your trade in the world – whether it’s a roving warrior or a prestigious blacksmith.
Old School Runescape is the same game as its PC counterpart, preserving the game’s mechanics as they were before 2007 (not to be mistaken with Runescape, which is the modern version of the game that many veterans never quite took to). It’s cross-platform, so you can jump straight in and start adventuring with your friends, no matter what they’re playing on. Its instant popularity on mobile platforms attests to this game’s timeless qualities.
Tesla vs. Lovecraft
Making its way over from PC is a game that isn’t afraid of trivialising the cosmic horror of Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian monsters, by casting them as mindless zombie hordes up against the inventor of electricity. It’s a speedy top-down shooter that gives you an arsenal of absurd weapons and the ability to fire lightning bolts from your hands – as you’d of course have expected from Mr. Tesla himself.
As you smash through the neon netherrealms of the game, you level up and have some choice about which direction you develop your character, giving it just that little more depth than your average shooter. It’s classic stuff, bearing all the hallmarks of a 10Tons game.
The roguelike rage on consoles never quite made the jump to mobile like you’d have expected. Maybe that’s because the precise real-time controls required for it on PC just wouldn’t translate well to touchscreen. Whatever the case, Trigger Heroes sets a fine example of just how to make such a game work on mobile.
It’s filled with garish gunfire and frantic procedurally-generated arenas, its art style harking back to a 90s breakfast cartoon. The controls are precise, and even though it tempts you to run into the fray all guns-blazing, it also rewards more tentative, cautious play.
Remember Badland? That beautifully stylish runner where you build up a ball of black fuzzy creatures and guide them through a lovely sunset world? Badland Brawl is set in the same world but eschews the relaxing gameplay of its predecessor in favor of a massive online brawl. Two forts face off against each other, and you must use the dazzling array of abilities and strange creatures to pummel your opponent into submission.
It may look like chaos at first, but there are tons of tactical nuance to learn here, and already the online community is buzzing with tribes and tutorial videos. This one’s fast becoming one of the mobile gaming phenomenons of the year.
This one’s actually been around for a few months already, but having only recently gotten our sweaty fingertips on it, we now feel compelled to talk about it. Pocket City is fantastic – a throwback to the more innocent, isometric days of Sim City before EA turned into into a sneaky free-to-play sinkhole on mobile.
Pocket City is a surprisingly deep city-builder that finds the right balance between micro-management and satisfying city design. It’s vibrant and filled with character, ensuring that whether you’re dealing with traffic concerns, taxes or natural disasters, you’re always doing it with a smile. The free version is ad-supported, and for just £3.99 you get the ads removed.
Where Shadows Slumber
Isometric puzzle games have become a leading genre on mobile over the years – from Hitman GO to Monument Valley. Shadows Slumber feels like the natural next step and the strongest evolution of this genre we’ve seen for years.
You control an old man who journeys across a brooding world where any part that isn’t lit up or rests in shadows can completely change. It’s surreal, clever and challenging, backed up by pretty visuals and a poignant story about a person going on quite possibly their last ever adventure.
Monster Hunter Stories
The console hit Monster Hunter World has enamoured audiences in the west with the long-running and distinctly Japanese franchise about hunting strange creatures in a sort-of Jurassic world.
This mobile spin-off is very different from its big-budget counterpart, pitting you as a monster-riding adventurer who’s voyaging across a vivid world in search of creatures to hunt and tame. It’s more cutesy than the console version, with accessible turn-based combat that pays tribute to its JRPG lineage.
More puzzly goodness here (didn’t we just say mobile is a great platform for this stuff?), Donut County is a whimsical physics-based game where you’re an all-consuming hole trying to swallow up the buildings and people of Los Angeles (which is largely populated by anthropomorphic animals, it seems). Yes, it’s weird, but you’d expect no different from the inventive developers behind the brilliant Gorogoa.
It’s not just a case of hoovering the world up, as you’ll encounter puzzles along the way and also watch the story unfold of those people you so unceremoniously suck into the centre of the Earth.
Explaining its many layers of weirdness really doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll have to try it yourself.
It’s been around for several months on iOS, but the fact that it’s recently launched on Android makes Hungry Dragon worth bringing up again.
It’s simple stuff, as you control a ravenous dragon in search of food (like people, fish, then onto bigger and better things as you become more formidable). It’s more of a ‘destruction therapy’ experience than a challenging game, really, but if you want to chew stuff up and watch a bright and colourful world burn, then you’ll be well-served here.
This month’s obligatory meditative puzzle game with a beautiful fuscia-infused colour palette and a strong theme of nature is a hex-based, turn-based game where you interact with the land to prevent natural disasters from occurring and help nature flourish.
It’s relaxing but by no means easy, as the difficulty quickly ratchets up, and extra layers get added – such as the various animals that turn up to help you out with the tougher challenges down the line.
Fans of old-school god games like Populous may find a little bit of solace here, and an Android release is expected soon.
Any hidden gems that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!