July is here, and that means it’s time to complain that even though you wanted the weather to be hot, it’s now a little too hot, and you wouldn’t mind it cooling down just a little bit to make everything perfect. Are we doomed to be discontent forever, or do we just thrive on complaining?
It’s also time for a bunch of new games, including a Pokemon title that, unlike the last one, doesn’t encourage you to head out into the world and face the weather. Which is just as well, because it’s too damn hot.
Here are our mobile gaming picks for July.
Let’s talk frankly here, you and I. Any game with the word “Pokemon” in it is going to hit a million downloads faster than you can say “PIKAAAAA!” Whether it’s actually any good is beside the point – the phenomenon transcends what any critic has to say about it.
Here’s the thing, though, Pokemon Quest is actually quite fun. It’s a Crossy-Roady-looking game where you traverse a colourful world in search of treasure, battling other Pokemon by frantically tapping the hell out of them and building up your base camp with various Pokemon-themed bits and pieces.
The combat is more immediate than the turn-based action of mainline Pokemon, and it works surprisingly well, with plenty of customization thrown into the mix, too.
For the first time in a while, a game has come along that makes you question how such a thing is possible on mobile platforms. Darkness Rises is a breathtakingly good-looking action RPG, where you charge through hordes of monsters and bosses with swipes and slashes.
It’s pretty linear stuff, but the high-octane combo-based gameplay is as close as you get to a Platinum Game on mobile, while the storyline is pretty much nonsense. But that won’t matter because it’s all about that immediate hit-hit-hit-dodge combat.
Great PvP multiplayer mode, too.
The Evoland series is so weird and eclectic, that it’s worth dipping into because of its sheer carnival curiosity.
It’s a mad, genre-jumping adventure that can switch from platformer, to green-and-black top-down Game Boy game, to 3D fighter just like that, always keeping you on your toes.
Despite the game’s genre hyperactivity, it all flows wonderfully, and there is a nice sense of narrative and progression even as you get thrown into a new perspective. It builds upon its predecessor very well, too, never feeling like more of the same, making it the perfect game for dewy-eyed nostalgics.
You may or may not have heard about the little legal snafu surrounding this people-management sim, as Fallout Shelter creators Bethesda accused it of using the “same copyrighted code” as their game.
So maybe it’s worth checking out Westworld and judging for yourself before it gets pulled from the Play Store in shame. It is, in fairness, quite Fallout-Sheltery, tasking you with managing a training simulation where you maintain a building, create AI hosts, hook them up with guests, and generally ensure everything goes smoothly.
Cheeky cash-in? Yes. Copycat? Somewhat. Fun? Absolutely.
ARK: Survival Evolved
When one of the biggest survival games on PC comes to mobile devices, it would be remiss to ignore it. With that said, ARK doesn’t quite headline our list this month as the mobile versions (Android in particular) do suffer from performance issues, particularly on weaker devices.
ARK chucks you into a prehistoric (yet futuristic) world with nothing but a rock and a loincloth around your bits. It’s an online survival game where you can play with or against other players as you gather resources, build weapons, and of course learn to weaponize and ride dinosaurs. To what end? It’s a survival game. There is no end!
It’s free, so definitely worth trying out, but to reach its potential, it still has some evolving to do.
Stickman Soccer 2018
Football on consoles may be dominated by the two-headed snake of FIFA and Pro Evo, but mobile gamers have been graced with a more light-hearted alternative for several years now.
Stickman Soccer 2018 is the latest version of the irreverent footy game. It’s a little more serious this time round with bookings, corners, penalties and other actual football rules, but it still has that over-the-top arcade gameplay that’s made previous outings a hit.
It has a World Cup 2018 Russia mode, too, just in time for the tournament’s kick-off.
There’s more to MOBAs than DOTA and League of Legends, and Paladins has been making quite a few waves on the scene with its more direct, action-based approach. The new mobile version keeps that spirit.
With no creeps and more direct control over your hero, this game is as much shooter as MOBA. The vivid art style and fast-paced gameplay port perfectly to the small screen, and a number of game modes ensure that there’s more to Paladins than just taking bases.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
It’s pretty clear that Harry Potter’s appeal is eternal, judging by how popular its latest mobile outing already is. The concept is neat, as you create your own Hogwarts student, join one of the four houses, and embark RPG-style on your wizard-student career.
You play Quidditch, take lessons, and work through a story that may not quite match up to JK Rowling’s originals but is engaging nonetheless. It all feels a bit like Rockstar’s Bully with a coat of magic and RPG character-building.
Be warned, however, that in-app purchases do rear their ugly heads some way into the game, offering to speed up your progress. A blight on an otherwise charming game.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
In keeping with its tradition of bringing its most loved JRPGs to smartphones, Square Enix has dug into the more obscure, cultish corners of its back catalogue to revive the pseudo-Norse adventure, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.
It’s an epic of biblical scale weirdness – all inter-deity wars and colliding planes of existence – but beneath that it’s classic Square stuff. The combat is tactical, the pixel-art rich and textured, and the soundtrack? Phwoar, don’t even get us started.
JRPG fans will rejoice. Curious outsiders may balk at the $16 asking price, though.
Bertram Fiddle: Episode 1
If you’re looking for something a little more quirky (and episodic), then you can now dip your toe into the weird Victorian world of Bertram Fiddle.
The first episode of this sharply-written point-and-click has just been released and sees the titular hero solving murder mysteries using his wit and a smattering of good humor. It’s an all-round sensory feast, with great animations, soundtrack and voice-acting. It’s just $1 for the first episode, too, making it a low-risk punt.
This selection should get you off to a perfect start to the summer. Any hidden gems that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!