The 20 Best Mobile and Social Games of 2014

Mobile and social games, those aren't real video games! Well, as someone who finds Diablo III and The Simpsons: Tapped Out to be equally addictive, I have to disagree. In fact, I think some of the best new games this year debuted on the small, small screen.

So here are 20 of the best mobile and social games of 2014.

1. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft - iPad

Free-to-play and microtransactions are generally not directions you want to see a respected developer head down. That being said, holy crap did Blizzard make it work. Their digital trading card game Hearthstone hit iPads earlier this year, and it succeeds in doing something that almost every other F2P title fails to. It makes you want to spend money, not because you're stuck or frustrated, but because you're having so much fun with the game that you want to see more of it.

Despite all of the F2P trappings working against it, it's a pretty strong contender for my most-played game of the year, and if nothing else, it's definitely my absolute favorite iPad experience of 2014.

2. Monument Valley - iOS, Android

Mobile games that aren't free-to-download are a tough sell. People have become so accustomed to the freemium model that the idea of spending a couple of bucks on a game seems ridiculous. That's why it was so refreshing to see an amazing game like Monument Valley get the recognition (and sales) that it deserves.

Inspired by the impossible architecture of M.C. Escher and Japanese wood block prints, the game is pretty damn gorgeous. But looks aren't the only thing it has going for it; it's arguably one of the most inventive puzzlers to come around in a long time (dare I say, since Portal?), and well worth the $3.99 price tag. It also happened to win Apple's iPad Game of the Year, so it's got that going for it to boot.

3. 80 Days - iOS

Thinks mobile games are cheap, dumbed-down versions of "real" games? Give 80 Days  a try and see what you think about the possibilities of mobile platforms. The game is loosely based on the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days, with players traveling the globe in a steampunk-inspired version of the 1800s. It's ostensibly an "interactive fiction," although that shouldn't downplay just how great of a gaming experience it is, or how incredibly well written the story is.

This is a title that was not only TIME Magazine's Game of the Year, it's also somehow one of The Telegraph's best novels of 2014. If that isn't high praise for this game's narrative, I don't know what is.

4. Threes! - iOS, Android

Threes! is so addictive it should be illegal. The game tasks you with sliding tiles across a grid in order to combine them into multiples of three... and that's it. Scoff all you want, but this simplistic design hides a mind-numbing amount of variation and gameplay, so word to the wise, don't install this one on a day you need to get things done.

Somewhere in between Sudoku and Tetris, Threes! has managed to distill down pretty much everything a mobile game needs into one neat, little package. Play at your own risk (to productivity and general sociability that is). 

5. Framed - iOS

This one is Hideo Kojima's personal Game of the Year, and I don't know about you, but that's pretty high praise. If that's not enough to sell you on it, its insanely original premise will.

The game plays out as an animated comic book, with players controlling the story by reordering individual panels, changing how and when events occur, and shifting the narrative in organic and surprising ways. It almost sounds too experimental to actually work, but in practice it's an amazing experience that will change the way you look at mobile games.

6. Vainglory - iOS

A MOBA... on iOS? That sounds like a recipe for a horribly frustrating time, yet somehow, Vainglory just works.

The game manages to capture everything great about the MOBA experience, and somehow reworks it down into a mobile framework and control scheme, without losing the competitiveness which make those games so addicting. It's ambitiously uncompromising, and well worth a try for any LoL or Dota 2 die-hards on the go.

7. FTL: Advanced Edition - iOS

FTL may have begun its life on the PC, but man was it meant to be a tablet game. The real-time strategy game tasks you with controlling the crew of a single spaceship, manning stations in combat situations, repairing damage, repelling boarders, and literally running around putting out fires.

Combining elements of RPGs, time-management games, and roguelikes, FTL was a ludicrously replayable (and addictive) experience on the PC, and in my opinion, only improves with the ability to take it on the go. I would go as far as to say that the iOS version of the game is the way to go if you're picking FTL up for the first time.




Ryan Matsunaga's picture
Ryan is the head blogger at 8CN. He really likes pancakes. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanMatsu
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