Gaming

5 new(ish) mobile games guaranteed to make any commute bearable

Posted by
Matt Tate
Published

Listen, right. Just listen here. 

Commuting, particularly if you’re lucky enough to work in the nation’s stinky-aired capital, is very often less appealing than a game of dodge the pitchfork with Hades. 

Strikes, delays, those ones where you have a seat reservation but to get to said seat you’d literally have to crowd surf your way through the carriage – we’ve all been there, and it’s not fun.

Bad news: we’re not here to tell you that we’ve resolved Britain’s public transport woes. Good news: we’ve recently been playing quite a few excellent mobile games that make getting around slightly less painful*.

Fire Emblem Heroes (Android and iOS)

Nintendo continue their assault on the mobile market with Fire Emblem Heroes, a free-to-play (at first) mobile spin-off of the long-running RPG series. It may lack the mainstream appeal of Super Mario Run or Pokemon Go, but Heroes is well worth a download if you like your games a bit more thinky. 

It’s not the most straight-forward concept, but the game does a noble job of streamlining the Fire Emblem experience for casual play, while still managing to retain the core of its addictive turn-based combat system. 

Battles play out on 2D maps, though a lot of your time will be spent preparing your units for the most effective method of attack. The standard Fire Emblem games are known for their “permadeath” feature, which basically means if one of your characters gets killed, they’re gone for good. This hasn’t been carried over to the mobile entry, so being terrible doesn’t carry such a heavy punishment. 

The story mode draws on the entire series’ history, but honestly, you can jump in without any prior knowledge and get on just fine. 

We’re a little bit obsessed with this one. Essentially Where’s Wally for the iPhone generation, Hidden Folks is just about the most relentlessly upbeat game on any app store right now.

Seriously, load up this game on the train and the person next to you could spend 15 minutes blowing pasty crumbs into your face without even getting close to gatecrashing your happy place. 

Players scour huge, amazingly-detailed, interactive ink drawings in search of a list of characters provided at the start of the level. You can jab your finger at pretty much anything on the screen and the game will respond with increasingly bizarre man-made sound effects that really should be annoying. Instead, you’ll want every one as your text alert. 

As the levels get larger, the riddles associated with each character get trickier, but this is not a game out to frustrate you. 

It’s weird, relaxing and charming in a way few mobile games are. Download it. 

The Escapists (Android and iOS)

A mobile port of excellent cult indie hit The Escapists is yet another treat for your thumbs, from Team 17 of Worms fame – and it’s arguably even better suited to on-the-go play. 

You play an inmate trying to bust out of prison, and doing so successfully requires meticulous planning. You’re going to need to learn exactly how the place operates, completing your daily routine so the guards don’t get suspicious. It may sound tedious, but like all life sims the day-to-day grind is strangely compelling. 

Every meal eaten, item crafted and study session attended is preparing you for that great escape, and when the time comes you’ll have plenty of options. 

Do you start a riot and slip out amid the chaos, or sneak through the vents? It’s up to you, but solitary confinement awaits anyone who cocks it up.

Oh, and you can also give your notorious con a really stupid name, which is always good. 

Oxenfree (Android and iOS)

Critically acclaimed, supernatural thriller Oxenfree has, as we write this, just landed on mobile, and if you missed the console/PC release you could do far worse than grabbing this one sharpish. 

So well-received was the side-scrolling, story-driven adventure, that it’s been nominated for two BAFTAs. 

In the game, Alex (you) and her gang of teenage mates accidentally open a ghostly rift on a deserted island. Predictably all hell breaks loose and it’s up to you to unearth the island’s secrets if you want to leave it alive. Much of how the narrative unfolds is down to you, and you’ll constantly have to make split-second dialogue choices that could change the game. 

The trippy electronic soundtrack is worth the asking price on its own. 

A Normal Lost Phone (Android and iOS)

If you’ve enjoyed plot-driven exploration games like Life is Strange and Gone Home, then this could be right up your street. 

French indie developer Accidental Queens has burst onto the scene with A Normal Lost Phone, a mobile phone game about a mobile phone.

When you launch the game the first thing you’ll see is a close-enough approximation of a modern-day smartphone menu. Calendar, messages, email – they’re all there for you to poke around in. The pitch is that you’ve just found this phone, and in order to track down the owner you need to do some digging. Now, in ordinary circumstances we wouldn’t condone nonchalantly diving into someone’s private life without a second thought, but popping the thing face down and edging sheepishly away from it wouldn’t make for much of a video game. 

The hook of A Normal Lost Phone comes with methodically piecing together the mystery owner’s life, and to say much more would ruin the many surprises. Just be assured that what you find is more interesting than a reel of bad selfies and nonsensical drunken texts.  The puzzles are engaging enough, but it’s the brilliant writing and character-building that really makes this worth seeking out.

*They’re all just as good on the toilet, by the way.