Published on January 5th, 2015 | by Craig Forshey5
The Top 25 Indie Android Games Of 2014
2014 may have drawn to a close, but the awesome indie Android games that it brought with it live on. Here are the top 25 games that stole our hearts(and free time) in 2014.
#25 – Defend Your Crypt from Ratalaika Games
The trap based strategy sub-genre is a rare breed. Typified by games like the original Playstation’s Deception series, these “once in a blue moon” titles appeal to a very specific aesthetic with very few managing to capture the essence of what makes this sub-genre so unique. Fortunately, Ratalaika Games’ hybrid strategy game Defend Your Crypt ferociously bucks that trend with intuitive gameplay that charges players with defending an ancient crypt from being plundered by would-be tomb raiders using all sorts of nasty traps. Throw in clever level design with some funky retro visuals and you’ve got yourself a keeper.
#24 – Doom Tower from Yagoda Productions
For all the Fruit Ninja clones out there you’d think there would be more variety available outside of “slice X inanimate object” but sadly this has not proven to be the case. That’s why the fantastic swipe ’em up Doom Tower was such a breath of fresh air, it takes the slasher genre into a vastly more interesting dungeon crawler direction that incorporates the concept of touch controls directly into the gameplay rather than just serving as a repetitive gimmick. A challenging mashup of light gun game, touchscreen swipe ’em up, and dungeon crawler, Doom Tower is the anti-Fruit Ninja Clone.
#23 – Blackmoor from Moof Games
Think Castlevania on steroids with a quirky sense of humor and you’ll begin to understand what the awesome fighting sidescroller Blackmoor is all about. An homage to action-rpg’s of all stripes, Blackmoor keeps what made those oldschool titles great but ditches unwieldy virtual d-pad controls in favor of a far more intuitive gesture system and is all the better for it. Not to mention its highly addicting gameplay and nonstop cavalcade of humor made Blackmoor one of the best games you could play in 2014.
#22 – Snailboy from Thoopid
When we first saw Snailboy in action, we could hardly believe it; It’s jaw dropping CG visuals and smooth animation were like something out of a Pixar movie. You might think this is the work of some highly futuristic mobile graphics engine but Snailboy’s developer Thoopid instead pulled inspiration from one of gamings most prolific classics to deliver such high quality visuals. Basically, Snailboy is Android’s Donkey Kong Country. An absolutely beautiful collision of pre-rendered animation and charming gameplay that would only be possible on its native platform.
#21 – Tales Of Illyria Episode 2 from Little Killerz
Indie developer Little Killerz provides one of the best examples of what it means to be an indie dev on Android. These guys have been around since the very beginning with their classic action-rpg Legends Arcana which debuted almost a half-decade ago if you can believe it, so needless to say they know a thing or two about what makes a good Android game. This tradition of excellence continues with Tales Of Illyria, an epic tactics rpg that’s equal parts Oregon Trail and Might & Magic, which got a terrific sequel this year called Beyond The Iron Wall.
#20 – Perfect Moon from Will Sykes Games
It seems like its the trend nowadays to make an artsy-fartsy sidescroller like Limbo but so few games actually make appreciable use of this approach which more often than not leads them to feeling generic and samey. Not so with Will Sykes’ beautiful 3D physics platformer Perfect Moon however, as its fascinating art design and intriguing gameplay give it the feeling of a waking dream. You’ll soar through the sky, leap from planet to planet, and just generally have a good time in this engrossing sidescroller that goes toe to toe with Limbo.
#19 – Out There from Mi-Clos Studio
It should be obvious why Out There is on this list but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, think The Oregon Trail……in space! This award winning exploration title puts players in command of an exploratory spaceship as they zoom about the galaxy discovering new alien races and harvesting precious rare minerals needed to pimp their intergalactic rides. There’s alot of unique things to see and do in Out There, which when coupled with its suave “choose your own adventure” esque aesthetic, makes for a memorable experience. If you’ve ever wanted a proper Star Trek game, be sure to get out there and play Out There.
#18 – Warp 5 Overdrive from Bearded Man Studios
Shoot ’em ups on Android are a dime a dozen, so it really takes some out of the box thinking to bring something unique to the genre nowadays. One such game this year was Warp 5 Overdrive, a spectacle shooter that plays with the idea of shifting perspective set against a backdrop of what can only be described as Tempest meets Ikaruga on acid. It’s an endlessly evolving parade of exploding pixels married with hyperactive gameplay that is counter-intuitively infuriating and satisfying at the same time.
#17 – Super Heavy Sword from Monster Robot Studios
When Monster Robot Studios set to work on the followup to their fan favorite side scroller Heavy Sword, they weren’t messing around. Titled Super Heavy Sword, this highly ambitious sequel absolutely knocks it out of the park with production qualities and design that are superior to its predecessor in nearly every way. It’s got vibrant 2D visuals, addicting old school gameplay that feels like a cross between Super Mario World and The Legend Of Zelda II, and a staggering amount of content that will suck you in and never let go. It’s also alot of fun.
#16 – Big Action Mega Fight from Double Stallion
Ah, the arcade brawler. This endangered species of awesome is a rare sight indeed nowadays which makes Big Action Mega Fight, Double Stallion’s fantastic homage to games like Streets Of Rage, all the more enticing. A full arcade beat ’em up experience for mobile, Big Action Mega Fight is perhaps one of the only original games on Android to do the genre justice. It’s all thanks to its lively cartoon visuals, tight brawler gameplay, and intelligent approach to level progression that make Big Action Mega Fight one of the best beat ’em ups of 2014.
#15 – Stories Of Bethem from GuGames DEV
Oh boy, this one was a surprise. Stories Of Bethem is one of those games that are born out of pure love for the pastime. A fantastic shooter tinged take on A Link To The Past, Stories Of Bethem is a completely free action rpg that no self respecting retro enthusiast should be without. That’s because its got enough personality and gameplay to put most paid games to shame but doesn’t ask anything in return but that you enjoy the experience. An authentically awesome homage to The Legend Of Zelda with a little bit of The Binding Of Isaac thrown in, Stories Of Bethem was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2014.
#14 – Smash And Dash from Syncoplay
To you, Smash And Dash may look like just another retro shooter, but to me it is addiction incarnate. This absurdly fun little one handed dodge ’em up was easily one of my most played games in 2014 thanks to simple yet intuitive gameplay design and a real sense of progression that catapults it miles ahead of its peers. The object of the game is simple, rather than shoot down your pixelated enemies players need only ram into them while avoiding their shots, but how Smash And Dash takes this concept and runs wild with it is what sets it apart. The further players get in this endless game, the more unique enemies and gameplay elements they’ll encounter, and with every run they’ll earn more experience that will unlock new abilities to change up the gameplay even more.
#13 – Monument Valley from USTWO Games
If MC Escher were a game developer, Monument Valley would be his game. This award winning puzzle platformer will mess with your head as it deviates from the usual puzzle fare with some truly astounding level design that will challenge you with looking at problems in whole new angles. Another part of Monument Valley that would have made the renowned painter proud is its gorgeous visual approach that makes a serious case for video games as art. With its one-two combo of vastly engaging gameplay and awe inspiring design Monument Valley is one of the most unique puzzlers in recent memory.
#12 – Zombie Kill Of The Week Reborn from StillRunning
When the 2D horde shooter Zombie Kill Of The Week disappeared from Google Play many wondered whether we would ever see this fan favorite return from the grave. Thankfully in 2014 the game’s original creators Still Running picked up the banner and brought it back to life in grand fashion with Zombie Kill Of The Week Reborn, an enhanced reboot that builds upon its predecessor in nearly every way with upgraded visuals and improved gameplay. Like a sidescrolling take on Call Of Duty: Zombies, Zombie Kill Of The Week Reborn challenges players with surviving as long as they can against the undead by mowing them down in a hail of lead, amassing a vast arsenal of buttkicking weaponry, and running for their lives when necessary.
#11 – Kitten Challenge from Nikr3n
A charming success story, Kitten Challenge may look innocuous enough but take a closer look and you’ll find an impressively original Nintendo-esque platformer that sports fantastic level design and authentically old school gameplay that would make Mario proud. As a happy go lucky kitty riding the rails it’s up to players to make sure she dodges any obstacles coming her way while collecting as many coins as possible, which is easier said than done. That’s because despite it’s cutesy appearance and high fun factor Kitten Challenge is also a really hard game in the vein of The Impossible Game that at times can feel like it was spawned straight from the pits of hell.
#10 – The Nightmare Cooperative from Blazing Griffin
The rogue-like genre got a shot in the arm in 2014 with The Nightmare Cooperative, a smart puzzle style subversion of the genre that seamlessly blends elements of strategy and role playing together in a clever new way. Rather than control a lone hero or individually issue commands to a party of adventurers here players must move their entire band of misfits as one which leads to some really interesting game design that forces a more dynamic approach. Couple that with insanely high replay value and playing The Nightmare Cooperative becomes a no brainer.
#9 – Specular from TINT Games
You’ll find no end of Geometry Wars clones on the Google Play store, but in 2014 they all paled in comparison to the amazing and completely free twin stick shooter Specular. Sporting nigh peerless gameplay, eye popping visuals, and a surprising amount of depth, Specular blows away most paid twin stick shooters let alone anything free. Amazingly, Specular is a project from a group of high school devs called TINT Games that created it as a way of learning the ropes of making an Android game. They deserve an A+.
#8 – 8Bit Doves from Nitrome
No matter where you look, original video games are hard to come by these days. Everything seems to be a copy of a copy, and in some senses that’s the way things have always been, but every now and then a groundbreaking new game comes along that puts a novel spin on established conventions in order to take a genre to never before reached heights. For the platforming genre that game in 2014 was 8bit Doves, a masterwork of free form physics and endearing aesthetics that makes the unforgettable experience of gaming on the original Gameboy for the first time as a kid feel real again. It takes a simple concept of “don’t touch the walls” and turns it into something special with fantastic physics powered controls that lend a real sense of momentum to the gameplay. Everything about 8bit Doves from the incredible level design, catchy soundtrack, and fine tuned gameplay to the authentic grayscale graphics will have you falling in love with an Android game in ways you didn’t know you could.
#7 – Card City Nights from Ludosity
Hearthstone may have dropped on Android recently but in 2014 the only Android card battle game on anyone’s mind was Ittle Dew developer Ludosity’s cheeky in-world trading card game Card City Nights. Like a humorous riff on Magic The Gathering, Card City Nights is Ludosity’s take on the matter as the usual lineup of orcs and wizards have been replaced by a campy array of visual gags, in-jokes, and unexpected gameplay twists. Making a trading card game that’s both fun and balanced is a monumental task, one that Ludosity pulled off with flying colors.
#6 – Wayward Souls from RocketCat Games
Without question one of the best dungeon crawlers to come out in 2014, Wayward Souls is an endlessly replayable retro riff on hack ‘n slash rpgs like Diablo that will quickly work its way into your heart with a high level of polish and a smooth sense of cool. This procedurally generated monster romp boasts a staggering amount of ways to play as players can choose from six different characters that each have their own unique play styles that are then further augmented through an impressive level of random item generation. The amount of content and replay value in Wayward Souls is almost peerless among Android dungeon crawlers.
#5 – Crystal Picnic from Nooskewl
The best kind of retro style games are the ones that are indistinguishable from games launched in cartridge form on the console they’re aping and in that regard Nooskewl’s insanely awesome SNES esque action rpg Crystal Picnic unequivocally succeeds. This mashup of Super Smash Bros and Final Fantasy years in the making plays just like a forgotten classic with inventive real time platforming combat, gorgeous old school visuals, and a hilarious storyline revolving around the misadventures of two hapless friends. If you grew up on games like Chrono Trigger like me, Crystal Picnic is a must have.
#4 – Flop Rocket from Butterscotch Shenanigans
Aside from perhaps Pong or Pacman, there is perhaps no older cloned game than the eponymous Lunar Lander. For ages would be heros have tried and failed to reinvent this beautifully simple classic which is why it almost defies belief that Butterscotch Shenanigans would be able to take Lunar Lander in a new direction so effortlessly but that’s exactly what the three brother indie developer has done with Flop Rocket, a fantastically addicting update of the Lunar Lander concept that revitalizes the genre for the first time in ages. Forget Flappy Bird and all that nonsense, go back to the original stress inducer with Flop Rocket!
#3 – Super Penguin from Will Lewis
In terms of raw hours played there is perhaps no game that stole our attention more in 2014 than Will Lewis’s Super Penguin. This innocous fall down platformer may not look like much but beneath its unassuming retro veneer lies what is easily the best fall down game we have ever played. Much more than just another clone Super Penguin has amazingly addicting gameplay that draws from a bevy of gaming classics like Kid Icarus and Super Mario while infusing a neat sense of progression that opens up subtle new gameplay tweaks the more you play. You can jump on monsters, turn into a demon, pick up a Zelda style shield, and a whole lot more in what is easily one of the best games of 2014.
#2 – Deep Loot from Monster And Monster
One rogue-like this year managed to stand above all the rest by infusing the genre with a real sense of wonder for the first time in ages. Deep Loot from Monster And Monster is an aquatic rpg that puts players in the flippers of a deep sea diver on the hunt for lost treasure who must deal with the rigors of the ocean like lack of oxygen and all manner of untoward creatures. What makes or breaks any rogue-like rpg is how it handles player fatigue from grinding and in Deep Loot’s case it succeeds with ease thanks to a never ending supply of cool items to find and visual gags from the developers. If you like rpg’s at all you owe it to yourself to check out Deep Loot.
SGD’s 2014 Indie Android Game Of The Year
#1 – Pixel Boat Rush from XperimentalZ Games
After cutting its teeth with the phenomenal runners Platforms Unlimited and Don’t Run With A Plasma Sword indie developer XperimentalZ Games took things to a whole new level in 2014 with Pixel Boat Rush, an ambitious spin on physics platformers like Tiny Wings that incorporates racing and shoot ’em up gameplay to great effect. As a hotshot boat jockey working his/her way up the ranks players will ride the waves in feats of physics defying mayhem while taking out the competition with a machine gun when no one’s looking. Much more than just a simple racing game, Pixel Boat Rush is the whole package you’d want out of an addicting mobile game to keep you occupied for hours on end with inventive gameplay design, spiffy visuals, and hilarious surprises.
What were your favorite indie games on Android in 2014? Let us know in the comments below!