David Bouchard | March 22nd 2019
Here are five video games that are just as good on mobile devices!
Most times, when beloved video games arrive on mobile devices, they're either unplayable or come with a giant asterix -- the ongoing controversy of SquareEnix's baffling mishandling of bringing a decades old game like Chrono Trigger to mobile devices comes to mind. That being said, there are a few examples that show exactly what mobile operating systems like iOS and Android can do when they have developer support. Let's go!
My colleague Anna Kim spoke before about how she uses this port for when she wants to feel depressed on the bus, and that's a pretty good descriptor about this game's somewhat surprising appeal. A game focused on the tough moral choices and creeping bleakness of working as a faceless government functionary in a fictional Eastern Bloc state, the monotonous tasks of government work lend themselves surprisingly well to mobile-style swipe controls. Checking people's passports, attempting to detect forgeries, stamping "approved" or "rejected" -- these rote roles form the crux of the game's inventive and heartbreaking storytelling, and playing it on a mobile device provides you with some mechanical frisson that resonates. After all, what do we associate more with mindless busywork more than our phones?
Papers Please is available for iOS
Jonathan Blow's environmental storytelling-driven puzzler became one of my favourite games when it first launched, and it did not disappoint when it arrived on iOS. It's funny that indie developers, theoretically working with less resources than AAA studios, seem to put more effort into mobile development than the big dogs. The Witness remains as layered, gorgeous, and challenging on mobile as it was on consoles or PC.
The Witness is available for iOS
Both of Playdead's super-atmospheric, desaturated creepfests of puzzle solving, Limbo and Inside, are worth playing on mobile, but Inside is the superior game overall. The wordless narrative lends itself well to bursts of play on the subway or in a waiting room, and the conversion is a near-seamless one. Worth the money for sure.
Did you think I was going to stop at one bleak, heartbreaking game about the collateral damage of war and the brutal poverty in creates with Papers Please? Of course not! If you want to make your morning bus ride even darker, try This War of Mine, a tactical resource management game that pits your battle for survival in a shelled-out Balkan country against your own morals and values. Again, these atmospheric indie titles lend themselves well to mobile conversion, without too many controller-mechanics that would need to be excised or converted to finger tapping and swiping. As such, This War of Mine plays great on a phone or tablet.
Oof. Let's lighten up, shall we? Donut County has previously been written about on this site by Anna Kim, calling it "impossibly charming", and ain't that the truth. Ben Esposito's physics-based puzzle game couldn't be better on mobile operating systems, the cuddly and weird denizens and its offbeat humour fitting in perfectly with tappy and drag-based controls that don't require a controller to execute well. Finding out about this game was a revelation -- I can't recommend it enough.
Donut County is available for iOS
Android OS has a host of exclusive apps that you simply cannot get on iOS. Here are five of my personal favourites!
The Tapwave Zodiac wasn't a bad PDA, but it wasn't great either.