Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Mobile gaming continued its domination in 2022. There were a number of high-profile releases, and some of them already have tens of millions of downloads with a healthy active player base. It’s that time of year to find out the best ones and reward them appropriately. Like most years, most of the games on the list are free to play. We know some people don’t like those, but they’ve improved since the old days. 2022 wasn’t the craziest year, but there are still some keepers here. Here are the best Android games released in 2022. We also have a list of honorable mentions below the main list.
We sorted through over 200 total games for this piece, with many more left on the cutting room floor. The cutoff for this article is December 10th, 2022. Thus, if a game came out on or around that date, it was not considered for this list since we haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet.
This list is in alphabetical order except for the final three games, which we’ve picked as our games of the year. We hope you enjoy reading.
The best Android games released in 2022
- Catalyst Black
- Deemo II
- Diablo Immortal
- Disney Mirrorverse
- One Hand Clapping
- Papers, Please
- Path to Nowhere
- Tower of Fantasy
- Second runner up: The Past Within
- Runner up: Streets of Rage 4
- Game of the year: Apex Legends Mobile
- Honorable mentions
Catalyst Black is a third-person battleground shooter from Super Evil Megacorp, the developer of Vainglory. It’s best known for its creative game modes, such as Hydra, where players fight each other and also a boss. In terms of pure gameplay, it’s satisfying and fun. You run around gunning down opponents with your guns and abilities. It’s primarily online PvP, so you’ll spend most of your time fighting with and against people.
The game is still a bit buggy as it overcomes the kinds of problems many first-year releases have. Most of the complaints revolve around game crashes during infusion and some general crash errors. Still, it’s one of the best of the year, and was on Google Play’s best of the year list as well.
Price: Free with in-app purchases
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Deemo II is a rhythm game from Rayark, a developer that knows how to do rhythm games. The game blends storytelling with rhythm gameplay in a way you don’t normally see in this genre. Deemo II includes 30 songs along with DLC packs that add over 120 other titles to the library. Compared to the first release, this one has better graphics, better mechanics, and more stuff to do.
The only real downside is that it doesn’t play well on lower-end or older devices. You’ll need something reasonably modern and at least midrange to avoid hiccups while playing. Deemo II is one of two really good rhythm games to come out this year, and we’re surprised to see the genre thriving still.
Price: Free to play
Diablo Immortal launched with its fair share of controversies. The big issue with it is that it costs an arm and a leg to level your character up to max level, a cost that should increase as the game ages and expands. We won’t lie, that’s a big downer for completionists and hardcore RPG players because the game is otherwise fantastic.
Once you create a character, you roam around an open world with tons of lore, NPCs, and callbacks to the Diablo franchise. The mechanics are solid, and the progression isn’t terrible most of the time. The crafting system is a little overcomplicated, but you get used to it after a while. If Blizzard would chill out on the microtransactions, Diablo Immortal would easily be a top-tier mobile RPG.
Dislyte is a mobile gacha RPG. It’s fairly standard in terms of the basic premise: You summon heroes, create a team, use them to fight bad guys, and progress the story. Combat is fairly typical. You select character moves and deal a bunch of damage. Unlike most gachas, though, this one takes fantasy elements and blends them with modern surroundings. Even the music is delightfully modern.
There isn’t really much wrong with this title. It only suffers from being in an oversaturated genre where developers try unique mechanics and concepts to help them stand out. Dislyte definitely does it better than most, though, and gacha fans should enjoy this one.
Disney Mirrorverse is another mobile RPG that leans heavily on its combat system. It’s not a true action RPG system, but the extra movement definitely helps it feel faster-paced than most mobile RPGs. The game is full of Disney characters from various properties as both protagonists and antagonists. The whole thing is well executed, and it’s easy to play for beginners and more experienced RPG fans.
There really isn’t much wrong with the game as a whole. Much like Dislyte, Disney Mirrorverse exists in a crowded genre, so it has a ton of competition. There are some minor bugs, but the developer has done a decent job of keeping things mostly stable.
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One Hand Clapping is a puzzle game that uses your voice. We’re suckers for unique mechanics like this, so this game was a pretty easy choice for our best-of-the-year list. Players solve puzzles, engage in mechanics, and otherwise move around by singing or humming into their phone’s microphone. An example is going from a low pitch to a high pitch in order to move an elevator upward.
It’s obviously not a game you should play in public since it does require you to actually interact using your voice. One Hand Clapping has an appealing art style, good execution, and showed no noticeable bugs during our testing. It’s also done by HandyGames, developers of Titan Quest and SpongeBob: Battle for Bikini Bottom, two games that have made our best-of-the-year lists in prior years.
Papers, Please is a simulator where you play a border immigration inspector. Your job is to monitor people immigrating into your fictional country. You do that by inspecting passports, making sure people have the proper documentation, and denying the folks with discrepancies. Messing up can cause all kinds of problems, including things like terror attacks on your station.
You get paid when you process people and punished when you mess up. The game ends if you lose all of your relatives. As you play, the process gets more complicated, and the player has to memorize an increasing number of things. It can be rather stressful late in the game but in a fun way.
Path to Nowhere is a strategy RPG with gacha elements and an anime theme like many other games in the genre. It has somewhat similar mechanics to games like Arknights, where you place your characters in the enemy path and they do battle. The pseudo-tower defense-style gameplay adds a bit of freshness to the proceedings. It’s otherwise pretty typical. Summon characters, level them up, use them to progress the story, and make your way to the end.
This one is pretty good for the most part. You’ll either like it or dislike it based on preference since the game plays as it was designed to. The post-apocalyptic setting is creepy in a fun way, and the localization is also above average for an originally non-English game. Like most gachas, Path to Nowehere’s biggest issue is being in a crowded market.
Quadline is a minimal puzzle game. It eschews a lot of the typical mobile game stuff. For example, there is no real tutorial. You play the game until you figure out how it works. Luckily, that doesn’t take very long since the mechanics are quite simple. You rotate blocks to move lines around your shape until the lines reach the endpoints of each puzzle. The puzzles get more complex as you play.
There are over 140 levels in total, which is a good deal for its $0.99 price tag. Some other features include a light and dark mode, colorblindness settings, and no timers or in-app purchases that get in the way. It’s a pleasingly simple little game that almost anyone can play.
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Price: $2.99 with in-app purchases
Rotaeno is the second rhythm game on this list this year. It features some of the best controls of any rhythm game, excellent charting, a bunch of tracks to play, good difficulty scaling, and a story to play through. The game’s claim to fame is its rotation element. On top of tapping and swiping notes in the song, you’ll also rotate your phone to hit longer notes. That’s fairly unique in this space, and it’s an experience you can really only get on a smartphone.
Like most rhythm games, you get some songs and the base story when you buy the title. However, the majority of tracks do require you to purchase a DLC. Thankfully, unlocked songs are yours for keeps as long as the game remains available. We struggled to decide whether we thought Deemo II or this was better, and ultimately failed, so we put them both on the list.
Tower of Fantasy was one of the larger releases in 2022. It’s a mobile gacha MMORPG set in an open world. It blends fantasy and futuristic sci-fi elements quite well. In addition, the game does combat, social elements, and leveling quite well, at least in the early to mid-game. We thought the story was a tad weak, but the gameplay is enjoyable, and the voice actors are surprisingly good, so it’s a sin we’re willing to forgive.
Our only complaints are some occasionally clunky mobile controls, a clunky menu system, and the upgrade stuff that is a bit overwhelming right out of the gate. There are some mechanics that feel inspired by Genshin Impact, which is what it’s obviously trying to compete against, but we don’t consider that a bad thing since Genshin is also an excellent game.
Vikingard is an RPG adventure game with base building and city management elements. That means there is a metric ton of stuff to do in-game. There’s a story to play through, but most of your time is spent building farms, raising pets, attacking other players, finding romance, and more. It sounds very vague, but there really are a bunch of things to do in the game, and Netease did a decent job of giving players enough to do to stave off boredom for a long time.
For the most part, the game plays as it should. The Viking aesthetic is neat, and the base building mechanics are some of the better ones we’ve seen recently. The combat feels a little basic and simple, but you don’t do it very often. It’s free to play, so expect to pay some money to progress at a reasonable rate, but that’s really its only serious con.
The Past Within is a unique two-player game. One player lives in the past and the other in the future. Together, you solve puzzles and help Rose fulfill her father’s plans. You play by essentially describing what you have, what you see, and what everything can do. From there, you use hints from one player’s screen to solve the puzzle on the other’s. It’s one of the few truly interactive games on mobile, and it’s mildly reminiscent of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes in terms of cooperative play.
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The developers did an excellent job with this one. There is an official Discord server where you can find people to play with if your friends don’t want to. The puzzles are also well thought out. We also like that the game is inexpensive and isn’t ruined by in-app purchases or advertising. The only downside is that once you complete the game, you know the puzzles, so replayability isn’t very high, even if your partner is completely new.
Streets of Rage 4 is a beat ’em up game that is reminiscent of the other Streets of Rage games. It’s a 2D sidescroller where you walk forward, beat up bad guys, defeat bosses, and try to survive being beaten down yourself. This is the mobile port of the console version which only came out a few years ago. This latest iteration plays like the classics, but with more moves, better graphics, and smoother gameplay. It has hardware controller support as well, which is how we recommend you play it if you can.
The game includes a few different game modes, including a multiplayer mode. There is also a DLC that adds more story, more playable characters, and a survival mode. Thus, you do need to pay extra to get everything the game offers. The total is a bit pricy for a mobile game, but Streets of Rage 4 feels more like a console experience than most of the mobile games released this year.
Yes, this is Android Authority’s Android game of the year, to the surprise of no one. Apex Legends Mobile joins Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile at the pantheon of battle royale shooters on mobile. (Yes, Fortnite exists on mobile, but it’s not currently in the Play Store.) The game has various heroes that you can play, and each one has its own abilities to help control the battlefield. Most of them require that you unlock them, but it’s usually pretty easy to unlock new characters. From there, you drop in on 75-player battle royales with 25 groups of three players.
Apex Legends Mobile includes excellent on-screen controls, improving hardware controller support, some extra game modes, and excellent graphics. The mobile port is also fairly faithful to the full version. The squad-based hero style gives it a more arcade feel like Fortnite rather than the more intense, serious tone of PUBG or Call of Duty. This is one of those games that will be recommended to mobile gamers for years to come because it’s an easy choice with excellent gameplay.
Every year, we also list a few games that nearly made the list, but fell just short. After all, there are tons of great titles released, but our list only holds 15. Here are some honorable mentions for the best Android games of 2022.
- Ace Attorney Trilogy — Capcom released the Ace Attorney Trilogy earlier in 2022. The games already existed on Android before, but this brought them more in line with the console releases. The trilogy is a visual novel where you play a lawyer trying to defend his clients. It’s a bit expensive at $17.99, but you do get three full games.
- Buff Studio games — Buff Studio is a developer on Google Play. They released a few different visual novel games, including Charlie in Underworld, A Story of a Company, and The Ancestral Legacy. All three games are solid offerings in a relatively underserved genre. They are also among the few that aren’t from Japan, so they feel a bit different from your typical visual novel.
- Dungeons of Dreadrock — Dungeons of Dreadrock is a top-down dungeon crawler. Players explore their way through 100 levels in the game. It has an emphasis on puzzle-solving, but there is also stuff like combat. It’s not the most unique game on the list, but the execution is excellent, and the game is genuinely fun to play.
- Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster — Final Fantasy VI was the final Pixel Remaster release from Square Enix, and it took place back in February of 2022. The graphics are mostly improved from the initial release, but there could’ve been some extra attention to detail. We bemoan the lack of hardware controller support, but otherwise, this is a faithful recreation of the original.
- Linia Super — Linia Super is a puzzle game, and the second game in the Linia franchise. This one contains 200 levels. Players draw lines to catch shapes. There is also non-linear gameplay, a few different modes, and more. It’s quite good for a simple puzzle game, and it’s not terribly expensive either.
- Netflix games — We didn’t think much of Netflix doing a mobile games division when we first heard about it. However, Netflix has increased the number of games pretty substantially in 2022. Some of the new releases include Hextech Mayhem, Oxenfree, Spiritfarer, Reigns: Three Kingdoms, and more. These games are free to Netflix subscribers, and thankfully some of them are actually pretty good.
- The Secret of Cat Island — The Secret of Cat Island is a cute little town-builder game. Players help a group of cats build up a town, explore an island, and gather resources. The game’s stamina system is a bit much for our tastes, but the game is just so darn cute that it’s forgivable most of the time.
- That’s a Cow — That’s a Cow is a runner-style game where you play as a cow. Players use the cow’s utters to propel it through levels, deal with obstacles, and defeat bad guys. There are over 100 levels, 20 different cows to collect, and more. The full game goes for $2.99, which is a nice change from most games like this. It’s family-friendly, a little weird, but actually fun.
- Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion — Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is an adventure game where you play as a turnip with a massive tax debt. The game also has puzzles, a little action, some good tongue-in-cheek humor, and is just an overall delightful experience.
- Wolf Game — Wolf Game is a strategy game where you play as a pack of wolves. It’s a neat premise, but it is mostly the same as any other kingdom-building strategy game. You build up a kingdom, train some wolves, and do battle against other players as well as in-game adversaries. The artwork and idea are both pretty good, and the game feels different, despite the mechanics being fairly typical.
If we missed any great Android games from 2022, tell us about them in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.
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