Last year, the Uptodown Game Awards were born; an initiative in which our team of editors selects the best Android games released throughout the year according to their categories. The feedback was so great that we decided to do it again this year, with our selection of the best games released in 2018.
If 2016 was the year of augmented reality and 2017 was all about the MOBAs, then without a doubt, 2018 has been the year of the Battle Royales since the arrival of PUBG and Fortnite on the platform, along with the flood of clones and variants we’ve seen coming out of the woodwork. But let’s not generalize here, there are actually plenty of hidden gems that deserve their moment in the sun. We’ve chosen 12 categories to demonstrate this diversity, and selected two games in each one: the top game of the year, and one honorable mention.
Ghostbusters GO – Best Augmented Reality game
What? Where are the adorable fluffy monsters? It’s taken a couple years, but the formula created by Niantic Labs is finally expanding beyond what we’ve seen in Ingress and Pokemon Go. With the opening of the Google Maps API, and the implementation of the ARCore technology, we’re finally starting to see concepts like Ghostbusters GO.
There are plenty of things that make this game special, beyond the use of the old license. The South Korean Studio, 4:33 under the sponsorship of Sony Pictures, has developed a title that gives you the chance to explore your surroundings in search of ghosts. Beyond the fact that the ghost hunting using your proton pack is super fun, you can also put the creatures you capture up against others as if it were a turn-based RPG, as well as advance throughout a long story mode that narrates your adventures as the team rookie. [Our review]
Special Mention: The other big AR title that’s also based on a successful license is The Walking Dead: Our World. This game is based on the TV series from AMC where you have to collaborate with other survivors to clean up your city of the undead.
Man or Vampire – Best RPG
We felt ourselves obligated to separate this genre from the MMORPGs since it offers completely different mechanics. Man or Vampire is a role-playing game with turn-based confrontations on a grid setting, which doesn’t say much at all about the greatness of this game. In this title from HIDEA, you have to explore randomly generated dungeons with your team of adventurers while facing all sorts of dangers. But again, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The combats, worthy of a sizable SPRG, require a good positional strategy of your adventurers in order to come out of endless interactions unscathed. There’s a reason there are 70 different characters available in the game, each one with its own skills. Plus, you can convert any of them into a vampire, which will stop them from being able to level up, but allow you to revive them in combat. [Our review]
Special Mention: Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao. An SPRG set in the historical Chinese novel is a hit on Android? Yup. This direct decedent of the renowned Eiketsuden saga from the studio Koei, is one of the best of its genre.
Life is a Game – Most innovative game
A game doesn’t have to be an absolute masterpiece in order to leave a lasting mark on our hearts. Life is a Game is a modest title. In fact, if you take away the conceptual layer that surrounds it, we’d simply be talking about a runner where you have to collect objects scattered around the setting. The key is in the fact this journey represents your existence, and the actions you take along the way are what determine your future throughout your short life.
Each round lasts no more than five minutes, going from your birth to your deathbed in a dizzying life race plagued with possibilities. Will you have a happy childhood or will sadness plague you the rest of your life? Will you make a living with small jobs or be a bohemian artist? All major decisions that are decided by jumping around the setting and that will make sure you embrace a strong message that’s worth remembering: life goes by in the blink of an eye. [Our review]
Special Mention: Hide Online. The so-called Prop Hunts have been around on PC for years now, but this game is one that’s finally successfully brought the formula to Android. A competition where one team has to find the members of the rival team, who in turn, can camouflage themselves in the form of inanimate objects in the setting. As simple as it is wacky.
Hundred Souls – Best visual design
Seldom have we seen such a great use of the Unity engine on Android. Hundred Souls is a powerhouse on a technical level thanks to its development team: the studio Hound 13 is a dream team made up of former workers of other successful MMOs. In this case, the formula is taken to the hack-and-slash terrain with a visual design that’s better than other projects from bigger names. After all, we tend to disregard mobile platforms when they’re really almost as good as traditional consoles, even on a technical level (despite the obvious hardware level disparities, of course). [Our review]
Special mention: Alto’s Odyssey. It was hard to top the beautiful Alto’s Adventure, but the developers definitely outdid themselves with the sequel. A great artistic vision is a must in order to convert an endless runner with physics into a relaxing stroll over dreamlike landscapes without becoming boring or monotonous.
Ragnarok M – Best MMORPG
It’s been 15 whole years since the iconic MMORPG Ragnarok Online came out on PC, but its impact was so great in the world of online role-playing games that the brand continues to thrive even today. Or at least that’s what the whirlwind release of Ragnarok M on Android has demonstrated. Continuing with its casual philosophy, far from the momentous and epic Asian MMOs, it’s managed to make players fall in love with it once again.
This time, this new installment in the saga has managed to find a nice balance between the old 2D sprites from the original, and the later 3D versions. The customization of your character and all the sweetness that shows in the mounts, mascots, and graphics are the weapons that have taken this game to the top of its category in 2018.
Special mention: RebirthM. On the flip side of the coin, we have this game that’s much closer to the philosophy of the Korean MMORPGs from the Lineage school. That is, spectacular graphics, experience grinding, an enormous open world, and unimaginable content in the form of dungeons, guild missions, daily challenges, and your typical PvP.
Badland Brawl – Best PvP
We’ve been witness to a constant parade of Clash Royale clones for a couple years now. A long line of games where innovation has been starkly lacking. It’s a good thing Badland Brawl has come to get us out of this rut thanks to its intelligent mix of concepts: instead of calling upon units to attack the rival base, you’ll shoot them at your enemies as if it were a sort of competitive Angry Birds.
It’s a game where you don’t only have to pay attention to the typical pros and cons of your units, but also their physics. The rounds may seem like a chaos of explosions, but soon, you’ll discover that there’s no room for luck here. It’s a fun title that has enough personality to stand out among the rest of the PVPs that have appeared this year. Plus, it has the added bonus of the fantastic design of the universe from the Badland saga. [Our review]
Special mention: Super Senso. Giant robots and Advance Wars is a mix that most players have a hard time saying no to. The title from Turbo Studios provides great turn-based rounds lasting less than 5 minutes, where each one of your movements is necessary to pave the way to victory. It’s impossible not to want to give this unique mobile game some recognition.
Super Cat Tales 2 – Best platform game
Platformers may not be the number one choice of a genre for mobile devices, due to the fact that it’s hard to really make precise movements on a screen. But this downfall has led developers to search for new ways to provide quality titles. Super Cat Tales 2 is probably the one that’s most successfully achieved this: it’s a platformer with no jump button.
Your friendly little kittens will jump when they’re running and come across any unevenness. It’s an intelligent decision considering you still have to be precise, but the touch screen won’t be an obstacle. The game doesn’t hide its love for Super Mario World, and you’re going to be wowed by its over 100 levels, different cats to unlock, and awesome retro look. [Our review]
Special mention: Slime Pizza. We’ve come to expect that anything branded with the Nitrome seal is guaranteed to be high quality. But this year, NEUTRONIZED has left us doubly amazed. In addition to the excellent cat game mentioned above, the studio has also given us this mini-metroidvania about a blob of slime who has to collect as many slices of pizza as possible. It’s a stellar platformer that will have you hooked for hours.
PARADE! – Best rhythm game
Your sense of rhythm and timing when it comes to tapping the screen are going to be put to the test in the great PARADE! This title has flown way under the radar in a genre that’s greatly lacking in original games. It’s a real shame that more people haven’t tried this one out, because it’s a low-poly knockout with a funky rhythm. Who wouldn’t love to lead a parade of animals, robots, zombies and dinosaurs? We hope this little shout out we’re giving it is enough to get it noticed by more people.
PARADE! doesn’t follow the tradition of the typical mobile rhythm games that take their gameplay inspiration from Guitar Hero. Here, you have to swipe in the directions the game tells you to in each one of its wacky screens. It may take you a while to get the hang of it, but soon you’ll find it to be a real must-have if you love this genre. [Our review]
Special mention: Superstar BTS. The popularity of the band BTS is undeniable and their official videogame has been a total success. A game that compiles all the hits from the South Korean band and that offers plenty of unlockable content to keep fans coming back for more.
PUBG Mobile – Best Battle Royale
2018 was the year of the Battle Royale. Almost any game described using these magic words has ended up becoming a success, but we still think that the mobile world has had a clear cut winner. While PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS has been losing steam on PC in favor of Fortnite, PUBG Mobile has become the family jewel. All thanks to the fact that it’s successfully managed to improve significantly with each new update, making it one of the best games of the year for mobile devices.
This game has become a total phenomenon with everything that comes with the title: clones everywhere you look, its own lite version, and even the appearance of a Beta version where you can be one of the first players to discover new features. 2018 has been the year of PUBG Mobile and it remains to be seen if 2019 is going to follow along the same path. [Our review]
Special mention: Battlelands Royale. This game from Futureplay is worth highlighting, since it’s successfully transferred the action from battle royales to rounds lasting between 3 and 5 minutes. It’s an ideal game for playing on mobile devices, and it has charming visuals that you just can’t say no to.
Bendy in Nightmare Run – Best arcade game
Arcade games have found their perfect adventure outlet in the world of Android. And within this extensive category, endless runners are one of the main focal points. Bendy in Nightmare Run isn’t only a fantastic endless platformer, it’s also managed to put a new spin on the genre: the perspective has changed and your friendly little character runs toward the screen in his frantic getaway.
The influence of Cuphead is clear as day, but this endless runner isn’t just a simple tribute to the game from Studio MDHR. That said, its difficulty could be a turn off for more casual players. [Our review]
Special mention: PAKO 2. We went crazy for the first PAKO, but this sequel has left us speechless. It has the same soul, but the experience has improved in all aspects: more vehicles, weapons, progression system, and visuals that are worth applauding until our hands can’t take anymore. Don’t miss the article we wrote about the saga created by Tree Men Games.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle – Best puzzle game
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is the perfect game for anyone who thought that Sokoban-style puzzle games were overdone. Its fun visuals and nods to one of the most influential slasher sagas in history make it stand out as one of the top games of the year. It’s a fantastic package that makes us forgive the fact that it’s almost a skin of Slayway Camp.
The Friday the 13th franchise may not stand out for its sense of humor, but you’re guaranteed to have a great time playing this game from Blue Wizard Digital thanks to is parody-like tone. More than 100 levels await you and your machete. [Our review]
Special mention: Alphabear 2. The sequel to the beloved Alphabear brings us more bears and linguistic challenges to overcome. It’s hard to find a better way to continue improving your vocabulary in the language of Shakespeare.
Brawl Stars – Best MOBA
It seemed impossible that Supercell could possibly generate the same expectation that it did with previous games. However, the truth is that it’s manged to overhaul this genre to give it a second life on Android. Brawl Stars is a MOBA that uses minimum expression in terms of controls and gameplay. But it still manages to provide enormous depth, that represents the cornerstone of the whole experience.
This team-based brawler managed to drum up interest even before its release thanks to word of mouth. And the fact that it’s been in soft-launch for months in certain countries is just a preview of what’s to come given the expectation it’s generated. After enjoying it at length, we can assure you that’s how its going to be. [Our review]
Special mention: Survival Heroes proves, once again, that hybrids of genres are key to reaching new horizons on a market as saturated as Android. Combining the structure of a battle royale with the controls and gameplay of a MOBA is just as fun as it sounds.