Need something fresh and fun to play on your smartphone or tablet? February brought plenty of stellar stuff across both iOS and Android, including one-handed vampiric roguelike Immortal Rogue and the solemn yet beautiful The Stillness of the Wind. Whether you’re up for a quick fix or want a game that you can sit with for a while, our February picks can fit the bill.
Read on for a look at five of February’s most enticing mobile releases, and be sure to loop back on January’s lineup for a few additional recent recommendations.
Immortal Rogue reimagines a hack-and-slash roguelike for one-handed touch play, letting you command an immortal vampire warrior with surprising ease.
From an overhead perspective, you’ll swipe to move, tap to attack, and press and hold to unleash a powerful charged attack — and that’s all there is to the controls. It can feel a little fumbly at first, but I got the hang of differentiating my taps and swipes quickly enough.
It’s a simplified take on what can be a complex genre, but Immortal Rogue does a great job of keeping things interesting by empowering your hero with an array of unlockable perks. And each time you die, you’ll slumber for 100 years — which means that, as time rapidly advances, so do the types of enemies you’ll face. There’s a bit of narrative branching, too, as you can choose whether to hunt key foes or turn them into allies.
Snakebird, which hit mobile in 2016, is a brilliant and largely overlooked puzzler. It’s also very, very difficult, despite its bright and cheery demeanor, and that might have a little something to do with why it’s still relatively under the radar. That’s where Snakebird Primer comes in.
Follow-up games are often more difficult, but Snakebird Primer goes in the opposite direction: It’s an easier take on the same formula, and it’s perhaps the game the original Snakebird should have been. As before, you’ll slink around the stages to collect all of the fruit, which gradually extends your colorful creature. However, finding your way around and ultimately to the goal is typically tricky, thanks to large gaps to traverse and barriers to surpass.
Snakebird Primer is still brainy but much more approachable. That makes it the ideal starter game in the series, and a smoother way to get a hang of the strategies before diving into the original Snakebird. Both are highly recommended.
Knights of the Card Table
With a punchy art style and decidedly quirky subject matter, Knights of the Card Table quickly makes an impression — and its distinctive allure carries over to the gameplay as well. Developer Pony Wolf’s card-based game riffs on dungeon crawlers, but victory here has a lot to do with choosing your battles ... or rather, choosing the order of your battles.
Your path through each dungeon is littered with strange foes (vicious traffic cone?!) and consumable items alike, and you’re free to rearrange the cards and decide how you want to encounter them. The order in which you battle and boost yourself can make the difference between life and death, and that’s where the strategy comes in.
Hilarious writing and charming character designs also give Knights of the Card Table a lot of heart. Note that it’s a paid game on iOS, while the Android version is free-to-play.
The Stillness of the Wind
The Stillness of the Wind is ostensibly a farming game, but this is no Stardew Valley. Instead, it’s a solemn rumination on aging and routine, as the elderly Talma tends to her land. Everyone else fled to the cities long ago, leaving her with little more than her goats and her chores. A traveling merchant brings goods, conversation, and ominous letters from friends and family.
As Colin Campbell wrote about the PC version earlier this week, “This is a game that’s less about doing and more about feeling. It’s about the mundanity of powerlessness, loss, and endings, but also about how these things have their own private joys. It’s a story about living a life of boring contentment. It is meditative, slow, and sad.”
And at less than half the price of the PC and Switch versions, the iOS edition is ideal for enjoying with headphones on your iPhone or iPad as you soak in the atmosphere and existential dread.
Available on iOS, $4.99.
Guildmaster Story is one of the most entertaining puzzle games I’ve played in some time, and that has very little to do with the actual puzzle play. It feels largely Candy Crush-esque in its amiable but unmemorable colored gem-clearing. The levels are fun, but forgettable.
Luckily, the dialogue that bookends those levels is legitimately laugh-out-loud hilarious. Guildmaster Story tells the tale of Ganyo, a very dimwitted young man who has had everything handed to him in life — and now wants to parlay his unearned wealth and sense of superiority into a business empire.
Along the way, Ganyo’s sheer idiocy and gullibility get him into conundrum after conundrum, and whether he’s taking advantage of someone or being taken advantage of himself, the story continually amuses and delights.