AS FAR AS smartphone gaming goes, 2015 was a year where developers really got to grips with the platform.
What started out as simple ports or tapping games have evolved, including more experiences that wouldn’t look out of place on your console or PC (with some even appearing on these platforms).
Here are some of the best out there.
The Tomb Raider series is experiencing a serious return of form thanks to its relaunch, but classic Lara is still going strong due to this inclusion.
Working much like an interactive board game, you must guide her through caverns, tombs and other dangerous locations in a short but incredibly sweet game.
Mayday! Deep Space
A game where the only controls are your voice. Your objective is to guide a survivor in a space station to safety, but you only have his word and a radar to help you.
Figuring out whether all is what it seems to be will drive you forward, and while it’s short, it’s one of the more engrossing and original smartphone games out there.
One of the nicest endless runners you’ll play, Alto’s Adventure is relaxing but requires focus as you snowboard your way down the mountains. Catching llamas, doing backflips and grinding rooftops and walls, it’s a beautiful and refined experience.
Considering how prominent the topic of phone hacking is, you would be forgiven for thinking TouchTone is trying to cash in on it, but it’s a compelling game. Not every hack will be a justified one and the game forces you to live with the choices you make.
Anyone who was a fan of the Paper Mario series will find a lot to like here. And even if you weren’t, there’s still enough here for it to be worth playing.
Based on the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe, it’s an accessible RPG with arcade elements, one that even non-fans can enjoy.
The classic adventure game was remastered earlier this year, but also made its way to the small screen. A hilarious script – which still manages to be the only game to feature a snarky balloon artist – and some tricky puzzles feature in a game that still holds up 17 years later.
An homage to the classic SNES platformers, Sword of Xolan is old school but unashamedly so. It’s a solid and challenging experience, although the boss fights aren’t as exciting.
Much like Lara Croft Go, Hitman has enjoyed life on the smaller screen, reformatted to suit its strengths. While Hitman: Go was a solid puzzle game, Sniper only focuses on the important (and arguably more fun) task of assassination.
With different challenges and objectives, figuring out how to best complete your aims requires both thought and patience – but it’s worth it.
It’s available on PC/Mac, but You Must Build a Boat is truly at home on the small screen. Not only is it addictive, but it accomplishes the rare feat of being easy to dip into for five minutes, yet deep enough to accommodate longer playthroughs.
Watching old police interviews might not sound like the most intriguing premise for a game, but it’s what Her Story doesn’t tell you that makes it engrossing.
Piecing together what happened and deciphering the mystery will stick in your mind even when you’re not playing the game, and the feeling when a hunch gets you results is always great.
A CEO of a mining company who also battles werewolves and other mythical creatures is an original premise for a game, and it happens to be a fantastic one. The game flows between sections effortlessly, the combat system is satisfying and, most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.
Placing you in the middle of a conflict with everything against you, This War of Mine is a harrowing experience where one wrong decision is enough to undermine everything for you and your companions. This isn’t a fun game per se, but it’s worth experiencing.
This zen-like puzzler sees you growing plants and making sure they reach sunlight in unforgiving conditions. The initial aim might not be clear from the start, but it’s a compelling and beautiful experience.
Adopting a freemium approach for the first true sequel in six years may have upset some, but once you get over that, the core of the game is just as solid as ever and the new additions improve the series instead of being gimmicky like other spinoffs.
The team behind Crossy Road take on the classic series in a fresh game that combines both old legacies with new features.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Pac-Man experience, then you can’t go wrong with the Championship Edition. With the focus on combos and high scores, it tweaks the successful formula and improves upon it.
A simple and relaxing card game that combines both Klondike and Poker, Sage Solitaire is all about racking up high scores by pairing cards. Surprisingly challenging yet addictive, this is to your iPhone what Solitaire was to your Windows 95 PC.
A game that’s about squares, physics and flinging yourself to destroy foes, David is a minimalist experience but it lends itself to some deep and occasionally difficult moments.
An original take on the scrolling shooter genre, Shooty Skies combines arcade thrills with some deft smartphone controls to create a challenging yet addictive game.
With nothing but gravity and your trusty gunboots, Downwell is an unforgiving experience where you must survive as long as possible. Powerups, procedurally generated levels and tough enemies keep the challenge high, but no matter how tough it gets, you’ll always want to have one more go.
Fast, snappy and relentless, HoPiKo’s levels last less than a minute yet the frantic gameplay and pumping soundtrack will keep you hooked, especially if you try to complete them within the (optional) time limit.
The Room Three
With an unsettling atmosphere and some mind-bending puzzles, The Room Three follows its own logic but once you adapt to it, its true genius unfolds. Some tricky puzzles and multiple endings mean you will be playing this for a while.
One of the best games of 2013 received a sequel without much fanfare, but it’s keeps all the elements that made the original great. With a number of small but essential additions, it’s a worthy followup. The fact that it’s also a beautiful game helps matters.