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Game of the Year - The best Android games of 2015

GO and get the lot of them
Product: Game of the Year 2015 | Publisher: Steel Media Ltd | Format: Android

If the measure of Android's gaming credentials is the number of great games it shares with iOS, then Google's smartphone empire had a pretty good year indeed.

Many of this year's top App Store titles are also playable on Google Play, rubbishing the claim that mobile gamers need something with a piece of fruit on the back to stay up to date.

Piffle. That's what that is. This year, Android fans had thousands of incredible games to keep them busy. And these ten, ranging from digital poems to addictive puzzlers to time-delayed game books, are the very best of the lot.

By Joel McDonald - buy on Android

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A game about gardening will not appeal to all. Some would rather chop down a tree and use the wood to craft a sword, rather than to carefully prune the tree's unnecessary branches. But give it some time, and this artful game might win you over.

It's a puzzle game, you see, about chopping off the right bits to help a tree grow into the sunshine. The joy comes from the organic nature of the tree's growth: this isn't about finding the perfect solution, but beavering away - in a satisfying way - until you succeed.

Lara Croft GO
By Square Enix - buy on Android

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That's very different to Lara Croft GO. Everything in this slick and stylish puzzle game is regimented and mechanical. Even spiders and scorpions, which Lara must sneak up on to defeat, shift about from grid square to grid square in predictable lockstep.

It means getting through the game is like finding the secret to an ancient mechanism. And it's because of Square Enix Montreal's smart teaching, clever puzzles, and good feedback that the experience is so strong.

This War of Mine
By 11 bit studios - buy on Android

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This War of Mine is a game that wants to know: how far would you go to survive? Because when your friends are hungry and injured, you'll be given opportunities to steal, refuse to help people in need, and even kill other survivors. Will you take them?

It's an unerringly bleak game. But it ultimately provides a more memorable and powerful depiction of war, than any game about moon nazis and robot Hitler. Just about.

Call of Champions
By Spacetime Studios - buy on Android

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Call of Champions challenged our assumptions about the MOBA genre. It stripped out many of the important aspects, cut the matches down to just five minutes, and added in a huge football. And it was good.

It works especially well on mobile, and has provided some of our favourite multiplayer moments on Twitch this year. No idea if the game suffered the same fate as every other mobile MOBA, but we can't fault this one's quality.

Skiing Yeti Mountain
By Featherweight Games - buy on Android

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It's Skiing Yeti Mountain, not Skiing Yeti Mountains. A subtle change, but an important one. The fact that every slalom course in this lovely little skiing game is just one part of a race down an impossibly grand hill is part of the game's subversive charm.

There are also oddball weirdos who deliver cryptic bits of narrative. There may or may not be a yeti in the forest. I wouldn't tell you either way. And whose blood is that? All this, and super sharp controls, keep you racing on and on and on.

Sorcery! 3
By inkle - buy on Android

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Inkle has always prided itself on not taking the easy option. When bringing game books to Android it could simply turn the paper into pixels, offering little more than a sexed up PDF for you to flick through.

But no. Its gloriously twisty and turny fantasy adventure is more than that. Paper maps and cut-out characters and, in this third instalment, a time-travelling mechanic that does stuff a book couldn't even dream of doing.

Because it's a book. Books don't have dreams. Silly.

By Loveshack - buy on Android

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Ever read a comic book where you're unhappy with the outcome? What if you could pick up and rearrange the panels, so our hero doesn't get caught, captured or killed?

That's the brutally clever conceit behind Framed. It's all about sniffing out the internal logic of this jazzy noir-style graphic novel, and experimenting with different arrangements until you succeed. Smart and stylish, and basically essential now it's finally on Android.

Door Kickers
By Killhouse Games - buy on Android

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The actual action in Door Kickers can come and go in a few minutes. A breaching charge, a flurry of bullets, a bunch of dead terrorists. Stop the clock.

But that's just one part of this grizzly real-time strategy game. You'll also have to plan your attack, and choose the right routes and weapons. And you'll want to pause the action to come up with an improvised escape route when things go horribly, wonderfully wrong.

You Must Build A Boat
By EightyEight Games - buy on Android

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You must build a boat, in You Must Build A Boat. But this is less about naval construction and more about demolishing enemies in quickfire match-three matches.

It's every bit as addictive as 10000000 (and, luckily, a little more attractive). But fab new wrinkles, like a clever dynamic difficulty system and involving quests, make it wonderfully fresh. Go on, lose a month to it. We won't tell anyone.

By 3 Minute Games - buy on Android

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This year, I raced through the trashy sci-fi novel The Martian in a matter of hours. No such luck with Lifeline…, no matter how engrossing this otherworldly narrative may be.

Because it's set up as a conversation with another person - the survivor of a space ship crash on a distant moon - you'll have to wait for each bit to come in, and for your chance to make a choice.

You'll soon be more excited to receive a notification from the game's hero Taylor, than an actual real life friend. Because are any of your friends astronauts? 

Thought not.

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 25 December 2015
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