Whether surviving the zombie apocalypse, saving the world from evil-doers or, ya know, crafting clever flying contraptions for cartoon pigs, this year’s best gaming apps provided plenty of compelling reasons to let our home consoles collect dust while we gamed on the go.
The Walking Dead: The Game (iOS)
Spread across five absorbing episodes, this throwback to point-and-click adventure games favors the emotional, character-driven depth of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series over the gore-soaked excess of the TV show. Sure, it still features ample opportunity to have your entrails eaten by flesh-craving creeps, but the real frights come from its morality-taxing choices and tense character interactions.
Rayman Jungle Run (iOS, Android)
Sporting a pop-off-the-screen presentation and fast-paced, auto-running platforming play, this personality-packed title sees the limbless console star make a flawless leap to mobile devices. A must-play for fans—as well as anyone looking to show off their iPad’s graphical prowess—this charming romp complements its gorgeous gameplay with ear-pleasing audio effects and intuitive touch controls.
Angry Birds Star Wars (iOS, Android)
Angry Birds Space successfully blasted the fowl-flinging phenomenon into orbit, but gthis follow-up invites players on the ultimate trip to a galaxy far, far away. Featuring fresh tweaks to the franchise’s familiar gameplay formula and tons of cool Star Wars call-outs (pig-piloted tie-fighters, light-saber-brandishing birds), the Force is strong—and feathered—with this one.
Fieldrunners 2 (iOS)
The done-to-death tower defense genre gets a much-needed makeover from the grandaddy of the cerebral gaming staple. On top of retaining the addictive appeal of its predecessor, this sequel evolves the franchise’s strategy-focused formula, then polishes it to gleaming perfection. Brimming with content, it also offers seasoned fans as well as new recruits endless opportunities to defend the world.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary Edition (iOS)
The criminal ladder-climbing antics of Vice City aren’t as capable of stirring up controversy as they were a decade ago, but this return to the Miami-inspired metropolis is still an over-the-top, open-world blast. Sporting all the 80′s excess and Scarface-inspired shenanigans of the original, it’s the same game fans of the car-jacking franchise remember—now playable in the palm of their hand.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour (iOS, Android)
Plenty of pretty portable games claim to offer “console-quality” experiences, but few on-the-go franchises can back up this boast like Modern Combat. From its gorgeous graphics, and silver screen-shaming set pieces to its cinematic, story-driven solo campaign, and robust suite of multi-player modes, Zero Hour is the closest you’ll get to playing Call of Duty in your doctor’s office waiting room.
Bad Piggies (iOS, Android)
Much more than another Angry Birds spinoff or sequel, Bad Piggies offers a totally original puzzle game experience that finally gives the ornery oinkers their day in the spotlight. Complementing the series’ signature cartoon-y charm with a clever vehicle-crafting gameplay mechanic, this sinister swine-starring title proves just as addictive and accessible as the franchise’s fine-feathered entries.
Punch Quest (iOS)
Don’t let its generic name fool you—Punch Quest is a thumb-blistering, monster-pummeling fighter featuring crazy-addictive action matched only by its appealing arcade-flavored style. Of course, if beating down dungeon-dwelling beasts from behind responsive touch controls isn’t your thing, the ability to mount laser-spitting dinosaurs should draw you into this charm-filled romp.
Horn (iOS, Android)
More epic action-adventure than mobile mini-game, Horn sends players on a gorgeous, fantasy-fueled quest to save the titular hero’s cursed village. From its intuitive combat and engaging puzzle-solving to its richly rendered world populated by colorful characters—and mechanical monsters—this on-the-go dungeon-crawler could give its console contemporaries a run for their gold coins.
The Walking Dead: Assault (iOS)
Combining solid top-down strategic play with Robert Kirkman’s flesh-craving franchise, this thoughtfully crafted entry delivers both engrossing gameplay and oozing fan-service. Featuring familiar series’ characters, a presentation that looks like it was ripped right from the paneled page, and top-notch touch mechanics, Assault should please strategy fans and apocalypse survivors alike.