Portable playground

By Mikhail Madnani

BEST OF 2019

The smartphone truly came into its own as a gaming device in 2019. Here are the year’s standout releases

Call of Duty Mobile (iOS, Android)

Massive gaming franchises getting mobile versions isn’t anything new but few of the big ones manage to transition well when it comes to nailing the feel and keeping players coming back on a regular basis. Call of Duty: Mobile is a great example of how to bring a huge fi rst-person shooter to mobile platforms. Most of the popular main game modes like battle royale and even zombies from recent Call of Duty entries are also present in Call of Duty: Mobile with great visuals and performance on modern phones. Tencent’s TiMi Studios did a great job in bringing Call of Duty to mobile and recent updates even brought in proper controller support for those who prefer traditional controls.

► Sky: Children of Light (iOS, Android soon)

Originally showcased at an Apple event, Sky: Children of the Light from thatgamecompany fi nally hit iOS earlier this year and will be arriving on Android soon. Sky feels like a proper successor to the studio’s brilliant Journey. You play as a child in a kingdom in the sky trying to restore all the stars that have vanished. Sky has a nice online component as well that emphasises on cooperation and being nice to others. As expected, it has gorgeous visuals and great music. Despite being free to play, it doesn’t ever push you to spend money. Sky is free-to-play done right and a game everyone should check out. It is going to be interesting to see how Sky evolves over time with more platforms coming into the fray.

► SaGa: Scarlet Grace Ambitions (iOS, Android)

Square Enix brings a lot of older games to mobile platforms but rarely do we get a day and date release alongside PC and consoles for a new title. SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions is a brand new entry in Square Enix’s long running SaGa franchise and one that perfectly suits portable gameplay. There are multiple protagonists in this story and loads of replay value. While the asking price on iOS and Android may turn some people off, the sheer amount of quality content through storytelling, gameplay, music, and more does enough to justify the asking price in spades. It also runs and controls brilliantly on touchscreens. SaGa: Scarlet Grace Ambitions is one of the best RPGs on mobile.

Sayonara Wild Hearts (iOS)

Simogo has released some of the best mobile games of all time, with classics like Year Walk, Device 6 and more under their belt. Sayonara Wild Hearts was a showcase title for the Apple Arcade subscription service and it is easy to see why. The genre-blending music album-game hybrid that brings together multiple styles of gameplay perfectly is one of the best games on any platform this year. It is split up into levels that represent songs in a pop album and has some of the slickest visuals and animations out there. If you’ve not tried Apple Arcade yet, this game makes it worth it alone. Sayonara: Wild Hearts is Simogo’s best game yet, and considering the studio’s past, that is no easy achievement.

Grindstone (iOS)

Capybara Games has brought some great games to mobile, consoles and PC over the years, like Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP and Super Time Force Ultra. For Apple Arcade, the studio released Grindstone, which is one of the best-match three puzzle games ever. Grindstone has charming visuals and great audio design but it excels at making you manage risk and reward. You could always complete a level by achieving the minimum requirements to progress but going for extras could either reward you if you play well or ruin your complete run. While it initially seems a bit simple, there’s a ton of depth here and loads of great levels and ideas in this Apple Arcade exclusive.

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