You already know gaming makes you a more awesome human being. That’s why you’ve made regular video game play part of your ongoing self-improvement program. But are you really doing enough to promote a healthy, happy brain?
Not a chance. That is, not if you don’t have at least one of these super-smart, challenging games on your smartphone or tablet. Even though none of them are free, well, what the heck — isn’t the further development of your brainpower worth an investment of five bucks or less?
Check out the incredible workout your mind will get from our top 10 mobile games:
1. Rymdkapsel by grapefrukt games
One of the most innovative games to come along in some time, Rymdkapsel is a dynamic outer space strategy game combined with the geometric spatial patterns of Tetris. Build your space station, organize supply lines and manage resources in the face of alien attacks.
It’s not a long game. If you’re smart and efficient with your strategies, you’ll finish the game in about 3 hours. But it’s well worth the time and money you’ve spent, with a striking, pleasing visual design and lots of challenges along the way.
2. Principia by Bithack
If you’ve played the game Apparatus, you know the incredible work the team at Bithack can do. Principia is even cooler and more ambitious than its popular predecessor. It’s a puzzle game, an engineering and design exercise and a community of builders you can join, all in one.
The game keeps getting more and more complex as you get into it, and there are probably an infinite number of ways to solve the problems it presents: create towers, bridges, cars, rockets, calculators and robots as you guide your little robot buddy through to the end. This is honestly one of the most complex and devilish games imaginable, with 150 puzzle pieces for you to noodle around with.
3. Strata by Graveck Interactive LLC
And now for something completely different. As lavish as Principia and Rymdkapsel are, Strata is quite the opposite — a minimalistic, elegant game that looks easy but will actually have you grinding your teeth like a maniac.
The game is simple enough. Just weave patterns with colored ribbons to match tiles placed on a grid. But thinking in three dimensions is really pretty hard, and Strata will definitely pop your brain into overdrive.
iOS, Android, Windows Phone – $2.99
4. Division Cell by Hyperspace Yard
Remember the book “Flatland?” That’s where the little irregular polygons in Division Cell live. Every polygon in the game wants to achieve symmetry, and it’s your job to help them reach their goal. Tap the edge of a shape to make it grow or shrink and when everything is equal, move on to the next of 140 levels.
Unique in concept, sleek and minimal in appearance and fascinating because it doesn’t conform to any particular strategy, this game will suck you in and keep you absorbed for hours at a time.
iOS – $1.99 and Android – $1.94
5. Hundreds by Semi-Secret Software
If you like playing with numbers, Hundreds is the game for you. Gameplay combines a simple mathematical goal with a little bit of spatial risk management. Your goal is to grow 100 points or more between spheres that keep expanding. If one growing circle touches another one, you’re dead.
Hundreds looks great. The gameplay is easy to learn but really hard to master. Your brain is gonna LOVE this one!
6. Kiwanuka by Jakyl/CMA Megacorp
Magical, entertaining and completely unique, Kiwanuka presents you with fascinating spatial puzzles in a gorgeous alien universe with a dubstep soundtrack. The premise of the game is simple: You’re a magician leading your people to safety. But there’s a twist — the way to salvation is accomplished by building human bridges.
Challenges along the way build from clearing simple gaps to bridging moving platforms to passing through solid walls. Solving the puzzles will get your mind working, for sure. The real charm of the game, though, is its unconventionality. There’s really nothing else around that compares to Kiwanuka.
iOS – $0.99 and Android – $1.99
7. Threes! by Sirvo LLC
Another great number puzzler with a twist, Threes! is both simple and addictive. Your goal is to pile up numbered tiles to make bigger numbers, and to get as many piles as possible before your grid fills up. Once you get into it, there’s a rhythm to Threes! that’s positively hypnotic, and stacking up a gigantic total makes you feel like you just conquered the world.
And the twist? Each tile has a face, a personality and a voice that probably belongs to an indie game developer. Stylish, fun and infinitely challenging, Threes! is way better than knock-offs like 2048 and well worth its modest price.
8. The Room Two by Fireproof Games
If you’re a fan of sinister, atmospheric mystery games, The Room Two will pique your curiosity and raise the hair on the back of your neck. It’s a sequel to the award winning game “The Room,” and it absolutely comes up to the same standard of excellence.
In this sequel the location has expanded considerably, making it almost as much of an adventure as a puzzler. Truly creepy and almost tactile in its artwork, this game is meant to be played on a dark and stormy night with the headphones on and the lights turned off. It’s not an especially long game — you’ll probably finish it in an evening. But the spine-chilling ambiance will stay with you for much longer.
9. Monument Valley by ustwo
Monument Valley is a short game that places you squarely in the world of M.C. Escher’s impossible geometry. It’s mind-bogglingly gorgeous in every aspect, from the elegant puzzles to the stark atmosphere. In just ten levels, you move the lonely Princess Ida over stairs and walkways to reach her goal. Optical illusions abound, providing lots of eye candy and some brain strain too.
This game is really a work of art — and you’ll only experience it once. When it’s over, you’re done. At just a couple of hours of gameplay, is it worth the price? If you appreciate a lovingly crafted, absorbingly fresh game, then your answer is yes.
iOS – $1.99 and Android – $3.99
10. Out There by Mi-Clos Studio
You’ll probably die about a hundred times in this stark space survival adventure game. But that’s okay — there’s plenty to like about Out There while your character is alive. For starters, there’s the artwork. It’s like a space comic book brought to life. The soundtrack is immersive and completely in sync with the harsh realities of deep space.
And then there’s the story itself. You’re exploring the universe in search of the resources that will fuel your survival. There’s danger, mystery and lots of cold, calculating decisions to be made. Out There is an intense experience that will keep you coming back for more, even though chances are you’re doomed.
iOS – $1.99 and Android – $3.99