One of the brilliant things about our favorite mobile games is we always have them on hand regardless of whether we are on the couch, traveling or just sitting at a coffee shop. Despite only one of those options being in play for most of 2020, we still found time to enjoy some of our favorite mobile games.
While not all of these games were released in 2020, these were the titles that dominated our mobile gaming this year and might be some of your favorites in 2021.
Sky: Children of the Light
Sky: Children of the Light is the latest game from the critically beloved team behind Journey and Flower. Similar to Journey, Sky utilizes minimalistic cooperation mechanics, allowing players to hold hands and communicate through emotes. You can’t speak or text others (unless you’re both sitting on a bench), meaning all forms of interaction must be done through the game’s internal mechanics. With strangers at my side, I’ve soared through gorgeous worlds, solved complex puzzles and discovered fascinating secrets. This silent cooperation has resulted in some incredibly heartwarming online interactions, especially since the game allows you to restore your flame by bringing out a candle close to another. Having to rely so heavily on other players to proceed, especially in a world where every character looks and acts adorable, is absolutely lovely.
— Mohammad Tabari
Whether you’re lying or telling the truth, there’s nothing harder than convincing your friends not to eject you from a spaceship because you happen to be lookin’ “sus” in electrical. While Among Us technically launched back in 2018, the phenomenon that you know now exploded with popularity this year thanks to many well-known Twitch streamers and YouTubers.
However, Among Us didn’t just get popular by happenstance. This once-hidden gem is incredibly fun. For those who live under a rock, Among Us is essentially a social deduction game where a bunch of crewmates run around a map completing tasks while the imposters pick off the crewmates one by one The Thing style. When a body is discovered, the crew has to discuss and vote to eject whoever they think is the imposter. Among Us will make you feel betrayed, cruel and violent, but most importantly, it’ll bring the word “sus” to your vocabulary whether you like it or not.
— Rami Tabari
If you are wondering what a PS5 game is doing on this list, you may have missed that The Pathless also launched as an Apple Arcade exclusive on mobile. The Pathless translates well to mobile with its large open world and relatively simple control scheme. The game begins with your character, the last Hunter, traveling to a cursed island hoping to finally defeat the evil that possesses it.
You are armed with a bow and an endless supply of arrows that you use to shoot targets scattered throughout the island in order to build up momentum and traverse the landscape rapidly. That sounds a bit like nonsense as I read it back, but trust me, it works. You add an eagle companion along the way that opens your movement even further as you can take to the sky. The gameplay is a mix of puzzles and boss battles that definitely can get intense at times, but once you settle into a rhythm with the controls, those fights some of the best moments in the game.
While it does lose a fair amount of graphical fidelity in the translation to mobile, the art style remains absolutely gorgeous and the fluidity of the character movement and sense of speed feel fantastic. I’m hoping the Apple Arcade exclusivity is timed and that eventually, this will come to Android as well, but for now, if you are an Apple Arcade subscriber, you should absolutely download The Pathless as it’s one of the best mobile games I played this year.
— Sean Riley
Genshin Impact took the world by storm this past September, blowing many of us away with a surprisingly well-made RPG experience holding no entry cost. Unlike most free-to-play games, Genshin Impact won’t suddenly halt your progress with a paywall when trying to access most of its content. After 30 hours of play, I managed to explore the entirety of the game’s world and dive into many of its secrets without spending a single cent.
Additionally, its gacha-systems never felt mandatory, although they are designed to make players who spend money stronger than those who don’t. However, as it can be played in single-player mode in its entirety, I never encountered this advantage. Genshin Impact is especially impressive due to how gorgeous it is on mobile devices, absolutely raising the bar for how mechanically and visually astounding a free-to-play mobile game can be.
— Mohammad Tabari
While PUBG may have been released back in early 2018, the game continues to see regular content updates and remained a consistent presence in my mobile gaming life in 2020. If you got bored of the often long, battle royale play and stepped away from the game some time ago, you may have missed quite a few additions that arrived in the last 18 months or so.
There are now five different Arena mode games that range from straight deathmatch play to the “Gun Game” that requires that you get a kill with 16 different weapons to win. This is in addition to the three quick Arcade modes, a rotating assortment of EvoGround modes, five full-scale maps and the current special event Metro Royale, which pits you against both a squad of other players as well as AI enemies in a campaign-style game. While not all of the special event modes have been great, there’s a new one every few months so they don’t get too stale.
While I will, at times, go a week or two without playing PUBG, the consistently solid performance of the game and the ability to jump in for a quick 3-5 minute game or a 30-minute playthrough has kept it in rotation for me for years now, and I don’t see it going away soon.
— Sean Riley