It’s been a busy year. Mergers and acquisitions left, right, and centre. New ownership of Twitter. More progress with NFTs and Web3. Even tighter regulations with the app stores. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is new hit games entering the market. And boy, we’ve been spoiled for choice over the last 12 months. So to end the year on a high, we rounded up our top 22 games to hit the charts this year.
So grab your phone and get comfy. Here are the top games we loved playing this year. If you want some inspiration for games to binge over the holiday period, look no further.
22. Spinner Merge by Sunday.GG
Think of this as a hyper-casual Beyblade game with a merge mechanic mixed in the middle.
What we liked about Spinner Merge is how they came about the idea of bringing in the merge mechanic. Sunday.GG relied on data to figure out what they wanted this game to be. They had the spinner idea in mind. But after researching the market, they found that merge games were steadily growing and were a solid choice to go down. All they needed was to add a unique spin to their game.
Ideas can come from anywhere. But a good place to start is watching the ranks and spotting trends.
21. Cart Crash by TastyPill
Who doesn’t love a good rollercoaster? TastyPill launched this game in April this year and has hit a tasty million downloads on the Google Play store alone.
Cart Crash is an incredibly satisfying game that relies much more on timing than any other mechanic. You control how fast the rollercoaster goes to collect carts and when to stop to avoid obstacles cutting off parts of the ride. The more carts you have, the higher your score at the end.
Why is it so satisfying? You’re constantly rewarded throughout the game. Getting a small smiley face for every person you collect. That, plus the bonuses and rewards at the end of each level, just makes you want to come back for more.
Sprinkling rewards throughout the gameplay, rather than at the end of each level, can make your game all the more fun to play.
20. Net Fishing! by Voodoo
Cast your net to collect as many fish as you can. That’s the core concept from Voodoo. And despite Net Fishing! being a simple and easy game to play, there’s much more to this game under the surface.
It doesn’t feel like just another hyper-casual game. Each level, you have set goals and targets that you need to complete. And the gameplay actually requires some patience and skill. Which only adds to the player’s sense of achievement. Even the design for each level is different. So it never truly feels all that repetitive, which is crucial for casual and hyper-casual titles.
Going the extra mile with your game and adding in just a few more features or touches does make a difference. And your players will notice.
19. Army Commander by Lion Studios
Casual strategy games have definitely made their mark in 2022. Mixing in the relaxing and simple mechanics of a casual game with the touches of strategy and real-time decision-making makes for a rewarding and satisfying experience.
You’d think that army games and a relaxing experience wouldn’t mix. But Army Commander by Lion Studios seemed to nail this on the head. We enjoyed levelling up our base, taking on enemy teams, and running around collecting coins.
If you’re going for an action theme, it doesn’t always have to be over-the-top guns galore. You can still make it a fun, engaging and relaxing experience.
18. Vikingard by Netease
There’s a lot to love about Vikingard. The core gameplay follows a ‘build and battle mechanic’. But Netease has layered a lot into this title.
Aside from the core gameplay, players have plenty to explore – from farming and growing the land, levelling up heroes, raising pets, making alliances with other clans, to even following a romantic storyline and going on a date. Perhaps the Viking theme is in fashion (thanks to a certain God of War game hitting the stores), but it’s made our list and definitely a game to get lost in.
That doesn’t mean you should add features for the sake of it. Think about what adds to your experience, and work from there.
17. Gun Action – Shoot n Run by Ketchapp
Parkour. Monsters. And explosions. Ketchapp clearly had a fun time making this game. And we had a blast playing it.
It’s a casual action game. The gameplay is super simple, you just tap the targets you want to hit. So there’s the casual element. But to make it a bit more fun, time slows when you shoot a monster, making each kill all the more epic.
The design for each level is very similar, but it doesn’t ever feel repetitive. They even have artwork on the walls from famous films and games (we spotted Mars Attack and what we think was Left for Dead). And they keep the game fresh by introducing new weapons as you progress through the game. The only bad thing about Gun Action – Shoot n Run is that we reckon it deserves more downloads than what we’ve seen on the app stores.
16. Supermarket Village—Farm Town by Codigames
When we realised Codigames was behind this title, we weren’t surprised why it was a hit. Masters of simulation, this studio is renowned for making popular sim games for mobile.
We especially love what they’ve done with Supermarket Village. In the game, you run your own farm, create your own products, and sell to the local community through your own small business. And we don’t see this often enough in games. It’s awesome to see some good messaging baked into its core gameplay. So it was a no-brainer why this title made our roundup.
It doesn’t just have to be about the gameplay and mechanics. If it works with your idea, then you can bring across important messages in your titles, which only adds to the experience.
15. Runner Coaster by Dual Cat
Yep, another rollercoaster game. But we thought this one was worthy of our list, too. Simple mechanics, as with any hyper-casual. All you need to do is swipe left and right to collect money and people, and dodge spikes and danger (we’re glad this part is left out of real rollercoasters).
What we liked about Runner Coaster was that it wasn’t just about reacting or mindlessly swiping left and right. At different points throughout the game, the path splits into two. If you choose the wrong path? Well, that could affect how many people you collect, which affects your overall score.
Dual Cat made this game hard enough to be a challenge, but easy enough to be fun and rewarding. They did a good job spacing the ads out, so it never felt too disruptive for the player.
14. Aquarium Land – Fishbowl World by Homa Games
A perfect example of show, don’t tell.
The onboarding process in Fishbowl World is spot on. Aside from a little text explaining what you’re doing, you learn everything by exploring the game. It’s intuitive and rewarding, without babying the players.
We don’t see this often enough in casual simulation games, but there is a lovely open-world feel to this game. Once you know the controls and objectives, you’re left to your own devices. And there’s plenty to do and manage once you’re all set.
Of course, there are ads (although not too many). But Homa Games did a stellar job with their rewarded ads, too. If you want to ride the jet ski placed on the beach, well, you’ll need to watch an ad. It’s not forced on the player and never disrupts them. They find it by exploring the map. A fair exchange for any player, but not needed to progress in the game.
It’s clear that a lot of thought and care has gone into this game, with the player’s experience at its core.
13. Football Life! by Ruby Games
Live your life as a football star. Football Life! hit the stores in April this year and, so far, has reached over 500 thousand downloads on the Google Play Store.
We’ve seen a few more simulation titles hit the charts this year. And although this game belongs to the simulation genre, we definitely felt more hyper-casual vibes than we originally expected.
Not that this was a bad thing. Ruby Games has done an excellent job of keeping the gameplay fresh and interesting. Each level is a different experience, from chatting with your manager, training for a game, or even picking the number of your shirt. But they keep the gameplay simple, satisfying, and short. It feels like a bunch of hyper-casuals games merged into one, with an interesting theme and story layered in.
12. Hit & Run: Solo Levelling by Supercent Games
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Hit & Run is a typical runner game, where you avoid dangers and collect, well, in this case, people. But for this game, they layered in choice – fight enemies to make your character stronger, and avoid ones that are too tough.
We reckon this has the grounds to be a great game (not to say it hasn’t been successful – it’s hit over a whopping 5 million downloads alone on Google Play Store). We love the concept. And we reckon if Supercent threw in a couple of extra features and maybe a catchy tune, it would just take this title that extra mile.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just adding a unique theme or idea can make your title stand out from the ocean of games out there.
11. Torchlight Infinite by XD Entertainment
Definitely for the more experienced gamer. Torchlight Inifinite is an ARPG (action roleplaying game), and the fourth title in the series made by XD Entertainment. But not only is it the first to make it to mobile, it’s also the first one to be free to play.
A lot of players were afraid that, considering this one was F2P, the developers would make it pay to win (or there would be a decrease in story or quality). That hasn’t been the case. Although there are plenty of microtransactions in the game, these are more for cosmetic or novelty items, rather than the core gameplay.
We’ve seen a lot of F2P games take this approach. And Torchlight Infinite is just another example that it can work. If done well.
10. Summoners War: Chronicles by Com2uS
Summoners War: Chronicles is yet another MMORPG to make it to mobile. It’s an incredibly fun game. And the graphics are beautiful, but very demanding. At the lowest settings, it looks a bit like a PS2 game. But that’s to be expected until the tech has another leap.
It’s an extra special treat for any hardcore fans of Summoners War. It’s nice to see those 3D characters and monsters come to life. What we have heard from the community is this game is very similar to other MMORPG’s on the market, so new players may not be that impressed. But considering that Com2uS only released this title over a month ago, we think it’s got a lot of potential, and should make its mark in the industry soon.
9. Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds by Netmarble
Beautiful artwork. Incredible story. And breathtaking environments. Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds is another free-to-play MMORPG to hit mobile this year, and is the first to do so in the Ni no Kuni series.
We couldn’t wait to jump in on this game. And we weren’t disappointed. Aside from some not-so-great controls (players have said that this game just plays itself, and we can see why), we still think this is a noble attempt to bring such a large and demanding game to mobile.
We’ll likely see Netmarble release some large fixes and changes in no time, which will hopefully make this title an easy 9.5 out of 10 in no time.
8. Dicey Dungeons by Terry Cavanagh
It’s tricky taking any game from PC and Console to mobile. There’s so much to take into consideration – from adapting to a smaller screen, adjusting mechanics and creating simpler controls, down to CPU power and graphics.
But despite all of that, Terry Cavanagh nailed the transition. Originally launched back in 2019, Dicey Dungeons was an immediate hit indie game. High-quality music and unique and beautiful design, all smashed together with fun gameplay. And earlier this year, he finally released his mobile adaption – hitting a nice 4.6 star review on the Google Play Store.
If you’re looking to switch your game from console to mobile, then Dicey Dungeons is a prime example of doing this right.
7. Rovio Classics: AB by Rovio
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Except for the original version of Angry Birds, they did, in fact, have to fix it. They actually had to rebuild this game from the ground up. It’s because the original version was created on Unity’s old engine. Apart from a little polishing, they kept everything the same. And building it on Unity’s new engine means they will be able to continue releasing updates and fixing bugs – something they were blocked from doing for a while.
What we especially love is Rovio decided to make this an affordable premium game, rather than F2P. So ads won’t ever spoil what is arguably a perfect mobile game.
6. Idle Siege: War Simulator by Gameloft
Plan your attack. Ready your defences. And deploy your troops.
We had quite a bit of fun with Idle Siege. It combines strategy with smaller tasks, features and rewards to keep you engaged. That, slapped on with some vibrant colours, cute art style, and upbeat music, made playing this game a treat.
What also stood out for us is Gameloft’s community management. Mobile games that rely on ads tend to get a bad rap (understandably so). But the crew at Gameloft have done a stellar job listening to their community and keeping them engaged and in the know.
5. Dislyte by FARLIGHT and Lilith Games
Mythological creatures in a cyberpunk futuristic setting (yep, you heard that right). This was definitely one game that easily caught our eye this year, and for good reason.
In true Lilith Games fashion, we found the usual systems that this developer usually works with. Their daily tasks, arenas and dungeons. There are a lot of familiar and welcome features to dig into.
But what was refreshing were the new systems Lilith Games layered in. One mini-game that stood out to us was their new “DJ contest”, which brought across mechanics from more rhythmic games.
It’s easy to get lost in this title – from the story, PVP battles, events, social aspects, mini-games, and even collecting the most powerful gear. We’re excited about where Dislyte heads.
4. Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales by Next Games
Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales wasn’t initially created for the Netflix Platform. It actually came out a year prior as a F2P title by Next Games. After the streaming giant absorbed Next Games, they added this title to their new gaming library over a year later.
So, technically Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales wasn’t released in 2022. But what we will say is Netflix didn’t just shift it over. They removed all of the F2P monetization, polished some of the features, and released a new batch of content for season 4.
When studios get acquired, it’s easy to see their games have drastic changes. And in this case, we’ve only seen good things.
3. Dracula City Master: Idle Army by Tilting Point
Dracula City Master is an Idle Tower Defense game, where you play as the bad guys. Your goal? Conquer the world with your vampire army. But in all honesty, we quickly fell in love with this game. It has a charming mixture of fun gameplay, cool mechanics, an adorable art style and a catchy soundtrack.
Gameplay aside, the whole look and experience just feels well-rounded and polished. And they’ve clearly had fun with the spooky theme. (You get a body count of how many humans you slayed after each level.)
Tilting Point released this back in October, and we’re surprised it hasn’t been more popular. It’s still early days, and we reckon this one will have its time in the sun (or moonlight, rather).
2. Mini Basketball by Miniclip
Miniclip took everything that made their football mobile game brilliant and slapped it on a Basketball themed game. This title has reached an impressive five million downloads in the last eight months, and rightfully so.
One of the biggest things that stood out to us is its onboarding. Each mechanic and button was introduced over time, and there was plenty of room to practice and learn. And despite the game sometimes feeling a bit challenging, it was never overwhelming. Which is a difficult balance to strike.
All in all, Mini Basketball is a well-rounded, polished and fun game. As to be expected from Miniclip. Definitely worth a play over the holiday season.
1. Apex Legends Mobile by EA
As technology improves (especially with hardware, server management, ping, etc), we’re starting to see more and more AAA fast-paced titles hit the smaller screens.
Apex Legends Mobile launched on the app stores earlier this year. And after a shaky launch on Nintendo Switch, Apex coming to mobile was actually a welcome surprise. It’s obviously simplified (they only released 10 legends on mobile, compared to the 20+ on console and PC). But the experience still feels good, when compared to that of a PC or PS4.
It can be difficult trying something new. Especially when there’s no guarantee that it’ll be better. So what we love about this launch is that they didn’t just adapt it to mobile, but they gave it some extra value, too. They released a new mobile-only hero, Fade, and specifically designed this character for handheld devices. Making it much more exciting for players when making the switch. They’ve even confirmed that this character won’t be making its way over to the consoles. A brave, but perhaps smart move from EA.
Think we missed any?
That’s our roundup from 2022. It’s been a brilliant year for games, and we can’t wait to see what the next 12 months will bring. If you think we’ve missed out any of the epic games that were launched this year, then let us know.