Anurag loves playing video games. His guides and listicles revolve around popular iOS, Android, PC, and console games.
You visit the Google Play Store with high hopes of finding a good, non-premium game—but then tragedy strikes. The downloaded game turns out to be a freemium title. Well, you are not the only one fooled by this in-app finagling. There are millions of users who do not read the fine print—yes the dreaded “offers in-app purchases” (IAP) label below the Install button—and download the game.
Nowadays, most games adopt this model and people are aware of it. They may even shell out a few bucks to complete a level or two. This list is not for them. It’s for those who are looking for Android games without in-app purchases. The good news is that there are games that won’t charge a dime for gems, weapons, timers, and boosts.
The bad news: There are very few non-IAP games out there, and so it would be very difficult for you to search for those games at the Play Store. No worries. I have done the hard work for you. Below are some of the best games for your mobile platform:
- Dumb Ways to Die
- Ready Steady Bang
- Chrono & Cash
- Desert Motocross
- Dragons Match
- Kid n Zombies
- Gem Drop
- Slendrina: The Cellar
- Sea Battle: Warships
- Swap the Box
- Hero Clickers
- Cheese Tower
1. Dumb Ways to Die
Dumb Ways to Die lets you rescue a plethora of quirky characters from death. There are over 10 “death” scenarios. Each scenario puts a character in a precarious situation that could lead to death if he’s not rescued on time. You will need to follow a few simple steps to rescue your favorite dumb character before time runs out. Most scenarios portray a grim situation in a rather hilarious way.
The mini-games test your reflexes and are not too challenging. You may need to swat wasps with your fingers before they bite a character to death or flick the piranhas to get them off a character’s private parts. The rescued characters will be placed on your train station as collectibles. The game also has a few unlockables, including the famous Dumb Ways to Die video. The first game of the series is available at the Google Play Store.
Astrosurf is a physics-based game where you will need to navigate your spaceship safely through a white canvas by avoiding small, medium, and large planets. The game’s gravity simulation will make navigation difficult. You will have to dodge planets and be quick to move away from them before your aircraft crashes into them. The game tests your reflexes and becomes increasingly difficult as you keep avoiding more and more planets.
The game has superb visuals. Like Doodle Jump, Astrosurf’s graphics are pulled straight out of an art book. You will love controlling a 3D aircraft model on a white canvas with hand-drawn planets and other objects drawn on it. Playing Astrosurf is a good way to kill time.
Slambots is an addictive arena-based vertical platformer with old school retro-inspired visuals. You may find gameplay a bit complicated at first and may take time to get accustomed to controls. Once you know how the game works, it will be hard to put down this game. The goal is simple: Bounce off rival bots to eliminate them. You lose a level if enemy bots bounce on top of you or hit you from the side.
You will need to tilt your Android device to move around the screen and bounce on enemy heads. You earn score combos each time you achieve a string of bounce kills without touching a platform. You will also earn bonus points if you activate “Slam” by touching the screen at the right moment soon after your Slambot comes down after bouncing off an enemy. The game is all about earning points, and the player who scores the highest tops the online leaderboard.
Gameplay isn’t easy because enemies move in unpredictable ways, making it quite difficult to bounce on them. The challenge lies in being quick to detect enemy movement patterns and move accordingly. The game’s challenging and extremely addictive.
4. Ready Steady Bang
Ready Steady Bang brings out the cowboy in you by pitting you against 10 badass outlaws in a quaint Mexican town. It’s a fun dueling game that tests your reflexes. You will need to press the “bang” button to fire before your opponent does, and this should be done as fast as possible to avoid getting hit first. Each level has multiple rounds. A player who’s quicker than his opponent in most of the rounds wins a level and unlocks goodies.
Being quicker than your rival has its own perks. You get to unlock funny cowboy death animations. You will also be able to see how quick you were via the stats menu. You, however, won’t be able to see how fast your AI opponent was in case you lose a duel.
The visuals are good, and the hilarious animated death scenes unlocked at each level are a good reason to play all rounds. And if you are bored playing against an AI opponent, there’s always a 2-player mode to show who’s a quick draw cowboy.
Guns isn’t your average shooter. It’s a realistic simulator that tests your shooting skills by using a virtual target. You will have access to a variety of guns, such as assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, shotguns, sub-machine guns, even knives and grenades to aid you in your target practice. Since this Android game does not offer in-app purchases, most virtual weapons can be used without spending money.
Guns doubles up as an augmented reality app, allowing you to turn a real-life animate or inanimate object as your target for shooting practice. Just aim, tap the screen or shake your device to fire.
While the game does pretty well in simulating real-life physics to give you a very realistic target practice, certain improvements can add more fun to the overall shooting experience. Improved graphics, sounds of trigger pulls, and realistic recoil are some improvements most players are looking forward to in this game.
6. Chrono & Cash
Chrono & Cash is a retro-inspired platformer with plenty of fun levels to keep you busy for hours. Your goal is to run, jump, avoid enemy contact, and collect items scattered throughout the levels. Enemies will spawn randomly and will be quick to jump on you, so keep an eye on them. You will have less time to react and pick items, which is why speed and quick reflexes are crucial to passing a level.
The enemy spawn rate increases, and their movement pattern becomes quite complex in advanced stages. Levels offer multiple challenges, and completing them will give you bonus points. Challenges range from collecting diamonds to snagging items in the correct order.
Chrono & Cash is for those who love fixed-screen platformers like Super Crate Box. The 8-bit retro visuals are true to its design and style and will surely make '90s gamers nostalgic. The non-premium version is ad-supported, but there is no IAP.
Gunslugs is a side-scrolling shooter game inspired by Metal Slug. In this game, you venture out on a dangerous mission to save the world from the Black Duck Army invasion. Gameplay is a standard run-and-gun affair, but random level generation will make things quite challenging for players. You will find a randomly-generated level each time your character dies.
Gunslugs lets you choose a character of your choice. You also get to unlock new characters as you progress through different stages. There are also plenty of new enemy types, traps, and obstacles to make this fast-paced run and gun action game even more unpredictable and challenging.
Gunslugs is a hard nut to crack. The randomly generated levels and complex enemies make play time quite frustrating and difficult. The game is for hardcore platformer lovers.
Jenga for Android brings back tower building to life with its perfect real-time 3D physics simulation. You will need to carefully remove blocks and place them on top of the tower, keeping in mind that the tower should not fall. Your touch needs to be quite delicate to take away a block and put it on top of a tower. A little tap here and a drag there might ensure that tower gets less wobbly and does not fall apart.
Those who have played Jenga know how difficult it is to remove blocks from a real wooden tower, and this game recreates the same level of tension and excitement on your Android device.
The real fun lies in playing with friends online. The game’s Pass ‘n’ Play mode lets four players get into a tower-building frenzy. There are two more gameplay modes besides the classic Jenga. If you love the original Parker Brothers version, you will love every part of the faithful adaptation of the world’s most popular pastime.
9. Desert Motocross
Desert Motocross is a fast-paced motocross game that offers nine levels of pure dirt biking fun. There are plenty of obstacles and challenging terrain to test your nerves. The apocalyptic, desert setting creates a perfect scenario for a racing challenge. You will drive through mud, over crates, old cars—even tanks and fallen trees.
The on-screen controls make this game somewhat more challenging. And even if you get the controls right, it won’t be easier for you to cross the hurdles and reach checkpoint. Visuals are easy to the eyes and are crisp and clear. The heavy metal soundtrack will keep the adrenaline rush going through your veins while driving on difficult terrain. The game is available at the Google Play Store and offers no IAP and ads.
10. Dragons Match
Love dragons? Love match-3 puzzlers? Well, this developer has made your dreams come true by combining fairy tale’s most legendary creature with mobile’s popular puzzle genre. Dragons Match is a timer-based match-3 puzzle game set in a fantasy universe.
The goal is to free all dragons by completing match-3 puzzles and finally reach the wizard’s lair to defeat him. The game employs a unique sliding gameplay mechanics that lets you swipe baby dragons to match three or more of the same type.
As you progress through levels, you will unearth rare items to decorate and equip your dragon shelter. The bonus items will help you complete levels and rescue cute fire-breathing monsters trapped in match-3 puzzle boards.
The baby dragon artwork is excellent, and so is the animation. This Android game has more than 100 levels and does not offer IAP.
A retro-inspired steampunk shooter, SkyKnight features some of the most decorated aircraft you have ever seen. It’s a plain air shooter where you will just need to swipe the screen to evade enemy aircraft and incoming fire.
On your skyward journey, you will get an opportunity to collect coins, which can later be used to purchase upgrades. And yes, you won’t have to spend a dime for those upgrades. All of them can be purchased with the in-game coins you have collected while dodging enemy aircraft.
The upgrades will boost your airship’s firepower and bolster its defenses, making it more powerful against enemy aircraft. There’s also a workshop that lets you tweak and create your own steampunk airship. SkyKnight doesn’t offer any in-app purchase options.
12. Kid n Zombies
Kid n Zombies employs Cookie Clicker-like tap mechanics. But in this game, your finger will come to the rescue of a poor boy surrounded by the undead. You will need to squish those slimy green creatures with your finger before they trap the poor kid. There will also be bombs to help you kill multiple zombies. Just tap on a bomb and watch zombies explode to bits.
Kid n Zombies has cartoonish visuals and excellent sound Fx. If you love “tap games,” then you should download this game immediately.
Tip: Look for games with the “Actually Free” label on the Google Play Store. These games are certified non-IAP titles.
Dubslider is a rhythm-based musical game. You might be familiar with the game mechanics if you have played Audiosurf. The intoxicating music combined with psychedelic visuals will certainly make you fall in love with this game.
The game has several modes, but the common objective is to catch the rhythm orbs to score points and, in doing so, create some awesome dubstep. The game is not suitable for epilepsy patients. Dubslider can be downloaded without paying a dime, but advertisements will be displayed on the screen while playing the game.
14. Gem Drop
Gem Drop is a unique gem-matching game that combines the gameplay mechanics of Bejeweled and Tetris. Help Marty the Mole, a hardworking miner, to collect shiny trinkets by moving his cart along the tracks. While moving the mine-cart, you will need to catch and combine gems of the same color to score points, unlock achievements/power-ups, and rank up to the top of the online leaderboard.
Gem Drop has three challenging game modes. Graphics are bright and colorful and will definitely appeal to kids of all ages. Simple gameplay, eye-catching visuals, and plenty of fun levels—Gem Drop gets these aspects right and provides an addicting gaming experience.
15. Slendrina: The Cellar
Slendrina: The Cellar is a horror game like Slenderman. The game is part of the Slendrina series and is known to be the scariest of them all. The objective is to collect all eight books in the dark cellar and head for the exit.
Finding all books won’t be as easy as some doors will be locked. Your only tool to assist you is a small flashlight. Find keys to open them and explore the cellar to search for them. This is where the game becomes extremely frightening. The sight of Slendrina is unbearable, and it’s better not to look back or even catch a glimpse of her in the dark cellar.
Her screams are terrifying and will surely send chills down your spine. This game should not be played at night, and I know you won’t heed my warning. So go on, play it after the sun sets, with your headphones on.
16. Sea Battle: Warships
A 3D naval battle game, Sea Battle: Warships lets you deploy powerful warships on the sea to destroy rival navy ships. This WWII-themed game takes you back to the war-torn era. The goal is to navigate your ship and fire at the right moment to sink enemy ships. You will be surrounded by enemies having equally better firepower.
Destroying ships will earn you coins, which can later be used to purchase upgrades and armor to make your ship more powerful. You will also unlock additional ships to expand your fleet. Note that the purchases you will make are from the in-game coins. You won’t have to spend any money to buy them.
Sea Battle: Warships does not boast groundbreaking 3D graphics, but the visuals for a totally free battleship shooting mobile game are pretty good. The game strikes a balance between strategy, trading (coins for upgrades, etc.), and fast-paced naval combat.
Warlings is a pure Worms clone. Everything, from the interface to gameplay mechanics, is strikingly similar to the original PC strategy game. There are over five battlefields, each having its own unique features and complex terrain. Battles will take place on the sea, in the air, and in space. You will need to move those wiggly creatures, get to a strategic position, and use an assault option from a variety of weapon choices, including the famous fire punch.
The game graphics are colorful, cartoonish, and bright. Warlings look like worms but have bigger helmets. Gameplay is bit on the slower side, but Worms fans will love every bit of it. Besides single-player missions against AI, there’s also a multiplayer mode that lets you play with friends via Bluetooth.
18. Swap the Box
Swap the Box is an addictive puzzle game with a very “out-of-the-box” (pun intended) gameplay mechanics. The goal is to match three identical boxes by removing spare boxes that don’t fit in the picture. The swapping continues until all boxes around are swapped and similar boxes are placed on top of the other two.
The game tests your logic throughout 120 levels divided into different scenarios. Swap The Box is a must-play puzzle game you should try when you are bored at home, in your office, or at your grandma’s place.
19. Hero Clickers
Hero Clickers is a Cookie Clicker-like game, but instead of tapping on cookies, you will be tapping on monsters to defeat them. The faster you tap on them, the more gold you earn. You can then use the gold to buy special power-ups and characters to speed up monster kills.
Hero Clickers’ endless gameplay approach lets you play the game for hours without any interruption. The graphics are colorful and bright, and some monsters are very adorable. The game is a great alternative to Cookie Clickers and offers plenty of play hours to help you pass your time.
20. Cheese Tower
Cheese Tower is a fun puzzle game with real-life physics simulation. The game employs simple tap-based controls and has eye-catching graphics. You will need to take advantage of Jimmy the Cat’s abilities to get rid of mice and ensure pieces of cheese do not fall off the table.
Gravity plays a big role in this game, and so you will need to carefully, and sometimes quickly, tap on the grey mouse blocks to avoid a big cheese fall. You will replay a level if you destroy or drop a maximum of three cheese blocks. The game has four sets of challenging levels, and there will be additional levels coming soon.
Disclaimer: All games mentioned above do not offer IAP or require users to pay money to buy the game. But some of them may be ad-supported and link to your Facebook or Google+ account. To download and install a game, go to the Google Play Store and enter the name of the game on the search box.
Anurag Ghosh (author) on January 05, 2015:
Tiago Damião from Torres Novas on January 05, 2015:
Chrono and Cast sounds kinda Cool. Have to try! Great hub :D