Smartphones put everything at our fingertips, from email and the internet to entertainment. The benefits of having a pocket-sized computer are virtually endless - and it seems like everyone spends their time on their phones, looking at social media, taking selfies, and googling random facts. That said, for most people, it’s not enough to scroll Facebook or Reddit, and even Twitter gets dull eventually.
Sometimes, it’s a strategic challenge you’re after --- a chance to really test yourself. If that’s the case, check out one of these ten killer strategy games for mobile and make your next plane, train, or grocery store line something to remember.
10 XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Unknown reinvigorated a genre when it landed on PC in 2012, energizing the turn-based strategy genre and breathing new life into a beloved franchise ready for a comeback. When Enemy Within launched in 2013, it brought with it a bevy of new missions and features, earning critical acclaim for Firaxis.
XCOM’s mobile port is a joy, bringing the thrill of extraterrestrial combat to mobile in a sleek and efficient port. Manage your base, engage in research and development of new technologies, and train your soldiers — all in the hopes of saving Earth from alien doom. With four difficulty settings and seven “Second Wave” options that allow you to customize each campaign, your battery will run dry long before the fun.
9 Plague Inc.
Sometimes, some people just want to watch the world burn — preferably in a fun and interesting way. That’s where Ndemic Creations’ Plague Inc. comes in.
Develop a disease and infect the world. Spend points to earn new symptoms, unlock new transmission vectors, and genetic scrambles that send researchers reeling as you try to destroy the world before a cure can be discovered and deployed. Plague Inc. is easy to learn and hard to put down. Enjoy free play or tackle one of the game’s many challenge scenarios across a variety of difficulty levels. Be sure to keep an eye on the in-game news crawl, or risk missing out on some truly great Easter eggs!
8 Rebel Inc.
Rebel Inc., Ndemic’s spiritual successor to its apocalyptic hit, brings many of the core Plague Inc. mechanics to a whole new setting. Manage military, civilian, and government initiatives as you work to stabilize a region recently rocked by invasion.
Rebel Inc. is a step up in strategic depth and complexity, with a plethora of moving parts to balance and the ever-present threats of insurgency and corruption looming large. While Rebel Inc. does away with Plague, Inc.’s diversions into fun meta-references (as is perhaps fitting, given the very real world parallels), the gameplay remains as compelling as ever — and eliminates the slow down of the late game.
7 7. Darkest Dungeon
Ruin has come to your family.
Darkest Dungeon is a Lovecraftian strategy game that pits you and a team of four misfit adventurers against nightmarish creatures as you struggle to reclaim your family’s ancestral hamlet from the crawling chaos that threatens to consume everything and everyone in its path. Along the way, you’ll battle stress, disease, and the quirks that threaten to drive your party over the edge.
The game’s memorable voice acting, distinctive visuals, and easy to learn but difficult to master gameplay, as well as the variety and diversity of the foes you’ll face, keep the game fresh and endlessly entertaining. Don’t be surprised to find yourself coming back to the old road time after time.
6 The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout
The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is a retro strategy-RPG hybrid, combining the best of both worlds into a fun, quirky escape challenge. Customize your prisoner and embark on your quest to escape. You’ll need a sharp eye and a keen mind to devise a plan, forge alliances, and avoid alerting the guards.
Pocket Breakout is a surprisingly strong choice for fans of games like Stardew Valley, given that you’ll need to play along and blend in, taking part in the daily routine. Your prisoner can even take up a job in order to gain access to supplies. If you like your strategy with a dose of good old fashioned slice-of-life, The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout won’t disappoint.
5 Invisible, Inc.
Don’t let the name fool you: Invisible, Inc. bears no relation to Ndemic’s creations. A stylish cyberpunk turn-based stealth game, you control agents of Invisible Inc., an espionage operation on the ropes following a devastating attack by corporate forces.
Invisible, Inc. ramps up quickly, placing you in the middle of the action from the opening tutorial and cinematic. It’s a race against time to survive and strike back, and you’ll need your full wits about you to do it. Perfect for fans of XCOM or other grid-based stealth titles, Invisible, Inc. supports varying levels of difficulty and allows for game customization at an impressive level.
4 Civilization VI
The other feather in Firaxis’ cap, Civilization is a turn-based 4X gaming title that has wowed audiences since its debut in 1991. Players take control of a world power and compete with other nations to explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate their way into securing any number of victory conditions, including cultural, scientific, and military wins.
Hailed for the quality and fidelity of its port, Civilization VI offers a PC-quality strategic gaming experience on a mobile platform. With incredible depth and a staggering number of variables to manage and account for, die-hard strategists will be over the moon with the mobile edition.
3 Game Dev Tycoon
Let’s get meta.
Game Dev Tycoon takes the Tycoon game boon from the '90s and early 2000s and applies the model to the history of the gaming industry. Players begin as fledgling startups in the wild west of the 1980s gaming scene, and work to research, develop, and deploy new games and technologies to gain market dominance.
It’s a long way to the top if you want to be number one, and players will no doubt experience their share of heartbreaks, setbacks, and bumps, as well as successes, saves, and triumphs. Fans nostalgic for the Tycoon experience will find no shortage of things to love, while those new to the genre will quickly find themselves drawn into the hype.
2 Skulls of the Shogun
Featuring in-depth turn-based combat, it would be easy to draw initial comparisons to some of the other mechanically-similar titles on this list. That, however, would be a mistake.
Skulls of the Shogun features clever combat supported by strong mechanics and compelling visual design, yes, but it’s the game’s zany central premise and sense of humor that really make it stand out. Rather than fighting for the fate of the world, players are tasked with gaining entrance to the afterlife and reclaiming their rightful title as Shogun of the Dead. If you like your strategy silly, then Skulls of the Shogun is a winner.
1 Chaos Reborn: Adventures
From the mind of Julian Gollop, the man behind the original XCOM and the forthcoming Phoenix Point, comes Chaos Reborn: Adventures. Set in a world where magic has run amok, unleashing untold horrors, Chaos Reborn is a turn-based strategy game featuring RPG elements.
With Gollop at the helm, Chaos Reborn: Adventures asks a tremendous amount of its players, demanding care, though, and caution and rewards them with a gaming experience like no other. Actions have consequences, and this ethos underscores every element of the experience. While Chaos Reborn may not be for everyone, for hardcore strategy gamers, it’s a difficult title to beat.