50 best Android games 2014: our top picks

Keep those Android thumbs busy

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While the 'free-to-play' market has taken a bit of a beating of late due to gamers falling out of love with the use of in-app payments, the world of mobile gaming is still an exciting one.

Whether you want games that will last the length of a commute, or want to be lost in a port of GTA where you spend hours mowing down pedestrians and making money out of murder, there is a game on here for you.

This constantly updated list is a mixture of free and paid for games, and also that one in between - some in-app payments aren't really that bad. Honest! If by the end you think we have missed something special off of the list, let us know and we will see if it is worthy of inclusion further down the line.

1. Dots (free)

Proving the notion that simpler is better on mobile, Dots is stupidly, almost patronisingly simple, with players just drawing lines between coloured dots. Link them up and, as coloured things tend to do in games, they disappear, So more fall in. And it carries on like this, getting more and more compulsive as you chase bigger and better dot combos.

2. The Simpsons Tapped Out (free)

The Simpsons Tapped Out

EA's game based on the inhabitants of Springfield is surprising in a few ways. It's free, which is quite the thing, plus, although what many would deride as a 'freemium' game, it's more than possible to keep it going in the background, pottering away, slowly unlocking all of its content for free. Free-to-play done right, for once.

3. Angry Birds Space (free)

Angry Birds Space

Developer Rovio has done quite a lot of aggressive whoring of the Angry Birds franchise, but this space-based fork of the simplistic physics game series is really worth a try. For one, it introduces some new play concepts, with the planet-based levels requiring different tactics, plus the puzzles generally need a bit more of a thoughtful approach than the chuck-it-and-see of the originals.

4. Badland (free)

Badland

Has a bit of an 'indie' vibe about it this one, with Badland offering a weird, dark and gloomy world, in which you fly about in control of a… blob thing. Your blob gets bigger and smaller, splits into loads of mini clones, and generally baffles you about what might lie around the next corner. We like a bit of a surprise, and this is full of them.

5. Crazy Taxi City Rush (free)

Crazy Taxi City Rush

Crazy Taxi City Rush is another free game in which you need to put "free" in big quote marks, as it's packed to bursting with subsequent in-app purchases to unlock features, buy customisations and, in a particularly shameless move, buy petrol for your taxi to continue playing after more than a handful of failed runs. Still, endure the cash-grab and it's a pretty game, one that uses a new, simple, swipe-based control system to allow it all to work surprisingly well on a touchscreen.

6. Monument Valley (£2.49, $3.99, $AU4.90)

A very, very pretty game, this. Monument Valley is based around the weird sort of impossible geometric shapes popularised by artist M. C. Escher, with its colourful maps bending and rotating in ways that appear to defy the laws of nature. You walk on walls, flip them, turn them into floors, avoid crows and marvel at how beautiful it all looks. A short game with only 10 multi-layered levels, but a joyful ride.

7. PewPew (free)

PewPew

The developer calls this a "multidirectional shoot them up" presumably because describing it as a "Geometry Wars clone" might have got him in a bit of legal trouble. Regardless of its origin, it's a superb shooter with some bizarre game modes and controls that work exceptionally well on touch devices.

8. Modern Combat 5: Blackout (£4.99, $6.99, $AUD8.99)

Modern Combat 5

We get moaned at a lot for putting too many silly, quirky little games about shapes and animals and organising letters of the alphabet in this list. So here's one about men with guns shooting each other in 3D. Modern Combat 5 the latest in Gameloft's mobile homage to grown-up home console FPS franchises, in which you gun about the place alone or in online multiplayer matches. Nice to see Gameloft offering everything in a one-off install here, rather than packing it with in-app purchases.