Best New Mobile Games on iOS and Android – May 2023 Review

Worms WMD: Mobilize – the worms have emerged… on mobile (photo: Team17)

GameCentral takes its usual monthly look at the best new mobile games, including an inventive new puzzle game and a clever new SimCity clone.

After a holiday weekend of solemn pageantry, uniform thin gray drizzle and lightly dampened Union flags, it’s time to get back to what matters: playing video games on your phone. This month’s releases include the deceptively simple Scenic Route’s Generations, Arcane Vale’s brand of tantalizing indie adventures, and the fantastic mayoral simulator Pocket City 2.

The generations of the scenic route

Scenic Route’s Generations – the swing-free version (photo: Scenic Route)

The generations of the scenic route

iOS, £4.99 (nice route)

Originally released on Panic’s splendid Playdate handheld, Generations lets you drop faces on a grid. Put three of the same age group together and they merge into a face that is a generation older. Merge four or more and you can skip multiple generations in one move.

The merging process also creates opportunities to link sequences together, with one merging feeding the next. It’s too much for a weak human mind to take in at first, but soon you start creating more and pulling out longer chains.

Despite its apparent simplicity, there’s an awful lot going on underground, which you’ll discover as you play, the highly entertaining gameplay evolving as you learn the ropes.

Rating: 8/10

Mighty Quest Villain Palace

iOS & Android, Netflix subscription (Netflix)

Developed by Ubisoft, this fun cartoon style hack ‘n’ slash has your knight diving into a roguelite void in search of epic loot.

Each level is a battle for a treasure, be it a weapon or armor, which you get when you successfully complete it. Get killed and you’ll end up back in the hub to spend your currency on upgrades before returning to battle.

The touch controls work well enough for the button mashing and occasional dodging that the game demands, though it’s as tedious as it sounds to make your way through areas that previous runs couldn’t complete long after you’ve collected all the loot collected what they have to offer. .

Rating: 6/10

Arcane valley

iOS and Android, £4.99 (Dynamic Zero)

Arcane Vale first arrived on PC late last year, and now its charming brand of open-world role-playing has been ported to mobile. Viewed from above, with a 16-bit pixel art style, it has a look and feel that is instantly reminiscent of The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past.

It also has a warm sense of humour, delivered by the array of eccentrics you’ll encounter as you explore, collect resources, craft upgrades, and cook delicious slap-up meals.

It’s an indie game, so not quite as grand as some of the titles that inspired it, but your time in its handcrafted landscapes and dungeons is just so unwaveringly joyful, it’s perfect touchscreen escapism.

Rating: 7/10

Bacon The Game 2.0

iOS, Free – £2.99 to remove ads (Philipp Stollenmayer)

Bacon was a game about flipping a piece of pork on objects ranging from the Statue of Liberty to a single cone.

Unexpectedly, in many cases it is not only incredibly difficult, but utterly addictive. Bacon 2.0, currently only available on iOS, shows unskippable ads after every few tries, and adds Bacon Studio, where you can create your own pork-based challenges.

While it was a great idea, we found the Studio so unintuitive that we couldn’t even put together a single level. The underlying game remains attractive, but only if you’re willing to pay to remove the ads.

Rating: 6/10

Pocket city 2

iOS and Android, £4.99 (Codebrew Games)

SimCity BuildIt’s exploitative microtransactions and relentless pleas to watch ads are enough to exhaust anyone’s patience. Thank goodness for Pocket City 2, which brings the spirit of the original SimCity to mobile.

Nearly five years after the original Pocket City, the sequel adds a research tree, much deeper statistical insights into your population, and an elegantly revamped interface.

It works really well on a touchscreen, so you can immerse yourself in a bit of mayoral action wherever you are. It may only take a few days to take up most of the available space in your starting city, but the map itself is huge, allowing you to experiment with different conurbations across the varied terrain.

Rating: 8/10

Worms weapons of mass destruction: mobilize

iOS and Android, £4.99 (Team17)

Worms WMD, the latest in a franchise that predates the original PlayStation, thankfully eschews the series’ terrible flirtation with 3D, returning to its good old 2D roots and adding quite a few twists of its own.

The biggest of these is the addition of vehicles, which in keeping with Worms tradition have heaps of power and are slightly wobbly to control, making it all too easy to unleash Armageddon on your own team.

There are also defenses with fully formed interiors to explore and exploit, and while the core gameplay differs little from classic Worms, it’d be hard not to see that as a good thing. Fortunately, the all-important online and local multiplayer is fully intact.

Call of dragons

iOS & Android, free (Farlight)

Free-to-play MMOs like Call Of Dragons are pretty divisive. On the one hand, their consistent, steady sense of progress and ongoing rewards provide a stream of carefully designed dopamine hits. On the other hand, this is the video game equivalent of fast food: frictionless, easy to digest, but harmful to your health if you consume too much.

Combat is real-time and especially once you’ve gained some power you have a little bit of tactical interest as you can position units to surround enemies. Other than that, this is a game of watch timers and loot chests, with a strong tendency to join an alliance, both to build and defend it, and to raid others in the vicinity.

As usual, the opening hours offer quick upgrades, before things slow down to encourage you to spend. You and your alliance will also be regularly at the mercy of harassment, big expenses, but at least you won’t be forced to look at ads.

Rating: 4/10

Summon Quest

iOS, Apple Arcade Subscription (Apple)

While it shares some of its DNA with Archero, a title that seems to have spawned legions of imitations recently, Summon Quest adds many of its own ideas, from a 3D isometric view of its variably shaped arenas to a greater reliance on obstacles and movable barriers.

While this has the feel of a game originally built for freemium and later turned into truly free for Apple Arcade, it manages to be fairly challenging, your upgrades were genuinely needed to progress through the levels. It’s also the only game we’ve come across where you can improve the protagonist’s hairstyle.

There isn’t much of a penalty for dying, other than having to replay the current map, but the exceptional level of finishing and an obviously talented art department make it a tempting distraction.

Rating: 7/10

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