Best new mobile games on iOS and Android – November 2019 round-up

GameCentral takes a look at the month’s best smartphone games, from the latest Apple Arcade release to Gwent on iOS.

Now reaching the tail end of its promised 100 game launch roster, Apple Arcade’s latest releases are starting to acquire an unwelcome bottom of the barrel feel, which will hopefully dissipate in the new year as the service hits its stride. There’s plenty more going on in mobile though, from the excellent conversion of Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, to the flyweight freemium thrills of Snake Rivals.


reky for iOS, £3.99 (beyondthosehills)

In what is perhaps one of the most elegant, designerly games ever made for touchscreen, reky has you hopping a ball to the exit of each level, its gameplay blending seamlessly with the menu interface.

To get to the exit of each level you’ll need to bridge gaps by moving cubes, a process that’s initially quite straightforward but soon relies on changing the cubes’ colours and revealing specific faces in order to flick them around the board. Your moves are also counted, with up to three stars awarded for brevity.

Puzzles soon become multi-layered memory tests, especially when you’re trying to pare back the number of moves used, and there’s no hint system, so you’re on your own (or on YouTube) if you get stuck; although the tinkering and eventual epiphany is where the real joy lies.

Score: 8/10


Snake Rivals for iOS & Android, £Free (Supersolid)

Snake is a concept that dates back to the formative era of home computing, but it’s the 90s Nokia mobile version that most will remember. In it you guided a snake around the screen eating food, each piece of which made it longer.

The difference here is other players. Instead of simply growing your snake and avoiding crashing into your own tail, you now need to avoid other snakes, while encouraging them to crash into your tail. There are obstacles to avoid, power-ups to unlock and trigger, as well as new snakes and cosmetic upgrades – all of which are locked in loot boxes that take several hours to unlock, with ad viewing to increase trophy rewards.

It’s a bit of lightly addictive throwaway fun, a sense that’s undermined by rounds against overwhelmingly more powerful computer-controlled snakes.

Score: 6/10


Starbeard for iOS, £2.99 (Jolly Good Games)

Starbeard’s brand of match-three puzzling has you nurturing an interstellar garden by protecting its flowers from the escalating threat of creepy crawly pests.

Moving icons into rows or columns of three or more makes them vanish and also recharges your powers. After every three moves everything remaining on the grid moves down a level, encroaching on your garden wall at the bottom of the screen and annihilating your flowers if they descend any further.

As you progress across its worlds the complexity layers on, with new powers and gardeners constantly being added in what is a clever, likeable, and surprisingly deep game.

Score: 8/10


Xenowerk Tactics for iOS, £6.99 (Pixelbite)

From the studio that brought you the superb Space Marshals and its sequel, as well as twin-stick shooter Xenowerk, this is a departure into real-time strategy that sees you directing a small team of space marines around a selection of abandoned, mutant-infested locations.

You’ll soon discover that your corporate paymasters at Xenowerk aren’t the only interested parties, but while the Ambrosia Initiative can’t pay you they have nobler intentions of saving rather than exploiting the planet. Plus, there’s also a black market for the biological samples you capture on your travels.

Fights themselves are a bit light on tactics, with the looming shadows on all sides making it impossible to see enemies before they’re right on top of you, but the range of other activities and role-playing style progress of your troops will appeal to those who love XCOM but prefer their games a bit less sadistic.

Score: 7/10


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