These days, it’s safe to say that most of us are craving some escapism. Whether you’re trapped indoors, seeking adventure, or simply desperate to go travelling, one of the best methods to explore the world is through gaming.
With that in mind, here are some fun mobile games which let you explore the world, hunt for clues, and/or traverse an alien landscape. They’re all available for Android and iOS, and many of them are completely free to play too.
It’s dark. It’s mysterious. It feels like a cross between Finding Nemo and a horror flick.
In the world of Seashine, you play a lonely little jellyfish searching for your way out of a massive underwater cave. The goal? To get out of this cave before your light vanishes. If you linger for too long, you’ll get eaten by one of the bigger fish.
Don’t let the foreboding premise of this game scare you off. Seashine is really simple to play, and the fact that you’re allowed to explore a dark, fantastical world full of deep-sea, bioluminescent creatures can actually be really calming.
While you can make in-app purchases to complete the levels quicker, Seashine works just fine as a “freebie,” too.
Do you want to play mobile games that are equal parts creepy, cute, and beautiful? Feist is an action-adventure side-scroller with animation so smooth your character moves across the screen like water.
Featuring dark fairytale undertones and delicate sound design, Feist is set in a mystical, twilight forest. You play a tiny, fur-covered creature who needs to make its way through this forest in order to save its mate. While doing so, you must avoid the more dangerous creatures that lurk in the gloom.
With pared-down controls consisting of forward, back, and jump actions, Feist is super easy to play with almost no learning curve. It’s perfect for anyone who wants an activity they can just dive right into.
3. Mars: Mars
While Mars: Mars is not as exploration-focused as some of the other games on this list, the gameplay itself is so compelling we’re still including it. We feel it’s a great tool that will help you find ways to escape.
A free-to-play side-scroller, the objective of Mars: Mars is dead simple:
- When a manned space mission puts an astronaut on Mars, it’s up to you, the player, to guide this astronaut across the Martian landscape.
- You do so by jumping from platform to platform using a jetpack.
- If you don’t land on a platform, your astronaut explodes.
The controls for this game are very user-friendly—left tap for left booster, right tap for right. As you traverse each level, you’re also expected to collect “coins.”
Once you have enough coins, MarsCorp sends you a new astronaut with a new skill set. You can also acquire extra content through in-app purchases.
Overall, this game is great if you’re looking for something to mindlessly play late at night.
4. OPUS: Rocket of Whispers
Looking for mobile games to play that are overwhelmingly story-based? Check out OPUS: Rocket of Whispers, a narrative about hope and perseverance in the face of civilizational decline.
While the subject matter might be too heavy for some—it deals with the after-effects of a pandemic—we think it still deserves a mention. Following a pair of characters about 30 years after a devastating viral outbreak, the player guides their journey as they search for pieces of a broken rocket. The aim? To help the souls of the dead reach the stars via this rocket.
Best of all, you can play the game in Regular or Story Mode. The latter letting you focus exclusively on the game’s complex narrative.
NB: While OPUS is officially labeled “free with in-app purchases,” and this is technically true, you will have to buy the full game in order to play past the first “arc.”
5. The Trail
Are you looking for vast, open-world mobile RPG games that let you explore? Do you want the ability to create a custom character, craft supplies, hunt for animals, trade objects, build a house, and interact with other players?
Then you absolutely need to check out The Trail; one of the best free-to-play games on this list.
Taking place in a vast, unspoiled wilderness that looks similar to the American west, you play a pioneer who has just landed, seeking to make a name for yourself. Once you disembark, you must make your way to Eden Falls, where you start your new life.
While the controls for this game are not as intuitive as some of the other games on this list, once you grasp them, operating The Trail becomes a breeze. The ads are also so minimal and unobtrusive that it almost feels like you’re playing paid content.
If you’re looking for other crafting games, and The Trail doesn’t do it for you, you can also check out our list of the best farming games for Android and iOS .
6. Pavilion: Touch Edition
Looking for exquisite, beautifully animated exploration games that force you to use your mind in order to advance? Then you need to try Pavilion: Touch Edition, which bills itself as a puzzle-adventure.
While Pavilion is a paid game, we definitely think it’s worth the nominal cost to buy it. The goal of Pavilion is to move a small, animated character through a series of mazes. Through these mazes, you’ll explore hidden passageways, wander past crumbling staircases, and venture into abandoned temples.
You’ll also open up drawers, step on rune stones, ring bells, and turn off lights in order to achieve your goals.
While we love this game, we don’t recommend playing it late at night, especially if you’re just looking for something simple to help you relax. You’ll need to think critically about these puzzles and not mindlessly mash buttons in order to advance through the maze.
7. Samorost 3
Last but not least is Samorost 3. Possibly our favorite game on the list. Utterly whimsical, completely escapist, and gorgeously animated, Samorost 3 is a puzzle-based adventure game. It comes across as a mix between a Studio Ghibli movie and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.
In the game, you play a gnome who travels through the vastness of space in order to discover its “mysterious origins.” You do this by using a flute to speak to the creatures around you, and by exploring every nook and cranny within the game in order to locate hidden objects.
There are multiple alien worlds you can explore, and the game itself is very much a tap-and-click adventure, where you must intuitively grasp the controls in order to find clues on how to progress.
While Samorost 3 is a paid game, like Pavilion, we think it’s well worth the price.
Explore the World While Stuck At Home
While you may be stuck indoors for the time being, or lack access to a games console or PC, you can still escape into the wider world using your phone and these mobile exploration games.
And if you’re looking for other fun mobile apps to keep you entertained, check out the best virtual pet games for your mobile .
Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.