If you like mobile gaming but dislike seeing ads or feeling pressured to make regular in-app purchases to make progress, mobile games can be a minefield.
Fortunately, there are some great mobile games that simply ask you to make a one-off purchase to unlock the full experience, removing the ads and other IAPs.
Hoplite is a strategy game that will have you scratching your head. You play as a hoplite who is tasked to get the golden fleece. To retrieve it, you have to travel through several layers filled with monsters.
The rules to Hoplite are easy to learn but difficult to master. Each enemy has a pre-set way of moving and attacking, which you can view at any time. The key to winning is learning how the enemy works, then predicting how they’ll move. Once you capitalize on their patterns, fighting gets a lot easier.
If you really enjoy the game on Android, you can purchase the premium version. This unlocks more challenges for skills for you to use on your quest. Hoplite is also available on iOS, but there is no free version.
Download: Hoplite for Android (Free, premium version available)
Download: Hoplite for iOS ($2.99)
2. Super Cat Tales 1 and 2
Super Cat Tales (originally known as Super Cat Bros) is a series of two games. These are fun, cute platforming games featuring a wide range of cats to play as. You unlock more cats as you play, and each one has their own unique properties for beating future levels.
Each level contains three cat bells to collect. These are essential for progressing through the game, so it’s a good idea to hunt them down. Some bells are only accessible using specific cats, so you’ll need to revisit past levels to gain bells that you couldn’t get on the first trip.
The first game has separate purchases for different premium options. This includes no ads, doubling the coins you earn, giving you the super powerup at the start of the level, and unlimited lives. You can buy them individually, or buy the bundle to unlock them all at once.
The second game has a premium option to get ad-free and half-price items. It also allows you to pay in order to skip the bell barriers, but this isn’t required to play the full game. After all, getting the bells is half the fun.
3. Pocket City
If you’re a fan of city-management games, but hate the idea of microtransactions, give Pocket City a try. It’s a lightweight version of Simcity, which is ideal for paying for small periods of time during your daily commute. Set down zones to build your city as you please, keep the civilians happy, and persevere through a range of natural disasters.
The Android version of the game has a free version for you to try. If you enjoy the game, you can buy the full version to unlock all of the game modes. The full game is a separate app you can purchase. After this premium app purchase, there are no additional microtransactions or payments to make. Unfortunately, the iOS version has no free edition to try before you buy.
Download: Pocket City Free for Android (Free)
4. Choice of the Dragon (and Other Games by Choice of Games)
If you remember the choose-your-own-adventure books, you may take a liking to Choice of the Dragon. You take control of a dragon who has to fight off everyone who gets between you and your quest for riches, including other dragons. The game gives you a few test questions to get a gauge on your personality, then gives you an interactive story based on the choices you make.
Choice of the Dragon comes totally free, but ads will occasionally interrupt your reading. You can get rid of the ads by paying a one-time fee, at which point you can read the story without any more interruptions.
If you do enjoy Choice of the Dragon, be sure to check out its developer Choice of Games. Its other free games follow this same payment model, so you can enjoy reading a story without surprise microtransactions popping up.
5. Cryptic Crossword (and Other Games by Teazel)
The crossword has flourished on mobile devices. With automatic answer checking, hints if you get stuck, and easy adjustments of answers, it makes solving crosswords a lot easier. The crossword’s stranger brother, the cryptic crossword, has also made itself comfortable on smartphones everywhere.
Cryptic crosswords are a little different than regular ones. While normal crossword clues are meant to be taken literally, cryptic crosswords use wordplay and misdirection in their clues.
To the average person, a cryptic crossword clue is silly gibberish; it takes someone “in the know” to break apart and solve the clue. This app contains a good tutorial to help you solve cryptic crosswords, so you’re not left in the dark.
Cryptic Crossword has a “lite” version, which is free of charge. You get 24 puzzles with the free version, and all of the features are unlocked from the start. If you purchase the full version, you get access to all 280 puzzles in the app.
This Cryptic Crossword app is designed by Teazel, which publishes other crossword games under the same payment model. As such, if you prefer regular crosswords over cryptic ones, be sure to try its crossword apps. If crosswords aren’t for you, there are plenty of other free online word games to play.
Download: Cryptic Crossword Lite for Android (Free)
Download: Cryptic Crossword for Android ($3.99)
6. Geometry Dash
Geometry Dash is an infamous title. While its graphics are simple, its difficulty is anything but. You have to maneuver through swatches of deadly obstacles as you go at breakneck speed. There’s only one control—the jump—but the lack of buttons to press doesn’t make this game any easier.
Geometry Dash has a Lite version which is free of charge. If you enjoy the masochistic gameplay, you can purchase the full version for more levels and an online level editor.
7. Chess (and Other Games by AI Factory)
How can you go wrong with a classic? There are many iterations of chess in the marketplace, but this one by AI Factory respects your time and money. It’s a solid chess game with good graphics and a range of AI to scale to your needs. You’ll see ads in the free version, but you can purchase the standalone full version to remove them.
AI Factory has released traditional games in other genres with this same payment model. As such, if you’re looking for a good app for backgammon, Go, Euchre, or games in that vein, you’ll find AI Factory an ideal choice for non-intrusive apps.
If your chess skills are a little rusty, don’t forget that there are some creative ways to supercharge your chess training.
Download: Chess Free for Android (Free)
Download: Chess for Android ($1.99)
How to Play Mobile Games for Less
It’s difficult to find mobile games that have a good production value and don’t resort to greedy payment plans. Thankfully, there are apps out there which ask for a single payment, after which you’re free to play the game without interruption.
If you want to save even more money playing mobile games, be sure to take a look at the best free mobile games with no ads or in-app purchases.