Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
With advances in phone and tablet prowess come games whose graphics increasingly rival those of PC and console releases. Mobile gamers can expect both creativity and a whole gamut of art styles, from photorealistic to wonderfully artistic and innovative. This pretty packaging runs across all genres, spanning hundreds of titles, making it incredibly difficult to select games that truly stand out from the crowd. Add on a requirement that the games not only look fantastic but also offer great gameplay, and the task becomes a little easier to manage. That said, we did the job for you. Here is Hardcore Droid’s list of 10 Android games with the best graphics.
Runner Up: Shadowgun Legends
It was inevitable that there be a runner-up because too many titles deserve a place on this list. After much vacillating and stirring of the pot, Shadowgun Legends by developer Madfinger Games rose to the top. As with many of the titles on this list, you may at first find it difficult to believe that you’re playing a game on your phone or tablet. The award-winning first-person shooter features some incredible graphics, though the gameplay has been slightly simplified to accommodate for mobile controls.
Shadowgun Legends’ visuals, environments and overall premise call to mind Bungie’s Halo. The free-to-play looter shooter takes place in a sci-fi universe 10 years after aliens have invaded Earth. You’ll follow humanity’s fight for survival with the game’s story campaign, which features hundreds of missions that can be played solo or cooperatively with friends or guild members. PvP multiplayer offers 1v1 duels and 4v4 tactical matches, complete with leaderboards.
10. Leo’s Fortune
Another award winner, indie 2.5D platformer Leo’s Fortune developed by 1337 & Senri, introduces players to a unique mustachioed character who can only be described as a green fluffball. Leo’s treasure has been stolen and he’s on a quest to get it back. Gamers will travel through beautifully handcrafted environments, from lush forests to barren deserts to icy mountains. The 24 levels in this single-player adventure game feature traps, physics-based puzzles and plenty of platforming.
Players skilled enough to beat the game without dying will unlock Hardcore Mode. Leo’s Fortune also allows players to compete with their friends by seeing who can finish the most levels in the fastest time. The game features achievements and leaderboards as well as controller support.
Originally released on Nintendo Switch and PC in 2018, Nomada Studio’s platforming adventure game Gris was so well received that it has since been ported to PS4, iOS and Android. The title has received predominantly positive reviews from various media outlets and has won numerous awards, including Best Visual Art at the Game Developers Choice Awards, Best Visual Design at the 2019 Webby Awards and Best Art at the Titanium Awards.
With those accolades, it almost goes without saying that players can expect a compelling visual experience from Gris. The minimalist, almost delicate art style and muted colors immediately catch the eye. Combined with an evocative soundtrack and the moving story of a girl on a journey through her own sorrow, Gris reminds us that video games can offer more than simple entertainment.
An award-winning entry with a captivating art style, the social adventure game Sky: Children of the Light is brought to us by Thatgamecompany, the developers behind Journey and Flower. In this free-to-play title, players will soar through seven realms on a quest to return fallen stars to their constellations. Each realm has a different theme with varied areas to explore, treasures to collect and cosmetic items to unlock. Players can acquire masks, hairstyles, emotes and even playable musical instruments.
These unlockables will give gamers a way to communicate with others. While exploring and enjoying the game’s serene soundtrack, you may encounter characters who seem to be pursuing their own quests. These are actually other players. Offering them a candle will allow you to join hands and complete objectives for one another. As the friendship grows, players will be able to exchange gifts and even create music together. The charming world of Sky: Children of the Light is ever changing, with seasonal events that expand the realms and keep gameplay fresh.
7. Samorost 3
Publisher and developer Amanita Design brings us the next title on our list of Android games with the best graphics. A point-and-click puzzle adventure game, Samarost 3 is the first game in the series to feature high-definition visuals. Players embody a gnome who travels through space with the help of a magic flute. His goal? Just to uncover the origins of the cosmos. Players will visit nine unique planets and moons on their journey, accompanied by a symphony of distinctive sound effects and music.
Unlike many of the games on this list, Samarost 3 will cost a few bucks to play, but it is worth the cost. Amanita Design has called the space exploration game their most ambitious experience to date, and it shows.
Another RPG on this list of visually impressive games, 2016’s Nimian Legends: BrightRidge by one-man dev team Protopop Games really raises the bar, despite its age. As such, your device will have to be decently powerful to run it smoothly. The game focuses on characters, story and the beauty of nature. Experience two unique adventures in Story Mode, or enjoy the beautiful environment without the menace of enemies or obligation of quests in Explore Mode.
The open world of Nimian Legends: BrightRidge offers players waterfalls, rivers, forests and, of course, dungeons to investigate. Players can shapechange into a variety of animals—including a dragon—to run, swim or fly through the different locales. A day/night cycle and dynamic weather top off the experience, enhancing the visuals with rainstorms, gusting winds and gentle snowfall. Protopop, confident in BrightRidge’s graphical prowess, have even included a photo mode so you can capture some of that breathtaking imagery.
Let’s change up the pace a bit with some high-performance, engine-revving, professional racecar driving. Developed by Codemasters and ported to Android by Feral Interactive in 2019, GRID Autosport originally released on consoles in 2014. It might be an older release, but the game still manages to claim a spot as one of the best-looking games on mobile.
When GRID Autosport first released on console, Codemasters’ aim was to bring a more authentic experience back to its series of car racing games. Reviewers and players alike seemed to appreciate the effort. The game features a career mode that gives players the opportunity to master five racing disciplines and attract sponsors. There are touring events, street races, tracks for open-wheel cars, endurance races, drift events, time attacks and a championship series.
GRID Autosport allows players to choose the control method that works best for them: tilt or motion controls, wheel touch, arrow touch or gamepad. And players who might not have the latest and greatest mobile device need not fret. The game offers a performance mode that prioritizes FPS over graphics, although those super shiny visuals are truly impressive.
Ah, Genshin Impact. Where to start? Mobile developer MiHoYo took the gaming world by surprise with this free-to-play gacha RPG that released in late 2020. Not only does it offer a deep open-world experience not often found on mobile, but its art style and visuals are stellar. The fabric on your characters’ clothing moves with the wind, and even the grass and leaves flying from trees are animated. The environment is rendered in real time, and lighting and weather change naturally over time.
Genshin Impact released simultaneously on PC, PS4 and mobile. Players with newer Android devices will be hard pressed to find differences in graphics or performance between platforms. The only downside is that the game launched with no controller support on mobile, which downgrades the experience a bit. But MiHoYo recently added such support for iOS in a patch, so it’s hopefully only a matter of time before Android gamers see some love too.
Black Desert Mobile by Korean developer Pearl Abyss is inarguably one of the best-looking games currently available on Android. The game’s big brother, Black Desert Online, originally released for PC in 2015, and the MMORPG proved so popular that it received a mobile adaptation four years later.
In Hardcore Droid’s review of Black Desert Mobile, the game was dubbed one of the best mobile MMORPGs on Android. The open-world title offers fast-paced combat, crafting, pets, an auction house, as well as PvP and cooperative play. And as one would expect from a role-playing game, there are 13 classes to choose from, each with a unique skillset. The game also features an incredibly robust character customization system, with a simplified UI for adjusting everything from body shape to eyelashes.
I wanted to include all four of the visual gems that make up The Room franchise, but that seemed a little cheaty. So I’ve settled on the most recent game, 2018’s The Room: Old Sins. One of the most impressive facets of Fireproof Games’ puzzle titles is how well they’ve held up visually over the years. Thus, it seems fitting that this series rank near the top of this list. When The Room released on iOS in 2012, its graphics were a standout feature. And they’ve only improved with each entry in the series.
The Room: Old Sins drops players into a haunting environment with a captivating story, while challenging them with intriguing puzzles to solve. The setting is a dollhouse with myriad rooms to investigate, each carefully crafted and detailed. Intuitive touch controls allow you to easily explore the environment and interact with objects, which is a must if you’re to successfully discover their hidden mechanisms and escape the rooms.
In 2014, Monument Valley, published and developed by Ustwo Games, released for mobile devices. Throughout that year and the next, it won a number of awards and even got a cameo on the TV show House of Cards. Four years later, Paramount Animation and Weed Road announced that a film based on the game was in development. Monument Valley 2 had some big shoes to fill when it launched in 2017, and it met the challenge.
The game recounts the story of Ro and her daughter as they journey through mazes and mind-bending architecture. The standalone adventure features carefully crafted puzzles, a tranquil soundtrack and, of course, very appealing visuals. Monument Valley 2’s pastel colors and simplistic art style perfectly complement the game’s sometimes complex puzzles. In some ways, the sequel outdid its predecessor, thanks to Ustwo’s willingness to listen to player feedback and make gameplay tweaks. It’s no surprise that this charming little game, with its surreal environments and pleasing graphics, went on to earn its own awards.
When making this list, I wasn’t just looking for hyperrealism, but artistry and style. The Monument Valley games, though a few years old at this point, still stand out as leading the pack when it comes to aesthetics. They continue to compete with and even surpass the visuals of more recent titles. For this reason, Ustwo’s graphically breathtaking puzzle game Monument Valley 2 secured this top spot.