If you’re constantly on the move, you’re probably used to being offline for long periods of time. Having no Wi-Fi or mobile service is frequent even in this day and age, whether it’s due to another long-haul flight, an overnight bus ride, or simply too much time spent on the subway where radio waves fear to go. Fortunately, not having a signal does not prevent you from playing some of the best mobile games available.
Many developers have created excellent games that do not require the use of the internet, whether on purpose or not. I maintain a collection of them on my phone for when I have some free time and no access to the internet, but these are the ones I’ve been going back to time and time again.
Some are free, while others are not. I’ve avoided games that require constant attention or a lot of in-app purchases in order to be enjoyable. Here are 12 of the best offline games to help you get through your own long commutes or interminable travel days, without further ado. On both iOS and Android, they’re all available.
1. Monument Valley 2
Monument Valley was a breath of fresh air in the world of mobile gaming. In a way we’d never seen before, it mixed stunning graphics with tough puzzles and great, wordless storytelling. Set in a vibrant, Escher-inspired universe, its sole flaw was that it ended far too soon, leaving players yearning for more. They’ve got it now.
The sequel adds additional levels and characters, but generally doesn’t change much from the previous game’s success. It’s a fascinating experience, with problems that make you believe you’ll never be able to solve them. Until you do, that is. Each level is unique, with you controlling both the mother and daughter characters at times, and only one at other times.
Platforms move up and down, parts rotate, columns shift, and a passage to the exit appears that didn’t there a second ago. It’s a game that’s much more fun to play than it is to explain, and it’s well worth the few bucks it costs. However, don’t expect it to get you through a transcontinental flight. You’ll finish it in a few hours of dedicated play, just like the original, and be left wanting more.
2. The Room: Old Sins
The Room, which was released in the mists of time (ok, 2012), rapidly became a classic. One of the few games that managed to be truly terrifying at times, the degree of intricacy and difficulty complemented the intriguing tale wonderfully, making it possibly the best mobile puzzle game available. This is the fourth edition in the series, and it continues where the previous three left off.
An astute engineer and his wife have vanished, and the trail leads straight to their home’s attic. There’s a strange playhouse inside… That’s when the real fun begins. When you’re exploring your new surroundings, every detail important, and it’s easy to overlook something if you’re in a rush.
It nearly feels as if you’re touching the objects you come across, with hidden mechanics and new information to be discovered as you study them. If you have folks around, this is one game you’ll want to play with headphones because of the gloomy plot, atmospheric graphics, and disturbing soundtrack. Please don’t leap out of your seat too frequently, okay?
I originally saw Carcassonne as a popular 2-5 player board game in which you connect tiles to create roads, rivers, cities, and meadows, then make the most use of a limited amount of pieces to outscore your opponents. It’s the ideal way to pass the time on a dreary Sunday afternoon, and my partner and I have spent many hours playing it.
Because the board game is too big to put in my carry-on or play on the train, I was overjoyed to learn about the app-based version, and even more so when I discovered how amazing it was. The 3D landscapes are bright and vivid, and the game is simple to pick up and play whether you’re a Carcassonne veteran or new to the series.
There are all of the normal features, as well as expansion packs such as Inns and Cathedrals and The Princess and the Dragon, which add interesting new components to the standard game. Although multiplayer mode can be a little unstable, I’ve never had any issues with Solo mode (which works offline). You can pick between one or two AI opponents and their playing styles in this game.
For example, there’s a notable difference between Aggressive and Builder, and you’ll need to adjust your strategy to win. The base game costs $5-$6, and creating an account unlocks one of the expansions. It may be played that way for as long as you want, but if you want to spice things up, the other expansions will cost you a few dollars apiece.
4. Really Bad Chess
If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s playing terrible chess. This game’s creator felt the same way, so he decided to create his own version – with one major difference. While the board and rules are the identical for both players, the starting pieces are completely different.
It resembles the result of tossing a few hundred chess pieces into a bag, shaking them about, and pulling them out at random. There are three queens, six knights, and a smattering of pawns in this game. Yes, that sounds fantastic. When playing against the AI (or someone sitting alongside you if you pay for the unlocked edition).
the random assortment of pieces helps to level the playing field and gives even novice players a chance to succeed. As you improve, you go up the ranks, which means that while the pieces remain random, the quality of the pieces varies. The huge edge you had over the machine vanishes, and winning becomes much more difficult.
People who have never played chess say it has helped them learn the (regular) game, and as someone who has, I’ve found myself enjoying the new approach far more than I had anticipated. It’s certainly worth the download if you’ve always enjoyed the notion of chess but never managed to get into it.
5. Mini Metro
Have you ever had an odd ambition to control your own subway system? No, neither have I, but that hasn’t stopped me from playing Mini Metro a lot. The objective is to develop a functioning metro to support your ever-growing population, based partly on maps of various major cities such as London, New York, and Paris.
You start with a small number of trains, carriages, lines, and tunnels and must strategically deploy them as the city expands. If you survive long enough, you’ll earn a few extras and improvements, but they never seem to be enough to keep you ahead for long. It appears to be straightforward at first, but when new population centres emerge, this quickly changes.
With more people accessing the network, avoiding the overpopulation that ends the conventional game becomes increasingly difficult. You can also play in infinite mode to avoid crowds and have a more pleasant experience. The game’s basic graphics and soundtrack are effective, and there are no commercials or in-app purchases once you’ve purchased it.
Each game is produced at random for limitless replayability, and there are also colorblind and night settings. Mini Metro has won numerous honours and has sold over a million copies on mobile alone. It is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s easy to understand why.
6. Two Dots
Two Dots is one of those games that appears basic, even dull on paper, but quickly turns into a multi-hour gaming binge that only ends when your phone power runs out. The basic game principles of this successor to the popular “Dots” game from a decade or two ago couldn’t be simpler: link dots of the same colour.
That is all there is to it. Connecting two or more dots causes them to vanish, and bringing them together in a square (or other shape) causes all dots of that hue to vanish. The huge number of levels, quests, and side games, as well as the dozens of varied species and obstacles that inhabit your playing board, are where things become fascinating.
You have a limited number of moves to accomplish each level and a particular number of jobs to complete before the counter reaches zero in the main part of the game. The more quickly you complete it, the more points and stars you will gain for that level. When it comes to side quests, however, things are a little different.
These rotate every few days and usually entail clearing seven levels of increasing difficulty depending on a specific topic. You may also compete against other players for the greatest score, and there are even “Where’s Waldo?”-style rounds in which you must identify dozens of unique items on a stunning, highly detailed board that’s cluttered with distractions.
Powerups are plentiful, and can be gained through gaming and stringing together level wins, or purchased in-app. The pestering to spend real money isn’t overbearing, at least by these app’s standards, and there’s no need to pay to advance. Add in a relaxing soundtrack and regular updates, and you’ve got yourself a game that you’ll want to play again and again. I’m sure I do.
7. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic
Do you remember playing any of the RollerCoaster Tycoon games? You played an amusement park owner in this game that was released over two decades ago. It was your responsibility to come up with the ideal mix of rides, amenities, and experiences to keep consumers happy and money flowing in. Or designing terrifying roller coasters that caused riders to vomit all over the park.
I’m quite sure I choose the right one. We now have a good mobile version after many, many years. Unlike so many other small-screen adaptations of old games, this one isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pleasantly surprising. It combines the first two games in the series while maintaining a high level of fidelity to the original game play and visual aesthetic.
Expansion packs are available for purchase in-app, but there are no more in-app purchases once you’ve purchased the game. The fun factor is off the charts, as is the value for money. As you work your way through nearly 100 distinct scenarios, you can use pre-made roller coasters or construct your own piece by piece.
When you add in all of the other elements of the game, such as pathways, food and drink stands, hundreds of different types of rides (including water-based rides), hiring and firing workers, and trying to make a profit, you have a game that will likely stay on your phone or tablet for years.
Eternium, a long-time favourite among role-playing game (RPG) fans, is still one of the greatest offline options some years after its release. It’s been getting regular, big upgrades since it initially came out, and it’s been developed by old-school RPG fans.
Even better, it avoids the vexing pay-to-win strategy used by many of its competitors. You’ll be right at home here if you’ve played any of the Diablo games.
You can play as a warrior, bounty hunter, or wizard and fight a wide variety of foes to acquire experience and level up, as well as open boxes to get gold, gems, and equipment. It’s all there: forming alliances with NPC characters, upgrading your armour, and turning undesired stuff into necessities. The game is divided into three realms, each with its own set of tasks and adversaries.
There are an infinite number of randomly generated levels, and the majority of the game’s features are available offline after the initial download. You can tell a lot of effort went into this game because it features great graphics and an easy interface, which includes sketching symbols on the screen to perform spells instead than bashing buttons. Give it a shot if you enjoy true RPGs without endless microtransactions.
9. Infinity Loop
Do you want to play something calm to distract yourself from the chaos going on around you? The answer is Infinity Loop. The idea is simple: rotate puzzle pieces, connect all lines, and close loops by tapping on them. The graphics and audio are as simple as they come. This is ideal for the game and ensures that it does not drain your battery. After that, you’re on your own.
There’s a brief instruction. There’s no need for anything else with such easy gameplay and controls. The difficulty of the levels gradually increases up to a point, and the developers claim that there are an endless amount of them. There’s also a “black mode” that forces you to break rather than create loops.
It’s safe to say that no matter how long you’re confined in the transit lounge, you’ll never be bored. This is one of the finest free offline games because you can play for as long as you want without spending any money. If you like it, you may pay anywhere from $1.99 to $19.99 to remove adverts and support the developers.
10. Bloons TD 6
On the app stores, tower defence games are a popular genre in which you place units along a pre-defined track and employ them to fight waves of progressively powerful oncoming enemies. Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that, and each game puts its own twist on things, some of which succeed and others which fail.
Bloons has long been a favourite of mine, with its peaceful early rounds quickly turning into a screen full of superpowered monkeys, bursting bombs, and ruthless assault helicopters unleashing their mayhem. Those balloons were doomed from the start.
Bloons TD has been updated to version 6, which includes 3D maps, new towers, skills, and upgrade pathways, as well as monkey heroes. The earlier edition is still available if you want to save a few money, and it’s still a lot of fun to play. There are dozens of maps to unlock, unique events, co-op play, endless play modes, and more, depending on which one you choose.
Later rounds become actually difficult, and just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, a swarm of camo balloons sneak past your defences before you can react. You’ll have to go back to the drawing board. When you start playing Bloons, those 15 hours in economic class will vanish in a flash. Perhaps.
11. The Battle of Polytopia
I’m not sure how many hours of my life I’ve wasted playing Civilization games, but I’m sure it’s in the thousands. I’ve been hunting for an analogous world builder on mobile for years and have yet to locate one. Even the official Civilization applications weren’t very good. Face that is sad. Then I came across The Battle of Polytopia.
It isn’t Civilization, and it makes no attempt to be, but it is a fun and engaging strategy game in its own right, and a terrific way to pass the time. You begin with a few tribes to pick from, each of which begins with a different technology. Other tribes with more sophisticated technology or other advantages can be unlocked for a dollar or two.
Whatever option you select, you’ll be dumped into a land with a single unit and city that you can only view a little portion of. After that, you’ll set about exploring the planet, exploiting resources, upgrading your technology, and interacting (or attacking) with other tribes. There’s a 30-turn version for quick games, as well as an unlimited option for long journeys, in which the goal is to conquer every city on the globe.
It doesn’t suffer from being crammed into the constraints of a phone screen, which is unusual for these types of games. Even on a huge, crowded map, the images are vibrant and easy to interpret, and the control method is simple. In several dozen hours of gameplay, I don’t recall Polytopia ever crashing on me. Download it right now if you enjoy world-building games.
12. Plague Inc
Plague Inc isn’t normally included in this category because it’s been around for so long. It does, however, receive regular updates, and the most recent changes impressed me after I reinstalled it lately. It’s just as addicting as it’s always been, with an unwelcome new relevance in 2021.
Rather than saving the world, you’re usually trying to accomplish the exact opposite: utilise a pathogen to wipe out everyone on the earth. Each of the twelve selectable illness types has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, and the game plays differently based on which one you select.
You’ll need to maintain carefully modifying your sickness as it travels from nation to country by air, land, and sea to stay one step ahead of the medical researchers desperately trying to develop a cure. The graphics and sounds are utilitarian rather than beautiful, but the addicting gameplay, ideal difficulty curve, and dark sense of humour have helped it become one of the most popular games on both app stores, with millions of downloads.
You may play a restricted version for free, but unlocking the complete edition requires paying for some of the bonuses. Plague’s designers have created a new add-on called The Cure, which pays homage to what we’ve all been struggling with recently.
In it, you take on different responsibilities as you race against the clock to contain a pandemic through mask mandates and lockdowns, as well as locate a vaccine before the entire planet is afflicted. Does this ring a bell? “Until the current issue is under control,” whenever that may be, the add-on is free.