The best mobile action games

As the saying goes, fast-paced action and mobile phones just don’t mix. Many console and PC action games rely on quick decisions and responsive input that are harder to achieve on a small screen with touch controls. But that’s not always the case, as many mobile action games use the quirks of touch controls to their advantage.

The vastness of the mobile market has convinced many developers to port their games to modern phones. Often these ports were stripped down versions of the originals, with subpar controls and less content. But just as often, as with the games listed below, clever design and easy streamlining can make this transition painless.


10 Evoland 2

Evoland 2 starts with a simple premise. It is a puzzle action game about fighting monsters and solving puzzles in different game generations. This somehow leads to a story-focused adventure stretching out over 15 hours, with a lot more optional content.

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Evoland 2 plays somehow A connection to the past if Link actually traveled through time. When prompted, players can either step into the SNES past, the PS1 present, or a nebulous 3D future. Puzzle solving is really what time travel is for, switching to simpler graphics to warp the map and modern mechanics for deeper interactions with the environment.

9 Pascal’s bet

A screenshot of Pascal's bet

Pascal’s bet is, to put it simply, a bloodborne Clone. It doesn’t have the same aggressive health recovery system, and it certainly isn’t that hard, but boy does it look like it bloodborne. The Soulsborne influences show up throughout the game as well as in the presentation, and for the most part they serve to make the game better.

Pascal’s bet takes the lessons to heart Dark Souls, which focuses on stamina management and one-on-one combat with unique enemies. It offers the player several unique characters to choose from, such as a warrior fighting with a full-size coffin tied to a chain. The biggest departure from the Soulsborne series, aside from removing traditional RPG elements, is the switch to a linear story with dialogue options.


A screenshot of GRIMVALOR

2D action platformer GRIMVALOR owes metroidvanias as much as it does Dark Souls. As well as bloodstained or salt and sanctuary before doing the Souls inspiration mixed with 2D action GRIMVALOR some sort of Metroidvania by default. Even if the Souls inspirations are a bit superficial, this is the best way to scratch that salt and sanctuary itching on the phone.

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As in any good Metroidvania, unlocked moves serve as both combat options and movement boosts. The first unlock GRIMVALOR is a charged attack, a core action play that also opens up new routes through the cracks in the wall.

7 apple knight

A screenshot of Apple Knight

Free to play Hidden Gem apple knight is a cute little platformer with an action RPG vein. A humble hero takes on a quest that’s simple, yes, but also nostalgically charming. The pixel art is reminiscent of SNES classics and the color palette makes it look like the game lives in an eternal autumn. Levels are stripped down to the essentials, but the occasional false wall or easy quests keep things fresh.

With many different characters and a long campaign apple knight is certainly meatier than it first appears. Most of these characters cost real money, but just a single purchase will disable ads as well. Additionally, players can unlock almost everything in the game, including future updates, with a $10 in-app purchase.

6 ActRaiser Renaissance

A screenshot of ActRaiser Renaissance

ActRaiser Renaissance is a mix of action and city building, with some RPG mechanics for flavor. It’s a bonus SNES classic, although it was never the most popular title. As a “master”, a kind of divine figure, the player takes control of various champions and fights evil in 2D stages.

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ActRaiser Renaissance is, for the most part, a faithful remake of the SNES original. The city building phase changes things and so does the new graphic style, but only slightly. All in all, this is the same game as the classic action RPG from 1990, adapted for mobile.

5 Streets of Rage 4

A screenshot from Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 is the final installment in the groundbreaking multiplayer beat-em-up series, Streets of Rage, and the first entry since 1994. Time doesn’t seem to have weakened the series’ formula, as players still go left-to-right and seek power to grab. oops and pummel idiots until the last boss.

Though the fight is mostly faithful, Streets of Rage 4 brings a major innovation to the series: juggling. Borrowing tactics from spectacle fighters like bayonet and Devil May Cry, streets of anger4 encourages players to use launchers and mid-air attacks to keep enemies off the ground. This little addition works wonders to rejuvenate a formula that’s almost 30 years old.

4 Huntdown: Cyberpunk Adventure

A screenshot of Huntdown Cyberpunk Adventure

2D shooter Huntdown: Cyberpunk Adventure sees the player take on the role of a bounty hunter and break down the town’s gangs one by one. Hunt down has three main characters to choose from, although they are the same template of 80’s action heroes in male, female and robot variants. What the game has instead is incredibly detailed pixel art, an immersive soundscape, and beautifully apt voice acting.

Huntdown: Cyberpunk Adventure is certainly a beautiful game, but it’s also one of the most addictive 2D shooters on mobile devices. Characters aren’t the most resilient, with enemy jerks that take a hit and a main character that can only withstand five. The effortless cover system helps deal with the high lethality without having to resort to fast platforms, which would be a problem on mobile.


A screenshot of JYDGE

JYDGE really wants to be Judge Dredd. As the cheesy voice acting suggests, even the eponymous vigilante’s name is just an odd spelling of Judge. But unlike the semi-immortal pulp version of the Judge, this is a stick-less twin-stick shooter is a more tactical matter. Enemies in the last levels of JYDGE can easily swarm the player who doesn’t live in the limelight that much.

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At the beginning of each level, players enter a new building and try to exit the other end without leaving anyone inside. That means rescuing hostages and killing enemies, but it also means not dying in the process. High lethality and sustained stealth make this not a game of relentless action, but one of weighing one’s options from room to room.


A screenshot of ICEY

ICY is a stylish 2D side-scrolling action game with a curious twist. Not unlike meta-game sensation The Stanley Parable, ICY features a narrator that tries to anticipate the player’s every move. And exactly how encryption predecessor Pony Island, ICY will sometimes interrupt the hacking and slashing in favor of brief adventure sections that are best left untouched.

ICY is the story of how a cyborg, sent on an unclear mission, questions his instructions. Icey’s Rebellion develops as the player disobeys the Narrator’s orders, eventually becoming a surrogate for the developer. While the story never reaches the heights it could, it accompanies a fight that’s as good as mobile action gets.

1 Mobile dead cells

A screenshot of Dead Cells

Roguelites with Metroidvania elements are a dime a dozen, on mobile devices or consoles. But the critically acclaimed one dead cells was able to clearly stand out from the competition with more than 6 million units delivered. The premise is simple but works great for a roguelite. Players control a creature that can possess bodies but is trapped in a world that reshapes each time its body dies.

For a game originally designed for consoles dead cells has one of the best control schemes of any mobile game. The screen can certainly get a bit cramped and the buttons can get a bit too small, but there was little the developers could have done for a game of this complexity. With a ridiculous amount of content and so many possible builds, dead cells can keep roguelite fans playing for months.

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