50 best Android games 2014: our top picks

Keep those Android thumbs busy

9. Plague Inc (free)

Plague Inc

A really enjoyable and tough strategy game, in which you play some sort of evil god intent on crushing all of mankind. You do this by developing viruses, which spread through the air, water or human contact, gradually wiping out countries, continents and, if the wind's literally blowing in the right direction, everyone.

10. Whale Trail Frenzy (free)

Whale Trail Frenzy

No one dies of disease in Whale Trail. It's a sweet flying sim, which sees you float about in the clouds having a lovely time, collecting things, boosting and generally being quite happy about it. The cheery vibe is broken a bit when adverts and in-app purchase requests pop up, but it's happy enough before the money men turn up.

11. Thomas Was Alone (£3.99, $5.99, $AUD9.99)

Thomas Was Alone

One of the PC "indie" world's big name smashes has arrived on Android, with the existential platform game yours to... enjoy. Or at least attempt to understand. You could call Thomas Was Alone a "platform game" if you wanted to be mean and disrespectful, but it's more about offering an atmospheric and thoughtful journey through an abstract world. A bit like a piece of art, but let's not get into that debate here. I'm not being paid by the word.

12. Bad Piggies (free)

Bad Piggies

Angry Birds maker Rovio proves it's not a one-trick bird-pony with this, a bizarre and quirky physics game. You have a toolbox at your disposal, used to build a flying and/or driving machine, which then has to trundle its way through a level. It's silly, but at least attempts to shove out some new ideas.

13. Pocket Planes (free)

Pocket Planes

An extremely clever and enjoyable miniature strategy game that has you taking control of a small airline and attempting to ramp up customer numbers. It starts out with a few simple freight runs before you expand the fleet, open up new routes and generally get a bit panicked about how many people are depending on you for their holidays.

14. Radiant Defense (free)

Radiant Defense

The tower defense genre is heaving on Android, thanks to the poke and press play mechanics being ideally suited to touchscreen play. Radiant Defense is a great example of the simplified strategy concept, presenting its war action in a futuristic neon style that looks awesome on any phone with the grunt to do it justice.

15. Pocket League Story 2 (free)

Pocket League Story 2

Kariosoft's made a big thing for itself by using its management style of game across various scenarios, with this sporting event being one of the best. You take control of a club, then stress about signings, money, tactics and more. It's slightly robbed of some fun via a desire to use in-app purchases to squeeze money out of players, ironically mirroring the state of the game it takes inspiration from.

16. New Star Soccer (free)

A great football management game that has a bit of a sense of humour about itself. There's some turn-based play, but it's more about bringing together the off-pitch lifestyles of players with the crucial money matters of the football universe.

Like Pocket League Story there are some in-app cash demands, so prepare to be badgered for payments after you've progressed some way through.

17. Tiny Thief (free)

Tiny Thief

As accessible as it is charming, Tiny Thief is a perfect fit for mobile, with a simple tap used to both move and interact with objects as you navigate increasingly intricate levels trying to complete objectives (which as the name suggests usually involve stealing things), while staying hidden and solving puzzles.

The gameplay might be simple but the humour and imagination should keep a smile on your face for the duration. Better yet, you can play half the game for free...though the remaining levels will cost you.

18. Sonic Dash (free)

There is some arguing as to whether this is "free" as it's rammed with in-app purchases, but there's no dispute as to its quality. Sonic's latest mobile game is, appropriately, an endless runner, with the hedgehog jumping left and right to avoid obstacles placed around its familiar green worlds.

Tiny Death Star Sonic Dash Cut The Rope Time Travel

19. Cut the Rope: Time Travel (free)

The weird little physics game is one of Android's most popular franchises, with this update introducing a few new tricks and weapons. It's the same sort of experience as its earlier chapters, though, with players swinging ropes to throw sweeties around its colourful screens. Masses of levels and a mid-to-high fun level.

20. QuizUp (free)

QuizUp is a staggeringly clever online pub quiz app, where you play with random strangers or friends. You can pick from a massive amount of categories, from riddles to sports through to Adventure Time, so you won't be caught out by subjects you don't know.

Its simple quiz rounds only take a couple of minutes to get through, plus there's a seamless offline challenge option so you can mentally battle people who then take their turn later. It's loaded with questions and constantly updated with new categories. A real treat.