If you just got a brand-new Android phone for the holidays, you probably want to play some games on your shiny device. Luckily, that’s especially easy to do this year with Google’s $5-per-month Google Play Pass games and apps subscription service, which offers free access to hundreds of games without pushing ads or demanding in-app purchases.
We’ve looked through what’s available on Play Pass, which you can currently sign up for before January 3rd for just $1.99 a month (for six months of service), and it has a lot of good games to check out. Here are just a few that we recommend. And since all of the games are also available individually — either free with ads and in-app purchases, or for specific prices — we’ve included their Google Play links as well.
We’ve rounded up our favorite and most-used games, apps, and entertainment. Check out our app picks for iPhones, Android phones, PCs and Macs; our favorite mobile games from Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass; and our top choices for gaming PCs, the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and VR. We’ve also listed our favorite streaming shows on Disney+, Hulu, ESPN and Netflix, some great sci-fi books, and exciting new podcasts. (Note: pricing was accurate at the time of publishing, but may change.)
Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope (and its sequels Cut the Rope 2 and Cut the Rope: Time Travel) are charming physics-based puzzle games that let you feed candy to a cute little dinosaur by manipulating Incredible Machine-like contraptions. The puzzles are short, but getting three stars in each level adds a nice extra challenge.
Limbo is a slow, spooky platformer that will only take you a couple hours to play through. But if you haven’t played it before, find a cozy spot on the couch in front of the fire, grab some headphones, and get lost in its world. Honestly, I wouldn’t exactly describe Limbo as fun, but it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that’s worth your time.
Ustwo’s perspective-bending puzzlers, Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2, are somehow engaging and relaxing all at the same time, and both games are absolutely beautiful. The levels are wonderfully designed, and you’ll typically only need a few minutes to get through a level, so you might be able to sneak in a puzzle or two between bites of holiday leftovers.
All three Reigns games — Reigns, Reigns: Her Majesty, and Reigns: Game of Thrones — are available on Google Play Pass, and each offers new opportunities to rule your kingdom with an iron thumb (if you choose). Though, I hope your Reigns: Game of Thrones runs are more satisfying than Game of Thrones’ final season.
This year, everyone’s favorite farming game finally came to Android, and it’s guaranteed to be an incredibly addicting way to get you through the holiday doldrums. I’ve lost hours to this game playing just another day over and over again as I tend my crops, visit my farm animals, and make friends with every townsperson that I can.
Star Wars: KOTOR
It’s Star Wars season, and there’s no better way to celebrate than sinking hours into Star Wars: KOTOR, which remains one of the best Star Wars games. Will you be a hero and become a Jedi, or go full dark side and embrace your inner Sith? The force is still strong with this beloved RPG.
Terraria, the famous side-scrolling action-adventure sandbox game, was first released for PCs all the way back in 2011, and it’s still being updated over eight years later. The Android version’s touchscreen controls can be a little clunky, but don’t let them stop you from the potential hours of dungeon-crawling that await you in Terraria.
Honorable Mention: Fortnite
Fortnite, which remains one of the world’s most popular games, isn’t available on Google Play Pass, but it’s free through the Epic Games App. Its touchscreen controls might not be the easiest way to play the game, but if you want to get in a couple drops off the Battle Bus while you’re away from your console or PC, they’ll do the trick.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the current price of Google Play Pass as $10.99. That is incorrect; Google Play Pass costs $4.99 for users in the US. We regret the error.
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