Best New Mobile Games on iOS and Android – January 2023 Review

Screenshot of Kentucky Route Zero

Kentucky Route Zero – wonderfully strange (photo: Netflix)

The first roundup of smartphone games for 2023 includes surreal adventure Kentucky Route Zero on Netflix and Streets of Rage homage 99Vidas.

With all the joy and frivolity of the festive season now a distant memory, the cold gray blanket of British January and its attendant return to work is enough to keep anyone hooked to their mobile phone for solace. You’ll find it just as well, in the form of the wonderful Kentucky Route Zero, now free for Netflix subscribers; alongside old-school beat ’em-up 99Vidas and Philipp Stollenmayer’s intriguing Song Of Bloom finally coming to Android.


iOS, £1.79 (Play XD)

Spinning three concentric discs, your job is to stitch together lines of three or more dots of the same color, scoring extra dots for longer lines and making two or more at the same time.

After each move, the game adds new points to the board, opening up new possibilities but also gradually filling it up. When there is no more room, his game is over.

Despite its unpronounceable name, it’s something slightly compelling, with your skills to create multiple simultaneous growing lines without you really knowing how you’re doing it.

Rating: 7/10

song of bloom

iOS and Android, £1.99 (Philipp Stollenmayer)

Originally released for iOS in late 2019, Song of Bloom’s Cryptic Charms are now available for Android.

You will see a procession of strange symbols and shapes, a figure looking at a mobile and a pyramid. Throughout its repetitive 30-second message, you can draw red ink doodles on any parts you like, but what does it all mean?

Uncovering clues gradually unlocks new content to make sense of what at first appears to be a random collection of images. It may not be a long game, but it’s a fascinating process while it lasts.

Rating: 7/10

Kentucky Route Zero

iOS and Android, included with Netflix subscription (Netflix)

Kentucky Route Zero features a surreal set of interrelated stories with incredibly realistic, discouraged characters, and a highway that literally doesn’t exist.

Going wildly from what feels like a role-playing game, to a text-based adventure, to things you don’t do in any other game, its lack of voice acting is more than made up for by some of the best prose ever written for a video game.

Without any dexterity, the touchscreen version works flawlessly and is a great way to experience the captivating weirdness of the game.

Rating: 8/10


iOS and Android, free (QUByte)

Looking, playing, and sounding a lot like Streets Of Rage, 99Vidas is a 90s-style beat ’em-up steeped in 16-bit nostalgia.

The shift from console to mobile adds a chunky joystick and on-screen buttons, which work well enough to let you enjoy its combos, colorful backgrounds, and general sense of silliness.

It’s fun at first and there’s plenty of self-referential humor, but it’s let down by the genre’s usual problems, including its lack of variety and essential silliness. You will also need to watch ads to play.

Rating: 6/10

Inactive pocket planet

iOS and Android, free (HyperBeard)

Incremental games don’t get much cuter than Idle Pocket Planet, whose setting in the K-Wai galaxy has you populating barren worlds with alien life.

Tap to hatch tiny xenomorphs, then merge them to create more powerful ones, slowly adding additional multipliers in the age-old tradition of idle gaming.

Unfortunately, all of this is quickly overwhelmed by the cold, dead hand of commerce; the requests to buy its starter pack are incessant, and the advertisements it frequently encourages you to check out are extremely long and the kind where a single tap of the screen takes you to the App Store window. It’s exhausting.

Rating: 5/10

Twelve Minutes

iOS and Android, included with Netflix subscription (Netflix)

Twelve Minutes is a time-loop thriller ported from PC and console, taking place in a small apartment for no more than 12 minutes. For starters, it will be considerably less than that, as you accidentally cause all sorts of premature chaos.

It stars Daisy Ridley and Willem Defoe as the game’s two protagonists, although you can only really hear them, as the game is viewed directly from above, so you get a fairly limited idea of ​​their faces and language. bodily.

Loaded with increasingly absurd – albeit unpredictable – twists, its frequent repetition and claustrophobic setting soon begin to cringe. It’s worth a try if you haven’t canceled Netflix yet, but it’s unlikely to gain many new subscribers.

Rating: 6/10

Epic Fantasy Battle 5: RPG

iOS and Android, free (Matthieu Roszak)

There’s been a plethora of old-school role-players making their way to mobile lately, from the expansive Divinity: Original Sin 2, to more humble offerings like this.

Epic Fantasy Battle 5 is a JRPG at its core, cheekily playing Final Fantasy’s end-of-battle fanfare after its turn-based combat, its gently witty dialogue regularly hitting the fourth wall and mocking itself.

The mechanics are all in order though, with XP arriving in generous helpings and ad monitoring strictly limited to optional combat reward boosts. A thoroughly enjoyable game for anyone missing the formative years of Final Fantasy.

Rating: 7/10

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