The mobile market is flooded with so many different games that it might be hard to determine what's worth your time. I'll help you cut through the shovelware with this single game recommendation: Duet.
Duet (free to play on Android/iOS (opens in new tab); $4.99 on Steam) is by far the best mobile game I've ever played. PUBG? Sonic Dash? Angry Birds? None of those have anything on this mobile dark horse.
The core concept of the game is simple: Guide two circles of paint through an obstacle course so that they don't splat against said obstacles. The thing is, the paints are locked onto a circular track, and each half is controlled by one of your thumbs.
This means both halves of your brain, as well as both of your hands, have to be perfectly in sync in order to navigate Duet's obstacle courses effectively. Weird as the idea may seem, the game is every bit as much an exercise app for your brain as it is a superficially stimulating twitch-reflex game.
On this basic level, everyone can get down with Duet. It's entertaining, healthy, synapse-forming, brain-elasticizing fun for all ages. Combine the addicting, zen-based gameplay with Duet's killer synth soundtrack, and you've got an experience that anyone can enjoy on the school bus or subway, at the dinner table, or right before bed. And yet, even with its low barrier to entry, Duet has so much more to offer.
Duet is every bit as much an exercise app for your brain as it is a superficially stimulating twitch-reflex game.
Each level starts off with a softly spoken quote from an Australian woman. It's usually something cryptic that challenges you to think about both the game at hand as well as, existentially speaking, the game of life. "Never give up," she advises. "Some things are worth fighting for." It quickly becomes apparent that she's no longer talking about just a silly mobile game; she's feeding you mantras for real-world success.
Then, as the game difficulty grows and the struggle increases, the quotes turn sour. "Regret has two sides." "You will not win." This is when the game's next layer of depth comes into play, in its exploration of sadness. Each act of Duet is named after one of the stages of grief, with the game's quotes illustrating what one might think at each corresponding real-life stage. This works on both a meta level and a game level, because every time you die in-game, you'll subconsciously experience every phase and mood she describes.
Duet tries to make you think about what brings you joy and what's without joy that's worth suffering through, and it conveys this big-picture thematic goal with nothing but some good music, quirky quotes and simple gameplay. It's a master class in effective game design that turns its mobile limitations into an advantage.
Whether you want an unrivaled obstacle-course game or an interactive tool with which to explore your own psyche, Duet is the game to download. Plus, the base version doesn't cost a dime, because the best things in life truly are free. (However, for a few bucks, you can purchase a few bonus levels and get rid of the game's unobtrusive ads.)
And if you're already hooked on Duet, we've got even better news: Developer Kumobius just teased on Twitter that its next game is coming soon.