A woman in a crisp white shirt and suit trousers is intently using her phone on the train. She's not checking her email, she's playing Candy Crush Saga.
Games are no longer isolated to geeks, gamers or children. Smartphones have paved the way for hundreds of clever, witty and highly addictive apps, and most of all, games we're not embarrassed to talk about by the water cooler or at dinner. Take the 50 billionth app to be downloaded from iTunes. It was a word game called ‘Say The Same Thing’ created by OK Go, the indie band who danced on treadmills in a music video. Even Ellen DeGeneres has launched an app for the charades-like game she plays with guests on her show.
We've worked our way through iPhone and Android apps and shortlisted the very best games you should download. From blockbusters like Cut The Rope, to technological groundbreakers like The Room to beautifully whimsical puzzles like Incoboto Mini, there's a game app for every mood and time-span right here...
World of Goo
"It puts Angry Birds to shame", "Four hundred million gallons of imagination", "It made me a more complete person". This is what has been said about World of Goo, a game where you drag and drop living, squirming, talking, globs of goo to build structures, bridges, cannonballs, zeppelins, and giant tongues. Each level introduces strange and oddly beautiful puzzles.
Little Things Forever
Beat Hazard Ultra
A spaceship shooting game that not only plays your iTunes library as a soundtrack, it uses each song to set the pace and length of the game. Intense music will cause you to shoot more and your enemies to grow, while soft music creates a more therapeutic shooting round. We’re going back to shooting to Ed Sheeran's voice as we speak…
Icon Pop Quiz
Candy Crush Saga
“I’m obsessed with Candy Crush and I’ve never, EVER been into any kind of game apps or games,” says Acting Beauty Editor Samantha Flowers. As you score points by matching ‘candies’ you progress on a map through ‘Candy Town’. It’s deliciously colourful, simple to play and likely to be the blockbuster game of this year.
Dream of Pixels
Dream of Pixels has taken the Tetris concept and literally turned it upside down. It has adorned it with whimsical graphic design and soothing music, making it the most dream-like version of Tetris you'll ever play. A real beauty.
Cut The Rope
There’s a cardboard box on your virtual front doorstep labelled ‘feed with candy’. A pair of eyes blink through a small hole and your love story begins. Soon enough, you’ll be slicing ropes incessantly with your fingers to feed the hungry little frog aptly named Om Nom. 300 million downloads don't lie.
The gaming world changed in December 2009 when Angry Birds joined the app store. It has since been downloaded 2billion times on smartphones and tablets and turned into a successful franchise including Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Rio. No matter which you play, you’ll want to hurl a bird at greedy pigs over and over again.
Beach Buggy Blitz
4 Pics 1 Word
£1.49, Google Play
The Room Pocket, Free, iTunes
The Room is nothing short of an app phenomenon. The critically acclaimed game boasts the most natural looking visuals ever seen on a mobile device. Without giving the mystery away, it's an intriguing story paired with challenging yet doable puzzles, that'll be over far too quickly.
Dumb Ways To Die
It all started with a campaign to promote safety on Melbourne's Metro Trains. One award-winning, viral video later – where animated characters demonstrate 'dumb ways to die', from poking a stick at a grizzly bear to standing on the edge of a train station platform – and you have the coolest game app around. The lives of those adorably dumb characters are in your hands...
Anna Fielding, editor of Stylist.co.uk, is currently hooked on Royal Revolt! When a Prince returns from Bogmarts boarding school with a B.A. in Petty Magic, he learns his father has died and his greedy relatives have usurped the kingdom. So he's forced to resort to old-fashioned fighting... a lot of sword-swishing against a fairy tale backdrop.
Dots: A Game About Connecting
You're given 60 seconds to draw lines through and clear as many matching coloured dots as possible. It's incredibly simple and we were immediately hooked on it.
In Devil's Attorney, you're Max McMann, an 1980s defence attorney who is high on charm but low on moral fiber. Your objective is to free all of your clients and use the money you earn to buy accessories and new furniture for your apartment; boosting your ego and unlocking new courtroom skills in the process.
8 Ball Pool
When The Corporation causes all the suns to go out, a small boy named Inco and his strange friend, Helios, go on a galaxy-spanning quest to light the skies once more. Incoboto is a rare and touching experience unlike any other app with its sombre soundtrack, unique mechanics, charming writing and artwork.
Build your very own city by managing everything from the finances to the design and infrastructure. It gives you the same kick as managing a business, without the stresses of uncooperative clients and deals falling through. Even if the most gorgeous and successful city sits in your pocket, it'll still have your name on it.
The Great Brain Experiment
Are you faster or more attentive than other people? Can you remember more or make better choices? Be part of a unique scientific experiment by playing this quirky app. In the background, a group of Neuroscientists at University College London compile and analyse the data, to answer questions like ‘What makes me happy?’
£1.99, Google Play
Winner of multiple Game of the Year awards, Osmos is a fascinating, physics-based game on Android. As a blue glowing mote, your goal is to absorb safe smaller particles in order to grow. We were mesmerised by the hypnotic graphics and ambient soundtrack. It's one of the most serene phone games out there.
Zombies, Run! turns exercise into a rather scary game. A tale of zombies, co-created by novelist Naomi Alderman, is delivered straight to your headphones through voice recordings, instructions and sounds. The guttural breath and rattling groan of zombies are soon everywhere. There’s only one thing you can do: run.
Say The Same Thing
Created by American idie band OK Go, Say the Same Thing is the word game where you and a friend can only win together. You each start by entering a random word and then guessing a word that connects those two words. Repeat with each new pair of words until you finally say the same thing.
Rayman Jungle Run
Rayman Jungle Run is becoming a classic after being voted in the 'App Store Best of 2012'. Help Rayman run through the jungle by dodging cannon balls, jumping through falling rocks in the Pirate Ship section and escaping a giant “flower” that doesn’t smell too good – all new features.
£2, Google Play
One of the most challenging and stimulating puzzle apps. Splice is an experimental and artistic game set in a microbial world. Every level ("strand") consists of a number of cells you need to rearrange into a target structure in several moves ("splices"). First though, you need to work out how the little cells react to each other and predict the sequence of splices you'll make. If you successfully solve a strand, you'll be left with a very heady sense of accomplishment!
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is an award-winning 5-part game series inspired by the a comic book of the same name. Each gamer has a unique experience as they shape the choices and actions made in this fast-paced narrative.
Unblock Me Free
Words With Friends Free
To the City of the Clouds
Heads Up! is a fun charades-style game which Ellen DeGeneres plays on her show. Hold the phone to your head, let your friend describe the word that's appeared on it, and guess the word before the timer runs out. Words can be anything from celebrity names to accents, which is what makes this game so fun.
Gorgeous graphics and pin-sharp detail has made this space exploration and plant growth game a winner. You start with a colony of seedlings - they're like your soldiers - on an asteroid. The goal is to colonise other asteroids by sending your seedlings to them. But when enemies lurk up you have to send your seedlings to attack, albeit in the most calm way imaginable.
Table Top Racing
Feel like a Borrower as you race across incredibly-detailed table tops with giant obstacles.
Simply tilt your device to make a ball descend as fast as you can before it gets squashed at the top. It's a rapid game ideal for killing a few spare minutes.
Touch Hockey: FS5 (free)
A much-loved arcade game in your pocket.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
Normally we wouldn't promote graffiti and trespassing, but Subway Surfers is set in Miami - such crimes are rooted in its history - and the game is so much fun. Your goal is to help Jake escape from the grumpy Inspector as fast as you can, whilst collecting coins and dodging trains. And believe us, it moves fast.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush