Hidden free to play gems of the Play Store

Hidden Gems Hazmat Suit
"Okay. I think I'm ready."

The Play Store is a vast, mysterious landscape full of the weird, wonderful and sometimes downright inexplicable and within which resides a single gleaming bastion of civilization known as the Top Charts. That’s where the vast majority of us Android users reside, rarely stepping outside the relative safety of Top Charts city walls and into the unknown, untamed wildness beyond.

And gaming on Android suffers as a result of this tendency; it’s hard for new blood to break through without truckloads of cash and a s**tload of luck. Heavyweights like Temple Run, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Subway Surfers and some of the other nigh-household names in mobile gaming have lingered around the top of the charts for years, and for every PUBG and Flappy Bird that makes it to the top, there exists thousands of other legitimately good games that die out there, all alone in that vast and cold wildness, without ever attaining the attention they deserve or delivering the genuine fun they’re capable of.

So that’s why we suited up and ventured out into those strange darklands in search of some great games you’ve never heard of that totally kick ass. 

Hidden Gems Hazmat Suit
“Okay. I think I’m ready. Let’s find some games.”

Prepare to be blown away. All the games on this list are games we think have failed to garner the attention we, in our extremely sophisticated expert opinion, feel they deserve. So this is your chance to get in on the ground floor on what might be the PUBG of tomorrow (or day after)!

5. Angel Dust

Hidden Gems Angeldust Titler
Kind of like Minecraft meets Paper Mario
  • Price: Free to Play
  • Developer: Metagaming B.V


  • Creative building possibilities
  • Large open world map
  • Zero material grinding — once discovered, materials have unlimited supply
  • The Developers are attentive to feedback


  • Combat’s still a bit awkward
  • Movement speed needs a real buff
  • Not enough early game instruction (zero tutorial)

Who will like it:

Anybody who enjoys harvesting-building games.

The first similarity that strikes you is its many parallels with the heavyweight in the genre, Minecraft. The core remains the same: venture into the wildness to hunt for new resources and expand your creative arsenal. But in Angel Dust, there’s more elements like a real class system, rewards for hunting new mobs, and a totally free persistent world where everybody’s unique houses are situated together in a massive village — essentially equating to an art gallery for people to show off their own sense of style as well as the spoils of their questing, hunting and harvesting. In Angel Dust, a visually striking house constructed with wide array of rare materials stands out like a fancy car in a world where every car is custom-made.

The best departure from Minecraft is the art style in both the open world and player-constructed buildings. There’s nothing blocky about the setting, the mobs or the characters and the construction ‘blocks’ meld together in an organic way that’s brand new — with grass fading into stone, rock and snow in a way very pleasing to the eye.

While it’s definitely rough around the edges right now, with somewhat one-dimensional combat and the movement speed in dire need of a buff, this is a new game that’s still growing and the developers really seem to be all-ears when it comes to player feedback. Expect Angel Dust to grow rapidly when it really hits its stride.

Download: Angel Dust

4. Ares Virus

Hidden Gems Ares Virus Titler

A solid solo RPG with a few extra elements.

  • Price: Free to Play
  • Developer: Qcplay Limited


  • Unique Art Style
  • A satisfying, classic RPG with a few cool elements
  • Robust crafting system


  • Translation funky at key moments
  • Birds Eye View might not appeal to everyone

Ares Virus is just a cool zombie survival game with a robust weapons/equipment crafting system, open world and a decently engaging storyline (provided you don’t mind the occasionally iffy translations). With an interesting art style and story centric open-world, Ares Virus is reminiscent of the high quality early RPG’s where you could have hours of fun roaming, questing, and crafting without spending a dime.

There are ways to make things easier on yourself — you can choose to go to your house’s TV and watch a commercial for some premium currency for ‘free’ or just buy it directly — but there are no pop-up ads and the game is actually more interesting without it. The in-game economy actually relies on a pretty-cool barter system where you buy goods by giving merchants what they’re looking for or completing a quest for them, which is appropriate for a world ravaged by a zombie virus. 

In Ares Virus, you play the last remaining member of a spec-ops squad sent to retrieve the antibodies of the Ares Virus, which, however you want to dress it up, turns people into zombies (they call them Infestors).

Hidden Gems Business Woman
“What? What do you mean the client was eaten by investors? Why are you screaming?”

You awaken, rescued by just the nicest old man named Bodden, and your first task is to go to the most culturally sensitive, non-stereotypical Native American named ‘Old Hunter’ to buy some antibiotics, because apparently this virus is caused by bacteria. 

And then you’re off, on your own zombie-hacking survival adventure with tons of crafting, gear, weapons and a few story twists that come together to make a solid RPG for anybody looking to waste some serious time.

Download: Ares Virus

3. A Way to Slay

Gorgeous, simple, super addictive.
  • Price: Free to Play
  • Developer: NoTriple-A Games


  • Straightforward, simple gameplay
  • Fantastic Art


  • Simply not enough of it.

What do you get when you cross fantastic, eye-popping bloodshed with a clever puzzle game? You get pure, addictive awesomeness. A Way to Slay is magnificent, and freakishly gorgeous for a game as simple as a sword’s edge. You play a ronin-type character who is really fast and really, really good at slaying people — so good the premise of the game is literally just who to kill and in what order. You have to keep track of the distance and movement speed of your enemies because you are as squishy as your are deadly, and you literally have 1 hp.

This game is a prime example of beauty in simplicity and is seriously, seriously hard to put down. The minimalist art style and unpopulated backdrop is absolutely cinematic and just a screenshot goldmine. With almost no on-screen overlay except for scaling rulers, you control the angles the and zoom in your simple world while you systematically massacre your enemies without taking a scratch. And it’s pretty easy at first, with the first few levels serving as a de facto tutorial, but quickly becomes challenging as the enemies diversify and become stronger, faster and more durable, forcing you to think hard about how you want to proceed with the sword-swinging bloodshed.

It’s super straightforward, super simple and its s**tloads of fun.

Download: A Way to Slay

2. Blackmoor 2

Hidden Gems Blackmoor2 Titler
A mashup of Street Fighter and side scrolling platforms with tons to do and lots of player made content.
  • Price: Free to Play
  • Developer: Four Fats


  • A campy, engaging story mode
  • Real Street Fighter style PvP
  • Tons of awesome, player-created Dungeons and an in-built Dungeon Editor


  • Missing the combo system that makes its Street Fighter side really shine (but that’s just us nitpicking)

If you’re looking for a solid game you can scoop hours of fun out of in a variety of ways while making you laugh a few times along the way, Blackmoor 2 is the game for you. A cooky side-scroller meets Street Fighter platform that pokes fun at a lot of the old medieval fantasy tropes, you can choose from a bunch of different characters to beat the stuffing out of literal armies of monsters with — while collecting upgrades, abilities and equipment to further enhance your capacity for skull-smashing along the way. Gameplay-wise, it is essentially a solid action side-scroller with big boss fights at the end of each level, tons of equipment and highly varied characters.

But beyond Story mode is also real-deal PvP section that houses ‘best 2 out of 3’ Street Fighter style fights that make for a whole game in itself once you’ve familiarised yourself with all the characters; Co-Op where you can venture out with other players online, and if all that’s not enough for you there’s even a huge Dungeon Mode where you can use an in-built Dungeon Editor to create and share your own sadistic brainchildren with others, and explore tons and tons of other player-created dungeons — some of which are truly as ingenious as they are mercilessly twisted.

All in all, Blackmoor 2 makes for a game just absolutely bursting at the seams with things to do — so much so it’s hard to believe it’s all packed into a mobile game. Really, hats off to the developers for making something so complete, with so many ways to play, and keeping it free without being pay to win or relying on any other soul-crushing, extortionist strategies to squeeze the money out of you. It’s really a shame that it’s only just crossed the 100k downloads mark when this game has so many ways to play a rewarding single-player storyline or connect with others in numerous ways.

Download: Blackmoor 2

1. Dawn of Isles

Dawn of Isles - Official Trailer

A mind-blowing, console quality MMORPG unlike anything that’s ever come to mobile. 

  • Price: Free to Play
  • Developer: Dawn of Isles


  • Stellar graphics, well enough optimized to be playable on less than stellar devices
  • Smooth controls and nicely polished gameplay
  • An immense crafting and building system
  • A pokemon-esque pet system complete with evolutions


  • The VO is in Japanese (but the text and translations are all excellent)

Our first impression a few minutes after opening up the brand-spanking-new Dawn of Isles is:

Hidden Gems Scared Man
“Dear Lord… this… game… how is it THIS good?”

It’s like Zelda meets Pokemon meets Minecraft meets League of Legends meets pure, unadulterated awesomeness.

Seriously, Dawn of Isles is possibly the brightest, as-of-yet-hidden gem in all of the Play StoreOur best guess is this game is going to be HUGE, and if you’ve ever wanted to get in on the ground floor of the next big MMO, we’d highly recommend hopping aboard this magnificent game ASAP.

Dawn of Isles is legit, console quality, Breath of the Wild-esque MMORPG with incredible complexity and a serious emphasis on resources and crafting. Seriously, we were shocked by this game. Especially how well optimized its graphics were for lower-end devices. The gameplay is smooth, the tropical islander art style and reinterpretation of the class system meta is fresh,  all of the quests are clearcut and instructive, and its large tropical world is gorgeous — and the first solo area strangely reminiscent of the original Kingdom Hearts, for those of you who remember.

You have multiple classes to choose from, the usual monster-slaying — but with excellent controls and design sense that really bleeds through every step of the game –and seriously expansive crafting and building system that allows you to grow your own Home Island.

Join Tribes, raid other islands, collect pets to evolve them like Pokemon, build your character through stat points, craft buildings, weapons and equipment, run dungeons, duel other players, fight world bosses, participated in ranked 3v3 PVP — seriously, this game has everything any MMORPG has and then some. There’s literally too much to list. I mean you can even run a manufacturing business!  Wait–What?

When we were done salivating over the absolutely ridiculous character customization options, we were blown away by how smooth the combat system is. In Dawn of Isles you can juke and kite mobs and bosses in almost MOBA-style gameplay set inside an open world, combine elemental moves with other players and your pets, and

Time will tell if Dawn of Isles lives up to its groundbreaking potential, but at the moment it seems absolutely insane that this console level game exists on mobile at all and has only just crossed the 100k downloads mark at the time of this writing. Our best guess is that with time, Dawn of Isles could be absolutely massive.

Wherever it goes, it can be said with absolute certainty that this game is a step up in mobile MMORPGs.

Download: Dawn of Isles

So, thoughts?