7 Mobile Game UI Examples To Inspire Your Game Design

How do you design a great mobile game user interface (UI)?

It’s simple:

Keep gamers in mind the entire time you’re laying out your UI. 

After all, the point of a user interface is to make sure the user is happy when they play your game. 

And even though UI is a basic concept if you’re an expert-level developer, it can be easy to forget when you’re mortgage-deep into bringing your own creations to life. 

So if you need some design inspiration, here are seven mobile game UI’s that do a great job helping players navigate, find information, take action, and even learn how to play the game — with incredible amounts of style. 

1. Chuchel 

What’s great about Chuchel

Chuchel is a simple point-and-click puzzle game from Amanita Designs. And it does an amazing job of using UI elements to elicit emotion — and, in this case, lots of belly laughs. 

In fact, one reviewer called it “comedy gold,” which isn’t something many mobile games can boast about.

Just one look at the picture above, and you can see that this is a wacky, lighthearted romp of a game. The characters are brightly colored and quirky. And even the background gives off a whimsical vibe, thanks to the faint scribbles and scratches thrown in.

And Amanita echoes those kinds of playful touches throughout Chuchel’s game UI. 

For example, see what the action buttons look like:

a mobile game ui example

Notice how the game buttons repeat the loosely drawn dashes, dots, and scribbles in the background? 

And they aren’t clean-lined, circular buttons, either. Instead, they’re wavy, hand-sketched circles. So they add to the loose, fun feel of the game.

But just because the game gets chuckles doesn’t mean the puzzles are always easy to solve. And young players (or impatient adults) can get frustrated when they’re stumped.

So the game devs at Amanita Design came up with a nice pop-up to keep players smiling when that happens. 

Notice the little sign with the question mark in the right-hand side of the picture below:

If players pause for a while, this sign pops up. And if they click on it, they get a hint to help them solve the puzzle.

Yet, unlike the action buttons, the hint pop-up isn’t sketched in highly contrasting black and white. Instead, it uses colors that blend in. 

So players will know it’s there because of the movement and sound it makes when it pops up. But if players don’t need to use it, they won’t mind seeing it.

Key lesson for game devs

  • Keep your themes consistent throughout your video game design. Consistency gives gamers an enjoyable, cohesive user experience.

    But uniformity doesn’t have to be boring. Take a cue from Chuchel and get creative with the smallest details of your game’s UI.

2. Assemble with Care 

What’s great about Assemble with Care

Assemble with Care is a narrative puzzle game from Ustwo Games. And it brings as much nostalgia as Chuchel brings laughter.

Assemble’s artwork has a dreamlike feel to it. And it comes in two parts: the gameplay art and the storyboard design. 

The gameplay area, where players solve puzzles to fix broken items like rotary phones and cassette tape recorders, has bright colors and an impressionistic style.

The storyboard, which sets the scenes for the game in narrative form, is designed like a book with hand-sketched illustrations. 

Here’s a look at both. (The gameplay design is on the left, the storyboard on the right): 

All these UI design elements — the colors, the dated gadgets, the characters’ wardrobes — bring a wonderful 80’s feel to the game.

But, since it’s made with today’s touchscreens in mind, Assemble’s UI is not living in the past. 

The game uses familiar point, tap, and swipe commands throughout. So players can make repairs with the same gestures they use every day on modern smart devices. A two-finger spin rotates any object. A circular swiping motion turns the screwdriver. And one tap of the play button makes the cassette player play. 

And although there are several tools and parts for each repair, the interface isn’t cluttered. 

The tools are placed evenly across the top half of the screen. And the object to be repaired is placed just below the center of the page. A coffee cup is also placed in the bottom right corner to add a little “ahhh” factor. 

And the uncluttered screens and simple command inputs add a calming, zen-like atmosphere to the already nostalgic feel of the game. 

Key lesson for game devs

  • Get creative with gestures if it makes sense for your audience. Ustwo’s audience are casual gamers. So Ustwo implements easy swipe and tap controls to cater to them.

    And many of the game’s reviewers mention how satisfying it is to “turn” the screwdriver. 

3. Alto’s Odyssey

What’s great about Alto’s Odyssey

Alto’s Odyssey is another game whose game art creates a serene, zen-like feeling for its players. 

This endless side scroller from Snowman is the sequel to their hit game, Alto’s Adventure. But instead of boarding on snow across cool-colored, mountainous backdrops, Alto is now boarding across the sand. And he gets to enjoy three different desert biomes in deeper, warmer colors than the first.

Like its predecessor, Odyssey uses these rich color palettes, gorgeous landscapes, and continuous scrolling action to create a feeling of calm and to immerse players into the game.

And there’s a less obvious design element that Snowman uses to suck players into the game, too.

Notice how small Alto is:

You can barely see him in the screenshot above. 

The tiny sandboarder is the main character of the game, but he’s dwarfed by the scenery around him. And that’s no accident.

The game’s illustrators deliberately put more focus on the scenery than the characters. 

According to the designer, Harry Nesbitt, “This allows anyone to be able to project themselves into the world and feel like they’re experiencing their own adventure.”

And if players want to be submerged even deeper into the meditative experience, they can choose to play in the dedicated Zen mode. With no objectives to complete, game users can get completely lost in their journey. 

And when they hit pause, a camera icon appears and allows them to take screenshots along the way.

Key lesson for game devs

  • Find out what your players love and give them more of it.

    Alto’s Odyssey didn’t deviate from the features that players loved in its prequel. Instead, they gave them the same user experience, but on a grander scale — down to an even better Zen mode.

4. Ordia 

What’s great about Ordia

Like Odyssey, Ordia is a 2D game that’s simple to play and full of beautiful imagery. 

It’s a one-finger platformer from the London based game studio, Loju. And Loju brilliantly incorporates color into Ordia’s graphic design. 

Ordia has 30 levels across three worlds. And each world has its own separate color palette to create depth and atmosphere:

But Ordia doesn’t just use color to create a mood. It also uses color to make the user interface more intuitive.

For example, the goopy little ball you fling is a bright, teal green color, no matter what color world you’re in. And so are its hang and catch points. So if an element of the game is teal, that means it’s safe. 

But if you see hot pink, beware because pink means danger.

These colorful clues help players navigate Ordia’s worlds without being confused about what’s good and bad. And it keeps gameplay flowing smoothly from one level to the next. 

Key lesson for game devs

  • Be smart with color during game development; look for ways to use it to help players succeed while playing your games.

5. Manifold Garden

What’s great about Manifold Garden

Unlike Ordia, Manifold Garden is not a simple game. And that’s its main draw.

It’s a complex 3D block puzzle from William Chyr Studios. And its levels are created out of impossible geometric patterns similar to those in the works of M. C. Escher

The patterns in each level repeat, wrap around, and turn in on themselves. And to successfully solve Manifold’s puzzles, players have to learn how to defy the normal rules of gravity. 

But despite altering physics as we know it, the game doesn’t give any on-screen instructions. Instead, it introduces puzzles with simple solutions early in the game, so players can learn complex concepts in a step-by-step order. 

Then, once they figure out the mechanics of the game, players can use them to solve the progressively harder puzzles.

Key lesson for game devs

  • Know your gamers well enough to understand what kind of tutorials will help them understand how to play your game.

6. Call of Duty: Mobile

What’s great about Call of Duty: Mobile

Call of Duty: Mobile is a first-person role-playing game (RPG) shooter from Activision and TiMi Studios. And like all the games in this list, it has eye-popping graphics. 

But unlike the other games on this list so far, it’s a mobile spin-off of a well-known and much-beloved console game series. So the pressure was high for the developers to get the mobile app design right.

And get it right, they did. 

Call of Duty: Mobile uses on-screen touch controls to direct the action of the game. And, unlike many similar setups, the controls are designed so players can move, aim, and shoot simultaneously. 

How?

By adding a setting to trigger the gun when the scope is trained on a target. So players don’t have to move a finger away from another control to shoot. 

This way, the action that COD fans crave never slows down. And players aren’t frustrated by clunky controls that make them choose between running — or stopping to shoot.

Plus, as you can see in the picture above, every UI button a player will need is on the screen and easy to access at all times. Yet somehow — even with 20 plus game icons on the screen at once — the game interface doesn’t feel overly cluttered.  

Key lesson for game devs

  • Look at what other games are doing. But don’t be afraid to make what’s “standard” into something even better.

    Call of Duty worked hard to get the best action from its on-screen controls. They took a standard control system for the genre, noticed it was somewhat broken, and then improved on it. 

7. Alien: Blackout

What’s great about Alien: Blackout

Like Call of Duty, Alien: Blackout is part of a huge console adventure game series that has successfully gone mobile. 

And its mobile UI has to accomplish a lot for that to happen.

The styling of its game assets has to be on-brand with the rest of the alien games and movies. Plus the user interface needs to work with the storyline to create the tension and gore that horror enthusiasts expect from an Alien game.

You can see from the screenshot above that they nailed the classic Alien look. But to understand how Alien’s user interface design helps create high stakes for the player, we need to dig a little into the game’s storyline. 

Alien: Blackout starts with Amanda Ripley, star of the Alien franchise, trapped inside the air duct of a space station. She’s hiding from a ferocious alien when an unsuspecting ship docks on the station to get supplies. 

She’s then tasked with helping the crew members move around the station to gather the supplies that will fix their ship and get Amanda and the crew out of there. 

And this is where the game UI design shines. Amanda micromanages the crew from her hiding spot, using security cameras and a 2D map. 

Here’s what the user interface looks like: 

Everything a player needs to see is on this screen. And every UI element works together to create tension.

There’s a timer in the upper left corner that counts down from eight minutes. If that timer runs out, the ship blacks out and the mission is lost. Just below the countdown timer are the life meters for the crew. And to the right of them is the map. 

The white dots show where the crew members are. And a red blip shows the alien’s location. If Amanda can’t get at least one person out alive with her, the mission is failed. 

So you can see how the master game interface works with the story to keep players on the edge of their seats. 

Key lesson for game devs

  • Don’t be afraid to come up with fun ways for your game interface to support your story arcs.

    The high-stakes feel of Alien: Blackout wouldn’t be as good if the interface was designed differently. 

Conclusion

The designers behind each of these mobile games not only thought about what they wanted to convey in their game concept. They also took the time to think about what their audiences wanted to experience. 

And they used that information to create these award-winning game designs.

So if you want to get your UI design right, remember to keep your audience at the forefront of your mind as you come up with your design ideas.