The Best iOS Games

The Best iOS Games 2017-05-29T07:53:14+00:00

Over the last few years I’ve downloaded a lot of iOS games, on both iPhone and iPad. Most aren’t worth playing. Some are good, and a few are fantastic. This is a list of the games which I’ve enjoyed most on iOS.

Almost all of these are games which cost money. In general, these games on iOS are better. It just comes down to economy: most mobile game developers have only two methods for earning income: sell games for an up-front cost or monetize free games through annoying and often underhanded tactics.  Ads will pop up which you have to pay to remove, artificial blocks will be introduced into the game to incentivize a small purchase, and so on. A good game is worth spending a few dollars on. Enjoy.

DownwellDownwell

Among the most exciting action games of 2015, Downwell is a vertical shooter where your ghost-like character (wearing “gunboots”) descends deeper into a well filled with enemies. Link

Desert GolfingDesert Golfing

“To see the world in a bunker of sand.” A humorously minimalist game about golfing in the desert. The app description for this game is just a poem. Easy to appreciate the aesthetic of Desert Golfing. Link

Monument ValleyMonument Valley

Award winning puzzle game which utilizes M.C. Escher-esque “impossible geometry”  to guide a female protagonist named Ada through obstacle courses. Absolutely stunning to look at. A gorgeous game. Link

Ridiculous FishingRidiculous Fishing

Developed by much-loved Dutch developer Vlambeer, Ridiculous Fishing is a “handcrafted game about fishing with guns, chainsaws & toasters.” Fantastic gameplay and art direction will hook you. Link

Dark EchoDark Echo

“Trapped in darkness, you must use visualized sound to guide your way through threatening environments.” Dark Echo is like a blind simulator. Play this game with headphones on, it is totally unique. Link

Super HexagonSuper Hexagon

One of the simplest, most difficult games I’ve played on iOS. A hugely influential game which has inspired many similar games like Wave Wave, also in this list. Runner up for 2012 game of the year on the App Store. Link

Alto's AdventureAlto’s Adventure

Similar to the 2011 hit mobile game Tiny Wings, Alto’s Adventure is a Zen-like obstacle avoidance skiing game. “Above the placid ivory snow lies a sleepy mountain village, brimming with the promise of adventure.” Link

PrunePrune

“Prune is a love letter to trees. A game about the beauty and joy of cultivation.” Tap and drag to prune your tree to guide it toward the sunlight which will allow it to grow and prosper. Prune inspires Zen-like tranquility. Link

BastionBastion

An action role-playing game where you guide “the Kid” though floating, fantasy-themed environments and defeat enemies. The hand drawn art style is distinct but the spoken narrative is what really sets this game apart. Link

_Prism_Prism

 “Touch shapes and patterns to unfold sacred geometry and reach the ethereal soul. Each level is a push and pull of cinematic design, mythology, and intuitive touch exploration.” Mesmerizing geometric puzzles in space. Link

80 DaysWave Wave

“Wave up and down to survive the gauntlet of geometric doom.” A brutally challenging game created in the mold of Super Hexagon (also in this list). Play with headphones and survive for as long as you can. Vexing. Link

Device 6Device 6

“Plays with the conventions of games and literature, entwines story with geography and blends puzzle and novella.” An interactive book where the written word is the game world. Winner of the 2014 Apple Design Award. Link

Super Arc LightSuper Arc Light

Minimalist retro arcade shooter featuring a simple one button control mechanism. Your ship rotates around an arc and you survive by eliminating incoming ships with weapons that you unlock as you progress. Link

You Must Build a BoatYou Must Build a Boat

A mash up of the endless runner genre (think Temple Run) and match-3 (think Candy Crush) presented in Atari 2600 style. Great combination of legitimate difficulty and witty humor. Build a boat to survive the flood. Link

Star CommandStar Command

Build and command a starship across the galaxy and “watch your crew die grizzly deaths all at your command”. A satisfying combination of strategy and role playing genres set in pixelated space. No in-app purchases. Link

FramedFramed

A puzzle game where you rearrange the panels of an animated comic book to change the outcome of a story. Stylishly presented as silhouetted film noir and has won many awards. Link

80 Days80 Days

Circumnavigate the globe in 80 days or less, inspired by Jules Vernes’ Around the World in 80 Days. Encounter people, trade items, and navigate obstacles in exotic locations. Like playing a good book. Link

Plague IncPlague Inc.

“Can you infect the world? Plague Inc. is a unique mix of high strategy and terrifyingly realistic simulation.” Be the architect of a pandemic which eradicates all human life on earth. A smash hit since its release in 2012. Link

HopliteHoplite

Dungeon crawling turn based strategy which focuses on tactical movement around small maps. It’s like chess with spears and magical abilities, forcing you to carefully consider each move.. Link

Don't StarveDon’t Starve

A survival strategy game that goes very deep. Explore the surrounding landscape, protect yourself from predators and the cold, and definitely make sure you remain nourished. Link

InksInks

Pinball with an artistic twist: as the ball moves across the surface, it leaves paint trails behind. As you complete each stage of increasingly difficult pinball, you finish with an art print of the ball’s movement in the game. Link

Papers, PleasePapers, Please

“A dystopian document thriller” that takes place in a fictional communist country called Arstotzka. Won “Best Game of 2013” from The New Yorker, Wired, and others. It deserves all of the praise it has gotten. iPad only. Link

SpaceteamSpaceteam

A cooperative party game played with 2-8 players where you should technobabble at each other. One of the funniest games I’ve played in the last few years. Install this on at least two phones and have fun. Link

ShadowmaticShadowmatic

Another Apple Design Award winner, Shadowmatic is a game about rotating “abstract objects in a spotlight to find recognizable silhouettes in projected shadows”. It plays like an interactive shadow-puppet art project. Link

Threes!Threes!

A small puzzle which takes 30 seconds to learn but countless hours to master. Its minimalism is beautiful, which is why it won Apple’s coveted 2014 Design Award, as well as Game of the Year in 2014. No in app purchases. Link

Leo's FortuneLeo’s Fortune

Follow a trail of gold to reclaim Leo’s Fortune in this side scrolling action adventure which looks like a Pixar movie. Winner of many design award including Apple’s. Link

Hitman GoHitman Go

Critically acclaimed puzzler set in the Hitman game universe. The goal in each stage is to assassinate targets, which you do by taking turns to occupy key positions in diorama-themed three dimensional stages. Link

Tiny WingsTiny Wings

“You have always dreamed of flying – but your wings are tiny.” An endless runner where you tap to guide a hand drawn bird through rolling landscapes. Awarded Apple’s prestigious Game of the Year award in 2011. Link

Kingdom Rush FrontiersKingdom Rush: Frontiers

The Kingdom Rush series is the gold standard for tower defense games on iOS and Frontiers is the latest iteration. Build and upgrade defenses to suppress an onslaught of enemy troops. Link

No ThingNo Thing

A “surreal action game set in totalitarian regime of future”, No Thing takes place in 1994. You play an office clerk who is sent with an important message to the Queen of Ice. Enchantingly bizarre narrative unfolds in 3D. Link

Her StoryHer Story

An interactive detective story where you discover the truth behind a murder by reviewing 1994 VHS footage of a female suspect’s recorded testimony. Twists and turns abound in this 1990’s crime scene throwback.. Link

Battle of PolytopiaThe Battle of Polytopia

Colony expansion strategy game which plays like a 20 minute compressed version of the epic PC strategy series Civilization. Select a cartoon tribe and explore and expand into and through rival colonies. Link

HearthstoneHearthstone

A collectible card strategy game strikingly similar to the 1990’s tabletop sensation Magic: The Gathering. Developed by Blizzard and made for mobile play, Hearthstone surpasses Magic in almost every way.. Link

Pacman 256Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man turned into an endless runner. Navigate ghosts through the familiar Pac-Man stage with the exception that it never ends. Run from a glitch in Pac-Man which threatens to eat you. Pay to remove ads. Link

SubterfugeSubterfuge

A “week-long multiplayer game of strategy and diplomacy that plays out in real time.” Meant to be played with real friends. As the game progresses, you get Push Notifications alerting you to take action. Expect deception. Link

Does Not ComputeDoes Not Commute

A strategic driving game where you control drivers in a fictional 1970’s town. Navigate cars, trucks and school buses and play with time in a “temporal paradox in which you have no one to blame but yourself”. Link

Note: Looking for more? Check out this roundup of 85 games I played in 2015. Another great list of iOS games to check out is this one.