The best iOS games | Pocket Tactics

The best iOS games

Every game worth playing on your iPhone or iPad

Whether you’re an Apple diehard or you’ve just bought your first iPhone or iPad, chances are you’ll want mobile game recommendations at some point. If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place, as we’ve compiled what we consider to be the 50 best gaming experiences you can have on your iOS device in a single space.

To help you find something that specifically appeals to you, we’ve broken it down into different genres, and you can use the links below to quickly swipe down to that section. No matter your tastes, we’ve got you covered here though.

We’re fortunate enough on iOS that we have a few exclusives of our own, as well as Apple Arcade, which showers us with incredible experiences for a single low monthly cost. Several of our games are exclusive to that service, while others are premium experiences, so you may have to prepare your wallet for a bit of spending. But don’t worry too much. We’ve included a bunch of free-to-play classics for those that just want to play the best without having to spend a penny.

And to make things easier for you, we’ve also broken our list out into the following genres:

What are the best iOS games?

Before we move onto the list proper, we just want to clarify what we mean by best iOS games. The truth is, there are an absolute ton of excellent games that you can play on your iPhone and iPad, and many of them don’t appear on this list.

That’s ok though, because we’ve focused on what we consider to be the absolute essentials. If you only have time to play 50 games before the world ends, these are the 50 we’d recommend. We’ve included links throughout for our separate genre lists, where you can find even further recommendations too, so keep an eye out for them. Now, let’s take a look at the best iOS games.

Shooter

There was a time when mobile gamers were convinced that the shooter genre just doesn’t work on mobile, but that’s way in the past now. We’ve had excellent mobile entries of hit console and PC franchises, innovative mobile takes on genres like the hero shooter, and many more. Here are our top picks.

Brawl Stars

Brawl Stars takes the best of MOBAs and hero shooters and smudges them together. Include some nifty touchscreen controls and Supercell’s signature cartoon visuals (though in full 3D this time) and you’ve got yourself one of the most addictive competitive shooters on mobile ever.

Call of Duty: Mobile

Call of Duty: Mobile does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a miniature version of the smash hit shooter series that you can play wherever you are. With your favourite characters, weapons, maps, and modes from the Black Ops and Modern Warfare series, this is a must-play for old-school COD fans. If you need guidance, we’ve put together a Call of Duty: Mobile tips guide for your perusal.

Shadowgun Legends

Shadowgun Legends is basically Destiny on mobile. Brought to you by the makers of mobile shooter classics Shadowgun and Dead Trigger, Legends sends you out into PvE and PvP missions all in the name of sick loot.

Puzzle

Below you’ll find a selection of our favourite experiences that will tax your brain. If you’re into games like this, check out our best mobile puzzle games for even more recommendations.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley might well be the finest mobile game of all time. It’s a fiendishly clever puzzler that takes place in environments that draw inspiration from Escher. You spin towers and other objects to create pathways that you have to traverse to reach the end of each level.

Mini Motorways

Mini Motorways is a brand new mobile puzzler by the makers of Mini Metro, and an Apple Arcade exclusive to boot. You have to create a network of motorways to allow an increasing number of cars to get to and from work. It starts simple but quickly ramps up in difficulty, when congestion starts to be your biggest enemy.

The Room: Old Sins

The Room series (not to be confused by the movie of the same name) is synonymous with mobile. It’s been visually stunning since before that was even supposed to be possible, and manages to tell a solid story without shoving it down your throat. That’s all without mentioning the excellent first person puzzle mechanics, with the game basically being made up of a selection of puzzle boxes.

Threes!

Threes! is a bonafide classic, challenging you to use your GCSE maths skills to the maximum of your ability. You have to match the same numbers together, to create increasingly bigger numbers. Each of the numbers you create is a character of its own, with its own personality, which is a nice little touch.

Deus Ex Go

Deus Ex Go is the latest in a trilogy of mobile puzzlers based on Square Enix’s portfolio of games. It plays like you imagine the series would as a puzzler, with you sneaking past guards, hacking into stuff, and participating in the odd bit of combat.

Hidden Folks

Hidden Folks is Where’s Wally? in overdrive. You have to find a variety of objects big and small in a variety of interactive images. You receive clues on how to find each of the objects you’re looking for, but it’s still deeply challenging stuff. In a good way.

Framed 2

Framed 2 follows in the footsteps of the excellent original, providing you with a bunch more comic book frames to rearrange. That’s the key mechanic of this puzzler series. You have to help a character make it to the end of a series of levels by rearranging the frames of a comic book.

Gorogoa

Gorogoa isn’t entirely unlike Framed, with you arranging beautiful hand-drawn images to solve puzzles. You’ll need to use your imagination, as well as your smarts, to solve the vast majority of them, though just looking at the pretty pictures is an option too.

What the Golf?

What the Golf? is a silly physics sports puzzler that’s exclusive to Apple Arcade. It’s incredibly liberal about what exactly constitutes as golf, so don’t go into this expecting a realistic interpretation of the sport.

Where Cards Fall

Where Cards Fall is the latest critically-acclaimed mobile game by Snowman, the talented developer behind Alto’s Odyssey. You have to build houses of cards to bring memories to life, navigating your character through them.

Assemble with Care

The makers of Monument Valley put together an excellent puzzler exclusively for Apple Arcade in Assemble with Care. You play as an antique restorer, who has to help the inhabitants of the town of Bellariva restore their most treasured possessions.

Donut County

Donut County is from the same school of wacky puzzlers as What the Golf?, with you controlling an increasingly big hole in the ground that swallows a wide variety of items to grow even bigger. You can combine items within the whole to create new items, catapult items to solve puzzles, and simply destroy stuff. Whatever floats your boat, really.

Vignettes

Vignettes is a difficult game to describe. You basically have to interact with a variety of different items to solve puzzles. These range from rescuing a stray cat to re-enacting the moon landing. It’s a bit random, but it’s lovingly put together with some really nice visual stories to witness.

Runner

Runners were born on mobile, providing platforming experiences that reward fast reflexes. We’ve put together our favourites below.

Alto’s Odyssey

Alto’s Odyssey trades snowy mountains for sandy dunes, with your favourite characters returning for another shot at the high score. There are new mechanics, like wall-grinding, which add an extra layer of challenge to the mix. It’s everything you loved about Adventure and more.

Tiny Wings

Tiny Wings is a classic from the early days of the App Store, and one of the first runners on mobile. You basically tap and hold to make your bird dive into ramps, using momentum to soar back into the skies with greater speed. It’s addictive stuff.

Crossy Road

Speaking of addictive, Crossy Road is basically an endless version of Frogger. You have to hop across a wide variety of dangerous roads, rivers, and more as you chase a high score and collect coins necessary to unlock the absolute ton of new characters.

Into the Dead 2

Into the Dead 2 is every zombie fan’s dream. You play as a survivor of the undead apocalypse, and have to endlessly run into packs of zombies, dodging attacks and retaliating in kind with powerful weapons.

RPG

If you like your games lengthy and full of quests, the games below are for you. If you want even more recommendations, check out our list of the best mobile RPGs.

Oceanhorn 2

The original Oceanhorn aimed to emulate classic Zelda on mobile, but with fancy new graphics. Oceanhorn 2, which arrived last year as an Apple Arcade exclusive, surpasses it in every way, providing us with an accurate representation of modern Zelda titles.

Cat Quest 2

Cat Quest 2 takes the best of Diablo, Zelda, and Final Fantasy to create the ultimate RPG. You play as a cute kitty who has to explore a wide open world in the name of loot, completing quests and saving the day. Come for the gorgeous visuals, stay for the myriad cat puns.

Pokémon GO

Pokémon Go is arguably the most popular mobile game of all time, introducing the enormous Pokémon franchise to a whole new audience. You’ll explore the real world, encountering your favourite monsters from previous entries in the series, catching and upgrading them with rewards you earn along the way.

Crashlands

Crashlands is basically an isometric Minecraft. You’ll craft stuff to survive a harsh landscape then head on out and beat up monsters Diablo-style to earn loot that makes your character more powerful. If you’re into action RPGs and survival games, this hybrid is a must play.

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is basically an indie Harvest Moon. You play as a miserable office worker who ups sticks and moves to the country after learning they’ve inherited a farm. You’ll make friends with the locals, build a profitable farm, and explore dungeons.

Minecraft

What self-respecting best games list doesn’t include Minecraft? Not this one, that’s for sure. This is the sandbox survival game that started them all, and it’s just as brilliant on mobile as you’d expect it to be.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is BioWare at its absolute prime, and is easily one of the finest western RPGs ever to grace the number of different platforms its launched on. You play as a Jedi recruit who has to either put a stop to the Empire’s plans, or help make sure they happen.

Strategy

Strategy games are the perfect choice for those that like to test their wits more than their reflexes. These experiences reward planning ahead for every eventuality. You can find more experiences like this in our best mobile strategy games list.

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter takes place in Bethesda’s post apocalyptic universe, and has you managing your very own vault. You’ll recruit survivors and put them to work in a variety of different rooms. It’s got the dark humour the series is known for, and is a lot more challenging than its cutesy visuals suggest.

Plague Inc.

The most relevant strategy game of our times has found a great home on mobile. It’s a permanent fixture at the top of the paid games charts, for those that care about numbers, and it’s easy to see why. Killing off the world’s population with a variety of different plagues is just so much more addictive than you’d care to admit.

Kingdom Rush Vengeance

Kingdom Rush Vengeance is the latest in Ironhide’s long-running tower defence series. If you’re a fan of the genre, and haven’t played a Kingdom Rush yet, you’re doing it wrong.

The Battle of Polytopia

The Battle of Polytopia takes Civilisation’s formula and makes it more palatable for the every day gamer. But it’s not just an easy mode for Civilisation. It has a personality all of its own, with lovely visuals that will take you back to the early days of strategy gaming.

Iron Marines

Iron Marines is another tower defence series by Ironhide, the makers of Kingdom Rush. It’s similar aesthetically, but trades fantasy for sci-fi, with characters that look like comic book versions of Halo’s Master Chief.

Company of Heroes

One of the finest strategy games of all time, Company of Heroes, arrived on iPad last year, courtesy of Feral Interactive. It takes place during World War Two, and challenges you to fight back against the Axis in a lengthy single-player campaign.

Card

Do you love the smell of cardboard in the morning? Deck builders are the games for you then. We’ve put together a separate list of the best mobile card games too, if you fancy more recommendations.

Reigns: Game of Thrones

Reigns took the mechanics of dating app Tinder, of all places, to create a strategy experience that only works on mobile. You swipe left or right to make a variety of key decisions, with the outcome affecting your standing with a bunch of different factions. Keeping these equally happy (or unhappy) is the trick to succeeding. The latest entry features your favourite characters from HBO’s fantasy TV series.

Clash Royale

Clash Royale is basically a card game like Hearthstone but presented in a visual format. You still create a deck and play cards on a battlefield, but the cards come to life and actually fight each other just like in a traditional RTS. It’s fiendishly addictive stuff that poses a solid challenge.

Card Thief

Card Thief is a stealthy take on Solitaire by the maker of Card Crawl. Using just cards, you’ll sneak about, extinguish shadows, and steal valuable treasures as you strive to get a high score.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

Gwent is now available on iOS and we’d argue that it’s the best version of the card game going. There’s just something so tactile about swiping cards onto the board that a controller or mouse can’t compete with.

Meteorfall: Journeys

Meteorfall: Journeys is like a miniature version of Slay the Spire. You’ll pick a hero and head out on an adventure, collecting cards to improve your deck as you defeat monsters. Death is permanent, though you can unlock persistent upgrades for your characters, providing heaps of replayability.

Platformer

If you like jumping on/over/across stuff then platformers are the choice for you. Mobile is actually really well stocked where this genre is concerned, and Apple Arcade only made it better.

Oddmar

Oddmar is an indie platformer by the makers of Leo’s Fortune that looks like it was made in Ubisoft’s UbiArt Framework. You play as a Viking that goes on an adventure to win his place in Valhalla.

Downwell

Downwell is a roguelike cut from a similar cloth to Binding of Isaac, but one that takes place vertically. You’ll constantly fall down a well, using guns placed handily on your feet to defeat enemies and avoid obstacles.

Grimvalor

Grimvalor is a Metroidvania that borrows an awful lot from the Soulsborne series. You’ll defeat challenging bosses and enemies and use upgrade items to improve your character so you can do it all over again.

Dandara

Dandara also borrows from classic Metroidvanias and Soulsbornes, but it feels incredibly unique. That’s thanks to its excellent controls, which feel designed for touch. You simply swipe around the screen to chuck Dandara about, solving platforming conundrums and puzzles along the way.

Sky: Children of the Light

Sky: Children of the Light is a social adventure by the makers of Journey, and it feels very similar to play. Sliding and flying around the world is as fun on your phone as it was back on the PS3 with Journey, and working together with strangers to solve puzzles using only emotes is deeply satisfying.

Racing

Everyone loves a racing game, don’t they? Whether it’s getting a few friends together for a multiplayer session or trying to win a tournament in single-player, iOS has you covered. Here are our favourites.

Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour is Nintendo’s finest mobile game yet, providing a solid touchscreen version of the classic battle racer. Using a single thumb or finger, you’ll drift around a variety of recognisable courses, using items to get the upper hand over your enemies. If you need help beating the current tour, check out our Mario Kart Tour challenges list.

Motorsport Manager Mobile 3

Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 is arguably the best sports management simulation on mobile, and it helps that the series started its life on the smaller screen. The presentation is top-notch, and a lot of love by genuine fans of the sport has clearly been poured into this excellent racer.

Riptide GP: Renegade

If you’re still waiting for Nintendo to revive the Wave Racing series, stop doing that and just play Riptide GP: Renegade instead. It’s everything you love about Nintendo’s classic, but with a darker edge.

Interactive Fiction

Like reading and video games? Why not combine the two by playing a bunch of our favourite interactive fiction games. We haven’t got a separate list of recommendations, but you can find similar experiences in our best digital board games on mobile list.

Sorcery!

Sorcery! is a fantastic work of interactive fiction by Steve Jackson. Over the course of the saga, you’ll explore a wide open world, completing quests, battling monsters, and finding new gear to equip. There’s nothing else quite like Sorcery! on mobile, and we thoroughly recommend it.

80 Days

80 Days, much like Sorcery!, is also by Inkle, the masters of interactive fiction on mobile. This one challenges you to plot a course and make it around the world in 80 days. No small feat.

Florence

Florence is a whimsical adventure that’s part coming of age tale, and part romantic tragedy. Really, you should experience it yourself rather than read spoilers. It’s beautiful in many more ways than its unrivalled, painterly visuals.

Her Story

Her Story is a brilliant crime caper that challenges you to investigate a court case by watching tons of footage. You’ll scour reels of it, attempting to pick up keywords that allow you to search even more, with your overarching goal to try and piece together what happened.

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