Whether you’re a PC gamer, prefer a home console, or just looking for a cheap distraction, we can all come together when it comes to mobile gaming. Everyone has downloaded a game or two from the App Store, but have you played the very best iOS has to offer?
If you prefer to play on a device with a little more room to maneuver, we have the best iPad games. However, if you’re looking to kill some time on the go, we’ve compiled a list of the 50 best iPhone games. Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites.
Alto’s Odyssey (iOS)
Alto’s Odyssey is the follow-up to 2015’s Alto’s Adventure. The new game continues the series’ ability to combine the mechanics of a smooth, endless runner with the breathtaking visuals of skiing. Travel down the mountain while completing goals, collecting coins, and earning upgrades along your journey.
Bastion is an action role-playing game that sends the player-character out into a post-apocalyptic fantasy world to collect shards of rock to power a structure known as the Bastion. The game stands out for its immersive story, voiceover narration, breathtaking graphics, and unique soundtrack.
The Battle of Polytopia (for iPhone)
This real-time strategy game puts you in control of a tribe of people as you build your strength, expand your territory, fight your enemies, and ultimately build an empire. The Battle of Polytopia allows you to play on your own, against a friend, or through online multiplayer.
Praised for its simple gameplay and minimalist art design, Blek is a puzzle game that has players create patterns using touch-screen gestures to complete each level. Release in 2013, the game proved to be a simple, yet popular addition to the iPhone’s stable of games.
Clash Royale (for iPhone)
Clash Royale combines collectible cards, tower defense, and online multiplayer to create a truly unique gaming experience. Since its worldwide release in 2016, Clash Royale has been nominated for many different awards and is now a popular international eSport.
Crashlands debuted in 2016 as an adventure-crafting RPG adventure with a wild plot. Stranded on an uncivilized planet, you must fight monsters, mine resources, and fulfill quests while trying to stay alive. The game works cross-platform so you have no reason to ever stop playing.
Crypt of the NecroDancer (for iOS)
This roguelike dungeon crawler adds an element of beat-matching to create a truly fun yet brutal playing experience. Players can only move or attack by matching the rhythm of the soundtrack, gaining multipliers for successful matches. The goal is to not only beat each level, but also gain better items and become more effective in each new level. Crypt of the NecroDancer essentially requires you to play with headphones when you’re on the go.
Dead Cells (for iOS)
This brutal roguelike game makes its way to iOS after a successful launch on home consoles and PC. It puts you in control of a small creature that can take control of dead bodies. Your goal in Dead Cells is to escape from prison by gaining power ups and fighting enemies through randomized levels. When you die, you die for good, but you can use that experience to better prepare for the next run.
Death Road to Canada (iOS)
Death Road to Canada is a randomly generated RPG that has you trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Explore cities, recruit characters, make decisions, and try to stay alive on your pixelated adventure.
Desert Golfing (iOS)
If you like hours of endless golfing in the middle of the desert, you’ll love the 2014 arthouse game Desert Golfing. Courses are randomized and the movement of the ball is not as reliable as other golf games because everything takes place on sand. The game has been praised for its simplicity, great visuals, and difficult levels.
A primarily text-based adventure game, Device 6 takes players through interactive puzzles and story elements in order to help the main character escape an island. The game has been praised for its unique style of storytelling, strong prose, and sound effects.
The Escapists: Prison Escape (for iOS)
The goal of The Escapists is to find a way to escape from prison. You can roam through the prison, collecting or crafting items, taking assignments from fellow inmates, and leveling up your character. When you escape, it’s on to the next prison. Don’t get caught, otherwise all the work you have done will be wiped out.
The more recent The Escapists 2 introduces multiplayer modes and enhances the game’s existing combat system.
Fallout Shelter (for iPad)
Fallout Shelter puts you in charge of running a vault—a colony of survivors buried beneath the Earth, safe from radiation. In practice, it’s pretty similar to the countless other mobile resource-management games. However, clever and non-exploitative uses of in-app purchases, combined with the unmistakable feel of the Fallout franchise, help Fallout Shelter appeal to casual and hardcore players alike.
In Florence, players follow the story of Florence Yeoh through 20 chapters of interactive stories filled with minigames. The 2018 game takes only about 30 minutes to get through, but has been highly praised for its storytelling, character building, and art direction.
After its release in 2017, Fortnite has taken the gaming community by storm with its accessible gameplay, free online connectivity, and quick setup. The game has since expanded to mobile, allowing players to enjoy the same gameplay they would have if they were on a home console.
This narrative-based puzzle game asks you to rearrange the panels of a noir-style comic book in order to ensure the player-characters escape their would-be captors. Released in 2014, Framed earned high praise for strong visuals, subtle storytelling elements, and great music.
Getting Over It (iOS)
This is one of the weirdest games you’ll play on your iPhone. Getting Over It puts you in control of a character with his legs stuck in a cauldron and a hammer as his only means of movement. You must use the hammer to scale a mountain, but there are no save points, so the player can fall backward at any time, undoing all the progress made up to that point. The game also contains voiceover commentary from designer Bennett Foddy, who discusses philosophical topics, often based on the player’s in-game actions.
Gorogoa was in development for six years, but the final product, hand-drawn by developer Jason Roberts, is a visual masterpiece. There is no text in the game, leaving players to complete puzzles and explore themes of spirituality and religion on their own.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (iOS)
In 2014, the World of Warcraft franchise got a little bigger when it expanded into the realm of mobile gaming with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone is a free-to-play, turn-based, collectible card game that borrows from the existing World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Its popularity has led to the release of numerous expansion packs and even an eSport tournament.
Her Story (for iPad)
For a unique gaming experience, this 2015 release is billed as an interactive movie video game. You are given pieces of a police interview and are asked to piece together the truth. Her Story uses live-action performances on a simulated desktop, and earned praise for the narrative, character performance, and gameplay.
Hidden Folks (iOS)
Taking a page from the popular Where’s Waldo book series, Hidden Folks gives players interactive, animated scenes, in which they must find hidden elements. Players tap on the hand-drawn art to interact with it as they search for characters, objects, and animals.
Translating existing game franchises to iOS has always been tricky. Not all games can make the leap from a console with controllers and buttons to nothing but a single touch screen. However, Hitman GO skillfully captures the essence of everyone’s favorite bald assassin, Agent 47, in a more mobile-friendly form. You’ll be shocked how satisfying this slick series of strategy board games feels as figures move across flat surfaces to take out their targets.
Playdead’s Inside is a puzzle-platformer adventure game set in a dark dystopic world of government experimentation and zombie-like creatures. Noted for its monochromatic, 2.5D graphics, Inside is a spiritual successor to Playdead’s Limbo.
Lara Croft GO (for iPad)
ke the Lara Croft franchise, you’ll love what they did with this mobile game. Taking cues from Hitman GO, Lara Croft GO went a step further and added elevations to the game board. It feels just like a true Lara Croft game, with her having to climb up mountain cliffs and maneuver around chasms.
Back in 2010, Playdead released the black-and-white puzzle platformer Limbo, which saw the player take control of a boy looking for his sister through a dark and dystopic world. The game stood out for its challenging puzzles and gruesome depiction of the player-character’s demise, helping to elevate the conversation of video games as an art form.
Lumino City (iOS)
What awaits you in Lumino City may be the most innovative gameplay to reach the iPhone to date. It’s a point-and-click adventure, which serves as a sequel to the game Lume, but the art is what sets it apart. Visuals were built by hand, putting you inside an intricate world of stop motion previously unseen in the video game world.
Explore the world around you and try to break a curse—in 60 seconds. Minit is a black-and-white adventure game that requires you to play in intervals while you collect items and work to save the day.
Miracle Merchant (iOS)
Miracle Merchant is a truly unique solitaire-style card game that sees the player serve as the apprentice to a master alchemist. Your job is to use decks of cards to create potions for customers, and it’s all bundled together with a bright and charming drawn art style.
In this take on the classic platformer genre, you control a Viking along his quest to secure his place in Valhalla among the greatest warriors in the world. Will your Viking have to do as he’s told and burn down the forest or can he prove himself another way?
Out There (iOS)
Out There is something of a choose-your-own-adventure resource management game. Stranded in the middle of an unknown part of space, you must manage your spaceship and gather resources in order to survive. Only by interacting with alien species can you set your character on a specific path that ultimately determines the game’s ending.
This supernatural horror-adventure centers around a group of kids who must uncover the truth about a mysterious island. Oxenfree is presented as a 2.5D graphic adventure without cutscenes, where dialogue takes place during gameplay. The game is unique in that there is no way to obtain a game over. Instead, the outcome of the game is based on the decisions the player makes, meaning there are multiple endings to be found.
Pac-Man 256 (for iPad)
Taking its name from the Pac-Man Level 256 glitch, Pac-Man 256 puts a new spin on an old classic. Pac-Man consumes pellets and power-ups while also avoiding ghosts, just like the original game. However, this time the level is endless and the bottom of the screen contains a glitch that will consume the player. The game also adds new power-ups to spice things up.
Papers, Please (iOS)
Papers, Please is a truly unique as something of a paperwork simulator. You control an immigration officer in a dystopian country, where you process papers to determine which people you allow to cross the border, and who you turn away. The player is given an ever-increasing list of rules and requirements to check documentation against, and is also forced to make moral decisions that could go against the approved criteria. The game comes with a wide selection of alternate endings based directly on your decisions.
Plague Inc (iOS)
In this game, the player creates and evolves a pathogen in order to spread a plague throughout the world and eliminate the population. Plague Inc is a strategy-simulation game that incorporates realistic variables in order to give the player a challenge in developing the ultimate viral weapon. You clear objectives as you evolve and adapt the plague to consume the world.
Pokemon Go (iOS)
Nintendo took the next step with its Pokemon franchise in 2016 when Pokemon Go was launched worldwide. The mobile app combined location-based and augmented reality technology to turn the act of catching Pokemon into a social and physically active event. The game continues to receive updates, adding new Pokemon, items, Raid Battles, and other features. Check out our list of tops and tricks to help you become a Pokemon Master.
PUBG Mobile (iOS)
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has been a big hit on the home console and PC gaming market, so it makes sense that mobile would be the next place to expand. Players can now come together in a giant battle royale mode right from their mobile device. PUBG has never been so easy to play.
In Reigns, you are a medieval king who must make decisions on how best to rule over your land. The game is presented as a card game, and you swipe left or right to accept or reject the advice of your advisors. Your decisions have consequences, which affect your standing with the church, military, economy, and people. If these four pillars of society are not kept in balance, your reign will end. A sequel called Reigns: Her Majesty allows you to control a queen, adds more cards, and introduces items.
Ridiculous Fishing – A Tale of Redemption (for iPhone)
In Ridiculous Fishing, the player catches as many fish as possible before pulling them into the air and shooting them by tapping the screen. Each hit earns the player money, which can be used to purchase new items and upgrades.
Rymdkapsel uses a minimalist art style to turn this real-time strategy game into a unique iPhone gaming experience. Players build a space station, manage resources, and defend against attacks while trying to conduct important research. There are special rooms on your base for specific functions, and the game ends if all workers meet their doom.
Shadowmatic is a simple but popular game in which the player rotates abstract objects in a spotlight until the shadow becomes a recognizable shape. The game has been praised for its detailed and realistic renderings and impressive game mechanics.
As a cooperative multiplayer video game, Spaceteam represents something truly unique for the iPhone. Players connect via Wi-Fi in order to work together and prevent a spaceship from crashing. Because of the frantic style of gameplay, players often find themselves shouting instructions to each other, which in turn increases the level of stress.
Terraria – iPhone
Terraria is like a 2D Minecraft. It’s a sandbox adventure game that allows you to explore, craft, build, and fight inside a procedurally generated world. You can travel between different biomes and find various characters to interact with.
Remember 2048? The original version of that game still deserves your attention. Before it was cloned many times over, Threes! proved to be a popular iPhone game in 2014. Players slide numbered tiles and combine them according to multiples of threes. The game keeps going until there are no more moves, and a final score is counted. That frustrating need to achieve a specific numbered tile was only introduced by the copycats.
Thumper: Pocket Edition (for iOS)
In this simple, yet memorable game, you control a beetle who travels at intense speeds along a track. Thumper demands that you maintain rhythm with the background music while also avoiding obstacles, fighting enemies, and bracing against turns. The haunting music, mesmerizing visuals, and brutal reaction times create a truly tense gaming experience.
Transistor (for iPad)
Transistor was one of the finest console games of 2014, and while the game doesn’t control quite as well on an iOS touch screen, it’s still a gorgeous, intelligent, and mechanically sophisticated sci-fi action-RPG.
This Editors’ Choice title allows you to take control of an army and use turn-based strategy to defeat the opponent. Influenced by the classic Advance Wars tactics games, each unit in Warbits has its own strength and weaknesses, as well as unique power ups. The game includes a campaign, challenge mode, and online play, all wrapped within cute graphics and quirky dialogue.
The Witness (iOS)
The Witness follows in the footsteps of the Myst series by placing you in a mysterious location and expecting you to figure out how to escape. You’ll be looking for clues and completing puzzles, but make sure you take in the scenery when you can.
XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Within (iOS)
XCOM: Enemy Unknown rebooted the classic strategy game franchise and wound up being one of the finest games of 2013. Since methodically paced tactical games are a perfect fit on iOS, the iPad version of Enemy Unknown was fantastic as well. XCOM: Enemy Within takes all that was great in Enemy Unknown and enriches it with new features like extra side missions and enemy types. It’s the best version of an already-phenomenal game and definitely worth picking up if you’re a hardcore iPad gamer.
Year Walk (for iPhone)
This iPhone game delivers a truly unsettling gaming experience as you take your character through their adventure. The plot is based around the Swedish Year Walk from folktale, where participants compete a series of divinations along a journey in order to receive a glimpse of the future. There are secret messages and multiple endings to find.