Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Nintendo brought its social simulation series Animal Crossing to mobile with 2017’s Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. This installment of the series allows you to build your own campsite while also making friends with other players, completing requests, and building new items.
Bastion is an action role-playing game that sends players 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
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 simplistic gameplay and minimalistic art design, Blek is a puzzle game that allows the player to input touch-screen gestures and create patterns to complete each level. Released in 2013, the game proved to be a simple, yet popular addition to the iPhone’s stable of games.
Crashlands debuted in 2016 as an adventure-crafting RPG adventure with a wild plot to follow. Stranded on an uncivilized planet, you must fight monsters, create resources, and fulfill quests while trying to stay alive. The game was released on both mobile and PC, but the phone version was far better received
Crossy Road presents itself as something of an endless version of Frogger, where the player controls a character as they attempt to cross a series of busy streets. The game draws upon many of the most popular games in the app store to create a fun gaming experience with a beautiful pixelated art style. The game has since incorporated many different characters and cultural references over the years.
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.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition
Final Fantasy XV proved to be a popular enough game that it spawned its own mobile game in 2018 called Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, which is an abridged version of the original. While the game’s plot remains intact, some sidequests and the open world element were removed in order to create a tighter gameplay. The game’s art style was also completely retooled.
Fire Emblem Heroes
Last year, Nintendo brought its popular Fire Emblem series to mobile with Fire Emblem Heroes. This free-to-play tactical role-playing game won over gamers with straightforward gameplay that was easy for new users to adopt. It went on to win multiple Mobile Game of the Year awards and other nominations.
In Florence, players follow the story of Florence Yeoh through 20 chapters of an interactive story filled with minigames. The 2018 game takes about only 30 minutes to get through but has earned rave reviews for its storytelling, character building, and art direction.
This narrative-based puzzle game asks you to rearrange the panels of a noir-style comic book in order to ensure the main characters escape their would-be captors. If you love strong visuals, subtle storytelling elements, and great music, this is the game for you.
Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy
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 you 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.
This game was in development for six years, and it shows. Gorogoa is all hand drawn by developer Jason Roberts, who produced a visual masterpiece. There is no text, leaving players to complete puzzles and explore the themes of spirituality and religion all on their own.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
In 2014, the World of Warcraft franchise got a little bigger when it expanded into mobile gaming with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone is a free-to-play, turn-based, collectable 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. Praise has focused on the game’s strategic elements and simplicity to play.
If you want a unique gaming experience, try Her Story. This 2015 release is billed as an interactive movie video game, where you are given pieces of a police interview via live-action performances on a simulated desktop and are asked to figure out the truth.
Taking a page from the popular Where’s Waldo book series, Hidden Folks gives players interactive, animated scenes in which they must find specific elements within a busy scene. Players can tap on the hand-drawn art to interact with it as they search for characters, objects, and animals.
The Hitman franchise landed on mobile in 2014 as turn-based puzzler Hitman Go. Each level of this game is set up like a board game, where the protagonist must take out his opponents in a style of play that feels a little bit like chess.
Lara Croft Go
Following the success of Hitman Go, Lara Croft was also given the mobile treatment in Lara Croft Go, which incorporates different elevations in order to make it feel more like a true Lara Croft game. It paid off, winning Apple’s best iPhone game of 2015.
The Infinity Blade franchise debuted in 2010 as the first mobile game to use the Unreal Engine, putting it visually on par with the most advanced console games at the time. The series includes three fighting role-playing titles; Infinity Blade II arrived in 2011 and Infinity Blade III launched in 2013. Players build up their character while going through a series of one-on-one battles, requiring the use of swipes and taps to attack and dodge.
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 main character’s demise. Limbo helped elevate the conversation of video games as an art form.
The spiritual successor to Limbo, Playdead’s INSIDE is billed as a puzzle-platformer adventure game set in a dark dystopic world of government experimentation and zombie-like creatures, and is noted for its monochromatic, 2.5D graphics.
In Leo’s Fortune, you control a puff ball with a mustache who speaks in a thick Eastern European accent as he attempts to collect coins. The player uses touch-screen gestures to slide, jump, and float Leo through the world. Some puzzle-solving skills are required to move through each stage of the game.
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. All the visuals were built by hand, putting you inside an intricate world of stop motion.
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. A combination of stunning graphics and a compelling storyline make Oddmar a game to truly get invested in. Will he have to do as he’s told and burn down the forest or can he prove himself another way? Throughout your journey you’ll collect secret items and improve your abilities.
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.
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 in order to spice things up.
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.
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.
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 players money, which can be used to purchase new items and upgrades. It won Apple’s iPhone Game of the Year award in 2013.
Rymdkapsel uses a minimalistic 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 fairly simple game; a player rotates abstract objects in a spotlight until the shadow becomes a recognizable shape. But its detailed and realistic renderings and impressive game mechanics have earned it quite the following.
One of the best first-person shooters on the iPhone has to be 2018’s Shadowgun Legends, a sequel to the 2011 Shadowgun. The series focuses on futuristic, elite corporate mercenaries and has spawned several spin-offs and expansions. Shadowgun Legends gives players over 200 campaign missions and a bevy of multiplayer modes to enjoy.
In the cooperative multiplayer Spaceteam, players connect via Wi-Fi and work together to prevent their 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.
Remember this one? 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.
Transistor is a sci-fi RPG that revolves around a singer taking possession of a mysterious and powerful sword, and received a lot of attention for its impressive storyline and soundtrack.
In Triple Town, players are given tiles on a 6×6 game board and work to match the tiles in groups of threes in order to merge them into one advanced piece. The game keeps going until there are no more moves, and the more advanced the tile, the more points the player gets.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
This puzzle adventure game is set during the events of World War I. You control four different characters through various sections of the game, each possessing unique abilities to navigate their levels.
This 3D puzzle game, influenced by the Myst series, puts players on a mysterious and beautiful island, where they must solve puzzles in order to advance further in their journey.
XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Unknown returned an obscure franchise to prominence in 2012. As a turn-based tactical video game, its success led to an expansion game called XCOM: Enemy Within. XCOM 2 and XCOM 2: War of the Chosen have also been released, but it’s always best to start at the beginning. Though Enemy Unknown has been removed from the app store, Enemy Within is still around.
Walk Year delivers a truly unsettling gaming experience. It’s based around the Swedish Year Walk from folktale, where participants compete in a series of divinations along a journey in order to receive a glimpse of the future. The game’s initial ending and clues from a secret part of the app can be used to unlock the true ending, and even then it still leaves you wondering what truly happened.