While gaming phones are picking up steam, if you’re a mobile gamer, there is no better phone to buy than the iPhone. With more than a million apps, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every game in Apple’s massive library is worth $1 — or your time, for that matter. Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of titles to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So whether you’re looking for a casual puzzler or something a bit more epic, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on iOS.
Subscribers to Apple’s library of games, which we think definitely contains enough gems to justify the price of membership, should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games, because most of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.
Mario Kart Tour
Nintendo has done a fairly good job translating some of its biggest properties to mobile, and Mario Kart Tour is the latest to hit little screens. It got off to a flying start, breaking the download records set by Pokémon Go — and with its simple gameplay and repertoire of charming characters, it’s not hard to see why. It’s free-to-start, but contains premium elements, and the fastest level of races is only available through the Gold Pass, which costs $5 per month. You also need to unlock new characters as you go, which could be a disappointment for fans of certain characters. Still, it’s fun, simple, and worth your time to give it a shot.
Rebel Inc. ($2)
From the folks who made Plague Inc., Rebel Inc. puts you in the shoes of a government official tasked with stabilizing an area of a country following a turbulent war. To stabilize the areas you’ve been sent to pacify, you’ll have to win over citizens with improved public services and initiatives, all while dealing with the subversive insurgents seeking to take over. You’ll need to balance using your own troops and foreign coalition troops, but be warned, spending too much money can lead to a rise in corruption that’ll bring your attempt down from within. An absorbing little game, and well worth the two bucks.
Anyone for golf? WGT Golf does exactly what it sets out to do: Provide a solid golf experience for anyone looking to get some swings in on their mobile device. It’s strong in simulation quality, including full 18-stroke play, a variety of club types, and even offers the chance to play on over a dozen of golf’s most well known championship courses, including Pebble Beach, Celtic Manor, and Pinehurst. You can even join a Country Club and enter private tournaments. Go ahead and tee up.
It’s been a while since we’ve had Hearthstone on this list, but it’s been reintroduced for a very good reason. That reason is content. Hearthstone has done extremely well for itself, and Blizzard has rewarded the fanatical community with consistent updates. Most recently, Blizzard launched a new single-player mode to tie in with the new card set expansion, and if you’ve fallen off the Hearthstone bandwagon in the past, this is definitely a solid reason to get back into everyone’s favorite collectible card game.
Dead Cells ($8)
Dark Souls isn’t available on mobile, but Dead Cells is, and that should be good enough for most. “Kill, die, learn, repeat” is the Dead Cells motto, and it comes alive in its frantic 2D combat where you need to learn enemy patterns to survive. Progression is non-linear, so you can pick a new path depending on your current mood or build, and while your character permanently dies after every run, the castle changes too, so you’re never treading old ground again. It’s expensive, but most players would say it’s worth it.
We still don’t have a full Pokémon game on mobile, but Pokémon Masters comes closer than ever to giving us a true catch ’em all experience. Dropped onto the island of Pasio, you need to assemble a team of three Pokémon to face off against famous Trainers from around the Pokémon world, all while exploring and building your very own team of friends. It even has co-op gameplay so you can team up with friends from around the world to face challenges together.
Stranger Things 3: The Game ($5)
Can’t get enough of Stranger Things? You’re not alone, and now you can get your Stranger Things fix while on your mobile with the official puzzle game tie-in Stranger Things 3: The Game. Play as one of the 12 characters from the show and solve puzzles in a charming, retro-styled world in this adventure game, and team up with your friends in two-player local co-op.
Grow Empire: Rome
Mobile is the traditional home of the tower defense genre, and it’s here you’re likely to see the genre grow in Grow Empire: Rome. The game takes tower defense and blends it with role-playing elements to create a sprawling experience where you take charge of the Roman legions and seek to spread the glory of Rome across classical Europe. With thousands of upgrades and four enemy factions to defeat, it’s time to dust off your laurel wreath.
Hyper Light Drifter ($6)
Winner of multiple awards as a console game, Hyper Light Drifter has brought its intense slash-em-up gameplay to iOS. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, you play a Drifter, a collector of forgotten and arcane knowledge in a savage land. Afflicted by a mysterious illness, you journey in search of a cure, slashing and shooting as you go. The pixelized visuals are gorgeous, and the game’s style has to be seen to be believed. Though the touchscreen controls aren’t as precise as they would be with a controller, this is still a fantastic game.
SongPop 2 — Guess the Song
Who doesn’t like having their musical knowledge tested from time to time? SongPop 2 is a simple game, but a compulsive one. Choose your favorite musical genres and decades to compete with other music lovers on a global scale. The game is simple: You hear a snippet of a song and you’re given four options to choose from. Your job is to guess correctly, as quickly as possible. Sounds easy? Other players can challenge you with their own preferred playlists to make it a tad harder, but it’s still fun, and it’s a great way to find new music. There’s a free version supported by ads, or you can upgrade to VIP status for $5 a month, which strips out ads and gives you a bunch more benefits.
Intuitive and varied gameplay, an incredible soundtrack, gorgeous visuals, and everyone’s favorite sultry-smooth and adaptive narrator, Bastion is a strong entry on this list and another award-winning action RPG that’s well worth your time and money. Set in a world broken by “The Calamity,” your role as the Kid is to journey through the various floating islands, rescuing survivors and gathering resources to help rebuild your world. There’s a slew of upgradable weapons and abilities to collect, and listening to the soundtrack and narrator never gets old. Hearing “the Kid just rages for a while” while destroying boxes has to be one of our favorite and most unexpected moments in recent gaming.
Crush the Castle: Siege Master
Crush the Castle is one of the most notable classic Flash games around, and now there’s an updated version for iOS. Crush the Castle: Siege Master is essentially the same game as its predecessor — throw rocks at castles from your trebuchet — but with upgraded graphics, some fun bad guys, and the ability to change your projectiles for fun. Sure, it’s a simple game, but there’s something about lobbing 90-kilogram rocks 300 meters (as trebuchets are known to do) that’s very fun and very compulsive. It’s the perfect chill-out game, and best of all, it’s free.
Set in a world where all our forgotten objects dwell, Forgotton Anne puts you in the shoes of Anne, an enforcer tasked with keeping order in the Forgotten Lands, who is brought into a harrowing conflict between an impassioned ruler and the ruthless rebellion. A cinematic tale with platforming and light puzzle elements, Forgotton Anne has been lauded for its beautiful art style and heartfelt storyline. Be warned it won’t work on devices older than the iPhone 6S and the iPad Air 2 though.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Dream Daddy is definitely worth a place in this list. A dating game, your goal — as a dad in a new neighborhood — is to meet and romance various other hot single dads. Who you’ll end up with is all down to you, and you can pick from a variety of dads, including Goth Dad, Bad Dad, Teacher Dad, and more. There are loads of paths to follow and multiple endings to experience — though through it all, you’ll have your daughter by your side.
Minit might not be much to look at, but there’s more to this retro-style adventure game than immediately meets the eye — you’ve only got sixty seconds at a time to make progress before the next day begins. During that minute, you must make new friends, complete quests, and find new tools to help you undo the curse that confines you to your daily time limit. It’s extremely easy to pick up, but we’re willing to say it won’t be as easy to put down again.
Love Final Fantasy and other JRPGs and wish you had a version you could take with you? That’s where Another Eden comes in. It promises to take you beyond time and space on a journey that’s oh-so JRPG in tone. Certainly one for the genre fans out there, it’s also worth downloading if you’re curious about the genre and want to give it a try. With an epic story and a huge soundtrack, Another Eden hits all the right notes, and with new content being added all the time, it’s absolutely worth a go.
Toy Story Drop!
Who doesn’t love a fun match-3 game? Toy Story Drop! is exactly what you’d expect from another match-3 game, but with a Toy Story aesthetic. You’ll travel to familiar locations, including Andy’s bedroom and Pizza Planet, and encounter various toys that help you to solve the puzzles. There are also a bunch of Easter eggs to discover and Playset pieces to collect. While it won’t do anything for anyone sick of match-3 games, this is a fun distraction if you still enjoy matching puzzle pieces on a board. “You’ve got a friend in match-3” indeed. If you’ve just got back from watching Toy Story 4 and are hungry for more, spend a few hours with this game while playing the original film in the background.
All hail El Presidente! A PC gaming staple, Tropico puts you in the shoes of a freshly elected leader of an undeveloped Caribbean island. From there, it’s down to you to take your island in any direction you see fit, whether that’s an industrial paradise, a bustling tourist trap, or a police state ruled with an iron fist. No matter which way you take your island, you’ll need to balance the attention and opinions of exterior powers, as well as those of your own people. At $12, it’s certainly expensive for an iOS game, but it’s pay once and play forever, so you won’t find additional paywalls blocking your path after you’ve paid.
Ark: Survival Evolved
Ever wanted a game that let you punch dinosaurs? Ark: Survival Evolved is one of the biggest survival games on any platform you care to name, and you can now get your fill of the dinosaur-punching action on iOS phones from the iPhone 7 onward. You’ll start your journey by washing up on an unfamiliar shore, your only task to gather whatever materials you can to survive. But from there, you’ll build the tools, clothes, and even houses that allow you to prosper. With time, you might even get to the point where you’re able to tame your very own dinosaur. Access to the game is free, but you can pay for faster progress by purchasing various passes.
Old School Runescape
Here’s a name that’ll be familiar to anyone who spent time on the internet in the early 2000s. Runescape is an enduring free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that’s seen many updates and upgrades over the years. But if you, like us, are nostalgic for the old days of Runescape, with its Grand Dragons, fish cooking, and ore mining, then you just need to download Old School Runescape on your iPhone. It’s free-to-play, but you can pay a monthly fee for a larger world map and a bunch of other benefits. If you grew up in the early 00s, then this is a great way to spend a retro-filled afternoon.
King of Crabs
Some games aim to tell vast, epic stories. Others try to pluck your heartstrings. King of Crabs has you hit other crabs over the head in a bid to become the biggest crab. Battle up to 99 other players on the island as you climb up the ranks, collect new crabs, and customize them with items and weaponry. It’s a simple premise, but an enjoyable one. If you’re not one for player-vs.-player (PvP), but love crustacean-themed games (and who doesn’t?) then you can play against the computer instead. It’s free-to-play, but you can spend money to buy some items. For the best gameplay experience, make sure to have Crab Rave playing in the background.
Based on the Hilda comic and Netflix series by Luke Pearson, Hilda Creatures is the perfect download for anyone who can’t get enough of Hilda. It’s a simple game: Wander around the city of Trolberg and the Wilderness, meet creatures, take pictures of them, talk to them, increase your friendship with them, and include them in your Friendship Book. There’s little here to attract someone looking for death and destruction, but for anyone looking for a fun adventure, Hilda Creatures has a lot of charm.
Dark Echo ($2)
Horror games on mobile aren’t exactly common, but if you’re looking to spook yourself, Dark Echo is one of the best choices. Trapped in the darkness, you visualize your surroundings by reflecting the sounds you make off surfaces — like sonar. The problem is, those sounds start to attract things you’d rather avoid, leading to some tense and terrifying moments. Play it with headphones and in the dark, and you’ll experience one of the scariest games on iOS.
There’s a big market for “experience” games right now, and Florence is one of the best you’ll find. Centered around the titular Florence, the game explores a young woman’s first experiences of love, from falling in love to eventually drifting apart. It’s a beautiful game, and it contains themes and elements that are sure to touch even the coldest of hearts. While it’s sure not to be everyone’s “thing”, this is a must-play for anyone who loves their games to touch emotional angles.
An arena shooter from the folks behind Clash Royale, Boom Beach, and Clash of Clans, Brawl Stars invites you into arena battles against other players. Access to the game is free, but like other Supercell properties, you’ll be able to use cash to speed your progress along. By playing more, players will be able to unlock new characters with unique skills, as well as new skins for their existing characters. Matches take a few minutes, making it great for whenever you need to kill a little time.
Alto’s Odyssey ($5)
As a sequel to Alto’s Adventure, Alto’s Odyssey transports Alto from the snowy mountains to the majestic desert. Whether it’s sandboarding past snapping vines, rushing water inside the temple zone, or windy tornadoes, this infinite runner provides you with an endless backdrop of stunning visual content.
If you can’t get enough of Fortnite on your computer or gaming console, you can also download it on your iPhone. While you do need an internet connection, Fortnite on mobile lets you compete in a 100-player game as you attempt to claim the title of last one standing. Best of all, you can count it as training to win $3 million.
Old Man’s Journey ($5)
Like To the Moon, Old Man’s Journey is a game that sets out to tell a very specific story about life and the choices we make (or don’t). You follow the titular Old Man as he travels across the country, aiding him along the way by altering the hills and landscapes in front of him and interacting with the objects and people he meets. Gorgeous locations, brought to life with hand-drawn art and animations, will ensure your attention never diverts from the story being told. It’s short, simple, and may be a welcome change of pace from other popular games.
With Fallout Shelter, you’re in control of protecting others from the dangers of the “Wasteland” following a nuclear explosion. It’s up to you to control and build the perfect vault to keep your Dwellers happy and the community running smoothly. But be careful, all sorts of dangers await the unwary…
With Minecraft, you can get those creative juices flowing by digging and building things. You’re also in control of the game with the ability to create your own 3D world through exploration in a variety of different gameplay modes. $7 may seem initially off-putting, but you’re more than likely to get your money’s worth for the game. After all, it came out in 2011, and people are still playing it.