So, you like to play games but you can’t bring your XBox, PlayStation, Wii U, or PC with you everywhere. Or maybe you can’t afford any of those on top of the already mind-baffling high prices of smartphones and all the other technology that is becoming ubiquitous in our lives. Lucky for us gamers, there are plenty of great games available for our smartphones so we don’t have to fork out for consoles just to get a bit of game time in.
Smartphones let us play when we’re on a lunch break, during our morning metro commute, when we’re waiting forever for airplanes to taxi to the runway, while we’re having an argument with our significant other, when we’re in bed and should be asleep, or even when we’re sitting in the bathroom and feel like gaming.
Here, we’ll look at the all-time best games made for iOS — some for iPhone, some for iPad, and some for both. Metacritic has compiled ratings of iOS video games, splitting critic reviews and user ratings. However, we wanted to offer you a consensus that takes into account critics and gamers evenly. To that end, we’ve created composite scores from Metacritic’s data that shows us which iOS video games are loved most by critics and games alike, since the two don’t always agree.
10. World of Goo
- Composite score: 85.5
World of Goo is an interesting little construction and puzzle game that incorporates physics as you build little structures out of the semi-cute, semi-creepy goo creatures. There’s a nice variety of puzzles, and different types of goo to help you solve each. The graphics are beautiful, the audio is amusing, and the puzzles will challenge your constructive instincts. It even includes an OCD option to see what score you should shoot for in each level if you want to really prove your mastery. Android users are in luck again with this title. Additionally, an HD version is available for iOS, but user reviews were oddly not quite as favorable.
8. XCOM: Enemy Within (tie)
- Composite score: 86.5
This turn-based tactical combat game pits an elite group of soldiers against alien invaders and the occasional terrorist group. A follow-up to the earlier XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this installment scored much better with critics and fans. The battle scenarios are challenging, the graphics are impressive for a mobile game, and the various upgrade trees available will give you plenty to come back for in subsequent replays. This game is also available on a number of other platforms.
8. Bastion (tie)
- Composite score: 86.5
In Bastion, you play as “the kid” and blast, smash, and slash your way through a wide variety of monsters in beautifully created worlds. The art is fantastic, and the story is no slouch, either. If you enjoy the 2-D Zelda games, this might be a good game for you. You can control play via a digital onscreen controller or through tapping and dragging. An iPhone screen might be a bit small for it, especially if you have big thumbs, but an iPad should offer plenty of room for your fingers and the incredible artwork. Beyond just iOS, this game is available for PC, Mac, PS4, and XBox 360.
7. Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge for iPad
- Composite score: 87
And the award for longest game title on this list goes to Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck’s Revenge for iPad. We’ll just call it Monkey Island 2 SE going forward. This point-and-click adventure game brings fans back into the LucasArts classic with enhanced art and audio and touch-screen controls. There’s plenty of humor, plenty of story, plenty of pirates, and at least a few spitting contests. You may have to jump through a few hoops to actually get this game, though, as it no longer shows up in App Store — that is, unless you’re willing to play it on a different platform.
6. Papers, Please
- Composite score: 87.5
In Papers, Please you take the role of a border guard tasked with deciding who does and doesn’t get admitted to the fictional Arstotzka. While the game might seem mundane from the description alone, it is complex simulation with nice, subtle challenges and some degree of political intrigue. You have to work fast to provide for yourself and family, but there are penalties and dangers in being too hasty, missing details, and admitting people who shouldn’t be allowed. It’s available for iPads here.
4. Plants vs. Zombies HD (tie)
- Composite score: 88
Plants vs. Zombies HD is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a tower defense game that has you using an array of plants to defend your home from various zombies, and it’s an HD version of the game, which has been around on various platforms for some time. Between the tension of oncoming zombie hordes, resource management, and different strategies to win, this tower defense has proven as addictive as they come. Since it’s a bit older now, it’s also not so expensive in the App Store.
4. Broken Sword: Director’s Cut (tie)
- Composite score: 88
Broken Sword: Director’s Cut comes over from the original for Nintendo’s DS platform, but with a little bit of added and touchscreen controls. This point-and-click adventure features beautifully done artwork, skilled voice acting, and fun puzzles. If you want to wander around a detailed, cartoon Paris and experience an engrossing mystery, look no further. It’s like its own cartoon movie, except you you get to help the protagonist succeed. It’s just $4.99 in the App Store.
3. Sorcery! 3
- Composite score: 90
Sorcery! 3 is a fantasy adventure game in which you explore the wilderness of a land called Kakhabad. This is no Skyrim, as you’ll instead find yourself engaging in a bit simpler combat and roaming across a world stylized like the maps found on the pages of Lord of the Rings. Just because it’s not some beautiful, high-tech, motion-captured video game doesn’t mean it’s not great though. Critics and gamers on Metacritic reviewed it favorably, and it hold a high rating in both Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play.
1. Sonic CD (tie)
- Composite score: 91
What’s not to love here? Yes, this is the same Sonic that gamers know and love. The classic version from Sega CD has been ported over to iOS for modern players to enjoy wherever they go. It might not have much in the way of enhancements, but as the old adage goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The big difference, naturally, are the on-screen controls, which are not perfect, but manageable. For a fun trip to the past — and future, for that matter, as this Sonic game involves time travel — Sonic CD for iOS is a great choice.
1. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (tie)
- Composite score: 91
With a title only slightly shorter than Monkey Island 2’s, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride for iOS was also a long time coming. Originally a Super Nintendo game, Dragon Quest V has seen several iterations before the recently released 2015 mobile version. This was an incredibly influential game — according to Games Radar, it inspired other monster-collecting games like Pokemon and Digimon. If you’re a fan of RPGs with good stories and like collecting, this is the game for you, and there’s no shortage of fans or critics to recommend it.
All gaming score data are provided by Metacritic.
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