If you’re a 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. Lucky for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the sea of titles to bring you some of the best iPhone games, whether you’re looking for a casual puzzler or something a bit more epic. 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.
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.
Idle Coffee Corp
It takes a lot for us to get enthusiastic about an “idler game” again, but Idle Coffee Corp is fun and cute enough to warrant an entry on this list. If you’ve played an idle clicker before, you know what to expect — tap the carpet by the door to bring customers in faster, and then the carpet by your cashier to serve them quickly. More money allows you to buy more serving stations, a manager to move your money to the safe, new coffee types, and upgrades to make the whole process faster. The game will generate passive income in the background, and tapping just makes the process faster. You can pay real money to speed up various parts too, but it’s certainly not required. A nice idle game if you’re looking for a new one.
Plants vs. Zombies 2
Something of a retro addition, Plants vs. Zombies 2 came out in 2013, making it one of the older games on this list. But it’s still a fantastic way to kill some time on your iPhone and well worth the download if you’ve never had the pleasure. A tongue-in-cheek strategy game, you’ll pit your plants against an invading horde of zombies in a time-traveling tale that takes you to ancient Egypt and beyond. The star of the game is undoubtedly its charming host of extremely well-designed zombies and plants, but there’s enough challenge to keep you entertained for a long time.
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.
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.
Warhammer AoS: Realm War
Love Clash Royale, but not keen on the cartoony aesthetic? You need to check out the more grimdark Warhammer AoS: Realm War. Based on Games Workshop’s Age of Sigmar fantasy game, Realm War is a Clash Royale-style action game with added Warhammer heroes, and some additional fun mechanics, like the optional giant monsters you access in the middle of battles. It’s a great little PvP game that’s well worth a shot if you’re tired of similar games. It’s free-to-play, with the option of buying cards and additional bundles.
Games aren’t just about having a good time; they can help us come to terms with events in our lives and discover new things about ourselves. That’s what Shadow’s Edge is great at. While on the surface it seems like a fun little game about self-discovery and journaling, in reality, the game has been specially designed to help children with serious diseases and issues. By helping to restore the city of Shadow’s Edge with graffiti, the game takes players through the worlds of Disruption, Disillusionment, and Discovery to help them discover and express who they really are outside of everything else.
Hyperspeed — Race with Friends
Go head-to-head and face-to-face with your friends and players from all around the world in Hyperspeed. At its core, Hyperspeed is a fast-paced, but simple racing game. Avoid the walls, grab the pick-ups, and try to be the fastest on local and global leaderboards. But there’s so much more here, and you can use the game’s built-in AR features to appear on the screen in real-time, chatting with opponents and giving your gameplay a more personal edge. You can complement your looks with the GameFaces, or hide yourself completely with a mask if you prefer.
While some mobile games are beautifully crafted, world-spanning endeavors, some are just great games to play while you wait for the bus. Words Story is one of the latter. The premise is simple — our hero has been framed and finds himself in jail, and the only way for him to escape is for you to do some word puzzles. Alright, so it’s silly — but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Guessing the words is engaging, and seeing the main character slowly make his way through the world is compulsive viewing. It takes a while to get through the storyline, but it’s totally free and a great way to burn some spare time.
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.
Reckless Racing 3 ($3)
Remember Micro Machines? Reckless Racing 3 continues the fine tradition of top-down racing games with some simple, but addictive, gameplay that’s perfect for when you have a few moments to spare. Choose from 28 cars on 36 racetracks, and unlock new stuff as you go — or pay extra to unlock early. It has full gamepad support, and a bunch of different game modes too.
Dark Echo ($2)
If you’re looking to spook yourself, Dark Echo is a great choice. 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, this 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 flintiest and coldest of hearts.
Reigns: Game of Thrones ($3)
Loving the current season of Game of Thrones? Then this game is an excellent accompaniment to the latest ewo. In Reigns: Game of Thrones, you’ll play various characters from the hit series, and make choices that’ll impact whether you finally win the Game of Thrones and sit on the Iron Throne itself. The twist? You’ll make decisions through a Tinder-style interface, swiping left and right to make choices. But be warned — every choice has its consequences, and you must be careful whose favor you curry and whose you curdle.
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.
Inside (beginning for free, then $7 for the full game)
If you loved Limbo, then check out Playdead’s spiritual successor, Inside. It borrows Limbo‘s aesthetic, and never holds back on creepy imagery and tantalizing tension that’ll keep you playing. With some incredible ambient storytelling and an ending that’ll fuel water-cooler discussions for weeks, Inside is a game worthy of your time. It’s free to play the beginning, then $7 to unlock the full game, so give the start a try to see if it’s up your alley. You don’t need to have played Limbo to play Inside, but playing the first game is also recommended.
Donut County ($5)
How could we not mention the iPhone Game of the Year 2018? Donut County is an odd game, but it’s one that you’ll be glad you played. You play as an ornery raccoon called BK who can create holes in the ground, and you roam around, meeting new characters and throwing them into expanding holes. It’s a huge amount of simple fun, and it has a zany sense of humor to boot.
With Pokémon Quest, you get to take cube-shaped Pokémon out on an adventure. While on Tumblecube Island, you’re able to search for hidden treasure and battle wild Pokémon. The game also features characters from both Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($7)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on iOS has been remastered and enhanced specifically for mobile. With over 70 hours of gameplay, this Grand Theft Auto installment takes you back to the hood as you follow the life of Carl Johnson who has returned home in an effort to salvage what he left behind.
Heads Up ($1)
Heads up! is a different type of trivia game than you might be used to. With a wide range of celebrities, animals, accents, and more you have to guess the word that’s on the card by placing the phone up to your forehead — so you can’t see it — and interpreting your friend’s clues.
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.
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 games that have debuted this year.
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.
Monument Valley 2 ($5)
The sequel to 2014’s Monument Valley, Monument Valley 2 puts players in control of Ro, as she guides her child through overwhelmingly beautiful, yet impossible architectural structures that continue to be inspired by the likes of M.C. Escher. You don’t need to play the first game to enjoy its successor, which is sure to captivate, amaze, and leave you puzzled for hours. Read our Monument Valley 2 review to learn more.
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.
In Subway Surfers, you’ll have to surf past trains and over obstacles to escape being caught by the inspector. With high-definition graphics optimized for the iPhone’s Retina display, you’ll also be cruising through the game’s vivid images.
The plot behind Prune is as soothing as the graphics. By swiping your finger, you get to grow your own tree under the sunlight and care for it as it grows over time. You’ll get to trim branches and watch flowers bloom, while also protecting it from poison. As you excel throughout the game, you’ll be exposed to pollination and be able to grow more trees as well. As the levels become more intense, as do the trees which start to grow to a much larger size as their branches begin to twist and intertwine.
Categorized as a stealth-horror game, Hello Neighbor is a game about sneaking into your neighbor’s house in order to find secrets he’s hiding in the basement — but it won’t be easy. Playing against advanced artificial intelligence injected into the game, it learns your every move as you play. Whether it’s climbing through windows or sneaking through doors, you have to proceed with caution.