When you’re bored while waiting for an appointment and you don’t want to use up your data or while riding public transit where the signal might be spotty, why not use the time to enjoy a game that can run offline?
There are plenty of options available on iOS in nearly any genre you prefer. This list is a rundown of our favorite paid and free games you can enjoy offline on your iPhone or iPad, anytime anywhere.
Rewind back to the ’80s with this spooky, supernatural tale. Oxenfree tells the story of a group of friends who accidentally open a ghostly rift and attempt to deal with what results. But the core of the game isn’t found in what happens to you — it’s what you choose to do. How you deal with the ghostly events and your friends is entirely up to you, and there are many different mysteries to unravel. With the story changing with each and every decision you make, there’s a lot here to explore and uncover, making Oxenfree the perfect game to eat up your time. It’s free to play the first part of the game, but the rest of the game will cost $5. Still, if you’re hooked, it’s absolutely worth the money.
It’s a simple idea, but Stickman Hook‘s swinging gameplay is fun and engaging, and it draws you right in from the very first moment. The core of the game owes a lot to a certain sticky-fingered superhero, but don’t let that put you off. The goal of each level is to use your swinging abilities to reach the checkered finish line, using gravity, momentum, and a number of bouncy pads to propel yourself without falling out of the stage. It’s completely free to play, with optional extras unlocked with money. It’s great for filling the time when you’ve got a few spare moments, and it doesn’t need any data to work.
The Room (series)
Fireproof Games’ The Room has been a mobile staple since the original title launched in 2012. The Room: Old Sins, the fourth game in the series, launched in 2018. Chances are you’ve come across these games on the App Store, whether from recommendations or on the top charts where they frequently stay. Each game in the series features a series of escape room style puzzles. Every level has a single room, and multiple 3D box puzzles that must be opened by shifting mechanisms, finding keys, and using clues learned through play. Remarkably, each entry in the series is as great as the last. Expertly conceived and exceedingly well-designed, The Room series is a can’t miss puzzle franchise. You don’t have to play them in order, but we recommend starting with the first, which is available for just $1.
Device 6 is more of a visual novel than a game, but it brilliantly injects interactive puzzles into its story. You play as Anna, a woman who awakes inside a castle on an island. And yes, she has memory loss, outside of the memory of a certain doll. Device 6 was heralded as an instant mobile classic when it launched in 2013. It’s gripping, emotionally stirring, and a joy to both read and play. Device 6 remains one of the prime examples of mobile games that have elevated the medium.
Monument Valley 2
The sequel to the 2014 smash hit from Ustwo Games, Monument Valley 2 expanded on what made the first so great. The shifting puzzle maps and many of the mechanics returned, but this time you played as Ro, a mother who must guide her young child through each area. With the story more clear this time, the atmosphere of the isometric experience was used more effectively. Tinkering with mechanisms and finding hidden pathways to reach the exit in each level is a constant delight. From presentation to sound to story to gameplay, Monument Valley 2 is a complete experience with no weak links.
Alto’s Odyssey replaces the snowy mountains of Alto’s Adventure with a variety of desert-themed landscapes. Snowboarding through the three large zones, each filled with randomly generated areas, has the same crisp and exhilarating feel of the original. Alto’s Odyssey‘s minimalistic and oddly cathartic gameplay shines across the beautiful, varied regions. This is one of the best automatic runners around and a wonderful experience overall.
To the Moon
One of the most heartfelt and endearing games ever made, To the Moon follows a dying man named Johnny Wyles who desperately wants to go to the moon. He reaches out to two doctors who use advanced technology to recreate the memories of his life. What follows is a moving and somber love story, gorgeously rendered with 16-bit visuals. Grab a box of tissues before playing.
An interactive story about the rise and fall of a young woman’s relationship, Florence artfully captures the feeling of falling in love for the first time. The gameplay is minimal, as it mostly involves completing rudimentary puzzles. But everything you touch and interact with meaningfully connects to the story being told. Best of all, it does all of this without words. Sublime art, a subtle wordless narrative, and a great soundtrack make Florence a must-play game.
Like Katamari Damacy in reverse, you control a hole across a variety of levels in Donut County. As objects fall into the hole, it grows larger, allowing bigger objects such as trees and eventually cars and buildings to fall in as well. Eventually, the hole is fitted with a catapult to assist in collecting more and more stuff. The gameplay is as relaxing and pure as Katamari Damacy, and the story, surrounding the humans and anthropomorphic animals of Donut County, is also quite entertaining.
The mega-hit that originally launched on PC before moving to consoles is now available on iOS. Stardew Valley is a delightful small town farming sim in the vein of Harvest Moon. Along with tending to your crops and fishing, you build relationships with your neighbors in Pelican Town. You can make friends and even get married. Stardew Valley is the perfect game to pick up and visit for 15 minutes each day on your morning commute. A warning, though: It’s easy to spend hundreds of hours in Pelican Town.
Threes! has been copied a bunch of times — 2048 being the most notable example — but the original 4×4 grid puzzler is the king of its sub-genre. The concept is simple. Combine ones and twos to make three, then combine matching numbers for the rest of the round. Threes become sixes, sixes become twelves, etc. A new tile enters the board with every move. The goal is to build as big of a number as possible before running out of moves. Threes is a smart puzzler and an excellent way to spend a few minutes while in waiting rooms, grocery store lines, or airport terminals.
With a name like Welltaro, of course he likes exploring wells. Downwell is an intense roguelike rendered almost entirely in black and white. As you fall down the well, you have to avoid many obstacles and foes. Welltaro’s boots are fitted with guns, but they only reload when touching down on a surface. It moves at a maniacal pace, but you can play it entirely one-handed, as it’s specifically designed for portrait mode. Each death teaches you something new about the game, but each round has randomized wells to keep the experience fresh throughout.
The follow-up to Playdead’s chilling atmospheric platformer Limbo, Inside is aesthetically very similar. It also follows a young boy in a mysterious land and the monochromatic color scheme really sets the tone. Throughout the adventure, you guide the boy through a forest and a strange factory filled with all sorts of oddities. Each area has clever physics puzzles to solve before you can advance. The gameplay is sound, but the wordless, ominous narrative is what makes Inside so captivating. It’s free to start, with later episodes costing money to unlock.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, one of the best PS2 games, runs and plays surprisingly well on iOS devices. Carl Johnson is one of the most interesting characters in series history and his return home from Liberty City to the San Andreas region packs dozens of hours of great open-world action. Plenty of console games have been ported to mobile devices, but very few have translated as well as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Old Man’s Journey
An Old Man goes on a quest to reckon with the life he has lived. This is his journey, but you can help him out by clearing the path that he walks across. You move platforms, change the contour of hills, and prompt him to speak with folks along the way. In terms of gameplay, it’s extremely minimalistic. But the point here is the story, elevated by beautiful hand-drawn art. This one can be completed on a short flight, but you’ll be happy to have enjoyed the Old Man’s Journey as you embark on a journey of your own.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Ported from the PSP, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is one of the best turn-based strategy games ever made. It features a huge cast of interesting characters, a massive number of missions, and a deep and rewarding battle system that gradually reveals its complexities and nuances over time. While it’s the most expensive game on this list, it boasts over 100 hours of excellent gameplay.
At its core, The Witness is a collection of line puzzles. That doesn’t sound super interesting, but somehow it’s downright magical. Set on a completely open island, each area’s puzzles have different rulesets. Some of them even require environmental cues, both sights and sounds, to uncover the correct solutions. The end result is 523 masterfully designed puzzles. The island itself is filled with cryptic statues and objects, which all lead up to an ending that is pretty bizarre. The Witness is without a doubt one of the best puzzle games ever.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
BioWare may never make a third entry in the series, but you can still go back and have a great time with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Out of all of the many Star Wars games, KOTOR is arguably the very best. The 2003 Xbox RPG reversed the clock about 4,000 years before the start of the movies, telling a wholly original story. As far as Star Wars tales go, KOTOR‘s is up there, and the role-playing gameplay is exquisite. It runs and looks great on iOS, too. If you want a deep RPG to play on the go, look no further than KOTOR.
A first-person action game starring a one-handed heroine named Sasha, DrinkBox Studios’ Severed has absolutely thrilling combat, spectacular art design, and a gripping story to keep you going. Throughout her quest to save her family, Sasha battles a large variety of foes with a huge blade. Slashes are made with finger swipes, either to attack or deflect. While it sounds like it could become a rather rote hack and slash fest, Severed‘s combat is layered, dynamic, and constantly engaging.
Thumper: Pocket Edition
Described as a “rhythm violence” game by developer Drool, you play as a metal beetle, working through a collection of psychedelic tracks. You move at a blistering pace, which forces quick reflexes to turn and avoid obstacles. The heart-pounding soundtrack follows your every movement. When you’re in the groove, Thumper is a mesmerizing experience. A heads up: You really need to concentrate and wear headphones while playing.
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