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Best iOS games to play on your iPhone right now


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A global semiconductor shortage has made PlayStation and Xbox consoles harder to buy than ever, which makes it a good time to remember that you carry a great gaming machine with you in your pocket everywhere you go. There’s a dizzying array of outstanding games you can play on your iPhone, so much so that it can be daunting to cut through it all. What should you skip and what should you play?

This is a list of 21 titles that are worth your time. There’s a hugely diverse range of games to play on your iPhone or iPad (check out a list of games that work particularly well on iPad here), which means there’s something for everyone. There are titles that give you deep, RPG experiences and there are games to pick up and play for two minutes at a time — plus everything in between. 

Florence

Price: $3


Annapurna Interactive

Florence is a game so nice that it’s been ported to other platforms — namely Windows, MacOS and the Switch. That’s something you can say about few other games that were designed for iOS. It’s a game that follows 25-year-old Florence Yeoh as she falls in love with a cellist named Krish. The gameplay takes the form as minigames that progress the story and all up it’ll take about 40 minutes to finish. But it’s a 40 minutes you won’t soon forget.

Tetris Beat

Price: Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

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Apple

You already know if you’ll like Tetris Beat or not because it is, among other things, Tetris. As you can tell by the name, this take on the classic puzzle game integrates music, with three modes all designed around playing Tetris in tune with a beat. Tetris Beat is a fantastic addition to any home screen because it’s easy to pick up and play — and doesn’t require you to return each and every day if you don’t feel like it. 

Slayaway Camp

Price: $3

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Blue Wizard Digital LP

In Slayaway Camp, you play the villain in a series of slasher movies and you need to hit all the teen counselors at a summer camp. The graphics are voxel-based, which keeps the gore-fest entertainingly cartoony and every detail has been lovingly thought about — from the “rewind” option when you fall to the scattered bones you leave in your wake. Some levels have limits or special features (such as fires) to help you dispatch your victims (and provide hazards that you need to avoid yourself) and you can even earn coins to unlock special kills. For such a bloodthirsty premise, it’s an utter joy.

PUBG

Price: Free


PUBG Mobile

You can’t go very far in gaming without finding a battle royale right now and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, was the game that kicked off the trend. It’s since been eclipsed in popularity by Fortnite — which is notoriously unavailable on iOS and Android — but remains a reliably good time. One hundred people are dropped into an area, the last one standing is the winner. Enjoy your chicken dinner!

Fantasian

Price: Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)

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After three long years, Fantasian is finally on the way.


Apple

Fantasian hit Apple Arcade with a huge amount of hype, thanks in large part to it being written by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Released over two parts — the first in April, the second in August — this is a fully featured JRPG. It’ll take you over 40 hours to finish, during which time you’ll slay many a beast and see several beautifully crafted environments. Really, the art style is something special: The team created over 100 dioramas and scanned them to create pre-rendered backgrounds. It’s worth downloading just to look at, if nothing else. 

Clusterduck

Price: Free

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PikPok

Between this, Untitled Goose Game and The Falconeer, our avian friends are really enjoying some time in the sun. Clusterduck is a weird game: It’s all about hatching duck eggs. The more eggs are hatched, the more mutations occur, the more chaos ensues. It’s quirky, silly fun. 

Hyper Light Drifter

Price: $5

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Heart Machine

There’s one thing you’ll ask yourself as you play through Hyper Light Drifter: What the hell is going on? It’s a game that seems to take pleasure in giving you almost nothing to work with, in forcing you to figure everything out on your own. That means story and gameplay too. But those who manage to hang in there will be rewarded with a beautifully atmospheric adventure, one animated by pixelated ’80s anime art style. 

Rolling Sky 2

Price: Free

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Cheetah Technology

Published in 2019, Rolling Sky 2 is a throwback to mobile games developed a decade ago. It’s a runner game, meaning the character on screen is forever running forward and it’s your job to guide them past dangerous obstacles and traps. The mechanics are simply — simply move your finger from side to side — but the onscreen flourishes are not. Rolling Sky 2 integrates music and a beautiful art style to make this simple experience a satisfying one too. 

Out There

Price: $1

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Mi-Cos Studio

Out There is a game about survival and strategy, carefully managing your resources as you travel the stars. It’s also a tale of ultimate, lonely isolation. It tells the tale of an astronaut who wakes from cryosleep to find that he’s no longer in orbit around Jovian moon Ganymede — in fact, he’s not even in the solar system. He has no idea where he is and has only unreliable alien technology as a guide home. You have to carefully manoeuvre through dangerous situations and manage resources as you navigate the stars — because when your astronaut dies, it’s game over. And all the while, you have no way of knowing if what you seek is truly the way home.

Mini Motorways

Price: Apple Arcade subscription ($5 a month)


Dinosaur Polo Club Twitter

Finally, a game for all the kids who dreamed of growing up to be a traffic engineer. Mini Motorways is a strategy puzzle game that’s all about building the best road layout for growing cities. If building houses that connect houses to buildings doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, Mini Motorways’ charming visuals and score will absolutely win you over. 

Her Story

Price: $4

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Sam Barlow

Her Story is a game about a video search engine. Well, that and a murder. A woman’s husband was killed and she’s a suspect. Your job is to sift through video footage of police interviewing said woman. You do this by typing words into a search engine and watching the videos that pop up — which will give you more clues and in turn lead to more searches. Basic gameplay, but incredibly creative storytelling: Her Story was won many accolades, including being named GameSpot’s Game of the Month in June of 2015.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Price: Free

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Nintendo

Animal Crossing was always big, but last year’s New Horizons boosted the franchise into a new stratosphere of popularity. If you’ve wanted to play Animal Crossing but don’t have a Switch, note that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is still very much viable, despite being released in 2017. It’s a smaller scale experience than New Horizons, as you’ll be building a campsite rather than an entire island, but it’s full of the same charm that’s made Animal Crossing a titan.

Alto’s Odyssey

Price: $5

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Snowman

Alto’s Odyssey is a followup game to Alto’s Adventure. Both are very similar: They’re endless runners, except instead of running it’s downhill boarding. Odyssey takes place in the desert, so you’re sandboarding, while Adventure has Alto snowboarding. Most importantly, both have a striking, mesmorizing visual style. This is a great game to download for easy pick-up-and-play sessions.

Helix Jump

Price: Free

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Voodoo

Helix Jump by Voodoo is a tactile puzzle game that’s incredibly deceptive in its simplicity. The goal is to bounce a ball down a labyrinth by falling strategically through the cracks on each level without falling on a red zone. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. With the fun frustration that came with tap and drag games like Flappy Bird and many others since, Helix Jump will have you screaming at the screen, then coming back for “just one more.” The haptic response when the ball bounces is also a nice touch.

Oxenfree

Price: Free

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Night School Studio

A group of friends hanging out on a beach take a turn for the worse when the teens accidentally open a ghostly rift. Soon the group is fighting for survival, struggling through time loops and doubting if everyone is truly who they say they are. Oxenfree calls itself a “supernatural teen thriller,” but deftly avoids tropes and cliches, providing characters with depth and a fascinating, eerie plot. It’s a quick game you could play in one sitting, but there’s multiple endings so you can always go back.

A Normally Lost Phone

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Plug In Digital

Price: $2

Like many games on this list, A Normally Lost Phone is all about narrative. Moreso than other entries here though, this really is a case of “the less you know the better”. There are two things you need to know: first, that it’s a game about discovering a phone and piecing together information about its owner. Second, it’s absolutely worth a download.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Price: $5


Gamespot

What Remains of Edith Finch rules. Through a series of minigames, it recounts the history of the Finch family and the alleged curse that led to its downfall. It’ll take you about two hours to beat What Remains of Edith Finch and the game takes you on a remarkable emotional journey during that time. Sadness, laughter, horror and hope; you’ll feel it all. 

Framed

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Loveshack

Price: $4

Words can’t do Framed justice: It really is one of the more unusual concepts we have seen in some time. The entire game takes place without words, as it’s laid out as a completely wordless noir comic, with our protagonists avoiding being spotted by law while double-crossing each other. Gameplay is not action-based, but context-based. You have to examine each page, shifting the panels around to make sure that events occur in the order that sees our hero escape clean, getting the jump on police or sneaking past. Although it may sound good, that’s nothing compared to how satisfying it is to experience.

And if you dig it, a sequel, Framed 2, was released in 2017.

League of Legends: Wild Rift

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Riot Games

Price: Free

There’s not much to say about League of Legends: Wild Rift outside of the fact that it’s a modified version of the insanely popular League of Legends PC game. Do you like League of Legends? Have you ever wanted to try it? If the answer to either question is a yes, Wild Rift is for you. 

Hearthstone

Price: Free

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Activision Blizzard

Hearthstone is a spinoff of the Warcraft franchise, a card game building on the lore of Blizzard’s wildly popular MMO series. It’s unusual for a mobile game in that it’s become an esports staple, with the player count reaching 100 million in 2018. Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming to start Hearthstone in 2021, but Blizzard has updates planned up through 2023, so it’s worth the time investment. 

Monument Valley 2

Price: $5

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ustwo games

Monument Valley was a smash hit when it came out in 2014, combining clever puzzles with simple-but-striking visuals. Its sequel, 2017’s Monument Valley 2, adds to it with even more visual flair and, perhaps more significantly, a more pronounced story. Monument Valley is about solving puzzles and it’s also a game about mothers and daughters, and the ties between on generation and the next. 

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