The 25 Best iPad Games

by Eric Frederiksen

December 25 2013

What good is an iPad without some games?

With such a huge number of titles in the App Store, it can be hard to tell what’s good or even what’s new. Check out 25 of our favorite recent games, organized alphabetically. You’ll find racers, platformers, puzzlers, console ports—just about anything you can think of.

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Links & Apps

  • 1 Asphalt 8: Airborne
    Slide 1

    The iPad is becoming, to everyone’s surprise, a great place for racing games. Asphalt 8 is right at the top of the list with great racing and crazy jumps. Better yet, it’s free-to-play and looks great.

     
  • 2 Badland
    Slide 2

    Badland takes a page from LIMBO with the stark, silhouetted art and the grim, hazardous world. Apple named this side-scrolling platformer one of their best of the year for a reason, and so are we.

     
  • 3 Bit.Trip Run
    Slide 3
    Bit.Trip Run!
    $1.99

    Like Gaijin Games’ other productions, Bit.Trip Run is a beat-infused blast. Jump, slide, and dance your way through each level to escape and get back to your friends.

     
  • 4 Blackbar
    Slide 4

    Blackbar is a fun word puzzle and a commentary on all the crazy NSA news from earlier this year, sort of a quintessential 2013 game. As Vi, you receive letters from your friend Kenty. Kenty’s new job at the Department of Communications requires that certain portions of her letter be blacked out to adhere to internal regulations. Your job is to figure out what goes where. Pay attention as you progress to unlock all of the Department’s secrets.

     
  • 5 Device 6
    Slide 5

    Simogo (also the developer behind Year Walk) is almost single-handedly making text cool again. Device 6 is a puzzle game that will use your tablet more creatively and memorably than almost anything in this list. As Player 249, you will read chapters about someone named Anna, twisting and turning your iPad as she moves through a mysterious castle, solving puzzles to advance the story. Keep your headphones on and the volume up for this one; the audio is not only necessary for the game, it’s really good.

     
  • 6 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
    Slide 6

    We’re not going to pretend like GTAV wasn’t a blast, but San Andreas is still a contender for the best Grand Theft Auto of all time. Great characters, the best soundtrack any of the GTA games has seen (with the possible exception of Vice City), a great open world to explore—and now this console classic is on iPad.

     
  • 7 Hundreds
    Slide 7

    Hundreds shows us, if nothing else, that you can do a lot with roughly five colors. Sparse visuals made up of mostly black, white, and red circles ensures that this game is about nothing but puzzles, and that’s exactly how it should be. There are more than enough levels to keep you going for quite a while and they’re almost all well-crafted and interesting.

     
  • 8 Icycle: On Thin Ice
    Slide 8
    Icycle: On Thin Ice
    $.99

    Even if you think bowler hats and tiny bicycles are funny, don’t skip this game. Hell has frozen over, quite literally, and as Dennis you must ride through different stages, avoiding hazards both real and imagined (inside some really nutty dream sequences), by riding and hopping your bike.

     
  • 9 Infinity Blade III
    Slide 9
    Infinity Blade 3
    $2.99

    Chair nails their Block-Dodge-Slash style again with the next chapter in the Infinity Blade series, adding a new character to play as along with new settings, new weapons, and new gameplay elements like upgrading and crafting. Infinity Blade is still one of the best looking series on iPad.

     
  • 10 Lords of Waterdeep
    Slide 10
    Lords of Waterdeep
    $6.99

    One of the best board games around is now on iPad! This euro-style game is (as described by a serious board gamer friend) an accessible take on worker-placement, but with a faster pace and a D&D theme. If you’re into euro board games or Dungeons and Dragons, Lords of Waterdeep is worth checking out.

     
  • 11 Plants vs. Zombies 2
    Slide 11

    Word that our beloved PvZ had gone free to play was initially worrying, but fret not; Plants vs. Zombies 2 is a fun follow-up to the original. Defend your base from the undead horde across a variety of time periods (and period-appropriate headwear) with fresh new approaches to the concept and funny art to pull you along.

     
  • 12 Real Racing 3
    Slide 12

    It might not stack up to those console racers, but the visual fidelity of Real Racing 3 is impressive. Race around some of your favorite tracks, such as the infamous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with some of the coolest licensed cars around. Choose your difficulty by deciding if you want to just steer or throw braking and acceleration into the mix. EA does a good job of getting the Free to Play balance just right.

     
  • 13 Republique Episode 1
    Slide 13
    Republique
    $4.99

    Republique from Camouflaj is an attempt to prove that stealth can work on a tablet device. Follow Hope into a big-brother style world where everything is locked down and on camera. You, however, do not play as Hope. You’re watching those cameras - high enough up the command chain to have power. It’s not clear what your own motivations are, but Hope’s motivations are interesting enough on their own to pull you along while the details begin unfolding. Episodic gameplay is doing well on iPad and Republique is a solid example.

     
  • 14 Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption
    Slide 14

    Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing might be my favorite iPad game all year. The developer describes the game as three minigames in one - lower the hook while dodging fish, catch as many fish as possible on the way up (while avoiding those pesky jellyfish), and then once you have the fish in the air, blow’em all up for big cash rewards. Then consult your Fish-o-pedia to see what you’ve caught and read the hilarious descriptions. Don’t miss this one.

     
  • 15 Robot Unicorn Attack 2
    Slide 15
    Robot Unicorn Attack 2
    free

    The sequel to Adult Swim’s first endless-runner decided to go free to play, but it hasn’t hurt it one bit. The game is still fun and jam packed with rainbows. Social elements and character customization help you get attached to your Robot Unicorn as you desperately live out one last wish over and over. You can now purchase a variety of different background tracks, including the classic tune from the first game or even the Neverending Story theme, because why wouldn’t you?

     
  • 16 The Room Two
    Slide 16

    The Room from Fireproof games brought some of the toughest, best-looking puzzles around to iPad and The Room Two is just as good. The creepy, oppressive atmosphere adds some urgency to the puzzles as you explore each room and the puzzles within.

     
  • 17 Shadowrun Returns
    Slide 17

    I still play D&D, but my first tabletop RPG was Shadowrun. The perfect blend of technology and magic makes for an interesting game world and Harebrained Schemes’ revival of the license combines the cyberpunk noir story with XCOM-style combat for a great touch-based RPG.

     
  • 18 Skulls of the Shogun
    Slide 18

    If you haven’t had your fill of Advance Wars in a while, Skulls of the Shogun might have what you need. This turn-based strategy game is fast, fun and filled with great art. And Skulls of the Shogun is free on the iOS App Store for the holidays.

     
  • 19 Sorcery! 2
    Slide 19
    Sorcery! 2
    $4.99

    Calling Sorcery! 2 a Choose Your Own Adventure book feels like selling it a bit short. That’s the basic concept, but along the way you’ll fight thugs and monsters, see some great medieval-style art, and enjoy some of the best writing you’ve seen in a game in some time.

     
  • 20 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    Slide 20
    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    $9.99

    Knights of the Old Republic, even when accounting for BioWare’s newer RPGs, might still be my favorite role playing game of all time. It was a great game and a great reminder that Star Wars can still generate interesting characters even in the Post-JarJar Era. Mastering the Force and hunting down the Sith is still as fun as it used to be, especially on iPad.

     
  • 21 Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous
    Slide 21
    Tilt to Live 2: Redonkulous
    $2.99

    Tilt to Live somehow makes tilting your iPad to move your piece around the map feel like a precision movement instead of a clumsy interface. Tilt to Live isn’t the only game that uses the iPad’s accelerometers, but it’s definitely one of the best.

     
  • 22 The Walking Dead season 2 episode 1
    Slide 22
    The Walking Dead: The Game - Season 2
    $4.99

    The Walking Dead’s first game was one of the last year’s must-plays regardless of which platform you were on and the second season is off to a good start. We don’t know for sure where it’ll go yet, but it’ll definitely be intense, emotional, and memorable.

     
  • 23 The Wolf Among Us - Episode 1
    Slide 23
    The Wolf Among Us
    4.99

    Telltale Games tries their hand at the comic series Fable. The game takes place before the comic, but somehow still manages to surprise even devoted fans. Take on the role of Bigby Wolf, Sheriff of Fabletown, and investigate some grisly goings-on, encountering some of the city’s best-known residents along the way.

     
  • 24 XCOM Enemy Unknown
    Slide 24
    XCOM: Enemy Unknown
    $19.99

    One of the closest experiences we’ve seen yet to a direct port of a modern PC game. Whether you’ve played XCOM on PC or not, it’s worth checking out on iPad. Every element of the game is present and accounted for. Defend the world from the alien threat anywhere you go without sacrificing any of the original game’s depth.

     
  • 25 Year Walk
    Slide 25

    Year Walk is like a spooky, atmospheric picture book about Swedish folklore filled with satisfying puzzles and frightening imagery. From the same developer as Device 6, this game will have you alternately scratching your head and holding your iPad as far away as you can as the puzzles pull you in and the horror pushes you back.

     


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