Thread for iOS games 2017-2023: shame, loathing and recommendations

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There's still good ones out there, folks. This is the thread where we collaborate and collude to navigate the minefield of the App Store "Games" category.

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:18 (four years ago) link

i have had zero luck recently. used to be a great source for iOS strategy games, a very lo-fi kind of operation run by 2-3 people (and mostly just one dude) with good taste in games. then they were bought out and upgraded to shit-fi, cover a bunch more games, and hired a bunch of terrible writers. guess i should give touch arcade another try

Karl Malone, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:23 (four years ago) link

typeshift is cool

devvvine, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:24 (four years ago) link

*200 seconds pass*

ok a quick glance at touch arcade makes this sound enticing:

Karl Malone, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:26 (four years ago) link

what is typeshift? because if it involves typing on an iphone it could be my least favorite game of all time. it takes me 3-5 tries just to type my email address in correctly

Karl Malone, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:27 (four years ago) link

i can confirm it does not involve typing and it is free

devvvine, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:33 (four years ago) link

still just playing the heck out of plants vs zombies: heroes which is a heartstone/magic ccg except with a much lower curve and some fun twists.

the klosterman weekend (s.clover), Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:41 (four years ago) link

Looks Typeshift is from the same guy who made Spelltower, worth a try certainly for free
Not sure I want to pay $8 for Death Road to Canada but it's by the Punch Quest people, so I am tempted

Nhex, Saturday, 25 March 2017 00:43 (four years ago) link

I bought Death Road to Canada this morning and will try it out v.soon -as soon as I beat Real Grinder, just hang on a sec

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Saturday, 25 March 2017 01:21 (four years ago) link

Ok I just got wiped once, almost immediately, but I see the fun in it. Need to adjust my control layout for sure.

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Saturday, 25 March 2017 04:58 (four years ago) link

All I've done in DRtC since my last post is make custom characters.

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Wednesday, 29 March 2017 22:27 (four years ago) link

I'm mostly enjoying Fallen London, as a prelude to delving into Sunless Sea. FL is for the phone, SS is on the tablet (durr) and I actually think the daily limit on actions helps the FL experience

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Wednesday, 29 March 2017 22:29 (four years ago) link

i think FL is actually the better more fully realized game but SS is def worth playing - and the sequel is being kickstarted right now

Mordy, Wednesday, 29 March 2017 22:33 (four years ago) link

my favorite twitch streamer said SS made him so happy it was like when he was a kid and first got into Escape Velocity on his Mac, and I was "like well that was college for me kiddo but if you loved EV, I loved EV and this game scratches that itch then here you go App Store here's $9.99 make sure this army vet weirdo in Texas gets a cut ok"

Not the real Tombot (El Tomboto), Wednesday, 29 March 2017 22:49 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

the highly compelling clicker SPACEPLAN (originally brought to your attention last August via The Best Free Online (in-browser or downloadable) Games) is now on iOS

I am still Realm Grinding away, though, so I don't think I need to repopulate the potatoes on my phone

your cognitive privilege (El Tomboto), Saturday, 6 May 2017 17:29 (four years ago) link

also thanks to realm grinder I now know the differences between scientific and engineering notation, and the names of a lot of extremely large numbers. the math in this game is ridiculous

your cognitive privilege (El Tomboto), Monday, 8 May 2017 00:08 (four years ago) link

nintendo released a fire emblem game for iphone and i was super excited because i've never played a fire emblem game and i've always wanted to. it was a smallish download, and then it asked me to download a 50 MB update as soon as i started it up. after a few battles, it asked me to install a 500 MB update, which i grudgingly did even though i have a shitty iphone with not much storage. i took leave of the reception areas in the united states for a few days, and when i returned and started up fire emblem, it asked me to install another 700 MB update and i racked up my first ever rage quit/delete on a screen asking me to download a patch

Karl Malone, Thursday, 18 May 2017 00:01 (four years ago) link

Wow. Better you than me!

I'm finally playing Lifeline on my phone.

Getting this Taylor kid into shitty situations is not quite as fun as intentionally wrecking your dude in one of those bmx / snowboard / tony hawk games.

I do have a feeling the ultimate goal is probably more satisfying, though.

I'll keep at it.

Tombot is busy.

El Tomboto, Thursday, 18 May 2017 02:23 (four years ago) link

Waiting for a busted elbow to heal have given me time to get back to mobile gaming, until I can shake public transport and get back on my bike.

Grim Fandango Remastered: the first two acts are still the greatest adventure game of all time, the third loses it a little (though at least it doesn't crash when I get in the crane, like the last two torrents of the PC game I tried), and the last act is both a touching return to the earlier acts and too bitty.

Monument Valley: Lovely aesthetic perfectly married to the platform - I'm sure there'll be a PC port at some point but using a mouse to rotate one of the chunky pieces of architecture won't be as satisfying as doing so by hand. Also I appreciate a game that's good at manipulating my emotions.

Tomb Raider Go: Decent selection / curation of a different aesthetic here, breaking some of TR down to basically a game of Sokoban (with a slight hidden object game not even bolted to it but rather laid beside it in the same box).

Andrew Farrell, Thursday, 18 May 2017 14:24 (four years ago) link

Spaceplan was amusing but I didn't expect it to play through so fast and have no replay value.

El Tuomasbot (milo z), Monday, 22 May 2017 01:10 (four years ago) link

I'm starting to really wish the hero in Love You To Bits could just WALK A LITTLE BIT FASTER FFS
he could learn a lot from Taylor in Lifeline imho, this guy trucks, even with a fucked up ankle

El Tomboto, Monday, 22 May 2017 15:45 (four years ago) link

Has anybody tried Subterfuge?

El Tomboto, Saturday, 27 May 2017 16:34 (four years ago) link

Bunch of stuff on sale for 0.99 in the US App Store today btw

El Tomboto, Saturday, 27 May 2017 16:51 (four years ago) link

I kinda don't want any of them because I never finish adventure puzzlers, suck at touch platformers, and hate RTS/Tower Defense. but I guess mini metro is going to get a shot.

El Tomboto, Saturday, 27 May 2017 16:54 (four years ago) link

I was a big Advance Wars fan in the GBA days, so I love Warbits. Great graphics and gets most aspects of the genre right. It doesn't seem to have boats and other water units, though, just land and sky :/

Dan I., Saturday, 27 May 2017 20:46 (four years ago) link

Uh, I think it came out last year, though.

Dan I., Saturday, 27 May 2017 20:47 (four years ago) link

MiniMetro pulled me in for a couple weeks.

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 27 May 2017 21:48 (four years ago) link

Thread title time frame is not intended to prevent posting about out old games. Most good games on iOS are from <2016 anyway imho

El Tomboto, Saturday, 27 May 2017 22:21 (four years ago) link

Most good games on iOS are from <2016 anyway imho

It's true. What's the deal with that?

Karl Malone, Saturday, 27 May 2017 22:25 (four years ago) link

It's about ethics in video game journalism

El Tomboto, Saturday, 27 May 2017 23:28 (four years ago) link


This isn't bad at all. I might actually pay for the gem doubler (the "here fine here's five dollars for your game you gave away for free" purchase)
I'm pretty annoyed your character choices are "white boy" and "white girl" though - like, even Spirit Lords did better.

El Tomboto, Monday, 29 May 2017 03:49 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

iOS games kinda not being good this year shocka

I'm having trouble finding anything that holds my attention. Every goddamn thing has IAP.

Jeff, Monday, 10 July 2017 09:39 (four years ago) link

Some recent faves:

Card Thief
Swing King
Cordy 2
Bike Club

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Tuesday, 11 July 2017 19:11 (four years ago) link

I am still playing Marvel Puzzle Quest

help me

this iphone speaks many languages (DJP), Tuesday, 11 July 2017 19:12 (four years ago) link

expansion for 868.HACK?

his description is utterly opaque to me because i haven’t played it for a long while, but ,ugh this be a good time for anyone who hasn’t to give it a go?

Fizzles, Tuesday, 11 July 2017 19:13 (four years ago) link

not sure what ugh is doing there. some kind of phone typo.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 11 July 2017 19:14 (four years ago) link

it's so hard to find anything good in the store apps (ios or android). all of the lists are freemium crap.

Einstein, Kazanga, Sitar (abanana), Tuesday, 11 July 2017 23:23 (four years ago) link

pocket tactics used to be a reliably good source of info on strategy/rpg/puzzle/war games, written by like 3 dudes, but then they got bought out and became a terrible website

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 11 July 2017 23:25 (four years ago) link

I suspect starting 868 with the expansion would be an exercise in frustration

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Thursday, 13 July 2017 21:27 (four years ago) link

This needs to happen

El Tomboto, Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:10 (four years ago) link

might finally get around to playing it

on the leaderboards for the 868 hack expansion! i am just way more attuned to this than imbroglio i guess

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 16 July 2017 14:31 (four years ago) link

Also it looks like toucharcade is about to go out of business? So basically nowhere left doing independent reviews of App Store games as far as I know.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 16 July 2017 14:36 (four years ago) link

I got Lowerlander yesterday. It's pretty fun so far. The save mechanism is kind of annoying in 2017 but it's no game breaker.

El Tomboto, Sunday, 23 July 2017 15:43 (four years ago) link

I can actually see this causing me to blow a subway stop on my commute which no game has done for a good while (usually it's work email)

El Tomboto, Sunday, 23 July 2017 15:55 (four years ago) link

^^ loving this, it is totally making me late for meetings

stet, Monday, 24 July 2017 13:37 (four years ago) link

started playing at your suggestion tombo, really scratching that ultima itch

Fucking Flappy Dunk. I hate myself.

Jeff, Tuesday, 25 July 2017 01:30 (four years ago) link

Galaxy of Pen and Paper, the sequel to Knights of Pen and Paper, is out today for iOS (and steam and android) at $4.99. i haven't played it yet but the kotaku review says it's similar but better than the original, which i enjoyed. given the lack of good iOS games recently i'm inclined to give it a shot

Karl Malone, Friday, 28 July 2017 01:56 (four years ago) link

another pen and paper game already? god dammit that's my beer money

El Tomboto, Friday, 28 July 2017 04:11 (four years ago) link

i finished a 50-game run in Cinco Paus AND finally escaped a character in imbroglio. also i think I have rsi now

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Wednesday, 13 June 2018 09:56 (three years ago) link

Pocket run pool. Not great, but the high stakes mode is satisfying.

Jeff, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 10:16 (three years ago) link

I am LOVING 868-Hack. It costs $5 but it's very smart and complex but the rounds are short enough where you can like play it for a few minutes at a time. A+ very recommend.

the masseduction of lauryn hill (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 17:21 (three years ago) link

868-HACK is sooooo good. it's funny that we're all kind of trained to balk at a $5 iphone game, but i've spent more time playing it than the typical $60 AAA game. Even more true with Cinco Paus. i have no way to track the hours but i'd guess i've played at least 100 hours by now

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 17:23 (three years ago) link

What are other games like this that are kinda simple but require an almost chess-like level of thoughtfulness and strategy? like playing a round of this is so much more fulfilling than like Temple Run or even Drop7

the masseduction of lauryn hill (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:02 (three years ago) link

i wish i knew of more! really the only ones that engage me on that level are the brough games - they've accounted for >90% of my iphone gaming over the last couple years, easily. i also appreciate that this dude has a blog, he speaks candidly about his process, the financial lack of success, the pressures he feels, the things he's struggling with in game design:

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:12 (three years ago) link

I am 100% fine with paying up front money for a game that's not engineered to, like con me into spending more or isn't very challenging. I'd prefer it, even.

the masseduction of lauryn hill (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:32 (three years ago) link

i have no way to track the hours but i'd guess i've played at least 100 hours by now

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:33 (three years ago) link

^cursed link

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:45 (three years ago) link

i always forget that you can track it now, at least for the most recent 1-day and 7-day periods. i've played cinco paus around 3 hours in the last 7 days, and i've been consistently playing it at least that much since it was released in christmas 2017, so i'd guess my 100-hour estimate is about right.

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:51 (three years ago) link

What are other games like this that are kinda simple but require an almost chess-like level of thoughtfulness and strategy?
Parks Seasons

It starts simple and you can't skip the easy levels. However, the bigger grids which require 2 trees per row, column, and colored section are super fun and logical.

He said captain, I said wot (FlopsyDuck), Thursday, 21 June 2018 13:02 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Just started but Card Quest seems fun.

Jeff, Thursday, 12 July 2018 01:14 (three years ago) link

two weeks pass...


devops mom (silby), Sunday, 29 July 2018 05:53 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

I went home last weekend to see my niblings, and they are always keen to play games on my phone - Monument Valley was a big hit, except you can only give it or its sequel to one of them at a time. Anyway, the App Store had a special on gentle puzzle games so I got:

_Prism: this looks lovely and 3-d, but it's a pretty cover for a game of moving switches to get points to line up - it's not very long, it looks lovely, but the hit detection of the non-massive iPhone is not quite up to the bits where you're trying to get three fingers on the screen at once.

Push - tap the buttons on the screen in the right order, sometimes using other switches to rotate or switch the 3-d surfaces that the buttons are on - it all looks very clean, and the buttons seem weirdly tactile - it's a good game if you've got 10 minutes and would like to feel smart for solving something.

_-_ - get all the horizontal lines roughly in the centre, sometimes when you pull up on this line, those lines move up or down by other coefficients... I haven't played enough with it to see if there's much more to it than that.

LVL - you move solid shapes of colour on the sides of a cube, trying to completely block out the light in each of the three faces. Each cube is effectively (again, as far as I got) three separate games where you're working both opposite faces, but you can't overlap the shapes on any given side - there's some "okay that has to go here so I have to move this there first" even once you figure out what each side has to be.

Vignettes - this is good but a little fiddly - you can rotate an over-saturated object around in the centre of the screen - sometimes when the silhouette matches another object there'll be a slight tug and it changes - so you might turn a bowl so that the white circle of the inside entirely faces you, but when you turn it some more, it's now a lightbulb viewed from the top. The problem is that this is both fiddly and temperamental.

Flower - this is the PS3 game! You fly around being a petal and flying through other flowers to gather more petals and it's really really really not very high tension. It looks lovely though.

.projekt - literally no-one involved in this game doesn't have at least two 'k's in their name. It's a simple 3-d builder, you place/remove blocks in a 5x5x5 grid to match silhouettes on two axes. After a while you get a point for the minimum vs the maximum number of blocks, and past another while there's a picross version - 80 stages, the time passes well.

Rubek - I know there's a canonical version of this type of puzzler around - you roll a cube around a cell-y surface, sometimes you have to pick up something on one face and then deposit it elsewhere.

Andrew Farrell, Friday, 24 August 2018 22:14 (three years ago) link

Slayaway Camp is free on ios and android this week. It's great.

dat, Saturday, 25 August 2018 20:52 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Subwords is my new thing to do after the crossword puzzle. Might not last long, though, unless I get within striking distance of the leaderboards on classic mode

Paleo Weltschmerz (El Tomboto), Sunday, 16 September 2018 03:27 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

So like... a bunch of my older games don't work on the current iOS, as happens every year.
But since they killed iTunes app backup/management, if i delete it off the phone, it's gone forever unless I can redownload it from the App Store, right?
I have a ton of these games I've just been deleting over the last few years that I carried from phone to phone. Alas, Gravity Hook, looks like you're gone forever.

Nhex, Sunday, 7 October 2018 06:03 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Endless Archery for Desert Golfing fans.

Jeff, Monday, 19 November 2018 21:24 (two years ago) link

Picked this up recently and am enjoying it:

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Tuesday, 20 November 2018 00:01 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

I just want to say I'm very disappointed Trainyard never got updated to work with later iOS versions.

vision joanna newsom (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 6 February 2019 15:20 (two years ago) link

Donut County isn't doing much for me but Florence is good.

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Wednesday, 6 February 2019 17:01 (two years ago) link

pocket city is a good handheld version of sim city 2000

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 6 February 2019 17:54 (two years ago) link

hard disagree on that one

pocket city made me angry

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 6 February 2019 18:04 (two years ago) link

pocket city was ehhhhhh

(I did break my brain playing too much sim city 2000 as a kid so ymmv)

JD Salinger - King of Trainers (King Boy Pato), Thursday, 7 February 2019 12:06 (two years ago) link

three weeks pass...

dowd mentioned Night of the Full Moon on another thread recently so I gave it a shot. it's really fun! what is the genre...CCG/rogue/rpg, sort of? it's $1, although you can pay more to unlock additional character classes. it's one of the rare games that has voice acting that is actually good, especially on iOS. it actually even made me LOL, the first time a game has done that in forever (a pumpkin head enemy said something like "how would you know what it feels like to be in the cutting baaaawrd?!" in a ridiculous accent - hard to explain but it was good).

Karl Malone, Saturday, 2 March 2019 16:51 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

I like Alphabear 2 a lot but despise the insane amount of ads. Even if you buy it there’s still the “TV Time” bonus for watching 3 ads every four hours...

Nhex, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 19:27 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

New Michael Brough game P1 Select for those who like these things. (I do). Sounds like he hasn'tried (or had the time) to do anything new, but is happy with that.

Fizzles, Saturday, 13 July 2019 17:31 (two years ago) link

Thank you! I will always check out his games

Karl Malone, Saturday, 13 July 2019 18:15 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

I need new rpg for iphone 11

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 18 March 2020 00:56 (one year ago) link

Dungeons of Chaos look good.

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 18 March 2020 01:00 (one year ago) link


El Tomboto, Wednesday, 18 March 2020 01:26 (one year ago) link


DJI, Wednesday, 18 March 2020 02:59 (one year ago) link

Not new but I was psyched to see that Knights of the Old Republic is available for iPhone. Maybe this is a good time to start it.

Unparalleled Elegance (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 18 March 2020 03:26 (one year ago) link

four weeks pass...

Super late to this party, as I just picked it up as a freebie a few weeks ago, but damn yeah Alto's Adventure is probably the best endless runner. Just completed all 180 goals and got that "survived for three days" achievement.

Nhex, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 14:06 (one year ago) link

Alto's Odyssey is a nice follow-up too but very much more of the same

stet, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 15:18 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

new BROG - well large expansion for Imbroglio:

Fizzles, Tuesday, 5 May 2020 16:34 (one year ago) link


silby, Tuesday, 5 May 2020 16:39 (one year ago) link

yes. i mean cinco paus is just wonderful but i love imbroglio as well.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 5 May 2020 17:05 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

I 100%ed Hidden Folks and now I’m sad

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Monday, 31 August 2020 17:15 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

instead of developing speed run routes for hidden folks I just went on a little spree today and picked up the phoenix wright trilogy, black box, and soda dungeon 2.

is meteor fall any good?

sound of scampo talk to me (El Tomboto), Saturday, 19 September 2020 20:46 (one year ago) link

Good Sudoku is good.

Joey Corona (Euler), Sunday, 20 September 2020 12:37 (one year ago) link

I burned out on it after about a month, but yeah, it's good. I hate the mode that takes away all the improvements though (Classic?) but the others worked nicely

Nhex, Sunday, 20 September 2020 18:44 (one year ago) link

Yeah I accidentally played a classic one today and I messed it up good

Joey Corona (Euler), Sunday, 20 September 2020 19:20 (one year ago) link

Cosmic Express is a great little one-screen logic puzzle game. I even like the background music, which is usually the first thing I turn off.

wasdnous (abanana), Monday, 21 September 2020 16:35 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

Any decent graphic adventure/visual novel/point & click games on phones recently? Feels like the high point was The Room and its sequels, and now developers are making gacha games instead.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 29 March 2021 15:09 (six months ago) link

The Cube Escape games are great but probably not recent

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 29 March 2021 16:19 (six months ago) link

i'm near the end of kentucky route zero, which is unfortunately not for iOS, i don't think. but maybe this will help?

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Monday, 29 March 2021 16:30 (six months ago) link

is it my imagination or is apple shifting any game that looks good or interesting at all to apple arcade

na (NA), Monday, 29 March 2021 16:41 (six months ago) link

cupe escape / rusty lake games are great yes

I found the first chapter of KRZ too slow but that list has some games I've liked and others I've added to my wishlist.

wasdnuos (abanana), Monday, 29 March 2021 16:46 (six months ago) link

Ooh The Silent Age is good! Syberia II is not.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 29 March 2021 22:07 (six months ago) link

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