Looking for the most brilliant games for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch? With reviews, videos and download links, read on for the 85 best games ever released for the iPad & iPhone. From strategy and action to puzzles and roleplaying games, these are the very finest iOS gaming apps. Updated 15 August 2014 to add Le Havre (in the board games section) and Sometimes You Die (in the platform games section).
The iOS gaming landscape has seen a lot of change. Take pricing, for instance. When the iPhone first came out, publishers thought nothing of charging a tenner for a half-hearted port of a console game. But gamers soon cottoned on to the sub-£1 impulse purchase, and prices plunged. After a rash of ad-supported freebies and aggressive in-app purchases, things seem to be settling around the £1.99 mark - and may be heading upwards. (But see also our roundups of the best free iPhone apps, the best free iPad apps, the best free iPhone games and the best free iPad games.)
More importantly, perhaps - and although it has its problems with cloning - iOS is no longer considered the poor cousin of console and PC platforms. Angry Birds showed the world that mobile games can be astonishingly commercial, but they can be critical successes too. The games on this list are inspired, well-written, funny, and occasionally even moving. Sometimes you just want a two-minute puzzle for your bus ride, and the iPhone is perfect for that, but if you know where to look, iOS gaming has so much more to offer.
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Let's get on to the games reviews. What's the best game for iPad and iPhone?
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The best roleplaying games for iPad & iPhone
1. Baldur's Gate series
The Baldur's Gate remakes are serious RPGs for serious RPG fans. Recreating the 90s PC classics - seemingly in their entirety - for the iPad is a logistical triumph, and we'd argue that the price tags (which are high for iOS games) are more than justified, considering the wealth of story and gameplay you're getting for your cash.
That's not to say they're perfect; the controls aren't easy to master, often reminding you that they were conceived with keyboards and mice in mind. But for quality, in-depth roleplaying action, these are tough to beat.
2. Knights of Pen & Paper
Opting to recreate the entire Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying experience rather than just the glamorous bits, KoP&P pulls the camera back to reveal the dork squad sitting there with their 12-sided dice and cans of Vimto, directing the heroic actions playing out on the imaginary stage in front of them. So you control the mages, assassins and barbarians accomplishing heroic feats, but also the pizza delivery boys, school bullies and little sisters playing as them.
It's a brilliant concept beautifully realised: charmingly retro in look, funny and compulsive.
Casual description does this painterly action-roleplaying game few favours - games about beating up beasties in exchange for experience points are a dime a dozen on the App Store, after all. Where Bastion differs is in its storytelling. A near-omniscient narrator commentates your progress as you play, picking up on your decisions and mistakes as well as furthering a sombre, opaque tale with a voice that redefines the very concept of gravel. It adds a huge amount of character, as well as lending Bastion the eerie sense that it's watching you.
A beautiful game both visually and in atmosphere, Bastion is fortunately not so bogged down on its own grandeur that it forgets to be a reliably compulsive stream of action too. Alec Meer
4. Infinity Blade series
£3.99 (IB); £4.99 (IB2); £4.99 (IB3)
They adopt the trappings of the fantasy RPG, but the Infinity Blade games aren't free-roaming and there's very little exploration. Yet that isn't a criticism. The genius of the series is that it captures and distills the essence of roleplaying games into something almost existential: an infinite loop of death and rebirth, fighting, learning, looting and starting all over again. All three Infinity Blade games offer breathtaking graphics - the backdrops are works of art - but Infinity Blade 3 is unsurprisingly the best of the bunch, and given how little previous games have dropped in price, it's definitely the one to start with.
The Infinity Blade games are essentially a series of epic swashbuckling one-on-one battles with giant monsters, carefully packaged to suit gaming on the go. You tap to attack, swipe to parry, gesture to cast magic spells and so on. In the end you'll die, but that's okay: there's always another go.
5. 100 Rogues
Like Canabalt, this turn-based dungeon crawler takes sadistic pleasure in the inevitability of death. And, since it's part of the hardcore genre known as 'roguelike', that death is permanent: there are no precautionary saves. (You can leave a game and return later, though.) But don't let that put you off a fun and entertaining adventure. Playing as a knight, wizard, robot, skeleton or 'dinoman', you head off on a quest to defeat Satan and his minions. The game has strategic depth, and you'll be amazed how much it draws you into its odd little world - before kicking you out again when you make the smallest error. Lovably brutal.
6. Dungeon Hunter 2
The backstory may lack originality - you play a prince whose villainous brother has taken over the kingdom - but Dungeon Hunter 2 is no run-of-the-mill game. Its graphics are beautifully drawn and detailed, but the star attraction is the gameplay: the developers have managed to keep things simple without compromising on the depth of characters' personality and abilities. The game's multiplayer capabilities also give you the ability to play co-operatively with up to three friends in real time over the internet, or via a local Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. This is a well-balanced title combining stunning graphics and great gameplay. Jeff Meron
An old-school RPG very much in the vein of Eye Of The Beholder, Undercroft harks back to a simpler time when men were men and roleplaying games were turn-based. Hasn't been updated in a couple of years - how we'd love the excuse to dig out our old party - but its low-fi charms remain undiminished.
FREE | Download Undercroft
Want to read about more great games for the iPad and iPhone? We've divided our list of the best iPad & iPhone games into 10 genres or themes:
- The best roleplaying games for iPad & iPhone
- The best fighting and shooting games for iPad & iPhone
- The best puzzle games for iPad & iPhone
- The best strategy and tower defence games for iPad & iPhone
- The best sports and racing games for iPad & iPhone
- The best side-scrolling games for iPad & iPhone
- The best adventure, point-and-click and story games for iPad & iPhone
- The best board games for iPad & iPhone
- The best platform games for iPad & iPhone
- The best casual and party games for iPad & iPhone