Looking for the most brilliant games for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch? With reviews, videos and download links, read on for the 100 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. If you want to read about specific genres of game - fighting games, shooting games, RPGs and so on - there are direct links at the bottom of this page. Updated 8 January 2015 to add The Banner Saga... (in the RPG section), Vainglory (in the fighting/shooting games section), The Silent Age and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies (both in the adventure/story games section) and Helix (in the casual games section).
When the Apple 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.
Let's get on to the games reviews. What are the best games for iPad and iPhone?
The best roleplaying games for iPad & iPhone
1. The Banner Saga
Compared to the average App Store game, The Banner Saga's £6.99 asking price is fairly ambitious (although there are more expensive games that we recommend in this list). But this long-lasting and solidly replayable RPG adventure provides more than enough richness and value to justify its premium entry fee.
You command a squad of up to six fighters, each of which can be lightly customised and upgraded over time. The grid-based battles play out like in classics such as Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, with each turn providing the ability to move a hero a certain number of squares and then perform an action, whether it's a melee or weapon attack or perhaps a magic/support interaction.
But outside combat things are just as dangerous. The Banner Saga frequently empowers you to make decisions about almost everything, but it'll make you pay for your slip-ups. Even dialogue selections feed into how the storyline twists and turns on the road ahead.
If you have a soft spot for nicely realised fantasy worlds, love obsessing over tactical affairs, or simply need something complex and absorbing to play on your iPhone or iPad this holiday season, The Banner Saga's robust role-playing should be at the top of your App Store wish list. Andrew Hayward
2. 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 wonderfully rich games are tough to beat.
3. The Bard's Tale
This iOS port of a classic and much-beloved PS2-era RPG is memorable not so much for its sparkling graphics or revolutionary gameplay (though both are perfectly serviceable, and even sort of charming) as for its absolutely fantastic writing.
Imagine a mix between The Princess Bride and Robin Hood: Men In Tights; this game sets out to skewer just about every fantasy and RPG trope it can get its hands on. The Princess Bride comparison is helped by the fact that the titular scoundrel is voiced by none other than the inimitable Cary Elwes, who bickers constantly with the snarky, fourth-wall-breaking narrator (points if you can spot which classic Disney villain he voiced).
The gameplay is fairly standard real-time RPG hack-and-slash fare, based primarily on summoning various support characters to provide buffs and aid in combat. However, focusing on gameplay in a title like this would be… inconceivable. Adam Shepherd
4. 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
6. Infinity Blade series
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.
7. 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.
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
- Classic iPad games: 6 iOS games you need to have played
- Best free iPhone games
- Best free iPad games
- Best Mac games
- How to save and restore iPhone and iPad game progress data
- How to use Game Centre