Roleplaying games

When you want an entire world to immerse yourself in, these titles could each provide you with months of gaming on your iOS device.

Baldur's Gate

If you've been lamenting the lack of a really meaty, old-school and gloriously geeky roleplaying game on your iOS device, look no further than this semi-remake of one of the 1990s true classics.

The game does sometimes betray its originals - the busy interface and tiny characters can be awkward, as can the save system. But stick with it and you find an adventure of uncommon breadth, with some great characters (both serious and ridiculous) and massive flexibility in terms of your party of heroes and their abilities.

It's the complexity and sprawl that really hits home with this old-timer. So while it may not look as exciting as more modern fare, this is a game that offers weeks, if not months, of tactical combat, agonising choices and frenzied goblin-bashing. And if you find it does eventually pall but you hanker for more, the sequel is on the App Store, too.

£9.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download Baldur's Gate

Best iPhone games | Best iPad games: Baldur's Gate 2 review

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.

£2.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download The Bard's Tale

Best iPhone games | Best iPad games: The Bard's Tale


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.

FREE (but £4.99/$4.99 to unlock full game) | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download Bastion

Best iPad & iPhone games: Bastion

Book of Demons: Tablet Edition

There's usually an element of linearity around dungeon crawlers, with you being guided along set routes while hacking and slashing at the various horrors around you. Book of Demons takes this to an extreme, forcing you down narrow corridors, and even automating your attacks. The end result is akin to Diablo on rails, and although that shouldn't really work, it feels like a stab at the genre properly rethought for mobile play.

In fact, if there's anything Book of Demons wants to avoid, it's wasting your time. Footsteps mark paths you've already taken; prior to entering any dungeon, you're given the option to adjust its size to an approximate set game length; and when you're done obliterating everything on any given floor, you can zip immediately to the exit.

This doesn't mean the game lacks depth - although the visuals sort of do in a literal sense. (The characters are all papercraft creations, which also means no gore!) But there's plenty to dig into as you get to grips with the game. You learn automated attacks can be overridden by tapping and holding on foes you want to prioritise. As you collect bling, you can build, upgrade and equip spell cards that give you a fighting chance of surviving longer in the dank dungeons.

The only real problem Book of Demons has is in direct comparisons with the games that inspired it. Taken on its own terms, it's a novel, smart, mobile-friendly take on a classic, captivating set-up.

£6.99/$6.99 | For iPad | Download Book of Demons: Tablet Edition

Best iPad & iPhone games: Book of Demons: Tablet Edition


While other RPGs can require lots of time and skilful thinking, Crashlands is designed for the casual player. There's an unlimited inventory, so you can scavenge where and when you want without worry. And it's Minecraft-esque in ways, offering a build mode that lets you fashion a personalised base from the ground up with various benches for crafting weapons, armour, elixirs and more. Because of the unlimited inventory, if you want to move your base somewhere with more resources, you need only pick up all the pieces to your base and put it in your bag. Simple.

The tap-to-interact aspect of the game takes time to get used to, especially when battling the many monsters you'll come across on the alien planet, but it's effective. You get a toolbar for quick access to equipment like potions or weapons - with varying cooldowns for each - and a world map, which enables you to zip between telepads at no cost. This makes exploring the massive open world easier, as you can nip back to your base to recover/build new equipment on the fly without worrying about wasting time.

In all, it's an accessible take on the genre, which should have wide appeal.

£3.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download Crashlands

Death Road to Canada

Road trip! Only the roads on the way to the safety of Canada (from your native Florida) are packed with the undead. Eek! Your aim is to not get eaten, which isn't easy. It turns out Death Road to Canada is aptly named.

The game is a mix of arcade fare and multiple-choice decision-making akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The top-down arcade parts involve your little gang looting buildings and fending off the undead with whatever comes to hand, or timed 'sieges' - claustrophobic affairs that prove tense and terrifying, despite the blocky, cartoonish graphics. The more adventure-oriented bits mix snippets of story with multiple-choice decision-making, both of which can hugely affect your ongoing quest.

There's a lot of randomness - sudden deaths are commonplace - but also plenty of knockabout humour. This is more oddball 1980s video game than The Walking Dead: a place where zombies co-exist with dogs that can talk and make Molotov cocktails, and where you should never trust a supposedly injured moose. Buy it. Play it. But don't imagine you'll be seeing Canada any time soon.

£11.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download Death Road to Canada

Best iPhone & iPad games: Death Road to Canada

Desktop Dungeons

In this idiosyncratic turn-based roguelike, you're the administrator of a hamlet beset on all sides by evil creatures. You resolve to send various fantasy archetypes into the villain-riddled swamps, forests and mountains nearby to sort things out. Each time one of your disposable heroes goes on a quest, a dungeon is randomly generated, and it's up to you to work out the best way of coping.

The game is chess-like in nature - almost as much puzzle as RPG. The trick is to work out which monsters to attack in which order, so as to gain enough experience, collect enough equipment and conserve enough health and mana to be able to take on the boss at the end. There's also an actual - and brutally difficult - puzzle mode, in which a range of pre-prepared scenarios must be navigated in precisely the right way.

As threats are neutralised and loot piles up, you'll be able to build or upgrade new facilities and thereby unlock new character types, equipment and monsters, all of which has an appeal of its own; and the writing is consistently witty. But it's the slow-paced, deceptively brain-bruising dungeon crawling which gives Desktop Dungeons its unique charm.

£9.99/$9.99 | For iPad only | Download Desktop Dungeons

Best iPhone games | Best iPad games: Desktop Dungeons


A brief look at Minit and you might wonder if someone's sneakily replaced your shiny Apple device with the innards of a ZX Spectrum - or, indeed, a Mac Plus. The 1-bit artwork looks like it's beamed in from the 1980s - although this stark, minimal style is rather striking.

The gameplay is also distinctly old-school, with you ambling about a tiled map, chatting with other characters, hacking enemies to bits, and solving simple puzzles. The twist, though, is that Minit is played against the clock.

As the game's name subtly suggests, you've 60 seconds to solve the quest. Fail and your beaky hero carks it. Fortunately, during your next go, his successor starts off kitted out with whatever was being carried during your previous attempt - and you of course are armed with a little more knowledge.

Minit therefore becomes a compelling (if odd) mix of chipping away at a global quest, figuring out your next steps, and blazingly fast speedruns when you figure out what you need to do - all too aware that 60 seconds is barely enough time to do it.

£4.99/$4.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download Minit

Best iPad & iPhone games: Minit

P1 Select

A quick look at Michael Brough's iOS games suggests a creator who has no truck with convention. 868-HACK might technically be a turn-based strategy Roguelike, and Helix is in theory an arena shooter. But these titles have singular twists and visual design that make them resemble games that have slipped through a crack from another dimension.

P1 Select is in similar territory. At its core, this is a stripped-back Roguelike - a turn-based title that has you make your way through a dungeon, duffing up enemies, grabbing bling, and grumbling about your terrible strategy when you inevitably get killed shortly before you can escape its nine levels. But as you swipe, the direction you choose not only shifts your on-screen avatar, but also which character is selected on a three-by-three grid.

This is, to put it mildly, disorienting. You must keep track of each character's abilities and lives count - and even their abilities aren't necessarily obvious at first. But this added layer of complexity feels like cracking a code - and once you figure out P1 Select's nuances, you'll return time and again to beat your high score.

£2.99/$2.99 | For iPhone and iPad (Universal) | Download P1 Select

Best iPad & iPhone games: P1 Select