There’s nothing better than curling up on the sofa, wrapping yourself in a blanket, and diving into a game on your smartphone. There’s something romantic about creating your own little cocoon, safe from the outside world. While gaming phones are picking up steam, there’s no better phone to buy than the iPhone if you’re a mobile gamer. With more than a million apps available on the Apple App Store, the gaming options on the iPhone are nearly limitless. But finding the best iPhone games isn’t always easy. Not every game in Apple’s massive library is worth $1 — or your time, for that matter.
Luckily for you, we’ve taken on the burden of sorting through the heaving sea of titles to bring you some of the best iPhone games. So whether you’re looking for a casual puzzler or something a bit more epic, take a look at our list of the best games you’ll find on your iOS device.
Subscribers to Apple’s library of games — which we think contains enough gems to justify the price of membership — should check out our picks of the best Apple Arcade games. For more ideas, check out the best Android games, because many of them are available for the iPhone as well. And if you want to switch off that screen, the best board games could offer a welcome alternative.
Disney Sorceror’s Arena
The turn-based battler has seen a big revival in the last few years, and Disney is the latest to create its own card-collecting version. Thankfully, it’s pretty good. If you’ve played one of these games before then you know what to expect — collect cards to unlock new Disney characters and use them to battle through a series of A.I. or human opponents to unlock more. Battles are conducted in a turn-based environment, and a lot of the strategy comes from choosing when to use each character’s special abilities. It’s compulsive, but be aware there are a lot of microtransactions.
Homicide Squad: New York Cases
Hidden object games are something of a guilty pleasure for many, and they shouldn’t be, because they’re actually a lot of fun. In this game, you take control of a pair of wisecracking detectives as they solve crimes and deliver justice in New York City. Examine murder scenes and find and gather your evidence. You have limited energy to play with, and you have to pay to recharge it — which makes it a casual game for everyone but those with deep pockets. Still, it’s a fun hidden object game if you enjoy them, and worth trying if you’re unfamiliar with the genre.
Hit the baseball as hard as you can with your bat, and see how far it flies. That’s all Baseball Boy! is, but there’s something beautifully compulsive in its extremely simple loop. Every hit earns you gold, which you can then use to upgrade your strength, ball bounciness, and other attributes. It’s dumb, but it’s an awful lot of fun, and by the time you start unlocking new cosmetic bats and balls, you won’t care how stupid it is — you’ll just care about getting to the next major milestone. A great little casual game that doesn’t push you into spending money.
Miss old racing games like Super Hang-On? Maybe Retro Highway is the game to scratch that itch. It has a nostalgia-triggering pixel-art style and challenging gameplay that emulates the feel of classic racing games, but on a modern smartphone. There is a range of challenges to complete, and scoreboards to compete with friends or with the rest of the world. You can collect over 10 types of bike and customize them with power-ups, and the races take you around the world, and even as far as a futuristic moon base. Now all you need is a killer soundtrack and you’re ready to ride.
Undead Horde ($6)
Sometimes it’s fun to be the bad guy, and it’s hard to get more vilified than the humble necromancer. Undead Horde is exactly that — an undead horde raised and commanded by you! The game is a blend of action RPG, strategy, and hack-and-slash as you raise your army and send them against the living and their leader, King Paladin Benevictor. Gather loot to upgrade yourself and your army, fight a wide range of enemies, from humans to scorpions, and reanimate them to continue building your horde.
The world’s biggest game is back on this list again, and it’s here simply because we can’t give it up. Fortnite, the third-person shooter with base-building elements has long been a favorite thanks in large part to its fast-paced action, intuitive combat, and fun, cartoony graphics. It’s free-to-play, but if you want any of the many cosmetic items, you’ll have to pay for them. If you’re new to the Fortnite phenomenon, where have you been? Get started with our range of Fortnite guides, and maybe you could be the next person to win big!
Vertical arcade shooters are part of the fabric of gaming history, but they’re far from outdated. The old school shoot-’em-up genre can still be a real challenge, and if you crave that challenge, P.3 is an excellent way to relive the shooters of yesteryear. It emulates the look of a classic shooter, including a CRT TV overlay and attractive pixel-art graphics, and it’s just as challenging as the originals. We wish it was a bit more colorful though, and with only five stages, you may find yourself running out of game quite quickly if you’re good at it. But for the price of two arcade games, this is a pretty good deal.
Gods of Boom
Love first-person shooters? Gods of Boom is the oddly named but fun multiplayer shooter of choice for many on iOS — and it’s easy to see why. Take part in multiplayer battles across a range of maps, lovingly created in 3D on your iOS device. Like all good multiplayer shooters, there’s a system to upgrade and customize your character, and regular updates mean you’ll always find something new to do. The latest update has recreated the world of The Walking Dead within Gods of Boom, and includes a bunch of new PvE challenges set within the zombie apocalypse.
Asphalt 9: Legends
Love to race? Asphalt 9: Legends allows you to take a spin in a collection of over 60 cars without leaving the comfort of your smaller screen. It’s a simpler version of the classic mobile racing game, but it’s no less compelling and fun. Swipe to take different routes through each race, and tap-and-hold to drift around corners, building up your speed boost meter as you do so. Win races, earn money, and expand and upgrade your garage of amazing speed machines.
Stardew Valley ($8)
Take a slower pace to life with the hit farming sim Stardew Valley. Based on the hit series of Harvest Moon games, Stardew Valley leaves you with a plot of land, and from there it’s up to you to create a working farm by planting seasonal crops, caring for livestock, foraging for rare ingredients, and everything that comes between. But there’s more to do in the game than just farming, and heading into the nearby Pelican Town introduces you to a host of characters to meet, win over, and even marry. A wonderful and relaxing game that’s all too easy to lose many hours to.
Multiplayer arena battlers are picking up steam and Clash Royale is one of the best examples out there. It’s as addictive as it is fun, and its bursts of three-minute action mean it’s firmly at the top of our list of bathroom-break apps. Face off against opponents with your selection of cards representing magical spells and minions, with the aim of knocking down their towers and castles. It’s deeper than it sounds, with each spell and minion excelling in certain areas, and being weak against other cards. Collect more cards as you play, and battle against other players to earn gold. It’s free-to-play, but with paid elements, including offers on buying certain cards.
Call of Duty: Mobile
It’s not every day you come across a legendary shooter series on iPhone, but here’s Call of Duty: Mobile. It’s basically just the multiplayer of a Call of Duty game, but with everything you expect. Take on the opposing team in brutal first-person shootouts across iconic multiplayer maps from past Call of Duty games. Unlock new weapons, loadouts, and outfits, and use them to gun down even more enemies. It’s surprisingly easy to jump into, and the mobile controls are more intuitive than a console or PC veteran might expect. The game is free-to-play, but there are microtransactions along the way.
Civilization VI (free-to-start/$10)
$10 might be a lot for a mobile game, but Civilization VI offers more than enough content to make the initial investment worthwhile. Play as one of a number of historic civilizations, and build your empire, gather resources, and interact with opponents. It’s adapted brilliantly to work on touchscreens, and even works fairly well on a phone’s smaller screen. If you’re still not sure, there’s a 60-turn free trial so you can see whether you’ll be hooked or not.
Hotel Empire Tycoon
We’re busy people, so we have a soft spot for idler games. Hotel Empire Tycoon is, as the name suggests, a game about managing a hotel chain. Simply set the game off and as your business grows you’ll add new furniture, hire new staff, and do whatever’s necessary to keep your increasing number of guests happy. It’s casual and very easy to get into, but with enough depth to keep you entertained for a long time to come.
Love ice hockey? Well, Brutal Hockey isn’t exactly the most faithful recreation of your beloved sport, but it’s a lot of fun anyway. It’s basically ice hockey as people who don’t understand ice hockey think it is — the only goal is to score and you’re allowed to use any means necessary to get there. It’s fast-paced action fuelled by in-game powerups and A.I. that adapts to your gameplay to keep things challenging. There are 15 cups to win, an online leaderboard, and five factions to take to the ice with.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
So we don’t have Skyrim for mobile just yet, but The Elder Scrolls: Blades is an excellent game to plug the gap. Blades hits all the usual elements you’d expect from a game in the Elder Scrolls series, including freeform exploration, dungeons, and a range of fantastical enemies to defeat, all presented within a believable world. You can create and customize your character, and later, you even get to build and customize your very own city — not exactly an element that’s reached Skyrim yet. It’s plagued by microtransactions, but it’s still worth a shot if you’ve enjoyed playing other RPGs and want something you can carry in your pocket.
The concept behind Draw It is certainly not complicated — you’re given a word and you have to draw it. Draw as many as possible within the allotted time and you’re awarded points. Draw fast to beat the competition, win coins, and unlock new word packs. It’s simple, but extremely fun and very time-consuming. There’s a VIP subscription that gives you extra word packs, free coins, and ad-free playing — but it’s super expensive at $15 a month.
It’s a simple idea, but an engaging one. Tap to hook onto points to avoid obstacles and make your way to the end of the course. The game pulls shamelessly from Spider-Man’s web-slinging abilities, but that doesn’t detract from the fun. Later levels increase the speed you swing and speed along, ramping up the difficulty and keeping you interested. Playing unlocks new characters to swing with, including a lemon and a cheeseburger. It’s worth a quick download if you have a few minutes to spare.
What’s better than Minecraft on your phone? Minecraft in real life, of course. The gaming monolith has expanded into augmented reality with Minecraft Earth, giving you the ability to play your favorite block-builder in AR. Tabletop mode allows you to build and plan your amazing creations, and then blow them up to real-world size to view and explore. Others can take part too, helping you to build something truly amazing, while unique new mobs like the muddy pig and moobloom come to pay you a visit. A real treat for Minecraft fans.
Sky: Children of the Light
A new game from the creators of Journey and Flower, Sky: Children of the Light is a social adventure with more than a few heart-warming elements. As a Child of the Light, you must travel through a kingdom of Sky to return fallen stars to their constellations. Along the way, you’ll explore seven beautiful realms and encounter a number of other players on their journeys, who you can team up with to adventure into more challenging areas. A beautiful soundtrack brings it all together, and it’s so good, Apple named it the iOS game of 2019. It’s free to play, but you can pay for new outfits, adventures, and more.
Candy Crush Saga
If you don’t know what Candy Crush is, well, you’ve led something of a charmed life. King’s franchise is a mobile gaming legend, having dominated most-played lists for years now, and Candy Crush Saga is the latest and greatest of the massive franchise. A big part of the reason why is because it’s simply a really fun game to play. While the later stages can start to ratchet up the difficulty to wring money for extra lives out of you, if you resist the urge to splurge, there’s still good gameplay to be had here. It’s a fantastic game to play whenever you have a spare moment.
Aion: Legions of War
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games aren’t restricted to PCs and consoles anymore. Aion: Legions of War is proof that a mobile MMORPG can be expansive, fun, and oh-so playable. Choose from a variety of heroes with a huge selection of weapons and skills to take down other players and NPCs as you journey across the war-torn Aion universe. There’s even a mobile-exclusive original story to rampage through. It’s free to play, but you can buy gems and bundles for real money. Also, be aware that this isn’t a casual game, and there’s a lot of content to uncover here.
Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle
Halloween may have come and gone, but our appetite for spookiness hasn’t gone anywhere. While not the creepiest of games, Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle is a great download for fans of the Friday the 13th movies and horror fans alike. Playing as several different versions of Jason, the game is a sliding puzzle that seems simple, but can get devilishly devious later on. Cartoonish violence calls back to the original gory films, but you can tone it down if you’re not a fan. It’s a fun little diversion — just don’t play it at any remote campsites.
Compared by some to the smash-hit Stranger Things, Oxenfree is a supernatural adventure about a group of teenagers who accidentally open a ghostly rift. Based on 1980s teenage horror flicks and using a synth-pop soundtrack to its best, Oxenfree is the game to download if you’ve finished Stranger Things and can’t get enough of that 80s vibe. The key aspect here is choice — every decision you make will change the game’s narrative, altering the course of yours and your friends’ lives. The opening is free to play and, if you want to continue, you can buy the whole game for $5 after that. It’s compulsive enough we think you’ll be happy to pony up the dough after the opening.
Mario Kart Tour
Nintendo has done a fairly good job translating some of its biggest properties to mobile, and Mario Kart Tour is the latest to hit little screens. It got off to a flying start, breaking the download records set by Pokémon Go — and with its simple gameplay and repertoire of charming characters, it’s not hard to see why. It’s free to start, but contains premium elements, and the fastest level of races is only available through the Gold Pass, which costs $5 per month. You also need to unlock new characters as you go, which could be a disappointment for fans of certain characters. But there’s still enough fun here for free users, and it’s definitely worth a shot if you love Mario, Nintendo, or fun racing games.
Rebel Inc. ($2)
From the folks who made the excellent disease-management sim Plague Inc., Rebel Inc. puts you in the shoes of a government official. Tasked with stabilizing an area of a country following a turbulent war, you’ll have to win over citizens with improved public services and initiatives, all while dealing with the subversive insurgents seeking to take over. You’ll need to balance using your own troops and foreign coalition troops, but be warned, spending too much money can lead to a rise in corruption that’ll bring your government down through ferocious scandal. An absorbing little game, and well worth the two bucks.
Anyone for golf? WGT Golf does exactly what it sets out to do: Provide a solid golf experience for anyone looking to get some swings in on their mobile device. It’s strong in simulation quality, including full 18-stroke play, a variety of club types, and even offers the chance to play on over a dozen of golf’s most well-known championship courses, including Pebble Beach, Celtic Manor, and Pinehurst. You can even join a Country Club and enter private tournaments. Go ahead and tee up.
It’s been a while since we’ve had Hearthstone on this list, but it’s been reintroduced for a very good reason. That reason is content. Hearthstone has done extremely well for itself, and Blizzard has rewarded the fanatical community with consistent updates. Most recently, Blizzard has launched new modes and new cards, keeping the game consistently updated and feeling fresh. There’s full interplay with the PC and Android versions of the game, so there’s no shortage of players. The card packs can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to earn gold in-game, and plenty of free modes for those not willing to part with cash. If you love a good collectible card game, Hearthstone is a winner.
Dead Cells ($9)
Dark Souls isn’t available on mobile, but Dead Cells is, and that should be good enough for most. “Kill, die, learn, repeat” is the Dead Cells motto, and it comes alive in its frantic 2D combat where you need to learn enemy patterns to survive. Progression is non-linear, so you can pick a new path depending on your current mood or build, and while your character permanently dies after every run, the castle changes too, so you’re never treading old ground again. It’s expensive, but spend a little time in its luridly-colored world and we think you’ll say it’s worth it.
We might not have Pokémon Sword & Shield on mobile, but Pokémon Masters comes closer than ever to giving us a true catch ’em all experience. Dropped onto the island of Pasio, you need to assemble a team of three Pokémon to face off against famous Trainers from around the Pokémon world, all while exploring and building your very own team of friends. It even has co-op gameplay so you can team up with friends from around the world to face challenges together — and what is Pokémon, if not about friends?