The best iPad games
However, Apple’s tablet has become a very able gaming platform. With more screen space than the iPhone, games have the means to be more immersive. The iPad’s therefore a perfect platform for adventure games, strategy titles and puzzlers.
- Not sure which iPad is best? We’ve got them listed on our best iPad ranking – or you can check out the best tablets list to see the full range available now.
But, just like the iPhone, there are so many iPad games that it’s tough to unearth the gems and avoid the dross. That’s our mission here – to bring you the very best iPad games, mixing traditional fare with titles that could only have appeared on a capable and modern multi-touch device.
New: Mini Metro ($4.99/£3.99)
Periodically, new stations appear. You drag lines between them, and position trains on them, in order to shepherd passengers to their stops. All the while, movement generates a hypnotic, ambient soundtrack.
Over time, things admittedly become more fraught than during these relaxing beginnings. The demands of an increasing number of passengers forces you to juggle trains and rearrange lines until you’re inevitably overwhelmed. But the nature of the game is such that this never frustrates – instead, you’ll want to take another journey – hugely unlike when suffering the real thing.
Samorost 3 ($4.99/£3.99)
It follows the adventures of a gnome who sets out to search the cosmos and defeat a deranged monk who’s smashed up a load of planets by attacking them with a steampunk hydra.
The wordless tale primarily involves poking about the landscape, revealing snatches of audio that transform into dreamlike animations hinting at what you should do next.
Although occasionally opaque, the puzzles are frequently clever, and the game revels in the joy of exploration and play. It’s also full of heart – a rare enchanting title that gives your soul a little lift.
Your aim is to trudge to a castle, defeating enemies along the way. You do so in a simplified solitaire, where you string together combos by removing cards one higher or lower than your current card. Doing so collects energies used to unleash defensive or offensive spells.
Unfortunately, your enemies also have skills, and survival requires a mix of luck and planning to defeat them.
This involves managing your inventory so you’re always armed with the best capabilities, while probably simultaneously wondering why the hero didn’t arm themselves with a bloody great sword rather than a deck of cards.
Legend of the Skyfish ($3.99/£2.99)
The story involves a civilization greedily emptying the seas and subsequently getting enslaved by angry fish…a s you do.
Heroine Red Hook sets out to rescue her brother from the cod mob, having been trained by a friendly whale in the art of maiming bipedal seafood by way of her trusty fishing rod.
Each of the 45 handcrafted levels comprises loads of miniature islands, where your rod can be used to catapult you across rivers, drag boulders onto switches that open doors, and smack fishy foes into fillets. It’s all quite linear and by-the-numbers, but Skyfish is so relentlessly charming you’ll be smitten.
Lumines Puzzle & Music ($2.99/£2.29)
As you drop blocks into the well – each comprising up to two colors – you aim to craft solid slabs at least two-by-two squares in size; these are then wiped when the playhead moves over them.
Time it right and you get combos, high scores, and a giddy sense of smugness; mess up and you’ll merely be taunted with a premature game over, while sadly nodding your head to the beat.
Exploding Kittens ($1.99/£1.49)
Players take turns to grab a card, and if they get an exploding kitten, they must defuse it or very abruptly find themselves out of the game.
Strategy comes by way of action cards, which enable you to peek at the deck, skip a turn, steal cards from an opponent, and draw from the bottom of the deck “like the baby you are”.
Local and online multiplayer is supported, timers stop people from dawdling, and a ‘chance of kitten’ meter helps everyone keep track of the odds. Large hands of cards rather irritatingly require quite a bit of swiping to peruse (although cards can be reordered), but otherwise this is first-rate and amusingly deranged multiplayer mayhem.
Pro Pinball (free + IAP)
The basic plot involves unlocking and then traveling between time zones, achieving further goals by winning various prizes scattered throughout the ages.
Of course, this all comes by way of smacking a metal ball about the place, racking up points by successfully hitting ramps and targets.
Fast forward to 2016 and the original creators have had a couple of cracks at Kickstarter to bring back their game, the second of which succeeded.
You only get one table, which might seem miserly in a world of Zen Pinball and Pinball Arcade, but it’s one of the best – and certainly the best-looking – pinball tables you’re going to find on an iPad.
60 Seconds! Atomic Adventure ($3.99/£2.99)
The controls and physics are bouncy and elicit a sense of panic as you choose between shotguns, food, family members, maps, and radios.
Assuming you make it underground, the game switches to a Choose Your Own Adventure of sorts, with a smattering of resource management.
You dish out provisions, send your kid out into a probable nuclear winter, armed only with a torch and your best wishes, and attempt to eke out an existence before everyone inevitably dies of starvation.
It’s a bleak end of the world story as written by a satirical cartoonist: equally chilling, compelling and – due to the breezily-written narration – oddly entertaining.
Burly Men at Sea ($4.99/£3.99)
Being that this is a videogame, they’re of course instantly eaten by a whale, after which point you direct their progress by dragging the screen and tapping items to interact with them.
The story is short, but you end up in a kind of nautical Groundhog Day, retracing steps and attempting to locate further pathways to explore.
The branches are limited in number compared to the complexity found in the likes of 80 Days, but Burly Men at Sea remains essential nonetheless, due to its charm, polish and sheer artistry.
Dig Deep! ($1.99/£1.49)
As your little miner burrows into an alien world, you must avoid being blown up by buried explosives, eaten by alien monsters, or impaled on spikes some idiot carelessly left lying around.
All you can do is move left or right, dashing (by way of swipes) to scoot faster when necessary, and hope a pick-up (shields; super-fast digging boosters) shows up when you’re in a tough spot.
This might all seem suited to iPhone, but Dig Deep! works far better on an iPad resting on a table. The larger display makes it easier to spot incoming hazards, and the seat-of-the-pants nature of Dig Deep! gives you more of a fighting chance when you’re not covering half the display with two thumbs.
She roams dungeons, slicing enemies to bits and then – equally ingeniously and horrifically – uses their severed parts to level-up her own skills and powers.
There’s no gore, though – Severed resembles Infinity Blade as reimagined by a graphic designer. The visuals are all sleek 2D planes, lines and tasteful gradients. But the battles are exciting, comprising frantic swordplay and careful parries.
Often, you find yourself surrounded, rhythmically flicking between monsters, figuring out which to kill first and those you can cope with absorbing a few blows from.
The repetitive nature of such skirmishes may pall a little over the game’s length, but there’s enough here to keep touchscreen swordplay fans occupied for hours. And the story that underpins the adventure has the kind of heart that provides an emotional center that’s frequently lacking on mobile.
Road Not Taken ($4.99/£3.99)
The frosty woods are full of horrors, and you have limited energy, sapped by moving when holding items, or when blasted by a blizzard.
You must therefore figure out the most efficient way to get the kids back to safety, making use of the game’s quirky way of manipulating objects: tap and you hurl everything you’re holding in a straight line away from you, until it hits something; combine several of a specific item and you’ll sometimes be nicely surprised by what they transform into.
There is something of a take-no-prisoners aspect to Road Not Taken – it’ll be a while before you fully understand its many nuances. But if you’re after a game with depth, charm, and intrigue, this snowy puzzler won’t leave you cold.
Your target is displayed at the top of the screen as a row of colored discs. You must then drag a line through shapes that match the provided series of target colors. Hit a wrong color – even if you only slice a bit too far – and you’ll need to try again.
The mechanic is, of course, Fruit Ninja – and every other slicing game you’ve ever played; but the stark visuals and rhythmic nature of the targets results in something fresh and vibrant. And you’ll need a strong sense of observation along with excellent timing and reactions to succeed, not least when shapes start revolving, pulsating, hiding, overlapping and changing before your very eyes.
Barrier X (free)
Hurling you at insane speeds along minimal 3D tracks that some idiot’s peppered with stupid barriers, all you have to do is move left and right to avoid crashing. But this is not so simple when blazing along at, what feels like, the speed of light.
Comically, Barrier X speeds up every 15 seconds; and if you survive long enough further challenges are unlocked. Suddenly, you’re told to travel through (rather than avoid) certain barriers, and to shoot rivals, all while attempting to not become a sad little pile of space molecules.
Minimal visuals and a thumping soundtrack further add to Barrier X’s brutal charms – it’s an exhilarating, exciting title among the very best of its kind.
This one’s essentially the ‘escape’ bit from countless sci-fi movies, where a pilot heroically weaves their way to freedom through the narrowest of twisty obstacle-laden corridors.
In Hyperburner, this scenario is played out again and again, across a range of visually stunning courses. One minute, you’ll be bobbing and weaving between massive red asteroids and associated deep-space mining equipment; the next, you’ll be lurching back and forth in a desperate attempt to not smear your ship across the insides of a colossal duct someone’s seen fit to fill with spinning cogs of death. It’s a relentlessly exhilarating ride that’s a joy to experience.
Human Resource Machine ($4.99/£3.99)
Actions (moving and sorting boxes) are ‘automated’ by way of programming inputs – loops and routines constructed by dragging and dropping commands.
This might seem daunting, but the learning curve isn’t too harsh, and a distinct sense of personality permeates the entire production, smoothing things over when the mechanics are threatening to make your brain steam.
If there’s a criticism, the story seems slight compared to the team’s previous work, but it is nonetheless oddly affecting to see your little automaton age as you work your way through the game.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered ($4.99/£3.99)
On iPad, you get the original title more or less intact, along with a remastered edition, with all-new high-res art and audio. (You can instantly switch between the two using pinch gestures.)
Chances are the puzzles and pace might initially throw newcomers, but players old and new will find much to love trying to stop the nefarious purple tentacle taking over the world, along with delving into the importance of hamsters, and figuring out how to best utilize items to assist people stuck in three different time zones.
(And if you’re very old and wondering if they included Maniac Mansion in the PC, it’s there, in full!)
Super Stickman Golf 3 (free + IAP)
The game’s side-on charms echo Angry Birds in its artillery core, in the sense that careful aiming is the order of the day. But this is a far smarter and more polished title, with some excellent and imaginative level design.
With this third entry, you also get the chance to spin the ball, opening up the possibility of otherwise impossible shots. And once you’re done with the solo mode, you can go online with asynchronous turn-based play and frenetic live races.
You’re helped along a little by VCR-style controls that let you pause for breath, and these often become key to solving puzzles, enabling you to switch teleport triggers while everything else on-screen remains static. Even then, the going’s tough.
Still, while Telepaint has the propensity to make your head hurt like having a paint can dropped on it, this is a colorful, unique and enjoyable iOS puzzling classic that’s not to be missed.
Tanks! – Seek & Destroy ($2.99/£2.29)
Like Battlezone, Tanks pits you against an endless number of vector tanks, on a sparse battlefield. But this is a much faster, tougher game, with tilt-and-tap controls that put you more in mind of console racing games than a stodgy tank ’em up. The result is a relentlessly thrilling 3D shooter that marries the best of old-school smarts and modern mobile gaming.
Egz looks superb: colorful, vibrant and cartoony. The controls are also great, with you simply pointing which way your Egz should head, setting the strength of a jump, and hoping for the best. But the best doesn’t always come – the game can be quite punishing, not least due to an odd upgrade and XP model that requires quite a lot of grinding at times.
But the game’s charm, smart level design and tendency to fling new ideas your way makes it a tasty treat worth sticking with.
Each of the dozens of tables therefore becomes a mix of canvas and puzzle as you try to hit targets while simultaneously creating a work of art. Neatly, as the ball rolls through ink splats, it creates paths across the table, which is visually appealing and also shows when your aim is off.
Because each level is short — usually possible to complete in a minute or so — INKS. manages to be both approachable enough for newcomers and different enough for experts to get some enjoyment out of.
Pixel Cup Soccer 16 ($2.99/£2.29)
That’s not to say there’s a lack of nuance and depth – the game includes various modes (World Cup, Euros, and, brilliantly, the Women’s World Cup), along with directional controls and varied passing types. Mostly, though, it’s about silky smooth runs and blasting shots from the half-way line – the kind of football you imagine in your head but otherwise never get to see on a screen.
Circa Infinity ($2.99/£2.29)
Despite looking like it was dredged up from a 1980s home computer and having — horrors! — on-screen virtual buttons, Circa Infinity is hugely compelling. But take heed: you will have a major falling out with your thumbs when you misjudge which direction you should be heading in while upside down, your brain dizzy from traversing dozens of spinning discs.
Momoka: An Interplanetary Adventure ($6.99/£4.99)
The effect is striking, but Momoka is rewarding beyond interesting aesthetics. The story’s simple quest unfolds at a brisk pace, with clear objectives encouraging exploration, gradually rewarding you with new abilities and places to visit. The price tag might put some people off, and there is perhaps the sense at times Momoka’s a touch simplistic, but its creative level design and heart is something we need more of on iOS.
Twofold inc. ($3.99/£2.99)
The aim is to clear ‘requests’ supplied by a goofy robot. You do so by dragging out lines of colored squares. But it’s not quite so simple, because Twofold’s convoluted rules are far more complex than the average puzzler; it therefore takes a long time to formulate strategies that’ll keep you going beyond a couple of dozen rounds.
Extended play reveals a nagging suspicion luck plays a bit too much of a part, but not to the point you won’t immediately restart the second the little robot conks out due to your failure.
Captain Cowboy ($1.99/£1.49)
And that’s more or less what you get, but with added bonus features. Your space cowboy scoots about, digging through dirt, collecting swag, and trying to avoid being crushed by boulders.
On leaping into the void, he spins wildly until reaching safe ground, often on another of the many screens that compose the map, some of which include surprises — underwater caverns, space busses and a super-secret space station disco. Yes, you read that right. And, yes, we imagine the folks on the ISS are quite jealous right now.
Chameleon Run ($1.99/£1.49)
Being the wrong colour on landing results in death. Falling down one of the many gaps results in death. Leaping over the goal like an idiot also results in death. This is not a kind game.
Instead, Chameleon Run rewards perseverance, attention to detail, and a willingness to try new things. As you progress, skills are revealed that open up new pathways on previously tackled level, giving you a shot at beating each stage’s three predefined challenges, thereby unlocking further, tougher levels.
And for anyone who thinks they can breeze through, the last couple of stages are knowingly ridiculously tough to the point you’ll be yelling at your thumbs for being rubbish when you fail yet again.
King Rabbit ($0.99/£0.79)
The premise is hackneyed — bunnies have been kidnapped, and a sole hero must save them. And the gameplay is familiar too, where you leap about a grid-like landscape, manipulating objects, avoiding hazards, finding keys, unlocking doors, and reaching a goal.
But the execution is such that King Rabbit is immediately engaging, while new ideas keep coming as you work through the dozens of puzzles. Pleasingly, the game also increases the challenge so subtly that you barely notice — until you realise you’ve been figuring out a royal bunny’s next moves into the wee small hours.
Working with 16 varied units, you conquer a series of battlefields by directing your troops, making careful note of your strengths and the enemy’s relevant weaknesses. All the while, Warbits merrily has you and your opponent trading barbs, often about subjects such as whether tomatoes are fruit, because that’s the kind of thing you’d go to war over.
Finish the 20-mission campaign and you’ll have a decent grasp of Warbits, and can then venture online to take on other human players across dozens of different maps. With superb visuals, enough new ideas over the game that inspired it, and a single one-off price-tag, Warbits is a must-buy for any iPad-owning strategy nut.
Shadow Bug ($3.99/£2.99)
This means of getting around — just tap to move to an enemy and slice them up — infuses Shadow Bug with a Sonic-style manic pace, but the game is also about puzzle-like pathfinding.
It’s an interesting combination, although Shadow Bug is never afraid to shake things up, with one early set piece finding the slashy insect merrily bludgeoning its way across the landscape while driving a kind of ramshackle tank that squashes everything in its path.
Even the earliest levels are quite engaging, due to the delicate controls and slightly bouncy physics. But Dreii revels in throwing curveballs. Before long, you find yourself faced with levels that require multiple people to complete — only you can barely communicate with other players who enter the room.
Imagine assembling flatpack furniture with several friends, while everyone’s gagged and wearing boxing gloves and a jet-pack and you’re most of the way there.
Dashy Crashy (free)
We’ve seen it all before, but not quite like this. Dashy Crashy’s visuals are dazzling — cartoonish vehicles, a stunning day/night cycle, and colourful, varied backdrops.
But it’s the game’s sense of humor that cements a recommendation, with emoji speech balloons appearing above cars you overtake, and high-score attempts being derailed due to police chases and alien invasions scattering traffic across your intended path.
Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire (free)
The premise is that you’re a wizard, fending off invading nasties who all oddly use balloons to parachute towards their prize. Match the symbol on any balloon and it pops, potentially causing a hapless intruder to meet the ground rather more rapidly than intended.
Initially, this is all very simple, but when dozens of balloons fill your field of vision, you’ll be scrawling like crazy, desperately fending off the invasion to keep the wizard gainfully employed.
Pac-Man 256 (free)
In Pac-Man 256, our rotund hero finds himself beyond the infamous level 256 glitch, which has become an all-consuming swarm of broken code that must be outrun. Pac-Man must therefore speed through the endless maze, munching dots, avoiding ghosts, and making use of power-ups dotted about the place.
And there aren’t just power pellets this time round – Pac-Man can fry ghosts with lasers, or implement stealth technology to move through his spectral foes as if they weren’t even there.
Cally’s Caves 3 (free)
She leaps about, blasting enemies, and conquering bosses. Weapons are levelled up simply by shooting things with them, and the eight zones take some serious beating — although not as much as the legions of grunts you’re shooting at.
The clever bit is each of these smaller pieces retains the score of the larger block. This means that with smart thinking, you can amass colossal scores that head into the billions. The game also includes daily challenges with different success criteria, to keep you on your toes.
Planet Quest (free)
Doing so beams up dancers on the planet’s surface; get your timing a bit wrong and you merely beam-up their outfits; miss by a lot and you lose a life. To say this one’s offbeat would be a terrible pun, but entirely accurate; it’d also be true to say this is the most fun rhythm action game on iPad — and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (free)
You race across land, sea and air, tracks dynamically shifting after each lap. It looks great, handles almost perfectly, and gives you loads to do. IAP does stink up the place a bit, notably if you want to quickly buy characters or burn through the game, but otherwise this is the best free racer this side of Asphalt 8.
Three varied modes are on offer, each of which demands a different strategy, although success always requires serious brainpower and making the most of every drop.
Triple Town (free)
All the while, roaming bears and ninjas complicate matters, blocking squares on the board. At times surreal, Triple Town is also brain-bending and thoroughly addictive. Free moves slowly replenish, but you can also unlock unlimited moves via IAP.
Traps n’ Gemstones ($4.99/£3.99)
The theme, though, is more Indiana Jones. A little chap, armed with a whip and with a fedora on his head, leaps about a pyramid, grabs loot, and gives mummies and snakes a good whipping. Interestingly, the game simultaneously manages to appeal to casual and hardcore gamers.
Progress doesn’t reset, meaning you can keep getting killed but gradually work your way into the bowels of the pyramid. But your score reverts to zero when you come a cropper; getting into the thousands is therefore a big challenge for those who want to take it.
It’s a quite meditative experience, although it’s also quite easy and fairly short. Still, the sense of discovery throughout is frequently enchanting, even if you do sometimes end up playing finger Twister to reach a number of switches, or spinning a shape multiple times for a lever you could have sworn was visible earlier.
Love You to Bits ($3.99/£2.99)
The mechanics are right out of classic point-and-click gaming, essentially having you amble about 2D locations, unearth items and then drop them in the right spot.
But the game is so relentlessly creative and inventive with its environments — full of dazzling visuals, references to movies and other games, and increasingly clever mechanics and ideas — that you can’t help but love it to bits yourself.
A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build ($4.99/£3.99)
AirAttack 2 ($0.99/79p)
But this World War II is decidedly different from the one that occurred in our reality: Germans own limitless squadrons and building-sized tanks (versus the Allies, seemingly relying on a single nutcase in a plane to win the war). It’s the jaw-dropping visuals that really dazzle, effortlessly displaying swarms of enemies to down, colossal bosses to defeat, and a destructible environment to take out your frustrations on. For the low price (not least given that there’s no IAP whatsoever), it’s an insane bargain.
Badland 2 ($3.99/£2.99)
In Badland 2, the wrongness has been amplified considerably. Now, levels scroll in all directions, traps are deadlier, puzzles are tougher, and the cruelty meted out on the little winged beast is beyond compare. Still, all is not lost – the hero can now flap left and right. We’re sure that comes as a huge consolation when it’s sawn in half for the hundredth time.
The Room Three ($4.99/£3.99)
But there’s more freedom this time round, with multi-room locations, surreal and deeply strange moments that find you sucked into the very puzzles you’re trying to solve, and the creeping menace of The Craftsman, a malevolent nutcase who initially leaves you locked in a dungeon, and then tasks you with freeing yourself from the confines of the remote island on which you’re stranded. One to play in the dark, with rain pouring down outside – if you dare.
Drop Wizard ($1.99/£1.99)
Football Manager Touch 2016 ($19.99/£14.99)
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved ($9.99/£7.99)
It disorients but brings a new dimension (pun intended) to the genre, and is one of the prettiest and noisiest games on the system. If you’re armed with an iPad Pro, you even get a co-op mode, where two people play on the same screen.
Her Story ($4.99/£3.99)
Icycle: On Thin Ice ($2.99/£2.29)
Lara Croft GO ($4.99/£3.99)
This is a game that’s properly exciting, and where every narrow escape feels like a victory; that all you’re doing is dragging a finger up and down, trying in vain to avoid the many projectiles sent your way, is testament to you not needing a gamepad and complex controls to create a game that genuinely thrills.
Power Hover ($3.99/£2.99)
Whether scything curved paths across a gorgeous sun-drenched sea or picking your way through a grey and dead human city, Power Hover will have you glued to the screen until you reach the end of the journey. And although it’s initially tricky to get to grips with, you’ll soon discover the board’s floaty physics and controls are perfectly balanced.
The Executive ($4.99/£3.99)
Asphalt 8: Airborne (free)
Here, in Asphalt 8, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren’t acceptable according to the car manufacturer’s warranty. It’s admittedly a bit grindy, but if you tire of zooming about the tracks in this game, there’s no hope for you.
It’s a tough challenge, but one where you can repeat bits time and again until you succeed. And if you tire of the existing levels, the game lets you create your own.
Bejeweled Classic HD (free)
Beyond that, there’s the fast-paced ‘Lightning’, ‘Diamond Mine’ (dig into the ground), Butterflies (save insects from spider-ronch doom), and Poker (make ‘hands’ of gems).
Beyond Ynth HD ($2.99/£2.29)
And for anyone wanting an even sterner test, cunningly placed jewels are there to find in each stage, requiring all kinds of trickery and box manipulation to reach.
Bit Pilot ($1.99/£1.49)
Beyond the basic and harder modes, you can try Supermassive, a kind of zoomed-out Rocky Horror Show, or thread your way through tiny temporary corridors in the claustrophobic and deadly Tunnels.
Boson X ($2.99/£2.29)
Initially, at least, said abyss is quite tricky to avoid; but learn the patterns in each collider and you’ll have a fighting chance of success in this addictive mash-up of Super Hexagon, Tempest and Canabalt.
Some variation is provided by the three different modes (which affect block speed and surges), and power-ups, which blast away colors and blocks in specific ways you can take advantage of.
Device 6 ($3.99/£2.99)
It’s a truly inspiring experience, an imaginative, ambitious and brilliantly realised creation that showcases how iOS can be the home for something unique and wonderful. It’s also extremely tough at times. Our advice: pay attention, jot down notes, and mull away from the screen if you get stuck.
Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£2.29)
First Strike ($3.99/£2.99)
Just like the classic Missile Command, First Strike remains a playable game, but it’s one with a chilling message that comes through loud and clear – at least when it’s not buried under radioactive crackles.
Frisbee Forever 2 (free)
There’s a kind of Nintendo vibe – a sense of fun that continues through to the gameplay, which is all about steering a frisbee left and right, collecting stars strewn along winding paths. And these are a world away from the parks you’d usually fling plastic discs about in – here, you’re hurled along roller-coaster journeys through ancient ruins and gorgeous snowy hillsides.
Hitman GO ($4.99/£3.99)
You must figure out your way to the prize, without getting knocked off (the board). It’s an oddly adorable take on assassination, and one of the best iOS puzzlers. There’s also extra replay value in the various challenges (such as grabbing a briefcase or not killing guards), each of which requires an alternate solution to be found.
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage HD ($2.99/£2.29)
The basics initially involve slicing chunks of ice, so frozen Vikings trapped within can be rescued in a boat. Over time, this animated, cartoon world continues to come alive under your fingers, as you learn to manipulate other objects – such as rope and slime – to get your helmeted chums home.
Impossible Road ($1.99/£1.49)
They’re left behind as you bolt for each level’s exit, presumably thrilled at their assisting your escape, if less thrilled that they’re now forever fused into an unused pathway across a yawning chasm. It’s quite a short game, but one that leaves its mark, through a mix of superb visuals and enchanting gameplay.
Originating on the Xbox, Limbo fares surprisingly well on iOS, with smartly designed controls that feel entirely at home on the iPad. But mostly it’s Limbo’s eerie beauty and intriguing environments that captivate, ensuring the game remains hypnotic throughout.
Magnetic Billiards (free)
Monument Valley ($3.99/£2.99)
Need For Speed Most Wanted ($4.99/£3.99)
Osmos HD ($4.99/£3.99)
Pinball Arcade ($0.99/69p)
Tales of the Arabian Nights is bundled for free, and the likes of Twilight Zone, Black Knight, Bride of PinBot and Star Trek: The Next Generation are available via in-app purchase. On exploring the various tables (you can demo all of them for free), it rapidly becomes apparent just how diverse and deep pinball games can be.
Plants vs Zombies HD ($0.99/69p)
For the uninitiated, in Plants vs Zombies you repel zombies that march towards your house with the power of hostile plants. Only through careful plant placement and choosing the right ones for the job will your bRAAiinnZZZ remain in your head.
Royal Revolt (free)
There is, admittedly, some grinding if you want to reach later levels. But we found with some careful upgrading of your troops, you needn’t dip into your wallet. (Do, though, avoid the not-great sequel.)
Beyond the standard Infinite mode, there’s ‘Zen’ (never ends; no scores) and ‘Survival’ (ten seconds to drag blocks like crazy before a barrage of additional blocks are hurled your way).
But then come new modes, with ferocious timers and numbered letters that won’t vanish unless you craft long enough words. ‘Puzzle’ is first, adding a new row with each word made. Then Rush adds rows over time. The final option is Debate, enabling two players to battle it out over Bluetooth.
Splice: Tree of Life ($3.99/£2.99)
Super Hexagon ($2.99/£2.29)
That said, we suspect only if you’re superhuman will you ever get to see the hallowed final screen that appears when you survive 60 seconds in every Super Hexagon mode.
Super Monsters Ate My Condo (free)
Essentially, you aim to manage like-coloured apartments in a single-column tower, flinging unwanted floors into the maws of flanking beasts. Lob gems their way and they’ll power-up in a suitably odd manner. Give them the wrong colour, and they’ll have a massive tantrum, potentially destroying all your hard work.
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($3.99/£2.99)
Exploratory in nature, this is a true adventure in the real sense of the word, and it’s not to be missed. (To say anything more would spoil the many surprises within. Just trust us on this one, grab a copy, don some headphones, and immerse yourself in a gorgeous virtual world.)
The Room ($0.99/79p)
If you manage to make it to the very end (and, believe us, the last few puzzles are insanely hard), you can then make your own levels, or download those crafted by other players.
Tiny Wings HD ($2.99/£2.29)
Touchgrind Skate 2 ($4.99/£3.99)
Walking Dead (free)
As with creator Telltale’s other titles, Walking Dead comes across like a mash-up of comic strip and adventure, with palpable moments of tension, and a game experience that changes depending on your actions. The first part of the story is free, and you can then buy new episodes; if you survive, season 2 is also available.
World of Goo HD ($4.99/£3.99)
But through powerful and frequently surreal imagery, haunting audio and the odd moment of poignancy, you find yourself actually caring about little blobs of goo, rather than merely storming through the game’s many levels.
Year Walk ($3.99/£2.99)
Gradually, a story is revealed that is unsettling, clever, distinctive and beautifully crafted — much like the game itself. You won’t rest until the story’s told, but getting to the end will mean facing many moments of horror in one of the iPad’s most unmissable and original creations.
Zen Pinball (free)
Loads of tables are available via IAP, including some excellent Star Wars and Marvel efforts. But for free you get access to the bright and breezy Sorcerer’s Lair, which, aside from some dodgy voice acting, is a hugely compelling and fast-paced table with plenty of missions and challenges to discover.