Every month, the App Store fills up with countless iOS games of varying quality. You want to have something to do on your iPhone or iPad while you’re on the bus or enjoying the quiet solitude of your bathroom. But who has time to figure out which titles are worth your valuable time?
Apparently, we do. So if you’re searching for the best iOS gaming treats from the past month, look no further than Cult of Mac as we find the 10 best that you should be playing right now — no tricks.
Here they are, in no particular order.
The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land – Sure, it’s zombie season, what with Halloween and all that, but seriously, this is a fantastic strategic game, never mind that it’s free-to-play. By the same folks who made Compass Point: West, No Man’s Land is a bit like XCOM set within the world of Robert Kirkman’s universe of the undead. You’ll outfit and level up your team of survivors and have to work your way through a ton of levels where your survival depends on whether you’ve chosen the right team for the job. In your down time, you’ll build up your camp with farms, supply depots and even a council house that’s made out of an RV. It’s great fun and harrowing each time you try to gather supplies from walker-infested environments. Plus? The soundtrack sounds like it was ripped from the TV show, which of course it probably was.
Guitar Hero Live – The rhythm games that took over all of our living rooms with their plastic instruments seven or eight years ago are back with a vengeance, with both Harmonix‘s Rock Band 4 and Activision‘s Guitar Hero Live both hitting consoles this month. The latter has a fantastic iOS app that you can check out right now, and while it will allow you to connect a real/fake plastic guitar via Bluetooth to your iPhone, iPad, or (when it’s out) Apple TV to rock out to modern rock hits, the game itself is fantastic even without a peripheral. You can download the app for free and play right on your iOS device with your fingers tapping away. Everything you love about the console version is here, with a scrolling guitar fretboard, star power that you can activate with a tap on the glowing guitar pick, and a live-video of cheering crowds (as long as you don’t suck) to keep you rocking well into the night. If you’re a closet rock star, you’re going to want to check this game out now, and then start downloading your favorite tunes to rock and roll all night and party every day. Yes, the full game will run you $50 without a guitar or $100 with one, but htis is the best way to play Guitar Hero on your iPhone, hands-down.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – The environments are simply beautiful in this game from developer Starbreeze Studios and publisher 505 Games, Brothers will get you solving puzzles and combatting enemies to move through a compelling story about two boys–one brave, one fearful, one older, one younger–who must travel a long distance in order to save their father, who needs medicine the boys are searching for. Each boy has their own special abilities and you’ll need to use them both in concert to make your way to the story’s end. The game won award after award when it released onto consoles in 2013 and you can play it in all its glory on your iPhone or iPad now. If you’re a fan of narrative-driven puzzles and boss-battle combat, you’ll love Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
Cloud Chasers – A Journey of Hope – Another simply beautiful game, Cloud Chasers from Blindflug Studios has you controlling Francisco, a corn farmer, and Amelia, his daughter, as they travel through deadly deserts in search of food, goods, and water to stay alive and perhaps find a way to the privileged lands above the clouds. You’ll tap across the deserts to find new clouds and markets and then control Amelia in the clouds, making sure to avoid the deadly water harvester air-bots while you attempt to gather enough H2O to live on. The music is delightful, the story is heartbreaking, and the cloud gathering and desert walking is hypnotic. Be sure to spend the measly $4 on this one to see for yourself.
Tales from the Borderlands – Whether you’re a fan of Telltale’s choice-focused story games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, love Gearbox Software’s Borderlands series, or both, you’ll frickin’ love Tales from the Borderlands, which combines both to great effect. While it came out originally for iOS in December of last year, the recent update makes the first episode free — so it’s like a brand new game. you’ll direct the story of two outlaws on Pandora, the planet where all Vault hunters go to seek fame and mysterious hidden riches. You’ll work through the story through the eyes of two protagonists, Rys and Fiona, as they attempt to carve out their own place on the dangerous planet. There are five episodes in the story, and each will run you a cool $4.99, or you can buy the whole episode pack for $14.99 for an episodic discount. It’s great fun, and the first one’s free, so head on over and grab a copy of this gorgeously-made and drop-dead funny iOS game.
Boxy the Box – This is a game that’s as strange as it is simple. It’s an endless runner (insofar as a box can run) that has you controlling a box as it tumbles across a randomly generated landscape. You can move the box left and right to avoid pits, but it will keep moving forward because it is death, and death marches inexorably on. We think that’s what developer Eoin Duffy is after, anyway. You get bonus points for “harvesting” the small, terrified creatures in your path, and that would be terrifying if the game weren’t so colorful and fun.
Minecraft: Story Mode – We mentioned Tales from the Borderlands already, but if you want to get in on the ground floor of another of Telltale’s episodic gems (and like blocks more than guns), here’s their latest, which takes place in the build-it-yourself Minecraft universe. And it features an all-star cast which includes Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille), Ashley Johnson (who’s also in Tales from the Borderlands), and Martha Plimpton (The Goonies). It looks like the nerdiest game imaginable, and that’s the highest compliment we can pay it.
Please, Don’t Touch Anything – The name pretty much says it all: You play as a worker at some kind of facility, and your colleague needs you to watch their station while they take a bathroom break. Can you resist the allure of the big, red, shiny button? Probably not; that’s the point. This game is all about unlocking the secrets of the console and figuring out the 25 possible outcomes of your curiosity. This one was previously available for your Mac, but the iOS version contains a few more endings to discover.
Zombie Match Defense – Here’s a match-three game that actually manages to be fun thanks to its great art, strategy, and groovy, Scooby-Doo-esque music. It looks a little like Plants vs. Zombies in that zombies come from the right side of the screen and march steadily toward your “base” on the left. But instead of gathering sunlight and firing seeds, you’re in a turn-based struggle to lure zombies into position and then take them out by taking the brain right out from under them. I just managed to break a lesser match game’s hold on my time, and this one’s swooped right in to replace it. Only Zombie Match Defense is fun, so I don’t have to feel super bad about how much I play it.
Hocus – We find M.C. Escher-style illusions fascinating, so Hocus, a puzzle game that takes place on boards made of impossible geometry, is right up our alley. Your goal is simple: Get the red block onto the red square. But doing so requires you to let go of your boring, three-dimensional thinking and take advantage of the illusions to navigate the fields. It’s a little bit like a maze-solving game if the maze were made of migraine headaches. But it’s a clever combination of puzzles and clean, striking visuals, and the soothing, minimalist soundtrack will help take some of the edge off.
Additional reporting by Rob LeFebvre