It’s hard to find the best games out there. Every month, there’s a list as long as, well, a really long list of games on iOS that you might like but might actually suck.
Even the sheer volume of the vaunted Editor’s Choice picks can get overwhelming.
That’s why we’re here — to give you a leg up in finding just the right number of the very best new iOS games you can find on the App Store, without all the weeding you’d need to do just to find them on your own.
Here are our five favorite games from the month of November.
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade – Pixel Toys and Games Workshop have teamed up to bring you this jaw-droppingly gorgeous take on the Warhammer universe with a free-to-play game that’s part on-rails shooter and part leveling-up RPG. Based on the seminal miniatures game, the game sees you taking the role of a Freeblade, a wandering imperial knight who has forsaken his house of origin to wander among the stars to accomplish their own personal missions of honor, vengeance or penance. You’ll have up to three different weapons to gun down your enemies with, including a gatling gun and a devastating energy beam weapon, and you’ll have to manage them carefully lest they overheat at a crucial moment. Your big mechanical knight will walk down urban streets that are flooded with enemy orks, big war vehicles, and even more massive mechanical knights like yourself. You’ll need to tap and swipe across the baddies to aim your weapons, and–when the enemy mecha comes for you–time your taps carefully to dominate your enemies, Infinity Blade-style. Each mission brings you gear, ore and experience points (XP) that you can then use to upgrade your Freeblade character with better armor and weaponry, not to mention fun colors and patterns with which to adorn your massive mecha. You’ll have a ton of fun here without spending a dime, though you can of course spend much more than that to support such a visually stunning title.
Mavenfall – Digital card games are a tough balancing act for developers. They have to be simple enough to understand that casual players can pick up and play, but they also have to have enough strategic depth to keep more serious card game aficionados engaged and interested. Mavenfall does both of these things beautifully, with a stylish and whimsical take on the genre. You’ll play each match with hero characters called Mavens, each with their own set of skills and abilities. Gameplay takes place by turns: you’ll tap to receive up to three new cards per turn, along with a constantly increasing amount of action points to choose better and better cards with. You’ll win when your troop of warriors out-thinks and beats the opposing team, and you’ll gain new cards and in-game currency with which to level up your team with new skill cards and more powerful Mavens along the way. It doesn’t take too long to learn how to play, though the strategies do pick up to challenge even the best of players before too long. If you’re comfortable with games like Hearthstone, you’ll dig Mavenfall for the new twist on the formula as well as the cinematic score and beautiful visuals, environmental and character designs.
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes – I’ll be honest — I didn’t want to like this one. It’s a free-to-play menu-fest that serves as a thinly veiled ad for the release of The Force Awakens (which opens December 18th! Tickets are available now!). But it’s also a really fun, turn-based strategy title that throws characters from every era of the galaxy far, far away into a bag and then shakes it until awesomeness comes out. I’ve spent a number of hours with this one, and I don’t know why it’s grabbing me, but it has. I’m guessing it’s because it’s Star Wars and also not a match-three game like the should-have-been-great Star Trek: Wrath of Gems.
Dark Fear – If you can get past the fact that this app has one of the most boring and non-expressive titles ever, you’ll discover that it’s an interesting combination of an old-school graphic adventure and role-playing game. The pixel art is fantastic and surprisingly creepy, and the story has some genuine scares in it. The developers tell you to play it in the dark with headphones, but they’re not the bosses of me, so I didn’t take that suggestion. And it still had me jumping out of my chair.
Progress to 100 – This one will either entertain you for an evening or completely take over your life for a day or two; it depends on how good you are at decoding its cryptic clues and figuring out exactly what you’re supposed to do with your iPhone or iPad to progress to the next level. It makes full use of your device’s features in really clever ways, and the satisfaction of figuring out some of the more devious levels is on par with the amount you kick yourself for not thinking of the answer sooner.
Additional reporting by Evan Killham