It’s a new year and a new you, and your iOS device just might be crying out for some new gaming titles to keep you fat and happy while you manage all those resolutions.
Whether you enjoy a deeper role-playing and crafting adventure to keep you tapping well into the evening over a long weekend, a musical adventure that you can create yourself, a Mad- Max-inspired demolition derby, or a quick brain-booster puzzle or two to keep your wits about you, we’ve got the five best on offer right now.
In no particular order, here are the best new iOS games that we’ve culled from a long list on the App Store.
If you’ve ever played Don’t Starve on your Mac, PlayStation 4 or iPad, you’ll instantly fall in love with Crashlands, a survival/crafting game that sees you as Flux Dabes, a galactic trucker who gets her packages stolen and then gets stranded on a hostile alien planet full of environmental and alien hazards. You’ll follow along the storyline with your trusty A.I. sidekick, JuiceBox, crafting better armor and weaponry, taming dangerous animals to help you in your quests, and helping hilariously varied alien good-guys along the way.
More than just an aping of Don’t Starve, Crashlands offers a much better harvesting and navigation system (long-distance travel is just a tap away) as well as an engaging story with plenty of funny characters to interact with. If you’re looking to get some seriously engaging time in with your iPad, Crashlands is the one for you. –Rob LeFebvre
Download Crashlands for $4.99
I always told myself that I’d never play a Pokémon game. It’s not that I’m super opposed to them or anything, but I get a little obsessed with completion, so I knew that it would take over my life until I had finally caught them all.
I was doing so well until Pocket Mortys came out.
This collect-and-battle game is based on the “as popular as it is freakin’ bizarre” animated series on Adult Swim, and it has drunken Doc Brown (Rick) and his grandson Morty taking a journey through parallel universes to battle other Ricks by sending alternate Mortys (Morties?) up against them in combat. It’s exactly a Pokémon game, complete with “types” of fighters that are more effective against other types, and now I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen into a black hole full of screaming cartoon characters. Damn you, Adult Swim. —Evan Killham
Download Pocket Mortys for free.
The Westport Independent
The Westport Independent puts you in the role of a newspaper editor in a city that lives under a totalitarian regime. Your job is to edit articles, change headlines, and target advertising to expand your paper’s reach and possibly sway public opinion. But you also have to balance all of that with the fact that fascist governments have a habit of arresting dissidents and rebels and probably killing them. We don’t have all of the facts on this one.
It takes place over the course of 12 weeks; you publish one paper a week, and at the end of that time — assuming you aren’t rotting in jail by then — a new law that severely constricts the freedom of the press will take effect. You might be able to stop that by slowly turning the city’s four districts against the establishment, but you also have to make sure that neither you nor your writers get arrested first.
This is a surprisingly tense game, especially considering it mostly takes place in sliding scales, and it’s one of the most interesting mobile titles we’ve seen in a while. —Evan Killham
Download The Westport Independent for $4.99.
Star Trek Timelines
Trekkers rejoice, as this new free-to-play title from Disruptor Beam has Star Trek characters that multiply like tribbles. The story is that Q, that intergalactic, multi-dimensional being played with scenery-chewing aplomb by actor John de Lancie, needs your help to close a time-space anomaly that seems to be pulling in characters from all over the Star Trek universe. You’ll grab characters from the original series to work alongside those from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even Enterprise in some well-scripted stories that could have been pulled from any one of those series. Teaming up various versions of Wesley Crusher along with Captains Kirk and Janeway is a thrill unmatched by any Star Trek game out there.
Things can grow a bit stale as you hit more advanced away-team and starship missions and realize you must grind through earlier levels again to level up enough to make it past the harder missions, but you’ll have a blast along the way as you strategize your away teams to best match the mission on offer and fuze various versions of each of your favorite characters from TV. Give Star Trek Timelines a bit of your space-time and see if you don’t love it as much as we do. –Rob LeFebvre
Download Star Trek Timelines for free.
Lost In Harmony
This game is a gorgeous mashup of a rhythm tapping game with a “choreographic runner,” as the developer DigiXart calls it. It tells the story of two teens facing a cancer diagnosis. The story is told in cutscenes between the gameplay, which is presented as various dreamscapes the male character, Kaito, must traverse with the female character, Aya, on his back. Aya has cancer, and Kaito works through his own complex emotions via the dream sequences, which combine moving left and right, hopping over obstacles, and tapping various glowing stars in time with the music.
Better yet, you can create your own dreamscapes with any music. Grab something off of Soundcloud or iTunes and you can edit an entire sequence, complete with obstacles and tapping stars of your own. I used a piece of music I’d composed on my own on Soundcloud, making for a very personal experience. Setting up a dreamscape I could then share with friends who also had the game was something I’ve not seen before in a mobile game. Hats off to the concept and implementation – this is great stuff.
Download Lost in Harmoney for $3.99.