Best iOS games of 2017

By

Best iOS games of 2017
2017 didn't disappoint when it came to great iOS games.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac's 2017 Year in Review 2017 has been one heck of a year for iOS gaming fans. From action-oriented arcade blasters to strategy games so deep they should come with a warning, just about every genre has been well represented.

Distilling hundreds of great titles down to a single shortlist isn’t easy, but we’ve done our best. These are our picks for the 15 greatest mobile games of 2017.

Best iOS games of 2017

Milkmaid of the Milky Way

A retro-style adventure game, this intriguingly titled game will appeal to anyone who enjoyed LucasArts point-and-click classics like Full Throttle and The Secret of Monkey Island.

Created entirely by developer Mattis Folkestad, Milkmaid is a love letter to a genre of game many of us grew up loving. With rhyming dialog and a frankly surreal plot that merges, well, milkmaids with science fiction, it’s a brilliant and very enjoyable experience.

Available for: iPad
Cost: $3.99
Get it from: App Store

Hidden Folks

Do you like original, attractive iOS puzzle games? Do you have fond memories of the Where’s Waldo? books (or Where’s Wally?, as they’re known elsewhere in the world.)

If you answered in the affirmative to both of these questions, you’ll likely find something to enjoy about Adriaan de Jongh and Sylvian Tegroeg’s Hidden Folks, a charmingly hand-drawn and animated hidden objects game, in which you must identify particular objects within densely crowded scenes.

It’s a lot of fun, and the concept is delivered to such a high standard that it’s almost impossible not to enjoy it.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $3.99
Get it from: App Store

Old Man’s Journey

Describing itself as a “soul-searching puzzle adventure game about life’s precious moments, broken dreams, and changed plans,” you guide the titular “old man” through a world by manipulating the environment around him.

It’s a dreamlike adventure, with stunning sun-kissed graphics, and a truly unique gameplay mechanic in which you have to physically manipulate the landscape to move about and solve puzzles.

The relative brevity of the game means it won’t keep you playing indefinitely. However, for the length of time this lasts, you’ll have a magical time. Highly recommended!

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $4.99
Get it from: App Store

To The Moon

Beloved indie RPG To The Moon has been around for a few years now, but only in 2017 did it finally make the leap to mobile — and it was totally worth the wait.

This heartwarming game tells the story of two doctors who travel back through a dying man’s memories to help fulfill his final wish — and discover why he made the wish he did. It looks a bit like a classic 16-bit 2D RPG, but eschews battles and inventory gathering for a focus on narrative. A modern gaming classic.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $4.99
Get it from:
App Store

Slayaway Camp

If you like your iOS puzzle games to have a certain amount of reverence for 1970s and 80s slasher movies, you don’t have a whole lot to choose from. Fortunately, the one game that does combine both — Slayaway Camp — is brilliant.

Previously available on Mac and PC via Steam, the game landed in the App Store this year. It’s a sliding puzzle game that owes more than a passing nod to the heyday of Friday the 13th, The Prowler, Prom Night and other legendary teen slashers. As the player, you control a psycho killer with a penchant for camp counsellors. Your goal is to slide the unnervingly cute killer around hundreds of isometric levels, attempting to hunt down victims without accidentally plunging into a trap in the process.

Unusual? Yes. Wickedly good fun? You bet!

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $2.99
Get it from: App Store

Stagehand: A Reverse Platformer

There are plenty of good retro platformers on the App Store, but Stagehand subverts the formula. Instead of controlling the character in the game, you instead control the stage. This means raising and lowering platforms to help the hero reach the end of the level intact, without crashing into a cliff, plunging into lava, or meeting an untimely demise in some other way.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $1.99
Get it from: App Store

Death Road to Canada

Quite possibly my favorite iOS game of 2017, Death Road to Canada is an utterly bizarre mash-up of randomly-generated zombie survival RPG, actioner, and text-based interactive fiction game.

Since launching, the game has been expanded massively — with a major update that added new atmospheric lighting (making it harder to see zombies in the dark), doorway barricading systems, 0 new weapons, 11 recruitable new characters, new locations, and a ton of other modifications that will enhance your gameplay experience. The result is brilliant on every level!

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $7.99
Get it from: App Store

Get Me Outta Here

This retro arena shooter has you playing as a middle-aged farmer who gets abducted by aliens, but manages to escape and grab one of his captor’s weapons. After that it’s a matter of blasting through levels, capturing power-ups and more — all with gorgeous pixel art graphics.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: Free (with one in-app purchase to remove ads)
Get it from: App Store

Die With Glory

Die With Glory is an epic adventure game where the goal is to, well, do what the title says. You play as Sigurd, an old viking warrior who must journey through multiple levels to find the afterlife in Valhalla. Describing it like this doesn’t do it justice, but this is a fun, varied independent game boasting 6 levels of varied action — from surfing a lava river to besieging and defending castles.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $2.99
Get it from: App Store

Linelight

Minimalist puzzle games are nothing new on iOS, but Linelight is among the cream of the crop.

The game offers six different worlds, all of which are linked together to form one giant puzzle. Your goal is to move a beam of light through pipe-like platforms, while dodging enemies and hazards. From that simple premise, the developers manage to work in a range of different challenges to keep you on your toes.

Both visually and aurally Linelight is a real stunner, while the perfectly-calibrated touch controls make it a joy to play.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $1.99
Get it from: App Store

Data Wing

An incredibly stylish minimalist 2D racer, Data Wing is set inside a computer as you race around delivering critical data, according to the system’s orders.

A few things make Data Wing worth exploring. For starters, it’s got some brilliant intuitive and simple controls, along with a focus on thrusting off walls which makes it a lot of fun. It’s also visually and aurally incredibly attractive — with retro-inspired graphics and a superb soundtrack. Then there’s the fact that, unlike most racing games, this one actually has a story — and a great one. Finally, it’s totally free.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: Free
Get it from: App Store

Morphite

Taking place in a distant future in which humanity has colonized other parts of the universe, Morphite puts you in control of Myrah Kale, a young woman residing on a space station, who travels the galaxy trying to uncover her past, and her connection to the “Morphite” substance the game is named after.

It’s a stunning, expansive game which merges a number of different genres — including FPS and puzzle game elements — in an utterly unique way. The closest reference point is probably a game like No Man’s Sky, but Morphite feels a more focused gaming experience in many ways. A towering achievement for 2017 iOS gaming.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $7.99
Get it from: App Store

Iron Marines

Iron Marines is a deep, real-time strategy game based around a touch interface that works surprisingly well. There’s a whole lot to like, from the immersive gameplay to the attractive graphics (and even a dash of silly humor!), as you control a variety of soldiers, mechas, and aliens, build bases, defend your ground, upgrade your stars, and a lot more stuff that’s… well, pretty StarCraft to be honest.

If you’re even close to being a fan of this genre of game, Iron Marine should be a “must” for you.

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $4.99
Get it from: App Store

GRID Autosport

AAA racing game GRID Autosport raced into the iOS App Store this year, bringing “console-quality” graphics and gaming onto iPhones and iPads. The game offers 100 real cars, great controls, and a whole lot of circuits — all for the one-off price of $9.99, with no additional charges for later content.

One word of advice, though: The game is pretty large. The actual download is 4GB in size, although a DLC pack is 912MB, and 623MB for the HD textures back. It’s well worth it, though!

Available for: iPhone, iPad
Cost: $9.99
Get it from: App Store

Civilization VI

Looking for a game that will last you all of 2018? Look no further than the recent HD port of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI for iPad. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a turn-based 4X game — meaning that it’s a strategy game whereby your job to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate your way across maps, en route to domination.

The touch controls work well (although you can also use a Smart Keyboard if you want to keep your familiar shortcuts), the graphics look good, and the gameplay is immersive as ever. The game is free to download, although you only get the first 60 turns before having to unlock the full version for $59.99. That’s a lot for an iPad game, but it’s totally worth it in this case. You’ll need a newer iPad to play it, though!

Available for: iPad
Cost: $59.99
Get it from: App Store

What are your picks for best iOS games of 2017?

Did we miss a winner? Tell us your favorite iOS games of the year in the comments below.

  • Steve Harold

    Where is Ballz?