Another year in the books, friends, and another giant pile of great games that I can't seem to find enough time to play enough of. The year 2015 saw a lot of long-awaited returns for classic iOS franchises, but as usual, many of the biggest games of the year kind of came out of nowhere. Given my role at TouchArcade, I've probably played more RPGs and fewer non-RPGs than the rest of the crew, so I hope you'll forgive me if there are some cool things missing from my list. As an RPG fan, I can say that I was quite satisfied with what 2015 had to offer, and I'm already excited for next year thanks to a few games slipping past their intended 2015 release dates. In no particular order, here are my top ten iOS games of this year.

Downwell, $2.99 Downwell is one of those games that I doubt will ever leave my device. It offers just about a perfect balance of complexity and pick-up-and-play appeal. The game also does a great job of evoking a certain feel that brings me back to my younger years sitting on the floor in front of a NES, playing games like Metroid and Kid Icarus for hours. I can understand the case for playing this on PC instead, but it's a game I really like to have in my pocket, too.

Implosion - Never Lose Hope, $9.99 Let's face it, friends: high-quality, original, stylish action games on iOS are few and far between. Implosion is not the kind of game I expect to see on iOS in 2015, and especially not as a paid game with no IAPs. With tons of content, some great unlockables, and hectic, thrilling gameplay, this is a no-brainer for anyone looking for a console-quality experience on their mobile device. 

DRAGON QUEST V, $14.99 When one of my favorite games of all-time comes to iOS, you'd best believe it's going to be in my top ten for the year. Dragon Quest 5 is an amazing game that I've already written thousands of words about on TouchArcade, so I won't bore you with too many more. If you're looking for a story-driven JRPG, this is the one you're looking for. Its unique angle on the Legendary Hero trope is fantastic, but what really makes the game memorable is just how well it handles its more quiet, human moments. This is the best Dragon Quest game, and the iOS port is the best English version Square Enix has ever released.

CHAOS RINGS Ⅲ, $19.99 If you're looking for an iOS-original JRPG, however, Chaos Rings 3 will serve you well. In a lot of ways, it's the most traditional game in the series, but in other ways, it's wildly experimental. The lighter tone of the visuals hides a story full of the dark twists and turns the series is known for, and the amount of things to do and see in the game is absolutely staggering. It feels like a game that has learned from the F2P social RPG boom in Japan and carried over what works from those games to a premium format. That could have been disastrous, but Chaos Rings 3 somehow pulls it off. I'm not sure if we'll see a Chaos Rings 4, but if this is how the series goes out, no one can say it didn't do it with a bang.

You Must Build A Boat, $2.99 There were a lot of great puzzle games released this year, but You Must Build A Boat is easily my favorite. 10000000 completely caught me off-guard with its compelling gameplay that had me always going for one more try. The sequel didn't surprise me in the same way, but it had a very similar effect. I couldn't stop playing YMBAB until I had done everything there was to do, and with its recent update adding some crucial replayability, I suspect I'll be playing this for a long time to come.

Dust: An Elysian Tail, $5.99 Dust is one of those rare combinations of a game that plays as good as it looks, and friend, does it look good. Offering involved combat, enjoyable exploration, stunning production values, and a character who is just plain fun to control, Dust is the exploratory platformer to beat on iOS, in my opinion.

Legend of Grimrock, $4.99 I honestly had my doubts about how well The Legend Of Grimrock would port to iOS, but it turned out I needn't have worried. This is a fantastic way to play Grimrock. It's an awesome callback to and modernization of classics like Dungeon Master and Eye Of The Beholder, and should provide plenty of pure chewing satisfaction for any RPG fan. The developers even pulled off the miracle of making it work on the smaller iPhone screen.

Galactic Keep, $3.99 With most of the games on this list, I either expected to love them or fell for them right after I started playing. Galactic Keep, on the other hand, was a very different experience. When I first started playing the game, I didn't care for it at all. It took me a little while to get what it was going for, but once it got its hooks into me, it was all I could think about until I finished the currently-available content. Very few games this year grabbed me as completely as Galactic Keep did, and none of them quite so surprisingly.

Sproggiwood, $4.99 Sproggiwood was another game that surprised me, albeit in a very different way. I enjoyed the game almost immediately, but initially had it pegged as a relatively light roguelike that I would likely put down in a week or two and move on from. Then, I tried the game on Savage difficulty, and found the true nature of Sproggiwood. This is a friendly roguelike, to be sure, but it has a lot more depth than it appears to at first. When it finally shows its teeth, you'll agonize over every single move, and the variety of character types means you can do it again and again.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved, $9.99 It was another great year for shoot-em-ups on iOS, but my favorite of the lot has to be Geometry Wars 3. Like many people, when I first got an Xbox 360, the game I played most wasn't one of the gorgeous, expensive AAA launch titles, but rather a humble little Xbox Live Arcade twin-stick shooter. I've been in love with Geometry Wars ever since, and was worried that the death of Bizarre Creations would mean the end of the series. Luckily, Activision not only wants to keep it around, but have done really well by it. Geometry Wars 3 offers the same fun gameplay from the older games combined with a few advancements from games that followed in its predecessor's wake and some new ideas of its own.

As in previous years, this was an enormously difficult list to make due to how many excellent games came out this year. I've already got my eyes on things I know will be coming next year, so I suspect we're in for another good one. I think it's easy to look around at the deluge of games that don't connect with us from week to week and lose sight of the ones that do, but when you really stop and take a look at everything that comes out in a year, it's kind of remarkable how many tastes are well-served these days. Here's to another fine year, friends, and may it find you in good health and happiness!

  • korossyl

    I so badly wish that I could like Akira Toriyama's artwork. Through entirely my own fault and for some reason that eludes me, I just really get turned off by his character designs. Chrono Trigger is less enjoyable for me because of this, and I've never been able to really get into any of the DQ games. But, boy, do you make DQV sound tempting...

    • Milotorou

      Wow, cant believe you got a dislike for this post, i mean, youre actually telling your opinion in the most respectable way ive ever seen.

      I love Akira's artwork but it definitely isnt for everybody

      • Tallgeese

        Maybe he doesn't like neoteny in general...

  • Alexythimia23

    What a list, defo my fav so far, pretty much what mine would look like, not got round to playing dragonquest 5 as too busy with ff7 right its nigh impossible to find time to play everything!!

  • scottsoapbox

    If Shaun likes it, it must be good!

    • hyuei

      I agree with you. I love his artwork on dragon ball, but other than that, especially in RPG, it feels so hard to enjoy the artwork...I tried myself but I can't bring myself into it. It just didn't click. The latest one on steam looks good though, maybe I could try once more...

      • scottsoapbox

        I love Shaun's artwork on Dragon Ball too... wait what??? 😉

  • Psac42

    No love for Heroes & Castles 2? Playing Implosion now and really liking it. (H&C2 would rate higher in my opinion, though.)

    • Alexythimia23

      Woah! Completely forgot about that awesome! Yer right! Im shocked its not been mentioned in anyones list! Then again there was too many great games to count this year.

    • Shaun Musgrave

      It's a great game, I'm just not a big fan of defence games.

      • speedyph

        Great list Shaun 😎

      • Alexythimia23

        Also not really my thing defence games, this is the only one ive ever liked lol

  • Zero Ehxe

    Itemized and linked- and end of year list to set an example.

  • Supermarioooo

    Brilliant list of games and I can't disagree with any of those choices, all worth your time and money. Though I'd definitely add Spider Rite Of The Shrouded Moon which I feel is a very underrated game and kinda seems to have slipped under the radar sadly, along with Furdemption though that has made plenty of end of year lists, and Forgotten Memories which is rather excellent these days due to the updates it's had 🙂 . It's been a superb 2015 for iOS gaming.

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Spider was one of my last cuts, so if this list were 15 games, it would be here. Just an amazing year all around.

  • RinoaHeartily

    What about final fantasy 7? Shaun I thought you love that game to death!

    • Shaun Musgrave

      FF7 is good, but I definitely wouldn't say I love it to death. I probably wouldn't even count it among my top few FF games.

      • Tallgeese


      • Tallgeese


      • Tallgeese


      • Milotorou

        My thoughts as well, FF7 is indeed good, but IMO FF6, FF4 and FFT all throw it in a freaking ocean.

  • Von Strubel

    Strange that the so called 'game of the year' didn't make this list. Or Eric's...

    • korossyl

      Mr. Hodapp posted about that elsewhere -- EVERYone picked it, so it's not featured on ANY of the lists, to make room for other games.

      • SimonMagus


      • Eli Hodapp

        It's no use, people just want to be angry.

      • Tallgeese

        I won't rest until someone pays for this most heinous crime... IN BLOOD! And I look forward to the day when the conspiracy is exposed by Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, and Ryan Gosling! Among other fine actors! 5 stars, gentlemen and/or ladies! 5 STARS!

      • Milotorou

        In Ryan's case a cereal payment would be just fine.

      • Tallgeese

        Oh ship, I forgot Batman! RyGos loves him's cereal! ...We're besties so I can call him that...

      • Tallgeese

        Haha that's a great meme though, it reminds me Family Guy segment where Peter tries to feed Magnum P.I. through the TV...

      • nini

        I bet it would.

      • dancj

        Either that or it was a questionable decision which gives the incorrect impression that each of the individual reviewers didn't actually love the game.

      • dancj

        Also of course no-one seems to be at all angry.

      • Shaun Musgrave

        /knocks over a vase


      • Von Strubel

        It's no use, people just want to hype.

      • Eli Hodapp

        We've all come to grips with the fact that there's nothing we can do to make everyone happy. These best game lists always have the same reaction from people who are unwilling to accept the fact that tastes in video games differ. If you don't like Land Sliders, that's awesome, but we liked it a lot. Anyway, we're posting Carter's, Jared's, and my own favorites lists today, Land Sliders isn't featured in any of those, so I look forward to having this same conversation three more times today.

  • TouchMint

    I need to find time for Grimrock. Someone gimme some of their time!

  • Michal Hochmajer

    10 outta 10 pigtapirs would recommend this list.
    Thx TA crew for your hard work this year. Hope you are enjoying your Christmas presents (warm socks, sweeters etc.) all around the globe (Australia, Africa...), good luck, enough health and happy new year.
    Happy new year to all devs (especially good ones and indie).
    Happy new year to all commenting people here on TA (especially good one)
    Leaving till next year...whoosh sfx.

  • Echoen

    Said it before and I'll say it again. Shaun's got the same great taste in games as I do. Hwa hwa hwa. I don't even have to read his entire review anymore to know if I'll like a game or not. Cheers Shaun

  • rj118

    Nice list, Shaun. I recently bought DQV and have been enjoying it so far! Your recommendation helped push me to finally get it.