With the close of 2015, we get nostalgic here at Touch Arcade towers and think back on all the good times we’ve had. It’s usually at some point in mid-December we all have a fevered dream that our favorite games of the year never existed and we are filled with great despair until someone rings a bell, we wake up, and the games do in fact exist. It is then that the spirit of the holidays abound and we cannot help but proclaim from our venerable old site how much we have enjoyed the games the app store has bestowed upon us in 2015. So lets get this ball rolling!
I’ll start with one of my personal favorite games of any year. This is a deeply tactical, deeply social strategy game. If you think those two characteristics are contradictory, you’d be right if we weren’t talking about Subterfuge(Free). There are people that would incorrectly compare this game to diplomacy, which is a game devoid of tactical gameplay. For people with actual experience playing, however, there is no mistaking this with a toothless social game like diplomacy. If you can get past the glacial like pacing of a single game taking sometimes over a week to complete, there is so much to enjoy about employing multiple quadrants of your brain to win a game. If you can negotiate treaties and execute precision maneuvers, Subterfuge is probably the game you should be playing.
Call of Champions
2015 saw the rise of multiplayer online battle arena games. Sure League of Legends and Dota have been running strong for a long time now, but the pool of games saw a pretty big expansion. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm made big waves and in our little corner of the gaming world we saw a surge as well. Call of Champions(Free) was designed from the ground up as a mobile experience. While other moba games can take an hour or longer to play, each game of CoC is limited to 5 minutes. With an ever increasing hero pool, Call of Champions is poised to continue to benefit from it’s niche as the fastest moba out there.
Did you know there is a marriage proposal locked in Horizon Chase? It’s a fun little easter egg that surprised the then girlfriend of the composer. You can tell this game was made with love. Each track and car have a rhythm of their own and it is a joy figuring out the right combination to ace each map of this game. Currently I am 3 tracks away from getting gold on each race and I am still having just as much fun as the first time I fired up this app.
Even though I am a very bad at the game Downwell($2.99), I cannot help but appreciate this old school platformer. It took me watching Carter’s stream to understand how well the gameplay clicks and how solid the controls truly are. Downwell begs to be played on a controller and requires a lot of patience and timing, but clearing levels and improving your little spelunker becomes very rewarding.
I love Legend of Grimrock($4.99). Every time I play I feel like someone granted me some cheat codes to a more interactive version of a Bard’s Tale game. Grimrock’s port to iOS was a really awesome advent earlier this year. This is a game built by huge fans of old school dungeon delving with an eye towards more modern combat mechanics. Sprinkle in some puzzles here and there and you have a robust crawler with the comforts and trappings of a new release that can still evoke nostalgia.
You Must Build a Boat
Luca Redwood’s love letter to match 3 gameplay will make you reconsider the popular stance that match 3’s are dead. This is a puzzle game with depth and heart and more unlocks than you can shake a stick at. It’s been said before but You Must Build a Boat($2.99) could easily be renamed You Must Play this Game!
Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain
Released back in the first half of 2015, the Blackrock Mountain adventure is the first to be released to iPhones, iPads and PCs all simultaneously. This year was the year of Hearthstone(Free) to be certain. Cards from this adventure like the Grim Patron and Emperor Thaurissan shook up the competitive meta. This was also the set of cards that made dragon themed decks a possibility and the bedrock of future dragon card additions. I think more importantly, Blackrock Mountain told us as gamers that Blizzard was going to keep on pushing content and keep on supporting their game.
This game is art, plain and simple. With an immersive narrative and visual style, you almost expect the gameplay to be bulky and obtrusive to compensate, but Transistor($4.99) doesn’t play like that at all. An intuitive combat system lets you slide from set peice to set peice never losing that noir feeling of a city set out to get you. This is a game you will want to curl up with and enjoy with the sound turned all the way up.
Dragon Quest 5
Probably the most anticipated RPG port of 2015 that doesnt end in the number 7, Dragon Quest 5($14.99) is another narrative masterpeice that translates very well to iOS. While it might not be the most popular, holding this classic in the palm of my hand was a gaming high point for me in 2015.
This steampunk wonder shows us a world of fantastic survival steeped in a gothic facade. Don’t Starve’s($4.99) port to iOS felt like a natural fit and brought a flair of style to the blocky and pixelly intellectual space full of minecraft and terraria-like games. The darkness this game exudes betrays the simple and intuitive interface that makes this game a lot lighter on mechanics than it’s survival peers.
Hearthstone League of Explorers
The capstone to Hearthstone’s 2015 achievements, this was a surprise announcement at Blizzcon and released the very next week. The new Discover mechanic is one of the best additions to the game, offering great value in each card that it gets printed on. League of Explorers offers some really diverse gameplay experiences and along with the popular Tavern Brawl game mode has really pushed the envelope of creativity. With two separate adventures and the Grand Tournament expansion all releasing this year, Hearthstone is my pick for game of the year. Even in it’s pay structure, Hearthstone is an industry leader. There are very few games that you can play completely free with no ads, but this is one that allows you to catch up just by investing enough time.