2017 has been the best and busiest year in gaming for me in a long time. While the Nintendo Switch is the focus for most people for 2017, I’ve been consistently blown away by how much fantastic stuff we have seen on iOS this year. In fact the last few weeks have probably been the best in iOS gaming history with fantastic ports and big name releases dropping on the App Store out of nowhere really. 2017 is also a year that has seen loads of great releases on each platform and picking just 10 has been super hard. I’m just glad I always get the highest capacity iPhone and iPad for times like this where I want to keep loads of new games installed at all times. The games below are my favourite and are in no particular order.
FEZ Pocket Edition, $4.99 FEZ finally released on iOS in the form of FEZ Pocket Edition and the port is fantastic. FEZ is one of the games that got me back into gaming properly when I borrowed my friend’s Xbox 360 and replaying it on iPad with a controller over the last weeks has been fantastic. I still consider it one of the best puzzle experiences ever with super music and great pixel art visuals. It is full of brilliantly designed puzzles and a ton of secrets with some feeling impossible without a guide. If you have a controller, this is an easy recommendation. The touch controls aren’t the best way to experience this.
Hidden Folks, $3.99 I love when developers take a tried and tested formula but work on it enough to make things feel fresh but still have the traditional hook. Hidden Folks is exactly this. It takes the Where’s Waldo? idea and makes it way better in every way. The hand drawn monochromatic visuals and the excellent attention to detail with interactions made this one of my favourite games of the year. It is wonderful on iPads and I can’t get over how well done the sound feedback is when you tap around like a mad man trying to find something super small in a crowded screen of activity. This is another one of the multiplatform releases like World of Goo that I think plays best on iPad.
To the Moon, $1.99 Freebird Games’ beloved To The Moon came to mobile this year and it gave a huge audience the opportunity to experience one of the most emotional and well written stories in gaming n recent times. This retro styled experience plays like an old school adventure game that looks like an old school RPG. It is short but the way the music and story tie in together makes this very memorable. There’s some humour but mostly just a great story about granting the wish of someone who is dying and figuring out why he wanted to go To The Moon.
Technobabylon, $4.99 The point and click genre has seen quite the resurgence over the last few years with many new studios trying to recreate what made this genre so special in the 90s. We’ve even seen some classics remastered or new games from the creators of classics this year. Wadjet Eye Games are one of my favourite publishers and they brought Technobabylon to iOS this year. It is easily my favourite of their games and a true point and click adventure with a great sci-fi theme and cyberpunk setting. You play as multiple protagonists seeing different sides of a story and the character designs are superb. It is rare to play a new point and click game that doesn’t annoy me with bad pacing or poor puzzles. Technobabylon gets it all right.
The Witness, $9.99 Apple’s been interesting with their promotions of games on the App Store and how things have changed after iOS 11. A video showcasing some great indie games leaked the announcement for The Witness on iOS. The Witness is Jonathan Blow’s (as a part of Thekla Inc) first new game since Braid and it is superb. You are on an isolated island with hundreds of puzzles spread out and get to experience a sandbox that is both thought provoking and mind numbing at the same time. I have no hesitation to call The Witness the best puzzle game ever and I’m glad that it is on iOS as well. Get ready to literally start seeing puzzles outside the game after spending a few days on the island inside it.
Full Throttle Remastered, $4.99 Double Fine brought Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle to modern platforms with lovely remasters over the last few years. The third and final remaster they were doing was none other than Full Throttle. I’ve definitely gotten into a point and click adventure hole this year and Full Throttle is the best of the three remasters in both story and gameplay. The iOS port lets you switch between a nice full screen original look and a widescreen remastered look with a pinch on the screen at any time. When I think of Full Throttle Remastered, I think of asphalt, Maurine, one stupidly annoying puzzle, and a kickass soundtrack. It is what a ZZ Top point and click adventure game would be.
Little Red Lie, $4.99 I’m a big fan of visual novels and interactive adventure games. Steins;Gate is one of my favourite games ever but I also love narratives that hit close to home or ones that feel real and hook you in right from the get go. When I played Actual Sunlight on Vita, I was blown away by how well the story unfolded and how real things felt while playing it. Little Red Lie from WZO Games is another visual novel like experience with a focus on how lying affects you and the worlds around you. I’m impressed by how well the delivery is for the story and how it has remained with me ever since I completed it. Will O’Neill has once again managed to successfully discuss things that few forms of media will touch let along fully embrace.
Cat Quest, $4.99 The Gentlebros’ Cat Quest is simply put, fantastic. It is going to be the most featured game on the site through staff lists for sure and I’m still blown away at how well it plays and feels on a touch screen. Cat Quest is a cat RPG that is full of influences from RPGs of the last few years but with a healthy dollop of cat puns. It is available on consoles as well as mobile and the touch controls are brilliant. It is also a great game to play on a portable because of the lenient save system that lets you get a bit of game time in on the go. It is one of the few games this year that I’ve ended up buying on multiple platforms. Not owning Cat Quest on iOS should be a crime at this point.
A Normal Lost Phone, $2.99 Accidental Queens’ A Normal Lost Phone is a no brainer for my top 10 of the year. I love how it handled certain topics that most games are unable to even touch while still being engrossing and unique in narrative delivery. I’m a big fan of playing a game about finding someone else’s phone and exploring said phone while playing on a phone in real life. There’s definitely some fourth wall stuff happening and this game gave rise to a few more and created a little niche genre of phone based games for smartphones. Even though this is on iPad and PC in addition to iPhone, it is best played on an iPhone.
Darkest Dungeon:Tablet Edition, $4.99 Owning multiple platforms usually means I end up getting a few games multiple times. Games like Stardew Valley only managed hooking me in on the Switch despite trying and failing at getting into it on PC and then PS4. Darkest Dungeon is one of these games. After the massive praise it received on PC, I bought it there and barely touched it. The PS4 and Vita port had me playing it for longer but still not getting hooked. Thankfully the iPad version that released earlier this year showed me how fantastic this game is. Darkest Dungeon is an RPG with permadeath and a difficulty that makes most people cry themselves to sleep. The aesthetic is amazing and the in game systems have me coming back for more to manage a variety of things and somehow spend more time in the world of Darkest Dungeon. The iPad port is mostly great and it finally let me properly play this gem of a game.