It’s that time again! 2013 was yet another incredible year for iOS gamers, with amazing titles from all genres hitting the App Store. Whether you’re into RPGs, puzzle games, strategy games, or even full console ports, the App Store had you covered.
One thing that’s remarkable is how many of 2013’s best games came out in the second half of the year. Check out our list of the best games of the first half of 2013 for even more great titles. And of course let us know what your favorite games of the year were in the comments below.
25. Magic 2014
From our review: A massive selection of cards, robust multiplayer, and a wealth of options are only a few of the reasons you’ll be able to cite as justifications for the $10 pay wall. Magic 2014 is an excellent choice for newcomers and veterans alike, especially if the TCG scene strikes your fancy.
From our review: What really stuck with me was the intriguing gameplay, the blood bond system, and the cool story. To top it off, the graphics are usually stunning and the voice acting, when it’s present, is surprisingly good. Sure, the simple tap-based battle system can get annoying and the slow pace of gaining gold and blood rubies is obnoxious, but all of the other positive aspects that surround those negatives make Bloodmasque so much fun to play that I ran down the battery life of my iPad on more than one occasion. Bloodmasque is just a heck of a lot of fun to play.
23. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
From our review: If you already own an HD copy of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, the precise physical controls might serve you better. But if you don’t own the game in any capacity, or you want an HD version of the game that you can play on the go, make sure you enlist today.
22. Robot Unicorn Attack 2
From our review: Beyond all that, the graphics are mesmerizingly gorgeous, with all kinds of wild, trippy stuff happening in the background, like giant whales and seahorses with laser horns strapped to their heads floating by. It all adds up to a truly brilliant game that’s incredibly fun even if you don’t want to pay a cent.
21. Asphalt 8: Airborne
From our review: If you’re a arcade racing fan then there’s absolutely no reason for you to not be playing this. The in-app purchases are only annoying if you’re impatient, and every aspect in the game (even the redundant ones) are a step up. This is one you’ll be playing again and again for at least another year.
20. Pixel People
From our review: Yes, the game mostly amounts to a whole lot of tapping on the screen. But splicing together new jobs and creating a beautiful city is a whole lot of fun. Even if you’re not normally interested in freemium games, we think you should give Pixel People a shot.
From our review: It took us 90 minutes to play through Fetch entirely (without collecting every hidden dog collar or secret achievement), but like a good movie, we think the experience will make a lasting impression. Despite its brevity, Fetch is an incredibly moving piece of interactive entertainment. It’s currently on display at Seattle’s MOHAI as an example of art in gaming, and by publishing it on the App Store, Big Fish Games is doing their part to bring art to the masses.
From our review: Great graphics are always appreciated, but Badland’s unique power-up system and how it interacts with each stage is what makes the title shine (dark though it may be). You can expect to bash your way through road blocks, tumble along arcs that take you within a hair of a swirling sea of blades, and command armies of fuzzy black things. The game is also generous with checkpoints, so frustration rarely keeps you from playing level after level. Unfortunately, there are only 40 stages to get through, so you won’t be occupied for too long, but Frogmind promises that more stages are on the way. After all, saving an entire ecosystem shouldn’t be a job you can blaze through in just one night.
17. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
From our review: Squeezing in the full experience of this legendary 30+ hour RPG gives me confidence that anything is possible with the horsepower underneath the hood of today’s mobile devices. KOTOR is a landmark accomplishment for the iPad and the iOS platform; I do not hesitate to award it our highest honor as a quintessential Must-Have experience.
From our review: It may be easy to play, but the monsters, hero powers, spells, and loot all interact in ways that give you interesting choices to make. Anyone can tap their way through a few levels, but you’ll need strategy and luck to keep going after that. Dagnabbit! Looks like Dungenot is just as good as dungeon crawling was in the good old days. But at least I can still tell you all to turn down that music and get off my lawn!
15. Icycle: On Thin Ice
From our review: Icycle is unlike anything I’ve experienced in a long time. I could go on and on about the game, but the bottom line is that if you’re looking for a stand-out mobile game which will defy your expectations at every turn, then Icycle is the game for you.
14. Deus Ex: The Fall
From our review: Deus Ex: The Fall is an impressive title that retains the style and mechanics of the original game, while making some necessary technical omissions. It’s an ambitious game that succeeds in offering a dynamic stealth action, deep character customization, and multiple ways to complete missions. Deus Ex: The Fall is a must play for any iOS gamer.
13. Call of Duty: Strike Team
From our review: Call of Duty: Strike Team defines itself with new ideas and takes risks that pay off in a big way.
12. Layton Brothers Mystery Room
From our review: Layton Brothers Mystery Room is an easy recommendation. If the gameplay is too shallow for your liking, you don’t need to pay for the rest of the adventure. If you find yourself hooked, then by all means keep playing in the Yard. You won’t regret it.
11. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
From our review: Whether you’re playing it again out of nostalgia, or if this is your first visit, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a massively enjoyable crime spree in a compact package. Maybe less than a decade from now, we’ll be playing Grand Theft Auto V as a visual overlay on our wearable computers, committing realistic-looking virtual crimes while we shop at the grocery store.
10. Device 6
From our review: Device 6 is a terrific, stylish mix between a puzzle game and mystery story. To explain more would do it a disservice. I enjoyed the story/game a lot, and can easily recommend it to anyone interested in diving into a moody mystery.
9. Ridiculous Fishing
From our review: Ridiculous Fishing is so much more than just a simple iOS game. It’s meticulously designed to make every one of its many parts cohere. It’s easy to learn, hard to master, and it unfolds gradually, revealing more and more depth the further you progress. There’s something special about this game, and we can’t recommend it enough.
8. The Shadow Sun
From our review: So the original question remains: Is Shadow Sun a game that’s worth playing? For my money, the answer is a resounding yes. While I wish that the graphics and controls were better, The Shadow Sun is one of the most captivating experiences I’ve had with a role-playing game in quite some time. The story, characters, and the world around you are all so vibrant and alive that you can’t help but want more.
7. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
From our review: Compressing a game of this size to run so well on iOS required some careful omissions from the original. The textures and animations are downscaled but are still better looking than most iOS games. The one glaring omission is the armor customization, which takes away some of the fun of personalizing your troops. The game does crash at times when things get hectic, but not frequently enough to be a major concern. There’s a lot of game here for your money, even at the $19.99 price tag. The PC version is still selling around $40 and is worth it even at that price.
From our review: Republique shines. It’s an exciting new game, with an intriguing story and good acting. The whole package seems well worth the price they’re asking. In short, the next episode can’t come soon enough.
5. Rayman Fiesta Run
From our review: Rayman Fiesta Run is the ideal combination of high-quality production values and thoughtful game design, with a range of challenges that scale along with the player’s skills. It’s a high-energy party, well worth the price of admission, and one we’ll be enjoying and talking about for a long time.
From our review: With its gorgeous graphics, simple touch controls, unique storyline, and expansive feeling of freedom, Oceanhorn is a real gem on the App Store. So many details of the gameplay mechanics, from leveling up by defeating enemies and collecting gems, to firing pumpkin seeds at floating barrels on the open sea, feel like they were carefully thought out by the developers. If you’ve been searching for a Zelda-like adventure on iOS, Oceanhorn is the hero that rises to the occasion.
3. Kingdom Rush Frontiers
From our review: It’s kind of ironic that a game that was designed to help break the mold of the dusty tower-defense genre doesn’t do much to break the mold of its own gameplay, but there’s honestly no real reason to. Kingdom Rush Frontiers offers up enough new elements that it doesn’t seem like a retread, and it will quickly become one of those games that will have you grinding down the battery life on your device.
2. The Room Two
From our review: Based on how polished and confident the original was, it’s no surprise that that The Room Two is another brilliantly designed puzzler. It’s bigger, smarter, and more challenging than its predecessor. It’s another Must Have for any gamer with an iPad.
1. Plants Vs. Zombies 2
From our review: PopCap has created a fine sequel and an impressive model for free games to follow. They certainly haven’t reinvented the wheel here, but there’s plenty of levels included (and more on the way), tons of plants and enemies, and loads of fun to be had. Better yet, it’s likely that only impatient gamers will feel much need to spend real money.