Best iOS games of 2017

An­drew Hay­ward looks at this month’s best new releases

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

We’ve some fan­tas­tic new games this month. Some are ports of cel­e­brated games from con­soles and com­put­ers, while oth­ers are de­light­ful de­buts, but what­ever their ori­gins, they col­lec­tively pack a huge punch. Key releases in­clude at­mo­spheric in­die ad­ven­ture In­side, dream­ily in­ven­tive puz­zler Goro­goa, and a full-fledged iPad port of Sid Meier’s Civ­i­liza­tion VI, and that’s just the tip of the ice­berg: we have sev­eral more se­lec­tions to keep you play­ing well into next month and be­yond.

1. Life Is Strange Price: £2.99 from fave.co/2CTZ1d3

Episodic nar­ra­tive ad­ven­tures have proven pop­u­lar on iPhone and iPad, as seen with Tell­tale’s Walk­ing Dead and Bat­man se­ries (among oth­ers), but Square Enix’s Life is Strange strikes a dif­fer­ent tone. It’s a story about teenagers and some of the very real stresses and dilem­mas they face, with an un­ex­pected level of au­then­tic­ity within… oh, and the abil­ity to con­trol time.

So it’s a bit su­per­nat­u­ral too, but Life is Strange still ex­cels with its emo­tional sto­ry­telling while build­ing some larger stakes with hero­ine Max’s new­found abil­ity. She uses it to try and re­v­erse some sad hap­pen­ings around her, but ex­pect­edly, that kind of power has some draw­backs too. Life is Strange has a strong fol­low­ing on con­soles and com­put­ers, and this new iOS port comes with the first episode, with the next two episodes sold within and two more still en route.

2. In­side Price: £6.99 from fave.co/2CR685Y

Play­dead’s Limbo is an ab­so­lutely mes­mer­iz­ing game – a shad­owy jour­ney through the wilder­ness, just a boy and his wits against un­seen dan­gers. And the stu­dio’s new game, In­side, essen­tially builds upon that same premise. It’s still a side-scrolling game star­ring an un­armed boy, it’s still a bit bleak-look­ing, and it still doesn’t fea­ture any di­a­logue or overt sto­ry­telling.

But it’s just as mar­vel­lous. In­side finds your young hero ex­plor­ing a fac­tory where some se­ri­ously bizarre ex­per­i­ments are tak­ing place, and the at­mos­phere builds steadily as you en­ter and even par­tic­i­pate to evade cap­ture. It’s un­set­tling, to say the least, but the en­vi­ron­men­tal puz­zles are clever and the at­mos­phere is fan­tas­tic. The free down­load lets you play a small chunk for free, then it’s £6.99 to un­lock the rest.

3. Goro­goa Price: Free from fave.co/2D0KPCb

Even some of the most in­ven­tive puz­zle games to­day tend to have roots in pre­vi­ous games from other mak­ers, but Goro­goa is the rare puz­zler that feels ex­traor­di­nar­ily orig­i­nal. It’s like a chil­dren’s pic­ture book, com­plete with rich art­work and show-don’t-tell sto­ry­telling, only you’ll have a few pan­els on screen at the same time, and they have lay­ers.

You can move into and out of many of the scenes, pulling back or look­ing closer, and then the pan­els can in­ter­act with each other. For in­stance, you might drop one scene atop an­other to re­veal a hid­den item, or move a char­ac­ter from one panel to the next by putting him in front of a door­way. And all the while, the ad­ven­ture un­folds. Goro­goa is charm­ing and beau­ti­ful, and truly un­like any other game out there.

4. Sid Meier’s Civ­i­liza­tion VI Price: £5.4.99 from fave.co/2D0LeEH

What’s more sur­pris­ing about this list­ing: that the full-blooded Sid Meier’s Civ­i­liza­tion VI has made the move from Mac over to iPad, or that there’s a £54.99 iPad game? Both are pretty sur­pris­ing, but if any tablet game can war­rant the ex­pense, it’s surely the lat­est and great­est en­try in Fi­raxis Games’ bril­liant turn-based strat­egy fran­chise.

At first glance, it’s every bit the Civ­i­liza­tion VI ex­pe­ri­ence you’ll find on a com­puter, let­ting you guide his­tor­i­cal civ­i­liza­tions to great­ness via the ‘4X’ ap­proach: ‘ex­plore, ex­pand, ex­ploit, and ex­ter­mi­nate’. Luck­ily, it’s a free down­load that lets you play 60 turns be­fore need­ing to shell out for the full game, giv­ing you a ro­bust op­por­tu­nity to try it out.

5. Reigns: Her Majesty Price: £2.99 from fave.co/2CSni2X

Civ­i­liza­tion VI shows how you can cre­ate an in­cred­i­bly vast and com­plex sim­u­la­tion of rul­ing over a land. Con­versely, Reigns shows per­haps the most stream­lined and ef­fi­cient way of han­dling such a task. It’s a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence, nat­u­rally: in Reigns, you must make de­ci­sions that af­fect your en­tire king­dom, and swipe one way or the other to make a call.

The first Reigns was one of our favourite games of 2016, and the new Reigns: Her Majesty of­fers more or less the same core ex­pe­ri­ence with a twist: now you’re the queen in­stead of a king. Ex­pect­edly, the shift to a fe­male per­spec­tive changes how you’re treated, but the game re­mains breezily en­ter­tain­ing while bring­ing in some vi­tal com­men­tary along the way.

6. Fez Pocket Edi­tion Price: £4.99 from fave.co/2CPNRGg

Fi­nally reach­ing iPhone and iPad a few years af­ter its Mac, PC, and con­sole re­lease, Fez Pocket Edi­tion makes the beloved in­die game much eas­ier to play wher­ever you’d like. Fez is a puz­zle game dis­guised as an old­school plat­form-ac­tion af­fair, and it’s not as 2D as it looks: its big­gest game­play hook is that you can ro­tate the game world 90 de­grees at a time to find un­seen paths and se­crets.

It’s a re­ally neat twist that changes how you look at the pixel en­vi­ron­ments, and the ul­tra-charm­ing graph­ics and mu­sic should keep you pleas­antly puz­zle-solv­ing even in the com­pli­cated later bits. The touch con­trols are solid, but you’re bet­ter off us­ing an MFi gamepad if you have one.

7. Arena Of Valor Price: Free from fave.co/2CZZa1M

Arena of Valor just launched in North Amer­ica, but it’s al­ready an enor­mous smash else­where: the Chi­nese ver­sion, called King of Glory, has more than 200 mil­lion users and is the top-gross­ing mo­bile game in the world. Not a bad foun­da­tion for the lat­est mo­bile MOBA (mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena) game in the vein of League of Le­gends and Dota 2.

It looks a lot like mo­bile ri­val Vain­glory at first glance, but the 5v5 on­line bat­tles and larger three-lane maps put it closer to Mac and PC con­tem­po­raries. As usual, you’ll work with on­line team­mates to try and take down the op­pos­ing squad’s base, plough­ing down their tur­rets and he­roes in the process. Will it be­come just as huge of a hit here? We’ll have to wait and see, but you can jump in for free and try it for your­self to­day.

8. Bridge Con­struc­tor Por­tal Price: £4.99 from fave.co/2CZTRj3

It’s been al­most seven years since the last proper Por­tal game re­leased, and given Valve’s sur­pris­ing shift away from devel­op­ment of late, it may be a long while be­fore we see an­other one – if ever. But the physics-based puz­zle clas­sic takes on a new ap­proach with Bridge Con­struc­tor Por­tal, a mash-up with an­other physics-cen­tric fran­chise. In­stead of nav­i­gat­ing a per­son through var­i­ous por­tals, you’ll in­stead build bridges of in­creas­ing com­plex­ity to guide lit­tle fork­lifts to their proper des­ti­na­tions. This spinoff keeps the hu­mour and fa­mil­iar aes­thetic of Por­tal, and re­mains clever even if it doesn’t hit quite the same mind-blow­ing heights as the core Por­tal games. Fans should still ap­pre­ci­ate it, though.

9. Get­ting Over It Price: £4.99 from fave.co/2D3dIxF

Get­ting Over It is a game de­signed to de­light… in your frus­tra­tion, that is. Like cre­ator Ben­nett Foddy’s QWOP, GIRP, and other games, it is pur­posely dif­fi­cult to con­trol, and that some­how makes it all the more ir­re­sistible to the per­sis­tent play­ers that fig­ure out how to over­come its in­ten­tional kludgi­ness.

In this case, Get­ting Over It drops your hero into a large metal pot and gives you only a sledge­ham­mer, which you’ll use to some­how pro­pel your­self up a very large and jagged moun­tain. Over­com­ing trees and cliffs re­quires am­ple trial-and-er­ror ma­noeu­vring, and it could take you hours to make your way to the top. Sound ex­hil­a­rat­ing? Be­lieve it or not, Get­ting Over It has amassed a big fol­low­ing in re­cent weeks, es­pe­cially with stream­ers broad­cast­ing their ir­ri­ta­tion over the In­ter­net.

10. Sonic Run­ners Ad­ven­ture Price: £2.99 from fave.co/2CPOYWs

We’ve seen some medi­ocre Sonic the Hedge­hog mo­bile games over the years – ex­clud­ing the clas­sic 16-bit ports, of course – but Gameloft’s Sonic Run­ners Ad­ven­ture breaks that cy­cle. It splits the dif­fer­ence be­tween the old-school Ge­n­e­sis games and a mod­ern side-scrolling run­ner game, send­ing Sonic along au­to­mat­i­cally as you fo­cus on jump­ing to avoid haz­ards.

Sonic Run­ners Ad­ven­ture has a clean and colour­ful look, and while a sim­i­lar ri­val like Ray­man Fi­esta Run packs in a bit more ex­cite­ment, it does a good job of pro­vid­ing a fun mo­bile take on Sonic. And sur­pris­ingly, es­pe­cially for a Gameloft ti­tle, Sonic Run­ners Ad­ven­ture is a fully pre­mium game with no in-app pur­chases. That’s part of what makes it so ap­peal­ing.

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