Remember when people would make fun of Apple for its devices not being able to play games? Yeah, that… kinda still happens, at least as far as Mac goes. But the iPhone and iPad have encroached on ‘serious’ gamer territory for some time now. And that’s even without the benefit of controllers.
Developers seem to love Apple’s hardware. It’s powerful enough for some really interesting presentations, and touchscreen controls have taken a few enterprising turns in the last few years. It’s amazing what you can do with an accelerometer these days.
But, even though Apple carefully vets what it’ll allow on its store, there’s still some sorting to be done. Happily, we’ve gone and done that for you. The list that follows contains some of the very best content on the App Store, without needing to a) spend more than the asking price or b) grind your way through freemium tiers of play to get to the good stuff.
If you miss the former PlayStation staple Wipeout, then Repulze is the game for you. You’re piloting an anti-gravity craft around futuristic tracks and firing weapons at opponents. Eventually.
First, though, you’re going up against the clock. It’s a relatively safe start, to get you used to the blistering speeds you’re eventually asked to cope with. But first you’ll have to get used to the controls. Repulze’s control methods can be a bit finicky, but they don’t have to be. You just need to fiddle with the settings a little bit.
Super Stickman Golf 3 (Free)
This one’s a little weird — part Angry Birds, part Worms, but without any of the explosions. Instead, you’re tasked with knocking a ball around a variety of 2D courses in a quest for the ever-elusive hole-in-one.
What makes this one stand out are its settings. You’ll leave the fairways in favour of forests, space and places with a suspicious number of lasers instead. But that’s not where this one ends.
It really takes off, though, when you take a swing at multiplayer. You can either take turns or, far better, all play at once in a race to the finish line (but that doesn’t work on a single device).
Touchgrind Skate 2 (Free + IAP)
Let your fingers do the talking in Touchgrind Skate 2. The concept is remarkably simple — there’s a board onscreen, and two of your fingers are the feet controlling it.
The result is a super-tactile, super-smooth skating game that doesn’t need some guy in a hoodie and expensive shoes onscreen to be incredibly compelling to play. It’s just you, the park, and that 360-hardflip you’ve been trying to nail for weeks now.
There’s also the ability to capture and upload some of your incredible skills, so people will actually believe you when you tell them you scored that backside nollie heelflip to crooked to bean plant you were after.
XCOM 2 Collection (R250)
It doesn’t matter which platform you play XCOM 2 on, as long as you play it. Might as well stick it on your iPad, though, since it’ll haunt your days unless you can play just one more turn at a moment’s notice.
The premise is simple. Aliens have overtaken Earth and it’s up to you, your research skills, and a bunch of perma-dying soldiers to take it all back. This is done using turn-based combat, tactics, and save-scumming. Wait, no, not the last one.
It’s the same as the full-sized game, but there’s a few things to watch out for. It’ll work best on a tablet, but it’ll chew through battery life like a fat kid at an all-you-can-eat ice cream stand. But, even though it’ll set you back almost R300, it’s well worth the cash spent.
Oddmar has long been a Stuff favourite. This might be because it’s a more or less straight
ripoff homage of the excellent Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. Seriously, the gameplay is basically identical.
But that’s fine. You don’t mess with perfection. And changing the weird hero out for a weird Viking chappie does enough to make Oddmar an interesting game in its own right. Even if you’re still chasing the same objectives down in a slightly different guise.
It’s fine because this solid platformer keeps what made the Rayman titles so great. That is: gorgeous settings and animations, tight controls (even for a touchscreen), secrets, and some serious replayability.
FAR: Lone Sails (R65)
And now for something completely different. This utterly stunning puzzle platformer will have you staring in wonder at its setting, while the sound design invades your brain and casts you into a desolate world where all that matters is getting yourself to your destination.
Of course, to do this you’ll need to fix and maintain your vessel, explore the remains of a dead civilisation, and figure out exactly how to complete objectives that aren’t always clear. Controls are onscreen but they keep things simple enough. It’s getting from point A (the beginning) to point B (the very end) that matters most here.
Love you to bits (R65)
Love You to Bits might look there’s a bit of Scribblenauts in its DNA but it’s actually a point-and-click adventure. You play as Kosmo, who’s looking for parts of his girlfriend (she’s a robot, this isn’t that dark). In order to do that, players have to navigate puzzles and a very specific sort of logic. You know the one.
The puzzles aren’t difficult to overcome, though a little lateral thinking is required from time to time. The game’s settings, characters, and story remain charming throughout, so you’ll eventually get Kosmo where he’s going. We hope.
Her Story (R65)
Her Story caused quite a sensation when it first turned up a few years ago, and it’s still an amazingly engaging play. Your iPad or iPhone becomes an old desktop PC, where you’ll encounter bits of video showing a woman being interviewed by the cops. A murder has taken place and… well, you could figure out what happened if you look hard enough.
In order to do that, though, you’ve got to navigate an archaic system that’s generally a pain to work with. It’s even more painful when you realise that computers really used to work like this and finding items meant a) remembering they were there or b) making a printed or handwritten list. What it isn’t is painful enough to make you stop trying to figure out what went on back then.
There Is No Game: WD (R65)
This is a very interesting concept for a game — a game that tries to convince you it doesn’t exist. Eventually, you’ll break the entire thing, leading you to the start of There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension.
Which turns out to be a mashup of some seriously classic games and genres, combined with some really mind-mashing puzzles. And, of course, an interesting narrator who you may or may not want to pay attention to, depending on the situation.
But it works best when you’re unaware of what’s going on. So, even though we’ve included a trailer here, don’t watch it. Just trust us, and play it.
Euclidean Skies (R80)
This is a sequel to Euclidean Lands, which combined turn-based puzzle combat with the ability to twist and turn the environment. Skies does much the same thing, only on a far grander scale. How grand? Well, hopefully you’ve kept up your mental gymnastics.
Everything is bigger and better, which also means more complicated. You’ll navigate the world around, ambush enemies, and generally have the time of your life making the world work the way it was intended to. It’s the most fun you can have poking and prodding… well, anything, really.