When I first received my iPad, I was overwhelmed by the wide variety of games that could be played on it. While some of them of them were your typical endless runners or match-three puzzlers, others left a lasting impression through innovative design, storytelling and gameplay. If you are looking for quality apps to add to your iOS library, ones that tell unique tales, offer unique new gameplay mechanics, and even contain indescribable emotional complexity, then these are the ten solid titles I would recommend.
I don't think I've ever seen an app more eerily stylized than Badland. In this game you navigate a nameless winged creature through a treacherous wasteland full of traps and dangerous environmental hazards. Not only is the gameplay incredibly addictive and easy to learn, the challenge to keep as many of your clones alive keeps you coming back for more. With hours of engrossing gameplay, a beautifully haunting atmosphere that perfectly balances light and dark, and a rewarding sense of accomplishment that accompanies every successful journey, Badland is one of the best action games in the App Store.
9. Infinity Blade II
While I enjoyed the original Infinity Blade, there's no denying it lost its freshness once you realize that there are very few possibilities for exploration and one unavoidable ending (save for the bonus once the Infinity Blade has been bought at the store). Infinity Blade II is a stellar sequel because it corrects a majority of the faults of the original and adds a greater incentive to replay the campaign. With dozens of different branching paths, significantly more diverse enemies, and an overall sense of grandeur, Infinity Blade II transcends its predecessor in nearly every single way, and is the most addictive sword-fighting app ever made.
8. Minecraft: Pocket Edition
It doesn't contain nearly the same level of content or crafting possibilities as the console or PC versions, but Minecraft is still one of the most creative games for the iPad. No other experience offers near limitless potential such as this: allowing you to construct monuments and skyscrapers with nothing but bricks and your imagination. Often when I'm stressed and need to take my mind off of impending examinations, I look to Minecraft, a paradise where nothing matters except myself and my next big project. And that is something special.
7. Device 6
This is one of the strangest puzzlers I've ever experienced. It can be completed in thirty minutes, offers no replayability, and sometimes is a little too easy to complete. However, there is no denying that Device 6 is one of the most unique apps out there, redefining the capabilities of text-based adventures and deftly blending sound, graphics, and a flawless narrative. What we receive is an atmospheric, mind-bending, and sometimes truly insightful piece of fiction that, like the catchy song stuck in between its pages, will never leave me as time goes on.
6. Final Cut: Death on the Silver Screen
Out of all the games on this list, I bet this is the one you have never heard of before. Final Cut is an obscure puzzle adventure game that pits you in the heart of an elaborate mystery. You play the role of the daughter of a famous movie producer, being forced by a strange woman to explore his lost studio in order to save your brother from certain death. While the voice acting can be hilariously bad in some cases, the rest of the experience is unforgettable. The graphics are beautiful and stylized, the puzzles are both varied and challenging, and exploring the dilapidated studios is incredibly entertaining. Overall, anyone searching for a good mystery, or just an addictive puzzler, should look no further.
5. Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
Another under-appreciated iPad classic, Mystery Room provides all the satisfaction of a good Saturday morning Scooby-Doo cartoon. You play the role of a budding detective named Lucy Baker, who is paired with the intelligent yet unpredictable Alfendi Layton, who struggles with multiple personalities. While the investigating is a bit repetitive, considering the locations of clues are shown for you, each case is both an engrossing drama and cohesive to the general storyline of the entire game. The greatest selling point is the growing bond of the lead characters, who are both instantly likable and slowly grow into an inseparable team. Once you get deeper and deeper into the campaign, the more you see Layton's darker side reveal itself, and the final confrontation is nothing short of extraordinary. Anyone who appreciates a good mystery should purchase Mystery Room immediately. Case closed.
4. The Walking Dead
Choice has been a rising theme in video games. By incorporating branching pathways and decisions, developers attempt to make you feel like the catalyst that fuels the entire narrative. However, nowhere is this done better than in Telltale's The Walking Dead. Never before has so much weight rested on your shoulders: People will live or die by your decisions, and in the end you won't be able to save all of the people you grow so close to over these five mind-blowing episodes. If this incredible sense of immersion and control weren't enough, the game also shines through the relationship between Clementine and Lee, who quickly evolve into one of gaming's greatest duos. Haunting, tragic, and overwhelmingly beautiful, The Walking Dead is one of the finest games ever made, and one of the greatest gaming stories ever told.
3. The Room
My first gaming app ever was The Room. After five minutes I was instantly blown away. At the time, I had never seen anything so intricate and so incredibly mind-boggling as the box you'll have to unlock. Every level is a layered challenge, offering added excitement and mystery with each success, but requiring patience and genuine planning in order to progress forward. There is an even an interesting story behind this game, telling the tale of a crazed scientist's journey to find an element known as the Null, told through a series of letters and memoirs left behind. Even though there is no time limit and no imminent danger, you can tell that the room holds deadly secrets. Top it all off with one of the greatest cliffhanger endings in the history of video games, and you have one of the App Store's defining gems.
I dig my hole, you build a wall...One day that wall is gonna fall...
Bastion is the most beautiful game I've ever played. Everything from its flawless narrations to its vibrant art design to its incredibly tragic story of redemption is simply intoxicating. You play as one member of a small group of survivors after a post-apocalyptic Calamity, and it is your mission to scavenge the world for Shards that could not only restore your home base (the Bastion) to its former glory, but also reverse time back to a world where the Calamity never occurred. You could spend hours playing Bastion and never grow tired of it, as the game's combat system is addictive, provides a vast assortment of weapons, and challenges to keep you fighting long after the end credits. Even the musical score is unbelievable from start to finish, featuring some of gaming's best songs (Build That Wall) which remain in my iPod to this day. In short, you can not go wrong with Bastion. It is much more than just a good-looking game: it is a combination of all the things I love about gaming in one unforgettable package that gets better and better with each successive playthrough.
And my favorite gaming app of all time is...
1. The Room Two
It takes time for one to register the pure, unbridled ingenuity that The Room 2 provides. As a sequel to one of my favorite App Store games, it seemed impossible that it could live up to the overwhelming expectations its predecessor set. But, once again, I was treated to another three hours of gaming bliss, discovering uncharted worlds, solving intricate puzzles, and having my mind blown time and time again, even providing a greater, yet darker, scope than the original. Not only is The Room 2 the greatest app ever made, it is quite possibly the greatest puzzle game ever conceived. Like The Last of Us, this game leaves me in a state of blissful confusion, unable to accurately portray the unbelievable experience that I just took part in. In short, The Room 2 is not a recommendable game. It is a necessity. Anyone who misses out on this cinematic, atmospheric, and downright beautiful journey through a mind-boggling landscape is doing themselves a disservice. Believe me when I say, this game redefines the genre, and the player that enters will never be the same as the player that leaves.
Are there any games that I missed or got wrong? What do your lists look like, and are there any gaming journeys I should take on next? Let me know in the comments below.