Fab thumb-twitchers deserving of more attention
Our mission is to help you get the most from your iPhone and iPad. This means scouring the App Store, to find and review for you the very best games. But the App Store is huge and there’s no way we can cover everything.
Games are released at a rate of knots on iPhone and iPad, and so as 2020 draws to a close we wanted to bring attention to a half dozen modern-day classics we didn’t yet fully cover but that deserve a home on your device.
The selection is varied, from thoughtful interactive puzzlers through to high-octane shooters. But every game here is loads of fun and well-suited to mobile play.
$3/£3 • v1.5 • 451.2 MB • By George Batchelor
Initially, Bird Alone comes across like a noisy, limited virtual pet. You have a chat with a colorful parrot, and you’re told to depart and come back when summoned by way of a notification.
Quickly, though, it becomes clear Bird Alone isn’t so much a feathered Tamagotchi as an interactive story, told in bite-sized chunks over a period of days. Gradually, you get sucked into a relationship of sorts, exploring the meaning of existence, the trials of loneliness and small moments of joy.
It’s a frequently beautiful game – albeit one eventually tinged with sorrow as you ponder the changing seasons and what it means to grow old.
Super Fowlst 2
Free or $4/£4 • v1.15 • 69.5 MB • By Thomas Young
On the telly, demon invasions are repelled by buff superheroes. In Super Fowlst, the world’s survival depends on a chicken. She arcs through the air as you tap the left or right of the screen, bouncing on demon heads, grabbing keys, and making for an exit.
The controls are odd. The semi-randomized levels can wrongfoot, even on your tenth game. But it’s great fun, not least when you end up getting all stompy when piloting a giant mech suit, or figuring out how to survive and defeat one of the massive and ridiculous bosses.
$6/£6 • v1.22 • 82.2 MB • By Mathew Purchase
Something something evil baddies something. Sure, Interloper has a storyline, but you won’t be terribly concerned about it. Mostly, that’s because you’ll be busy careening about asteroid fields, shooting anything that moves, and doing your best to stay alive.
This is high-octane 3D space combat fare. You whirl around with a full six degrees of freedom, making use of customized weapons and utilities. The controls are tight, and the game smartly reworks its interface for landscape or portrait on iPhone and iPad. Top stuff when you fancy engaging in some cathartic blasting action.
Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale
$7/£7 • v1.0.248 • 515.3 MB • By Eric Farraro
Time was that dungeon crawlers found a muscle-bound hero scything through aggressors in dank environs. On mobile, such games are more likely to involve cards. Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale is the best of 2020’s, to the point its contemporaries now feel redundant.
The game demands brain not brawn as you work your way through algorithmically generated dungeons presented as grids of cards. You can buy weapons to fight or discard item cards to refill your coffers. Ditch too many and you might come up short in battles.
There’s so much depth and character here, along with multiple modes that’ll keep you forming new strategies for months.
The Unfinished Swan
$3/£3 • v1.0.1 • 1.1 GB • By Annapurna Interactive
Life is hard for the orphan hero of The Unfinished Swan. Left only the titular incomplete work by his late mother, the swan ups and hotfoots it from the painting. You then follow him into a seemingly empty world.
Lob a few balloons filled with paint about and you instantly realize this world has form. Your splattery projectiles open up pathways to follow, and golden swan footprints further help you head in the right direction.
What follows is a heady mix of exploration, intrigue, light puzzling and storytelling as surreal fairytale surroundings gradually evolve around you.
$6/£6 • v1.06 • 1.3 GB • By Plug In Digital
On first opening unmemory, you’re faced with a digital book, albeit one with a scrolling pane rather than pages to flip. But as you read, you begin to interact with the text. At some point, a distant phone rings and you realize it’s one you saw at the beginning of the tale.
Some swift scrolling, answering and note-taking later, it’s clear unmemory is a network of puzzles presented as a mysterious story. Not since Simogo’s seminal Device 6 has narrative and puzzling been so smartly combined, in a game that shows innovation and surprises are still to be found in the App Store.