Best iOS Games Of 2021 According To Metacritic
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Mobile games have grown more ambitious over the last few years, with many developers realizing that their titles can easily run on Apple’s latest devices thanks to staggering advancements in mobile chip technology. These days you can find cutting-edge action games, lengthy RPGs, and wacky sports games on the iOS ecosystem, with many titles having an excellent grasp of touch controls that serve to enhance the gaming experience.
This year has seen a number of great new games debut on iPad and iPhone devices, but which ones were the best? We’ve rounded up the best 2021 games on iOS according to our sister site Metacritic, with the 10 games below being a solid mix of genres and strong art direction that takes full advantage of Apple’s hardware.
The Oregon Trail
A classic game of a bygone era, the original Oregon Trail was a harsh reminder that no matter how well prepared you were for the wild west frontier, dysentery would likely be the end of you on that harsh trail. A new freemium spin-off title from Gameloft may have had very little to do with the original game, but it’s still a fun and well-animated slice of building a settlement that can withstand the dangers of the frontiers. Like many freemium games, this version of The Oregon Trail requires energy to be spent for any action to be carried out, but the game does provide a generous amount of fuel to burn.
Still going strong after 10 years, this is one trek that makes good use of a classic IP.
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins
All of time and space, every star that ever was…where would you like to start first? If you’re hopping into Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins, that journey begins with a link to the not-so-distant past, the return of some of the BBC show’s most terrifying villains, and plenty of puzzles to solve as you help UNIT close the book. It’s a Doctor Who game that fans of the series will appreciate, especially with the number of Easter eggs contained within it and trademark “Eureka” moments earned from investigations, while newcomers will enjoy the surprisingly high quality of this head-scratching game’s production values.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Pop Tap Beat
Mobile devices were made for rhythm games, as touchscreen technology mixed with vibrant LED and OLED displays makes for fertile ground to tap your finger on. Taiko no Tatsujin: Pop Tap Beat is a great example of this, as Bandai Namco’s drum-pounding rhythm game mixes catchy loops of percussive sound with some of the most charming visuals imaginable. There’s a solid collection of songs available from across multiple genres, and the game is an easy-to-learn distraction that’s perfect for lunchtime breaks.
World of Demons
Developer Platinum Games has long been seen as one of the top dogs in the action genre, and World of Demons is proof that the studio can provide a memorable experience in the mobile space. Pure artistry through Ukiyo-e-inspired art direction, top-notch action, and a classical soundtrack makes for a fun hack ‘n slash game on iOS, one that is bolstered by deep gameplay mechanics and and an enchanting story. Fast, furious, and fun action, three pillars of gameplay that Platinum expect, are all present in World of Demons.
My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge
My Friend Pedro proved that no matter how many armed goons you have on your side, you should never pick a fight with a banana that has nothing to lose. That memo never reached the villains of My Friend Pedro: Ripe for Revenge, as the newest hero in the series goes on a fresh rampage after his family is kidnapped and he’s left for dead by sinister forces. Just like the original game, Ripe for Revenge turns bullet-time gunplay into a brutal ballet of skill and ingenuity, creating exhilarating fun and violent art in the process.
Thanks to some clever engineering in the mobile department, the action flows beautifully and allows for players to revel in the ridiculous nature of a game that’s going to take you to the bank. The blood bank.
Marvel Future Revolution
Netmarble made a name for itself in the mobile space with Marvel Future Fight, a long-running action-RPG that starred the heaviest hitters from the House of Ideas, but Marvel Future Revolution took that concept and went wild with it. Featuring more popular heroes from the Marvel library, Future Revolution stars the likes of the Avengers and X-Men in an epic tale spread across an entire multiverse, high production values, and dynamic gameplay. It’s a mobile Marvel game that may have some repetitive content, but at least there’s plenty of it to sink your teeth into.
RPG games on iOS devices continue to be a perfect couple, and Fantasian is one of the best examples of the genre. It’s an old school dive into a fantasy world that looks like it was constructed from dozens of dioramas, creating a charming atmosphere for its characters to inhabit. Fantasian builds on that visual splendor with a familiar turn-based system of combat, but one that also uses a unique direction-based skill system to deal damage to multiple foes.
The rest of the game plays like your typical RPG with a grand adventure on a global scale, but with genre veterans such as Hironobu Sakaguchi fleshing out the world and composer Nobuo Uematsu creating an elegant soundtrack, Fantasian plays like one of the best in its class.
Clap Hanz Golf
Clap Hanz has long been one of the best developers of arcade golf games thanks to the long-running Everybody’s Golf (Hot Shots Golf) series. Earlier this year, the studio converted the series to a brilliant touchscreen-based golfing experience for Apple Arcade. Simply titled Clap Hanz Golf, this game makes the art of swinging a club with the swipe of your finger feel oh so satisfying. To further enhance the experience, Clap Hanz Golf offers competitive events that only require getting the best score in three or six-hole courses as an example, while the eclectic cast of pro golfer grannies and goth kids makes for an interesting roster. It’s golf at its silliest and most sublime, perfect for anyone looking to go a few rounds without having to pay membership fees at their local club.
Punishing: Gray Raven
Humanity is on the verge of extinction, genocidal robots scour the land for new victims, and the only people capable of reclaiming the planet are a group of elite cyborgs who stand a slim chance against the mechanoid hordes. That’s a great setup for a story right there, and Punishing: Gray Raven builds on that tale with a grim narrative that doesn’t hold back. Mechanically, it’s also a superb JRPG that has some action-packed content, stylish visuals, and a riveting system of chaining moves together to do maximum damage. Provided that you pull some top-class units from the character pool, as Punishing: Gray Raven uses gacha mechanics to keep its roster fresh and updated.
That power fantasy, slick presentation, and deep storytelling all combine to form a thrilling adventure, and with the gacha elements regularly providing a constant stream of quality recruits, Punishing: Gray Raven is a game that’ll keep you hooked for weeks.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
One of the best RPGs of the 2010s, Divinity: Original Sin 2 mixed a cast of colorful characters together with some snappy writing and choices that actually felt meaningful to your personal progress across a vast world of fantasy and danger. On iOS devices that can run it, that entire experience has been wonderfully translated to the mobile medium and offers impressive touch controls, satisfying menus to scroll through, and a flexible camera.
All of these mobile-friendly ideas are layered on top of a game with fantastic turn-based combat, with the entire game running like a dream on the Apple devices that can handle it. While the Switch version of Divinity: Original Sin 2 is also out in the wild, the iOS edition of the game is also a standout experience on mobile.
Metascore: 98 | Read our Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition review.
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