fun and wacky at the zoo

iOS Games Recommendation Post

The iOS App Store is a place absolutely bloated with empty shells that barely resemble games, which only exist to steal as much of your time and money as possible. Thus, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are some incredible gems buried underneath, and I’m going to use this post to showcase my favorites.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Adventure/Mystery / iOS 4.3+ / Free to try, $9.99 for All Chapters

Ghost Trick was originally a DS game, and the gameplay was already touch-based, so although this is a port, it’s one that translates seamlessly.
It’s a puzzle-solving mystery from the creator of Phoenix Wright that most people passed by when it was originally released. But with a memorable cast of characters, and some really kickin’ music, you shouldn’t let this one get away.
Also, it contains one of my favorite twists in story and perspective in any game.

Lili
Adventure/Action / iOS 5.0+ / $2.99 (some unobtrusive IAP)

Lili is cute. It’s so cute and colorful that the island of Geos instantly clicks as a place that you want to hang out on. There are challenges to complete, and a story of liberation to see through, but the important thing about Lili is its calming atmosphere.
There aren’t enough games where you don’t have to worry about killing or getting killed by anything, full of beautiful environments to explore at whatever pace you choose.

Papa Sangre II
Horror/Audio-Only / iOS 6.0+ / $4.99 Full Game

I wrote a full post on Papa Sangre II, because it is so hard to place into a genre other than “Unconventional Horror.”
It tells you that you have died, that everything you see around you in the “real world” is a lie, and that the only way you’re getting out of limbo is to close your eyes and trust what the voice in your ear (voiced by the lovely Sean Bean) tells you. 
It’s unnerving, and navigating rooms full of dangerous creatures with only your ears is absolutely terrifying, but also loads of fun. 

Rayman: Jungle Run
Platformer / iOS 5.0+ / $2.99 Full Game

When I see a game with “run” in the title, I almost always immediately overlook it, for the assumption that it is just another high-score-centric endless-runner clone.
I’m glad, then, that I gave Rayman Jungle Run a second glance, because it is not that at all: It’s a traditional platformer, full of clever level designs and tons of collectibles that unlock new levels.
The only catch is that you can’t stop; Rayman keeps running and it’s up to you to simply maneuver him around things. This, while sometimes frustrating, is necessary for the control scheme and overall is a fun way to do away with on-screen buttons.

Zookeeper Battle
Block Puzzle / iOS 4.3+ / Free

Remember Zookeeper? No? Okay, remember Bejeweled? This is basically that, except it is restricted to real-time competitive online matches where your block-matching performance affects your RPG-like stats (as well as hindering your opponent if you do well enough), which are then used to battle your oddly-colored dressed-up zoo animal against your opponent’s.
It’s every bit as wacky as it sounds, and pretty fun too.

DEVICE 6
Interactive Novel/Mystery / iOS 5.1+ / $3.99 Full Game

Imagine a book where the format of the words change as you explore them; a long stretch of words on a single line describe the carpet upon which you are walking as you stride across them. Branching corridors form multiple sentences to choose from, and talking bears relay a secret message while plotting each others’ deaths.
Okay, so you probably didn’t imagine that last one, but it totally happens in Device 6, and so do a ton of other genuinely unique things. It has some of the most clever puzzles I’ve ever encountered, and is positively steeped in lore.
It is my number one recommendation on this list.

Year Walk
Horror/Puzzle / iOS 4.3+ / $3.99 Full Game

Might as well get this out of the way: Simogo (makers of DEVICE 6) are my favorite developers on iOS, period. Each game they release is so varied from the last, and Year Walk continues that trend by being a surreal horror experience based loosely on real Swedish folklore.
I hate to use the term “creepypasta,” but I love the urban legend feel that the better of those stories evoke: Year Walk is the closest a game has ever come to realizing that same feeling. It’s the kind of horror where you know it didn’t really happen, but it could have. And the chilling ending leaves you hoping that it doesn’t happen to you next.
Note: Also download the Year Walk Companion (free app) for the full experience.

Beat Sneak Bandit
Rhythm / iOS 3.1.3+ / $2.99 Full Game

Remember how I said each Simogo game is varied from the last? You would never know this was the same developer, except maybe for the fact that it is packed full of charm and cool music.
You have to move to the beat to complete each stage without being seen by guards or cameras, but the moves you must make are up to you; it is a rhythm game that does not tell you which notes to strike. 
Each room is a puzzle to be solved, stylishly, and to the beat. Some extremely satisfying moments to be had when you manage to pull it off.

Deemo
Rhythm / iOS 5.1+ / $1.99 (IAP for new songs)

Have you ever wanted to play a piano, but thought “all these fingers are hard! I wish I could just play the piano with my thumbs”? If you have, then Deemo is the game for you.
It’s a very straightforward rhythm game; hit the notes in time with the music. I can’t help but recommend it, because it is full of excellent music of all kinds of genres, and has extremely responsive controls. The best traditional rhythm game I’ve encountered on iOS, for sure.
Cytus, by the same developers, is also pretty great.

Monument Valley
Point-and-Click/Puzzle / iOS 6.0+ / $3.99 Full Game

Monument Valley is one of the prettiest games I’ve ever played. Every inch of the game is beautiful in every sense of the word.
The puzzles are never particularly difficult, but each stage is so intricate and detailed that it felt like I was reaching into my device and playing with a new toy, spinning it in every direction to see how all of its parts come together.
The developer has promised to add new stages in the future by popular demand, as well.