While the best iPad is an amazing tool for productivity, it wouldn't reach its full potentially without at least a few of the best iPad games.
Gaming on your iPad couldn't be a better experience. It's small enough to take with you everywhere, but with a big enough screen to allow for more precision with your taps, and it's that deadly combination that makes me reach for my iPad to play my favorite mobile games over and over.
Whether you're new to iPad gaming or are just looking for your next game to download, here are my top picks for the best iPad games.
Slay the Spire
I'm not really sure how I ever lived without Slay the Spire on my iPad, and it only came to iOS last year. The game is incredibly fun, challenging, and full of little interesting decisions that make no two times playing the game alike.
It's a roguelike deckbuilding that tasks you to reach the top of the spire, but of course, plenty of enemies and weird other encounters you'll need to go through to get there. Each run you'll choose a character and start off with a deck of cards, that you need to utilize to defeat enemies and ascend the spire. As you go, you'll get more cards to add to your deck, but you'll need to be careful which cards you choose and how many you put in your deck, so it doesn't become bloated and ineffective.
Although it is a rogue like, meaning when you die, you start at the bottom of the spire again, you'll never be bored. With different relics to find that give you special abilities, new cards, four unique characters, and a ton of interesting events that can give you a boon or a bane, no two games will ever feel the same.
Build up your deck of cards and see how far you can make it up the spire. When you die you have to start over, but with new characters to unlock for completely challenges, and tons of different paths to victory, no two runs up the spire feel the same.
Alto's Odyssey trades in the bright, snowy, and colorful palette of the first game for a much warmer, darker environment that's just as appealing as the original. The desert — while stunningly gorgeous — feels harsher and less forgiving than the slopes Alto's used to, and the new landscape provides a plethora of new challenges for players to discover.
The very core mechanics of the game haven't changed. You're still controlling a cast of offbeat characters who explore a terrain-heavy endless runner while attempting an array of board-based tricks across a beautiful, ever-changing landscape. Collecting coins, dodging obstacles, and completing goals will allow you to level up and purchase power-ups for the in-game store.
As you may have guessed, it all flows exceptionally smoothly and is just as addictive as the first incarnation, making it a solid contender as one of the best iPad games. Alto's Odyssey continues to build on that well-defined core and throws awesome new challenges at players in almost every run.
If you liked Alto's Adventure, then downloading Alto's Odyssey is a no-brainer. You're getting everything you loved about the first game in a more robust and polished package.
Ticket To Ride
One of my favorite things about mobile gaming is being able to bring my favorite board games everywhere I go. Leave the boxes, the game pieces, and the cards at home, and enjoy classic board games on your iPad! Ticket to Ride is a personal favorite of mine. I have the board game to play with my family and friends, and I love the iOS version to take on the road.
The object of the game is for players to build sprawling railways by gathering colored cars to connect cities across the map. Every turn, a player gets to either pick two cars, claim a line by spending cars, or take on a new ticket (this challenges the player to connect two cities before the game ends). The longer the railway between two cities is, the more victory points they're worth.
Ticket to Ride is a great balance between competition, strategy, and construction, making it a great party game.
Originally a board game, Santorini is a chess like game that takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master. It's gorgeous bright color palette and greek mythology theme makes the game even more approachable and accessible than other strategy games in the same vein.
The core gameplay is really straightforward. On your turn, you can move one character one space on the grid or build one level of a building on any space beside either of your characters. The first person to get one of their character on top of the third level of a building wins. It's incredibly easy to pick up, but the depth of strategy really shine through when you start to face off against other people online or even some of the harder AI in the game.
You can also add another layer to the game by choosing to turn on the ability to use god powers. Each player will pick a god card at the beginning of the game, which gives them access to a unique special ability. It's easily one of the best iPad games in the board game category.
Incredibly easy to learn, but a surprising amount of depth. Santorini is a strategy game that offer chess-like gameplay in a game that has beautiful aesthetics.
Leo's Fortune is a cute platforming game for the iPad that features finely crafted stages with beautiful graphics and clever puzzles. The story is whimsical, but the little-mustachioed fluff ball takes it in stride.
What stands out to me about Leo's Fortune is the gameplay physics. Making Leo float or sink to reach the precious gold coins is a nice break from the old side to side movement in a lot of platformers.
Years after its initial release, Leo's Fortune still feels like top-tier gaming experience on the iPad.
Dead Cells is a roguelike action RPG that sees you take "runs" through different levels of a gloomy island. You'll need to collect items and upgrades along the way, but be careful, if you die, you start from the beginning.
You're going to die — a lot — but you'll learn something new each time you do, making your next run even more satisfying. While you start from the beginning each time you die, you do find permanent upgrades as you kill more enemies and make it further into the game, meaning there is some progress to be had.
Dead Cells is one of my favorite games in recent years, I love it so much I have it for every system I own, and having it on my iPad means I can play it anywhere! Just a heads up, it is a newer game that requires some power, so older models of iPad (like from a few years ago) may struggle a little bit.
Death is only the beginning in Dead Cells. see how far you can get, learn from your mistakes, and keep trying!
Invisible Inc. was a game that took me by complete surprise. Considering this game relies on being sneaky, I suppose that means the jokes on me.
This turn-based stealth game randomly generates levels that you need to make your way through to complete objectives and avoid enemies. You can control ten unique characters through the perilous missions, and each of them has loads of customization options, making sure characters never get stale.
The gameplay is complex, and it does take a while to get used to the in-and-outs, but once you do, I promise you hours of fun await.
Ths incredible deep and strategic, tactical RPG heavily relies on stealth, so if you love sneaking around and thinking about every move you make, Invisible Inc. won't let you down.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition
Minecraft is a force that just won't quit, the game's original release on PC back in 2011 has spawned versions on every single console and platform you can think of, and the iPad was no exception.
Endless exploring, mining, and crafting await you in the 3D pixelated world, which offers almost limitless possibilities for what you can create. It's this reason that makes Minecraft: Pocket Edition amazingly fun to play for hours and hours. Just don't forget to eat, drink water, or — y'know — breathe.
The ever-popular Minecraft right on your iPad. Find resources, craft weapons, build buildings, and just explore this amazing pixelated world.
The Room: Old Sins
The Room: Old Sins is part of the fantastic Room series of games, which all have the same basic gameplay. It's like a giant puzzle box, with tons of challenging puzzles to discover and wrack your brain over to solve them.
The sudden disappearance of an ambitious engineer and his wife starts you off on a hunt for a precious artifact. The more puzzles you solve, the more intriguing the story gets, making it extremely satisfying every time you solve a puzzle.
The Room: Old Sins is the newest game in the series, and you certainly don't need to play the first two to enjoy it, but if you wanted to check out The Room and The Room Two, you won't be disappointed either.
Full of challenging puzzles and a great spooky narrative, The Room: Old Sins is a great game that will work your brain.
Red's Kingdom is a perfectly crafted adventure puzzle game that has a lot of depth. The goofy but heartwarming story with its colorful characters is bound to grab your attention, and the incredibly fun gameplay never seems to go stale as the game layers in plenty of elements to surprise you at every turn.
Red's Kingdom opens the doors to its world and allows you to take non-linear paths giving you the opportunity to explore different areas and find alternate routes to hidden treasures. Although it's a puzzle game at its core, the game feels more like an action-adventure game than anything else. I can't recommend Red's Kingdom highly enough!
This cute adventure puzzle game is as cheerful as it is awesome. With a ton of exploring and special items to find, you'll be entertained for hours. Plus, it's kid-friendly!
Hidden Folks is an amazingly crafted puzzle game that strives for simplicity and succeeds with flying colors. It's like an intense black-and-white version of Where's Waldo for the modern age that is incredible fun.
Finding everything on each level is quite the challenge and Hidden Folks will make you flex your brain power to figure out certain hints that accompany each findable person or object.
The hand-drawn art is as charming as it is impressive and you'll spend just as much time looking around each level enjoying the design as you will squinting your eyes trying to find Beekeeper Barry.
Ticket to Earth
Ticket to Earth is an incredible game and is a must-download for gamers everywhere, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
The story is littered with surprising plot twists, impactful characters, and a well-written narrative that will keep you invested in the rich world of New Providence and the people who populate the planet.
An original battle system that breathes new life into the strategy RPG genre, the Movement system offers an incredibly deep and complex combat experience that never goes stale, as there are always new powers and abilities to acquire. It's refreshing to see a strategy RPG that heavily relies on the strategy part of its genre. Ticket to Earth will kill you if you're not careful, you must examine the map carefully and choose your action wisely, or you'll be doomed to repeat the same mission over and over again. It can be mildly frustrating as you're still learning the game, but it's wildly entertaining the whole time.
Plus, since the birth of ARKit, the developers have added a beautiful AR mode that lets you play all the story missions and a bunch of new original missions in AR.
Beautifully designed graphics that blend the manga/comic book style artwork with brightly colored backgrounds and landscape make Ticket to Earth pop off the screen in a delightful burst of colors, which never gets old.
Don't forget about Apple Arcade
While we do think all of the selections above are some of the best iPad games you can get right now, none of them are on Apple Arcade. If you want 100 of different games for one low monthly subscription, your iPad can make great use of Appel Arcade.
Unlimited games, one price
Apple Arcade has over a hundred premium games with more added regularly each week. There is something here for everyone, and it only costs $5 a month for all you can game!
What do you think are the best iPad games?
Games are subjective, and I tried to pick a selection of games from different genres, but I'm sure I missed some great games that you love. Leave a comment below or shoot me a Tweet and tell me what iPad games you think are the best of the best!
Updated January 2021: Added Santorini, Slay The Spire, and Hidden Folks to our list of amazing iPad games. Removed Fortnite since it's no longer on the App Store.
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