This year was pretty huge for iPhone and iPad gaming, as we saw Nintendo put its mobile game strategy to work, amazing sequels to hit games, fantastic ports of older console games, and even the beginning of the AR craze hit our small screens!
It's always hard to pick the cream of the crop when there are so many titles to choose from, but with the help of my fellow iMore writers we narrowed down a giant list and pick one game for each the iPhone and iPad to take the crown.
Best iPhone Game
One of the best surprises of 2017 was when Stranger Things: The Game appeared on the App Store, pretty much out of nowhere, and gave us a nostalgic-laden adventure that took place in everyone's favorite fictional small town, Hawkins, Indiana. This game has everything you could want in an iPhone game including, amazing 8-bit graphics, a killer soundtrack, and best of all, is completely free.The gameplay in Stranger Things: The Game was fun, robust, and authentically old-school, it was easy to forget this game was created for mobile. How Netflix and the developers over at BonusXP, Inc. managed to keep this game a secret until launch day is nothing short of a miracle in this day and age, but the surprise launch of Stranger Things: The Game made it all that much sweeter!Bottom line: At the end of the day, this game delivered a super solid experience that felt like a premium game all while being completely free and devoid of ads.
Runner-Up iPhone Game
An absolutely beautiful game through and through, Old Man's Journey had a gut-wrenching story accompanied by stunning hand-drawn artwork that really made this game come alive. The completely wordless adventure was powerful, thought-provoking, and downright emotional as the game deals with heavy themes of loss, remorse, and grief yet remains enjoyable the whole time.
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Monument Valley 2: Every bit as fun, cute, and brilliant as the first one, Monument Valley 2 also surprised us when it launched at WWDC this year. If you loved the first game or have been looking for a critically acclaimed puzzle game, Monument Valley 2 is worth checking out. $4.99 on the App Store
Splitter Critters: Though the game originally launched and was well-reviewed much earlier in the year, Splitter Critters really stepped up its game when it released an update for AR support. The fantastic mechanics of splitting each level into multiple parts to guide cute, tiny aliens across each puzzle is paired fantastically with Apple's ARKit to bring the experience to the next level. $2.99 on the App Store.
Best iPad Game
Red's Kingdom was released in early 2017, and yet it's a game that I constantly replay time and time again finding new secrets and passages to take each time.The gameplay stays fresh and constantly throws new challenges your way, and is so much more than a puzzle game. 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.Throw in Red's Kingdom's clever scripting and the wacky but lovable cast of characters, and it's a no-brainer. Red's Kingdom is a slam dunk!Bottom line: I can't recommend Red's Kingdom enough! The well-thought-out puzzles that are laid out in beautifully colorful landscapes are enough to make this game worth purchasing on their own, and that's without taking into account all the other great aspects Red's Kingdom.
Runner-Up iPad Game
Digital versions of tabletop games make use of the iPad's large screen in amazing ways and make great board games accessible to even more people, and while there were a few tabletop games to make their way over to the iPad this year Mysterium: A Psychic Clue Game really stands out.You can play live multiplayer with up to seven people or simply play by yourself with AI partners to help solve the mystery through the visions the ghost gives you. Discover the person, place, and thing that the ghost is trying to communicate with you before the time runs out!For fans of the Mysterium board game, the iPad version doesn't miss a beat and is an absolute must-download title. It has all the same gameplay elements as the traditional game with none of the setup time required.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends: Surprising even myself, The Elder Scrolls: Legends is way more fun than it has any right to be. Even though it is a free-to-play game, the progression never feels too strain when you choose not to spend money, and the gameplay and mechanics get better with every update Bethesda puts out! Free on the App Store.
What games did you play all year?
You've heard from us; now, let's hear from you! Which iPhone or iPad game to you enjoy the most of 2017?
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.