iOS gaming: A year in review

Elder Scrolls deck building on iPad
(Image: © iMore)

Normally, every Thursday I tell you what new game I've been playing each week, but with all the Christmas celebrations with my family and friends, and getting ready to board a plane to ring in 2018 out of town, I haven't played anything this week.

The good news is 2017 was a pretty good year for iOS gamers. With a plethora of great sequels, new titles, and some fantastic ports of console games, I wrote about a lot of games this year. Let's take a look back at all the awesome games we reviewed!

Games I reviewed this year

I took a look at a lot of games this past year, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them were superb! Here's a walk down memory lane at just a few of my thoughts on each title I reviewed in 2017!

Milkmaid of the Milky Way

Intrigued by the title, I downloaded Milkmaid of the Milky Way on somewhat of a whim, not really sure what to expect. The premise seemed odd enough to be fun, but also conceptual enough to be a disaster. To my pleasure (and a little to my surprise) it was definitely the former.

Although the game has a few flaws, if you're a fan of point-and-click adventure games, love a good story with science fiction elements, or have a soft spot for poetry, you'll likely find Milkmaid of the Milky Way pretty entertaining.

Read: Milkmaid of the Milky Way Review

Star Wars: Force Arena

It's easy to paint Star Wars: Force Arena as a Clash Royale copycat, and, at first glance, I was prepared to do the same thing. But once you play the game, you'll realize Netmarble Games has thrown in several new elements — like the leader cards — that give Star Wars: Force Arena a particular edge.

Many of the drawbacks that Star Wars: Force Arena has are the same found in similar games. If you want to reach the top of the leaderboard, you'll have to spend money. And yes, you will grow annoyed at the long wait times between opening card packs.

In my opinion, it's worth the free download. The gameplay is fast and furious and the graphics and soundtrack are outstanding.

Read: Star Wars: Force Arena Review

Red's Kingdom

Red's Kingdom on iPad

Red's Kingdom on iPad (Image credit: Cobra Mobile Limited)

Simply one of my favorite games I played all year, 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.

Read: Red's Kingdom Review

Fire Emblem: Heroes

Fire Emblem Heroes is a stellar game through and through and has really stood the test of time. I still play this game pretty frequently and enjoy all the special events Nintendo comes up with. Whether you're a fan of the long-running series or a complete newcomer, Nintendo has beautifully designed a game that keeps both groups happy.

Read: Fire Emblem: Heroes Review

Evil Factory

Not all games are going to be great, and Evil Factory was a game I just couldn't get behind. Although the visual style was appealing and nostalgic and the quick pace of the game made each battle exciting, the frustrating freemium model of pay-to-play was too slanted towards the pay side, and the dialogue and supporting characters got real old real fast.

Read: Red's Kingdom Review

RPS Saga

RPS Saga takes the simple game mechanics of Rock, Paper, Scissors and attempts to dress it up as something fancy by layering in some RPG-like elements and strategy to the gameplay.

While it doesn't fail per se, it only manages to squeak by with a passing grade. The gameplay is much too random to implement any serious strategy into battles, and the special abilities — while fun and unique – only offer a slight reprieve from the monotonous mechanics of the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors hand game.

Read: RPS Saga Review

Hidden Folks

Hidden Folks on iPad

Hidden Folks on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

Hidden Folks is an amazingly crafted puzzle game that strives for simplicity and succeeds with flying colors.

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.

Read: Hidden Folks Review

Slayaway Camp

The constant throwbacks, shout outs, and nods to famous horror films of generations past and the inclusion of all the awful tropes you find in those cinematic masterpieces, makes Slayaway Camp an instant gold mine to any movies buffs or 80s fanatics.

Overall, Slayaway Camp has plenty of gameplay to offer in a unique and bloody package that will have you laughing your way through the weirdest killing-spree you have ever seen.

Read: Slayaway Camp Review

Djinn Caster

Djinn Caster is an above average action RPG that makes use of an untraditionally setting and with the exception of the start, has some serious storytelling chops.

The combat is a little bland for my liking, as it involves a lot of repetitive button-mashing, but it's layered with lots of abilities, special attacks, and different items to keep things interesting enough never to get truly boring.

Read: Djinn Caster Review


Shardlight takes a post-apocalyptic premise you've seen a million times in countless works of fiction and sucks you into a well-developed world populated with genuine characters.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you second guessing yourself throughout the game. The rebellion against the new world order seems just as shady and sinister as the Aristocrats themselves, and it's impossible to know who to trust. It's been a long time since I was this invested in a story.

The design is solid, and although the backgrounds occasionally feel cluttered, they do a great job of setting the tone of the game. Plus, the voice acting is an excellent addition to an already impressive script, making this game just as fun to listen to as it is to read.

Read: Shardlight Review

The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Coming from a Magic: The Gathering background, I had some pretty high expectations for The Elder Scrolls: Legends. I still play this game today and it's probably the game I have sunk the most time into in 2017.

If you're a newcomer to the strategy card game world or a seasoned veteran The Elder Scrolls: Legends gets a lot of things right, and I highly recommend giving it a shot.

While the in-game tutorials do an excellent job of explaining the game to even the most novice of players, its massive catalogs of cards and two-laned battlefield system offer plenty of depth to the gameplay for the hardcore audience as well.

Read: The Elder Scrolls: Legends Review

Ticket to Earth

Ticket to Earth is an absolutely incredible game and is a must-download for gamers everywhere.

The story is littered the 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.

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, that never gets old.

An original battle system that breathes new life into the strategy RPG genre. The Movement system offers an extremely deep and complex combat experience that never goes stale, as there is always new powers and abilities to acquire.

Read: Ticket to Earth Review

Meganoid (2017)

Meganoid (2017) is a bit of a polarizing game because of its challenge level and on-screen control issues.

There is a lot to like about Meganoid (2017). It's a smooth-running, fast-paced, beautifully-retro looking platformer that provides a tough challenge that some gamers will appreciate. The rogue-like gameplay means you can replay the game a lot and never get bored. If any of this sounds appealing to you, Meganoid (2017) could be a great game for you.

Of course, if you're worried about the clunky controls on top of the challenge as mentioned earlier the game brings, I wouldn't blame you for staying clear.

Read: Meganoid (2017) Review


SCRAP is a fun and colorful auto-runner platformer that provides players with a significant challenge, even when the game starts at a slower pace.

Its minimalist design — both in visuals and sound — will allow you to really focus on the gameplay, which is a must to get the proper timing of all your jumps and swipes down.

At the end of the day, the minor controls issues and the lack of originality could make SCRAP an easy game to forget.

Read: Scrap Review

Cat Quest

Cat Quest is full of cat-related puns, bright and colorful surroundings, and really solid gameplay that makes it an adventure worth owning.

Although the story likes to poke fun at the RPG genre, it isn't the most original at times, overall, I can't say I didn't enjoy the heck out of Cat Quest. The game is incredibly fun and so easy to lose yourself in that it's impossible not to play for hours at a time. The stunning visuals and fantastic gameplay make the game stand out as one of my favorites this year.

Read: Cat Quest

Into the Dead 2

Into the Dead 2 screenshot

Into the Dead 2 screenshot (Image credit: PikPok)

Into the Dead 2 improves on just about every aspect of the first game and delivers a solid and exciting gameplay experience.

The addition of a story mode and a more prominent in-game progression scale has given the shoot-em-up zombie runner a breath of fresh air making it a delight to play. The visuals and sound are absolutely outstanding, and the game does an excellent job of really setting a spooky tone.

All in all, Into the Dead 2 is a fantastic experience and whether you're a fan or not of the prequel, you should be able to enjoy the game for hours on end.

Read: Into the Dead 2 Review


ICEY surprised me, and if you like fast-paced 2D side-scrolling adventures or games that make you use a little brain power, ICEY will likely hit the spot.

The gameplay is incredibly fast, intuitive, and buttery smooth while the graphics and art (especially on full settings) are top of the line.

My only real nitpick is that the narrator's voice could use a little more emotion and a little less of a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe.

Read: ICEY Review


Plain and simple; Peregrin is gorgeous. Right from the very first scene, you see when you start a new game, all the way through the entire game, the beauty of the art and design of Peregrin shines through strong.

The gameplay and story alone make for a title that is well worth its $3.99 price tag, but Peregrin delivers such a beautiful world and pleasant gaming experience that I highly recommend gamers of all types sure give it a download.

Read: Peregrin Review

Catan Stories: Legend of the Sea Robbers

This is not a game for everyone. Asmodee knows its audience and this game is geared towards fans of Settlers of Catan, but I do believe anyone who like story-driven narratives could find some good value in Catan Stories: Legend of the Sea Robbers.

The storytelling is solid and the characters seem well rounded, making the game a delight to breeze through when you have some spare time.

Read: Catan Stories: Legend of the Sea Robbers

White Night

White Night is what I would call an atmospheric game. Its main purpose is to make you feel something (most likely anxiety), and it accomplishes this with flying colors.

It isn't all perfect, the story isn't horribly original and the controls could be a little fine-tuned; however, White Light makes up for these shortcomings with some amazing visuals and superb sound design.

If you love horror games White Night is a must download title, and you should be prepared to feel a little disturbed.

Read: White Night Review

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

I have been continually impressed with Nintendo's mobile titles. I had often wondered if my view of the likes of Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem: Heroes were too biased because of my experience with the Mario and Fire Emblem franchises; however, having no previous experience with Animal Crossing, its mobile offer still shone through as enjoyable and unique.

I have come to realize that Nintendo has a sort of polish to its mobile game that I have come to expect from titles that come directly from the company. Whether they be mobile games or Nintendo Switch games, everything the company releases is more than enjoyable. I would highly suggest continuing to check out Nintendo's future titles ( or old titles if you haven't yet), after giving Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp a try!

Read: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Review

GRID: Autosport

Hands down, I think GRID Autosport is worth a download. The graphics are absolutely incredible, the gameplay is wildly fun, and the game packs in more modes and features than you can shake a stick at!

This is a must-download for any fan of racing games or anyone looking for a robust and challenging mobile experience.

Read: GRID: Autosport Review

Oddworld: New N' Tasty

If you love Oddworld games of the past, New 'n' Tasty will likely check all the boxes for you. The quirky humor, the well-thought out game design, and goofy protagonist all stand out as great features we have seen from Oddworld Inhabitants Inc before.

If you don't have a MFi Controller at the ready, I would suggest not paying for this title; however, if you have a gamepad and are looking for a game that looks and feels like a console platformer, the $7.99 price tag is actually pretty reasonable for a game as well-polished as this.

Read: Oddworld: New N' Tasty Review


Gorogoa snuck in right at the end of the year and quickly became a favorite of mine.

The entire time I played the game I was in a constant state of amazement and what was happening before me. This is a must own game for any iOS user, and offers a well-design, impactful, and beautiful gameplay experience. Gorogoa is a perfect 10/10!

Read: Gorogoa Review

More game reviews coming in 2018

My regular game of the week article will be back next week to kick off a new year of playing and review games! Thanks for reading and commenting on all the reviews this year, and have fun ringing in 2018!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

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.