We really do believe that Monument Valley is going to be one of the finest mobile games of 2014. The Escher-inspired puzzle game is strange, and lovely, a deeply rewarding rabbit hole of an experience. You control the tiny Princess Ida on a mysterious mission in a place called Monument Valley, made up of non-Euclidean structures populated by belligerent black birds. The nature of her mission is part of the splendid discovery experience built into the game as you guide Ida around the monuments, twisting and sliding to shift perspectives in order to make your way through the levels.
Price: AU$4.99 | US$3.99 |£2.49
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
There have been a few attempts to port the collectible card game experience to mobile, with varying levels of success (Solforge is pretty great). We don't know if Hearthstone is the best, but it's definitely up there, with all the polish and shine Blizzard can muster. It also has some decent strategy to get into, with nine playable classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to custom-build your own decks, breaking down cards you don't need to craft new ones. There's more to it, of course, but the tutorials are breezily intuitive -- and you can get some in-game goodies for World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo by completing achievements.
If you ever wanted to be the captain of your own spaceship… well, there are several simulators out there, but few with the appeal of indie darling FTL (Faster Than Light). In it, you are the captain of your ship in a randomly generated universe, trying to deliver critical information to your allies while surrounded by hostiles. The game itself is strategy-based: you have to carefully manage resources to keep your ship moving, diverting them in times of crisis to keep from getting blown up. It can get crazy difficult -- but it's worth the ride.
Price: AU$12.99 | US$9.99 |£6.99
Wind-up Knight 2
Our favourite little clockwork Knight has made a return. There's not a lot that's actually changed between Wind-up Knight and Wind-up Knight 2 in terms of gameplay -- you're still playing a coin-collecting, hazard-avoiding, monster-slaying side-scroller, but it's a very well made one, and it gets pretty challenging pretty quickly. It's also added side-quests to round out the gameplay: each level has three objectives you can complete separately for extra coins -- plus, it's one of those rare games that doesn't require you to make in-app purchases in order to play or win.
Fly Catbug Fly!
Arguing which of Pendleton Ward's creation is the best is a futile discussion (but it's totally Catbug). Fly Catbug Fly! is pretty much just an endless runner, but it's a really cute one. You have to guide Catbug along a side-scrolling path, tapping to gain height and collecting items along the way, which you can deposit in portals for in-game cash. You can then use this to buy Catbug cool little costumes. Not the most conceptually brilliant or in-depth game we've ever seen, but, well, Catbug.
Price: AU$1.29 | US$0.99 |£0.69
Taijitu is a relaxing colour-based puzzler in the vein of Color Zen. In it, your screen is divided in two, with coloured shapes on both sides. The aim is to balance the screen so that the colours are divided evenly, with just enough difficulty to engage the mind. With no scoring and no timers, it's the kind of experience that is just right to wind down and decompress.
Price: AU$ 2.49 | $US1.99 |£1.49
It's very rare that you see a major franchise tie-in that works in a new or interesting way. Hitman Go spins off from Square Enix's Hitman series, and it's very different to its stealth shooter forebears. It's a board game with a series of predefined paths laid out along a grid, and you have to move an Agent 47 piece to take out the other pieces. You can only take them out from behind or from the side, though, so it requires some tricky strategic manoeuvring.
Price: AU$6.49 | US$4.99 |£2.99
Unpossible is one for your stable of survival arcade titles, alongside WaveWave, Super Hexagon and Pivvot -- and it brings its own take to the genre. You're travelling at a breakneck speed along a rail (well, the outside of a twisting, turning tube), and the aim is to avoid the obstacles in your path by holding or tilting your device. That's it… but it's gorgeously executed in futuristic black and neon blue, with a pumping electronic soundtrack to keep the adrenaline high. Add some really smooth controls to the mix, and Unpossible is a winner.
Price: AU$2.49 | US$1.99 |£1.49
Third Eye Crime
Third Eye Crime isn't actually dissimilar to Hitman Go, although it's rather more noirish in tone. You play the role of Rothko, a criminal with a "third eye". It's played out in a top-down perspective, and your role is to nab the loot and make your escape, all while evading the guards. You can't avoid their gaze -- which is displayed by a blue area -- but you can see where they're heading in order to move around in the opposite direction. There's plenty of hard-boiled narration from our antihero, and a blues double-bass soundtrack keeps up the Chandleresque tone.
Price: AU$3.79 | US$2.99 |£1.99
This month in procedural deathlabyrinths, we have Wayward Souls, a nostalgic trip down permadeath lane. Inspired by games such as Spelunky and The Secret of Mana, it sees you taking on the role of one of six character classes -- warrior, mage, rogue, adventurer, spellsword and cultist -- to destroy the evil that is terrorising the land. Of course. But it's a survival of the fittest world out there, and the game is not kind. There's something tremendously fun, though, about the high-stakes hack-and-slash it has to offer.
Price: AU$6.49 | US$4.99 |£2.99
From the creator of the beautifully designed Machinarium comes Botanicula. There's something very sweet about it. You are in control of a party of five friends who live in a tree, trying to save its last seed from a devouring spider-thing. Like Machinarium, this involves solving point-and-click style puzzles, collecting items to proceed down the tree. Each of your five little tree-guys has a different skill, and you'll have to figure out which little guy can complete which task, usually involving getting to a hard-to-reach area. There's an element of exploration to it, too: as you journey, you'll come across many small, strange creatures, each of which gives you a new collectible card.
Price: AU$6.49 | US$4.99 |£2.99
If you like your stunt bike titles, Trials Frontier is up there among the best. It has pretty standard gameplay: you have to ride your (upgradeable) motorcycle along hazardous tracks, doing as many stunts as you can while aiming for the best time -- but gravity is not your friend. It offers a decent challenge, and if you're interested in a more casual experience, spending money is entirely optional.
Flappy48 is the devil. Like combining steak and chips, though, it's a match made in heaven. It puts together Flappy Bird and 2048 (which is based on Threes!). You have to guide your numbers through the pipes, smooshing them together with matching numbers to increase your score.
Now this is something amazing we haven't seen before: a point-and-click noir murder mystery… that's procedurally generated. You have to investigate the crime, interrogating suspects, searching for clues and trying to catch the killer before the killer catches you. Each time you play, it will be a different game, leading to potentially hours and hours of gameplay.
Price: AU$3.32 | US$2.99 | £1.80
Out last month for Android
Waiting for a particular game that got an iOS release a while ago? Here are our picks.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (AU$10.71 | US$9.99 | £7.14)
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (AU$12.99 | US$9.99 | £6.99)
Lego Star Wars Microfighters (AU$1.06 | US$0.99 | £0.59)
Polymer (AU$0.99 | US$0.99 | £0.54)
Mikey Hooks (AU$0.99 | US$0.99 | £0.54)
Impossible Road (AU$2.33 | AU$1.99 | £1.49)