80 Days

80 Days is great-looking art design meshed with a choose-your-adventure type story based on Jules Verne's "Around The World in 80 Days"...but with a steampunk spin. Perfect for a long flight.

Price:$4.99, £3.99, AU$7.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Alto's Adventure

It took half a year for us to realize how good this game is. It's simple, but it's also very inexpensive, extremely addictive, and you can play it with one finger (and kids love it, too).

Price: $0.99, £0.79, AU$0.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Badland 2

A simple but beautiful game involving flapping a weird winged creature-thing through alien shadow-worlds. The sequel adds forward and backward movement, a lot more levels, and -- bonus! -- 3D Touch support for new iPhones, if you have one.

Price: $4.99, £3.99, AU$8.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Bean Dreams

Cute, colorful, simple to control, Bean Dreams feels like a retro platform game from the Nintendo era reinvented for phones and tablets. There are plenty of games like this on the App Store, but the multiple in-stage goals and weirdly challenging premise (control a constantly jumping bean with a hat) make this one stand out. There are also sequels, too.

Price:$2.99, £1.99, AU$3.79 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Capitals

A free game that's a combination of territorial strategy and word game, Capitals pits you against friends as you battle turn by turn to capture the board. Play it.

Price: Free (with optional in-app purchases)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Carcassone

Already a classic board game in its own right, this port is still one of the best board game adaptations on a tablet, period. Online and local multiplayer and a weekly solitaire puzzle challenge add up to a ton of replay value, and in-app expansions offer tons of extra modes. If you're board-game apprehensive, don't worry: Carcassone is a must-buy, and it's great for pass-and-play multiplayer.

Price: $9.99, £6.99, AU$12.99 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Does Not Commute

It feels like an arcade racing game, but the puzzles unfold as you realize you're controlling multiple drivers at the same time, trying not to crash or run out of time. It's free, or you can pay for the ad-free unlock.

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Fallout Shelter

Fallout 4 is an epic post-apocalyptic adventure, but Fallout Shelter is its free-to-play phone cousin, and it's much more adorable. Let people into your fallout shelter. Raise them carefully. Then hope they don't die.

Price: Free (with optional in-app purchases)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

FTL: Faster Than Light

A PC cult hit, indie game FTL has made it onto the iPad with all the trimmings and bonus content of the PC versions, plus a perfect set of touch controls. Manage your ship across various missions, all randomly generated. It's strategy, not action, and the graphics are as simple as they come, but it's endlessly addicting.

Price: $9.99, £6.99, AU$12.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Galaxy Trucker

Originally a physical board game, this tablet adaptation starts as a timed battle to build your own ship out of interconnecting puzzle pieces. Then you "battle" against other players in card-based missions across the galaxy...trucking cargo. Online play, tons of missions, and it still feels like a board game.

Price:$2.99, £2.29, AU$4.49

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

Geometry Wars has been around for years on consoles and even on the iPad, but it's made a triumphant return as a richer 3D arcade game with deeper challenges and crazily warped arenas. Recent updates also add two-player gaming and iPad Pro optimizations.

Price: $9.99, £7.99, AU$14.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Back in 2004, PlayStation 2 owners lost weeks of their lives to Rockstar's Southland epic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The game's been miniaturized for iOS and offered up for a pittance. The entire game's there, along with the fantastic soundtrack and touched-up graphics. It works with iPad-compatible game controllers, too: excellently, we might add.

Price: $6.99, £4.99, AU$8.99 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone, a free-to-play game from Blizzard and a hit on PC, is a game worth paying money for. You may do that via in-app purchases, but you don't need to; keep playing endless matches of this collectible card game online to earn extras instead. And don't be surprised to see hours melt away from your life...as long as you're online.

Price: Free (optional in-app purchases)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Her Story

It looks like an old, curved computer monitor. You can search for archived video clips about a murder investigation. As you follow a tangled story, you realize this is a really clever type of film in puzzle form. It looks perfect on the iPad screen, too.

Price: $4.99, £3.99, AU$6.49

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Kingdom Rush HD

Tower defense games are a dime a dozen in the App Store, but Kindgom Rush HD is part of a franchise of games, all of them pretty great. Plenty of upgrades and missions will hook even the most jaded iPad player, and you don't need to worry about freemium grinding.

Price: Free

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Lara Croft Go

Hitman Go was our go-to pick for board-game-meets-puzzle innovation, but this spiritual sequel is more family-friendly, has better levels, and anyway, play it.

Price: $1.99, £1.49, AU$2.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Legend of Grimrock

A great PC game once again hits the iPad: this one's a dungeon-crawling adventure game with lots of loot and maps to decipher. Perfect on all iPad sizes (and pretty solid on the Plus-size iPhone, too).

Price: $4.99, £3.99, AU$7.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Machinarium

Machinarium is a gorgeously rendered journey through a slightly ominous universe where the answers to the puzzles presented aren't immediately obvious. Previously a PC/Mac point-and-click game, it's even better on a touchscreen device like an iPad.

Price: $4.99, £2.99, AU$6.49 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Minecraft: Pocket Edition

I'm not good at Minecraft. My son is. The pocket edition of Minecraft has gotten better over time to the point where it's one of the best mobile games, period. Controller support on iPads makes it even better.

Price: $6.99, £4.99, AU$10.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Monument Valley

Incredibly beautiful optical illusions that feel like M.C. Escher or the old PSP game Echochrome are actually puzzles in Monument Valley, a short but mesmerizing puzzler. Extra levels can be purchased in-game: get those, too.

Price: $3.99, £2.49, AU$4.99 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Olo

A favorite of ours for years, Olo is a great little tabletop multiplayer kid-friendly game, with a kinetic twist: try to stay in bounds while knocking the other player's pieces off. Two- or four-player modes plus online play, and it's equally great on iPhone.

Price: $2.99, £2.49, AU$3.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Super-fast manic arcade action, a port of one of the best games to ever hit consoles. Supports controllers, has tons of game modes. This is one of my favorite games of all time. Don't question it.

Price: $0.99, £0.79, AU$1.49

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Papers, Please

You're a passport-processing drone in a totalitarian state. Endless people pass in front of you. Why do you do this? The story unfolds as you play. The unnerving retro-PC style and soundtrack work perfectly.

Price:$7.99, £5.49, AU$9.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Proun+

You're a ball, racing along a rail through abstract worlds, avoiding obstacles. Tap to move or tilt your iPad to steer. It's also beautiful to play: full of funky art, with plenty of tracks and challenges. And it's mesmerizing.

Price: $3.99, £0.79, AU$2.49 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Prune

Slow, meditative and oddly relaxing, with a gardening touch. With finger swipes, you prune plants from shoots to blossoming trees, while avoiding bad red circles. Hopefully, your trees will reach the light.

Price: $2.99, £2.29, AU$4.49

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

The Room Three

Creepy, atmospheric, and full of brilliant puzzles: The Room and The Room 2 are both worth buying, especially for fans of classic PC games like Myst. The Room 3 is more of the same. Definitely not good for young kids.

Price: $4.99, £3.99, AU$7.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Rymdkapsel

Somewhere between tower defense and Tetris, the simple laying down of territory, building facilities, and surviving wave after wave of attacking creatures makes Rymdkapsel an arcade-like experience that'll suck an hour from your evening faster than you'd possibly expect. The minimalist look is equally effective on larger or smaller iPads.

Price: $3.99, £2.49, AU$4.99 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein / Caption by: ,

The Sailor's Dream

The Sailor's Dream is more of a meditative, unfolding story that you explore and swipe through. Where does it go? What does it mean? It involves islands, memory, and to say more would ruin the beautiful experience.

Price:$3.99, £2.49, AU$4.99 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Super Stickman Golf 2

It may not have the fancy graphics of Tiger Woods Golf, but Super Stickman Golf is simple yet challenging -- and highly addictive. The sequel sports the same basic look, but adds spruced-up artwork, plus additional power-ups, and two multiplayer modes. Even better, it's free (with some optional in-app purchases).

Price: Free (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET / Caption by: ,

Ticket to Ride

Yes, we love board games on the iPad. In the tradition of Settlers of Catan and Carcassone, Ticket to Ride is an award-winning board game that's actually easier to learn, but offers endless replay value. Online multiplayer is fast and a breeze to set up, and additional board game expansion packs are available for when you tire of the main game, which will likely be never. Newly added pass-and-play multiplayer -- and the ability to use the iPhone version of the game in local matches -- makes living-room play far more fun.

Price: $6.99, £4.99, AU$8.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Transistor

A science-fiction isometric adventure by the makers of Bastion, another indie hit that's been on this list before. Sink in, lean back. All you need to do is tap.

Price: $2.99, £2.29, AU$4.49

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Traps n' Gemstones

Long hallways, treasures, and lots of puzzles. Traps n' Gemstones is like a long-lost 8-bit Indiana Jones game, with iOS game controller support, too.

Price: $4.99, £2.99, AU$6.49 (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Wayward Souls

Take a Super Nintendo RPG and make it a randomly generated dungeon-exploration action-RPG that's surprising, tough, and brings death constantly. Now you understand Wayward Souls. Fans of Spelunky and 16-bit adventure games, don't hesitate.

Price: $6.99, £4.99, AU$8.99

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,

Zen Pinball

Zen Pinball makes dozens of pinball tables, many of them fantastic: Star Wars, Marvel and many, many more. Pinball nuts could lose themselves for weeks. The app comes with a free table to start you off, but you'll want to buy at least one more...or two.


Price: Free, can purchase extra tables (universal app)

Published:
Photo by: Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET / Caption by: ,
Hot Galleries

CNET EDITORS' CHOICE

Amazon Echo Dot is the future

The new and improved Echo Dot takes Amazon's best-in-class smart home speaker and wraps it in an ultra-affordable package. See why it earned our Editors' Choice award.

Hot Products