When you’re bored while waiting for an appointment or while riding public transit where the signal might be spotty, but you don’t want to use up your data, why not enjoy a game you can play without an internet connection?
There are plenty of options available on iOS in nearly any genre you prefer. This list is a rundown of the best offline iOS games, with both paid and free options to enjoy on your iPhone or iPad — anytime, anywhere.
Into the Dead 2
If The Walking Dead and Army of the Dead haven’t given you your zombie fix, check out Into the Dead 2. Save your family from a zombie apocalypse in this action-packed shooter and nab yourself a friendly canine companion to keep you company as you blast your way through seven chapters and 60 challenge-packed stages. The graphics are gorgeous and the environments immersive — but be warned, these zombies aren’t all your average Dawn of the Dead shamblers; There are loads of different types of zombies after you, including runners and armored zombies that require some impressive firepower to take down. Speaking of firepower, the arsenal of powerful weapons at your disposal won’t disappoint, from melee weapons and explosives to machine guns and shotguns. You might even find yourself lopping off undead heads with a chainsaw. Into the Dead 2 can be played offline and is free to play, but there are in-app purchases for some game items.
Do you lie awake at night dreaming of reigning over your own kingdom as a benevolent (or evil) monarch? Umm … just us, then? If you’ve ever felt the urge to rule a medieval kingdom, Reigns is the perfect iOS game for you. The game is played with cards that present various scenarios — such as “We can never be too prepared. You need to recruit more soldiers.” You choose what to do by swiping left or right — and that’s about it. The goal is equally simple: Reign over your kingdom and keep the four pillars of society — people, church, army, and treasury — balanced, for a harmonious kingdom. It’s easier said than done though, as every choice you make impacts one of the four pillars. To some extent, planning carefully and making sensible decisions will get you far — but there are always unexpected events or moments of bad luck that could turn it all around. Reigns is a great game for those long car journeys or tedious commutes where internet signal is unreliable — and the quirky humor and difficult choices will easily keep you entertained for hours.
Subway Surfers is free to play — although there are in-app purchases — and it’s a solid little endless runner that’s surprisingly addictive. The aim? Run as fast as you can to escape from the inspector and his dog, all the while dodging oncoming trains and other obstacles. Ride the hoverboard or try out the paint-powered jetpack for size — you can even compete with your friends. The fast-paced swiping, colorful HD graphics, and smooth controls means this game is never dull.
It may look simple, but Flow Free is far from it. This addictive little puzzle game challenges you to connect matching colors using pipe — once all colors are paired, the puzzle is solved. Take care though — if pipes overlap or cross, they’ll break. There are over 2,500 levels available for free, and to unlock more and remove the ads you can pay $5. If you get bored — and you won’t — Time Trial mode lets you race against the clock for an additional challenge. The various levels range from chilled and zen to fast and frenetic, so whatever your mood, there’s a level to suit it.
If you haven’t yet played either of the Badland games, we’d recommend starting with this one — though Badland 2 is also available for $1 in the Apple store. This side-scrolling adventure game takes place in a beautiful forest filled with mysterious inhabitants and colorful flora and fauna. But something’s wrong. You control one of the forest dwellers as you investigate what’s happening and explore this amazing world, avoiding a number of obstacles and traps along the way. The physics-based gameplay takes a while to master, but once you do you’ll be fully immersed in the game. There are over 100 levels in the single-player campaign and a rather cool Versus mode that lets up to four players game on the same device, with over 30 levels to challenge you and your friends. There’s even a cool level editor that lets you create and share your own levels.
Dead Cells ($9)
Dead Cells is one of the most popular indie titles to come out in recent years. Following the popular rogue-like formula, players assume the role of a failed alchemical experiment as it explores and fights its way through a constantly changing castle. The game is a metroidvania with rogue-like elements. Every time a player dies, they can level up and get new skills. The game is fast-paced and frantic, and it is perfect to play on iOS now that it supports controllers.
Journey was one of the best games to be released on the PlayStation 3, and it’s considered to be one of the best games ever made. Now, Journey is available on iOS. If you didn’t get a chance to play it on the PS3, now is the perfect chance to do it. You can play the game online if you want, but it is just as enjoyable by yourself in single-player mode. The minimal art style looks great on iOS, and now that the game supports MFi controllers, you can enjoy the game as it was originally designed.
Valleys Between ($3)
Valleys Between is another one of the many beautiful games designed specifically for iOS. In Valleys Between, players must manage a civilization of animals while making the environment sustainable. The environment is played on hexagonal tiles, similar to Civilization. It’s a lovely and accessible title that has a decent difficulty curve that makes it ideal for casual and experienced gamers alike.
Rewind back to the ’80s with this spooky, supernatural tale. Oxenfree tells the story of a group of friends who accidentally open a ghostly rift and attempt to deal with what results. But the core of the game isn’t found in what happens to you — it’s what you choose to do. How you deal with the ghostly events and your friends is entirely up to you, and there are many different mysteries to unravel. With the story changing with every decision you make, there’s a lot here to explore and uncover, making Oxenfree the perfect game to eat up your time. It’s free to play the first part of the game, but the rest of the game will cost $5. Still, if you’re hooked, it’s absolutely worth the money.
It’s a simple idea, but Stickman Hook‘s swinging gameplay is fun and engaging, and it draws you right in from the very first moment. The core of the game owes a lot to a certain sticky-fingered superhero, but don’t let that put you off. The goal of each level is to use your swinging abilities to reach the checkered finish line, using gravity, momentum, and some bouncy pads to propel yourself without falling out of the stage. It’s completely free to play, with optional extras unlocked with money. It’s great for filling the time when you’ve got a few spare moments, and it doesn’t need any data to work.
The Room ($1)
Fireproof Games’ The Room has been a mobile staple since the original title launched in 2012. The Room: Old Sins, the fourth game in the series, launched in 2018. Chances are you’ve come across these games on the App Store, whether from recommendations or on the top charts where they frequently stay. Each game in the series features a series of escape room-style puzzles. Every level has a single room, and multiple 3D box puzzles that must be opened by shifting mechanisms, finding keys, and using clues learned through play. Remarkably, each entry in the series is as great as the last. Expertly conceived and exceedingly well-designed, The Room series is a can’t miss puzzle franchise. You don’t have to play them in order, but we recommend starting with the first, which is available for just $1.
Monument Valley 2 ($5)
The sequel to the 2014 smash hit from Ustwo Games, Monument Valley 2 expanded on what made the first so great. The shifting puzzle maps and many of the mechanics returned, but this time you played as Ro, a mother who must guide her young child through each area. With the story more clear this time, the atmosphere of the isometric experience was used more effectively. Tinkering with mechanisms and finding hidden pathways to reach the exit in each level is a constant delight. From presentation to sound to story to gameplay, Monument Valley 2 is a complete experience with no weak links.
Alto’s Odyssey ($5)
Alto’s Odyssey replaces the snowy mountains of Alto’s Adventure with a variety of desert-themed landscapes. Snowboarding through the three large zones, each filled with randomly generated areas, has the same crisp and exhilarating feel of the original. Alto’s Odyssey‘s minimalistic and oddly cathartic gameplay shines across the beautiful, varied regions. This is one of the best automatic runners around and a wonderful experience overall.
To the Moon ($5)
One of the most heartfelt and endearing games ever made, To the Moon follows a dying man named Johnny Wyles who desperately wants to go to the moon. He reaches out to two doctors who use advanced technology to recreate the memories of his life. What follows is a moving and somber love story, gorgeously rendered with 16-bit visuals. Grab a box of tissues before playing.
An interactive story about the rise and fall of a young woman’s relationship, Florence artfully captures the feeling of falling in love for the first time. The gameplay is minimal, as it mostly involves completing rudimentary puzzles. But everything you touch and interact with meaningfully connects to the story being told. Best of all, it does all of this without words. Sublime art, a subtle wordless narrative, and a great soundtrack make Florence a must-play game.
Donut County ($5)
Like Katamari Damacy in reverse, you control a hole across a variety of levels in Donut County. As objects fall into the hole, it grows larger, allowing bigger objects such as trees and eventually cars and buildings to fall in as well. Eventually, the hole is fitted with a catapult to assist in collecting more and more stuff. The gameplay is as relaxing and pure as Katamari Damacy, and the story, surrounding the humans and anthropomorphic animals of Donut County, is also quite entertaining.
Stardew Valley ($5)
The mega-hit that originally launched on PC before moving to consoles is now available on iOS. Stardew Valley is a delightful small town farming sim in the vein of Harvest Moon. Along with tending to your crops and fishing, you build relationships with your neighbors in Pelican Town. You can make friends and even get married. Stardew Valley is the perfect game to pick up and visit for 15 minutes each day on your morning commute. A warning, though: It’s easy to spend hundreds of hours in Pelican Town.
Threes! has been copied a bunch of times — 2048 being the most notable example — but the original 4×4 grid puzzler is the king of its sub-genre. The concept is simple. Combine ones and twos to make three, then combine matching numbers for the rest of the round. Threes become sixes, sixes become twelves, etc. A new tile enters the board with every move. The goal is to build as big of a number as possible before running out of moves. Threes is a smart puzzler and an excellent way to spend a few minutes while in waiting rooms, grocery store lines, or airport terminals.
With a name like Welltaro, of course, he likes exploring wells. Downwell is an intense roguelike rendered almost entirely in black and white. As you fall down the well, you have to avoid many obstacles and foes. Welltaro’s boots are fitted with guns, but they only reload when touching down on a surface. It moves at a maniacal pace, but you can play it entirely one-handed, as it’s specifically designed for portrait mode. Each death teaches you something new about the game, but each round has randomized wells to keep the experience fresh throughout.
The follow-up to Playdead’s chilling atmospheric platformer Limbo, Inside is aesthetically very similar. It also follows a young boy in a mysterious land and the monochromatic color scheme really sets the tone. Throughout the adventure, you guide the boy through a forest and a strange factory filled with all sorts of oddities. Each area has clever physics puzzles to solve before you can advance. The gameplay is sound, but the wordless, ominous narrative is what makes Inside so captivating. It’s free to start, with later episodes costing money to unlock.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($7)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, one of the best PS2 games, runs and plays surprisingly well on iOS devices. Carl Johnson is one of the most interesting characters in series history and his return home from Liberty City to the San Andreas region packs dozens of hours of great open-world action. Plenty of console games have been ported to mobile devices, but very few have translated as well as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Old Man’s Journey ($5)
An Old Man goes on a quest to reckon with the life he has lived. This is his journey, but you can help him out by clearing the path that he walks across. You move platforms, change the contour of hills, and prompt him to speak with folks along the way. In terms of gameplay, it’s extremely minimalistic. But the point here is the story, elevated by beautiful hand-drawn art. This one can be completed on a short flight, but you’ll be happy to have enjoyed the Old Man’s Journey as you embark on a journey of your own.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions ($14)
Ported from the PSP, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions is one of the best turn-based strategy games ever made. It features a huge cast of interesting characters, a massive number of missions, and a deep and rewarding battle system that gradually reveals its complexities and nuances over time. While it’s the most expensive game on this list, it boasts over 100 hours of excellent gameplay.
The Witness ($10)
At its core, The Witness is a collection of line puzzles. That doesn’t sound super interesting, but somehow it’s downright magical. Set on a completely open island, each area’s puzzles have different rulesets. Some of them even require environmental cues, both sights and sounds, to uncover the correct solutions. The result is 523 masterfully designed puzzles. The island itself is filled with cryptic statues and objects, which all lead up to a pretty bizarre ending. The Witness is without a doubt one of the best puzzle games ever.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ($10)
This iOS RPG is based on the 2003 Xbox classic and is considered by many to be the best Star Wars games ever released. Taking place 4,000 years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, the iOS remaster delivers stunning roleplaying features combined with an epic storyline.
KOTOR is likely as good as it will get for the game’s many fans, as BioWare has no plans to create a third game for the series. Fortunately, you can still go back and have a great time with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. If you want a deep RPG to play on the go, look no further.
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