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 IPHONE FEATURE

PG's top 10 best iPhone and iPad games of the year - 2013 edition

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Pocket Gamer iOS Game of the Year

This year, the App Store played host to its one millionth app.

Okay, so most of them are One Direction trivia quizzes and tools for applying arty filters to your selfies.

But among the endless endless-runners and matching match-three games, this maturing shop can boast some seriously great games.

Games that defy genre pigeonholing, like anti-censorship saga Blackbar. Games that resurrect long-dead genres, like sexy text adventure DEVICE 6. Games that sap your time, make you think, and leave you in awe of their vast worlds.

2013 has been a bumper year for iOS - we could quite easily pick out 20 or 30 must-have games of the year. But if we're being picky, these ten games really defined the last 12 months of the App Store.

Blackbar
By Neven Mrgan - buy on iPhone and iPad

Blackbar

This was a year of civil wars, government shutdowns, and royal babies. But there's one news story that simply refuses to go away: the unsettling role of the US government's all-seeing NSA.

Neven Mrgan and James Moore's censorship saga Blackbar is not a direct send-up of the NSA, but it feels eerily timely in 2013.

Then again, its unique puzzling mechanic and memorable plot would make it a must-play game in any year.

Ridiculous Fishing - A Tale of Redemption
By Vlambeer - buy on iPhone and iPad

Ridiculous Fishing

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for life. Give a man Ridiculous Fishing, and he'll become so hopelessly addicted that the very concept of "eating" becomes irrelevant.

That's the ever-present threat of Vlambeer's mobile masterpiece.

Between upgrading your gear and chasing after an entire encyclopedia of secret species, you just won't be able to let go of this slick, funny, and even touching little indie gem.

Oceanhorn
By Cornfox & Bros. - buy on iPhone and iPad

Oceanhorn

If you're going to emulate a game, you might as well pick a good one. And there are few better places to find inspiration than Nintendo's epic fantasy series The Legend of Zelda.

With Oceanhorn, Cornfox & Bros. follows the Zelda formula with meticulous detail, giving iOS gamers the sun-kissed islands; the dark and dingy pits; the feisty swordplay, and the tricky puzzles.

Unlike Nintendo in Zelda, however, Cornfox & Bros. refuses to hold your hand and lets you feel like you're on a true adventure.

Year Walk
By Simogo - buy on iPhone and iPad

Year Walk

A year walk, according to Simogo and a Swedish Wikipedia article that got a bit mangled in translation to English, is a ritualistic spirit quest where you wander into some chilly woods and have a peek at the future.

That's just the start of iOS adventure game Year Walk, though, for it soon turns into a creepy pop-up book of horrors.

It's also got a memorable little storyline and some incredibly clever conundrums. The game even 'jumps' into another app, in one of the smartest video game puzzles of the year.

Limbo
By Playdead - buy on iPhone and iPad

Limbo

Limbo's legacy is as clear as, ahem, black and white. That claustrophobic silhouette art style has been re-used and adapted by so many app makers of late, you might start to wonder who stole the games industry's coloured pencils.

Limbo, however, is not just a stunning bit of visual design. This pitch-black nightmare of a platformer also contains a devilishly clever procession of puzzles. And Playdead's got so many ideas up its sleeve here it can rarely find time to repeat the same thing twice.

DEVICE 6
By Simogo - buy on iPhone and iPad

DEVICE 6

20 years ago, Simogo's psychological thriller might have been published as a Penguin paperback. But by launching it on the App Store rather than in a bookstore, Simogo is free to toy around with form and function.

Take the way that the descriptions of Anna's surroundings are laid out like a map. And the way you move between rooms just by reading in different directions. Or how the words are infused with photos and audio and some seriously tricky Cing-calibre conundrums.

Touchgrind Skate 2
By Illusion Labs - buy on iPhone and iPad

Touchgrind Skate 2

Believe it or not, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 is not an accurate representation of skateboarding. You can't do a 900-degree spin off a tiny half pipe, and gravity only acts like that on the Moon.

Touchgrind Skate 2 is much more realistic. Which is to say that you'll stumble and fall off your board 20 times per every one successful trick.

But those rare triumphs? Boy, are they worth the scraped knees, busted limbs, and feral howls of frustration.

Rayman Fiesta Run
By Ubisoft - buy on iPhone and iPad

Rayman Fiesta Run

We had auto-runners before. We even had game designers that parcelled up the endless-runner into short and hand-crafted stages. But few did it with the style and confidence of Ubisoft in its mobile re-imagining of Rayman Origins.

With this sequel, Ubi refuses to mess with a winning formula. But by bumping up the difficulty and taking the limbless hero to some fresh locations, the French studio has crafted another must-have iOS platformer.

The Room 2
By Fireproof Games - buy on iPad

The Room 2

The Room would probably have been better served with a name like The Box. This sequel is truly deserving of the name, though, for it contains puzzles that spill out into entire rooms (be they dusty crypts or a mad scientist's lab).

You're still pawing at lavish 3D recreations of drawers, keys, and boxes in your attempts to solve fiendish puzzles. And you're still getting freaked out by a close and creepy atmosphere.

Only this time around, those noises are not just bumps in the night...

Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage
By Nitrome - buy on iPhone and iPad

Icebreaker Viking Voyage

This year, Angry Birds maker Rovio started up a publishing arm called Rovio Stars. Little did it know, but the debut game from Rovio Stars would outshine anything released by the mother company.

That game is Icebreaker, a funny, thoughtful, and wonderfully inventive game about chopping up bits of ice to help save some Viking explorers.

It also has more variety in one world than Angry Birds has in all its multiple spin-offs.
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 26 December 2013
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Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
215
@britishgaming | 10:06 - 13 January 2014
Makes you wonder what Nadav?
Joined:
Feb 2013
Post count:
51
Nadav Bar | 08:35 - 13 January 2014
almost everything is debatable ... but the number of paid apps on your list, makes me wonder ...
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
215
@britishgaming | 12:25 - 2 January 2014
You mean subjectively, Chris!
Joined:
Jul 2012
Post count:
506
Contest Chris | 03:29 - 2 January 2014
@Eriatarka, Limbo's controls work fine on my pad. They just don't go round telling you...do this, do that, this means this etc. Only issue I had was jumping off ropes if I recall, but that only happened a few times in the game.

It is such a travesty to see two Simogo games in the Top 10. Again, this brings the list into disrepute. Simogo's games are amongst the worst games (objectively speaking) I have played on my iPad. And why you guys keep flying the Rid Fis flag baffles me to no end.

In any case, DE The Fall should be here. A faithful representation of the PC game (I was shocked really).
Joined:
Jul 2011
Post count:
67
Divisionbell | 17:14 - 28 December 2013
With limbo being on this list, xcom should definitely be here too. Good list though!
Joined:
Dec 2012
Post count:
108
Eriatarka | 00:14 - 27 December 2013
868 Hack and Super Stickman Golf 2 both belong in the list, the latter is probably the only mobile game I've logged up 40+ hours on due to the amazing online play. The former is just brilliant game mechanics; indie gaming at its finest.

Would also argue for Stone Age.


I would drop Limbo because its a port which is inferior to the Xbox 360/PC version due to the control issues (this is also why XCOM shouldn't be on any list), and Oceanhorn for just being a 2nd rate console game imitation (be serious; if the same game was released on the xbox would anyone have scored it more than 6/10?). I also didnt really 'get' Icebreaker at all, but thats probably just subjective.
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
46
Marco Latini | 18:58 - 26 December 2013
Very good top ten in my opinion....i also loved night sky and tiny thief along with hundreds,inkoboto, mimpi and plants vs zombies 2.
 
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