Minimal strategy and puzzle games for iOS
May 27, 2014 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for well-designed puzzle and strategy games for my iPhone 5S.

Requirements: Puzzle-wise, I also want the game to be infinitely playable, rather than having levels that will eventually run out. I like basic minimal design (Rymdkapsel) and simple mechanics (Dots), but am also interested in an especially good tower defense game or a 4X game. Free or paid, but no in-app purchases.
posted by reductiondesign to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
posted by brentajones at 2:16 PM on May 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

Polymer FYI, there are in-app purchases, but they're not mandatory, and you can unlock many of them for free if you get high scores in certain modes.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 2:18 PM on May 27, 2014

Monument Valley
posted by tardigrade at 2:23 PM on May 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like the lamentably named Lazors. (Disclaimer: I have only played the iPad version, but I don't imagine they're too different.) There are a finite number of levels but there are a ton of them.
posted by phunniemee at 2:35 PM on May 27, 2014

posted by Joh at 3:01 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Trainyard. Also Helsing's Fire.
posted by jeather at 3:07 PM on May 27, 2014

posted by mercredi at 3:08 PM on May 27, 2014

I am a big fan of Drop7. Regrettably it's a Zynga game so the design is relatively sucky, but there are no in-app purchases and it is infinitely playable (similar to Tetris). It is the game I used to wean myself off of Dots.
posted by telegraph at 3:10 PM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

+1 for Drop7
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:13 PM on May 27, 2014

+1 for Drop 7 and Trainyard
I also really like Auditorium, and the other games from that studio (like Fractal).
Type Rider is kinda fun too, and looks nice - but not as great as the games above.

(btw, Drop 7 was written by area|code and acquired by Zynga - they at least started off cool.)
posted by bashos_frog at 3:57 PM on May 27, 2014

In addition to previously mentioned:

Dropzap 2
Eliss Infinity
Hundreds (100 levels)
Slayin (ostensibly action, but really a puzzle)
Paper Galaxy (action-puzzle and a MeFi Project)
Bubble Shooter Free

A couple of these have cosmetic/skippable IAP.
posted by michaelh at 4:48 PM on May 27, 2014

Maybe Osmos? There is a lot of variety around the central, simple theme of "getting bigger". The Impasse games where the motes are packed in tight and moving your mote sets the others moving might fit your bill as both minimalist and strategic... I find that part of the game very relaxing and meditative (though other types of play in the game stress me out.) I've had the game for probably three years now and still enjoy playing it most days, in that particular niche, described above. The playing field is randomized each time, too, so it's a new landscape to maneuver each time. Edit--missed that you're on a phone, may only be iPad, sorry!
posted by Sublimity at 4:53 PM on May 27, 2014

Voro. Also, Edge and Edge Extended.
posted by tra at 4:59 PM on May 27, 2014

Monument Valley is charming (though easy), but very short.

Worth playing, but won't last you very long.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:22 PM on May 27, 2014

I really liked Poppi, although I don't think they're updating it. (I wanted an endless mode.)
posted by leahwrenn at 5:28 PM on May 27, 2014

Oh, and not a game, but iOrnament is good for hours of entertainment. Better on an iPad, but fine on a phone. Worth paying the inApp upgrade for the hyperbolic and spherical tilings.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:39 PM on May 27, 2014

Sword & Poker (and/or the sequel) is a neat little RPG card game that's surprisingly replayable.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:42 PM on May 27, 2014

Triple Town is super addicting.
posted by SarahElizaP at 9:18 PM on May 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


King of Dragon Pass may also fit your bill. It's a game in which you make decisions for your clan, some of which are about resource allocation and some about diplomacy and war, and then some Judge Judy-style law-giving to settle disputes among your people. Most of the decisions have effects that span several turns in the game, leading to some surprises that have a life of their own.
posted by ignignokt at 9:18 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Welder is the one I go back to time and time again. It's not infinite levels, but it took me a few goes before I could beat it consistently and then they doubled the number of levels required to finish it. You can buy stuff but I have never given any more money after the initial purchase.
posted by like_neon at 2:09 AM on May 28, 2014

I really, really enjoyed Anthill:
posted by bbqturtle at 11:16 AM on May 28, 2014

Also, if you haven't already, Bloons Battles is a pretty fun game.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:17 AM on May 28, 2014

Power Grounds.
posted by jeffj at 11:56 PM on May 28, 2014

Hoplite! It's a wonderful, deep little puzzle game dressed up as a super stripped-down roguelike, where you use a small vocabulary of moves to make turn-based progress through very small, randomly-generated levels while dealing with a few different kinds of enemies. Figuring out the very basics takes all of a couple minutes, but as you push farther into it and try to figure out how to keep yourself alive longer and unlock the various challenge/achievements the game really blossoms. Probably my favorite iOS game in the last year.
posted by cortex at 12:48 PM on May 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Jewel Mania. It's a match-3 game similar to Candy Crush but way less annoying. There are some limitations to game play - you get five lives and they take an hour to re-charge once they're gone. But I don't mind that because it keeps me from wasting my entire day. I've been playing for at least a year and am on level 400+, so it doesn't appear to have an end!
posted by kidsleepy at 8:22 AM on May 31, 2014

I'm changing my answer to Hoplite.
posted by michaelh at 9:50 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dungeon Raid is my preferred cracklike roguelike.
posted by blueshammer at 6:49 PM on October 20, 2014

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