What iPad game should I play next?
May 28, 2020 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for games to play on my iPad. Current favorites are Stardew Valley and Polytopia, but I'm in the mood for something new. What else might I like?

I haven't had time or energy for anything other than very casual video games in a few years but I got all excited at the start of the lockdown and bought a bundle of PC games. It turns out that by the time my kids are in bed and I'm free to settle down on my couch with a beer for an hour, I'm much more likely to just curl up with my iPad than to haul out the laptop and boot it up for anything intensive. I'm kind of burned out on my current go-to games and looking for new things that will be fun to try.

I think the games I like best are mostly:
Turn based or easy to pause
Don't require too much manual dexterity or timing
Have RPG elements, maybe? Or exploration elements?
Not too scary; cartoonish violence is fine
Puzzle/problem-solving are a plus
Moderate cost to buy an app is fine but a ton of in-app purchases are not

Recent favorites:
Stardew Valley
Battle of Polytopia (I especially like the exploration aspect)
Queen's Wish (I've also liked Avernum and I'd probably like the other games from Spiderweb but the mobile interface on the older ones isn't as nice)
Pixel Dungeon (sometimes it's too frustrating)
KOTOR (I feel like I *should* love it but it somehow takes a little more focus than I have most days)
Hungry Cat Picross
Minecraft (there's an iPad version, right? how is it?)

What else would I like?
posted by beandip to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried King of Dragon Pass, by any chance?

It's a delightful mix of strategy and RPG elements, has no dexterity component whatsoever, and is not graphically violent, though your clan participates in raids for cattle and such often enough. It's also got a prequel/spiritual successor, Six Ages, which is in some ways more polished.
posted by Alensin at 11:58 AM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Road Not Taken has adorable art, turn based puzzling, not too scary, easy controls and is $5 for a full game. I wouldn't call it an RPG but you can collect items and interact with NPCs.

Donut County is cute and minimalist art, a gentle puzzle game, also $5 for the full game. Very satisfying to just make everything you see fall into a hole.

Mini Metro is a subway builder puzzle game, $4 -- requires a bit more dexterity and timing than the other two but probably still workable. Beautiful interface, soothing music

If you liked Stardew you miiiiight enjoy Don't Starve? If you were like "oh gosh I really love Stardew but I need more nihilism and the everlooming threat of death" It requires more dexterity/timing than the others but probably not much more than Stardew. It's cartoony in a charming hand drawn fashion. Lots of exploring. It's $5. Has a sequel Shipwrecked that is also $5. The premise is some mysterious malevolent villain has dropped you into the wilderness and you must gather the resources around you to survive. Plenty of clever things to figure out. However! When you die, it's game over. That means this isn't a relaxing game. Dying isn't without rewards, because based on how long you managed to live you can gain experience points to unlock other player characters. And there are modes that make it easier so it's not as stressful.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:20 PM on May 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Exploding Kittens

Are two short turnbased games I have enjoyed. Note: Seaport is very repetitive but good for 15 minutes here and there, you can buy gems but don't have to.

Minecraft works well for exploration of generated worlds or templates on ipad. For serious building the PC is still much faster.
posted by typecloud at 4:42 PM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Have you considered Apple Arcade?
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:58 PM on May 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Final Fantasy Tactics is available on iPad - that's enough game to keep you going for a long time. One of the classics of the genre.

Civ 6 is on iPad as well. I believe it's free for the first 30 turns or something so you can see if you like the interface.

I liked the original Puzzle Quest a lot when it came out, the sequels I understand have been somewhat disappointing. Match 3 type stuff has an enormous variety now - You Have To Build A Boat was a great twist on the genre.

As seanmpuckett mentions, if you're iPad-gaming-curious Apple Arcade is an easy, no-risk recommendation (free for a month I think) and is supposed to have a couple amazing games that sound right up your alley!

The Professor Layton series has one or two games on iOS, I can't remember which, but it's full of fun and puzzles. I just reminded myself I want to play those again.

As for Picross types, there's a Konami Classics picross/nonagram game that I thought was great and is totally free. Got me through a few long flights.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:48 PM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding Don't Starve, it's a great game! And if it sounds appealing, you might appreciate Ark. It is also an exploration and crafting game, and you can stop and save whenever. Dinosaur taming included. =) Unlike Don't starve, Ark provides you small quests that you can do to help level and progress in the game. Neither have puzzles in the classic sense, but do require figuring out how things operate and the development of strategies to succeed.

In a totally different vein, you could try Cultist Simulator; I think I first heard about it on the blue. It is a (one person) card-based game where you have to figure out the rules and how to unlock different paths through the game. You can stop/save whenever you want in this game also.

Warning: all three of these games are addictive!
posted by DTMFA at 8:29 PM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Monument Valley and its sequel. A gorgeous puzzle game in which you navigate a princess through Escheresque architecture.
posted by ejs at 10:40 PM on May 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

+1 monument valley
+1 mini metro

- hoplite: awsome on iphone, assume it plays fine on ipad too.
- kingdom rush, plants vs zombies or other tower defense

good but probably too serious/complex for sleepy time:
- star trader frontiers (exploration + RPG but super complex)
- ftl (exploration + RPG bug super complex)
posted by escher at 10:05 AM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! The ones I’ve already encountered have been awesome and the others all sound great and I am excited to try them!

Better for my mental health than reading news and social media and crying, which has been my other free time activity this week. Stay safe, friends.
posted by beandip at 4:13 PM on May 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm loving Seabeard right now, it's like a cross between Animal Crossing and Zelda Windwaker. You might to make a little investment in some "pearls" in the beginning, otherwise free.
posted by thebazilist at 6:07 PM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Diner Dash is fun, although a bit taxing mentally in terms of serving people. It's fun to watch gems build up and upgrading characters, though. The game is free, and doesn't really require any in-app purchases, unless you're in the mood to splurge on upgrades. Gems are easy to earn for free daily. My favorite, definitely worth a try!
posted by dubious_dude at 8:33 PM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

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