Looking for some great games to play on the Apple iPad? Here are 25 recommendations from us
iPads have been around for over a decade. What started as a stretched iPhone (of sorts) has now become a computer replacement for some people. Apple has even gone to the extent of powering some of its models with the M1 chip — which it initially designed for the Mac lineup. What makes an iPad so great is how versatile it is as a device. You can use it for learning, working, reading, writing, binging TV series, and, of course, playing games. While we understand that mobile games can be in many cases limited when compared to gaming on a desktop, we still acknowledge that there are some gems out there. These are some of the best games to be played on the iPad!
Navigate this article:
- Stardew Valley
- Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition
- The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
- This War of Mine
- Monument Valley
- Samorost 1
- Town of Salem – The Coven
- The Room
- Fallout Shelter
- Goat Simulator
- Plants vs. Zombies 2
- PUBG MOBILE
- Bad Piggies HD
- Alto’s Adventure
- Super Hexagon
- Really Bad Chess
- Genshin Impact
- Dota Underlords
- Call of Duty: Mobile
- Company of Heroes
- Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Best iPad Games
For plenty of reasons, Stardew Valley wins as the best iPad game on my personal list. Obviously, not everyone will agree with this. However, fans of the pixelated RPG format will appreciate it. For starters, this game was built with passion. So unlike plenty of mobile games, it’s not riddled with ads, IAPs, and pay-to-win barriers. Eric Barone (Concerned Ape) designed it for the enjoyable gameplay — rather than it being an aimless cash cow. The developer behind it took care of the sound effects, original music tracks, and graphics by himself. As a result, when you play this game, you get a sense of harmony between its elements — complete coherence that you wouldn’t usually find elsewhere.
In this game, you have to restore, renovate, take care of, and populate a rural farm — after moving away from the city and its dreadful 9-to-5 work shifts. You can plant, raise cattle, interact with fellow townies, fish, mine, date, cast spells, and much, much more. No matter how much you explore in this game, there’s a high chance you’re not even close to going through it all. In fact, even Eric has mentioned at some point that there’s something in the game that no one has discovered yet. Worry not, though, you can play at your own pace. Even if you miss a certain goal or event, you can get it done at a later point. The game won’t send you push notifications either, and time stops when you’re not actually playing — so there’s no pressure to play when you don’t want to.
This game is available on all major platforms. However — as someone who has played it on a smartphone, desktop computer, and an iPad — I believe this game makes sense the most on an iPad. That’s because it lacks sophisticated keyboard controls and the iPad’s screen is large enough to comfortably display all of its elements on the screen. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the mobile version of this game excludes the multiplayer gameplay. That feature remains exclusive to consoles and computers. Otherwise, the mobile edition is pretty much identical to the PC one and comes with a cheaper price tag. It costs $4.99 in the US and includes no ads or in-app purchases whatsoever. It additionally offers a local backup and restore option — so you can play the iPad version on the go, then manually copy your progress to your Mac or PC at home.
Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition
If you’re not a big fan of modern/realistic, 3D game graphics, Don’t Starve might be of interest to you. Personally, I always find myself drawn to games with either basic (relatively speaking) or pixelated elements — and this is why it has made it to my list of best iPad games. In Don’t Starve the aim is… not starving. It’s a survival game in which you have to explore, collect items and food, cook, build equipment, fight monsters, and keep a bonfire burning through the night (trust me on this one).
There are three main meters that you have to keep an eye on — hunger, sanity, and health. As long as you’re eating sufficiently, your hunger bar won’t cause you any problems. The sanity meter is impacted by how you live, the food (or substances) you consume, and other factors. It’s important to stay sane in this game because, well… Lastly, the health bar refers to your physical health. If monsters (even the cute ones) attack you, you will start losing health points — until you ultimately die.
In this game, there are no checkpoints. If you die, you die. You would then have to start over from scratch. Though, worry not, this is how the game is designed. You likely won’t get bored because each time you start, you’re dropped into a uniquely generated world that no one has ever set foot in. So you won’t know what to expect for the most part, but the mechanism behind the game will become familiar, and progressing further will become
This game has basic touch controls — that suit the iPad — and costs $4.99 in the US Apple App Store. It includes no in-app purchases, ads, or pay-to-win obstacles. If you’re subscribed to Apple Arcade, you can avoid paying the $4.99 by playing Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition+ for free — which is the exact same game. If you’re a fan of the graphics, sound effects, and gameplay, you can pay another $4.99 for the Shipwrecked edition of the game. This includes new worlds, resources, and creatures that want to kill you.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac is one of the sickest games out there — in the best way ever. Briefly, you have to cry your way through endless basements until you defeat your mom — and ultimately the devil, too. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, I’m assuming my brief description makes no sense to you. That’s because it’s not supposed to.
Isaac is a child who is running away from his murderous mom. Through underground basements, you have to find your way and kill monsters and bosses (by shooting your tears at them). There are plenty of power-ups, secrets, and hidden gems that really make this game stand out. Just like Don’t Starve, when you die, you have to start over in a uniquely generated setting. Some elements remain the same, but the basement map, monster arrangement, power-ups, etc. change.
The Binding of Isaac on iPadOS includes the Rebirth expansion by default (not as an IAP). However, there’s no way to access the other expansions that the company has released on other platforms — such as Afterbirth+. It remains a very rich game, as is, and you likely won’t get bored of it for a very long time — assuming it’s your type. After all, very few games include poop that tries to kill you in some instances.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is available for $14.99 in the US. It offers virtual joystick controls for movement and shooting, which make it easily playable on the iPad’s touch screen. Expectedly, it has no in-app purchases or advertisements of any sort.
This War of Mine
This War of Mine is a dystopian game that will completely disarrange your moral compass. Which is more ethical — knocking out an old lady to steal what little she has left or leaving a starving child to die of hunger? If the recent times haven’t been dark enough and you’d like to add some negativity to your life, this masterpiece is for you.
In this game, you have to survive the horrors of war by scavenging, building, inventing, and protecting yourself. The graphics (particularly the colors), soundtracks and effects, and storyline are almost guaranteed to shake up your mood’s stability. For $1.99 (US App Store) only, you can own this moving, artistic game. It includes no ads and only has one IAP as an optional expansion to the game. The $1.99 DLC allows you to experience the game from a child’s perspective — if you don’t find the game depressing enough as-is.
After playing titles like The Binding of Isaac and This War of Mine, one must recover somehow. Stardew Valley is one therapeutic option, but then there’s Monument Valley — which is more laid back and easily one of the best iPad games out there. In Monument Valley, the rules of physics don’t make sense in a way that makes sense — does this make sense to you? As in — the mechanisms of manipulating the landscapes are unrealistic. However, once you go through a few levels and get used to the game, these unrealistic mechanisms will become familiar and sensible.
Your aim is to lead a little princess through geometric worlds by twisting said worlds. You drag, swipe, and move elements around — controls that are ideal for the iPad’s large touch display. Better yet, the soundtrack reacts to your controls, so you get an immersive and personalized experience that will help you wind down. This title features stunning, minimalistic graphics and a gameplay that doesn’t require a lot of focus or energy. It’s in a way a stress-free journey.
Monument Valley is available for $3.99 in the US App Store. It includes no ads and only one optional IAP, which unlocks eight additional chapters for $1.99. If you like the concept of the game, you can play its sequel — Monument Valley 2 — for $4.99 (no IAPs). It’s worth noting, though, that if you’re subscribed to Apple Arcade, you can play both titles for free, through their plus (+) editions.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, Samorost 1 is for you. This point-and-click game was released back in 2003, but it has been remastered and optimized to suit our modern devices. As a PC game (originally) that won my heart as a child, Samorost also wins a seat on my 25 best games for the iPad.
This game requires focus and patience. The gameplay is not complicated at all. You just have to guide a gnome (of sorts) through different environments. To do so, you must solve brain teasers by tapping on-screen elements in a certain order. It requires no skills to learn, and the story is engaging and entertaining. Just use your logic and you’ll be done in no time.
Samorost 1 is available for free and includes no IAPs. If you like the game, Amanita Design has released two sequels for it — priced at $1.99 and $5.99 respectively on the US App Store. Both Samorost 2 and Samorost 3 have no in-app purchases, either.
Town of Salem – The Coven
Lying in real life — especially about murder — is frowned upon (to say the least). In Town of Salem, things are different, though. You’re encouraged to lie because otherwise, you could lose (your head). This game is based on chatting (through text) with other players from all over the world. The servers automatically assign roles to each player, and each role has a special ability. These roles are divided into two main categories — Townies and Mafia. Members belonging to the latter category can identify each other and secretly chat during the night. Townies, on the other hand, remain in a blind spot.
Every night, members of the Mafia could attempt to kill a Townie. The next morning — through the group chat that connects all players — Townies must defend themselves and try to identify each other. Once there’s a Mafia suspect, everyone gets to vote on whether to hang them or not. After the player dies, the server reveals whether that was in fact a Mafia member or an innocent, misjudged Townie. Ultimately, either the Townies or Mafia wins, depending on which team kills the other first. It’s all about manipulating your way into victory.
The game has several playing modes with plenty of additions, cosmetics, DLCs, etc. It’s available for free, but it has ads and plenty of IAPs for the additional content and privileges. It’s worth noting, though, that even without paying for the in-app purchases, the game is fully enjoyable in its free form.
Hearthstone is a collectible card game from Blizzard Entertainment. It has a simple yet engaging gameplay that is easy to master on the iPad’s touch screen. This title is free to download and play, but it includes optional in-app purchases as well. Notably, though, you can enjoy it fully without needing to pay.
Blizzard’s Hearthstone is all about laying out cards and using them as “soldiers” against your opponent’s. Each comes with a special power, a certain number of health points, and other statistics that distinguish it. So you have to place and play your cards strategically — depending on your opponent’s deck.
The Room is a puzzle game by Fireproof Studios. If you’re a fan of investigating, looking for clues, and solving physics-based mysteries, this one’s for you. The game features very realistic graphics with sophisticated and well-built machinery — allowing you to fully immerse yourself into it. The aim is just solving one puzzle after the other, as you unravel the story behind it.
This title is easily one of the best iPad games because its controls make sense for a touch screen. You won’t be needing to connect a keyboard or a controller to enjoy the gameplay. The challenges remain in solving the actual puzzles through logical analyses. You can download and play The Room for $0.99 in the US. It includes no ads or in-app purchases, so by buying it, you’re getting access to the full game and experience.
If you enjoy this game, you can get the sequels as well. The Room 2 costs $1.99 — free as a plus (+) edition on Apple Arcade. The Room 3 is priced at $3.99, while The Room: Old Sins costs $4.99. They all come with the same vibe and atmosphere of the original title, offering 3D graphics, an astounding soundtrack, and a well-thought storyline.
Fallout Shelter has a special place in my heart, and I consider it one of the best iPad games out there. Despite it being a freemium title (which I tend to despise), it still offers addictive gameplay that doesn’t pressure you into buying the IAPs. For starters, unlike most freemium games I’ve bumped into, Fallout Shelter doesn’t spam you with push notifications. You play at your own pace when you feel like it. Additionally, it requires no internet connection whatsoever (unless you’re accessing the IAP store). It also doesn’t have any ad banners that obstruct the experience. It truly has a premium feel to it, despite it being free.
In Fallout Shelter, you have to build a life underground… in a vault. The aim is to grow the population down there and keep the people alive, safe, and healthy. The gameplay is relatively simple, but the title does have some depth to it. You can send people out into the wilderness for scavenging (keep an eye on their radiation levels), assign people to certain rooms based on their expertise and talents, and have babies.
As the population grows, you will need more food to keep the food bar in check. After upgrading the restaurant to produce more food, you will need more energy to run it. Then you will need more people to run the upgraded electricity room. It’s a cycle of increasing needs that you have to keep in check, basically. You also will get raided from time to time, just so you know.
What I dislike about Fallout Shelter is that it lacks something. I can’t pinpoint what exactly, but at some point, it becomes mundane and repetitive — especially after you unlock all room types. I really love its graphics, style, sound effects, and simulation gameplay. However, this dies out down the road — for me at least. It’s still an excellent, free game, and there’s no harm in giving it a shot.
If I could, I would list Machinarium twice on the list of best iPad games. Developed by the same people behind Samorost, this title is a genius work of art that I’ve finished way too many times. Before we dive into the gameplay, just take a moment and focus on the admirable details and the very apparent efforts put into drawing it. Despite it being cartoony, it has a very realistic atmosphere that makes me feel actually present in that rusty, cyberpunk-y world.
In Machinarium, you’re a robot trying to solve puzzles to get from one screen/location to another. The gameplay is very similar to that of Samorost. However, the game is in no way redundant for those who have played said title. It’s a new experience, itself, that will immerse you in a planet of robots.
Machinarium doesn’t require any external controllers or accessories to play on your iPad. Its controls are very intuitive and touch-friendly. It is priced at $5.99 in the US, has no ads or in-app purchases, and exposes you to a surreal environment that will likely get you hooked. It truly is one of the best iPad games out there.
Yes, that’s a goat’s tongue stuck to a flying helicopter. Goat Simulator is an absurd, open-world game for when life makes too much sense and you’d like matters to be otherwise. For starters, you’re a goat in this game, unsurprisingly. The aim is up to you. You do get points for wrecking things, but you’re not limited to just that.
You know how in Grand Theft Auto (GTA) some people ignore the missions and just go around robbing/killing people for the fun of it? Now imagine that but as a goat. In Goat Simulator, you can take advantage of the open world and just walk (or fly) around harassing people and causing chaos. It’s a weird way to wind down and empty some built-up stress, but it’s a very valid way nonetheless.
Goat Simulator costs $6.99 in the US and offers plenty of in-app purchases for additional content/expansions. If you like it, you can also check the other Goat Simulator editions on the developer’s App Store page.
Plants vs. Zombies 2
The starved zombies are approaching, and they desire a taste of your human brains. Plants vs. Zombies is a timeless survival classic. The original version gained so much popularity, and — as a result — the company released other versions of the game, including Plants vs. Zombies Heroes and the original’s sequel: Plants vs. Zombies 2. While the original game didn’t focus on IAPs as much as the second does, Plants vs. Zombies 2 remains an enjoyable title and one of the best iPad games when it comes to freemium releases. I’ve prioritized the sequel (despite the heavy inclusion of IAPs) over the original just due to its active development. To this day, the company continues to add new content to it.
You’re in your house and zombies are coming through the front/backyard. You have to place all sorts of super plants to fight off the zombies and protect your delicate brains. Each plant has a certain cost, superpower, and health bar. It’s all about placing them strategically to make sure no zombie gruesomely devours your head.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 makes sense on an iPad because its gameplay depends on tapping, dragging, and swiping. So the Apple tablet’s touch screen is more than enough to make the most out of it. In fact, I find it easier to play this game on an iPad rather than a Mac or PC. It’s available as a free download but includes optional in-app purchases.
If I had to choose a battle royale to play on my iPad, I would most definitely go for Fortnite. That’s because I prefer the more cartoony graphics over the realistic-ish ones PUBG offers. Additionally, Fortnite — in my opinion — is more polished and stable than its rival. However, due to ongoing corporate drama, there’s no easy way to play the title owned by Epic Games on iPadOS. PUBG MOBILE is arguably the second-best battle royale game for the iPad.
PUBG is free to play but expectedly offers in-app purchases. You can still enjoy the game just fine without buying any digital goods, though. You’re dropped into a world with several other real-life players, and the aim is to be the last person standing. There’s a wide variety of weapons and customizations, and competing against your friends only makes the game more fun. We’re not responsible for any ruined friendships, though.